I don’t know about you, but my hometown city is a place I saw surprisingly little of despite living there for 18 years. My wasted youth was spent mostly beside a swimming pool, in an heavily air-conditioned mall or in the local ice cream shop. Can you blame a guy? A $2 brownie fudge sundae is hard to resist!

So, on my most recent trip home, I decided to finally dive in the deep end of Dallas. Growing up, I never heard much about the gay scene in Dallas (but then again, I wasn’t really looking for it either). But it had recently come to my attention that Dallas indeed does have a LGBT scene. And, you know…cowboys.

To explore what Dallas has for the gays I planned to do it with a bit of extra flair and style. With just a single weekend, I booked a room at the Dallas luxury hotel, the Joule—a stunning balance between industrial western design (as in John Wayne style western movies) and modern luxury.

joule hotel cocktail

My weekend started with an afternoon cocktail in the hotel’s Charlie Palmer restaurant before a swim up on the rooftop. Far and away the absolute highlight of my night at The Joule was the rooftop swimming pool. I stayed up there during the late afternoon, through sunset, before catching the happy hour at the rooftop bar. A quick shower and a few squirts of cologne & I was ready for a night out in Dallas.

On my way out of the hotel, though, I was stopped by the cute receptionist who offered yet another happy hour at the hotel. Seems the reception had opened up a few bottles of white wine that evening to cool off the hotel guests. It was 100°F weather after all. My glass went down quickly—I had a dinner reservation.

I’m not much of a beer drinker so, at the recommendation of the hotel reception, I headed for The Cedars Social restaurant & bar. They serve modern comfort food (the truffle mac & cheese was perfect) and handcrafted cocktails.

cedars social restaurant

After being successfully mesmerized with the Cedars Social cocktail list, instead of going for a big gay night out, I ended up swinging by Dallas’ Deep Ellum neighborhood. That’s where all the live music and late-night burgers happen. Though I would’ve liked to have made it out Oak Lawn (Dallas’ very own gayborhood), I called it quits after my third (or was it fourth?) cocktail and headed back to my hotel suite. Not before a nightcap at the hotel’s rooftop bar, though!

joule hotel

A day out in Dallas

Seeing as how my plans for a gay night out in Dallas were a bit of a failure, I decided to make my day in the city last. My hotel was literally right next door to the flagship Neiman Marcus department store so I started my morning there. It’d been years since I had been inside, so I naturally went for a stroll through the mens fashion department before I’d set out and explore my favorite part of town: the Dallas Arts District.

neiman marcus dallas

First stop in the Dallas Arts District was to revisit one of my favorite Dallas museums: the Nasher Sculpture Center. It’s a small museum and sculpture garden but has some nice permanent pieces and usually a good exhibit. Across the street is the Dallas Museum of Art—much bigger and arguably better.

The Dallas art scene was always my favorite aspect of the city when growing up in the suburbs. Concerts at the symphony and late nights at the museum are pretty much how I remember Dallas.

nasher sculpture center

And though I failed to see the gay side to Dallas, my fleeting attraction with the city was stirred up again. It’s not at the top of my list to visit, but I’ve still got feelings for the Big D—try as I might to get it out of my system. But without question I will make it to the legendary Round Up Saloon gay bar on my next visit.

I know I’ll be back in Dallas again soon. Despite our failed love affair, that city and I still have a special bond. Plus, I’m in need of a new cowboy hat.

Dallas gay travel recommendations