In addition to the six major neighborhoods discussed below, the city is surrounded by concentric rings of ever-expanding suburbs. (I grew up in one, Richardson, and went to high school in another, Plano, which was one of the fastest-growing small cities in the United States until displaced by new juggernauts farther north, such as Frisco.) In addition to ever-bigger homes, these areas, especially north of the city, are marked by scores of megamalls, minimalls, and strip malls of chain stores and restaurants that make the new developments very difficult to distinguish from one another. New stadiums and shopping and entertainment facilities are drawing more and more people to Plano, McKinney, and Frisco.

Downtown Dallas -- This area encompasses the Dallas Arts District, the nexus of downtown Dallas's fine and performing arts, including the Dallas Museum of Art, Nasher Sculpture Center, Meyerson Symphony Center, Crow Collection of Asian Art, and others; the West End Historic District, a former warehouse district and one of the oldest parts of the city transformed into a popular hotel, restaurant, nightlife, and shopping scene; and the core of downtown offices that extend east from Reunion Arena and Dealey Plaza, where the flagship Neiman Marcus is the sole remaining department store. Though some urban-minded professionals are finally beginning to renovate residential loft spaces, downtown Dallas remains pretty much a ghost town after 6pm (except for West End). Still, it has a number of major hotels and makes a good place to drop anchor, especially for visiting businesspeople.

Deep Ellum -- Located east of downtown and bounded by Elm, Main, Commerce, and Canton streets, is Deep Ellum. Until recently, this area was Big D's best impersonation of Austin, the live-music capital of the Southwest. Unfortunately, Deep Ellum has experienced a recent eruption of violence, gang-related and otherwise, so the nightlife scene here is not what it once was, though there are still a number of nightclubs and bars. Simultaneously ragged and chic, the former industrial district is home to alternative, blues, rock, and other music clubs interspersed with discos, honky-tonks, art galleries, furniture and secondhand shops, and upscale restaurants. During the day the area is dead, but at night and on weekends it gets pretty rowdy. The name is said to be a southern drawl pronunciation of the main street, Elm.

Uptown & Oak Lawn -- Located northeast of downtown and promoted as "Uptown," McKinney Avenue, Knox-Henderson, and the emerging Victory Park are destinations for chic restaurants, shopping meccas, and in places to live (chic, modern condos defy housing slowdowns and just keep going up, as do luxury hotels). McKinney Avenue, once the site of elegant old homes, is now the center of the Dallas art gallery scene, while Knox-Henderson is split right down the middle between trendy restaurants and upscale furnishings stores. Some of the hottest shopping and nightlife options are in West Village in Uptown. Victory Park, the area around American Airlines Center, is home to hip, upscale hotels and is taking off as an entertainment enclave. Oak Lawn, Cedar Springs, and Turtle Creek, the heart of artsy and gay Dallas, are home to some of its finest hotels, restaurants, shopping, and the Dallas Theater Center, built by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Greenville Avenue & East Dallas -- The high point of Dallas nightlife, as it has been for decades, is this long strip located northeast of downtown Dallas, from LBJ Freeway south to Ross Avenue. Upper Greenville draws a slightly older and sophisticated crowd, while Lower Greenville (below Mockingbird) swims with nightclubs, bars both shabby and snooty, bohemian restaurants, vintage clothing stores, and resale furniture shops. East Dallas is home to the party district Deep Ellum, the Lakewood residential neighborhood, and old Dallas sites like the Cotton Bowl and Texas fairgrounds.

Park Cities -- The traditional haunt of the Dallas elite, Park Cities encompasses one of America's wealthiest residential districts, Highland Park, as well as the none-too-shabby University Park and the city's major university, preppy SMU, where the presidential library of George W. Bush will be located in the near future. Park Cities is located north of downtown and west of Central Expressway. Plenty of Dallasites tend to refer to the entire zone as Highland Park, if only to use the best-known district as shorthand.

North Dallas -- The northern edge of the city and southern edge of the suburbs is where the hard-core shopping begins (in places such as the Galleria, Valley View, and Prestonwood malls in Addison). It is also home to an ever-growing contingent of hotels and restaurants away from the downtown business scene.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.