Traveling to new destinations is meant to be an exciting, thrilling adventure. New sights, new sounds, new tastes, new people. It’s an adventure that stimulates all the senses, and while new experiences are exciting, sometimes it can be too overwhelming for an introverted personality. In addition, trips big on adventure can also be quite pricey.

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DFW, and Texas in general, is known for being BIG. BIG attractions, BIG food and its BIG personality. Though after some scoping I’m here to tell you that travelers who enjoy alone time, quiet conversations and cozy corners where they can observe the world can be found here. And they can also be found at a price point most travelers seek out when making the most of a vacation, dirt cheap or absolutely free.

Sip Stir Cafe – photo by       Mandi Pimental

So where can one find these hidden gems? I took twenty four hours in Dallas/Fort Worth to find the best of the best local hangouts and big attractions that allowed me to go at my own pace and find quiet throughout my day to recharge and take in what I’d experienced. After renting a car to avoid public transportation lines and a chance to listen to my own tunes, my first stop was Sip Stir Cafe in Uptown Dallas. The modern mix of dark wood and sleek white seating and decor make it visually appealing, while the atmosphere is quiet and laid back. Enjoying my fair-priced latte for post-airport fuel, I was one of only a few people in a coffee shop that the locals rate as a great place to study or work. It was the perfect way to start the day and map out my next stop.

Moving on to downtown Dallas, the Dallas Museum of Art is a free museum that offers many exhibits and a great way to spend a few hours indoors. Paintings, sculptures and ancient artifacts make up the museum’s exhibit halls and the works are ever-changing, making it a great place to visit again and again. Another perk: they offer tours by iPod, minimizing interaction with a guide and going at your own pace.

After a couple of hours soaking up local artistic culture, the coffee buzz had worn off and I was on a mission to find affordable eats. Those wanting to avoid noisy restaurants and long lines can visit Klyde Warren Park. A refreshing change to being indoors, the park sits on 5.2 acres of open grass in the heart of Dallas. From free yoga to free musical performances, the park is as entertaining as it is beautiful and offers expansive seating for those wanting to avoid the crowds. I was in town on a Friday when the park offers Friday Food Trucks. Nine local food truck companies serve a wide variety of cheap, delectable eats that you can enjoy in the park. Not in town on a Friday? Visit a local market like the affordable nearby Trader Joes and pack a picnic to bring.

Klyde Warren Park – Mandi Pimental

Not wanting to venture back indoors just yet? Take a walk or jog the paths around White Rock Lake. The lake is an urban oasis where visitors can kayak, canoe and sail, although keeping the low budget in mind, I enjoyed a nice brisk walk to burn off lunch and stopped in on the grounds Bath House Cultural Center. The center offers free admission and three gallery spaces to soak up more art and air conditioning.

White Rock Lake – Mandi Pimental

Historical Dallas is not to be missed. The Hall of State in Dallas’ Fair Park is home to over three million historic documents and artifacts, as well as the largest collection of 1930’s art deco in the nation. From there, head just over two miles west to Thanks-Giving Square, an interfaith venue that invites all to come in and give thanks. There is a meditation garden located on the grounds as well, for more peace and tranquility in a bustling city. Do keep in mind that most museums and gardens are closed on Sundays and Mondays, so plan accordingly.

Thanksgiving Square – Mandi Pimental

With the sun setting on my day, I was on a mission to find a restaurant where I could write. I also wanted to explore some of what Fort Worth had to offer. With my budget nearly exhausted, I wanted to find good food at an affordable price so I headed 30 miles west to Fort Worth to dine at Ellerbe Fine Foods. This quaint American eatery offers the freshest ingredients and a quiet atmosphere. I opted to sit on the charming patio and for just $20 I enjoyed a delicious Pasta Carbonara of Pancetta, Grana Padano cheese, vegetables, egg and sunflower sprouts. Though I knew after my dining splurge I was going to have to find the best in free nightlife entertainment.

Ellerbe Fine Foods – Mandi Pimental

For those wanting to avoid crowded nightclubs and bars, wanderlusting introverts can enjoy Fort Worth’s Sundance Square. The 35-block outdoor area allows visitors to enjoy the sights and sounds of nightlife while being out in the fresh Texas air. Water fountains dance under the city lights, while large umbrellas tower overhead, making for a unique and picture-worthy scene. For those wanting to enjoy a cocktail, hotel bars are often quiet locales and sometimes offer live music without the crowds. After people watching in the square, I headed to the Omni Fort Worth Hotel that offered both a wine bar, Wine Thief, and the western themed Whiskey & Rye that featured free live music and a more expansive drink menu. I opted to wind down at the Whiskey & Rye before heading back to my hotel to catch my early morning flight.

From delectable, affordable eats to an array of free, low-key but highly cultural sights, Dallas Fort Worth proves to be just the vacation spot for introverts looking to save on travel.

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