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Find Your Happy with Friends

The Ultimate Guide to Meeting New People and Making Friends in Dallas

If you Google "How to Make Friends in Dallas" your search results will probably include links to apps and apartment communities and realtors as well as a whole bunch of threads on the r/dallas subreddit. Someone asks at least once a month. Like any big city, Dallas can be a tough place to meet people. Lots of clubs and communities tend to have an insider-y feel. If you're new to the area or newly divorced, or simply in a new phase of your life, making friends can be daunting. But there are lots of ways to meet people here, and plenty of those people are potential friends.

Along with the generic suggestions (take up a hobby, get a dog, volunteer), I've collected some specific places to go and groups to look into where you're certain to meet some friendly people in Dallas. Some of my suggestions may surprise you. But stay with me for a bit. I'll share some stories of friends I've made and how we found each other in this huge city in the middle of a major metro area.

If you're reading along thinking "that won't work for me" I did some mind reading before I got started. I've  offered ways to find alternatives that might fit you better all through this guide.

I'll be adding to this guide on an ongoing basis as I discover new places and new tips for making friends. But for now, let's get started.

Get a Hangout

My hangout story: I met my best friend of more than 20 years at TGIFridays. Going to bars is a tried and true way to meet people. But to find people that will make good friends, you might want to be a little more strategic.

Tonya and I both when to Fridays every Wednesday night to play NTN Trivia. After a few weeks, we ended up sitting together and chatting. A few more weeks of that and we started making plans to do something together after our trivia game. A few weeks later, she invited me to join her family for their long-standing Saturday lunch. Before long, a lifelong friendship was launched. There's just something that works about going to the same place at the same time every week. It might be a class, a sports field, or a coffee shop. Find a place you'll enjoy even if you don't meet someone, and hang out there.

You can use my list of places to go on weeknights as a jumping off point, or just head to a place you like, and then go again around the same time the next week. Here are a few very detailed suggestions.

Bryan Street Tavern

If the idea of a weekly night out at a bar sounds like a fun way to meet people, make it one of the friendliest bars in town. Bryan Street Tavern is a winner here for several reasons. They have activities just about every night. They also have some very good pizza, and their regulars love the pizza and the place that serves it. In the Dallas Morning News Best Pizza in D-FW reader poll, BST bested finalists ZaLat Pizza, Fireside Pies, and Cavalli Pizza in three rounds of voting to win . That’s either some raving fans or some mighty good pizza. After checking it out for myself, I’m going to say it’s both.

My BST story: I recently met up with some new friends at Bryan Street Tavern on a Monday night for some half-price pizza. All three of us were first-time visitors. We were discussing Provel cheese, which comes on their St. Louis style pizza. It’s a unique kind of cheese, and we weren’t sure if we’d like it. A couple at a nearby table overheard us and offered us a slice of their pizza to try. Now that’s friendly.

If Bryan Street Tavern isn’t an option for your weekly hangout, don’t worry. You’ve got at least a thousand other bars to choose from. I recommend doing a Google search for neighborhood bars + your neighborhood (or city if you live in the ‘burbs.) This July 2019  article from Eater Dallas lists 11 Essential Dallas Dive Bars. If you’re looking for something a little more upscale or with a more sophisticated ambience, you might like one of the 10 bars D Magazine says were the best bars that opened in 2018.

If you’re looking for a place with a weekly activity, check out my list of things to do every night of the week.

Steam Theory Brewing

If you like beer but would just as soon skip the “bar scene,” DFW has dozens of breweries that might be just the right place to meet people and make friends. Steam Theory Brewing in Trinity Groves is a great option. They have a selection of board games plus bar games like table ring toss, giant Connect Four, and Dutch Shuffleboard. The bar food is outstanding, there’s wine for those who don’t drink beer, and a weekly trivia night.

Need to find a brewery closer to you for a weekly night out? Check out BeerInBigD.com with its weekly list of Dallas area brewery events. The site’s event  list is updated weekly and includes everything from tap nights to pint nights, parties, and potlucks.

Maybe a weekly hangout sounds good, but you don’t drink. No worries, you still have lots of options for finding a regular night out in Dallas that's not alcohol-centric.

Sons of Hermann Hall

Wednesday Night Swing at Sons of Hermann Hall is frequently mentioned as a great place to meet people in Dallas, and for good reason. An $8 cover charge gets you free swing dance lessons plus an evening of great music and dancing. If you’re not into dancing, you can still have fun watching cute couples in retro outfits shimmy and jitter and hop. The building itself is over a hundred years old, so you can entertain yourself just looking around. But don’t be surprised if a friendly instructor or swing night regular beckons you to abandon the sidelines and dance with abandon.

If you love to dance but swing is not your thing, you can check out this list of Latin dance events in Dallas-Fort Worth. Would you rather boot scoot?  A number of country bars in the area, from Cowboys Dance Hall to the Round-Up Saloon offer free dance lessons.

Don’t have a partner? Try line dancing or salsa - no partner needed. If dancing (or just thinking about dancing) makes you happy, you’ll be in a good place to meet someone new.

If the thought of dancing makes you tired or fills you with anxiety, you still have plenty of choices for a weekly hangout. Dallas area coffee shops are getting in on the social night trend, so perhaps a cup of java is in order. 

Halcyon Coffee Shop

Find a local coffee shop that’s open late, and chances are you’ll find a calendar of weekly or monthly events. Halcyon Dallas hosts movie nights, game nights, and a whole host of other activities. Besides coffee, they also offer beer and wine and food too!

Maybe you're looking for a coffee shop that doesn’t serve wine and beer, but stays open for after-work hours. Magnolia Sous le Pont stays open until 7PM daily and has an Open Mic Night event till 8:30 on the third Thursday of every month.

Get a Dog

If you get a dog, you'll have an instant best friend. And while that's nice, you might still be in need of some human companionship. Well, there's good news. Dog owners can have an amazingly easy time meeting other dog owners.

I've got some suggestions here for places to meet other dogs and their human best friends. Some of these are fun places to meet people even if you don't have a dog, and there's one suggestion here for those of us who for various reasons can't have a dog right now but wish we could

If you do decide to get a dog, please adopt don't shop. And be sure to take a look at these ideas for meeting dog lovers in Dallas.

Dog Parks

The dog park in your neighborhood or apartment complex is a great place to take your furry friend and take a chance on onnecting with some great peole too. In most dog parks, people without dogs are welcome, and praise for their pup is a sure way to make a dog lover smile.

Dallas also has four large, public dog parks as well as off-leash areas at Klyde Warren Park and Main Street Garden Park. See if you can find one near you.

Mutt’s Canine Cantina

The Dallas and Fort Worth locations of Mutt's Canine Cantina are a dog lover's dream come true. You can hang out, have some food and drinks, and let your dog romp the day (or evening) away.

Dog About Town

Every dog lover in Dallas-Fort Worth should know about Dog About Town. It's not a place - it's a weekly article in the Dallas Morning News that lists dog-friendly events, and lots of them. This link will take you to the latest weekly edition. If you can't get past the paywall, try the Facebook page.

They also keep an updated list of hundreds of dog-friendly places to go in Dallas and pretty much all of its surrounding cities. View the list in Google Sheets format here.

If You Can't Have a Dog Right Now

If for some reason it doesn't make sense to bring a dog into your life right now, you can still make some four-legged and two-legged friends through a unique volunteer opportunity at Dallas Animal Services. It's called Doggie Daycation: Four Legged Best Friend for a Day, and it sounds to me like the best day ever. There are also opportunities to volunteer as a dog runner, and if you're more of a cat person, you can help socialize cats. Click here for a list of interesting volunteer opportunities with Dallas Animal Services.

Get Busy Helping Someone

One of the reasons volunteering is a great way to make friends is that your best self shines when you're helping others. If you're doing something you enjoy as well as giving your time, you're likely to meet a lot of people you'll like and who'll like you back.

If volunteering sounds too selfless, or like too much of a time commitment, it doesn't have to be. There are loads of ways to have fun while you help others and meet new people in Dallas.

North Texas Food Bank

Bigger organizations offer more varied opportunities to serve and the North Texas Food Bank is one of the largest charities in the Dallas area. Whether you're ready to take on a regular committed role or just want to help for a shift, you'll find something that meets your needs and helps meet the needs of others too.

If you're looking for a smaller organization or just something different, check out the many opportunities listed on Voly.org. It's like a matchmaking service between charities and volunteers in the Dallas area.

Tango Tab Feed the City Sandwich Making Parties

If you aren't able to make a regular commitment, you can still help out and have a lot of fun doing it. If you have a few hours to spare on a Sturday morning, you might want to join one of Tango Tab's Feed the City events. Most of these are regularly scheduled sandwich making parties, where you'll contribute some sandwich fixings and make sandwiches that other organizations will hand out. It's easy and it's fun, and your contribution will cost about the same as a few drinks. That's what I call a win/win.

Dallas Margarita Society

If a party atmosphere sounds good to you,  there are several groups that put on "drinking for charity" events. The Dallas Margarita Society is one of the longest-running and best known groups like this. Many of their fundraising happy hours are open to the public, so you don't even have to join to have fun and help out.

If you're looking for other ways to support a charity while having a great time drinking, search for "charity crawl Dallas" on Google, Facebook or Eventbrite.

North Texas Irish Festival

Local events need volunteers too, and with all the events in Dallas in the spring, you'll have a wide variety of options. I'm recommending the North Texas Irish Festival as a great place to volunteer for several reasons. First off, it's huge so they need a lot of volunteers. Second, everyone I've ever encountedred from this organization was friendly and welcoming. Third, and perhaps most important, this festival is often the first event of spring festival season in Dallas. It's one of the ways y9ou know Spring has arrived. Sign up to help at this fun fest and you just may meet the friends that will go with you to the rest of the fests on the Dallas calendar.

Get a Hobby

The most frequently mentioned tip for meeting people and making friends in Dallas is to follow your interests. You already have at least one thing in common with all of the people you meet through your hobby. If you're doing something you enjoy and having fun, you're more approachable. The other people at the events you attend have already carved out at least some time for their hobbies, so chances are, they're open to making more friends too. This is absolutely great advice.

But what if you've never really explored your interests. I think that happens a lot. We get busy with work or other responsibilities and never really take time to focus on ourselves.

If you're not 100% sure what you like or don't like, here are some ideas to help you start exploring. I've learned, either from personal experience or from stories shared by my friends that each of the groups I mention here is very welcoming. They're all very easy (and affordable) to participate in. If you don't know where to start, maybe one of these ideas will work for you.

Dallas Ukulele Headquarters

There's a story I need to share about this soon, but my story with Dallas Ukulele Headquarters started when my best friend gave me a ukulele for my birthday. I watched some videos to learn to play it, and soon I was ready to go hang out with other players. I went to two different events hosted by this group I found on Meetup.com. One event was for players at all levels and they did lots to accommodate beginners. The second was specifically a beginner level workshop.

At both events, loaner instruments were available for those who didn't have one of their own. Their Facebook group has a songbook you can download, but they also bought copies to share. I expected everyone there to be my age (mid fifties) give or take a few years, and was surprised to see as many as a third of the people there were somewhat younger. 

Everyone was so friendly, and if I hadn't gotten so busy with work, I'd still be attending their events. They have them about once a month.. Ukuleles are relatively inexpensive and  are pretty easy to learn to play. If you just want to spend some time with happy people having a good time, check out this group. Most of their Meetup events are open to the public, and most offer loaners if you just request one in advance.

Theatre Auditions & Productions

Theatre people are some of the most welcoming and inclusive people you'll ever meet. I've had incredible fun at show auditions and made friends with people  there, whether we were cast in the production or not. If you think you'd never want to be on stage, you can still be a part of this circle. Crew members are needed, volunteers are needed, and supportive audience members are needed too.

This website lists upcoming auditions for several theatre productions in the Dallas area. Check one of them out, or visit the website of a theatre near you to see how you can get involved.

North Texas Outdoors

With over 16,000 members and multiple events every month, North Texas Outdoors is one of the larges and most active groups on Meetup .com. If you like any kind of outdoor activity, you're sure to find some events you'll enjoy while making new friends.

Part II, Coming Soon

Wow, I have lots more to say on this topic, but it's Christmas and I'm on vacation, and well, I'll come back soon with more. I'll share several more ways to meet people and make friends, including how to use online tools and apps to help you. But I want to leave you with this one now.

Finch Social

I recently met the founders of FINCH, an ingenious little iPhone app, and I'm loving what they've told me about it. I've never been sorry about not having an iPhone till now. It's not like other "friend-making" apps. It's interest focused, and it connects you with small groups (4 or 5 people) who want to get together and do the same thing you want to do. I'll let the founders tell you more about it.

FINCH is a spontaneous friend-making app for those with iPhones! All you need to do is select the times that you are free to hang out, input your own interests and swipe yes/no on things to do. (There's no swiping on people!) The app takes it all in and invites you to social hangouts near you, with other people who share your interests. That’s how simple doing fun things and meeting new people can be!

Check them out on the App Store or learn more here. By the way, for the next two months or so, the app and all of its services are FREE.

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