It's a given that we have one of the most gorgeous skylines in Texas -- take that, Houston! -- if not the entire country. It's especially festive at night, what with the spectacular LED light shows on the side of the Omni Hotel; the changing colors of the ball atop Reunion Tower; the Jolly Green Giant, a.k.a. Bank of America building, outlined in bright colors (it's not always green anymore, which somehow seems wrong, but we're working to overcome the shock); and, of course, our beloved bright-red Pegasus. Our skyline is pretty awesome during daylight hours, too, and if you can catch it right before or after a storm with rolling black clouds overhead, it's dramatically moody.
Here's a primer on some of the best places to appreciate our postcard-perfect skyline and maybe get some Facebook- or frame-worthy pics. These are in alphabetical order; I love them all.
Ticket prices listed, if any, are regular adult prices. Check websites for discounts for children, seniors and others, and also for hours for private venues unless listed.
Joy Tipping, @joytipping
This is one of my absolute favorites, because the view is so spectacular and so few people know about it. (Just blew that, didn't I?). On the 40th floor, just below the architectural opening called the "sky window," is the Sky Lobby, offering dramatic scenes. Check in with security (South Lobby), and if you're intent on getting in on a certain day, call first to make sure a private event hasn't closed the Sky Lobby to the public. 2200 Ross Ave., Dallas. Open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free.
Dallas Heritage Village
The 20-acre site of Dallas' first city park boasts a lovely collection of 38 vintage buildings (houses, stores, a blacksmith shop and more), feisty farm animals and other elements depicting the lives of Dallas' early settlers. From the village, you can get a terrific "double skyline" view, with both 19th-century structures and some of downtown's current dazzlers.
The jewel of South Dallas, this 277-acre urban park is renowned for its stunning collection of art deco buildings, and also features some great downtown vistas. On the second floor of the African American Museum (free admission) is a window that offers a great peek at downtown; you can also get a beautiful night look from the top of the lawn area at Gexa Energy Pavilion during concerts. During the State Fair, you can get breathtaking photos from the 500-foot-tall Top o' Texas Tower and the 212-foot-tall Texas Star Ferris wheel rides. The main vehicle entrance is at Grand and First avenues; the main pedestrian entrance is the DART Fair Park station (also great to get there via public transportation).
Klyde Warren Park
Our city's most unusual park, perched atop a busy freeway, gives you a 360-degree view of downtown's northern edge and also the good-looking buildings of Uptown. The Dallas Center for Architecture even offers free Skyline 360 tours at the park, where you basically stand in one place and make a circle as a guide talks about the fabulous architecture all around you (some of it as much as 100 years old): the Dallas Museum of Art, the Winspear Opera House, the Federal Reserve Bank and many other buildings.
Lake Cliff Park
This 44.5-acre park in north Oak Cliff, established in 1914, is usually uncrowded, so it's a perfect place to take your lunch, your dog, your toddler or just yourself and a camera to enjoy both the bucolic green surroundings and the exceptional views.
Perot Museum of Nature and Science
Just about everyone who's visited has seen that fantastic escalator on the building's south side; it's enclosed in glass but appears to hang off the edge of the building and transports visitors four floors up, with landings along the way for gawking or photo-taking.
The grande dame of Dallas skyline views reopened as the GeO-Deck in fall 2013, after the original, frankly uncharming observation deck had been closed for several years for renovations. Inside the big sparkly ball, you'll now discover a delightful space with great interactive activities to acquaint you with the city (it's a perfect first stop for visitors), cameras (hooked into interactive screens) that let you zoom in on downtown streets, and the best overall view of Dealey Plaza, among other vistas. On a clear day, you can even see AT&T Stadium, 18 miles to the west.
This hip area in West Dallas, full of fun restaurants and a few nearby shops, sits at the base of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge -- you'll get gorgeous, close-up views -- designed by renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. The bridge opened in 2012, and construction will begin in August on another Calatrava-designed bridge, at the Interstate 30 overpass. Free for wandering and photographing; take money for eating and shopping.
This riverside park offers access to the Dallas Floodway, if you want a "looking up at it" glimpse of the skyline, or a straight-on view from the top of the levees, and also a close perspective of the arch of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. It's spectacular for watching the Fair Park fireworks on July Fourth, and when we get a rare winter snow, you'll find folks sledding down the levee hills. 110 W. Commerce St., Dallas. Free.
White Rock Lake Park
You get a slightly faraway but picturesque view of downtown at places all along the lakefront of this East Dallas 757.2-acre urban park, founded in 1929. Especially good spots await at the Dallas Arboretum, where you can take photos of downtown with the arboretum's trees or flowers in the foreground, and the historic Bath House Culural Center. Catch some of the arboretum's concerts for nighttime pics.
Editor's note: This was originally published in 2014 and has been updated.