​An Inside Look at Dallas’ Southfork Ranch Tour

Southfork Ranch became a tourist destination the minute it first appeared on the hit TV show Dallas in 1978. Nearly 40 years after fans first asked, “who shot J.R.,” hundreds of thousands of annual visitors still flock to see the famous Ewing mansion. Daily tours recapture the magic of Dallas, taking visitors back to the glory days of the fictional oil magnate and his family.

If you want the full Southfork Ranch experience, you’ll have to mosey down to Dallas and tour the property for yourself. In the meantime, we spoke with our own Sally Peavy to get some insider tips from a Texas expert. Sally is coming up on her 20th year anniversary of giving tours at Southfork Ranch, so she knows all the ins and outs of the Ewing’s on-screen home.

Has anyone famous ever taken your tour?
Of course! We had [actor] Charlton Heston on the tour and I thought, “Oh, my! Moses is in our living room.” Also Martina McBride, the country singer. Naomi Judd. Tanya Tucker.

What should guests bring on the tour?
You definitely want to wear comfortable shoes. No stiletto heels, this is a ranch after all! Wear a jacket in fall and winter; you won’t need one now, but it’s helpful in January. Hats help protect you from the sun. And an umbrella is helpful in spring. We sell umbrellas and ponchos, so if you forget one, we’ve got you covered if it rains.     

What are the tour basics? What can visitors expect?
We offer nine tours a day, 7 days a week, with trams every 45 minutes. Guests buy a ticket and look around at the gift shop and Dallas museum. Then you take a tram ride to the house. Inside the house is where you get the full history of Dallas and the property. Then, you can walk around outside on your own or sit by the pool and relax; have a sandwich at the deli. The tour takes about 30-45 minutes. 

What will guests recognize at Southfork Ranch from the Dallas show? What’s different?
The exterior is the same, but inside the house is totally different. The kitchen on the show is three times larger. The house is laid out differently, and the colors of the rooms are different.

What are some of the crazy stories you’ve heard from guests on the tour?
One woman said, “I was in labor and I had to watch Dallas so I could find out who shot J.R.” Another girl said her cat ran away and she was calling it for a week and it wouldn’t come back. Then she whistled the theme song to Dallas and her cat showed right back up. A few [foreign tourists] said they learned to speak English by watching the show, because Dallas was the only American show in their country.

Where are the best photo-ops?
My favorite spot is outside by Gate 3, where parts of the filming of the old and new Dallas series took place. It’s a beautiful canopy of Texas live oak trees that looks like it’s from Gone with the Wind. They’re on both sides of the drive. Another popular place for photos is Miss Ellie’s breakfast table – the original table used in Dallas – which sits on our back patio. I take a lot of pictures there.

Have you had any ghostly experiences at Southfork Ranch? Is J.R. still around?
We have a player piano that’s turned on a couple of times when it’s not supposed to. Also, there’s a red cardinal that started coming back after actor Larry Hagman, who played J.R., died. It flies against the glass trying to get in. They say a red cardinal is a sign of a loved one you’ve lost.

In addition to offering tours, Southfork Ranch serves as a popular event venue, concert hall and trail ride facility. Call 972-442-7800 or CLICK HERE to plan your visit to this historic Texas landmark.

Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top