Visiting Dallas - What to See and Do
(Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL) Dallas, Texas, USA)
For the quintessential Texan experience there are few better destinations than Dallas. The Big D may be pierced by a downtown full of glittering skyscrapers, but it still has honky-tonk bars like Gilley's, steak and barbecue houses and cowboy boots everywhere you turn. In a nutshell, Dallas epitomizes both the modern and western facets of the Lone Star State.
Its Arts District is one of the best in America, and its snappy shopping malls contain everything a dedicated consumer could hope for. There is a small amount of history on display, although the real highlights are simply enjoying its Texan-sized urban amenities. A night of dancing at Gilley's, shopping for cowboy boots and hats at Western Warehouse and digging into a monster chunk of sirloin at Bob's Steak and Chop House are simple pleasures here.
Dallas also has a very good selection of attractions, including a zoo, aquarium and botanical garden for a touch of the natural world. Sports fans can watch professional football, baseball, basketball, soccer and even hockey in the city's modern arenas. The golfing is also sublime, and if you like rodeos, you are in the right place. The Mesquite Championship Rodeo runs all summer long.
Ten things you must do in Dallas
- Unless you simply don't like cowboys, you have to experience the frenzy of a night out at a local honky-tonk bar. Gilley's is one of the best-known names, with a truly Texan-size bar to dance in. Cowboys Red River Dancehall is another Big D institution, complete with requisite mechanical bull and nightly live music. A more roadhouse scene can be found at Adair's Saloon in Deep Ellum, a true down and dirty honky-tonk.
- The artistic highlight of Dallas is the Nasher Sculpture Center. This stylish marble and glass building is the perfect setting for this collection of masterpieces that span the ages. The outdoor sculpture garden is just as enchanting, featuring pieces that are both enormous and exquisitely intricate. The Dallas Museum of Art is just next-door for a full day of artistic immersion.
- To get a saturation of the Old West version of the city, head over to the Dallas Heritage Village at Old City Park. This 5-hectare / 13-acre park contains over 30 historic buildings that recreate a Texan village from the 19th century. All of the buildings were transported here from their original sites around the city, with guided tours helping to put all the colorful stories into perspective.
- The greatest collection of Spanish artwork outside of Spain is found at the Meadows Museum of Art attraction. Built by one of the city's wealthiest oilmen (who had a penchant for Spanish art), this collection contains priceless pieces from every one of the great masters of Spain right through to the 20th-century geniuses of Dali, Picasso and Miro.
- A real surprise is the lush oasis at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, tucked along the edge of White Rock Lake. The 28 hectares / 70 acres here contain some outstanding gardens, woodlands and water features that are perfect for an escape from the heat and sun. Spring and autumn are particularly pleasant times to visit these popular gardens on the outskirts of the city.
- In case you didn't know, US President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas in 1963. The tragic event has been commemorated at the exact spot in the Texas School Book Depository where the shooting was executed. The sixth floor of this building has been converted into a museum detailing the presidency of Kennedy and the era in which he lived. Known as the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, it is a thought-provoking attraction and well worth a visit.
- A number of golfing legends started out in this area of North Texas, and you can play on some of the very courses where guys like Ben Hogan cut their teeth. The city itself manages several public courses, including the scenic Keeton Park Golf Course and Tenison Golf Course. Greens fees are very reasonable and the courses themselves are great to play.
- Texas is arguably the best state in the country to see a real rodeo. Just outside of the city is the Mesquite Championship Rodeo facility, where authentic rodeo action can be watched from April to September every Friday and Saturday night. Classic events include bull riding, calf roping, bareback riding and chuck-wagon races.
- The city's Arts District is the largest of its kind in the United States. Once the enclave of the city's rich and elite - when they moved out the artists moved in. Today, the neighborhood is the most scenic part of the downtown district, with street upon street of lovely grand old mansions. Most people just drive around and check it out, but you can just as easily get out and walk for an hour or two. Mixed in the scene are several museums and a handful of places to eat and shop.
- There is a lot going on after dark in this city when it comes to performance arts. Catch the Dallas Opera at the new Winspear Opera House or the city's acclaimed Symphony Orchestra at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. The city has some of America's most talented groups, and the newly opened Dallas Center for the Performing Arts provides even more space for the theater groups, musicians and artists who call the Big D home.