By Suzanne Ferrara
When you arrive in the sprawling ‘Big D’, it’s hard not to think of the award-winning 1970s television show “Dallas’. Today, this major city is fast-paced, and still somewhat reflective of the old saying, ‘Everything’s Bigger in Texas’!! Its population exemplifies that, as the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex is the fourth-most populous metropolitan area in America! (Fun Fact: “Bigger’n Dallas” is a local expression people use to point out someone or something that should be noticed because of the way they look, act, etc.).
Be aware that you’ve entered Dallas Cowboy territory, where seemingly everyone who lives here is proudly a cheerleader (or at least a fervent fan) of one of the National Football League’s most popular franchises. It’s also the city where the iconic Texas State Fair is held every year. The Texas State Fair is one of the most beloved American events , one which celebrates everything Texan! This family-friendly tradition will be held this year from September 28th through October 21st, so this is indeed a great time to schedule a visit to Dallas. (Tip: Be sure not to miss the butter sculpture competition).
After taking in the view of Dallas from 561 feet in the air at Reunion Tower, if you are into American history, your next stop should be the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. This is where, according to the FBI, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald. This intriguing museum not only depicts in depth the events of that ill-fated day (November 22nd, 1963) which shocked America, but gives an intimate look into the life, times, and legacy of President Kennedy.
Speaking of history, young and old are mesmerized at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science where you can literally stand next to a full scale T Rex. While the museum has nearly a dozen fascinating permanent exhibits– including the T. Boone Pickens Life Then and Now Hall– you don’t want to miss the Ultimate Dinosaurs Traveling Exhibition. This experience, focusing on the massive prehistoric creatures that roamed the Earth, will leave you awestruck, and is also home of the first mounted skeletal dinosaur in the state of Texas.
This museum offers much more than one can write about including an intriguing Sports Hall, an Expanding Universe Hall and interactive technology and hands-on discovery that will bring you from the depths of the ocean to fascinating DNA discoveries. While here, don’t miss The Hoglund Foundation Theater, a National Geographic Experience which is the Museum’s cutting-edge theater. This state-of-the-art theater has 4K digital projection, RealD 3D capabilities, and immersive surround sound.
Kids five and under won’t want to miss the opportunity to use scoops, shovels, and rakes to discover replica fossils in the shaded outdoor dig area! Take the elevator down to the ground level into the Moody Family Children’s Museum, and get digging!
Admission Tip: While general admission is free for permanent exhibits, the best and most cost saving deal is to purchase the Total Experience Package. This offer includes the museum’s special exhibit, Ultimate Dinosaurs, and a 3-D film in The Hoglund Foundation Theater. Prices for this ultimate bundle vary (depending on whether the package is purchased for a child or adult) with prices ranging from $26 $38 for non-members). (Food Tip: The Café, which serves an American Fare and more, is operated by Wolfgang Puck and has daily scrumptious specials).
Now, remember: You are in the heart of the Dallas Arts District, so there’s much more to see and do in-and-around this amazing museum like the extraordinary Dallas Museum of Art and the adjacent Nasher Sculpture Center. The Nasher has both modern and contemporary sculptures, and is located on a 2.4-acre site. There are literally hundreds of sculptures primarily created by some of the 20th-century’s greatest artists.
Want more great places to explore? Visit Klyde Warren Park, the 5.2-acre downtown public park that rests over the Woodall Rodgers Freeway. With five daily activities (and more), there’s always something to do in this beautiful green space; and if you are hungry there are food trucks on Friday that serve a wide variety of unique and artisan foods. Another fascinating find is the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum; this center has state-of-the-art interactive exhibits and uncovers issues and events of the former president’s administration. In addition, there are also 43,000 gifts given to the President and First Lady housed here plus a full-size replica of White House Oval Office.
(Big Tip: By purchasing a Dallas CityPASS, you can save money if you plan on visiting a handful of these attractions and much more).
Shopaholic? You’ve come to the right place! Just as Dallas is big, so is the shopping. From prominent department stores, outlet malls, mammoth malls to wide-ranging flea markets, Dallas has it all! While the beloved Dallas Galleria won’t let you down, another great place that’s known throughout the state (and the nation) for great shopping is the 2,000,000 square-foot NorthPark Center. NorthPark Center has more than 235 retailers, dozens of great eateries, plus a 16-screen AMC Theater and has been ranked among the top five shopping destinations in America. Many believe the iconic department stores and the designer boutiques, though, are reason alone to visit this mega mall. (Parking Tip: Valet parking is available at the NorthPark Center. This shopping mecca has a ticketless valet system, so there’s no need to worry about a valet ticket. Just drop off your car at one of seven valet locations and guess what? No matter where you drop off your car, you can pick it up at any valet location. Also, with the purchase of a meal, several NorthPark Center restaurants will validate your valet bill with a simple text to your phone).
Hungry? Yes, there are a plethora of great eateries at NorthPark Center; however, there are several local favorite eateries that are not to missed while visiting Dallas. When you’re not counting calories, you must sink your teeth into the famous and original Snuffer’s Cheddar Fries. Snuffer’s Restaurant and Bar has been serving up world-famous cheddar fries & legendary burgers since 1978; the original cheddar fries are made with hand-cut Idaho Potatoes and topped with fresh-aged Wisconsin cheddar cheese. Many will tell you these are the best fries they’ve ever tasted.
Another great longtime hotspot for inexpensive (but delicious) tacos is Taqueria El Si Hay. This taco shack is considered one of the best in Dallas, and is where devoted customers either pick up their tacos to go or eat them right away in the car (or in the parking lot).
As mentioned earlier, you can get a feast for the eyes — as well as for your stomach— at the award-winning Wolfgang Puck’s Five Sixty restaurant amid the Dallas skyline inside Reunion Tower. Five Sixty serves mouthwatering Asian-inspired cuisine and, courtesy of a contemporary and dramatic revolving dining room, has an amazing Raw Bar all with 360-degree views of the city. (Big Tip: Make your reservation in time for sunset over the city; also, this restaurant is open until midnight so a drink over the skyline is a beautiful experience as well). (Tip: Valet is available and the base of the tower and the dress code is business casual with collared for men). (Menu Tip: The restaurant periodically offers a five-course tasting menu featuring its signature dishes at a great price, so check the website or call in advance to schedule this awesome dining experience ).
Last, but most certainly not least, a few other great local favorites is the Steel Restaurant, a laid back restaurant and lounge with an unmatchable sushi selection, and also serves IndoChine, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean cuisine. Another great option is the Whiskey Cake Kitchen & Bar, a new American restaurant in a contemporary industrial-style atmosphere. The brunches here are second to none, and be sure to order a tasty libation from the fabulous whiskey cocktail menu. Need another option? How about the energetic and modern OCEAN PRIME for great prime cut steaks and fresh seafood. Located in uptown Dallas’ Rosewood Court, OCEAN PRIME was listed among the “Top 20 Steakhouses” in D magazine.
After exploring the Dallas, you will need a Texas-sized goodnight’s rest!
If it’s good enough for the Queen of England, several U-S Presidents, and the ‘who’s who’ in the celebrity world, it should be good enough for you and yours. Downtown Dallas’ historic and iconic The Adolphus Hotel opened in 1912 and has recently undergone a multi-million dollar makeover. Here you will find crystal chandeliers, velvet furniture, dark wood paneling flanking the walls, and an elegant marble staircase amid its large chic lobby. (Fact: For several years the Adolphus was the tallest building in Texas). (Fact: The Adolphus is located in the city’s Main Street District and is an Autograph Collection hotel).
Perhaps one of the biggest gems and a longtime favorite at this hotel is The French Room, one of the finest restaurants in Dallas where traditions are made and special days are celebrated. The highly-esteemed French Room has grand European architecture with gilded Louis XVI-style chairs and Italian Murano Glass chandeliers. The award-winning cuisine is second-to-none and is sure to please even the most discerning of palates. (Tip: The sumptuous seven-course tasting menu is a perfect way to treat your taste buds to the prized creations of this iconic restaurant.
You can also add perfect wine pairings with this tasting tour). Be sure to notice the beautiful eclectic contemporary art work at the French Room Salon where you can sip your favorite libation. For another special experience, make a reservation at Tea at the Adolphus where you are sure to enjoy an unforgettable afternoon.
For a complete change-of-pace off this gorgeous hotel’s lobby, grab a bite at the hip City Hall Bistro where the mouthwatering Brick Oven Jidori Chicken is a very popular dish. (This Jidori Chicken has toasted sesame, lemon rice, mango pickle with Zhug sauce). (Fun Fact: To help get you revved up for your day, morning servers wear black T-shirts with the slogan ‘You Can’t Fight City Hall’). While at the hotel, grab a delicious cup of java at the Otto Coffee and Fine Foods.
Be sure to carve out time to relax and enjoy both the hotel’s new rooftop pool and Spa Adolphus. Your journey to total bliss begins in the Spa Adolphus’ relaxation room which has a soothing patio overlooking Dallas. (Tip: One of the most popular massages is the 90-minute Spa Adolphus Signature Massage where French Lavender Massage oil is used with relaxation and deep-tissue techniques).
The Adolphus has one-and-two-bedroom luxury suites, and you can request either a garden terrace or a skylight suite, the latter of which has dramatic views of downtown Dallas. (Tip: There’s free shuttle service to attractions within a three-mile radius).
Need more lodging options? As mentioned above, if you want to sleep next to the iconic landmark Reunion Tower in downtown Dallas,then the Hyatt Regency Dallas is a good option. This hotel has everything you need and is popular with conventions, and is within walking distance of many attractions including Dealey Plaza and the historic West End. You can reserve a room or suite overlooking downtown Dallas or the Trinity River Greenbelt.
Make no mistake about it; one trip to Dallas is not enough to cover all that this mega, bold city has to offer. They do things in a big way here and that alone will make for a memorable experience only to be had in Dallas territory.