Things To Do In Dallas
Dallas is a city in Texas and the fourth largest metropolis in the United States. While many people may know the city from the television series of the same name, or by one of the city's championship sports teams, the Dallas area has been inhabited for thousands of years.
Dallas can trace its roots back to the indigenous Caddo tribes that inhabited the land thousands of years before the Spanish and French arrived. While the French never made much of an attempt to stay, the Spanish colonization was quite permanent. Later, cotton, railways, and the discovery of oil would forever change the landscape of the region. Today, Dallas is home to the third-largest concentration of Fortune 500 companies in the world, the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport – a major airline hub and one of the busiest airports in the world – and the most successful American Football brand in the nation: The Dallas Cowboys.
When To Go:
The best time to visit Dallas is in late fall through early spring. Fall brings out the remarkable colors of changing leaves and spring boasts glorious flowers. Fall and winter are also in the prime of American Football season, and if you are fortunate you can catch a game while you are there. The weather during these times are the wettest in Dallas, but the rains are not frequent or long-lasting.
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Summers in Dallas are very, very hot with the temperatures often well above 100 degrees F. Late spring and early fall are known for their violent thunderstorms with severe lightning and damaging hail. Dallas is also situated right in the center of Tornado Alley with many tornadoes visiting the metropolis in late spring and early fall.
What to see and do in the amazing city of Dallas:
Texas School Book Depository
One of the most infamous events to take place in Dallas happened on November 22, 1963. President John F Kennedy was assassinated while his car passed through downtown Dallas. This shooting has been the fodder of more conspiracy theories than perhaps any other event in history. The person convicted of the shooting, Lee Harvey Oswald, was said to have shot President Kennedy from the 2nd floor of the Texas School Book Depository. The site has been turned into a museum honoring President Kennedy.
If you are in Dallas, you really must visit this famed site and stroll across the mysterious grassy knoll. Perhaps you will be the one to figure out what really happened.
State Fair of Texas
Since 1886, The State Fair of Texas has been held annually at Fair Park. The fair usually starts at the end of September and lasts for nearly a month. Two of the main events of the fair are the football game between Oklahoma and Texas, which is played in the Cotton Bowl stadium in Fair Park, and the “State Fair Classic” game between Prairie View A&M University and Grambling State, also held in the Cotton Bowl.
The auto show at the fair dates to 1904, and today has over 28,000 square meters of automobiles in addition to a truck zone and test drive track. Many new car models are first shown to the public at the fair.
A gondola travels above the fair grounds and can take you from event to event in style. Some of the better known events are the auto show, the BMX bike show, the 55-foot cowboy “Big Tex”, and the Texas Star, the largest Ferris Wheel in the United States.
On the gastronomic side, the fair has the “honor” of being known for introducing artery-clogging, heart-stopping foods to the world such as deep-fried Oreos and Twinkies, batter-fried Coke, and even deep-fried butter.
The 277-acre Fair Park can trace its roots to 1886. The art deco park is a National Historic Landmark and home to the Texas State Fair. The grounds contain many enormous sculptures and several beautiful fountains. Many permanent attractions are housed at the park. The better known include: the African American Museum, Museum of Nature and Science, and the Cotton Bowl.
In addition to the sites, the park is also a great place to relax, take a walk on the beautiful trails, watch birds, exercise, have a picnic, or simply sit and watch the sunset.
While it's not New York, Dallas has many buildings over 700 feet tall that give it a well-known skyline, perhaps made most famous by its appearance at the beginning of each episode of the television serial Dallas. A trip up the 561-foot Reunion Tower will give you some dramatic views of this famous vista.
The Reunion Tower, known as The Orb, used to be a stand alone tower, but now is attached to the Hyatt Regency Dallas. The top of the tower is an open air dome with LED lighting that is turned on at night giving off different light patterns that can be seen for miles.
The tower's four outside shafts are glass-faced elevators that allow a magnificent view of the city as you take the minute-plus ride to the observation deck and restaurant. From the dome's 1st floor observation deck, you can get brilliant views of the city and a 360 degree view of the skyline. At the time of this article's writing, Wolfgang Puck still had his Five Sixty restaurant on the tower's rotating top level. The middle level is reserved for special Wolfgang Puck catered events. The inside of the observation deck has interactive digital histories of the tower, the city, and the events of the Kennedy assassination in 1963.
Dallas is home to some of the best known sports teams in the world, and the most valuable team in the nation. If you love sports, in addition to the many collegiate options available, the professional offerings are literally some of the best in the world.
The National Football League's Dallas Cowboys have won five Superbowls. Known as “America's Team”, the Cowboys have created a brand recognized world-wide. Within the entire world of professional sports, only Manchester United is more profitable. If the Cowboys are playing while you are in Dallas, you should really try to get tickets. If you don't like American Football, get seats on the Dallas Cowboy's sideline and enjoy the famed Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders.
The Texas Rangers represent Dallas in professional baseball. Since their debut in 1971, they have been in the playoffs 6 times. Two of those playoff opportunities were cashed in for trips to the World Series in 2010 and 2011.
The Dallas Mavericks have only been a part of the National Basketball Association since 1980. Yet, in only a few years they have become the 5th most valuable team in the NBA. They also hold the record for the most consecutive sold out games in North American professional sports. The Mavs have won three division titles, two conference championships, and they won the NBA Championship in 2011.
The Dallas Stars of the National Hockey League were formed out of the Minnesota Northstars in the 1967 expansion. Since then, they have won seven division championships, been named the top team in the NHL twice, and won the Stanley Cup in 1999.
FC Dallas, formerly the Dallas Burn, represent Dallas in professional soccer. While they have not won any championships, and you won't get the feel of a Euro-cup game, if you love futbol, there are worse places you could spend your day.
The Arts Scene
Dallas has an amazing arts scene. In fact, an entire neighborhood named Deep Ellum is known for its arts and has been since the 1920s. In the 20s, the Deep Ellum neighborhood in East Dallas was famed throughout the South for its Jazz and Blues. Today, the neighborhood keeps the trend alive and sports nightclubs of every variety. If there is a type of music or dance you enjoy, you will find it in Deep Ellum.
The Dallas Museum of Art dates to 1903. Today it boasts over 24,000 pieces that range from the present to more than 3,000 BC., and the museums research library consists of over 50,000 volumes. With featured art from the ancient Mediterranean and Egypt, Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas, the museum's collections include some of the finest pieces in the entire world. Whether painting or drawing, sculpture or photography – the museum has something for every artistic taste.
The Trammel and Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art is dedicated to the arts and culture of China, Japan and India. The collection dates from 3500 BC to the early 20th century. The three galleries display the best of the Crow family's collection of thousands of collected works.
In the midst of Dallas' Art District you will find the Nasher Sculpture Center. This is the home of one of the greatest collections of modern and contemporary sculptures in the world. Featuring both indoor and outdoor galleries, the center has works by such famed artists as Gauguin, Picasso, Rodin, Matisse, and de Kooning among many, many others. The museum itself was designed by famed artist and architect Renzo Piano. The stunning design and layout of the building and gardens truly creates a world of sculptures within a sculptured masterpiece.
Dallas has more places to shop per capita than any other place in the country. Thus, it is not surprising that the second largest shopping complex in the Unites States, and the first ever self-contained shopping center in the nation, the Highland Park Village, is located there. What might be surprising is that it was built in 1931! Today, while it considered a National Historic Landmark, the center is home to exclusive, top-drawer shops and trendy cafes. It is also home to Texas' first luxury theater, the Village Theater, which opened in 1935. Sadly, it has been expanded and renovated several times, but it does still have some of its original charm and is worth a visit.
In addition to the Highland Park Village, Dallas has just under 2 dozen other malls each with over 100 stores. A few of them like NorthPark Center, Grapevine Mills, and Galleria Dallas have upwards of 200 stores each.
Of course, that's just malls. If you can think of a chain retailer or boutique you can be pretty certain you will find at least one of their stores in Dallas. Amazingly, even with all of the large-volume competition, a great number of smaller, local stores have found success in Dallas as well.
You cannot go to Dallas and not experience a Texas BBQ. Get out of your hotel and delight in the diverse and famed gastronomy that makes Dallas' cuisine so amazing. Whether it's a straight-up BBQ, some authentic Mexican, or the combination that has come to be knows as Tex-Mex, Dallas has it all. From hole-in-the-wall eateries frequented by locals in-the-know to Zagat ranked fine dining establishments, you will find something to your liking.
The Ritz-Carlton Dallas is consistently one of the top ranked hotel restaurants in the nation, and in 2009 was named the 2nd best in the world only behind Paris's Four Seasons King George V in France.
Southfork Ranch from the television show Dallas is a real place. Located just outside Dallas, the ranch's original name was Duncan Acres. For most of the series, the outside scenes were shot on location at the ranch. The interior was used just once, however, the rest of the inside shots were done at a studio.
While the current version of Dallas still shoots at the ranch for outside scenes, the ranch is mostly used as an event and conference center.
Tours are available, and there is a lot of memorabilia on site. Many of the guides were there for the original series, and are there for the current shows, so they have the skinny on what goes on behind the scenes. There is also a gift shop where you can buy souvenirs. If you grew up with the show, this is an absolutely must see.
Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens
The 66-acre, nationally recognized and heralded Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens are home to meticulously sculpted gardens, dazzling fountains, and delightful views of the Dallas skyline.
In 1984, the Arboretum was formed by the joining of the DeGolyer estate and the Alex Camp House. The 21,000 square foot DeGolyer Spanish-style house, built in 1940, is listed as a National Historic Landmark. Today, there are nearly 2 dozen specific types of gardens, each with its own breathtaking display of horticultural genius. Also included on the arboretum grounds are picnic areas, a child's Pioneer Adventure area, and a concert stage. A visitors' center has a gift shop, gazebo, and a patio overlooking White Rock Lake.
The arboretum hosts a number of festivals through the year. In the spring, the Dallas Blooms Festival showcases over 500,000 springtime flowers. The festival has been going strong for over 31 years and is the largest flower festival in the southwest. The main feature of the festival are the many thousands of azaleas.
When the summer flowers are at their peak, stop by for Summer at the Arboretum. From petunias to marigolds the fields and gardens are just bursting with colors.
The Pumpkin Village is the highlight of Autumn in the Arboretum. If over 65,000 pumpkins, squash and gourds are not enough, there are many special events including scavenger hunts, a hay bale maze, and a children's pumpkin patch.
Winter brings the 12 Days of Christmas at the Dallas Arboretum. A collection of Victorian gazebos decorated inside and out with the characters from the famous Christmas song are encased in glass. Music and festivities make this a magical place to be during the Christmas season.
White Rock Lake
White Rock Lake is a reservoir that was formed over 100 years ago when the White Rock creek was dammed for local farmers. The lake covers more than 1200 acres and is surrounded by beautiful parks and walking trails. The lake is a favorite for kayaking, sailing and canoeing. A number of boating, sailing, and rowing clubs have their base on the lake. There are also several fishing piers. The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden are on the lake's eastern shore.
The incredible diversity of plant and animal life make this area a nature lover's dream. From the trees, flowers, and grasses to the many different types of animals, the White Rock Lake shoreline and park areas provide a great place to escape the city. Many varieties of birds including geese, herons, pelicans, hawks, owls and eagles, as well as a variety of songbirds. call the lake and parks their home.
For those of a superstitious nature, White Rock Lake is said to be haunted by the spirit of a 20 year old girl who drowned in the lake in the 1930s.
The White Rock Marathon is a top-10 US Marathon and a Boston Marathon qualifier. A section of the 26.2 mile race takes the runners around the lake.
Gilley's was a bar made famous in the movie Urban Cowboy in the 1970s. Known for its mechanical bulls, a small rodeo yard, and a motocross track the honkey tonk was a cult classic. Originally in Pasadena, Texas, the bar closed in 1990 after a fire. It was moved to a new location in Dallas and reopened in 2003. The original mechanical bull, El Toro, from the movie is still there. With over 28,000 square feet, the club is still a Texas classic.
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