Dallas. The Big D, The Triple D, whatever you call it, it’s certainly one of Texas’ favourite cities. Yeah, it might not be the capital of the state, or even the biggest city but Dallas is home of cowboys, supersized comfort food, competitive sport and definitely deserves to be on your Texas bucket list next time you’re headed off across the pond, and here’s why:
Standing amongst the boxy skyscrapers and geometric designs of the city skyline is the orb of the Reunion Tower. Uncover Dallas’ beauty from above the clouds (470ft to be exact) at the GeO-Deck, and soak up the stunning 360- degree panoramic views of the city. Be sure to check out the interactive displays too, you’ll find touch screens, free photos, a virtual reality experience and the new Reunion Tower Constellation. It’s here you’ll be able to add your name and geographical info to a star, and create an avatar (not the blue kind), describing your experience with illustrations. With every visit, your impression will grow until you expand from a single star to an even larger constellation, pretty nifty hey?
22nd November 1963. You probably recognise this date from your ol’ history lessons in school. It’s the day Dallas’ history was chequered with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Dealey Plaza. The assassin was thought to have been located in the former Texas School Book Depositary, and the building has since been converted into a museum chronicling JFK’s rise (and fall), the aftermath and his reigning legacy. Thoughtfully curated, the museum’s audio tour informs and educates without scandalising or sensationalising the events and reflects his achievements and perhaps what he could have achieved had he not died so prematurely.
Who’d have thought a former parking lot could hold so much history? You’ll want to get moo-ving over to Pioneer Plaza, the 4.2 acre public park. It’s not only the largest public space in the CBD but it is also the second biggest attraction in downtown Dallas after the site of JFK’s assassination.
Naturally it makes for the ideal spot for a #Dallas photo for the ‘gram but make sure to soak up the historic details on the sculptures too. To commemorate the trails which brought the first settlers to the city, these bronze sculptures depict depict three cattle drivers herding 40 longhorn steers over a hill and through a stream and native plants.
When it comes to choosing where to stay in the Big D you’re spoilt for choice. But there’s only one place on our mind, The Adolphus.The city’s first luxury hotel, The Adolphus first opened back in 1912 and over 100 years later, it’s still the reigning champion. Situated in downtown Dallas, the hotel is the perfect base to get out and explore the city. That’s, of course, if you can leave the hotel. Thanks to their recent major renovation it’s home to a luxurious spa and rooftop pool which I’ve had the pleasure of spending hours basking in the waters, frozen margarita in tow.
As well as 407 luxury rooms and suites, the hotel is home to fine dining restaurant, The French Room, Otto’s Coffee, a Vienesse inspired coffee shop and City Hall Bistro, an all day cafe that serves up healthy meals. Yep, it is possible to find something healthy in Dallas! If old world glamour and hospitality with a modern edge is your vibe then The Adolphus is the hotel for you.
If you’re over the typical Tex Mex and big Dallas dishes you’ve been gorging into since arriving, The Adolphus’ fine dining restaurant, The French Room, is one to take a swoon in. Think elegant European accents with an American twist, the dining room is filled with white gilded walls and high ceilings, illuminated by commanding chandeliers, whilst candles bathe the room in a soft light.
We’re getting serious date night vibes over here. The food, of course, focuses on French cuisine (it’s in the name). You’ll expect to find filet with pomme purée, rapini and sauce bordelaise and scallop velouté with smoked shitake, beech mushrooms and asparagus on the menu. A tip from us: don’t miss the chocolate shuffle with lacquered raspberries – it’ll satisfy any chocolate craving you’ve got.
Believe it or not, behind all the Hollywood stereotypes we’ve grown up to love, Dallas isn’t all about Tex Mex and cowboy drives. No, the city’s Art District is actually the largest in the USA, spanning 68 acres and 19 blocks. It’s home to a number of art galleries and museums, but if you take to the streets you’ll find plenty of street art, graffiti and murals awaiting your discovery. Start in the district of Deep Ellum to spot some of the best.
Shy away from the crowded skyscrapers and venture on over to the notorious Dallas Farmers Market. Having started life as a humble horse and wagon wholesale business back in 1941, the market has grown up with the city whilst still retaining a golden element of being free from the hustle and bustle of city life. Open seven days a week, the market showcases local produce and crafts with the aim to cultivate a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle for North Texas.
Vendors include the award winning American Butchers, pizza truck Bellatrino, Cajun Tailgators, tamales makers El Mero Mero and Rex’s Seafood and Market. The market is also host to plenty of private and public events throughout the year including Dallas’ Original Watermelon Festival – it doesn’t get much more wholesome than that!
The more liberal city of Austin may be the capital of the Lone Star state, but for me, Dallas is the epitome of Texas, so it’s only right that it’s home to the State Fair of Texas, a 24 day over-sized feast championing all things Texan. And oh boy is it home to some scrummy snacks. There’s more deep fried, bacon covered, ranch coated, sugar dusted dishes than you could swing a lasso at. We’re talking deep fried shepherd’s pie, corn dogs stuffed with chilli and deep fried cakes stuffed with icing – the deep fat friers are in overdrive!
The fried foods reach peak level at the annual Big Tex Choice Awards competition where they’ve had everything from fried peaches and cream to fried beer. It’s a glutton’s paradise (or a doctor’s nightmare).
In another American episode of ‘let’s take our favourite things and combine them’ we have the Beerita. Not sure what it is? Don’t worry we didn’t either. It’s basically an over-sized frozen margarita upgraded by a bottle of iced beer stuck upside down in it. Best enjoyed on a scorching hot day at Katy Trail Ice House.
The Ice House is an award-winning large Austin-style beer garden that’s home to a fifty foot bar, with a beer on tap for every foot. Um, sign us up! It’s the perfect spot to spend your afternoon gorging on Texas BBQ and cheese fries, all washed down with a Beerita or two! If you fancy venturing outta the city, take a stroll along the Katy Trail, a 3.5 mile route built on an old railroad line. Swinging in at the finish line is a cocktail and BBQ feast, oh yeah.
If you hadn’t guessed it, sports plays a pretty big part in Dallas culture. It is, after all, home to five major professional teams. If it’s American football you’re after, you’ve got to see a Dallas Cowboys game while you’re in town. Basketball fans need to throw a hoop with the Dallas Mavericks, while the Texas Rangers will knock you outta the park. Soccer is covered by FC Dallas and Dallas Stars have got the ice hockey box ticked. Basically it’s a rite of passage to catch a game while you’re visiting the Big D.
Feeling exhausted of the big smoke? Drive out west of Dallas and you’ll find yourself engulfed by Fort Worth, ‘the city of cowboys and culture’. It’s one of Texas’ hotspots jam-packed with museums, historic buildings, boutiques and, of course, cowboys.
If you’re strapped for time, we’d suggest heading straight to the Stockyards. Once home to the cowboys and outlaws of history of the district, it’s kept alive today with the world’s only twice daily drives of longhorn cattle, rodeos, line dancing and Honky Tonk music. Let’s face it, it’s where the American West began. Nowadays the actual stockyards are home to numerous shops and eateries, cattle are still sold (albeit via satellite video) and there’s even a cowboy church, but it’s past is evident at every turn and it’s well worth exploring.