Longhorn Country: Dallas For The First Timer

23 September 2015

Australians have been flying into Dallas Fort Worth Airport in great numbers thanks to Qantas’ direct flights from Sydney and thanks to the easy connections to pretty much anywhere in the USA and even Canada.

Next time you fly in, don’t just jet off somewhere else – stay a few days in the ‘Big D’. You'd be surprised at how much there is to see and do.

 Dallas has plenty to see and do

Pay Homage To JFK

The Sixth Floor Museum is a must. Formerly the Book Depository, it was from here that Lee Harvey Oswald shot President John F. Kennedy dead as he was driven down Elm Street in the motorcade on that fateful day back on November 22, 1963.

You can’t help but feel a chill down the spine when you see the white X marked on the road outside, beside the infamous grassy knoll. It is a thoughtful, informative and respectful museum – not to be missed.

Dallas is also home to the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, located at the Southern Methodist University.

 Eerie memories in the George W Bush Museum (Image: Helen Hayes)

Even if you weren’t a fan, it is fascinating to stroll around the many displays. The highlight for me was the section dedicated to the tragic events of September 11, complete with a piece of the World Trade Center, the photo of the exact moment President Bush was told of the first attack and incredible accounts of everything that happened on that day, and afterwards.

The Museum also has an exact replica of the Oval Office, as it was when President George W. Bush was in office, complete with the real desk that he used.

Art & Culture

The Dallas Museum of Art is well worth a visit with world class displays and exhibitions. Afterwards, head across the road to the Nasher Sculpture Center which features modern and contemporary sculpture in its indoor and outdoor galleries.

The Sculpture Garden is particularly beautiful, with 25 large-scale pieces dotted about among the 90 trees. For sustenance after all that art, head across the road to the innovative Klyde Warren Park – a busy green space built over a freeway and connecting the Arts District to Uptown.

 

 There are always food trucks in Klyde Warren Park (Image: Helen Hayes)

There are always food trucks on site and plenty of other activities, from bookshops to yoga to Zumba. It’s pretty good for people watching too.

If science is more your thing, visit the Perot Museum of Nature and Science – very hands on for kids.

Shopping At The Bishop

A local hot spot for shopping and dining, the Bishop Arts District is quirky and interesting with over 60 boutiques, galleries, cafes, restaurants and bars.

Oddfellows is excellent for breakfast and even serves decent flat white coffee, while for Texas barbecue, get yourself to Lockhart Smokehouse – so popular you might have to queue.

 The Bishop Arts District is a must (Image: Helen Hayes)

In the heart of the big state. Dallas Proves Everything Is Bigger In Texas

Ride out to a dude ranch. Saddle Up On The Dude Ranches Around Dallas


Cowboys Aplenty

Every taxi driver in Dallas – all giving glowing reports of what Dallas is like to live in – recommended the AT&T Stadium tour.

Home to the Dallas Cowboys, the Stadium is the world’s biggest domed structure and if you can’t get tickets to a game, sign up for an art tour - it has a world class collection of 56 paintings, sculptures and photographs including 16 pieces that were specially commissioned – or a VIP tour, which showcases the private suites, the press box, the locker rooms and even takes you on to the field.

For a different type of cowboy, visit Pioneer Plaza, which recreates the cattle drives of the old days, when trails brought settlers to this part of the world.

It is quite phenomenal to see the massive sculptures of a herd of longhorn cattle, crossing a river and being driven by three cowboys on horseback. Quite beautiful.

 Concrete longhorns in Pioneer Park (Image: Helen Hayes)

Saddle Up For Fort Worth

Fort Worth is full of character and is less than an hour’s drive from Dallas – you could easily spend a few days here. Don’t miss the following:

Visit the Stockyards National Historic District to see the twice-daily cattle drive, the Friday night rodeo, the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame and the western-style shops including Leddy’s, Mavericks and Finchers.

Have a drink in the White Elephant Saloon and look up – there are cowboy hats stuck to the roof, and check out Billy Bob’s Texas after dark. It’s the world’s biggest honky tonk, with live country music, bull riding, pool hall, bars, different places to dine and bootscootin’ lessons.

Head to the Cultural District to explore the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the Kimbell Art Museum (where you will find the very first painting ever done by Michelangelo) and the Anon Carter Museum of American Art.

Spend some time in Sundance Square with its water fountains, Chisholm Trail mural, heritage markers, the Sid Richardson gallery and many shops and restaurants.

Head on out to Wildcatter Ranch for a Texas cowboy experience – you can even feed a longhorn cow and go horseriding.

Where To Bunk Down

Dallas

Dallas Aloft Hotel is vibrant and colourful and is located right across the road from Pioneer Plaza. The rooms are quite spacious and the wxyz bar is excellent for a drink or three after sightseeing.

Fort Worth

The Stockyards Hotel is in the National Historic District and is awash with history itself. Bonnie and Clyde stayed here and one of the suites has Bonnie’s gun on display.


Visit your local Flight Centre store or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest deals on travelling to Dallas.


Helen Hayes

When not at home chained to the computer keyboard, I love nothing more than checking out ski resorts here and overseas, tropical islands, country towns, big cities, beautiful places to sail, and anywhere I can ride a horse. Twitter @helenhayes4 Instagram @helenhayesmedia