Dallas holidays

Where JR meets JFK

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Tip your Stetson thissa way

For many years, the soap opera Dallas seemed to define the city’s image as a sprawling, larger than life metropolis full of ten-gallon hats and even bigger hair. Scratch the surface today, though, and you’ll find a surprisingly hip and savvy city.

Of course, Dallas remains inevitably linked with the assassination of John F Kennedy in November 1963, and you’ll find a clutch of historic sights and museums dedicated to telling this story – as well as a gaggle of conspiracy theorists who lurk outside them touting their controversial theories. The city’s prime stretch of greenery is the five-acre Klyde Warren Park that’s home to a great lawn, interactive fountain and a fun programme of daily events. Cruise back downtown on the charming, vintage McKinney Trolley for a spot of shopping at the high-end Neiman Marcus department store.

Dallas is the home of the frozen margarita. Stagger your way through the best joints for this tequila-laced libation following the city’s Margarita Mile. Shake a tail feather in the trendy Deep Ellum nightlife district and play the free jukebox at legendary honky tonk Adair’s Saloon. You can’t leave town without sampling some authentic Texas barbecue. Try the mouth-watering beef brisket followed by Aunt Polly’s banana pudding at Pecan Lodge. Alternatively, splash out on an adventurous nose-to-tail 6-course tasting menu at fine-dining hotspot Petra and the Beast. Undeniably bold and brash, the Big D offers up no shortage of fun diversions to have you booking those flights to Dallas pronto.

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Make the most of your Dallas holiday

The city has a reputation for conspicuous consumption ever since it became the setting for the 1980s’ flashiest soap opera. This version of Dallas still lives on in Downtown’s glass towers, the designer shops of the Galleria mall and the sprawling houses of upscale Preston Hollow, but there’s much more to discover.

What are the best things to do in Dallas?

1. Take a photo at Pioneer Plaza. This monument pays homage to the Texas cattle drives of the 19th Century which saw thousands of longhorns ferried across the state. Laying claim to be the world’s largest bronze statue, the artwork by self-taught Texan Robert Summers depicts some 49 life-size cattle and three cowboys surging across a stream. The herd is rendered with painstaking detail, including ‘D’ for Dallas branding marks.

2. Scope out the Sixth Floor Museum on Dealey Plaza. Housed in the former book depository building where Lee Harvey Oswald took lethal aim on President John F Kennedy, this museum covers the story from all angles. Study 40,000 items and stand at the very window where Oswald took his shot, then nip to the Grassy Knoll to assess the likelihood of a second shooter for yourself. Round things off by hopping on the JFK Trolley Tour which stops at Oswald’s rooming house and the Texas Theater, the art deco cinema where he was finally apprehended.

3. The Dallas skyline has plenty of wow factor, topped by the distinctive glowing orb of the 560-ft Reunion Tower. Drink in the panoramic views from the GeO-Deck while sipping a cocktail and enjoy weekend events ranging from trivia nights to wine tastings.

4. Embrace your spiritual side at Thanks-Giving Square. This tranquil triangle in the heart of Downtown is set aside for quiet contemplation as a ‘place where people can use gratitude as a basis for dialogue, mutual understanding and healing’. There’s a meditation garden, a Wall of Praise, an interfaith chapel and a museum of gratitude.

5. Hoist a cold one at the Peticolas Brewing Company. This three-level taproom in the Design District is a bona fide mecca for beer buffs with an eye-popping array of craft beers on tap. Choose from the likes of refreshing Golden Opportunity to the mighty Sledge Hammer at 11.5%. It’s also a fine place to kick back and watch a soccer game. The owner Mike Peticolas is an obsessive Everton FC fan apparently.

6. Billy Bob's Texas, in the historic Fort Worth Stockyards, has become one of the most popular visitor attractions in the state. The family-friendly fun includes a real cowboy dinner, with real cowboy hospitality on the weekends. Test your skills on a huge variety of video and arcade games and pool tables. Become an instant rodeo legend on their Photo Bull, too.

7. Visit the set of Dallas at Southfork Ranch. Tour the Ewing Mansion and re-live key moments from the show in the Dallas Legends exhibit, featuring an array of memorabilia from the series. See the gun that shot JR, Lucy's wedding dress, the Dallas family tree, and Jock's Lincoln Continental.

8. Escape the heat of the city and rejuvenate at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. The 66-acre idyll offers a majestic lake and beautifully landscaped gardens which regularly puts it in lists of the best botanic gardens in the world.

9. Galleria Dallas is a vast shopping mall in North Dallas that’s home to over 200 prime dining and shopping outlets including Gucci, Tiffany & Co, Louis Vuitton and Michael Kors. Dining hotspots include the award-winning Blue Fish and renowned seafood purveyor Oceanaire. There’s an ice rink and a glass vaulted ceiling that’s modelled after its Milan namesake.

10. Highland Park Village is an upmarket outdoor shopping plaza. It was the first self-contained shopping centre in America and is a National Historic Landmark. Today, the Village is home to Chanel, Hermes, Ralph Lauren, Christian Dior and Jimmy Choo among many others.

Where are the best places to visit in Dallas?

The achingly hip Bishop Arts District is home to over 60 indie stores, cafes, restaurants, theatres, antique shops and galleries, and is just five minutes from Downtown. Don’t miss the quarterly Wine Walks.

Downtown Dallas is packed with attractions, complete with the largest urban arts district in the US, spread over 20 blocks. The historic West End features rows of converted warehouses with shady patios and the JFK Memorial Plaza. There’s a daily farmers’ market and the AT&T Discovery District, with its futuristic 9,000 square foot Media Wall.

Denton is a small college city with a thriving live music scene and lively nightlife. At the centre of town, the Denton County Courthouse-on-the-Square Museum is a beautiful former courthouse. The Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center has wetlands, trails and sublime prairie views, while the Pilot Knoll Park is ideal for camping and boating.

Fort Worth is known as ‘the museum capital of the Southwest’ for its collections, like the Modern Art Museum and the Kimbell Art Museum, which has Michelangelo’s first known painting. Other key attractions include the Stockyards National Historic District, the 37-block arts and entertainment district of Sundance Square and the Texas Motor Speedway.



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