Dallas, Texas

The Big D

Dallas is located in northeast Texas, approximately 245 miles north of Houston and 190 miles south of Oklahoma City. The Trinity River flows through the city and there are more than 60 lakes in the area. Many of the lakes are used for recreational activities like boating and fishing. Dallas is basically flat. Some evenings viewers on the outskirts of the city can see the green outline of the Bank of America Plaza building in downtown Dallas.

Dallas' climate is humid but most of the annual rain falls in the spring often bringing entrancing thunderstorms. Dallas also sees hot, dry wind in the summer time. The winters can get quite cold, even icy. Fall is the ideal time to visit but if you don’t mind the occasional rain shower spring is also pleasant.

The people of Dallas are pleasant, too. They're welcoming and full of hospitality. Anyone who visits is more than likely to hear the greeting, "Hey, y'all!" Just don’t forget to taste some of their Texas Barbeque (BBQ) and enjoy a Tex-Mex dinner with a margarita. (Tex-Mex is a Texan spin on Mexican cuisine.)

Texas BBQ in Dallas © Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau
Dallas is known for its Texan BBQ.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Local residents refer to the Dallas/Fort Worth area as "the Metroplex." The Metroplex is in reference to the urbanized area around the cities, connected by over a dozen major highways. Many of the Dallas highways are known by two names and can be confusing to those unfamiliar with the area. The U.S. Highway 75 (Central Highway), Interstate 45 (Julius Schepps), and Interstate 35 (Simmons) run north and south. Interstate 635 (LBJ Freeway), Highway 183 (Airport Freeway), Interstate 30 (R.L. Thornton), and Loop 12 (Northwest Highway) run east and west. The Highway 114 (John Carpenter Freeway) runs northwest and southeast.

In addition to the many major highways that run though Dallas, an alternative mode of transportation is available, Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART). DART is Dallas' reputable transportation service which connects Dallas with 12 surrounding towns by three modes of service: DART Rail, Trinity Railway Express (TRE), and bus service. The TRE serves DFW Airport and the bus service serves Dallas Love Field airport.

The Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) is approximately 15 miles from Dallas and is the world's second largest airport. It's the main hub for American Airlines and serves over two dozen passenger airlines.

Dallas Love Field is a small airport and is only seven miles from downtown Dallas. Love Field is the headquarters for Southwest Airlines and also serves Delta ASA, and Continental Express.

Sixth Floor Museum of Dallas Book Repository © Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau
The Sixth Floor Museum takes visitors back in time to November 22, 1963, the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

Visit Southfork, the filming location for the 1980's "Dallas" TV show

Dallas is associated with cowboys and ranches, but visitors are often surprised to find the city to be such a fast-paced metropolis. However, visitors can still get taste of the country by visiting Southfork, best known as the filming location of 1980's TV show, Dallas. The "Ewing Mansion" is located north of Dallas in Plano, about half an hour from downtown.

Guided tours are available year round for individual and group tours. The "Dallas Legends" exhibit displays the gun that shot J.R., Lucy's Wedding Dress, the Dallas Family Tree, and Jock's Lincoln Continental. You can eat at Miss Ellie's Deli and buy souvenirs at the two "Dallas" themed gift shops.

General admission is $8.95 with senior and children discounts are available. Chuckwagon dinners are available for groups over 20. Cowboys and ranch hands entertain throughout the dinner with songs and cowboy poetry.

The West End Historic District

The downtown West End Historic District, referred to as the "West End," is recognizable for its restored red brick warehouses. Today the old buildings host dozens of restaurants, shops, bars, and dance clubs.

The famous four-level West End Market Place used to be a candy-and-cracker factory but now has activities and entertainment for all ages. On the first level is the West End Market Place Visitor Center. Escalators connect the levels which are filled with eateries, ethnic jewelry stores, the West End Comedy Theatre, western wear and Texas-themed shops. Level 3 has a photo shop where visitors can dress up in costumes and have their pictures taken with scenes of the Old West and the Victoria Era. Level 4 has a sports bar and indoor miniature golf.

On weekends the streets of the West End Historic District really pick up as people take horse carriage rides, roam the streets stopping to watch street entertainers, and enjoy the summertime's outdoor concerts.

Bar patrons have many choices in Dallas Ally which is a group of several clubs with varying music and on Market Street, the main road of the West End, is Gator's Croc & Rock which has live piano entertainment. The West End is great place to sit back after a day of activity and grab a bite to eat or just enjoy a cold beer before hitting the dance floor.

Sixth Floor Museum celebrates John F. Kennedy

Located in the West End Historic District is the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. The museum takes visitors back in time to November 22, 1963, the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza is a permanent historical exhibition filled with hundreds of photographs, documentary films, and relics celebrating the legacy of John F. Kennedy while focusing on his tragic death and the impression it left on the world. Investigation information and evidence is included in the preserved collection. Admission is $13.50 for adults and $12.50 for seniors and children. Children under age six are free of charge.

Reunion Tower has a stunning view

Reunion Tower is best known as "the ball" in the downtown Dallas skyline. Built as part of the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Reunion Tower is the 15th tallest building in Dallas. Elevators with a view take guests up the 50-story landmark. On the first level is a 360-degree observation deck, called The Lookout where a splendid view of the Dallas area and Fort Worth can be observed. Located on the level above is the elegant, full-service Antares Restaurant, which is open for lunch, dinner, and a Sunday brunch. On the highest level is The Dome, a cocktail bar open nightly for cocktails, food, and entertainment. The Dome and Antares are on revolving platforms, which complete a rotation every 55 minutes. A visit to Reunion Tower is truly a memorable experience.

Deep Ellum is a great place to listen to live bands

Deep Ellum is located only three blocks from downtown Dallas and dates back to shortly after the Civil War when former slaves settled, making it at the time the most culturally diverse part of Dallas. At one point the area was the warehouse district, holding several industries including a cotton gin and Henry Ford's assembly plants. Today Deep Ellum is the foundation of Dallas' music scene and considered a progressive, trendy area. It’s a great area to hang out and hear live bands in the different bars and clubs.

Cultural Activities

Rodeo in Dallas Fort Worth © DCVB
Rodeo is a popular spectator sport in Dallas.

The Arts District is a 61.7-acre neighborhood located in northeast Downtown Dallas. Over 13 organizations and facilities reside within the Arts District including the Dallas Museum of Art where an impressive collection consisting of over 23,000 pieces of world art from ancient to contemporary times is on display. The pieces vary from African, European, Ancient Mediterranean, Pacific Islands, Asian, and American. Exhibits from around the world frequent the museum and are often scheduled years in advance. Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for seniors, $5 for students, and children 12 and under are free of charge.

The Dallas Museum of Natural History satisfies visitors' curiosity about prehistoric times with a collection of over 280,000 specimens. There are ten permanent exhibits including Ice Age Dallas, Texas Dinosaurs, and the Lagoon Nature Walk. The Ocean Dallas exhibit displays the Ocean Heath Mosasaur, a 32-foot long reptile that swam near Dallas 75 million years ago, and the Protostega, a giant sea turtle that lived approximately 65 million years ago. The museum is located in Fair Park, only minutes east from downtown. Admission is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors, $5 for 13-18 years of age, $4 for children 3-12, and children under 3 are free of charge.

The Dallas Zoo is a great place to take the family

The Dallas Zoo is located only a few miles south of downtown, off of Interstate 35 East. The zoo is divided into two sections: Zoo North and Wilds of Africa. One of the many attractions Zoo North has an endangered tiger habitat and a section where children can pet and brush the animals. The Wilds of Africa features six major African habitats. Admission is $8 for adults, $4 for seniors, $5 for children 3-11, and children under 3 are free of charge. A comprehensive overview of Dallas attractions, along with tours available in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, can be found at OverseasAttractions.com.

Dallas is known for it shopping

Dallas has many shopping malls through out the Metroplex. One of the most impressive is the beautiful multilevel Galleria Dallas where there are over 200 stores including high-end shops Tiffany & Co. and Louis Vuitton. The main department stores are Macy's, Nordstrom, and Saks Fifth Avenue. Ice skaters can enjoy the newly renovated ice skating rink which sits under a vaulted skylight, inspired by Milan Italy's Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. Dallas Galleria is a shopper's paradise.

Dallas Galleria isn’t the only good place to shop. Highland Park Village has great shopping and great restaurants, which is located north of down town at Mockingbird Lane and Preston Road. Shoppers can pick up a Starbucks coffee to enjoy as they stroll in and out of the stores and boutiques. Cole Han and Chanel are a couple of the stores located here along with spas, health club, a movie theatre, bakery, and restaurants.

You don't want to miss shopping on a McKinney Avenue Trolleys which connect the Downtown Arts District with the historic, picturesque Uptown. Uptown is an upscale area offering dozens of boutiques, galleries, hotels, and restaurants, including the Hard Rock Café. Fine dining, fine shopping, and fine art are all part of the Uptown experience.

If an outlet mall is more your speed try the Allen Premium Outlets in Allen, TX, north of Dallas off Highway 75. There are more than 90 stores plus a food court.

Dallas Sports Teams

The other thing Dallas is known for is its football team, the Dallas Cowboys, and their cheerleaders. The Cowboys don't actually play in Dallas; they play 13 miles away in Irving, at the Texas Stadium. The Texas Rangers baseball team plays at the Ameriquest Field in Arlington, which is located 22 miles away. Located north of the West End is the American Airlines Center, home to the Dallas Mavericks basketball team and Dallas Stars hockey team.

Written by: Elizabeth L. Blair
Top Photo Credit: © Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau
Photo Description: Downtown Dallas skyline at night