Presidential memorials, modern art, open green spaces, stunning architecture, culture-filled museums and a setting for some of the most significant events in history. Visiting Dallas in Texas is a must...
Dallas is an exciting city to explore. It has always been tied to big business, from late-1800s agricultural barons to railroad-related banking to the oil money that people gushed over in the legendary 1970s Dallas TV show. Its two busy airports currently host more domestic nonstop flights than any other US city – a sign of its enticing appeal.
However, there's another reason travellers flock to Big D: its significant tie to American history – the Sixth Floor Museum commemorates the legacy of President John F. Kennedy. On a happier historical note, Dallas is also home to distinctive Art Deco architecture in its Fair Park buildings from the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition, as well as a host of other reasons to visit. Read on for just seven of them...
On November 22, 1963, John F. Kennedy was assassinated while riding in a presidential motorcade through downtown Dallas’ Dealey Plaza. It remains one of the city’s darkest days, but also one of its most transformative. An official investigation concluded the fatal shots were fired from the 6th floor of the nearby Texas School Book Depository, now a museum dedicated to Kennedy’s legacy. Its highlight is a provoking glass-encased exhibit preserving the spot by the window where investigators found three spent rifle shells, a sniper’s nest and a gun. Down the street, the Kennedy Memorial Plaza includes a concrete structure surrounding a JFK monument.
(VisitDallas/ Joseph Haubert)
A famous frozen concoction was born in an unassuming Dallas strip mall housing Mariano’s Mexican Cuisine. Mariano Martinez perfected the frozen margarita in 1971 by blending just the right amount of tequila, lime juice, ice and other ingredients in a converted soft serve ice cream machine of his own design, launching a party drink that’s endured for decades. Visitors and locals can toast the popular libation via Dallas’ Margarita Mile, a collection of the city’s best and brightest margaritas, now infused with innovations like nitrogen cooling techniques and fancy flavours. Start with the original Mariano’s in North Dallas and use the app to plan a satisfying and slushy adventure across the city.
Fun at the fair (VisitDallas)
To fully experience the State Fair of Texas—held in Dallas each September and October—visitors should eat a corndog in the shadow of the enormously animatronic Big Tex while watching the University of Texas vs. University of Oklahoma game (American football). Add a few fried Twinkies, some fried beer and the nation’s tallest Ferris wheel, and the State Fair’s oversized legacy begins to take shape. The event is held in Fair Park, which added several impressive Art Deco buildings when it hosted Texas’ Centennial Celebration in 1936. The park’s centrepiece is the stunning Hall of State – a National Historic Landmark containing fascinating and informative Texas history exhibits.
Talk about literally bridging the gap… Klyde Warren Park just north of Dallas’ urban core traverses a subterranean highway and connects the Downtown and Uptown areas. Couples, families and leashed dogs frolic over a freeway, blissfully detached from the nuisance of traffic. Opened in 2012, the park is perched on the edge of the Dallas Arts District and creates green space ‘out of thin air’. More importantly, it serves as a popular community gathering space for Dallasites to escape the hectic city life humming just below their feet.
The first thing many visitors notice about the Perot Museum of Nature and Science is its stunning architecture—a decidedly modern building with eye-catching features like a glass rectangle affixed to the exterior wall and undulating wave patterns in the concrete facade. Once inside, however, it’s the past that takes centre stage. Dinosaur exhibits, natural wonders and science experiments occupy the museum’s five floors, each offering a fascinating glimpse into the region’s natural history. Highlights include a stellar solar system display and fun exhibits about prehistoric creatures.
Ask anyone in Dallas about ‘The Ball,’ and they’ll immediately mention Reunion Tower, the 171-metre-tall structure that’s one of the city’s most recognisable landmarks. Completed in 1978, Reunion Tower is best known for its magnificent light shows. At night, the globe is illuminated with hundreds of LED lights custom displayed for holidays, sports teams and other local celebrations. The Ball contains three floors inside, allowing visitors to ascend 50 stories (via elevator) to access an observation deck, upscale restaurant and event space.
Anchoring the city’s popular Arts District is the Dallas Museum of Art, featuring more than 24,000 works of world-class international artwork spanning several millennia. The museum covers a lot of cultural ground, from prehistoric Latin American ceramics to an impressive Islamic collection to contemporary masters like Jackson Pollock. Also notable are the facility’s works from Africa and the ancient Mediterranean. While in the area, be sure to explore the adjacent Nasher Sculpture Centre and Crow Museum of Asian Art.
The city is also home to one of the nation’s newest presidential museums: the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum. The museum is dedicated to W’s life and legacy as America’s 43rd president. Exhibits shed light on the halcyon days of the late-1990s/early 2000s, when Bush navigated international politics with a ‘rough around the edges’ approach that seems somewhat quaint these days. The museum’s innovative and effective use of video is worth noting—the 24-hour news coverage of the events of his presidency provides compelling footage, particularly in the powerful and emotional 9/11-related exhibits.
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