Dallas evokes larger-than-life personalities from J.R. Ewing to John F. Kennedy. It’s Cowboys, Six Flags, music and fun all rolled into one.
But the Big D is much more than that. The city attracts more than 27 million travelers each year from all over the world to enjoy a dazzling array of museums, gardens and entertainment choices, including cosmopolitan arts.
With more than 12,000 restaurants, over 200 golf courses and six professional teams, everything’s bigger and, as Texans like to say, better there.
The metropolitan area embodies both triumph and tragedy, from the excitement of AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, to Dealey Plaza, site of the 1963 assassination of President Kennedy. It boasts a massive urban arts district and excellent access by air.
And those are just a few reasons Dallas may be the perfect fit for a 2022 trip.
“Dallas is not what people think,” said Stephanie Faulk, director of marketing and communications for Visit Dallas. “It’s very cosmopolitan and sophisticated.”
Here are some sites in Dallas and the surrounding areas that your group will want to see next time you visit the metroplex
Longtime fans of the TV show “Dallas” can travel north from downtown toward Lavon Lake for a firsthand look at Southfork Ranch.
Fans of the fictional Ewing family can see the ranch’s white plank fences and the porch where J.R., Bobby, Jock, Miss Ellie and family shared food and feuds. They can also stroll the driveway where the Ewings hosted their grand Texas barbecues.
In the heart of town lies one of the city’s most charming neighborhoods — the Bishop Arts District — a mix of restaurants, bars, shops, art galleries and entertainment venues.
Another massive arts hub is the 68-acre Dallas Arts District, which includes the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, the Crow Museum of Asian Art, the Dallas World Aquarium, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Nasher Sculpture Center and the Reunion Tower observation deck.
Following a 68-second ride up, Reunion Tower provides a breathtaking view of the area. There is also dining in the revolving Five Sixty restaurant, named for the 560-foot height of the tower.
There are many other options for both youth and the young-at-heart, including the Dallas Zoo, horse racing at Lone Star Park and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.
A neighborhood called Deep Ellum pulses with live jazz and blues, restaurants and art. Known also as Deep Elm, the neighborhood was originally settled by freed slaves after the Civil War.
Much of the city echoes with stories from the past. The Dallas history district offers tours centered on Kennedy’s assassination, and the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza provides photos and exhibits about JFK’s death.
There are also tours covering Bonnie and Clyde, the Dallas couple made famous by their multiyear national crime spree during the Great Depression.
An array of choices delight sports fans. In addition to Cowboys football, five other pro teams call the metro area home: the Dallas Mavericks and the Dallas Wings for basketball, the Dallas Stars for hockey and the Texas Rangers for baseball, along with FC Dallas for soccer.
If sports are not of interest, then the stunning blooms of spring might be. A sensational array of color is on display through April 10 at the Arboretum’s Dallas Blooms, which Southern Living calls one of the best shows in the South for spring colors.
Groups planning a fall trip can enjoy the State Fair of Texas, which runs for three weeks in September and October. It is the largest and longest-running state fair in the nation.
Other Dallas neighborhoods worth checking out include Uptown, the Design District and Lower Greenville.
Cattle Drives and Museums in Fort Worth
West of Dallas, groups flock to Stockyards National Historic District to watch a longhorn cattle drive on the original brick streets of Fort Worth. Visitors can see the longhorns from an observation deck and get up close with drovers for drives that take place twice a day.
Visitors also enjoy strolling the Stockyards shops to buy antiques, Western wear, home decor and delicious food. There are also historic walking tours, a Cowtown Cattlepen Maze and the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame.
On the outskirts of Fort Worth, visitors can tour working ranches such as the Wildcatter Ranch Resort and the Beaumont Ranch.
Like other areas in metro Dallas, there is much to enjoy in addition to Texas cattle culture.
Families can watch baby elephant Brazos and thousands of other exotic critters at the Fort Worth Zoo.
Fort Worth also has a wide range of museums, including the Kimbell Art Museum, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, the National Cowgirl Museum and the American Airlines C.R. Smith Museum. Tranquil spaces can be found at the waterfall and ponds at the Fort Worth Japanese Garden.
Wine Festivals and Fun in Grapevine
Grapevine got its name from the local wild mustang grape, and the city lives up to its name. Each September, the city promotes the best wines in Texas during GrapeFest. With Texas home to hundreds of wineries, there is plenty to celebrate.
And GrapeFest is just one of several festivals held in Grapevine each year. Another notable celebration focused on family fun is the Main Street Fest held each May.
For a hands-on experience of the region’s pioneer past, visitors can go to places like historic Nash Farm.
For guests wanting an unforgettable Christmas getaway, Grapevine prides itself on the 40 days of celebration that take place at the end of each year.
“If you haven’t been here during the holiday season, come,” said Daniel Horsch, director of marketing for the Grapevine Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Every shop is adorned with lights and decorations. It’s authentic and charming.”
At the Grapevine Vintage Railroad, visitors can ride on 1920s-era Victorian coaches traveling the historic Cotton Belt Route to the stockyards in Fort Worth.
The array of restaurants in downtown Grapevine features everything from fine dining to sandwich shops to the scrumptious chili at Tolbert’s.
“People come in here, get dropped off for lunch,” Horsch said. “They fill their bellies, and then they fill their backs, going to clothing stores and many boutiques.”
At the railroad, there are lesser-known gems like the Vetro Glassblowing Studio, and there are many popular Grapevine wineries such as Umbra, Messina Hof and the Bingham Family Vineyards. There is also a Hop and String Brewing Co., which makes small batch, craft ales and lagers.
One family favorite is the Grapevine Mills shopping and entertainment complex, which has an aquarium with a tunnel where sea life swims above the guests.
For an escape to nature, Grapevine features its own botanical garden and nearly 70 miles of trails for hiking and biking. Favorite hikes include the Oak Grove Trail, the Parr Park Trail and the Horseshoe Trails.
Sports and Entertainment in Arlington
At Arlington’s AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys, groups can take tours of the massive domed structure and go behind the scenes in several areas used by players. Visitors can also see its art museum and art displays throughout the stadium and hear stories about the history of the famous football franchise from Roger Staubach to the present.
Near the stadium, Six Flags Over Texas offers the Goliath roller coaster and many other rides, shows, food and fun. It has a separate water park called Hurricane Harbor.
To enjoy nature, River Legacy Park provides an oasis of bike trails and beauty that hugs the curves of Trinity River, and the planetarium at the University of Texas at Arlington features a 60-foot projection system and a detailed night sky tour.
One of the biggest attractions is going out to the ballgame at Globe Life Field, the new stadium to which the Rangers moved in 2020. Due to the stadium’s layout and design, it’s known as a hitter-friendly park, and if it rains, there are no worries. The team can simply close the stadium’s retractable roof.
Next to Globe Life Field, sports fans can watch their favorite sports on big screens at Texas Live, a new dining and entertainment complex. Nearby is the future home of the National Medal of Honor Museum, scheduled to open in 2024.
Before games, fans often stop by an Arlington hot spot with restaurants and craft drinks called Urban Union.
If bowling is a passion, Arlington is the place to be. It is home to the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame, with exhibits that explain the sport’s history and stories about the greats of the game.
One unusual tour attraction is Top O’ Hill Terrace. Its colorful history as a speakeasy during Prohibition made it known as “Vegas before Vegas.” Bonnie and Clyde went there, and during police raids, patrons could exit the old casino through a concrete tunnel.
“It’s the memories you make that stay with you forever,” said Decima Mullen, vice president of marketing and public relations for the city’s convention and visitors bureau. “Arlington allows you to escape your everyday, to play or relax with experiences you just can’t get anywhere else.”