Here are some top thing to do in Dallas…
AMERIQUEST FIELD (THE BALLPARK IN ARLINGTON)
Sure, Arlington (a suburb between Dallas and Ft. Worth) may be home to Six Flags and Hurricane Harbor, but most tourists can get the Six Flags experience in a number of cities. To get a real taste of Texas baseball, you must visit the Ballpark. A tour of the park is a must, but many tourists may not be aware of the Legends of Baseball Museum located on site, which you can visit separately without buying a game ticket. It’s like a mini-Cooperstown, with memorabilia like Babe Ruth’s jersey. In fact, many items are on loan from the Hall of Fame. There is a focus on Texas baseball history that you will enjoy, and there is even a kid’s section that will keep them busy for awhile. Besides the Museum, at the Ballpark you will also find a sports art gallery, a souvenir shop, and two restaurants if you are hungry.
If it is baseball season, do your best to attend a game and get a unique baseball experience from the place that introduced nachos to the game. If a Ranger hits a home run, watching the fireworks go off while “The Natural” music plays will send chills down your spine. The seventh inning stretch is also traditionally when you’ll hear “Cotton-Eyed Joe” being played; and even the worst dancers are expected to dance.
Ameriquest Field is easy to find, just take I-30 into Arlington from either Dallas or Ft. Worth. Exit Ballpark Way, and you will see the stadium from the freeway, behind a hotel and the convention center.
THE DALLAS ARBORETUM
Most tourists think Dallas is a couple of skyscrapers in the middle of a flat prairie. A trip to the Arboretum will change that perception. Just minutes from downtown Dallas on the shores of White Rock Lake, the Arboretum is an Eden-like paradise of trees and floral displays spread across 66 acres. A wonderful place to relax and unwind after a full day of running around the city.
Not only is the Arboretum home to some wonderful gardens and landscaping, you can also visit several historical mansions on-site as well as enjoy stunning views of White Rock Lake and the Dallas Skyline. Don’t let the size scare you; a tram is available to whisk visitors to the major gardens in the park. Breakfast and lunch are also served in two different restaurants on-site. Visitors are welcome to bring their own food if they would like to picnic on the grounds. Cooking is not allowed.
The Arboretum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, except for Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Day. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, $5 for children ages 3-12, with children under 3, as well as Arboretum members, are free.
It was built to be the gateway to Dallas, but Dealey Plaza became infamous as the site of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Today, Dealey Plaza, a landscaped park on the western side of downtown, remains largely the same as it was on November 22, 1963. Visitors can explore the area, including the Grassy Knoll, and the School Book Depository, which is now the home of the Sixth Floor Museum, a place of remembrance of the events in Dallas and a tribute to the legacy of President Kennedy.
Facing Dealey Plaza is the “Old Red” Courthouse, now a museum and visitor’s center that is open to the public. Right behind “Old Red” is the Kennedy Memorial, which symbolizes the dreams and unfulfilled promise of the Kennedy Presidency. Just within walking distance of Dealey are a number of hotels, train stations, The Holocaust Museum, and Dallas’ West End, featuring a number of restaurants and clubs.
For those planning to visit the Sixth Floor Museum, note that the first five floors are used by the city and are not open to the public, so do not use the main building entrances facing the street. Instead, go around to the back of the building (parking lot attendants can help you if you drive in) and follow the signage into the visitor’s center. Dealey Plaza is located just off of Interstate 35 at the Main Street/Commerce exit, almost in the shadow of Reunion Tower (the famous “lollipop” tower).
The most complete information about Dealey Plaza can be found at www.JFK.org, the official website for the Sixth Floor Museum. The Museum phone number is (214) 747-6660.
THE FORT WORTH STOCKYARDS
Designated as a National Historic District, the Ft. Worth Stockyards is a mix of the Old West with modern entertainment and shopping located in downtown Ft. Worth. It’s chock full of everything you could want in a vacation destination: hotels, shopping, dining, entertainment, all within a short walking distance. If you’re driving in, parking is abundant: just look for lots near your attraction.
Among the attractions in the Stockyards are the “Tarantula Train,” a vintage train that runs from the Stockyards to Grapevine, Texas. During the summer, train robbers “hijack” the train and entertain riders. Round trip tickets run $20 for adults and $10 for children. One way tickets and shorter trips are available.
Other attractions in the Stockyards include the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, the Cowtown Coliseum (featuring a Wild West Show), and the Cowtown Opry. Hotels in the area include the Holiday Inn, Amerisuites, and a number of high end independent hotels and B&Bs. Restaurants include plenty of barbecue and steak houses, Joe T. Garcia’s (with some great Tex-Mex), and Giovanni’s Pizza and Pasta. There’s shopping galore, and if you’re in the mood for a mall experience, Northeast Mall is a short drive away.
The Stockyards are also the home of world-famous honky-tonk Billy Bob’s, which is open daily, family friendly, and features country music and bull riding every weekend.
Ft. Worth Stockyards Visitor’s Information Center, 130 E. Exchange Ave., 817-625-9715, www.fortworthstockyards.org.
Billy Bob’s Texas, 2520 Rodeo Plaza, 817-624-7117, www.billybobstexas.com
THE FORT WORTH WATER GARDENS
First gaining national attention after being featured in the 1970’s sci-fi film Logan’s Run, the Water Gardens are a unique attraction in the shadow of downtown Ft. Worth’s skyline. Designed by renowned architect Phillip Johnson, the gardens feature three pools, with the most famous featuring cascading falls into a central pool with a stone pathway weaving down among the falling waters.
The Water Gardens are undergoing renovation now but will reopen by Fall 2006. The Gardens will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. every day. Admission is free. Access to the nearby Convention Center is available for those attending events there. It is also near other downtown attractions like the Stockyards.
The Water Gardens are located between Houston and Commerce Streets in downtown Ft. Worth, 817-871-7698
THE GAYLORD TEXAN
The Gaylord Texan is not just a resort; it is a destination unto itself. Located on Lake Grapevine, about 30 miles from downtown Dallas, the Texan is a grand attraction that offers you enough to make it tempting not to venture out to Ft. Worth or Dallas.