Do Dallas in Style the Summer
Everything is bigger in Texas, and that’s certainly true of Dallas, a sprawling city of big business and buildings, big hats and big hair, flashy corporate suits and hand-tooled cowboy boots. Of its sibling cities—Houston, San Antonio and Austin—Dallas is the fun and flirty one, unapologetically ostentatious, flaunting its oil money and cotton-crop wealth and Neiman-Marcus style. It’s also a kingpin of commerce, technology, higher education, medical arts and more.
Still, Dallas is hardly an all-work-and-no-play place. For football fans, it’s all about the next big game at the Dallas Cowboys’ enormous AT&T Stadium (a fun place for the whole family to take a tour). For basketball lovers, it’s all about the Mavericks; for baseball buffs, the Texas Rangers rock.
Dallas also boasts the largest arts district in the nation, spanning 68 acres and 19 contiguous blocks, and is home to outstanding performing arts centers. And with its world-class museums and the nation’s second-largest presidential library, Big D could be called Texas’ capital of culture. It’s also a hub of fine restaurants and retail, live music, luxury hotels, happening clubs, theme parks, historic sites, verdant parks and sparkling lakes.
Yes, Dallas has it all.
To appreciate Dallas’ old-school/old money allure, stay in one of its most beloved downtown hotels, the Adolphus, a 21-story baroque masterpiece that has been a legend among America’s historic hotels since 1912, when St. Louis beer baron Adolphus Busch erected a luxury palace worthy of the Lone Star State. The best part of this recently renovated hotel is its surprisingly reasonable rates, especially considering the level of luxury offered. Each standard room there covers 500 square feet and has a large gleaming bathroom, fine beds and bedding and classic contemporary decor. Everything about this hotel feels so utterly “downtown”: Its lobby is reminiscent of the Palm Courts of New York’s Plaza Hotel, and the warm wood-paneled lobby bar looks like a members-only club. Splurge and reserve a stunning 19th-floor suite with vaulted ceilings and tall windows.
Want a casual evening in? Opt for hamburger and a beer in its Wild West-style Rodeo Bar. Prefer unforgettable elegance? Pop champagne and order a made-to-order soufflé dessert at the Adolphus’ illustrious French Room, one of the most romantic restaurants in Big D, which is currently undergoing a renovation but will reopen in a few months.
The location there is perfect: just blocks from iconic Lone Star attractions such as the Sixth Floor Museum, Dealey Plaza and Pioneer Plaza, and the hotel is only 18 miles from the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), and 7 miles from Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL). One block away on Main Street, you’ll find brew pubs, bars, coffee shops and even a drugstore.
For a budget-friendly stay, consider the Sheraton Dallas Hotel.With 1,840 rooms, this shiny downtown Sheraton stands in the heart of Dallas’ Arts and Entertainment District, among shopping, restaurants and entertainment venues, not far from the American Airlines Center, Fair Park, the Cotton Bowl and the Dallas Symphony. With bright city views and 242 suites, this is the kind of hotel guests can always count on for clean, comfortable, convenient accommodations. Guests also receive complimentary health club access, and you’ll also find a restaurant, sports bar and coffee shop, business center and gift shop. Book a room on the club level to enjoy drinks and snacks in a quiet private lounge. There’s free Wi-Fi in all public spaces throughout the hotel. Traveling with Fido? Pets weighing fewer than 50 pounds are welcome with advance notice.
What to do in Big D? Check out the…
Perot Museum of Nature and Science. Open only since 2012, this $185 million museum is a special favorite of children and parents. Architecturally arresting, this five-floor building, stands roughly 14 stories high and is located in the downtown Arts District. The Perot features 11 exhibit halls with interactive exhibits on the solar system, human life, fossils, robotics, weather and the science and engineering of oil and gas drilling.
The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum on the Southern Methodist University campus. Covering 207,000 square feet and opening in 2013, it is the second-largest presidential library in the United States. With state-of-the-art interactive exhibits, visitors are given an in-depth look at the eight-year term of an American president.
Klyde Warren Park. This 5.2-acre deck park was created as an urban green space built over the recessed Woodall Rodgers Freeway, anchoring the Dallas Arts District downtown. With everything from yoga to outdoor concerts and films, the park is a great place to play or enjoy a picnic.
Dealey Plaza and the Sixth Floor Museum. From history buffs to conspiracy theory enthusiasts, there’s something for everyone interested in President John F. Kennedy. The Sixth Floor Museum, located in the former book depository where sniper Lee Harvey Oswald took aim from a window, features interesting and educational exhibits that bring this dark day in American history to life. Stand on the “grassy knoll” at Dealey Plaza, or drive down Elm Street, passing over two Xs on the street, marking the spots where JFK was shot.
Neiman-Marcus Zodiac Room. “Let’s do lunch,” say Dallas elite, meeting and dining at the Zodiac Room at Neiman-Marcus downtown, for more than 50 years.
Dallas Museum of Art and the Nasher Sculpture Center are just two must-stop spots in the Dallas Arts District.
It’s all happening at the Dallas Zoo. Spy an enormous giraffe sculpture standing at the entrance, and take the kids on the Wilds of Africa Monorail Safari.
Head uptown for margaritas, music and nightlife or to enjoy boutiques and restaurants. Where to go? Start with happy hour on the packed patio of Mi Cocina at Highland Park Village.
Exhale. Pamper yourself with a restorative spa treatment or a luscious facial at one of Dallas’ premier award-winning spaces adjacent to the Highland Hotel on Mockingbird Lane.
Prime Texas Eats
Besides being home to Tex-Mex cafes, Dallas also offers a wealth of world-class restaurants. Celebrated James Beard award-winning chef Stephan Pyles takes ordinary dishes to extraordinary heights at his new Flora Street Café at Hall Arts, in the heart of the Dallas Arts District, a formal dinner eatery offering what Pyles calls “sophisticated Texas cuisine: a combination of elevated Texas and Southwestern cuisine,” including many menu items cooked over an open flame. For a casual meal in an urban cowboy setting, visit another popular Pyles eatery, Stampede 66. But don’t leave Dallas without feasting on a fabulous USDA Prime cowboy-sized steak that’s dry-aged in house at Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, a family-owned Dallas favorite. For a quick sopapilla treat (think puffy Mexican donuts) and a taste of local Tex-Mex, take the kids to El Fenix, a long-time Dallas tradition, next to the Perot Museum. For zestier fare try Mia’s Tex-Mex, uptown.
Parlez-vous perfect? For elegant atmosphere and possibly the finest dining in Big D, the French Room of the Adolphus is romantic and reminiscent of Le Train Bleu in Paris or the Palace of Versailles. Dine by candlelight in this AAA 5-Diamond award-winning restaurant of Chef Marcos Segovia, which the New York Times called “a Louis XV fantasy …indisputably the most striking and sumptuous restaurant in Dallas.” The restaurant will soon reopen after renovation work is completed later this summer.
By Janis Turk