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Dallas/Fort Worth

The Big D and Fort Worth pack a herd of Texas-size delights

Skyscrapers, cowboys and denim. Perhaps nowhere else but Dallas and Fort Worth blend these elements in such a delightful way. That, and a whole lot of Texas bragging, brings visitors far and wide to this urban center, where cowboys wear football uniforms, business executives sport Stetsons and cheerleaders don boots.

Big and Proud of It

They don’t call Dallas the Big D for nothing. Located in the central Texas region known for prairies and lakes, Dallas and adjoining Fort Worth started as bustling centers for cattle trade in the 1800s. Today, they compose a sprawling urban metropolis that boasts all the cultural attractions and amenities you’d expect from a world-class city. However, the town hasn’t lost its Old West roots, and visitors could spend an entire vacation in town exploring past and present.

No less than six professional sports teams — including the NFL’s Cowboys — make their home in Dallas, along with the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum. Arts and entertainment districts of every sort thrive here, and there are more shopping destinations per capita than any other American city. You’ll also find every kind of park here — state parks, water parks, urban parks — you name it. Dallas is a likely gateway to a park you’re sure to enjoy.

Ferris Wheel bearing letters spelling out "Texas Fair"

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Outdoor Fun in an Urban Setting

Combine your love of history, architecture and the outdoors at Fair Park, site of the 1936 World’s Fair and Texas Centennial Exposition. Fair Park is said to have the world’s largest collection of art deco exposition buildings. The park spreads out over 277 acres and is home to the annual State Fair of Texas, a gargantuan celebration of all things Texas held each fall. There are also tours of the park offered so that visitors can learn about the unique design and history of the art deco structures. Stop by the children’s aquarium along with some of the park’s other cultural attractions. For an amazing view of the city, take a ride up to the top of the 560-foot-tall Reunion Tower and enjoy panoramic views of the Metroplex from the orb-like GeO-Deck.

Among the many other outdoor adventures to try is the Cedar Ridge Preserve, southeast of town near Joe Pool Lake. This 600-acre park is filled with hiking trails, picnic areas and a butterfly garden. It also features wildlife unique to the area, along with a visitor center.

Venture out to Lake Bob Sandlin State Park, located on a lake by the same name. A popular spot near Dallas, this reservoir and park attract bass fishermen, boaters, hikers, campers and wildlife enthusiasts. Another Dallas outdoor gem is White Rock Lake, a great recreational spot for kayaking, paddleboarding and other water activities.

A few miles east of Dallas is Lake Ray Hubbard, a reservoir on the Trinity River featuring several marinas and parks with boating and fishing options. There’s also Mountain Creek Lake, which offers a boat ramp and fishing.

In nearby Arlington, the original Six Flags Over Texas is considered one of the top amusement parks in the country, combining adrenaline-pumping rides with wholesome entertainment. The name, “Six Flags,” is derived from the flags of each nation that flew over Texas: Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Confederate States (during the Civil War) and, lastly, the United States.

Other attractions include Southfork Ranch, the setting for the iconic TV show, “Dallas.”

Sign proclaiming "Fort Worth Stock Yard"

Fort Worth

Fort Worth is more than its famed Stockyards, though you’ll definitely want to line up for the twice-daily cattle drive that meanders down the main thoroughfare in this historic section of town.

Old West nostalgia takes a twist at the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, where the women of the cattle-driving, bronco-busting, nation-exploring era are celebrated and honored through exhibits and displays featuring more than 4,000 artifacts. The museum also pays tribute to pioneers in art and government.

A few miles south of downtown, you’ll find yourself nearly south of the border at La Gran Plaza. This colorful mecca of Mexican culture is home to more than 200 stores and a 120,000-square-foot market.

Cowboy Boots and Musical Roots

There’s plenty of toe-tapping nightlife in Dallas. The Deep Ellum district is a former industrial center steeped in music history, thanks to the likes of jazz and blues artists like Blind Lemon Jefferson and Huddie William “Lead Belly” Ledbetter. Today, Deep Ellum is still the place to be for music lovers, who will find trendy clubs, hip dining spots and a shopping area where one-of-a-kind finds are the norm. The Lower Greenville area is another hip locale, featuring a vast array of bars, restaurants and shops.

Major landmarks exclusive to Dallas include Pioneer Plaza, which features the largest outdoor bronze sculpture of its type in the world. The art piece captures 49 Texas longhorn steers driven by three cowboys on horseback. Another landmark, Reunion Tower, is 50 stories high, capped by an observation tower that gives visitors jaw-dropping city views.

Education and Entertainment

Art lovers can visit the Dallas Museum of Art, while folks with a passion for animals can go wild at the Dallas World Aquarium and Dallas Zoo.

The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden is a take-your-breath-away experience, with a vast array of floral wonder and, by its own description, among the most outstanding children’s gardens worldwide. The Dallas Heritage Village is in the city’s first park, offering visitors a glimpse of Dallas life in the 1800s. Tours, special events and re-enactments bring Texas history to life.

A solemn chapter in American history is captured in Dallas at the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, site of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. On the street level, the Kennedy Dealey Plaza Memorial serves as a reminder of that tragic day.

Dinosaurs and Stetsons

You’ll find dinosaur skeletons at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas. In nearby Garland, you can tour Hatco, the plant that’s been churning out Stetson hats since 1938. If you’d prefer shopping malls and high-end fashion, Dallas is home to the flagship Neiman Marcus department store as well as the nation’s oldest shopping center, Highland Park Village.

For More Information

Dallas/Fort Worth Area Tourism Council

817-329-2438

www.dfwandbeyond.com

Texas Office of the Governor, Economic Development and Tourism

512-463-2000

www.traveltex.com