Visitors to Dallas will find a city working at full throttle to reinvent itself as a center of arts, culture and even fine dining. For too long, Texas’ third biggest city grappled with a reputation restricted to oil, cowboys and The Cowboys, and the perception that Dallas history began in 1963 with the shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald, the assassin of President John F. Kennedy. Today, tourists can easily explore a closely packed selection of landmarks around downtown and escape the skyscrapers in some tranquil public parks. Not least, Dallas is a tourist-friendly place. The M-Line trolley offers free transport around uptown and the Arts District, as does the D-Link through downtown. In addition, visitors can take walking tours, food tours or even Segway tours of the city.
Get your Bearings
The "Dallas Morning News" recommends starting with a trip up the Geo-Deck at the Reunion Tower in downtown. At 470 feet above ground and with a distinctive ball shape, the tower has bird’s-eye views of the city, including the Trinity River and the striking Margaret Hunt Hill bridge, and even as far as the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium in Arlington, 18 miles away. For a ground-level view, Frommer’s recommends the Dallas County Historical Plaza, home of the poignant JFK Memorial, and the John Neely Bryan cabin, a replica of the log cabin built by the city’s founder and a reminder of Dallas’ curious Western heritage.
Find Some Space
The 5.2-acre Klyde Warren Park is an ideal spot to unwind, with ping-pong tables, dog park and kid’s area, as well as enjoy local music and theater performances. At Pioneer Plaza, on the other hand, visitors can enjoy a 4-acre expanse of parkland, waterfalls and a herd of 50 gigantic bronze steers, with information on the cattle drives along the Shawnee Trail during the city’s early history. Another way to relax is with some retail therapy. The "Dallas Morning News" claims the Northpark Center is the classiest mall on the planet, with some top name boutiques and artwork by Andy Warhol, among others. Meanwhile, Dallas Heritage Village in Old City Park faithfully recreates a village from the Old West era, with guided tours to transport visitors back to a bygone era.
To find out about various aspects of the city’s past, the Old Red Museum outlines the inventions for which Dallas is famous, and covers prehistory to the modern era, including the inevitable collection of items relating to the Kennedy assassination. Those on the trail of George W. Bush’s place in history can visit the Presidential Center on University Park, celebrating the 43rd president’s eight-year tenure. The life and death of the 35th president, however, is commemorated in the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, housed in the Texas School Book depository from which President John F. Kennedy, was shot.
Cutting Edge Dallas
The Arts District is the largest urban arts district in the country, covering 68 acres, and incorporating more than a dozen venues, from the AT&T Performing Arts Center to the free Dallas Museum of Art, which has more than 22,000 works from around the world. The district’s newest addition is the Perot Museum of Nature & Science, a vast building covering six floors with loads of interactive exhibits, as well as a 3D theater and six learning labs. Another favorite is the Nasher Sculpture Center, which has an astounding collection of pre-Columbian art, as well as works by Rodin, Picasso and Miro. Visitors can take free hour-long walking tours of the Arts District on the first Saturday of the month from the Trammell & Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art.