Dallas is not just about just cowboys and ranches – well, we do love our Cowboys, but that is for a bit later – it is a great city, nestled in the Metroplex – several dozen great communities that span east from Fort Worth all the way west to Terrell. Each city and town with its own character and delights. This has been my home for the past 31 years. I was not born in Dallas, but I got here as fast as I could.
Dallas is a fantastic place to explore Texas culture, catch a game or just sit down and have some great barbeque with friends and family.
Everything is BIG here
It is true, everything in Texas is bigger than you could imagine. From the hair to stadiums, and hospitality. The State Fair of Texas is no exception, as it is the biggest state fair in the world. For more than 130, Dallas has hosted this Lone Star tradition, and about 2 million folks visit to ride the rides, to see the animals, enjoy the nightly concerts, and the fried food. Yes, this is the best place to stuff your face with fried everything…from fried Oreos, to say hi to Big Tex, deep fried Funyuns, fried beer and coke, southern fried chicken and dumplings, deep fried bacon, and of course Corn Dogs – which, legend says, were invented at the State Fair of Texas. From late September through the last week of October, Big Tex will welcome you to the best Fair in the world. It is so good, every kid in North Texas has a day off from school to attend. A true state holiday!
We LOVE our Cowboys…
…and Rangers, and Mavericks and Stars, and FC Dallas. Oh, and don’t forget NASCAR, and Friday Night Lights. Sports are an important part of our culture, and I think that most of us agree (even if we do not like Jerry Jones) that the Cowboys should be everyone’s favorite team. Catching a game at AT&T stadium should be a part of every NFL fan’s bucket list. It is one of the coolest stadiums I have ever visited, with one of the world’s biggest screens. That screen is so good that turf looks greener than it actually is. You do not have to wait until America’s Team hosts a game, there are about 50-60 other events annually, including concerts, college and high school games, and other sports events. On an off day, you can tour the stadium, throw a pass to one of your buddies down on the field, or try a field goal. The tour includes a visit to the ‘Boys and the Cheerleaders locker rooms. Sorry, usually the players and cheerleaders are not there to greet you.
AT&T Stadium, home of the Cowboys, has many nicknames…the Death Star, JerryWorld and JerryDome.
The Mavs and Stars play at the American Airlines arena, along with about 100 other events yearly. Dallas’ MLS team, FC Dallas, plays up in Frisco at Toyota Stadium, just 25 minutes north of Downtown Dallas. And not to be forgotten, you can catch two NASCAR races at Texas Motor Speedway.
If you like sports, you will find a game just about every night. If you want something truly Texas, catch a high school regular season game in the Fall. Some stadiums, including Allen or Southlake, can hold as many as 18,000 spectators…and they sell out more often than you think. We take our high school football seriously here.
Head West, young man…
…to Fort Worth, if you want to see some real cowboys on horseback. Fort Worth is one of my favorite places in the area. You feel like you are miles away, just 45 minutes from Dallas. The Fort Worth Stockyards, open 365 days a year, are great for young and old.
There is a cattle drive every day, marching down at 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Find a place in one of the balconies or restaurants on East Exchange, and get a glimpse of the longhorns marching down to the corral. While you are down there, enjoy a great burger at Tim Love’s Love Shack. Get the one with a fried quail egg, if you are into awesome. If you want to go all out cowboy-style, get a pair of boots and a hat at Maverick Western Wear. Stay a little bit later and hang out at Billy Bob’s and two-step your way into the night.
Food, Drinks and Music.
There are several great areas in Dallas for going out. Midtown is the trendy area where can get a great meal at Primo’s Tex-Mex, or at Public School 214. Head out to any of the bars along McKinney avenue to meet the locals. For something a bit more eclectic, head to Deep Ellum for a live set at Trees, Dada or The Bomb Factory. Into Sushi? Deep Sushi is one of the best places for good Japanese that does not break the bank. If you are staying a bit further north, Addison has more restaurants and bars per capita than any other town around. My favorite Italian restaurant in town is there – Andiamo. Tickle your funny bone at the Improv on Belt Line and then get a few drinks at Stan’s Dueling Pianos. If you want to satisfy your inner Paleo, head over to Fogo de Chao (I know, there are a bunch of them around the US, but this one is the first domestic Fogo.) If you are in the need for a Tex-Mex fix, head on over to Blue Goose Cantina.
Heading back south, check out the Trinity Groves area. It is Hipster’s paradise, so you will find all the farm-to-market stuff you will ever need, and great beer at Four Corners Brewing Company. For great fried chicken and a good beer, head on down to Chicken Scratch.
Oh, I forgot BBQ
No, I did not. It just needed its own section.
Beef, pork, sausage, chicken – smoked and grilled. My mouth is watering. Here is where to go: Hard Eight BBQ in Copell. Here you walk through the pit, literally. You point to the meat that you want, they will wrap it in white butcher paper, and then you add some sides. Not only will you share your feast on Instagram, you will probably print and frame the pic like it was your girlfriend. Pecan Lodge in Deep Ellum. Locals line up here 90 minutes before it opens, that tells you something. Ten50 in Richardson. If you are staying North of town, this is a good alternative the aforementioned. I still have the meat sweats from last time I was there. If you are over in Fort Worth, don’t waste time with anything but Railhead. Get the ribs, and then email me about it.
I run way too much.
If you are like me and need to get a 5-mile run everywhere you visit, here are some great suggestions. Staying Downtown – run up Commerce street west to Dealy Plaza. If you have time, check out the Sixth Floor Museum. Then run back on Main Street all the way to St. Paul, and stroll around the Art District. Want to run around the lake? The White Rock Lake trail is a perfect getaway in the middle of Dallas. You can loop it on the 9.3 miles of trails.
Dallas is home. It has been three decades since I landed here, and I always seem to come back. Not only is it a great place to live, but a fantastic place to visit. From the great events, great food, amazing people and history, Big D should be your next destination.