Dallas Fort Worth – Where to Go & What to See
Some of these are standard staples of north Texas, but some are lesser-known, all recommended by a lifetime resident.
If you’ve never been to DFW or maybe just have a weekend in the metroplex, it can feel fairly daunting. Considering there’s so much to do and both Dallas & Fort Worth (not to mention the mid-cities) lay sprawled before you (having a car is very much recommended), it’s nice to know beforehand what a native might recommend. From the experience of showing newbies around, here are five of the favorite things to do and destinations to seek out:
1. Drinks at Reunion Tower
The first night in, if possible, approach Reunion Tower (300 Reunion Blvd., 214 651 1234) from I-35S (the exit for Reunion Tower is just before Central Expressway, I-75), where it bends around as you approach Dallas, offering a great view of the entire city. You’ll see a giant ball atop a tower in the landscape–the final destination.
Reasonably priced parking is across the street (Reunion Tower is mostly a Hyatt Regency Hotel). Sometimes you can view the city from the tower itself, but it’s often reserved for wedding parties. No matter, the bar just below revolves and offers a great view of the city–from towering buildings and jammed highways (avoid smug smirks for karma’s sake) to desolate fields. The drinks are more than reasonable for Dallas, but be careful when stepping off the “runway”.
2. A Tour of the Stockyards and Billy Bob’s
The Fort Worth stockyards may not sound terribly enticing, but it’s worth it to see the longhorns driven around at 11 am or 4 pm each day–it’s a small group but they make for a very impressive spectacle. There are several little shops in the area, not of huge interest unless one is seeking cowboy paraphernalia –save a few shops offering exclusively Texan nibbles, notably Dublin Dr. Pepper (the real thing) and freshly scooped Blue Bell ice cream.
Just a skip away is Billy Bob’s, a giant honky-tonk–a place that offers rodeo on the weekends, a dance floor with a rhinestone-encrusted saddle, a plethora of pool tables, and some of the cheapest beer you will ever encounter. A very good time is easily had–all types are genuinely welcome. Even if cowboys and rodeos are not your usual order, it is really worth it to immerse yourself in Fort Worth and this atmosphere for at least one day–it’s a very good time and has an unmistakable character that is impossible to dislike.
The stockyards are easily mapped using the address: 130 East Exchange Ave., Fort Worth, TX 76164. The mainline is (817) 625-9715.
3. Dallas World Aquarium
It is vastly apparent that much love and attention has gone into every detail of this establishment. Admission is a little pricey, but it’s more than worth it. The entrance reveals a large rainforest, vast and majestic, which will take your breath away. It replicates the scene of the Orinoco River Basin in South America, complete with monkeys, toucans (countless birds, to be honest), and crocodiles.
From the rainforest, you’ll soon find yourself in the aquarium itself, even grander (85,000 gallons!) and even more worldly than the rainforest with its variety of specimens. One of the most impressive highlights (aside from the predators, of course) is the 22-gallon tunnel with its panoramic view.
Located in downtown Dallas (1801 N Griffin St, 214-720-1801), it’s near some of the art museums, easily made into a day. The aquarium is open from 10 am-5 pm all week, but go at noon and you can see them feed the penguins.
4. Fort Worth Japanese Gardens
Fort Worth has several gardens, some of which charge a small fee. Easily the one most worth the while is the Japanese Gardens (usually around $3 admission fee), housed within the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens. A trip during the week proves far less crowded, but even on the weekend, it’s gorgeous enough to tolerate larger crowds. The large tea house, pavilion, giant zen garden, and Moon Bridge offer great views of the changing leaves, big ponds of koi, and a peaceful getaway. Despite its relaxing setting, the Japanese Gardens are easy to find and quite close to the cultural district (the Modern Art and Kimball Museums, for example).
It’s almost worth it just to go to feed the koi–they are some of the biggest specimens and they are always disturbingly ravenous for the fish food bought from little dispensers at $0.25 a pop. Hours vary–usually, 7 days a week from 8 or 9 am till dusk, depending on the time of year. The main garden telephone line is (817) 871-7686, located at 3220 Botanic Garden Blvd in Fort Worth.
5. Entertainment–Theatre, Symphonies, & Opera
If possible to coordinate ahead of time, pick a show (mostly comedians and musicians) at the Bass Performance Hall (4th and Calhoun Streets, Fort Worth, TX, 817-212-4200) in Fort Worth (it’s worth just driving by this gorgeous building), a theatre show at the Dallas Theatre Centre (alternatively, all the mid-cities offer bountiful community theatre if the price is a concern–and the shows do not disappoint), musical performances at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center (439 Northpark Ctr, Dallas, TX, 214-692-0203, symphonies on Sunday at the Nasher Sculpture Center are a big hit) or relaxing (slightly pricier) evening at the Dallas Opera (909 1st Ave at Parry, Dallas, TX, 214-443-1000).