Contrary to popular belief, there's no oil in status-conscious Dallas. Since its founding in 1841 as a prairie trading post, by Tennessee lawyer John Neely Bryan and his Arkansas friend Joe Dallas, successive generations of entrepreneurs have amassed wealth here through trade and finance, using first cattle and later oil reserves as collateral. One early group of European settlers of the 1850s – French intellectuals and artists known as the La Réunion co-operative – had to pack up and move on after a series of summer droughts and a harsh winter; the few who stayed included a future mayor of Dallas. The city still prides itself on its legacy of arts and culture.
The power of money in Dallas was demonstrated in the late 1950s, when its financiers threw their weight behind integration. Potentially racist restaurant owners and bus drivers were pressured not to resist the new policies, and Dallas was spared major upheavals. The city's image was, however, tarnished by the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963, and it took the building of the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in the 1960s, and the twin successes of the Dallas TV show and the Cowboys football team in the 1970s, to restore confidence. These days its occasional stuffiness is tempered by a typically Texas delight in self-parody – this is the city that calls itself "Big D," after all.
Dallas is home to more than a million people, with more moving here every day. The ninth largest city in the United States, Dallas is known as the Southwest's leading business and financial center and as the number one visitor destination in Texas. Big business is a big deal in this city, evident in the increasing number of companies that relocate to Dallas each year. With more shopping centers per capita than any other major city nationwide and four times more restaurants per person than New York City, Dallas is the place to be whether you're doing business, shopping, eating or touring the sites.
Since its inception as a small trading post in 1841, Dallas has grown to include a vast array of hotels, shops, restaurants and other businesses, all the while speckled with historic buildings and museums, too. An area at the north end of downtown, deemed the Dallas Arts District , includes the Dallas Museum of Art and the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center , whose center stage is home to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and an array of other performers throughout the year. For upscale shopping, peruse the Plaza of the Americas , where a 15-story atrium complete with palm trees surrounds the shopping area.
Formerly a warehouse district, the West End MarketPlace is known today for its entertainment offerings and unique shopping venues, as well as for its street entertainers, outdoor ice-skating rink and vintage street lights. The upscale Hotel Adolphus , built in 1912, offers you a stay surrounded by elegance, evident in the fine lobby and luxurious guest rooms. A variety of eateries and nightclubs make this district one of the liveliest places to be on Friday and Saturday nights. The Palm features a Texas-style menu with a touch of class, while Y.O. Ranch is well known for its Tex-Mex cuisine. The West End is also an excellent place to experience Texas History—visit Dealey Plaza, Old Red Courthouse and the Sixth Floor Museum .
Head three blocks east of downtown and you're at the "deep end of Elm Street," where turn-of-the-century African-American life and culture used to thrive with great blues and jazz artists. Today, the district's sassy shops, eclectic restaurants and loft apartments form the cornerstone of a unique experience. Clubs in Deep Ellum feature the most current music from folk, blues and jazz to reggae, alternative and rock. Visit one of the oldest clubs in Deep Ellum, Club Dada , where you'll always find a variety of music in the mix, or Trees, which attracts locals and business travelers alike with its cutting-edge live rock.
Heading north from downtown, you'll find yourself atop the red brick streets of McKinney Avenue, which is lined with fine restaurants and antique shops, many housed in renovated historic homes. Connect to downtown via the volunteer-operated McKinney Avenue Trolley , which consists of restored streetcars dating as far back as 1906 and is dedicated to preserving the history of electric railways. The area's four-star boutique-style Hotel St. Germain is tucked amidst the busy city, providing an oasis for business travelers.
The region south of Mockingbird Lane is known as Lower Greenville Avenue popular with Southern Methodist University students and one of the oldest entertainment districts in Dallas. As you head north of Mockingbird Lane to Upper Greenville Avenue , things get newer and more commercial, and you will find both casual and elegant establishments as well as cutting-edge nightlife. Casual is the word at Daddy Jack's Wood Grill , which features red-and-white checkered tablecloths and serves great seafood at affordable prices. If you're in the mood for romance, try The Grape , where you can always find something new, as the menu changes bimonthly. Multicultural restaurants abound in Greenville, as do antique shops and neighborhood pubs.
If Texas is known for doing things big, then North Dallas is a prime example, as it is home to big houses, big shopping centers and some of the finest stores, boutiques and restaurants in the area. As Dallas continues to grow, more residents are heading north into the suburbs of Plano, Richardson and Frisco, one of the nation's fastest-growing cities.
With more square footage of shopping than Los Angeles or New York, you're likely to run out of money before you run out of places to shop in Texas. Visit Stonebriar Center in Frisco, where you'll find more than just shopping—this entertainment center also houses a 24-screen movie theater and plenty of quality restaurants.
In Plano, the Arbor Hills Nature Preserve is a quiet respite with native Texas trees, the perfect locale for an afternoon family picnic. For antique shops and artsy places in general, take a day trip to Historic Downtown Plano, where you'll find red brick streets lined with antique malls, specialty gift shops, boutiques and fine eateries.
Whether you're in town for one day or one week, Irving serves as an excellent location minutes from DFW International Airport, centrally poised between Dallas and Fort Worth. This carefree community, named after American author Washington Irving, offers convenient access to numerous shopping venues, restaurants and theaters—all the best the Dallas Metroplex has to offer. Recreation thrives at The Movie Studios at Las Colinas, home to major motion picture, television and commercial productions. Visit the Mustangs of Las Colinas , nine larger-than-life bronze mustangs and the largest equestrian sculpture in the world.
Dallas' diverse population is reflected in more than 10,000 restaurants, four times more per capita than New York City. Dallas is an ethnic melting pot offering authentic dining from around the world—the possibilities here are virtually endless. If variety is the spice of life, then the Dallas restaurant scene is on fire.
Chicken-fried steak is listed on many menus as "CFS"; it's a Texas tradition and practically a food group of its own. Traditionally, this dish is known as a way to prepare a tough cut of beef by beating it to tenderness, batter-coating it, frying it in the same way as chicken and serving it with cream gravy made from pan drippings. Some high-class chefs prefer to make the dish with sirloin (though most of the time it is made with round steak) and everyone has his or her own secret recipe, each claiming it to be the best.
It may be hard to believe that Dallas was never really a cattle-drive kind of city given its plethora of steakhouses. Within the West End's multi-block radius lie The Butcher Shop and Palm (The) , both of which serve some of the most superb beef this side of the Mississippi. Numerous chain restaurants also have establishments here, including Hoffbrau and Outback , both offering traditional Texas favorites in a casual atmosphere.
Some of the best upscale steakhouses are located in Addison/North Dallas, including Morton's of Chicago . Chamberlain's Steak and Chop House , located on Belt Line Road in Addison, is named for chef/owner Richard Chamberlain, whose passion for fine cooking has led him to such prestigious culinary positions as Executive Sous Chef at the highly acclaimed Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas and the renowned Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles. The menu features various steak options as well as veal, chicken, pork and seafood entrees that are equally well prepared.
Deep Ellum offers a range of eclectic dining options. There is something from everyone as the enormous variety of cuisines range from sushi to Tex-Mex and everything in between. Monica Aca y Alla adds a unique twist to Mexican food and salsa dancing, and Deep Sushi is perfect for those with a penchant for raw fish. If you're looking for a relaxed place to eat with those great American creations, The Angry Dog provides burgers, hot dogs and beer in a casual atmosphere, while Baker's Ribs has delectable barbeque, and Daddy Jack's lobster melts in your mouth.
Greenville Avenue also offers an eclectic mix of dining options. Blue Goose Cantina's 's margaritas and Mexican food choices draw crowds daily. Snuffer's has world-class cheese fries and burgers and St Martin's Restaurant is cozy and romantic. Terilli's is popular for Italian and jazz. Finally, Cafe Izmir offers a unique dining experience on Greenville Avenue.
Meanwhile, dining in Uptown runs from ultra-classy to down-home and casual. Old Warsaw (The) , built in 1948, and Hotel St. Germain offer old-world dining elegance. Avanti Ristorante offers tantalizing Italian food plus a moonlight breakfast with live jazz from midnight to 4a Th-Sa. Bread Winners Bakery and Cafe is another great choice for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Rounding out the Uptown area's highlights is the Dream Cafe , a place dedicated to delicious, wholesome and organic dishes.
While in the Knox/Henderson area, choose from the Highland Park Pharmacy 's lunch counter for grilled cheese, Sipango for dancing and dining, and Cafe Madrid for tapas.
Irving also has a lot of variety to offer, both to business travelers and families. Ruen Thai's original recipes are mouth-watering good. Cafe Cipriani serves fine Italian cuisine in an elegant setting; Jinbeh allows you to choose between Japanese Hibachi cooking and sushi; and Via Real provides upscale Tex-Mex cuisine. Finally, Cool River Cafe draws crowds as much for its people-watching as it does for its steak and seafood.
Various tours, both guided and unguided, are in place for you to explore the architecture, historic sites, nature and other unique areas of interest in and around Dallas. The tours below will give you a sampling of what Dallas has to offer.
John F. Kennedy Memorial
Commemorating the most infamous event in Dallas' history, the John F. Kennedy Memorial marks the spot of the beloved President's assassination in Dealey Plaza. Don't miss the Sixth Floor Museum , located in the Texas School Book Depository, where Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly shot and killed President Kennedy. There are several dining options nearby as well, such as The Green Room and Brent Place , a great lunch option.
Dallas Museum of Art
The main attraction in the Dallas Arts District , the Dallas Museum of Art contains an exemplary permanent collection featuring works by Monet, Picasso, and Matisse, among others. The temporary exhibitions are world class as well. The museum also features Seventeen Seventeen , the delightful atrium restaurant, and in summers, enjoy Jazz Under the Stars , a free concert put on by the museum. Nearby the museum in the Arts District are the The Meyerson , home to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra , as well as the Nasher sculpture center, complete with works by Rodin and Calder. Also nearby is the popular Local eatery where you won't miss out on your history lesson as it is housed in a historical building constructed in 1908.
Old Red Courthouse
For a glimpse at turn-of-the-century Dallas history, visit the nearby Old Red Courthouse built from red pecos sandstone and Arkansas blue granite. But that's not all there is to do in bustling downtown Dallas. Visit the Reunion Tower and its observation level for great views of the city. Dallas Visual Art Center is another closeby attraction where you can check out what contemporary art is going on or even take a class. In fall, you can't miss the Texas State Fair and pay a visit to Big Tex, a Dallas institution since 1952. The Dallas Farmers Market has been around since the 1800's, and never fails to please with fresh meats, produce and even cooking lessons. If all this touring gets you feeling a little peckish, there are numerous restaurants to satisfy your hunger, such as Lola, The Restaurant , Morton's Steakhouse , or Luqa .
There are lots of fun and interesting things to do just a little ways outside the city as well. The Palace of Wax / Ripley's Believe It or Not is a fun outing for the whole family, featuring such wonders as the mirror maze, or the Last Supper made entirely of postage stamps, not to mention the Wax Museum where you can see lifesize replicas of all the presidents along side Britney Spears. At the Interurban Railway Museum , you can learn all about the history of the rails in Texas. When the summer gets too hot to handle, head to Water Works , where you can enjoy floating downt the 600 foot long river, or speeding down one of their 4 water slides. Dallas is full of history and fun, to really get the most out of it, try one of the numerous types of tours, from the traditonal bus tour the the slightly more unconventional, Dallas offers tours to suit all types of personalities.
Bus Tours Grayline Tours (+1 800 256 4723/http://www.grayline.com) All in One Tour Services +1 214 698 0332/http://www.allinonetourservices.com) Dallas Historical Society (+1 214 421 4500/http://www.dallashistory.org/activities/tours.htm)
Segway Tours Dallas Segway Tours (+1 972 821 9054/http://www.dallassegway.com)
Walking Tours Preservation Dallas (+1 214 821 3290/http://www.preservationdallas.com)
Aerial Tours Classic Aviation Inc. (+1 972 661 8086/http://www.classicav.com)
Shopping Tours Shopping Chauffer (+1 214 774 2308/http://www.shopping-chauffer.com)
Boat Tours Big D Tours (+1 800 208 4421/http://www.bigdtours.com)