In Your Own Backyard: Dallas

If you’re looking for something new to do without traveling too far from home, or you seek something fresh to show out-of-town visitors, the Dallas-Fort Worth area (we call it the Metroplex) can please just about everyone: art and architecture lovers, sports fans, even outdoorsy types. Check out these close-to-home options.


Visit JerryWorld

Cowboy Stadium
Locals call it JerryWorld, the Death Star and Cowboys Stadium. The world's largest domed structure looks big on TV, bigger still when seen on the horizon, bigger yet when you’re inside and -- holy cow, that’s crazy big! -- when you’re standing on the field, under the stadium’s massive 72-feet-high-by-160-feet-wide video screen.

The stadium that Jerry Jones built, primarily to house his Dallas Cowboys football team, is located in Arlington, TX, about midway between Dallas and Fort Worth. On days when no events are scheduled, you can visit the players’ locker room and have a photo taken in front of your favorite player’s locker. The cheerleaders’ locker room features life-sized photos of the women, and you can visit the post-game interview room. One tour focuses on the collection of sports-related art that hangs throughout the stadium.

Visit Dallas' Past

dallas old red museum
Dallas’ history is colorful, in an oil field, wheeler-dealer, big spender way. Visitors can learn about its rich history at the Old Red Museum located downtown in a stately old courthouse. The beautifully restored Romanesque building that houses the museum, with its scrolled grand staircase, is part of the museum experience.

Two exhibit floors trace the city’s roots in music, culture, sports and business (plus, a few criminals thrown in). You can learn about Neiman Marcus founder Stanley Marcus’ influence on the city; see legendary Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry’s fedora; criminal Clyde Barrow’s gun; and the handcuffs that held John F. Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.

Breathe Deeply and Relax

dallas crow collection asian art
A visit to the Crow Collection of Asian Art in the Dallas Arts District offers a soothing sanctuary for relaxation and just about anyone who appreciates Asian arts and culture.

Approach the Crow from Flora Street to see the Buddha statue overlooking splashing fountains. Above that, a glass skybridge connects the galleries and acts as a gallery itself. Thousands of paper cranes hang from the skybridge ceiling until January 23, 2012, when a black light dragon will replace them and hang through the Chinese New Year.

Art from China, Japan, India, Southeast Asia, Tibet and Nepal constitute the core of the collection of exquisite antiquities. A gallery that opened in 2010 displays contemporary Asian art. The Crow offers free meditation classes every Sunday, and Tai Chi on Saturdays. Classes are in the galleries, so you’ll close your eyes and meditate surrounded by Asian treasures.

Paddle North Texas

dallas paddling trail
Seven trails that include lakes, ponds, creeks and rivers in North Texas recently joined the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Texas Paddling Trails program. That means they’ve been improved and provide easy access for paddlers. A few of them are right in the heart of the Metroplex.

Gentle paddles take you past riparian forests of oak, elm and willow trees. Keep an eye out for herons, hawks, songbirds and turtles. You might spot foxes, bobcats and beavers on the Joe Pool Lake and Walnut Creek Paddling Trail. In wintertime, bald eagles have been spotted at Lake Ray Hubbard’s Paddle Point Creek Paddling Trail. The Dallas Trinity Paddling Trail, practically in the shadow of the downtown skyline, is still in development, but sections are open with more to come.

Visit the Downtown Skyline

dallas downtown adolphus hotel dallas magnolia hotel at&t performing arts center
Timothy Hursley
Dallas has long been an architect’s dream because of its wide open spaces and lots of money to spend on architectural flights of fancy. Gleaming modern buildings dominate the downtown skyline. But look closer and you’ll find examples of Victorian, Beaux- Arts, Art Deco and post-modern architecture, all nestled together in a brick-and-mortar timeline of Dallas’ growth.

The Dallas Center for Architecture offers a twice-monthly walking tour of downtown Dallas that features some of the city’s most beloved buildings, including The Adolphus hotel and the Dallas Magnolia Hotel. Another twice-monthly tour explores the Dallas Arts District, from circa 1890s buildings up to the gleaming new AT&T Performing Arts Center.

Dallas-based writer Sophia Dembling is author of The Yankee Chick's Survival Guide to Texas.
Ybor City
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