Visitors to Dallas may see Big Tex, a 55-foot statue that serves as an icon for the State Fair of Texas. // © 2016 Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau
Feature image (above): Dallas is the country’s fourth largest metropolitan area. // © 2016 iStock
It’s said that everything is bigger in Texas, and once families make a visit to what locals refer to as the “Big D,” they’ll understand why. For starters, as the country’s fourth largest metropolitan area (and the third largest city in Texas behind Houston and San Antonio), Dallas is not only big in size — it’s also big on attractions.
If clients happen to come between the end of September and mid-October, make sure to put the State Fair of Texas (held at Fair Park) at the top of their must-see list. Billed as the largest and longest-running fair in the nation, it embodies all things Texas, with everything from live music, farm animals and fabulous food to a jam-packed midway featuring the largest Ferris wheel in North America.
The city is also home to the Dallas Arts District, the largest continuous urban arts district in the U.S. Located downtown, the district features an array of performance venues and world-class museums, including the Dallas Museum of Art, Nasher Sculpture Center and Crow Collection of Asian Art. And situated across from the district is the award-winning Klyde Warren Park, a 5-acre oasis offering children’s spaces, lawn games and activities such as yoga, musical performances and film screenings.
At the opposite end of the park is the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, which showcases five floors of enough mind-blowing exhibits to keep both kids and grown-ups fascinated for hours.
Venture a few blocks away to downtown’s historic West End District to explore the Dallas World Aquarium, an aquatic wonderland filled with exotic creatures from both land and sea. Around the corner from the aquarium is the The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, a terrific place for teens and history buffs to learn about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
And of course, a trip to Dallas isn’t complete without a trek to the interactive observation deck (aka the Geo-Deck) at the city’s most iconic landmark: Reunion Tower. Perched 470 feet up, the deck affords 360-degree views across Dallas and beyond.
One way to experience Dallas’ wilder side is at Trinity Forest Aerial Adventure Park, a combination obstacle course and zipline venue where families can soar, swing, scramble and climb to their heart’s content. More nature awaits at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. Set along the shores of White Rock Lake, this oasis of horticultural magnificence is one of the most-visited botanical gardens in the country. In addition to roaming its 66 acres of endless seasonal plants, families with younger kids will want to explore Rory Meyers Children Adventure Garden, an elaborate 8-acre nature habitat offering everything from a canopy walk to more than 150 interactive digital displays and exhibits.
And finally, not many cities can boast having a library and museum that are fitting enough for a president. In Dallas, you’ll find the George W. Bush Presidential Center, honoring the 43rd U.S. president. The center contains interactive displays; a full-scale, walk-through replica of the Bush Oval Office; and a ravaged steel beam from the World Trade Center.
WHERE TO STAY
Located minutes from downtown, the hotel has an outdoor resort-style waterpark complete with 180-foot waterslides and a lazy river. Kids 12 and under eat dinner free at the on-site Media Grill + Bar.
WHERE TO EAT
Featured on the television series “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” this barbecue joint in Deep Ellum is one of the best in Texas.
WHEN TO GO
Though Dallas is a year-round destination, winters can be chilly (35 to 47 degrees Fahrenheit), and summers are always steamy, with temperatures rising above 100 degrees. The best time to visit is during fall (from October through November) and in the spring, when average highs range from 68 to 84 degrees.
The Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex is served by two airports: Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, located halfway between Dallas and Fort Worth; and Dallas Love Field, located about 7 miles northwest of the downtown central business district. Note that Dallas is the hub for both Southwest Airlines and American Airlines.