What to Do in Dallas When You're Not at the Super Bowl
Historic West End
Once you've made your touchdown in North Texas, the West End Historic District in downtown Dallas is a good place to really kickoff your visit. Where John Neely Bryan opened his first trading post in the mid 1800s is now the place you'll find unique boutiques and more than two dozen restaurants, bars and clubs. There are carefully preserved sites such as the quaint 1892 Old Red Courthouse, a city jail that dates back to 1906, and the railroad crossing that was responsible for much of Dallas' early fortunes. Don't miss the atmospheric Wild Bill's Western Store, where everyone from Elton John to Arnold Schwarzenegger has stocked up on western wear.
The home of the annual Texas-Oklahoma football game at the Cotton Bowl Stadium - site of Super Bowl parties for the three days running up to Super Bowl Sunday - Fair Park will also be the place to party with Gene Simmons and Shannon Tweed at the pre-Super Bowl party on February 2. This National Historic Landmark has a fine collection of Art Deco exposition buildings on its 277 acres and is also where you'll find a number of museums and attractions, including the Dallas Zoo, the Museum of Nature and Science, and, since fall 2010, the 6,000 animals of the Children's Aquarium.
Dallas Arts District
The creation of the Arts District is responsible Dallas' transition from cultural wannabe to major league player. The addition of Winspear Opera House and the AT&T Performing Arts Center in 2009 turned this 19-block, 68-acre area completed Dallas' conversion into a world-class arts destination. Stars of the nation's largest arts district include Dallas Museum of Art, the Crow Collection of Asian Art and the Nasher Sculpture Center. Next on the roster: The Park -- a 5.2-acre deck over the freeway - is set for completion in 2012.
The sounds of Dallas' musical past are still audible in Deep Ellum, once the home of an exciting blues scene. Today you'll find the neighborhood of quirky retro stores, hip eateries, alternative art galleries and eclectic clubs still the soul of the city's music scene, although it's mostly edgy alt acts that compete for the spotlight at Deep Ellum's squat, red-brick bars and clubs. By day, tuck into Texas beef at the mouthwatering Twisted Root Burger Co. By night, make a play for a front row seat for local rock bands at The Curtain Club, live jazz or blues at Bone, or settle in for a night of honky-tonking at Adair's Saloon.
If you need a football fix (or a basketball, soccer, volleyball, baseball, lacrosse or karate fix for that matter), head for Fieldhouse USA, a 145,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art sports facilities that opened its doors in 2009. Play like a pro with two 65-inch HD flat-screen scoreboards on each field or court – and a slew more screens showing live sports for those who prefer to stay on the sidelines while others go through their paces.
Knox-Henderson's Travis Walk
Ready for dinner? head Uptown to Travis Walk in the cool Knox-Henderson neighborhood, just off the hip Knox strip. This up-and-coming restaurant complex close to Southern Methodist University and Oak Lawn has a delicious cluster of restaurants and bars. A top choice for an aperitif or an after dinner indulgence has to be Chateau Wine Market and Bodega Bar, a wine bar where local specialties such as Texas Viognier, dry Southeast Texan Blanc du Bois and sweet South Plains Orange Muscat star among the 1,500 vintages available by the glass -- or on the market side, by the basket. Chateau shows how Texas' wine industry has upped its game to become one of the established wine regions of the U.S.
McKinney Avenue Tavern
The MAT, as those with the home field advantage call it, is the place to catch the Super Bowl on screen. Or, rather, on all the popular Uptown tavern's 20 different screens. When the big game isn't big on everyone's minds, this neighborhood spot shows 20 different games, so your team is bound to be up there somewhere. Both men and women flock to the MAT, with its huge central bar, spacious patio, and surprisingly good burgers and pizzas.
Highland Park Village
You can really score some finds in the shopping capital of the Southwest -- from antiques and art Uptown to funky finds in Greenville and Deep Ellum. Shopping is a sport in Dallas, and nowhere will you see it played on a bigger budget level than at the chic, outdoor Highland Park Village (aka the Rodeo Drive of Texas). This doyenne of the shopping scene has presided over Dallas' most upscale neighborhood since the 1930s and today boasts a constellation of star names including Carolina Herrera, Chanel, Diane Von Furstenberg and Christian Louboutin. If the ritzy wares are financially out of bounds, this National Historic Landmark makes a perfect perch for people watching.
Bishop Arts District
The burgeoning Bishop Arts District is a choice area of galleries, boutiques and bistros in southwestern neighborhood Oak Cliff. Set amid charming streets full of turn-of-the-century and mid-century homes, Bishop Arts is a good option for your itinerary when you want to escape the hordes downtown and get out of the car and walk. Aim for West Davis and North Bishop and saunter between stores and eateries. For the best city skyline views and good southern cooking, visit mid-century modern Hotel Belmont's BarBelmont and SMOKE restaurant.
White Rock Lake
With a record-shattering 100,000 due to fill Cowboys Stadium and up to another 600,000 expected to come to town for the big weekend, you might be glad for an opportunity to take things way far from the frenzied end zone for a while. The 1,015-acre White Rock Lake is just a few miles northeast of downtown. Whether you just want to stroll the trails, seek refuge in Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, or pick up a paddle and go kayaking will depend on the weather: In February it could be anywhere from 25 to 75 degrees.
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