5 Best Photo Opportunities in Dallas

Photo Opportunities Dallas

Lee Van Grack

It's true what they say that everything is bigger in Texas. And the same goes for the Big D, the third-largest city in Texas. There are big buildings, big controversies, big hot air balloons, big tulips and big athletic stadiums. Here are my 5 best photo opportunities in Dallas, Texas.

1. The Romantic Photo: The Reunion Tower Restaurant

Want to sip some champagne, dine by candlelight and have a 360-degree view of the glittering city below? Then step onto the Reunion Tower elevator of the Hyatt Regency Hotel and ascend 50 stories (560 feet tall) to Wolfgang Puck's restaurant, Five Sixty (named for the number of feet high you are). When we lived in the Dallas area, on special occasions my husband and I would go to Reunion Tower for dinner or drinks. At that time, the restaurant was called Antares. The Asian-influenced Five Sixty restaurant, which opened in February 2009, revolves, and in about an hour's time you can see every side of the city from your dining spot. On Christmas Day 2002, my husband and I had our holiday meal there, and the view was spectacular. I photographed the cityscape from our table. Reunion Tower, which the locals call "The Ball," was completed in 1978. It was built as a stand-alone structure, but in 2000 the Hyatt Regency constructed an addition that connected the two. The restaurant and two other floors are contained within an open-air sphere with lights and the sphere is a distinctive landmark in downtown Dallas. 300 Reunion Boulevard, 214-741-5560.

2. The Quirky Photo: JFK Assassination Spot

X marks the spot on Elm Street in Dealey Plaza where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963. People come from all over the world to see this spot, pose for a photograph on that X and visit The Sixth Floor Museum. Even singer Erykah Badu videotaped a music video there, creating quite a controversy. On March 17, 2010, the Dallas native stripped her clothes off as she walked on a sidewalk. By the time she got to the spot where President Kennedy was assassinated, she was nude and she dropped to the ground. The video was for her song, "Window Seat." Badu told CNN that the video was "shot guerrilla style" with no crew and in one take. Be careful and look out for traffic before running out to the X to pose for your photo. While the outside photo op is free, it will cost you to go to the Sixth Floor Museum, but it's worth it. The museum chronicles the life, legacy and assassination of John F. Kennedy. There are exhibits, collections, photos, videos, audio tapes, documents and other artifacts. It is located on the sixth and seventh floors of what was in 1963 called the Texas School Book Depository. After the president was killed, evidence was found that showed shots were fired from the sixth floor, and Depository employee Lee Harvey Oswald was charged with JFK's murder. The museum at 411 Elm Street is open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas, Monday noon to 6PM and Tuesday-Sunday 10AM to 6PM Admission is $13.50 for adults; $12.50 for seniors and youths ages 6 to 18; and children up to age 5 are free. 214-747-6660.

3. The Family Fun Photo: Plano Balloon Festival

During the 3 years I lived in the Dallas metropolitan area, there was one annual event that was my very favorite, especially when it came to photo opportunities. Plano, which is one of 12 suburbs in the greater Dallas area, holds its Plano Balloon Festival each year in September. There are special theme and character balloons. You can watch the balloons being inflated and witness the spectacular evening glow. The festival also features a kids' fun zone, fireworks, entertainment, food and sky divers. The prices for the 2010 festival were: $5 per person for a onetime admission; $8 per person for a daytime ticket (2-time admission); a $4 per person discounted admission from 9 AM to 3 PM; $1 off for seniors age 65 and older; and free for kids under 36 inches. For prime parking, it's $10 per car; off-site parking is $5. Guests are encouraged to take DART Rail to the festival. Future dates for the festival are Sept. 16-18, 2011; and Sept. 21-23, 2012. Oak Point Park, 2801 E. Spring Creek Parkway.

4. The Scenic Photo: Dallas Arboretum

There are photo opportunities galore at the 66-acre Dallas Arboretum on White Rock Lake. The arboretum says that more than 540,000 visitors passed through its gates in 2009, coming from 50 countries. Each March and April, the arboretum holds its annual spring festival called Dallas Blooms, which I attended one year and highly recommend. There are hundreds of thousands of bulbs on display, with tulips the star of the show. More than 150,000 visitors view these spectacular flowers each year for the festival. The 2011 Dallas Blooms is set for March 5 to April 10. During other parts of the year, there are seasonal displays and events, such as Autumn at the Arboretum, featuring The Great Pumpkin Festival, scheduled for Sept. 18-Nov. 14, 2010. Tips for noncommercial photographers: Individual bridal or personal photography is allowed as long as photographers follow "garden etiquette" guidelines specified on the arboretum's website. Sorry to say one of those rules is: No tiptoeing through the tulips. The arboretum, located at 8525 Garland Road, is open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM It is closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. 214-515-6500.

5. The Classic Photo: Texas Rangers Ballpark

There's nothing more classic than going to a baseball game, and watching the Texas Rangers play in the very classy Texas Rangers Ballpark in Arlington is a real treat. The ballpark is only used for baseball games and is the centerpiece of a massive 270-acre complex. Rangers Ballpark in Arlington opened on April 1, 1994. At one game I attended, Dick Cheney threw out the first ball and there was a military parade on the field while the players warmed up. One special offered at the park is "All You Can Eat Seats." For $34 ($39 for premier games), you can have all the hot dogs, grilled chicken sandwiches, nachos, peanuts, popcorn and soft drinks you'd like. The price includes your seat in the Upper Home Run Porch. Located at 1000 Ballpark Way, just south of Interstate 30 in Arlington, 817-273-5222. Because of highway work, there could be some streets closed, so the ballpark recommends you check here for the latest information before heading to the game.

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