Dallas: Recreation


Dallas is rich in entertainment opportunities. Whether one's preference runs to culture, sports, nightlife, or family fare, the Metroplex—including Fort Worth, Arlington, Irving, Grand Prairie, the "Mid-Cities," and many suburbs—has plenty to offer. Beginning in downtown Dallas, visitors can see Dallas founder John Neely Bryan's log cabin at Founder's Plaza, wander through the city's historic districts, enjoy a shopping excursion among the shops and stores located in the underground network of downtown office buildings, or seek out merchandise at Neiman-Marcus department store, which maintains a unique fifth-floor museum. Other downtown Dallas attractions include the beautifully restored Majestic Theatre, the chimes in the bell tower, Thanks-Giving Square, the marvelous bronze steers of Pioneer Plaza, the bargains at Farmers Market, the observation deck on top of the 50-story tall Reunion Tower, and the ice rinks at Plaza of the Americas complex and at down-town's West End (open December through March).

Fair Park is a 277-acre entertainment, cultural, and recreational complex located on the site of the Texas Centennial Exposition of 1936 and home each year to the State Fair of Texas, the country's largest. Fair Park includes the Cotton Bowl Stadium, a 3,400-seat Music Hall, a 7,200-seat coliseum, a 4,000-seat open-air Band Shell, Starplex Amphitheatre, six major exhibit buildings, livestock facilities, a permanent Midway amusement park, the technologically

Fair Park, designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986, is home to nine museums and six peformance facilities.
Fair Park, designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986, is home to nine museums and six peformance facilities.
advanced TI Founders IMAX Theater, and nine museums including the Museum of Natural History, African American Museum, Texas Hall of State, Dallas Horticulture Center, Dallas Aquarium, The Science Place I and II, and Age of Steam Railroad Museum. Fair Park has the largest collection of art-deco structures in the world. More than seven million people visit Fair Park events each year, with 3.5 million visiting during the State Fair of Texas each fall.

Six Flags over Texas in nearby Arlington is a 205-acre theme park that includes more than 100 rides, shows, concerts, games, and restaurants. Six Flags, themed for the six nations that have governed Texas, is open for special events during the holidays. Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, southwest of Dallas, is dedicated to conservation of endangered species. Programs here focus on conservation, management of natural resources, and public education. Most of the animals here are free to roam the 1,500 acres of savannahs and woodlands, offering visitors a rare chance to see and learn about how species live in the wild.

The Dallas Zoo features more than 2,000 animals, including many rare and endangered species. The 25-acre Wilds of Africa exhibit features a mile-long monorail, nature trail, African plaza, gorilla conservation center, and lots of animals in their natural habitats. "Lemur Lookout" features several examples of the endangered, primitive primate in a 4,000-square-foot naturalistic exhibit. The Zoo's Monorail Safari takes visitors on a one-mile tour through the six habitats. The Dallas Nature Center has 4.5 miles of hiking trails and picnic areas amid a variety of native wildflowers. Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden has 66 acres of gardens plus the historic DeGolyer Mansion and features the largest public selection of azaleas in the United States.

Old City Park is a living history museum portraying life in North Texas from 1840-1910. The museum features 38 historic structures, including a working Civil War era farm, a traditional Jewish household, Victorian homes, a school, a church, and commercial buildings. Deep Ellum, a former industrial neighborhood and center of the Dallas jazz scene is home to avant-garde culture in the form of a variety of restaurants, nightclubs, galleries, and shops.

Arts and Culture

The performing arts enjoy a healthy patronage in Dallas. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra (DSO), acclaimed as one of the world's premier orchestras, presents numerous subscription concerts, pops concerts, youth concerts, and free park concerts. The DSO performs at the magnificent Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center (designed by renowned architect I.M. Pei) in the 60-acre downtown Arts District, the largest urban arts district in the country. Classical music is also provided by the Dallas Chamber Orchestra, the Dallas Classic Guitar Society, and the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra.

The Kalita Humphreys Theatre, home to the Dallas Theater Center, is the only public theater designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It houses the city's professional theater company, which offers live drama and conducts a children's theater. The Theater Center has a second performance facility in the downtown Arts District. Dallas Children's Theater offers special fare for youngsters. Others on the Dallas theater scene include Water Tower Theatre, Deep Ellum Opera Theatre, Pocket Sandwich Theatre, Pegasus, Theatre Three, Actors' Theatre of Dallas, Dallas Summer Musicals, the Junior Black Academy of Arts and Letters, and Undermain Theatre. Teatro Dallas features plays about Hispanic culture, and the Callier Theatre for the Deaf offers performances throughout the year.

The Dallas Opera, an international company founded in 1957, presents numerous performances each winter and spring in the Music Hall at Fair Park and the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. Three operettas in English are performed each year by the Lyric Opera. The Music Hall at Fair Park is home of the Dallas Summer Musicals and hosts annual shows during the State Fair each October. The Grapevine Opry and Mesquite Opry are sites for country music performances. One of Dallas' oldest dance troupes, Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico, is particularly active during Dance for the Planet festivals. Dallas Black Dance Theatre is a contemporary modern dance company that performs a modern, jazz, ethnic, and spiritual works by nationally and internationally known choreographers.

Dallas-area museums and galleries offer a wide range of exhibits and displays. The Dallas Museum of Art has 370,000 square feet of space on an 8.9-acre site in the Arts District. Its collections include works by renowned American and European artists; the Crow Collection of Asian Art features more than 600 paintings, objects, and architectural pieces from China, Japan, India, and Southeast Asia.

The Dallas Aquarium at Fair Park features electric eels, moon jellyfish, and endangered green sea turtles among the 5,000 aquatic animals from around the world. Also at Fair Park, the Dallas Museum of Natural History contains native-habitat displays of animals—including a hall housing tremendous dinosaur fossils—and minerals, birds, and plants, a photographic gallery, and changing exhibits. Other Fair Park museums include: Hall of State, built in 1936 and home to the Dallas Historical Society; The Science Place, featuring science exhibits, a planetarium, and IMAX theater; The Age of Steam Railroad Museum, a collection of railroad locomotives; the African American Museum; Texas Discovery Gardens; and The Women's Museum.

Old City Park in downtown Dallas is an architectural and cultural museum whose authentic restorations trace Texas history from 1840 to 1910. Buildings include a depot, railroad section house, hotel, physician's office, bank, church, school, and various homes. The Biblical Arts Center features early Christian architecture, Biblical and secular art, a 30-minute light-and-sound presentation of the "Miracle at Pentecost" mural, and an atrium gallery that displays a replica of the garden tomb of Christ. The cultures and lifestyles of South American Indians are depicted at the International Museum of Cultures, where exhibits include pottery, habitat displays, and scenes of everyday life. The Sixth Floor Museum at the former Texas School Book Depository chronicles the life and legacy of President John F. Kennedy. The 30-foot-high JFK Memorial downtown commemorates the late president.

The Nasher Sculpture Center is a 54,000-square-foot building and outdoor sculpture garden featuring the art collection of philanthropist and collector Ray Nasher and his late wife, Patsy. Considered by many as one of the foremost private or public collections of twentieth-century sculpture in the world, consists of more than 300 pieces by artists such as Matisse, Picasso, Rodin and others.

The Dallas Firefighters Museum permits visitors to walk through Dallas' oldest in-service fire station, which houses "Old Tige," a turn-of-the-century steam pumper, and a variety of antique fire-fighting equipment. The Dallas Memorial Center for Holocaust Studies includes a museum, library, and educational institute. The Dollhouse Museum of the Southwest features displays of international dolls and toys.

Festivals and Holidays

Dallas starts off its year with New Year's celebrations and continues strong throughout the year with numerous festivals featuring art, music, food, fun, and more. The Wild-flower! Arts & Music Festival is held every May and features national, regional, and local entertainment. The Shakespeare Festival is held each summer and features Camp Shakespeare and Festival Workshops for kids. ArtFest is held each year in Fair Park, a celebration of art, food and drink, and good times. Dallas Farmers Market is the scene of seasonal festivals, and the great State Fair of Texas is held each year at Fair Park from late September through mid-October. Additionally, One of the largest wine festivals in the Southwest is Grapefest, held in Grapevine, Texas, a suburb of Dallas.

Sports for the Spectator

Dallas sports fans can follow their local favorites at the professional or college level. Since 1972 the Dallas Cowboys professional football team has made its home at Texas Stadium in Irving. The American Airlines Center is home to National Basketball Association's expansion franchise team Dallas Mavericks, as well as the Dallas Desperados of the Arena Football League (AFL). Also at the American Airlines Center, the Dallas Stars face-off against other National Hockey League teams from September through April. The Texas Rangers play Major League Baseball from April thru October at Ameriquest Field in Arlington. Major League Soccer's FC Dallas (formerly the Dallas Burn) play at the Frisco Soccer & Entertainment Center, opened in 2005. The new 115-acre facility features a 20,000-plus-seat soccer stadium.

Real championship cowboys compete at the Mesquite Championship Rodeo at Resistol Arena from April to September in Mesquite, Texas. In May, the TPC at Four Seasons Resort in Irving, Texas hosts the annual Byron Nelson Golf Classic, one of the major events on the professional golf tour.

College and university sports fans follow the Southern Methodist University Mustang teams and the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs. The Cotton Bowl Football Classic each year pits two of the nation's best college teams.

Sports for the Participant

The city of Dallas has more than 21,000 acres of parks and 17 lakes, with nearly 62 miles of jogging and biking paths. Residents and visitors can find almost every kind of recreation in one or more of the municipal facilities. The system's 406 neighborhood, community, and regional parks offer 263 tennis courts, 146 soccer fields, 226 pools, 45 recreation centers, 6 golf courses, and a variety of other fields, shelters, play areas, and recreational facilities.

Sixty lakes and reservoirs lie within a 100-mile radius of Dallas. The largest within the city is Lake Ray Hubbard, with more than 20,000 acres and a public marina. The Dallas Nature Center features 360 acres of preserved wilderness and mesquite prairie, including six miles of hiking trails.

In 2002 and after six years in development, Lake Tawakoni State Park opened 50 miles east of Dallas. The park covers 376 rolling, wooded acres on the shore of a large reservoir and provides a variety of recreational activities, including catfish and bass fishing.

Shopping and Dining

Dallas offers visitors a unique blend of Southwestern warmth, cosmopolitan flair, Old West charm and modern sophistication. One of the wholesale and retail centers of the nation, Dallas has more shopping centers per capita than any major American city. Valley View Center is one of the city's largest shopping centers with more than 175 merchants occupying 1.5 million square feet of space. NorthPark Mall is home to more than 160 stores. The Galleria Dallas features more than 200 stores, including high-end retailers like Tiffany & Co., Gianni Versace, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Nordstrom and others; the mall also features an ice skating rink inspired by the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan, Italy. The West End Marketplace downtown has over 30 specialty shops featuring Texas/Dallas memorabilia and unique gifts; shoppers also have their choice from a variety of restaurants and night clubs in the renovated historic district. More than three million antique and bargain hunters visit Traders Village in Grand Prairie, Texas each year. Spread over 120 acres, more than 2,500 dealers set up shop each weekend in the open-air bargain hunters' paradise.

Dallas, with four times more restaurants per person than New York City, can serve up Texas beef or French cuisine, fiery Texas chili, or a variety of ethnic specialties. According to the Texas Restaurant Association, Dallas has more than 7,000 restaurants to enjoy. TexMex fare is supplemented by the ethnic dishes of Greece, Mexico, Germany, Japan, China, Vietnam, India, and Italy at fine restaurants and eateries. Although some restaurants specialize in traditional southern cooking, this fare is mostly served at home in Dallas. Dallas boasts the invention of the frozen margarita, a popular cocktail made of tequila, lime juice, sugar, and salt.

Visitor Information: Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau, 325 North St. Paul Street, Suite 700, Dallas, TX 75201; telephone (214)571-1000; fax (214)571-1008