USA holidays: 48 hours in Dallas and Fort Worth
See full NZ Herald article by Adam Cooper here.
Dallas Fort Worth Airport is one of America’s busiest flight transit hubs. With direct flights from Auckland now available via American Airlines, it’s worth stepping out of the airport for a few days in neighbouring Texas cities, writes Adam Cooper.
Begin the day at Ellen’s brunch restaurant in downtown Dallas. A stylish location with a traditional southern-style diner feel. Remember everything is bigger in Texas so get acclimatised to large Texas servings.
Hit the road (or the train station) and head from Dallas to neighbouring Fort Worth. A 45-minute trip by road or an hour by train, Dallas’ “younger brother” has been spruced up in recent years. Albeit modernised, it firmly maintains its cowboy roots and farming heritage.
Head to Fort Worth’s museum district for history, American culture and modern art. The Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Kimbell Art Museum and National Cowgirl Museum are all within walking distance and free (specialist exhibitions incur a fee). Spot Michelangelo’s first painting The Torment of Saint Anthony at Kimbell – his only work on display in the USA.
Park up on the outdoor patio at Reservoir – a lively and down-to-earth sports bar and restaurant. Ask for the “Chicken and Waffles” – crispy Belgian waffles topped with breaded chicken tenders. Perfectly accompanied by a locally crafted beer.
Stroll along the relaxed streets of downtown Fort Worth, popping by Fort Worth Water Gardens. Admire the John F. Kennedy tribute statue, where the president gave an impromptu speech to thousands of people on November 22, 1963, just hours before his assassination in Dallas.
Head for the Wild West at the 40-hectare Fort Worth Stockyards area that proudly honours the town’s cattle industry history. Explore various stores showcasing high-end custom-made cowboy boots, hats, belts and saddles – including one of the oldest, M.L. Leddy’s, where you’ll be warmly welcomed with a smile and a run-through of their beautifully crafted clothing and accessories.
Position yourself on the footpath near Fort Worth’s former Livestock Exchange building and get your camera ready for the world’s only daily cattle drive – which sees longhorn cattle ceremoniously walk down the main streets at 11.30am and 4.30pm every day.
Just meters from the cattle drive is Mule Alley – a newly renovated strip of classy restaurants, cafes, shops and concert halls.
Head for dinner at 97 West Kitchen & Bar, located in the new and western-themed Hotel Drover. A broad array of Texas fare is available here, along with ranch classics and a unique take on Southern comfort food.
Let your hair down at the iconic Billy Bob’s – the world’s largest honky-tonk bar with nightly entertainment. The three-acre club can accommodate 6,000 guests, housing its own indoor rodeo arena, dozens of bars and restaurants and a Texas-sized dance floor – with a shining rhinestone cowboy boot filling in for a disco ball. The venue throbs on weekend nights, showcasing top country music acts, while midweek visitors can enjoy free line-dancing lessons.
Wake up in Fort Worth and grab a pastry and coffee from either Sons or Vaquero. It’s time to return to Dallas.
In Dallas, a stint at the modern and family-friendly Perot Museum of Nature and Science will impress visitors of every age. With exhibits showcasing anything from dinosaur fossils to DNA and diamonds.
The 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy – and its associated conspiracy theories - remains a much-debated issue, making The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza a must-visit. The museum is housed in the very building Lee Harvey Oswald is believed to have fired his fatal shots. The museum doesn’t shy away from conspiracy theories related to a major time of upheaval in the city’s – and country’s – history. Peer through the sixth-floor window and judge for yourself – does the elevation and angle to the street below match up with what officials claim happened that November afternoon?
Head to the hip neighbourhood of Deep Ellum, and find a public or private group food tour. Food Tours of America begins at Terry Black’s Barbecue and culminates in a perfectly cooked prime-sliced brisket. Your knowledgeable guide will take you to several hidden gems, including delicious Mexican and American restaurants for nibbles, before capping off the tour with New Orleans-style beignets made right before your eyes.
Dallas takes its margaritas seriously and most locals are keen to remind visitors that the frozen margarita machine was invented in the city. Head for Margarita Mile and take a self-guided tour of the city’s cocktail-serving establishments; most restaurants have their own unique flavour.
Head up to the 171-metre high Reunion Tower observation deck. Admire the city skyline and flat prairies that surround the city. The lack of hills makes for some gorgeous sunset views.
Thrust yourself firmly into American culture by attending a major sports fixture. Depending on the time of year, you’ll have the chance to see the NBA’s Mavericks or the NHL’s Stars at the downtown American Airlines Centre, baseball’s Texas Rangers, or a quick drive out of the city takes you to the home of America’s most famous and valued football team, the Dallas Cowboys.
Wind down while taking in the colourful city lights from above, at the edgy Waterproof rooftop bar atop the Statler Hotel.
Location Mentioned: JFK Tribute in Fort Worth