I must admit, despite my travels around the world—160 countries and counting—Dallas has never been on my “must-see” list. It’s always been a city I drove through on the way to somewhere else, or a measuring stick to compare my hometown of Houston. However, I found myself in the Big D this week, and was surprised to find a city of full of fun things to see and do. I ran out of time before I ran out of interesting places—color me impressed.
Below, seven highlights you should check out for yourself the next time you head north:
Normally I wouldn’t list a restaurant as a destination, but Eatzi’s is something so much more. It’s so good that I would be willing to go hours out of my way to stop in for lunch or take-away. The market has small stations where you can create a salad to your specs, or have a sandwich made to order—but not just a sandwich. With a selection of infused cream cheese spreads, roasted vegetables, exotic bread choices, fanciful cheeses and deli meats, Eatzi’s can make the best sandwich you ever had. There’s also an amazing deli, sushi, fresh desserts and other wonderful culinary delights throughout the market. Philip Romano, who also created Fuddruckers and Macaroni Grill, developed the concept; unlike his other creations, the Dallas area is the only place you’ll find Eatzi’s.
Most of us have a working knowledge of the events in Dallas that took President JFK from us in 1963. The building where Lee Harvey Oswald “allegedly” shot the president was once a book depository and is now a museum. Today, visitors can visit the exact location where the gun was found, peer out the window where the gunman stood, and see a mock-up video of the streets and location where the event happened. It’s all there: the Grassy Knoll, the conspiracy theories, the motives, even the background of events preceding the assassination. Even if you weren't alive to experience it, being in the place where it all happened and seeing the collected photos and videos will undoubtedly make the event seem much more real and personal.
Just a couple of blocks from the Grassy Knoll stands an unusual red Romanesque revival building called The Old Red Museum, formerly a Dallas courthouse that was later converted into a museum of local history. It has a hodge-podge of exhibits including Clyde Barrow’s gun, the first traffic light in Dallas County, Lee Harvey Oswald’s handcuffs, even Tom Landry’s famous fedora. If you’re interested in Dallas history, it’s a nice place to cool off and spend an hour or two, though most visitors opt to explore the outside of the building as it’s one of the most visually interesting in Dallas.
This downtown park hosts an entire herd of longhorn cattle sculptures complete with cowboys, forever frozen in time and immortalized in bronze. The cattle drive extends throughout the park with some of the cattle statues hoof-deep in a water crossing and continuing up the hill. There’s at least three cowboys on horseback and 70 longhorns, making this one of the most unique and compelling sculptures you’ll find anywhere: each steer is different like a Texas version of the Chinese terracotta warriors.
This free museum has a nice mixture of African, Egyptian, Asian and European art. One of the highlights of the gallery is the Wendy and Emery Reves Collection, which includes a recreation of the donors’ Italian villa complete with furniture and the couple’s art collection, counting a Van Gogh painting and some Rodin sculptures among its treasures. The museum also features a few Picasso pieces, The Icebergs by Edwin Church and lots of interesting objets d’art from around the globe.
The number one tourist destination in Dallas, per TripAdvisor, is the lovely botanical garden located in East Dallas. The meticulously landscaped 66-acre attraction is full of fountains, gardens named for various donors and views onto White Rock Lake. The plants and flowers change with the seasons so the gardens are open all year. It’s a beautiful place to visit and surround yourself with nature.
Dallas is home to several famous burial spots including the final resting places of three of the nation’s most notorious killers: Bonnie Parker, Clyde Barrow and Lee Harvey Oswald are all interred in cemeteries scattered throughout the area. It’s a little bit of a treasure hunt to find any of them and to complicate matters, Bonnie and Clyde were buried in separate cemeteries while workers refuse to give directions to Lee Harvey’s grave. If you’re up for a little adventure, all three can be found with a simple Google search and a little persistence. If you’re having a tough time finding Oswald in the Rose Hill Cemetery, just ask a worker for the whereabouts of Nick Beef. Mr. Beef’s headstone is next to Oswald—though there’s no one actually buried there, which makes the story even more interesting. If you prefer to avoid murderers, you can opt to visit famed blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan’s memorial. He’s buried in Laurel Land Memorial Park in nearby Fort Worth. For a listing of graves, searchable by location, name, or degree of fame, visit findagrave.com. You might be surprised who you can dig up.