One Perfect Day: Dallas
Your guide to making the most of 24 hours, deep in the heart of Texas
DALLAS has shaken off the shoulder pads, big hair and wheeling and dealing – hallmarks of the eponymous 1980s TV show that made the city famous. Yes, there’s something familiar about the glass-and-steel skyline that rises from the flat Texan landscape but the cranes pivoting around it indicate a city on the move. Founded on cotton, oil, ranches and railroads, Dallas is a diverse economic hub and one of the fastestgrowing cities in the United States. Scores of American companies, including Fortune 500s, are headquartered here. And while the city has retained some of that old charm – cowboy boots, Southern hospitality, Tex-Mex – it’s now also home to sophisticated food, wine and arts scenes.
Join a meditation or tai chi class or go for a walk around Klyde Warren Park (klydewarrenpark.org), an urban garden built, improbably, over the freeway that connects Uptown, Downtown and the Arts District. Grab a coffee from one of the food trucks lined up around the park.
Dallas is well serviced by trains and buses but Uber offers ease of movement between its divergent attractions – and the chance to chat with the resolutely friendly locals. Hop in your ride and head to Ellen’s Southern Kitchen & Bar (1790 North Record Street; +1 469 206 3339), located five minutes away in the West End. This historic warehouse-filled area is undergoing technological refurbishments such as the installation of free public wi-fi and interactive digital kiosks offering mobile-charging stations, touchscreen maps and public-transit schedules. Ellen’s menu features plenty of Southern comfort food such as biscuits, gravy and grits. For a true fusion of old and new, try the grits Benedict: poached eggs on a bed of spinach, crumbled hickory bacon and cheesy grits.
Walk five minutes to The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza ( jfk.org) for a solemn, thoughtful look at the life and death of one of the most beloved American presidents, John F. Kennedy. It was from the sixth floor of this former book depository that Lee Harvey Oswald fatally shot Kennedy as the president’s motorcade passed by in November 1963. Peer down from the window through which Oswald aimed his rifle and understand how this pleasant Texan streetscape was transformed into a site of deep national grief.
Lighten the mood by exploring the Arts District (dallasarts district.org), a five-minute drive or 20-minute walk away. Spanning 28 hectares and 19 blocks, it’s the largest contiguous urban arts district in the US. Don’t miss Dale Chihuly’s bright glass flowers adorning the windows in the Hamon Atrium at the Dallas Museum of Art (dma.org; free admission) or the vast, thrilling collection by masters such as Miró, Picasso, de Kooning and Giacometti at the Renzo Piano-designed Nasher Sculpture Center (nashersculpturecenter.org).
It’s a 10-minute drive to Trinity Groves (trinitygroves. com), a six-hectare restaurant, retail, arts and entertainment development in gentrified West Dallas. The space is crammed with concept restaurants launched by up-and-coming chefs as part of a unique incubator program. Challenge and delight your tastebuds at Chino Chinatown (chino chinatown.com), where chef Uno Immanivong blends Chinese and Latin American flavours in dishes such as chicken tinga wontons (chipotle chicken, yuzu guacamole, Oaxaca cheese) and elote (grilled corn, Cotija cheese, togarashi and Sriracha aïoli). Afterwards, pop into Cake Bar (cakebar dallas.com) for a slice of Southern-style sweetness.
Love him or not, former American president George W. Bush is presented in vivid, fascinating detail at the country’s newest presidential library (georgewbushlibrary.smu.edu). A 10-minute drive will deliver you to the nine-hectare Bush Center, set on the campus of Southern Methodist University. Spend some quiet time browsing the exhibitions that trace Bush’s presidency. Most stirring is the September 11 remembrance display, which features a soaring, battered steel beam from the World Trade Center.
It’s 20 minutes by road to Bishop Arts District( bishopartsdistrict.com) – Dallas’s best-kept secret, according to those in the know. The sagging weatherboard bungalows typical of this South Dallas neighbourhood are being revamped and the main streets reflect this creative spirit with a burgeoning collection of restaurants, bars, coffee shops, galleries and boutiques. Fuel up with a slice of French silk chocolate pie with pretzel crust or buttermilk chess pie from specialty shop Emporium Pies
Downtown’s flashy skyline flanks Klyde Warren Park, a green space “created out of thin air” over an eight-lane freeway
(From top) AT&T Performing Arts Center in the Arts District; former American president John F. Kennedy and first lady Jacqueline are immortalised at The Sixth Floor Museum
Willem de Kooning’s
Seated Woman at Nasher Sculpture Center (left); the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum houses a full-size replica of the Oval Office