Surprise: You don’t need a car (or truck) to enjoy Dallas
Asphalt and concrete have defined Dallas since a north-south “central expressway” was envisioned in the early 1900s for a stretch of railroad right-of-way. Travel by anything other than an automobile can be challenging and sometimes impractical.
However, there is a promising alternative — call it “Walking Dallas.” The development of the Uptown neighborhood, abetted by the expansion of Dallas’ cultural district and millennials moving into the area, means a car is not a requirement.
Ground zero for enjoying the city on foot is Klyde Warren Park. Philanthropists and city planners put a roof over a freeway canyon that separated Dallas’ downtown from Uptown. Add grass, flower beds, trees, a dog park, a sound stage and food trucks, and the result is throngs of pedestrians.
Michelin’s Green Guide awarded Dallas its highest city rating, gushing about “a fantastic, world-class cultural, architectural and culinary destination.” Several of Michelin’s touts are a walk away from Klyde Warren.
The “burbs” haven’t disappeared and corporate moves to outlying cities are business-page headlines. Mass transit is improving, but not comparable to the Northeast, and, let’s face it, it’s too hot in July or August to walk in daytime.
But autumn is on the way, with temperatures in the 70s and 80s, arguably Dallas’ best season.
Near Klyde Warren are hotels like the $600-a-night ZaZa or family options under $200. It’s a short walk to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science — a 15-story cube where kids can race against videos of a tyrannosaurus, life-sized cheetah or Dallas Cowboys running back. Rather ride than hoof it? In Deep Ellum east of downtown, Local Hub Bicycle Co. rents bikes for $35 a day. “We’ve had people from all over the world get a bike for the whole week,” says co-owner Justin Shannon. Ride the Katy Trail, a 3.5mile linear park that starts near downtown, or pedal to the Trinity Groves entertainment district and Dallas’ latest landmark, the soaring Margaret Hill Hunt Bridge.
The old-fashioned McKinney Avenue Trolley follows a 4.5-mile elongated loop to the Nasher Sculpture Garden and the Dallas Museum of Art, both highlighted by Michelin, as well as Uptown’s brasseries.
The President George W. Bush Library is a short cab ride to the shady campus of Southern Methodist University, First Lady Laura Bush’s alma mater. The museum has a replica of Bush’s Oval Office and includes a 22-foot section from the fallen World Trade Center. While there, visit SMU’s Meadows Museum, called “Prado on the Prairie.”
Car alert: The Star, a new $1.5 billion, 91-acre complex that houses the Dallas Cowboys headquarters and training facility is in the northern suburb of Frisco. From downtown, the drive is 30 minutes to an hour.
“Walking Dallas” should include Neiman-Marcus’ flagship store, even if you can’t afford a $15,000 Carolina Herrera gown. Opt for the Zodiac Room, where the mandarin orange souffle with chicken salad ($20) follow recipes of legendary Neiman’s cookbook author Helen Corbitt.
The downtown Sixth Floor Museum, reverent and not ghoulish, is dedicated to the “life, death and legacy of President John F. Kennedy.” It’s located on the sixth floor of the building on Dealey Plaza from which shots were fired on Nov. 22, 1963, killing Kennedy as he passed by in a motorcade.
The State Fair of Texas will host 3 million visitors Sept. 30 - Oct. 23. Big Tex, a talking 55-foot statue in cowboy duds, is the official greeter. The required snack is a Fletcher’s Corny Dog, but vendors will fry almost anything, including JellO and Twinkies. The Texas Star Ferris Wheel, 20 stories high, only operates during the State Fair, but Fair Park’s renowned art deco buildings can be viewed year-round.
Since August 2014, visitors have been able to ride DART, Dallas’ light rail, from DFW Airport to downtown for $2.50. The fixed rate for taxis from the airport is $45. Also, consider that downtown hotels might charge up to $35 daily for parking your car.
Check for tickets to classical and popular music and drama at downtown Dallas’ cluster of the Winspear Opera House, Meyerson Symphony Center and Wyly Theater, if you plan to stay near downtown.
Happy hour patrons are two-deep at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel’s Rattlesnake Bar and celebrity chef Dean Fearing’s namesake restaurant is on the same floor, serving concoctions like buffalo tenderloin with jalapeno grits, lobster pot stickers and oysters “Rockafearing.” Less expensive is Uptown’s S& D Oyster Co., where the daily chef’s sampler ($16.95) includes raw and fried oysters, gumbo, hush puppies and shrimp four ways.
Near Local Hub Bicycles is Pecan Lodge, a Dallas barbecue mecca. Justin and Diane “Boss Lady” Fourton sold brisket sandwiches in a Jiffy Lube parking lot, then a stand in Dallas’ Farmers Market before opening their expansive current location. Feed your delegation with “The Trough,” stacks of beef and pork ribs, beef brisket, pulled pork and sausage links ($75).
In this file photo, visitors to the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum look upwards at a 360-degree video screen showing a video welcoming them to the center in Dallas.