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To outsiders, Dallas is best known for being the place where a popular president and an unpopular, albeit fictional, oil tycoon were gunned down. To insiders, the “Big D” is much, much more.
A city of big hair and big egos, Dallas is, rather surprisingly, home to a big arts district – the largest in the country, in fact. Take in the underrated Dallas Museum of Art or the excellent Nasher Sculpture Center. Alternatively, head to the Dallas County Historical Plaza, home to the John Neely Bryan Cabin: a replica of the one-room log structure built by the man credited with founding the city in 1841.
Across the road, the John F. Kennedy Memorial is sadly, rather empty of emotion. However, visitors can witness history at the more moving Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. The plaza itself remains virtually unchanged from four decades ago; a red X marking the spot on the asphalt of Elm Street where Kennedy was struck.
Dallas spelt backwards is ‘sallad’, an irony given the city’s penchant for barbeques. For the best ribs and brisket in town, you could do worse than find yourself in one of Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse restaurants. An institution since 1910, this joint is famous for its brisket, homemade BBQ sauce and onion rings, and will have you licking your lips and fingers. Alternatively, dig (almost literally) into one of the city’s best steaks at Bob’s Steak & Chop House, where waiters serve up over-sized cuts of prime rib and sirloin – a vegan’s worst nightmare.
Dallas has a vibrant nightlife, with a good mix of country and popular live music, dance clubs and good ol’-fashioned karaoke bars. If you really want to kick up your cowboy boots head to the iconic Gilley’s Dallas. This legendary honky-tonk institution features live country music and plenty of space (90,000 square feet, no less) to strap on your dancing boots and best Stetson. It shot to fame with John Travolta on a bucking bronco in Urban Cowboy. Otherwise, shoot like an arrow to Double Wide, the place to go if you want to get your trailer park on – good for local beers and live rock music.
Downtown Dallas has lost most of its major shopping outlets to an increasing urban sprawl, with only the iconic Dallas-born Neiman Marcus department store remaining. But shopping is still an interesting experience in a town that almost considers it a sport – worth the effort if your pockets are as deep as oil wells.
The easiest way to get around this town is by car. Public transportation has improved since the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) was introduced, but while the light rail hits many tourist destinations in the downtown area, the network generally works best for commuters. If you’re in a hurry, avoid buses.Dallasites love their sports. One of only six cities in the entire country to support teams in all of the major professional sports leagues, the Big D last year played host to the biggest sporting event in the country – the Super Bowl. Held at Cowboys Stadium, home of the city’s beloved Dallas Cowboys, the spectacle blew the roof off the country’s largest domed stadium. Giddy Up!