Dallas City Guide
By Steve Lansdale
Your tickets are paid for; you locked up a place to stay and even managed to get a day off from work for the trip. You’ll spend the second weekend in October in Dallas, watching Texas and Oklahoma square off at the Cotton Bowl in the AT&T Red River Showdown. For many Texas fans, this is the game of the year, every season.
But what should you do in Dallas when you’re not inside the stadium? The state’s second-largest city is one of the most cosmopolitan in the country, offering attractions from professional sports to an array of cultural events, and offers fine dining at restaurants from around the world.
This list doesn’t even take into account the Texas State Fair, which will be in full swing just right outside the stadium. Anyone venturing to the Cotton Bowl — which sits in the middle of Fair Park — will have to walk through the maze of midway games, stands offering deep-fried versions of just about every food item in the free world and stuffed animal prizes the size of Bevo.
So what else should you do?
One of the best meals in town offers diners a chance to see the city — and then some — while enjoying their meal. Five Sixty (http://www.wolfgangpuck.com/restaurants/fine-dining/3917) is the restaurant that rotates at the top of Re
union Tower just south of downtown Dallas. Named in honor of the restaurant’s altitude (in feet) above street level, world-renowned chef Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant features floor-to-ceiling windows around the perimeter that allow for breathtaking views a s the restaurant slowly rotates.
On a clear day (or night), patrons can even see AT&T Stadium, where the Dallas Cowboys play.
Some 50 stories above the street below, Five Sixty is a fusion restaurant that features Puck’s twist on an array of Asian dishes and more than 400 varieties of wine.
It might take a minor miracle to get tickets (probably through secondary ticket markets like StubHub.com), but on the same weekend when the Longhorns and Sooners square off downtown, the Cowboys will play host to the New England Patriots, who will be a stark contrast to the preseason image of the team. Before the 2015 kicked off, many believed New England quarterback would sit out a four-week suspension over the "Deflategate" scandal, therefore inspiring him to come back with a vengeance against Dallas. Instead, Brady's suspension was overturned, and through the Patriots' first three games — they had a bye week last week — Brady is sizzling, throwing for an average of 370.7 yards and three touchdown passes per game. Meanwhile, it is Dallas defensive end Greg Hardy who is doing the "how excited are you to be back?" interviews, and Brady's counterpart, Dallas quarterback Tony Romo, is out while recovering from a broken collarbone.
Both teams are good — in New England's case, very good — and every television and radio network that covers sports will be focused on the stadium in Arlington, just 22 miles to the west of the Cotton Bowl. Season ticket holders who can’t make the game will command a hefty price for their tickets, but if you can find them, the game will be an event like few others during the regular season.
Sixth Floor Museum
You don’t have to be history buff to find the Sixth Floor
Museum fascinating. A permanent exhibit that chronicles the life, the 1963 assassination and legacy of former President John F. Kennedy, the Sixth Floor Museum (http://www.jfk.org) is located on the sixth and seventh floors of an early 20th-century warehouse (411 Elm Street) that once was known as the Texas School Book Depository.
The museum also offers temporary exhibits and monthly programs, and is open from noon to 6 p.m. each Monday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.
The museum, which is operated by the Dallas County Historical Society, offers a view of Dealey Plaza from the perch of the sniper who assassinated JFK, as well as stores, a reading room and a library which houses books, audio-visual materials and artifacts. (The museum carries about 45,000 related items.) Part of the mission of the museum is not only to show items related to Kennedy’s life and assassination, but also to offer the history context needed to explain the events and the circumstances surrounding Kennedy’s death.
Klyde Warren Park
Bringing the kids along to Dallas this year? If so, then swanky restaurants and late nights at a bar might not be on the to-do list.
If that’s the case, Klyde Warren Park (http://www.kly dewarrenpark.org) is well worth a visit. Built over a stretch of Woodall Rogers Freeway in downtown Dallas, the park is an ideal destination for those traveling with youngsters.
Surrounded by the Dallas skyline, Klyde Warren Park has much to offer, from a splash park (weather permitting), larger-than-life building blocks, outdoor Ping-Pong tables, oversized chess games and live concerts. There are activities designed just for the active, including boot camp for those with children in strollers, yoga, zumba classes and meditation. The park even offers fitness classes every Saturday.
Foodies will have a blast at Klyde Warren Park, which brings in food trucks from area restaurants.
Old Red Museum
One of the most visible features in downtown Dallas, the Old Red Museum of Dallas County History & Culture (http://www.oldred.org) is an attraction many locals never have visited, tacitly driving by time after time.
That choice is a mistake, as the Old Red Museum offers a glimpse into the history of Dallas that can not be found anywhere else.
The exhibits reach back as far as 1841, to what was the first settlement in what is now Dallas County. Look at a map and Dallas is so far removed from the Gulf of Mexico that many are surprised to learn that the city is in its current location because of its location along the Trinity River, and subsequently grew when two large railroads agreed to meet in the city in the 1870s. Industrial expansion helped the city thrive, and surrounding towns — now suburbs of the city — became agricultural trading centers.
Dallas became recognized nationally as a major metropolitan city during the first half of the 20th century, taking on the “Big D” moniker that remains today. The city’s identity changed after the assassination of president John F. Kennedy (come see the handcuffs worn by Lee Harvey Oswald), and its image shifted with the emergence of the Dallas Cowboys as “America’s team” (the museum includes form er head coach Tom Landry’s signature fedora hat) and the television show that carried the city’s name.
Starting in October, the museum will unveil an exhibit depicting Dallas during WWII. The museum is located at 100 South Houston Street in downtown.