Dilly-Dallying in Dallas

I must admit, after my travels around the world, Dallas has never been on my “must-see” bucket list. It’s always been a city that I drove through on the way to somewhere else or a measuring stick to compare my hometown of Houston. However, I found myself there this week, and count me impressed. This city of full of fun things to see and do. I ran out of time before I ran out of interesting places. Here are a few of the highlights that made my list:

Eatzi’s– 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, have a sandwich made….but not JUST a sandwich. With the infused cream cheese spreads, roasted vegetables, exotic freshly baked bread choices, cheeses and deli meats, they can make the best sandwich you ever had. There’s also an amazing deli, sushi, fresh desserts and other wonderful culinary creations throughout the market. Philip Romano, who also created Fuddruckers and Macaroni Grill developed the concept and the Dallas area is the only place you’ll find Eatzi’s.

The Sixth Floor Museum– 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 a book depository and is now a museum where visitors can visit the exact location where the gun was found, look out of 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, as well as the background of events preceding the assassination. 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.

The Old Red Museum– Just a couple of blocks from the “grassy knoll” stands an unusual red Romanesque revival building called The Old Red Museum. It was formerly a Dallas courthouse and 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, and Tom Landry’s famous fedora. There’s nothing to write home about, but if you’re interested in Dallas history, it’s a nice place to cool off and spend an hour or two. Most visitors opt to explore the outside of the building as it’s one of the most interesting in Dallas.

Pioneer Plaza Cattle Drive– 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 3 cowboys on horseback and 70 longhorns making this one of the most unique surreal sculptures you’ll find anywhere. Each steer is different like a Texas version of the Chinese terracotta warriors.

Famous Graves– Dallas is home to several famous burial spots including the final resting places of three of the nation’s most notorious killers. Bonnie, Clyde, 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 and workers refuse to give directions to Lee Harvey’s grave. If you’re up for a little adventure, all of them can be found with a 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, but there’s no one 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.

Dallas Museum of Art– 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, including a Van Gogh painting and some Rodin sculptures. The museum also features a few Picasso pieces, the famed Icebergs painting by Edwin Church and lots of interesting objets d’art from around the globe.

Botanical Gardens and Arboretum– The number one tourist destination in Dallas, per TripAdvisor, is the lovely botanical gardens located in East Dallas. The 66 acre attraction is full of fountains, named gardens as well as a visitor’s center. 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.

So, next time you’re passing through or feel like giving “Big D” another look, check out my list and see what else Texas has to offer.

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