DFW is more than just an airport code. The Dallas-Fort Worth area has plenty of interesting things to see including the nearby communities of Grapevine, Arlington and Irving. And it is not all about cowboys, I promise. Here are some of my favorite activities.
OK, I admit it, almost every Friday night from 1978 until 1991 when Dallas was on television I was watching. If you are of a certain age, you will probably recall the suspense that lingered after J.R. was shot on the season's finale. "Who shot J.R.?" was the question on everyone's lips in the summer of 1980. Stretching 100,000 acres, the 1840s Southfork Ranch was the fictional home of the Ewings with all their many scandals. Given my addiction to the show, I was thrilled to finally visit the Southfork Ranch in real life.
My tour guide, Southfork Sally, provided a heavy dose of Texas tales focused on the Ewing family as she led us around the ranch and through the Ewings famous white mansion. Of course what seemed like a massive mansion on television is much smaller in real life - isn't that the way it always goes? I couldn't resist climbing into J.R.'s infamous bed like so many other women, but I'm not sure I was supposed to do that. You can, however, pay your respects at his tombstone.
The onsite "Dallas Legends" exhibit features an array of memorabilia from the series including marked-up scripts, the gun that shot J. R., Lucy's Wedding Dress, the Dallas Family Tree, and Jock's Lincoln Continental.
Step back in time in historic downtown Grapevine with its collection of shops, restaurants and art galleries. In the center of the historic buildings along Main Street, the 127-foot high Glockenspiel Clock Tower features two larger-than-life, 9-foot tall Glockenspiel characters, known as the Would-Be Train Robbers. Approximately 75 feet above ground, these figures emerge from the Tower each day at the strokes of noon, 3 p.m., 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. to commence what each believes to be the perfect heist.
Experience the fascinating craft of glass blowing with a workshop at Vetro Glassblowing Studio. Vetro's open studio concept provides a hands-on opportunity for making a unique glass creations. Work with the artists to transform colorful ground glass crystals into a thing of beauty. From the fiery blast of the 2,000 degree furnace to the careful puffs of the glass blowing artists, you will treasure the experience as much as the masterpiece you help create.
When you're ready to explore other areas, climb aboard the Grapevine Express - a vintage steam train with beautifully restored Victorian rail cars - and ride it into the Fort Worth Stockyards.
In the late-19th century, over 10 million cattle were driven through Fort Worth on the Chisolm Trail giving the city its identity as a Cow Town. Today, the Fort Worth Stockyards have morning cattle drives, rodeos and a myriad of western-themed shops and restaurants. But it is not just about the cowboys, exhibits at the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame honor courageous, pioneering women of the American West. This cowgirl even sat on a live bull - thankfully he was fairly stationary.
A few miles west of downtown, the Fort Worth Cultural District is home to numerous masterpieces. The art collection at Kimball Art Museum includes Michelangelo's first painting. Works by John Singer Sargent, Winslow Homer and Alexander Calder are displayed at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. And the Bass Performance Hall is home to the Fort Worth Opera, the Texas Ballet Theater, the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra and the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.
AT&T Stadium in Arlington
The Dallas Cowboys stadium is more than a football field. When Jerry Jones had the stadium built it required a substantial investment of his personal funds. Of course, that meant it was also a financial investment for his wife, Gene. Mrs. Jones agreed to the stadium but decided that anything requiring that level of investment should be a thing of beauty. She took over the interior decorating plans and with the assistance of an impressive art council, she filled the stadium with an extensive art collection making the stadium one of the most unique art galleries in the world.
The 3 million-square foot facility displays art in the grand concourse, many concession areas throughout the building and wrapped around many of its walls. The pieces come from acclaimed artists including Franz Ackermann, Lawrence Weiner and Olafur Eliasson. Tours of the stadium allow visitors to see the works up close; both guided and self-guided tours are available. Guests can also download an App to watch videos and learn about the artwork as they experience it firsthand. VIP Guided Tours include access to the field, club areas, the postgame interview room, as well as the locker rooms of the Cowboys and Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. Even though I'm not a Dallas Cowboy fan, I have to admit this was an impressive venue.
My tour guide was Phil who was the former head of security for the Cowboys stadium. "I was the least likely person to ever know anything about art, but when the Jones family asked me to help the art curators as they decorated the stadium, I learned a great deal," says Phil. Today, Phil has gone from a general sports fan to a sports fan with cultural interests. In this venue the world of sports melds seamlessly with the world of art.
Have you been to Dallas? Whats your favorite thing to do there?
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