Looking for something to do after finishing (or heck, before starting) the Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas Half Marathon? Look no further.
Written by: John Mendelsohn
Coming to north Texas’s principal city for this weekend’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas Half Marathon? You’ll find that the birthplace of the frozen margarita abounds in reasonably interesting things to see, do, and eat.
The Sixth Floor Museum, in the Dallas County Administration Building (formerly the Texas School Book Depository) chronicles the life, times, assassination and legacy of President John F. Kennedy. The spot from which Lee Harvey Oswald purportedly fired his 6.5 mm caliber Carcano rifle is set up just as on that fateful day in 1963. But be forewarned: if you’re a big watcher of the Biography Channel, you’ll have seen it all before, and might be better advised to go on the $10 unofficial tour offered by a guy who commonly stands outside the building looking as though poised to offer you a genuine Rolex wristwatch for $50, or whatever cash you’ve got on you. He reviews many alternative theories regarding the assassination, and points out some potentially fascinating stuff, such as where Oswald’s accomplices, if he had any, might have concealed themselves.
For the less ghoulish, the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens is a pleasant place to “stop to smell the roses” at the Arboretum.
The principal draw of the Dallas World Aquarium is the multi-level rainforest, in which you feel as though actually walking through one. Because most of the animals roam freely around their habitats, they’re easily glimpsed. They have two great bat exhibits, huge crocodiles and snakes, a jaguar exhibit, flamingos, and penguins, to name but a few. The walk-through tunnel, best walked through at feeding time, permits you to take unusually close looks at sharks, rays, and sawfish. Be forewarned, though, that the aquarium can be almost overwhelmingly pungent.
Featuring five rides — the Bungee Jump, the Nothin’ But Net, Texas Blastoff, the Skycoaster and the Skyscraper — Zero Gravity Thrill Amusement Park Dallas is sure to give your adrenal glands a vigorous workout. You can go on most of the rides with a friend or lover; few things forge a more enduring bond than being scared shitless together.
Medieval Times, which offers dinner and a big special effects-laden show, isn’t for those on a budget, but can be loads of fun, especially for the sort of person for whom the Renaissance Pleasure Faire represents the most exalted of all yearnings. There’s horsemanship, hawks, and knights, and the food’s reasonably palatable.
The view of the city from Reunion Tower Lookout is spectacular.
The Raymond and Patsy Nasher Sculpture Center houses more than 300 sculptures, by most of the past century’s most celebrated sculptors, including Rodin, Calder, de Kooning, Giacometti, Matisse, Miró, Picasso, and Serra. The actual museum is tiny, so go only if the weather’s nice enough to contemplate at length the large, spectacular pieces in the outdoor garden.
The Meadows Museum of Art may be tiny, but nonetheless boasts one of the finest collections of Spanish art outside of Spain, which is said to want back several of the Velazquez, Goya, El Greco, Picasso, and Murillo works displayed here. Attractive and easily navigated, the museum is also wonderfully near La Madeleine, where you can enjoy a lovely casual French lunch.
Dallas Segway Tours shows you Dealey Plaza, the JFK Memorial, the Old Red Courthouse, and Dallas City Hall. But let’s be honest here. Because the tour is conducted on Segways — a two-wheeled, self-balancing electric vehicle that brings out the joyful 11-year-old in everyone — you’d probably enjoy it if it just went around a parking lot in a big circle.
Next to the National Museum in DC, the Dallas Holocaust Museum’s presentation, which focuses on the day in April 1943 when the Waffen SS attacked the Jewish Resistance in Warsaw Ghetto, may be the most compelling in the country.
The understatedly elegant Sons of Hermann Hall, with its dark woods and creaky floors, may put you in mind of a Chicago speakeasy, and is a pleasant place to enjoy a chilled brewski or two.
Frankie’s Sports Bar and Grill feels like a neighborhood bar, rather than part of a chain, and will be happy to show you just about any game you might want to view. The food’s good — the cheese steak and nachos are especially highly recommended — and the servers are almost unnervingly friendly. It gets awfully crowded, though, so before going you might want to forego showering. For a few days.
Even those who’ve been to such legendary American steakhouses as Del Frisco’s, Bob’s, The Old Hickory at the Gaylord, Dakota’s, Truluck’s, and III Forks will tell you that Pappas Bros. Steakhouse is among the best of the breed, not only because of its steaks, but also for its wine list and desserts.
On the other hand, if it’s terrific martinis and huge portions (which isn’t, do note, to say huge martinis!) that float your boat, Fearing’s, inside the Ritz Carlton, might be the better-advised destination. Just try not to be impressed by such menu entries as English Cut NilGai Antelope on Jalapeno Wild Game ‘Bangers and Mash’ with Brown Ale Mustard Sauce and Yorkshire Pudding; just try! Impressed though they may be, the voraciously carnivorous may nonetheless prefer the Brazilian churrascaria- style Fogo de Chao, which offers an all-you-can-eat…experience featuring a vast array of meats. The salad bar isn’t the best you’re likely ever to encounter, but don’t dare pretend it’s salad that’s your primary concern. Not for those looking for a romantic place to pop the question (because of the din), but very much a place to expect to spend about $100 each.
Those on a tighter budget may achieve greater happiness at Mattito’s Mexican Restaurant & Cocina. Some locals will tell you that the orange chipotle dressing on the beef fajita salad makes life worth living, while others swear by the “Bob Armstrong” dip, which you have to ask for specifically, as there’s no mention of it on the menu. The $16.99 Sunday brunch presents a golden opportunity to ingest enough calories to keep you going until your next marathon.