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bobliocatt

Questions for Dallas/Fort Worth forumers

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I'm planning to visit the Dallas/Fort Worth area for a couple of days in August (4th-7th). My wife will be attending a Mary Kay Conference there, so I'll have about 3 days to explore the metro area on my own, for a massive photo tour. So far I plan to hang out in downtown Dallas and downtown Fort Worth (via the commuter rail). What neighborhoods and cultural attractions should I attempt to visit, while in the area? Are there any local restuarants that I should try?

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The observation deck in Dallas I forgot to mention is the Chase Tower. Its at Ross and Pearl streets on the east side of downtown. Guess you can't miss the big building with the hole in it. Its open on weekdays until 5. There is an express elevator straight to the deck. You will see signs in the lobby.

If you want a real feel for the city rather than just the skyline, downtown, ugly freeways and downtown areas I suggest:

- Oak Cliff. This is right across the Trinity from downtown. I'd take I-35E south to Colorado, and drive Colorado west until Hampton. Or exit Jefferson and take it or Davis west until Hampton. I personally prefer Colorado because its a prettier area to the west. Really shows off an intimate neighborhood feel that gets wealthier as you go west. Lots of old houses, old growth oaks and decent hills.

- Lakewood and the White Rock Lake area. The White Rock creek basin pretty much defines the areas waterways, elevation and vegetation. No impression of Dallas is complete without visiting this area. The lake sits between Northwest Highway to the north, Gaston Avenue to the south and Garland Rd to the east. I've mentioned directions before. You can also take Central Expressway north and take a right at Northwest Highway. You could even take the blue line, though it stops at White Rock trail, and the lake is a decent walk back to the south.

- Platinum Corridor. Easy to find. Just take the Dallas North Tollway(You'll see signs on Stemmons heading north from downtown) or Preston Road( a few blocks east of the DNT) north. From these areas you see the definition of North Dallas. Lots of wealth. Lots of mansion estates(especially around NW highway to Royal Lane), lots of shopping and lots of hidden beauty. The whole area between Central Expressway The Platinum Corridor is super modern, upscale and simply very nice. Even the Freeway looks like it.

- SMU. Take Central Expressway north to Mockingbird. On the right at Mockingbird is Mockingbird Station which is a nice visit. Taking a left back over the freeway will take you to Highland Park and the SMU campus. You can't miss the big football stadium to your right. The campus is very nice and "Dallas" all the way. The main part of the campus sits on a hill and provides some nice views. The area to the west of the campus along Hillcrest provides a nice college type urban strip pretty much unknown to the outside world. There's also great mansion watching to the north of the campus. There are some serious estates just west of Hillcrest. to the west on Mockingbird and Preston Rd you'll see what looks like a small spanish village. This is the country's oldest shopping center, Highland Park Village. Its very upscale shopping. Just interesting to see I guess.

- Lower Greenville. This is more of a night spot that doesn't look like much during most of the day. Take Ross Avenue east from downtown to Greenville Avenue. Similar type area to Deep Ellum, but surrounded by beautfiul tudor cottage neighborhoods.

- Knox-Henderson. Very easy to find. Only a mile or so north of Uptown, you'll see exits for this area on Central Expressway. Pretty much your typical nightlife strip more in the Uptown sense than Lower Greenville or Deep Ellum on the Knox side. The Henderson side is more Lower Greenville.

- Uptown. This area is confusing to many, as they expect Houston style Uptown. It simply isn't. Uptown borders downtown to the north. As soon as you are across Woodall Rodgers you are there. The area is then bound by Turtle Creek/Katy Trail to the west and Central Expressway to the west up to Blackburn/Haskell ave. Uptown consists of many different neighborhoods. Of course there is Victory to the southwest. Lower McKinney(area around the Crescent). BTW, the Crescent is a nice trip in itself. Most don't know it has its own mall. There's also State-Thomas to the south east of Uptown. This is where you see a lot of the pics of dense clusters of new urbanist development. This is a historic freedman's town. If you are into history, you'll find lots of old houses, historical markers and even a slave cemetary along the frontage of Central Expressway. There is also McKinney Ave itself where there are plenty of clubs and restaurants. On the north end you find another cluster of new urbanism. That's the West Village/Cityplace area. You can't miss it. It looks great and has a driving range right in the middle of it. Watch out for the trolley along McKinney. Its there and its free to ride. Nice ride back into history. There are lots of smaller galleries as well.

-Fair Park. This is just east of downtown and south of I-30. Its a really nice and forgotten part of Dallas by many. Most of the non art type museums in Dallas are there as are some nice gardens and landscaping and the tallest Ferris wheel in North America. Just take I-30 east to 1st or 2nd ave. There is plenty of signage to guide you. This is also just south of Deep Ellum on second street.

- Deep Ellum has been mentioned many times. That's east of downtown along Main and Elm. Can't miss if you like clubbing and nightlife.

- Arts District. This stretch along Flora and Ross Avenue represents a lot of private investment by Dallas' wealthy. You'll find the best in major art venues Dallas now, and in the future. The Nasher is a "don't miss" type of world class venue. This is along Woodall Rodgers. Just look for the Trammell Crow tower(the one with the pyramid top) and you are there.

- Fountain Place and the West End. I mention Fountain Place, because it is simply a great urban space. The fountains are incredible and its simply a sight to see. Not many plazas around the world can top it. Plus the building is really cool. I only hope that new development around it will compliment it someday. As for the West End, most people don't miss it on their Dallas visits. Lots of restaurants in an old warehouse district. The conspirace and Sixth Floor Museums are there. Old Red is there, the Kennedy Memorial is there as is Dealy Plaza. The highly underrated Dallas World Aquarium is there as well. It has its own light rail stop so its easy to get to, or its visibly labelled from Woodall Rodgers or Reunion Tower. Its probably the busiest part of downtown for foot traffic because of the various venues and its status as a transport hub.

Turtle Creek. There's not much to do there. There is a theater center and Robert E. Lee Park. Its mostly just eye candy I think. One of the prettiest areas in the city. Great place to just walk and take pictures. Lots of nice residential highrises, some nice mansions lining the creek on the north and home to a hotel/residential complex that is among the world's greatest. The restaurant has been ranked #1 multiple time. Its located just west and north of Uptown. Lemmon Avenue in Uptown will take you there. From Woodall Rodgers, simply take Pearl north as it curves west. Take a right on Cedar Springs and drive. You'll start heading downhill and see lots of highrises in front of you. That's it. Well there is a ton of nightlife and shopping up the hill in Oak Lawn, which is supposedly the gay capital of Dallas.

Farmers Market. Most don't even know Dallas has this. Its on the southeast side of downtown. You can pretty much buy any kind of fruit grown in Texas there. There are also lots of native trees to buy, meats, and lots of handmade furniture and other crafts. Its also a nice little new urbanist area. This is easy to find. Just go to the southeast corner of downtown on Harwood Street, which runs through most of downtown. There are also directional signs and kisosks that lead to downtown venues.

Of course there is always the rest of the metroplex. Downtown Plano is nice. Just take the red line north or Central Expressway north to 15th street. Very nice example of a small downtown. Legacy and the Frisco Bridges area is decent if you want to drive that far north. Frisco has a great new urbanist downtown complete with minor league baseball, hockey and MLS soccer. Just south of this is the new urbanist Legacy towncenter in Plano. There's always Texas Motor Speedway, which is incredible if you've never been to a track. Just take I-35E north until it splits with 183. Then take 183 until it splits with 114. Then take 114 and stay on it for a long long way. You can't miss the track. Its the biggest thing I have ever seen that's not called Mt Something. There's always Lone Star Park if you like Horse Racing. Just follow I-30 west. You'lll see the signs. There's always the Six Flags parks and Ameriquest Field. Just take I-30 west into Arlington. Can't miss the exits or venues as they are right on the freeway. There's always the Fort Worth set of fun, which you've obviously been to.

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I can't think of much to add other than visiting Highland Park. It was designed by the same person that designed Beverly Hills and was a contemporary and has many similarities to that neighborhood. It's a separate city enclosed by Dallas and is near SMU, which is in nearly as impressive University Park.

I live in the White Rock Lake area and love it.

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If you go to Highland Park, check out Exall Lake. Just go north on Turtle Creek Bld until it runs out. I think its Fitzhugh where it runs out. Not sure though, but you'll know it when it runs out. Take a short right and look for Lakeside Dr on your left. Mansion explosion awaits. Its all hard to take in, because there is so much beauty. I would just park at the lake and take a stroll. There are some simply beautiful mansions on both sides of the lake. Especially the west shore where the lake backs up to some huge estates. Its not the overwhelming hill or mountain beauty that you might see in other cities. Its the quant, Oak filled beauty that is so Dallas.

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Well I booked my airplane tickets and reserved my hotel rooms. Its looking like I'll have two full days to explore each city. I'll probably explore Dallas on Thursday 4th and Fort Worth on Friday the 5th.

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I'm up for experimentation.  I just like dining at popular local spots when I go out of town.

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I'm on a budget so these are well within reason. Most places on Dallas' top 20 restaurant lists are going to be in the South Beach price range.

Javier's for authentic Mexican food. It's uptown and the original location is in Mexico City. Good stuff and unique. Nuevo Leon on Greenville is pretty good as well.

Highland Park Pharmacy on Knox for good old-fashioned lunch fare - sandwiches, milkshakes, etc. Scotty P's hamburgers are good as well.

Campisi's is good Italian, not Egyptian as it claims to be. The one I go to is on Mockingbird near Greenville.

I'm on a budget, so I like Texas Land and Cattle for steaks. There are multiple locations but there is one uptown. Pappadeaux's for seafood is good as well, though it also is a local chain. Both of these are reasonable.

Arthur Bryant's is it for BBQ. Good stuff.

Now, some of these native Texans may give you a much better opinion and a more upscale list.

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