A massive metroplex that only really blossomed well into the 20th century, Dallas is a relatively young city, but outside town at Dinosaur Valley State Park live haunting echoes of the earth's very distant past. The park is home to a wild landscape bisected by the Paluxy River, along which are several sets of tracks from dinosaurs that roamed the area more than 100 million years ago.
A gathering so huge, Texas-style, that they don't even bother measuring attendance, the Texas State Fair is a world-famous, 24-day celebration of food, music and Texas culture. You can spend days meandering around the fair, enjoying concerts, livestock shows, and iconic Texas State Fair—food like Turkey legs and corny dogs.
Best Day Trip
Just a half hour's drive from central Dallas is the other half of the DFW metroplex: Fort Worth. Much smaller than Dallas—people in north Texas sometimes call the city "Cowtown"—Fort Worth still has a lot to explore, including the National Cowboys of Color Museum, the National Cowgirls Museum and Hall of Fame and the Texas Cowboys Hall of Fame. Head over to the Fort Worth Stockyards, where cattle have been replaced with a rodeo, hopping nightlife and Billy Bob's, one of country music's most iconic honky tonks.
Off the Beaten Path
With pretty great weather throughout most of the year, Dallas loves its outdoor patios. The Truck Yard—a one-time junkyard converted into a beer garden—is a trendy space for an outdoor beer. But for an off-the-beaten-path beer and burger joint, check out this Dallas favorite with one of the most irreverent names of any bar in the country: Lee Harvey's. Contrary to local lore, the place has no connection to Lee Harvey Oswald, JFK's assassin, but if Lee Harvey's is an attempt to reclaim the name from one of America's great villains, with a menu this good, and an atmosphere this cool, it's making good progress.
Most Iconic Attraction
Technically a suburb of Dallas, Arlington is a contiguous part of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and home to what locals call "Jerry's World," after Dallas Cowboys-owner Jerry Jones: the 80,000-seat arena home to the city's beloved NFL team. If you're in town during football season check out a Cowboys game—if not, catch another event. The stadium often hosts megastar concerts for acts like Beyoncé, U2 and Taylor Swift.
When packing don't forget to bring your stilettos and flashy accessories, because when the sun goes down in Dallas the beautiful people come out looking their finest. McKinney Avenue in uptown Dallas is one of the city's tonier strips. Deep Ellum, an art-focused neighborhood east of downtown, is thick with edgier bars and concert venues. For the young and young at heart intent on burning the midnight oil, there's Lizard Lounge, where electronic dance music pumps until long after the bars close.
The assassination of President John F. Kennedy took place in Dallas, and though Dallasites will be quick to tell you their city has many more positive claims to fame, they haven't shied away from commemorating one of the most singular events in American history. Learn about that world-changing, tragic event with a visit to Dealey Plaza and the infamous "grassy knoll," as well as the immaculately curated museum at the old Texas Book Depository Building nearby, from which Lee Harvey Oswald is believed to have pulled the trigger.
Ever wonder what Walt Disney's hands looked like? What about Katherine Hepburn's? The hands that wrote the works of Dr. Seuss? If so, Dallas has a peculiar attraction for you: the Adrian E. Flatt Hand Collection. The free museum started by a hand surgeon is a collection of more than 120 bronze casts of some of the famous hands in history.
Neighborhood to Explore
Just north of uptown Dallas (though still south of the neighborhood people call North Dallas), is the twin "cities" of Highland Park and University Park, tiny municipalities entirely within the city proper where the poshest of posh in Dallas (like former president George W. Bush) make their homes. On its tree-lined streets the neighborhood has some of the city's iconic mansions, plus the campus of Southern Methodist University and the George W. Bush presidential library.
Regardless of one's political inclinations, George W. Bush was president during one of the most consequential periods in American history. The George W. Bush presidential library serves as a museum documenting the events of that period, including the September 11 attacks and the invasion of Iraq. It's also the site of a 15-acre park with native Texas flora-the perfect place to take a break from exploring the sprawling city of Dallas that surrounds it.