Monday, March 24, 2014

Let's Do Dallas - Part Two - Where to Stay and What to See

If you missed Part One, I discussed the best time to come visit Dallas but really Dallas has events and festivals year around to show you a good time.

Now let's go over where to stay and what to see.

Where to Stay

I'm gonna level with you amigos, if you want to stay in a nice hotel, Dallas is full of them but it's also the best opportunity to rub shoulders with the rudest people in Dallas.  Sorry.  Dallas is still a culture of money, and while there is many, many, cool people, we still have MORE than our fair share of a-holes.

I don't recommend staying at the fancy places, but if that's your thing, you will be pleased.  There is the Palomar, the Joule, and the Omni.  I haven't stayed at any of these places myself because I never go above $50 per night.  Yes, I'm cheap like that.

Instead I would recommend staying with friends, family or a more modest hotel in the suburbs, or nearby towns like Arlington or Carrollton.  Arlington is where the Cowboys Stadium, the Rangers Ballpark, and Six Flags Over Texas are all located.  It's where my family would do a staycation more than once.  You can find great, cheap hotels all over the Metroplex, most close to a DART rail system station, where for $2 bucks you can ride the rail into downtown Dallas.

Kick up your feet and ride the Dart into the Big D.

What to See

Lower Greenville Area - Granada Theater and Good Records

The Lower Greenville Area has great restaurants, good bars, and shopping for local music.  One of my favorite music venues, the Granada Theater is located here and brings an eclectic mix of national musical acts like Bombay Bicycle Club, Sufjan Stevens, and Sleigh Bells for $25-$40 per ticket.  Parking can be found on nearby neighborhood streets, so you can often park for free.  Granada also has the Sundown next door which is a good place for grub and has many of the local brews on tap.

Sleigh Bells on stage!
Further down Greenville, you can find Good Records, which is my favorite place to find and buy local music. The surrounding area has a Trader's Joe, several coffee shops, more bars, more restaurants, indie shopping, and a tattoo parlor.  It's not quite Austin, but it's not quite Dallas either.  It's just AWESOME.

This place has vinyl, CDs, memorabilia, posters and more!

I'm slightly obsessed with the cool graffiti everywhere!
Arts District - Klyde Warren Park and the Nasher Sculpture Center

Many people assume Dallas has no natural landmarks or attractions, that every available surface is covered in concrete.  This is, of course, false but my favorite outdoor space in the city is still relatively new.  The Klyde Warren Park was constructed within the median of a busy highway within the Art District, but it has quickly grown into a favorite destination with the locals.  There are yoga classes offered on the weekends, local music all week long, and other free events taking place year-round.  Food trucks are permitted to pull up to the side and offered good eats while the kiddos play on the outdoor gym or you play a game of Frisbee with your friends.  

Since the park is located across the street from the Dallas Museum of Art, it often plays host to the museum's year round Art Social events and even features an ice rink in the winter time.

In addition to the Dallas Museum of Art, the Nasher Sculpture Center is located a block away from the Klyde Warren Park and also hosts many free outdoor events for the public in it's outdoor garden space, such as outdoor screenings of popular movies such as The Artist and outdoor block parties. Inside, they have rotating sculpture exhibits, some you can even crawl inside to experience.

Ernesto Neto's Cuddle on theTightrope
The West End - Perot Museum of Nature and Science and the Reunion Tower

The Perot has five floors of exhibits that include Astronomy, Dinosaurs, Engineering, Animal Life, Human Anatomy, Earth Dynamics, Energy Sources and more.  You don't have to like science to like this place.  The architecture itself is enough to give design nerds a wet dream.  It's too much to absorb everything in one visit but you find something to interest and entertain you.  Personally my favorite is the Gems and Minerals exhibit and the astronomy presentation narrated by Owen Wilson.....AND the dinosaur bones excavated locally in the Dallas area.  It's amazing, appropriate for all ages, just go now!

View from the glass elevator.

Gem and Minerals Exhibit

The Human Body Exhibit
The Reunion Tower has one of the best views of the city and it's one of the most iconic features of the Dallas Skyline.  The ticket is not super cheap but the interactive displays allow you to learn more about the history of Dallas.  You can also control cameras at the top to see even more of Dallas.
View from the top of the Reunion Tower
There is no additional fee to enter the rotating Tower restaurant, and although the Wolfgang Puck created menu is pricey and not really worth it, you can get one of the craft-created cocktails as the view slowly rotates.  It's great people watching as well, to see who throws down the big bucks on an expensive date.

Deep Ellum - Trees

To me, Deep Ellum represents the best of Dallas, removed from the money and glam that Dallas gets a negative reputation for.  Deep Ellum was the birthplace of Dallas Blues and Jazz in the 1930's, essentially cultivating Dallas' soul.  Dallas is not always pretty, not always clean but it's a hell of a place to live.  

Deep Ellum has the most interesting restaurants, the best bars and the best music venues.  It plays to host to several street and music festivals year round and is home to the Deep Ellum brewing company.  You want to eat Dallas? You want to breath Dallas?  You want to feel Dallas?  Then come here.

My favorite place to frequent in Deep Ellum is Trees.  Like the Granada, the musical acts are eclectic but lesser known, like Haim, the Joy Formidable and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.  Many of the local music acts perform here, the venue is pretty small but you see the best people in Dallas here.  Everyone's polite and is just here for the music, man! This is the place I've seen the best shows and celebrated life's special moments like birthdays and the day I became an aunt.  

Local band Ishi performing at Trees
So there ya'll have it.  Have I convinced you Dallas is worth stopping by?  If you want more travel tips, drop me a line, I'd love to help.  Stay tuned for the last installment, the BEST installment!  Let's Do Dallas - Part Three - Where to EAT!!!!!!!!!!!!