Folks at the State Fair of Texas can easily spend four or five hours meandering through its attractions, but fair-fatigue is also a very real condition. Here's a quick guide to take you beyond the rides and fried food -- and into the neighborhoods nearby.
Booze and bites by the gate
Just across the road and rails from the State Fair's main entrance gate is the quaint Expo Park neighborhood where fair-goers can take a load off the feet and indulge in food and drink. Longtime watering holes here include Craft and Growler, a cozy craft beer bar (one of the best in the region if you ask us), and Pizza Lounge, a divey pizza joint with strong cocktails.
The neighborhood is experiencing something of a resurgence and newer places have just moved in, like Eight Bells Alehouse, a European-style pub with notably one of the only patios in the area. There's also the brand spanking new Expo Bar, which opened on the first day of the fair. Owners of this no-frills spot promise good bar food, strong drinks and a big TV/projector on the back wall. (College football, anyone?)
Walk off that fried food
Few things sound better than fresh air and escaping crowds after a day at the State Fair. Just a 10 minute drive and you can find both of those things at the sanctuary known as White Rock Lake. The lake is about nine miles around if you're feeling the need to burn a few fried food calories. There are also scenic attractions like the Spillway, located at the southernmost point of the lake, for those who need to decompress before the trip home.
See what the fuss is about in Deep Ellum
A mile west of Fair Park sits the city's buzziest district. A recent economic boom brought more than 20 new restaurants and bars to Deep Ellum, offering patrons almost every type of food and vibe imaginable, from casual Latin street eats and rustic brewpubs to fine dining lounges and speakeasies disguised as barber shops. Seriously, Deep Ellum is so hot right now.
Despite the influx on new establishments, the neighborhood hasn't forgotten its roots -- live music is leaking from practically every other doorway. Take a stroll, admire the street art, pop in for a concert and grab a nightcap. It's definitely a different kind of crowd than the State Fair.