Whether you're visiting Dallas for the first time or the 15th for this commemorative JFK weekend, or you're a resident who's looking for ultra-Dallas places to take family and friends, we've got you covered. Here's our Top 10 list, in alphabetical order, of attractions you won't find anywhere else. For all venues, call or see the website for hours, ticket prices and more information.
1. AT&T Stadium
On a clear day, you can see the Dallas Cowboys' $1.2 billion football palace in Arlington from the GeO-Deck at Reunion Tower (details below) in downtown Dallas, 18.5 miles to the west. That's how big it is - 3 million square feet, to be exact. You might be surprised by the beauty of the place and by the collection of world-class art that adorns it. Take a tour to see the field, the Cowboys' and Cowboys Cheerleaders' locker rooms, postgame interview room and more. 1 Legends Way, Arlington. 1-800-745-3000. stadium.dallascowboys.com.
2. Dallas Heritage Village at Old City Park
If you're interested in Dallas' history further back than November of 1963 - way further back - this is the place to go. The park features a large collection of 19th-century pioneer and Victorian homes, along with historic commercial buildings. One of the houses, Millermore, is reputed to be haunted, and docents will happily tell you all about the resident ghost. 1515 S. Harwood St., just south of downtown Dallas. 214-421-5141. dallasheritagevillage.org.
3. GeO-Deck at Reunion Tower
This is a great first stop on any tour of Dallas. Atop that big ball at the west end of downtown, you'll get a bird's-eye view, 470 feet above the ground, of downtown and farther afield. It's one of the best places to see the layout of Dealey Plaza, and you'll also get a great view of the Trinity River (yes, we do actually have a river!) and its spectacular white Margaret Hunt Hill bridge, designed by starchitect Santiago Calatrava. The circular deck has inside and outside viewing areas. 300 Reunion Blvd. East, Dallas. 214-978-8010. reuniontower.com.
4. George W. Bush Presidential Center
Putting all politics aside, the museum at this venue offers a fascinating look at the eight years when the 43rd president was in office, including an especially poignant section on 9/11. There's also a good deal of unexpected humor - would you have expected a video of a presidential impersonator trying to teach Bush to say "nuclear proliferation"? Get your pic taken in the replica of the Oval Office. 2943 SMU Blvd. (near the intersection of Mockingbird Lane and North Central Expressway), University Park. 214-200-4300. bushcenter.org.
5. KLYDE WARREN PARK
Most Dallasites will admit that they snickered - or worse - at the very idea of a Dallas version of Central Park, built atop a busy downtown freeway. But a year after the opening of the 5.2-acre park, it's a rousing success. The $110 million park offers games (pingpong tables and equipment on-site, for instance), a reading area with magazines and books, a dog park, a special kids' area and oodles of activities and performances by local musical, theater and dance troupes. 2012 Woodall Rodgers Freeway (between Pearl and St. Paul streets on the northern edge of downtown), Dallas. 214-716-4500. klydewarrenpark.org.
6. NorthPark Center
Shopping nirvana? Right here. Oh, sure, Minnesota has a bigger mall, but no place on Earth has one that's classier, thanks to developer Raymond Nasher (see also, the Nasher Sculpture Center downtown). Where else can you shop at Neiman Marcus, Tiffany, Valentino or Burberry, and stroll hallways featuring artworks by the likes of Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, Jonathan Borofsky and many others? Nowhere, that's where. 8687 N. Central Expressway at Northwest Highway, Dallas. 214-363-7441. northparkcenter.com.
7. Old Red Museum of Dallas County History & Culture
Tucked inside the 1892 Richardsonian Romanesque courthouse building, just a block from The Sixth Floor Museum, this venue is a treasure-trove of things you never knew about Dallas. For instance, these things were invented here: the integrated circuit, Liquid Paper, the Slurpee, the Fletcher's corny dog and the Hams (our first pro baseball team, in 1888). Exhibits take visitors from prehistory to the present. There's a small section devoted to the Kennedy assassination, including Jack Ruby's prison doodle from 1965, showing an Escheresque fascination with line and perspective. 100 S. Houston St., Dallas. 214-745-1100. oldred.org.
8. Pioneer Plaza
The main draw at this 4-acre swath of green space, a waterfall, man-made cliffs and more is, of course, the herd of nearly 50 1,200-pound bronze steers, horses and cowboys, created by artist Robert Summers of Glen Rose. It's the ultimate Dallas photo op, and while you're there, you'll also learn about the 19th-century cattle drives that took place along the Shawnee Trail, right about where you're standing. Take time to also visit adjacent Pioneer Cemetery, and check out the 60-foot-tall Confederate Memorial and the gravesites of many of Dallas' founding mothers and fathers. Southeast corner of Young and Griffin streets, downtown Dallas. texastrees.org.
9. Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
The venue's permanent exhibit on the life, death and legacy of President John F. Kennedy occupies the sixth floor of the circa-1901 former Texas School Book Depository. Curators here have taken an evenhanded, just-the-facts approach to the assassination, neither trumpeting nor dismissing conspiracy theories (forensics have made it a near certainty that Lee Harvey Oswald did, at the very least, fire three shots from the sixth floor). 411 Elm St. at Houston St., downtown Dallas. 214-747-6660. jfk.org.
10. SouthFork Ranch
OK, it's not really in Dallas - it's 25 miles northeast in Parker - nevertheless, it's our version of Graceland, the house you simply must visit. The TV show Dallas had its first run from 1978 to 1991 on CBS. The new iteration of the show has run on TNT since 2012 and, like its predecessor, shoots some of its scenes on this real-life ranch. Tours take you through a Dallas museum, two gift shops and the ranch house, home to fictional Ewings for 35 years. 3700 Hogge Road, Parker. 972-442-7800. southforkranch.com.
By Joy Tipping