There’s something oddly reassuring about a place that lives up to its reputation, and every time I visit Texas, I’m reminded that the Lone Star State is one of those places. Even in Dallas-Fort Worth—one of the largest metro areas in America—cowboy hats and boots, belt buckles, Wrangler jeans and pickup trucks are commonplace. While it’s true that DFW has more than its fair share of world class museums and galleries, a visit here would not be complete without spending a little time at a few of the interesting—and often kitschy—attractions that typify Texas in the popular imagination. Here are three.
Fort Worth Stockyards: The former heart of the cattle industry in Texas, this National Historic District retains its wild west feel. You’ll find rough and ready shops, galleries and restaurants, the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, and Stockyards Station, a converted train depot that includes toddler-sized western-themed rides. The area is situated around the Cowtown Coliseum, which, built in 1907, still hosts live rodeo every Friday and Saturday night. And make sure to visit Billy Bob’s, the “world’s largest honky-tonk.” A curiosity by day (among other things, you can dress up as a family and ride a fake bull for a one-of-a-kind photo), the place heats up at night with country concerts, two-steppin’ and indoor bull riding.
Southfork Ranch: Home to the dastardly Ewing clan in the 1970s/1980s mega-drama Dallas, this trademark rambling white house (and surrounding land, pool and outbuildings) hosted exterior shots for the series, which ran an incredible 13 seasons, from 1978 to 1991. The ranch is now open for tours, which include a quirky little museum that carefully documents the various and sordid affairs and machinations of the Ewings.
Cowboys Stadium: With seating for 100,000 amongst its 3 million square feet, plus a 660,000 square foot retractable roof and two 60-yard wide HD video screens, the $1.2 billion new home of the Dallas Cowboys is truly a wonder to behold—even if you can’t stand football. But if you do visit during football season and decide to see a game, the stadium has plenty of great features for families—from broad, airy concourses for restless little ones to move around, to large family washrooms, to plenty of food choices, including healthy options—there’s even a fruit stand. Or just take a tour, which are offered daily.
–Tim Johnson, CF’s contributing editor