If you've never been to Texas, prepare to let your inner cowboy run wild. Whatever your little heart desires, honey, Dallas and neighbouring Fort Worth beckon alluringly.

If you’ve never been to Texas, prepare to let your inner cowboy run wild.

Whatever your little heart desires, honey, Dallas and neighbouring Fort Worth beckon alluringly. Bigger is de rigueur in this high-octane playground, and it’s easy to understand why locals like to boast, “I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could.”

Long intrigued by Texan lore, my husband and I decided a quick visit to sun-soaked Dallas-Fort Worth would be a perfect antidote for the winter blahs.

With much to see in just a few days, we hit the ground running right to the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, a spine-tingling memorial to John F. Kennedy. How awesome, yet eerie, that visitors in Dallas can tour the very building — the former Texas School Book Depository — from where Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated Kennedy in 1963. Top marks to this entire site, grassy knoll included.

With our CityPass still in hand, we zipped next to the 170-metre Reunion Tower observation deck for breathtaking 360-degree views of the city. Then en route to get our culture on, we noshed on a food truck feast at the astonishing Klyde Warren Park, a three-block-long oasis built in the centre of the city over an eight-lane freeway.

Adjacent to the park, the gleaming Dallas arts district is surely the epitome of cultural cool. Its crown jewel, the Dallas Museum of Art, wowed us with its Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots exhibition, then just around the corner at the brilliant Nasher Sculpture Center, we were blown away by spectacular artwork both indoors and outside in the garden.

We also visited the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, where there is a strong 9/11 focus. One of the most poignant pieces is a 6.7-metre pulverized steel beam retrieved from the wreckage of the World Trade Center. But there are lighter moments, too. In one video, former first lady Laura Bush jokes: “We’re very well suited. I’m a good listener, and George likes to talk.”

Because one cannot visit this sports city without seeing at least one event, we took in a Dallas Stars game at American Airlines Center. For good measure, we also attended a Dallas Cowboys game in the 80,000-seat ATT Stadium in nearby Arlington. It is magnificent, and the seven-storey-tall video screen gives new meaning to the phrase go big or go home.

Our hotel, the Fairmont Dallas, put us within boot-scootin’ distance of just about every sight this walkable city has to offer. To visit more far-flung neighbourhoods such as music-rich Deep Ellum, we simply availed ourselves of the hotel’s car service. With its splendid rooms and amenities, the Fairmont felt like a luxurious home away from home — if only our home also had a concierge par excellence named Philip.

Texas isn’t complete without a taste of the Wild West, so my pardner and I saddled up our rental Nissan Versa (gas was just $1.76 per gallon and we filled up later for $16) and headed 30 minutes west on the Tom Landry Freeway to Fort Worth.

Naturally, our first stop was the famous Fort Worth Stockyards to see a re-creation of the cattle drives of the 1800s. (Watch out for cow chips!) Then we two-stepped over to the fabled Billy Bob’s Texas, self-billed as the largest honkytonk in the world. For a big ol’ party, Texas-style, visit on the weekend and see real bull-riding in the indoor arena.

But Fort Worth is much more than its western roots. The city’s museums are envied worldwide, and form the nucleus of a robust cultural district.

The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth impresses with Picasso and Warhol and Lichtenstein, and even its Tadao Ando-designed concrete-and-glass building is a work of art. At the Kimbell Art Museum, meanwhile, you’ll find works by artists such as Cezanne and Monet, as well as the only Michelangelo in the Americas. We gave a big yee-haw to the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame — because what’s not to love about a thoughtful, elegant tribute to the gutsy women of the West? — and then switched gears further with a ramble through the lush expanse of the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, verdant even in winter.

Our hotel, the Sheraton Fort Worth Downtown, has recently undergone a full-scale renovation, and its spacious rooms were a haven at day’s end. But best of all, we were within walking distance of Sundance Square, the city’s marvellous 35-block shopping and entertainment district.

After our whirlwind of sightseeing, it was a pleasure to slow the pace and people-watch under the giant Teflon umbrellas. Families shopped, kids played in the fountains, couples went to supper – it was uptown yet down-home, very much like our vacation in this winter wonderland.

A tip of the hat to you, Fort Worth and Dallas. Y’all had us at howdy.

The writer was a guest of Texas Tourism, which neither approved nor read this article before publication.
 

IF YOU GO

Stay The Fairmont Dallas (fairmont.com/dallaspyramidrestaurant.com) and Sheraton Fort Worth Downtown (sheratonfortworth.com) put visitors right in the very centre of the action.

Sightsee Information: traveltexas.com

Dallas Dallas CityPass: Save 41 per cent and bypass some lineups at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Reunion Tower, the Dallas Zoo, the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, and the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. citypass.com/dal-plan

Dallas Museum of Art: dma.org

Nasher Sculpture Center: nashersculpturecenter.org

Fort Worth Fort Worth Stockyards: fortworthstockyards.org

Billy Bob’s Texas: billybobstexas.com

Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth: themodern.org

Kimbell Art Museum: kimbellart.org

National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame: cowgirl.net

Fort Worth Botanic Garden: fwbg.org

Source: Vancouver Sun, The National Post