The Librarian’s Guide to Dallas: Itineraries for Your Every Delight

This was taken when the sculpture was in New York, but you can
now see this piece, Walking to the Sky, at the Nasher Sculpture Center.

This year, the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting will be held in my hometown of Dallas, TX.  I won’t be attending, but I thought I’d help out some of my colleagues by providing a guide to cool, fun, and bookish things to do when you’re in the Dallas area.  In this 4-part series, I’ll give you the lowdown on Dallas from the point of view of a very nerdy librarian and long-time former resident of the city.

Part One: Getting to Know the City
Part Two: Grabbing a Bite
Part Three: To See and to Do

I’ve given you a lot of random ideas for things to see and places to go in Dallas.  Here, I’ll put it altogether for you into fun itineraries that you can tailor to the amount of time you have.  Got a few hours to kill?  No problem.  Looking to spend a whole day of fun and excitement?  I’ve got you covered there, too! For your convenience, I’ve included a Google Map of all of these locales.

(By the way, I think I originally said I was going to do five itineraries, but it’s been a long day and I’m tired, so hopefully you can make do with four.)

The Luxury Afternoon

I recommend these together because they’re all in very close proximity to each other.  Plus, since there’s a DART stop not too far away, you could conceivably do this itinerary without a car.  However, any one of these is well worth a visit, depending on what you’re interested in.

NorthPark Center: I know sending people to a mall doesn’t seem very exciting, but if you do like shopping, NorthPark is really a very good mall.  It’s a place that combines a lot of my favorite stores that I can never seem to find in one place in LA, like Anthropologie, Lush, Steve Madden, Paper Source, H&M, and others.
La Duni: while you’re at NorthPark, have a nice lunch at La Duni.  It’s no quick food-court lunch, but it’s well worth taking some time out of your day to enjoy some of their delicious food.  As I’ve mentioned, the berry mojitos are great, and try one of the really yummy desserts.
Half Price Books: I can’t imagine a librarian not being in love with this store.  It’s literally like a toy store for librarians.  I could spend hours here.
Whole Foods: I know, it’s weird that I keep recommending grocery stores, but if, after your day of shopping, you fancy a glass of wine or beer, this is actually a great place to get one.  There’s a great little wine bar just past the produce section, behind the cheese counter, and they have some really enjoyable wines for very reasonable prices.  The cheese plates they have are really generous and could probably even be a meal for one.

The Movie Buff Outing

If you enjoy indie films and good food, this would be a great way to spend a day.  Going out for both lunch and dinner here would probably be a bit much with just a movie in between, but there’s some decent shopping in the area as well.  The area has the only Le Creuset store I’ve ever seen in the US, but good luck getting an enameled cast iron pan home in your luggage.

Breadwinners: start out with a great coffee drink and, more importantly, one of their really great baked goods.  If you actually sit down and get a table here, the bread you get in your bread basket is all different kinds of fresh baked and delicious breads, some sweet and some savory.
Inwood Theater: head over here next to catch a movie.  It’s a tiny theater, but one of the few in town where you can catch an indie film.  Supposedly it’s haunted – never had any paranormal experiences there, myself!  They used to have lots of chat-with-the-director kind of events, so if you’re into that kind of thing, check out their website.
Rise No. 1: after your movie, have dinner at one of my favorite restaurants – not just in Dallas, but almost anywhere.  As I mentioned in Part Two, if I had to choose a last dinner for some reason, it would be the salad, jambon et gruyere souffle, Sancerre, and bread pudding souffle.  I think it’s supposed to be very, very cold there this weekend, so warm up with a bowl of delicious French onion soup and a delicious souffle. This is like French comfort food.

The Downtown Art Day

This is another one you could do without a car, with the exception of breakfast at Breadwinner’s and drinks at Dragonfly (although you may need a long walk after breakfast if you indulge in the Normandy french toast I mention below).  Dallas’s art district is quite a nice place to spend some time, and these are just a couple of recommendations out of many great places in the area.

Breadwinners: “but I just went to the other Breadwinner’s for lunch on this movie day, and now you’re sending me back for breakfast?”  Yes!  It’s just that good.  Their breakfast is possibly even better than their lunch.  I usually get the Normandy french toast, which is a delicious french toast stuffed with cream cheese and raspberry jam, then topped with whipped cream.  I’m getting hungry thinking about it…
Nasher Sculpture Museum: after breakfast, head over to the Nasher to take in the great sculptures.  The best part is the cool sculpture garden in back, with the striking sculpture in the featured image above.  Also, they have quite a nice (although expensive) gift shop.
Dallas Museum of Art: walk across the street to the DMA – I’m not sure, but you may be able to get discounted admission if you’re going to both museums.  They have a decent-sized and pretty widely varied regular collection, and they tend to feature some pretty interesting traveling exhibits as well.
Stephan Pyles: head a block east from the museum and have dinner at this nice restaurant, named after its chef owner.  I also wrote about this in Part Two and will repeat my recommendation to sit at the ceviche bar, where you can order from both the ceviche and regular menus.
Dragonfly: if you’re still up for more, cross I-75 and get a drink at Dragonfly’s cool lounge.  It’s attached to a pretty cool hotel, and is also a restaurant, but I enjoy it for tasty adult beverages in a mellow, lounge-y kind of environment.

The Texas Experience Itinerary (aka the “Everything is Bigger in Texas”)

I’ve already explained that Dallas doesn’t really live up to the stereotypical expectations that many people have about Texas, but there are places you can go if you want to see people in cowboy boots and horses and such.  (Actually, you will probably see some cows when you’re near the airport, to be honest.)  This itinerary is the longest, as it takes you about half an hour west to Grapevine, and then on to Fort Worth.  If you do the whole thing, it’ll take you a day.  However, if you had a little extra time to kill before you flight home, Bass Pro is right by the airport, so you could always pop over to see the rattlesnakes!

Bass Pro: I described this in Part Three.  Besides just being an outdoor sports megastore, this place has a crazy aquarium with native Texas fish (which are mostly tremendously ugly, I’m sorry to say) and some live rattlesnakes.  The last time I was there, they also had tons of odd little things that would make interesting souvenirs.
The Gaylord Texan: head west down Highway 26 to get to this crazy, huge resort that recreates different parts of Texas in this huge indoor pavilion.  There’s literally a full-on river walk, reminiscent of the San Antonio Riverwalk.  It’s really most incredible when they have it all decorated for Christmas, but it’s still pretty impressive the rest of the year.  Have lunch at one of their restaurants – lots of different options.  I haven’t eaten at any of them, but I hear they’re all good.
Fort Worth Stockyards: going out here is quite a trek, but if you really want to have a Texas cowboy kind of experience, this is pretty much the place to do it.  I’ve only been here once, when I was taking some friends from France to see the stereotypical Texas scene.  There are some shops, and I think a museum, which seemed a little touristy, but we had some decent Texas-style barbecue there.
The Modern in Fort Worth: this has nothing to do with stereotypical Texas, but if you’re in Fort Worth, you owe it to yourself to check out the Modern Museum in Fort Worth.  Even if you’re not a fan of modern art, the architecture there is just gorgeous.

Photo by doreen from Shanghai, China (walk to the sky) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *