Dallas is the third-largest city in the Lone Star State (after Houston and San Antonio). But it’s at the epicenter of what makes much of Texas buzz: thriving arts, vibrant foods and hot nights. A Dallas visit means a spectrum of experiences, from the historic to the contemporary. And with these unique stops, it can be extra memorable, too.
Do the Float, Skip the Massage This is no ordinary spa. Located in the north Dallas neighborhood of Preston Hollow, Adrift touts itself as the city’s only state-of-the-art float facility. When you enter your private flotation cabin, you’re enveloped by ten inches of water and more than half a ton of Epsom salts – a purported purveyor of pain relief, improved circulation and enhanced quality of sleep. Hour-sessions -- for singles or couples -- keep you lying suspended and seemingly weightless, encouraging complete physical and mental relaxation. Ask to customize your lighting and music during your float.
Fasten Your Seatbelts, Skip the Restaurant Date night just got a lot easier, and a lot more thrilling. Delta Charlie’s takes the dinner experience to new heights by offering a gourmet meal and a flight for dessert. The eatery features a varied menu of American and Southwestern specialties, from Texas rib eye to tostada nachos, and a fully stocked bar. Aprés -dinner, come aboard for a customized flight over Dallas at dusk, taking in sights like that glittering downtown skyline, Cowboys Stadium and Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Delta Charlie’s is located at Dallas Executive Airport, just south of downtown Dallas off Highway 67.
See Art, Skip the Gym Instead of doing reps at the hotel gym, take a walk. Public ArtWalk Dallas is actually promoted as a healthy lifestyle choice – a self-guided 3.3-mile walk that takes you to 30 pieces of art and architecture in the heart of downtown. Highlights include the Nasher Sculpture Center, Main Street Garden and the Dallas Museum of Art, as well as several statues. Buildings of architectural interest include the Magnolia Hotel and the Dallas City Hall. Public ArtWalk Dallas encompasses the Dallas Arts District, which, at 68 acres across 19 contiguous blocks, is the largest arts district in the country. This is Texas, after all.
Hit Hubbard, Skip the Track Another cool way to break a sweat is on the waters of Lake Ray Hubbard, a reservoir that straddles Interstate 30 northeast of downtown. The father-daughter team of Dave and Marie Kroll has turned their love for kayaking into a business – Kayak Instruction Inc. – and lead small groups on kayak nature tours along the Texas Paddling Trail to spot bald eagles, great blue herons and coyotes. Hubbard also attracts many a budding fisherman, with its abundant populations of bass and catfish.
Skip Hubbard, Do Lewisville After an active day at Hubbard, your next water stop should be Lake Lewisville – for a little R&R. This is where the folks at Big D Cats sail the deluxe Chamonix II, the largest catamaran on the lake and the largest sailing party boat in the state. The 70-foot vessel features heated indoor seating and a spacious observation deck. They feature public events throughout the year, like themed dinner shows and holiday weekend brunches (you can bring your own drinks), and are always available for private parties, corporate events and even weddings. Lake Lewisville is located just north of downtown Dallas and offers a bevy of water sports options, too, from jet skiing to parasailing to swimming; this is a great spot to just have a picnic or go hiking, too.
Make Your Cheese, Skip the Store The Mozzarella Company knows its cheese. The Elm Street cheese factory, and founder Paula Lambert, have gained widespread acclaim for using centuries-old Italian recipes to make genuine mozzarella; the cheese makers draw crowds, actually, by taking curds made daily from farm-fresh milk and stringing them and forming them by hand into balls of fresh cheese. If you’ve got a couple of hours to spare, you can sign up for a bevy of classes scheduled each month, from beer-and-cheese pairing to learning how to make your own mozzarella at home. Classes usually include a behind-the-scenes tour and wine-and-cheese tasting throughout. Lambert also leads several culinary tours to Tuscany each year.
Visit the Garden, Skip Downtown The Dallas Arboretum is an urban oasis, featuring 19 flourishing gardens across 66 beautifully manicured acres. Displays are rotated four times throughout the year, with the brightest colors found from March to November. Check ahead for special scheduled events, like the Cool Thursdays Concert Series, and monthly kids’ events. The Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden is brand new, featuring 17 science-themed galleries and a Discovery Center complete with a mini 3-D theater.
Gabe Saglie is Senior Editor for Travelzoo, which features hotel, airfare and a bevy of local deals in Dallas at www.travelzoo.com/local-deals/Dallas/deals.