As I hadn’t been to Texas since I was too small to remember it, I was excited to spend a few days in Dallas for a work conference. Considering the many Texan stereotypes, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would everything truly be bigger? (You know what they say…) Would everyone wear cowboy hats? Would it be far more southern than where I’m from in southern Georgia? While I did see several gentlemen in cowboy hats on the airplane and the city is enormous (my cousin quipped that there are multiple skylines in Dallas), Dallas surprised me with its charm and modern feel. Of course, I had the pleasure of touring the city with my cousins, who were perfect hosts, so that certainly made the experience memorable.
My cousins first took me to Rockwall, where they live, and we started off at The Harbor.
The Harbor is on Lake Ray Hubbard, and it is beautifully landscaped and full of cool shops and restaurants. We ate at Gloria’s, which serves delicious, authentic South American food. I loved the pupusas. (The food actually reminded me of Asheville’s Chorizo.)
After a great meal, we headed into Dallas and visited the Nasher Sculpture Museum and Gardens. Sculpture tends to be one of my favorite art mediums as sculpture has a way of transplanting itself into and transforming its environment. And since sculpture is so often outdoors, I love enjoying human-made art while simultaneously enjoying the art of nature.
Touring the Nasher turned out to be coincidental as I learned that it’s a sister museum to our own Durham’s Nasher Museum, which my husband and I have visited.
After the Nasher, we walked to Klyde Warren Park, a metropolitan park built over the interstate. It has a contemporary look to it with lots of brightly colored art installations and fun things like a putting green, dog park, library, pavillion, and children’s area.
After the park, we headed towards Uptown Dallas for a quick stop at Crooked Tree Coffee House, where I had a delicious latte. While in the area, we also walked along McKinney Avenue and took a look around Nest and a few other stores in the area.
Afterwards, we made a short visit to the George W. Bush Presidential Library. We arrived just before closing, so we only had a little while to look around. I enjoyed seeing the many gifts made to the Bushes during the presidency, ranging from beautiful jewelry to strange knicknacks. There’s a lot of diversity, with gifts from countries all around the world represented.
I thought the animated projections that played in a room towards the back were fascinating. It shows all kinds of scenes, from Texas landscapes to everyday Americans to Washington, D.C. and the White House. The way the scenes fade in and out of each panorama is very well done, and it’s neat to take a few minutes to watch it from beginning to end.
Out on the patio behind the main building, I took a quick picture with both Bush, Sr. and W. Bush. I found it funny how huge these sculptures are. (I’m not short, y’all.) I guess a few things really are bigger in Texas!
After the library, my cousins and I made our final stop in the Deep Ellum neighborhood to enjoy some thin-crust pizza at Cane Rosso. I ordered a Delia, which had bacon jam, grape tomatoes, and arugula, and it was unique and delicious. Cane Rosso is one of my cousins’ favorites, and the pizzas they got were awesome, too.
Finally, after a fun and relaxing day of touring Dallas, it was time to head to the hotel for the work conference. The conference was excellent, but as this particular post is about travel, I’ll just focus on the hotel, the Gaylord Texan Resort.
The chain of Gaylord Hotels is owned by Mariott, and oh my, are they swanky. One of the coolest things about the hotels is what they advertise: “Everything in one place.” These resorts really do have everything you could want, without leaving, and as I was at the conference without a rental car (and I had very full days, where I was exhausted by the end), it was ideal.
The Texas Lonestar greets you from above as you walk into the absolutely huge atrium. The atrium was one of the most stunning parts of the hotel.
I took several quiet walks around the atrium, and it was amazing how much it felt like being outside, even though I was in the climate-controlled indoors. The glass ceiling lends such a lifelike feel to the area. The atrium is also full of restaurants — Riverwalk Cantina, Texan Station, and the Cocoa Bean Coffehouse. I had some good Mexican food at the Cantina, and especially enjoyed their prickly pear margarita. At the Texan Station, I had my first taste of Texas brisket, and it was quite yummy. The Cocoa Bean’s lattes and a few dirty chais that I ordered were easily Starbucks quality, if not approaching local coffehouse quality. I certainly didn’t go hungry while at the Gaylord, and the couple of lunches they catered in the conference area were excellent.
And I didn’t even get to see all of it! The long days meant I missed the outdoor water park, and the club restaurant was closed on the days we were there. I heard good things about the water park from some of the conference attendees who brought their families, though.
At least I got to enjoy one pool, though. This is the “regular” pool at the Gaylord, one of my favorite places there.
Even if most of my time at the Gaylord was spent working, you can’t complain about relaxing next to this afterwards.
Well, Texas, until next time!