Luxe Dallas Tips From the Experts

Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek

 

 

With some top-brand hotels and a blossoming arts district, Dallas is much more than oil and big hats. We checked in with two luxury specialists—both of whom live and work in Dallas—to get their insights on what to see and do while in town. Here’s what they had to say:

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Nancy Strong, Strong Travel

“Dallas is a clean, modern city. There’s a new bridge called the Margaret Hill Hunt Bridge that spans the Trinity River. It leads into an older area of Dallas called Oak Cliff, which is having a resurgence in terms of small boutiques and eateries. It’s a growing, dynamic city. Things are happening.  

 

State Fair of Texas
The State Fair of Texas is a genuine American experience. It’s held every fall in

The State Fair of Texas

Every fall, fans of all things fried can spend a few hours at the annual State Fair of Texas, which has been a continual attraction for 125 years. And while the fair is hardly the place for Ferragamo shoes or Balenciaga gowns, we say it’s a great way to experience an authentic slice of Texan culture, and for a family to bond over a genuine American tradition.

Upon entering the fairgrounds, attendees will have to purchase “coupons” (tickets, really) to most attractions and food stands. The coupons are treated like cash throughout the fair (and cash is barely accepted anywhere), but there are numerous kiosks for getting more whenever the supply runs low.

Sad note: Families once loved to have their photo taken in front of Big Tex, a 52-foot-tall cowboy that has been the fair’s symbol since his introduction in 1952, but the icon recently burned down. Still, guests can ride on The Texas Star—the largest Ferris wheel in North America—or try the Texas Skyway, a suspended tramway that flies above the Midway (yes, the fair has an old-fashioned carnival midway) and take terrific photos of the fairgrounds below.

And some food items are a must-try for all attendees: Corn dogs are ubiquitous (and traditional fair fare), and the food court has a wide range of dishes ranging from traditional (tacos and pizza) to the bizarre. While at the fair, we sampled the fried beer (fried ravioli filled with beer), but passed up the fried butter, fried cookies and fried...everything else.

 

“We have some of the best shopping options here, and we have some incredible art. There’s great wining and dining, and we have a fellow in our office who has amazing contacts with all the restaurateurs. These are down-home places that are very “in” and are so popular with people because you see local celebrities and sports stars. Al Biernat’s is a watering hole downtown. Al used to run the Palm, and then he opened his own restaurant. You always see someone at Al’s...[It draws] people who want to be seen or see someone. The cast of Dallas eats there. 

“We have a new park going up downtown that will have a concert area. It’s really lovely as parks go, and this is a big deal for downtown Dallas, because more people are moving to the city. It was mostly suburbs, but now it’s apartment buildings and hotels. And the city is what’s drawing the people. 

“The arts scene in Dallas has exploded—especially the contemporary art scene. The Arts District is phenomenal. There’s the Crow Collection of Asian Art, the Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas Symphony, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Dallas Theater Center and the Winspear Opera House. At Southern Methodist University is the Meadows Museum—it is called the ‘Prado on the Prairie’ in Dallas.

“We have a shopping area here called Highland Park Village that’s like the Bal Harbour Shops in Miami. There are some fantastic eateries. I’m located in Preston Hollow in Preston Center, and from my window I can look out at several excellent restaurants.” 

Rudi Steele of Rudi Steele Travel

Steele demurely claimed that while he has lived in Dallas for years, he feels more comfortable recommending sites and attractions in other countries than his own hometown. Still, he offered a few tips for us:

The Arboretum is by a lake where there are beautiful botanical gardens, says Steele. “[Glass sculpture artist] Chihuly is holding an exhibit right now, blending his glass artwork in with flowers and different times of day. They’re also building a park across the [Woodall Rodgers Freeway] with trees and benches. We have the Meadows Museum at Southern Methodist University with a lot of art from Spain. It was even opened by the King and Queen of Spain.

“Next year is the 50th anniversary [of the JFK assassination], so they’re cleaning up Dealey Plaza and the Grassy Knoll. It looks proper and presentable. [Editor’s Note: The Sixth Floor Museum is also a must-visit. Be prepared to spend at least two hours exploring the museum and the surrounding area.]

“In Ft. Worth, there’s the Kimbell Art Museum. They seem to have unlimited funds and it attracts amazing exhibits. They were one of the first to have the Terracotta Soldiers from Xi’an in China.

“In between is Arlington, which got all the sports venues for the Cowboys and the [Rangers]. It’s quite an array.” 

Where to Stay

Nancy Strong recommends The Ritz-Carlton and the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek for five-star luxury hotels in Dallas. “We have others that are fine, but these are top notch,” she says. 

And from the suites to the spa, it’s easy to see why: While all the rooms at the Ritz-Carlton look wonderful, we were especially impressed by the one-bedroom Ritz-Carlton Suite, which has one-and-a-half baths, a separate dining room with seating for eight, a separate pantry and kitchen area with private service entrance and the option to add an additional bedroom for families. Executive Reservations Services Coordinator Paul Gonzalez ([email protected]) can help arrange tours of the city or behind-the-scenes access to museums and stores…But we hear the most popular request is last-minute access to the spa, which offers Dean’s Margarita Salt Glow, the Blueberries & Bluebonnets facial and the Texas Eight-Hand Massage.

At the Rosewood Mansion, word is guests will want to book the top-floor Terrace Suites, each of which has an outside terrace ranging from 1,175 to 1,300 square feet, perfect for lounging or entertainment. The two Terrace Suites feature a residential living area, a dining room for up to six guests, a kitchen and king-size bedroom. The bathroom has a walk-in shower and soaking tub. Luxury travel advisors should reach out to Director of Sales and Marketing Tracy Fitz ([email protected]). 

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