(Quick note. This video is a juicy one full of HD goodness. If your internet is slow, let it load while you read on. Yeehaw!)
While walking down a street in the historic district of Fort Worth, there’s a gray haired, leather skinned woman blatantly staring me in the eyes, grinning from ear to ear. Crap. What’s on my face? I swipe my plaid sleeve across my sweaty cheek. It’s the first week of May and it’s 90 degrees. The occasional breeze feels fantastic. It smells like horse butt, but feels fantastic. A few steps later, a couple familiarly smiles at me like I’m an old high school lab partner. As the man opens his mouth to speak I’m preparing to break it to them. “Sorry guys. I grew up 800 miles from here, I barely made it past Biology 101, and I’m probably like 10 years younger than you. You got the wrong girl.” Instead, he offers to take a photo of my friend, Wodek, and I. “Oh…sure. Actually, that’d be great! Thanks.” I’m ready for my close-up, smizing behind my aviators when two cute valet boys photo bomb the shot. Little did we know that we’d be driven to our hotel by one of them after late night tacos 12 hours later. Genuine southern hospitality. Y’all, these southern folks are friendly. For us big city gals, almost too friendly. Suspiciously friendly. “What’s your deal, man?” But there is no deal! That’s just how it is in Texas.
|Texas is THIS big.|
Dallas and Fort Worth are thirty miles apart, but joined by a sprawling cluster of towns called The Metroplex. It covers 12,000 square miles, has over 5 million residents, and is the #1 tourist destination in Texas. There’s definitely stuff to do here. Being my first time in the Lone Star State, we go for the real down home experience. When in northern Texas…
Shoot some guns at the range!
Buy a cowboy hat.
Run on the Dallas Cowboys Stadium field during the VIP tour.
Eat some real Texas style BBQ with creamed corn, collard greens, and all the fixins.
Saddle up for a horse ride. Chaps optional.
Pick up a twang, but it’ll probably just happen anyway.
Hit a few balls and play bags at Top Golf. (Ok, not Texas specific, but still fun.)
Wear plaid or denim or both.
Get where you’re goin’ by truck on Interstate 30.
Watch cowboys get bucked off bulls at a rodeo.
Head downtown to visit The Sixth Floor Museum (John F. Kennedy Museum) at the site of his assassination in Dealey Plaza.
Chow on some biscuits n’ gravy at Bill Smith’s Cafe.
Stay out of the way as the cattle take over the road at the Fort Worth Stockyard Station.
Try a local brewed beer like Shiner Bock or Lonestar.
Be prepared to walk away from a conversation with a few new friends.
|The site of JFK's assassination in Dealey Plaza.|
Talk about more malls than you can shake a stick at! The Metroplex has more shopping centers than any other major U.S. city, but if you’re looking for something a little more rustic, Cavender’s is the chain to shop at for cowboy boots. Never have I ever seen more leather. Even if the Western style isn’t your thing, it’s hard not to appreciate the craftsmanship of each boot up close. Unless you’re digging for worms it’s generally hard to see the detail when they’re on someone’s feet. Psst, hot tip right off the saddle (that means nothing): To look like a local, opt for a flat toe shoe. (I ain’t whistling Dixie ‘bout that one.)
|Cavender's got boots on boots on boots.|
So hungry you could eat a cow, you say? With more than 10,000 restaurants in the Metroplex alone, you won’t starve. I'm sure some will even dish you up the whole cow. Dallas has four times more restaurants per person than New York City. For some authentic finger lickin’ BBQ, check out Bone Daddy’s House of Smoke. (Wish I thought of that name.) We sample a little bit of everything and I have no regrets.
A car is definitely the most reliable mode of transportation in this part of Texas. Cabs are a rare breed. And be forewarned that Molly the Trolley in Fort Worth isn’t as trustworthy as the rest of ‘em. She let us down. So we call “Pappa Mike” the “Journey Ambassador” at the Hilton, our home for the night (which coincidentally happens to be the same hotel JFK stayed at before he was shot- check out the mini memorial on the top level.) Sweeter than sweet tea, he gives us the number to a cab company. Before we can even dial, a yellow van pulls up to the curb with the cutest elderly cab driver inside. He’s accompanied by his wife who is along for the ride in the passenger seat. With a darlin’ drawl, they chat us up on the drive, explaining the ins and outs of southern living. “People like to take their time here. There’s no rush to do anything. It’ll all get done.” I’m no Texan, but I’ll adopt their attitude.
Just the Facts, Ma'am:
1. Dallas, nicknamed "Big D," is the 8th largest city in the U.S. and is somewhat metropolitan while Fort Worth, "Cowtown," fully embraces it’s laid back, country heritage. Since they’re only an hour apart, definitely experience both cultures.
2. A restaurant owner, Mariano Martinez, invented the first frozen margarita machine in Dallas on May 11, 1971. He modified a soft-serve ice cream machine to mass-produce a consistent drink for the mobs of tequila thirsty patrons. Today, the original machine lives in the Smithsonian.
3. The Mixmaster or High Five- what Dallasites call a spot where all the highways overlap. (It’s actually pretty trippy. There can be 5 layers of road held up by pillars interweaving each other.) And why are they so high, you ask? Because everything’s bigger in Texas!
|Which way to the nearest waterhole, boys?|
(Thanks Mike, Marcia, and Michael for being great tour guides!)