What to do in Dallas Fort-Worth during the Super Bowl weekend; Restaurants, Fun, and Dangersby Thomas Wikman
Jan 27, 2011 (Updated Feb 5, 2011)
The Bottom Line This essay tries to answer the question: What are the most fun activities in the Dallas Fort-Worth area that are available during the Super Bowl weekend.
The Super Bowl is soon and perhaps you are coming to the Dallas Fort Worth area to see it. In addition to watching the Super Bowl you may want to know what else there is to do in the area at this time, and what there is to do and see, where to eat, things to watch out for etc. Those are the kind of questions I am trying to answer in this essay.
The Super Bowl of 2011
Super Bowl XLV or the Super Bowl of 2011 is going to be held at the Dallas Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, Texas, which is next to my work (Siemens). The Dallas Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, Texas, is the largest domed stadium in the world.
There are going to be a lot of visitors in the area during the Super Bowl weekend but the Dallas Fort Worth area is big enough (six million people) to handle the crowd, perhaps with some difficulty. If you are coming to the area for the Super Bowl, the Super Bowl is your main attraction. However, if you are like me you would like to do other things as well.
I have included some recommendations for the Super Bowl weekend, including places to visit, things to do, restaurants as well as things to watch out for. Some of the things I am mentioning are things that I think are great fun to do but may not be advertised in many places.
What to do in the Dallas Fort Worth area during the Super Bowl Weekend
February is unfortunately one of the worst times to visit the Dallas Fort Worth area. Scarborough Faire is closed (and so is Screams), the Mesquite Rodeo is not open, the Six Flags Over Texas amusement park does not open until March, and the Hurricane Harbor water park is closed, and deer season is over. In addition the weather is quite unstable. Unfortunately, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Arlington are not really great tourist destinations either.
However, that does not mean that there is nothing to do in the area. Dallas is after all a big city and Fort Worth is Cow-Town USA. Below I am listing a variety of suggestions over what you can do in the Dallas Fort-Worth area. Hopefully you will find something appealing.
Dallas Arts District
The Dallas Arts District is quite impressive and may surprise some visitors. For example, it features concert halls, theaters, museums, high end dining, impressive architecture and fairly inexpensive parking. A few of the highlights are;
The Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center is ranked as one of the world's greatest concert halls. It hosts a large 4,535 pipe organ and has an impressive architecture. During Super Bowl weekend it features "Premier Percussion" concerts and St. Olaf's Choir.
The Dallas Museum of Art is a quite large and distinguished art museum. Then you also have the Nasher Sculpture center and the Trammell Crow Center and Crow Collection of Asian Art and more.
You also have the Winspear Opera House and the Wyly Theater, the Dallas Black Dance Theatre and more. My wife and I have spent many wonderful Saturdays evenings at the various entertainment venues and restaurants in Dallas Arts District.
The Dallas Fair Park
The Dallas Fair Park is a large recreational and educational complex located immediately to the south east of downtown Dallas. It hosts nine museums, six performance facilities, the largest Ferris wheel in America, the cotton bowl football stadium, and a lagoon. Among the highlights is the Museum of Nature and Science, which includes the Science Place, an IMAX theater, a Planetarium, and the Natural History Museum. This is a great place for families.
The Fort Worth Stockyards is a former livestock market which is now a National Historic District. It is located to the north of downtown Fort Worth. The main attraction at the Stockyards is the Stockyards Championship Rodeo held every Saturday, year around, at 8PM in the Cowtown Coliseum. So if you want to see Rodeo, this is one place that is open (and indoors). There are also a lot of other attractions at the Stockyards including the Stockyards museum; the Texas Cowboys hall of fame, the Stockyards railway station, and the Grapevine Vintage Railroad (take a ride on a vintage locomotive).
Rough Creek Lodge
Rough Creek Lodge is the place in the area that my kids love the best. Rough Creek Lodge is a 11,000 acre ranch located 95-100 minutes south-west of Dallas, 90-95 minutes south of Arlington, and 70-75 minutes south of Fort Worth. This is a somewhat expensive but fun resort featuring lots of fun wild life activities, especially hunting. During February you can hunt birds (pheasant, Chukar, Quail), as well as varmint like pigs, bobcats, Coyote, etc. Rough Creek provides highly skilled hunting guides who teach you or your kids how to hunt and they provide a suitable gun, and will sell you hunting licenses. Unlike many other bird hunting places they do not plant birds upon your arrival for you to go get them. They plant birds but just once a year and they mix with wild birds. It is like hunting in the wild but with more birds and while hunting you visit several spots on the ranch. Last time I took my son and a friend of his hunting they got 95 birds including 22 pheasants.
At Rough Creek Lodge they also have fishing, horse back riding, zip line, a petting zoo, ATV, 72 activities in total, as well as exquisite dining and luxurious rooms.
Dallas World Aquarium
The Dallas World Aquarium is a fairly large inside aquarium and a zoo located in downtown Dallas, Texas. It is housing many threatened or endangered animals and half of the building is constructed to give visitors a sense of being in a rainforest. There are six main exhibits housed within the Dallas World Aquarium; "The Wilds of Borneo", "The Orinoco - Secrets of the River rainforest exhibit", "The Aquarium", "The outdoor South Africa exhibit", the seasonal "Madagascar display", and finally the quite impressive and fairly new "Mundo Maya exhibit". When you enter the Mundo Maya exhibit you go through a 42 foot long glass tunnel surrounded by an aquarium in which sharks and manta rays are swimming. This is the attraction in Dallas that my kids loved the most when they were younger.
Fort Worth cultural district
Fort Worth is not just Cowboys, it does have a pretty nice cultural district as well, featuring several museums, theaters, and gardens. A few highlights are the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the Amon Carter Museum, the Kimbell Art Museum, the Cattle Raisers Museum, Will Rogers Center, the Omni Theater, and the National Cowgirls Museum, and the new Science and History Museum, which is pretty impressive and modern.
Dinosaur Valley State Park and Dinosaur World in Glen Rose
Dinosaur Valley State Park is a state park featuring a number of sites containing real fossilized Dinosaur footprints 113 million years old. The park also features hiking trails and wild life. Dinosaur World is a park located nearby Dinosaur Valley State Park. It is directed mostly towards children and it features a Natural History museum, fossil dig, a gift shop, and a hiking path along which there are more than 100 life-size Dinosaur models of various kinds. Dinosaur World and Dinosaur Valley State Park is located in Glen Rose 85-90 minutes south-west of Dallas, 75-80 minutes south of Arlington, and about an hour south of Fort Worth. If your kids love Dinosaurs you should visit the Science Museum in Dallas, which currently hosts a Dinosaur exhibit (Dinosaurs unearthed) as well as these two parks.
Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, Glen Rose, Texas
Fossil Rim Wildlife Center located a couple of miles south from Dinosaur World and Dinosaur Valley State Park, also in Glen Rose, and features hands down the best Safari in Texas. The Fossil Rim Wild Life Center have more then 1,000 animals representing 50 species from around the world living peacefully together, and roaming around freely on 1,700 acres of open space. You are allowed to feed animals like Giraffes, Zebras and Ostriches. The Safari is an eleven miles long ride. My eleven year old daughter loves this place.
The Sixth Floor Museum
The Sixth Floor Museum is a quite unique place. It is situated in the book repository where Lee Harvey Oswald sat when he shot John F. Kennedy. The museum focuses on the events that day and John F. Kennedy. You get to look out the window through which Lee Harvey Oswald shot Kennedy as well see various memorabilia. There are also a lot of conspiracy theorists hanging around this museum.
South Fork Ranch
South Fork Ranch is internationally renowned as the filming location for the "Dallas" television series. Young people may not be too interested in this place but it may be a fun place to see for older visitors (who watched the series). They offer tours and they have a little museum and they also offer some excursions.
Louis Tussaud's and Ripley's believe it or not in Grand Prairie
Many big cities have a Ripley's believe it or not and Louis Tussaud's Wax Museum. I would not call the Ripley's believe it or not in Grand Prairie Texas not far from the Super Bowl stadium a main tourist attraction. However, I am mentioning it because I think it is among the better Ripley's believe it or not. It features four attractions; Louis Tussaud's Wax Museum, Ripley's Believe it or not, the Mirror Maze, and my kid's favorite the Laser Race.
The Fort-Worth Zoo and Dallas Zoo
Again many big cities have a Zoo's but I thought that I mentioned the two main zoo's in the area; the Fort Worth Zoo, and the Dallas Zoo. The Dallas Zoo is slightly bigger than the Fort Worth Zoo. However, I think the Fort Worth Zoo is slightly more fun and has a better lay-out.
I can add that there is also a Super Bowl Party at Victory Tavern on February 5 and Dane Cook, the comedian, is performing at the American Airlines Center on February 5. Mavericks are playing the Cavaliers on February 7.
There is also a Country Western Bar and Performance Hall called Gilley’s, which features music, dancing, Texas food, and mechanical bulls. P. Diddy is performing at Gilley’s in Dallas on February 6 (in the evening), and Smith Westerns an indie rockband is performing on Tuesday February 8. I can also recommend Poor David's Pub.
Where to eat in Dallas Fort Worth area during the Super Bowl Weekend
The Dallas Fort-Worth metro is the metropolis in the United States with the most restaurants. There are 10,000 restaurants in the area, which is more than in the New York City metropolis, or any other metro in the United States.
There are a lot of Mexican restaurants, Tex-Mex restaurants, steak houses, but also exquisite South Western cuisine as well as international cuisine. In the Arts district you have, for example, Stephen Pyles restaurant, which is one the best South Western cuisine restaurants in the United States (a little expensive though). You also have the Tei An Rooftop Lounge, which will be open to 2AM during Super Bowl weekend.
There are several great steak houses in Dallas including Chamberlain's Steak & Chop House, Pappas Brothers Steak House, and Steve Fields Steak & Lobster Lounge in Plano north of Dallas. There is also the French Room, Mansion in the Turtle Creek and Abacus. Personally the French Room and the Mansion in the Turtle Creek are a little bit to upscale and formal for me, but Abacus is a great but simpler restaurant. Gloria's Restaurants has several locations in the area. They feature great El Salvadoran cuisine and it is pretty inexpensive. The Saltgrass Steak House is an inexpensive but good steak house chain with several locations in the area. A great Mexican restaurant is Avila's and some good Mexican chain restaurants with many locations in Dallas and in the area are Cantina Laredo, and El Chico's.
If you want a Cowboy style restaurant (no tie's allowed) featuring country music and large steaks for a low price you can visit Traildust in Arlington. If you want to visit a very inexpensive but good authentic Mexican restaurant in Arlington you can visit "Mercado Juarez". The Panda House is good inexpensive Chinese restaurant.
Fort Worth features many good steak houses as well as many good Mexican restaurants. Good Mexican restaurants include Los Vaqueros, Mexican Inn Cafe, and Alvarado's Mexican Food. At the stockyards you have Cattlemen's Fort Worth Steak House, Billy Bob's BarBQue, and another good steakhouse is Bob's Steak and Chop House in Fort Worth.
What to watch out for in Dallas Fort Worth area
Dallas is a major truck route hub for both Texas and the rest of the nation. According to a map I saw it is the most major truck hub in the entire nation by far. The truck drivers are often very stressed out, and many truck drivers are alcoholics, drug addicts, convicts, and illegal immigrants. Trucks cause 500 fatalities every year in Texas. In my experience Dallas has the most dangerous and reckless truck drivers in the nation. You really need to be careful. Don't even think about driving parallel to a truck. They will switch lane before you know it and crush you.
I-30 and the police
Interstate Highway I-30 is the highway along which the Dallas Cowboy Stadium is located. When touring the Dallas Fort Worth it is the highway you will probably use the most. It is a wide and straight highway, which it is very easy to speed on when there is not a lot of traffic. Especially since so many people are speeding on this highway. As you can understand this is a Gold Mine for the local government and the speeding tickets are expensive starting at $225. The Dallas police, the Grand Prairie police, and the Arlington police are all digging for gold here. You really need to watch out, or you'll pay.
It may sound like I have a cynical attitude regarding the local police and I do. There are many areas around Dallas where people are speeding and where it is really dangerous to speed because of obscured intersections and curves as well as playing children. These areas are mostly ignored by the police. Dallas has a problem with crime and even though we live in a relative safe neighborhood we have had a burglary and my wife a stalker. The police did nothing in both cases. There was also a recent scandal in Dallas because the local police threw out crime reports they weren't going to investigate anyway, just to improve the crime statistics.
South West Dallas
South West Dallas, Oak Cliff, has its charm with art galleries and Mexican restaurants. However, this area features many dangerous neighborhoods. Unless you know your way around well you should not visit this area.
I hope this essay and overview of the Dallas Fort-Worth area is going to be helpful to any Super Bowl visitor who happens to come across. Welcome to Dallas Fort-Worth.