What to do with your spare time in Big D
March 16, 2006, 5:00 am·
DALLAS -- To most people in Philadelphia, Dallas is probably best known for the Cowboys, its football team. But this weekend the city will play host to the Penn men's basketball team, and while most Quakers fans who venture out West will spend a few hours at the American Airlines Center, there are plenty of other things to do with one's spare time.
If you are a history buff, or even just patriotic, the Sixth Floor Museum is probably the best place to start. Located at Dealey Plaza, it is the building where the sniper's rifle that was used to shoot President John F. Kennedy was found. The museum's name comes from the fact that the rifle was found on the sixth floor of the building.
The Dallas World Aquarium is worth a trip if you are into sea life, or even if you just need to find an expanse of water in the midst of a Texas dry spell.
There are 85,000 gallons of salt water in the Aquarium, 22,000 of which surround a walk-through tunnel. The facility takes a considerable portion of the block at the corner of Hord and Griffin streets.
If you want to get out of the center of town for a little while, head for the City of Dallas Fair Park. While the famous State Fair takes place in September and October, there are nine museums on the fairgrounds, covering subjects from science to African-American history, that are open year round. There is also the historic Cotton Bowl stadium, one of the country's most famous college-football venues.
Art enthusiasts will want to visit the Dallas Museum of Art, which has a wide range of works from all over the world and many different time periods. It is located on North Harwood Street at the corner of Ross Avenue, on the northern edge of the West End District.
The West End District is a commercial hub in central Dallas packed with trendy shops and restaurants. While much of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is a sprawling web of highways, Elm Street and McKinney Street are as dense and vibrant as Old City and Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia.
Speaking of Philadelphia, if you are absolutely in need of a cheesesteak or hoagie, then head for the Philly Connection at 1602 Main St. While the restaurant is part of a chain that stretches from Texas to Virginia, it is nice to see a little touch of home while on the road.
But if you want good cooked meat in Texas, a cheesesteak is the the last thing that should be on your mind.
And there's no better place to find good barbecue or burritos than the original home of Tex-Mex cuisine.
Cadillac Grill at 1800 North Market St. is good for Mexican food and Sonny Bryan's Smokehouse, with locations around the city, is a nice place to find barbecue. The West End location is at 300 North Market St.
As for shopping, the West End Marketplace at 1701 North Market St. is a good place to get as much Texas-related merchandise as you could want. But if you don't like the Cowboys -- the football team, not the profession -- then stay away from the team's store in the mall.
Another shopping option is the Galleria Dallas shopping mall, off I-635 on the Dallas North Tollway. Featuring one of the city's most diverse selections of stores, it is popular among residents and visitors alike.
"It's got everything in there. Everybody knows where it's at," according to Jessica Phillips, a city resident. Phillips adds, however, that it's somewhat "touristy."
Once game time comes around Friday, it is easy to get to the arena if you are staying in the city. The DART light rail lines through the middle of downtown run a special service to the site on game days, and it will be in operation for much of the day tomorrow and Sunday.
The light rail also serves the West End District and connects to a streetcar which runs down McKinney Street from the City Place station. A day pass on the light rail system costs $2.50. There are also plenty of taxis to be found around the city.
So if your definition of Dallas has come from old TV shows and the Cowboys' exploits on Sunday afternoons, think again. There is plenty to do -- and it might come in handy should the Quakers find themselves out of the Tournament as quickly as they have on their last six trips.