Texas See And Do
3501 Camp Bowie Boulevard
Fort Worth , Texas
Tel: 817 738 1933
This museum by one of America's greatest architects, Philip Johnson, has long been overshadowed by Kahn's Kimbell, its Cultural District neighbor. But Johnson's hilltop loggia for the Carter Museum is one of his earliest musings in the postmodern vein; Johnson also oversaw a major expansion, which was completed in 2001. The Carter has acquired one of the finest collections of American art anywhere, ranging from 19th-century landscape painters like Thomas Cole and Albert Bierstadt to 20th-century masters such as Georgia O'Keeffe and Stuart Davisas well as Western favorites Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell. The museum also houses one of the largest and best collections of American photography extant.
Open Sundays noon to 5 pm, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays 10 am to 5 pm, Thursdays 10 am to 8 pm.
Austin , Texas
Tel: 888 512 7469
For more than 30 years, the weekly PBS show Austin City Limits has been a window into the city's incomparable music scene, featuring artists from Willie Nelson to Spoon. Tickets to tapings are free, but they're pretty darn hard to come by. The local radio affiliate, KLRU, announces the location of a giveaway one to two days before the concert: Whoever shows up first at that location gets 'em (limit of two). So you have to be in Austin (and be speedy) to score.
Of course, ACL also puts on the Austin City Limits Festival in September, which leans toward more established acts, from Coldplay to Lucinda Williams. Its party atmosphere is comparable to the annual South by Southwest festival, but it's much easier to navigate. All shows are held in Zilker Park (rather than SXSW's zillion tiny nightclubs around town). Sign up on the ACL site to be alerted to ticket on-sale dates; tickets get more expensive as the event approaches.
Also good to know: Because of the convincing backdrop of the city skyline and other local landmarks, it's a common misconception that the show is filmed outdoors; it's actually shot in a studio on the University of Texas campus.
2101 Barton Springs Road
Austin , Texas
Tel: 512 476 9044
This spring-fed public pool, framed by sunbather-friendly green spaces and the canopies of ancient pecan trees, is idyllic on a sunny summer day. The water is chlorine-free, and at 68 degrees, it's a bracing eye-opener if you're recovering from a long night on the town. On weekends in fine weather the place is jammed with families, hippies, and young people out to get a nice tan. Tops are optional for women, though you won't see too many women taking advantage of that. There's not much else on-site to speak of, but if you walk up Barton Springs Road a bit you'll find quite a few restaurants and food carts. Don't pass up the snow cones; they really hit the spot in the Texas heat.
Open Fridays through Wednesdays 5 am to 10 pm, Thursdays 5 to 9 am and 7 to 10 pm.
300 through 500 block of North Bishop Avenue, between Davis Street and Jefferson Boulevard
Dallas , Texas
Oak Cliff, or more specifically the affluent Kessler Park neighborhood, across the Trinity River from downtown, proudly considers itself the anti-Dallas, replete with rolling hills, picturesque older homes, and a more contemplative lifestyle. Oak Cliff's Bishop Arts District, a few blocks of recently spiffed-up 1920s storefronts, isn't trying to compete with the architectural firepower of the Dallas Arts District, but its collection of small and independent eateries, shops, and galleries offers pedestrian-friendly charm and funky originality. Shopping venues include Zola's Everyday Vintage with '60s through '80s haute couture; and Ifs Ands & Butts, a tobacco shop that also carries 300 varieties of bottled sodas. Hang out with your pooch at the hip but unpretentious Nodding Dogs Coffee Co. for upscale dining. Hattie's American Bistro serves sophisticated Southern cuisine in a graceful, romantic setting.
8525 Garland Road
Dallas , Texas
Tel: 214 515 6500
Fax: 214 515 6522
One of the nation's biggest and best floral displays is set on the thickly wooded slopes above White Rock Lake, a popular recreation spot close to downtown. Paths shaded by magnolias and crape myrtles wind among immense beds of tulips and azaleas in the spring and chrysanthemums in the fall. A vast variety of vistas makes this a popular place for commercial and amateur photographers: water walls, gazebos, arbors, broad lawns, and myriad fountains and pools, some whimsical (four spouting toads), some ethereally minimalist. A new education center designed by the noted Texas firm Lake/Flato is a series of small classrooms and large pavilions in glass, steel, stone, and wood, a sophisticated modernist interpretation of traditional Texas barns and farmhouses. Picnicking is encouraged.
Open daily 9 am to 5 pm.
1717 North Harwood Street
Dallas , Texas
Tel: 214 922 1200
Though it is the least distinguished architecturally of the area's major museums, Edward Larrabee Barnes' sleek, modern building is dramatically ambitious if somewhat overbearing. The collections broadly survey European, American, Asian, and African art while also showcasing cutting-edge contemporary work, often from some of Europe's biggest stars. Decorative arts are another strength, with a definitive collection of American silver. But the premier collection is ancient art from South and Central America, and it's one of the world's finest, featuring stunning displays of Incan gold and Mayan ceramics. The museum also functions as a site for frequent concerts, readings, and lectures.
Open Tuesdays and Wednesdays 11 am to 5 pm, Thursdays 11 am to 9 pm, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays 11 am to 5 pm.
1801 N. Griffin Street
Dallas , Texas
Tel: 214 720 2224
The aquarium isn't the half of this ambitious, privately operated zoological garden in Dallas's West End Historic District. An enormous glassed-in habitat reproduces Venezuela's Orinoco rain forest, monkeys and toucans gambol in the treetops, and crocodiles and manatees swim down below. In the new junglelike eight-story Mundo Maya habitat, hummingbirds and butterflies flit, panthers prowl, and bull sharks lurk over visitors' heads in a glassed-in tunnel. The aquarium has gorgeous saltwater environments ranging from British Columbia (giant octopus) to the reefs of Palau. Have a drink and a bite in the Eighteen-O-One restaurant while the kids go wild.
Open daily 10 am to 5 pm.
1300 Robert B. Cullum Boulevard
Dallas , Texas
Tel: 214 421 9600
Built for the 1936 Texas Centennial, this 300-acre complex of pavilions, pools, and esplanades is the world's largest collection of Art Deco architecture, culminating in the soaring, seven-story blue-tile portico of the Hall of State. Fair Park's nine museums include the African American Museum, the Women's Museum, and the Museum of Nature & Science (with planetarium and IMAX theater). But the real show, from late September to late October, is the annual State Fair of Texas. The Fair is timeless Texana with livestock competitions; a vast, diet-busting food court (where anything that can conceivably be fried is); a sprawling midway; acres of exhibits ranging from prize-winning preserves to imported autos; and official greetings from Big Tex, a 52-foot-tall talking cowboy mannequin.
130 E. Exchange Avenue
Fort Worth , Texas
Tel: 817 624 4741
It began as a stop on the Chisholm Trail and boomed as a raucous meatpacking district at the turn of the 19th century. Now filled with Western-wear shops, Western-style saloons, and barbecue joints and steak houses, it's the reason they still call Fort Worth "Cowtown." Visit the Cowtown Coliseum, where they've been holding rodeos since 1918, and the legendary White Elephant Saloon, with its cowboy-hat-festooned ceiling and Gunsmoke-style stand-up bar. Family-friendly attractions include a twice-daily mini-trail drive, complete with authentically cantankerous longhorns, and the Tarantula Train, an 1896 steam engine that takes visitors on sightseeing junkets along the route of the old Chisholm Trail.
1989 Colonial Parkway
Fort Worth , Texas
Tel: 817 759 7555
One of the nation's top zoos draws raves for its acres of realistic habitats where animals roam free in natural environments. The safarilike African Savanna exhibit offers unique overhead, boardwalk views of white rhinos, ostriches, and giraffes; in the Raptor Canyon aviary, Andean condors and crowned eagles fly overhead. The spectacular hillside Asian Falls habitat includes a colony of elephants and two white tigers, while other evocative environments focus on Komodo dragons, meerkats, or gorillas and orangutans (in a re-created rain forest). Texas Wild features eight acres of the state's flora and fauna set around kid-pleasing regional tableaux, from a tornado-demolished house on the High Plains to a West Texas mineshaft.
Open daily. Late October through mid-February: 10 am to 4 pm. Mid-February through late October: Mondays through Fridays 10 am to 5 pm, Saturdays and Sundays 10 am to 6 pm.
The Hill Country may not be as dramatic as Big Bend or the Piney Woods, but many Texans say it's the most beautiful region in the state. In the spring, when bluebonnets and other wildflowers add a splash of color to the limestone cliffs and live oakcovered hills, it can be downright spectacular. You'll see hordes of families pulling over on the highways to take photos in the flowers. You can see why Lance Armstrong trains here. In fact, cyclists of all types come for the challenging terrain and stunning beauty. Hill Country Bicycle Works in Fredericksburg rents high-quality mountain and road bikes and recommends the best trails (830-990-2609; www.hillcountrybicycle.com). For hiking and camping within an hour of town, drive west on Highway 71 to Llano, then head south on Highway 16 until you reach Enchanted Rock State Natural Area (830-685-3636; www.tpwd.state.tx.us/park/enchantd). Get there early, though, as the park fills up fast. For a more sedentary afternoon, take Farm-to-Market Road 1431 to Marble Falls and savor the chicken-fried steak at the Blue Bonnet Café; (830-693-2344; www.bluebonnetcafe.net). The journey home at sunset is even more enjoyable on a full stomach. Better still is Café 909 (830-693-2126; www.cafe909.com), where the menu goes beyond mere comfort food to haute Texas cuisine with dishes like grilled peaches wrapped in Speck and sprinkled with shaved Parmesan and balsamic syrup.
3333 Camp Bowie Boulevard
Fort Worth , Texas
Tel: 817 332 8451
The anchor of Fort Worth's celebrated Cultural District, Louis Kahn's exquisitely proportioned 1972 building is on most short lists of the 20th century's greatest architectural achievements. A series of travertine-clad barrel vaults bathed in natural light, this sublime modern classic would be worth a visit empty. But the Kimbell's concise collection is uniformly of the highest quality, offering an art-history highlight reel of dozens of masterpieces, from Duccio's The Raising of Lazarus to Poussin's Venus and Adonis to Picasso's Woman Combing Her Hair. Classical, Asian, and pre-Columbian collections are comparably rich. In an art world coup, the museum recently acquired what is believed to be the earliest known painting by Michelangelo, The Torment of Saint Anthony, which dates from 1487-88, when the artist was only 12 or 13.
Open Tuesdays through Thursdays 10 am to 5 pm, Fridays noon to 8 pm, Saturdays 10 am to 5 pm, Sundays noon to 5 pm.
Austin , Texas
It's hard to get more landlocked than the interior of Texas, but Austin has three lakes nearbytwo essentially within townthat on weekends explode into social scenes.
Lady Bird Lake (renamed from "Town Lake" for Lady Bird Johnson, who recently passed away) isn't actually a lake, but rather the Colorado River. The wide part of the river that runs through downtown is ringed by hiking and biking trails; sculling is also popular, though motorboats are prohibited.
Lake Austin sits between two dams on the western edge of town and is rimmed by million-dollar homes; its usually calm surface is perfect for waterskiing. The Hula Hut has a deck on Lake Austin and is massively popular after work (3825 Lake Austin Blvd.; 512-476-4852; www.hulahut.com)probably because the cocktails are better than the food. Next door is Mozart's, whose magical lakefront location makes it one of the most romantic coffee shops in Texasperhaps America (3826 Lake Austin Blvd.; 512-477-2900; www.mozartscoffee.com).
Located 20 minutes outside of town, Lake Travis has more than 270 miles of shoreline. Though there might be fewer cigarette boats spraying rooster tails than in the go-go days of the dot-com boom, the waters are still full of ski boats, and there's as much boat-to-boat socializing as actual waterskiing. A handful of marinas offer day rentals for powerboats, party barges, and wave runners; try Just for Fun (Emerald Point Marina; 5973 Hiline Rd.; 512-266-9710; www.jff.net). Johnny Fins (16405 Clara Van Trail; 512-266-2811; www.johnnyfins.com) and the Lakehouse Café; (512-264-7040; www.lakehousecafe.com; weekends only) are the main options for float-up dining and drinkingbut take heed of strict local policies on drinking and boating. There are several beaches, but the curious steer toward Hippie Hollow, the only public clothing-optional park in the state.
1818 Rodeo Drive
Mesquite , Texas
Tel: 972 285 8777
This big-time professional rodeo is just 15 minutes east of downtown Dallas. The season runs from April through September, but don't worry about the sweltering heat: The 5,500-seat Resistol Arena is fully air-conditioned. If you require further pampering while watching the calf roping, steer wrastlin', and barrel racing, decorated luxury suites offer wet bars and waiters. This very family-friendly environment includes pony rides, a petting zoo, and finger-lickin' BBQ from local legend Sonny Bryan; kids under 55 pounds can even suit up in a helmet and vest just like the pros and ride a sheep (called mutton bustin'). But the marquee bull-riding event, where the one-ton animals usually win, is a dangerous sport for the real pros only.
Open early April through late September; most rodeo events Fridays and Saturdays 8 to 10 pm.
3200 Darnell Street
Fort Worth , Texas
Tel: 817 738 9215
If Louis Kahn's Kimbell Museum is regarded as one of the best buildings of the last century, Tadao Ando's new Fort Worth Modern, just across the street, may well stand up as one of this century's finest. Dramatic, 40-foot-tall Y-shaped concrete columns support the flat, cantilevered roofs of the glassed-in, satiny-gray concrete galleriesthe entire structure seems to float in the immense reflecting pool. The collection stresses Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, and Minimalism. Touring exhibitions focus on major retrospectives of modern masters. The Café Modern has become a hot luncheon pick.
Open Tuesdays through Saturdays 10 am to 5 pm, Sundays 11 am to 5 pm.
Williams Square Plaza
O'Conner Road, north of Highway 114
Irving , Texas
Tel: 972 869 9047
A depiction of wild horses running through a stream, The Mustangs of Las Colinas is the world's largest equestrian sculpture. Also of interest is an on-site museum that illustrates the process artist Robert Glen had to go through to create this gigantic piece of public art. Commissioned in 1976, the work was intended to catapult the then-tiny development of Las Colinas to larger fame, thus attracting more residents.
Museum open Wednesdays through Saturdays 11 am to 5 pm. Sculpture is accessible 24/7.
2001 Flora Street
Dallas , Texas
Tel: 214 242 5100
The world's hottest museum designer, Renzo Piano, outdid himself with this exceptionally transparent glass, travertine, and aluminum construction in the heart of the Dallas Arts District, across the street from the Dallas Museum of Art. Local collector Raymond Nasher's internationally coveted collection of modern sculpture is revealed in Piano's beautifully bared galleries, which open onto a refined, oasislike sculpture garden. A light supper at Café Nasher on a Thursday evening, when the museum is open late and the lit-up office buildings tower overhead, is a sublimely romantic urban experience.
Open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays 11 am to 5 pm, Thursdays 11 am to 9 pm.
2201 Road to Six Flags
Arlington , Texas
Tel: 817 530 6000
The flagship Six Flags, midway between Dallas and Fort Worth, features Disneyland-like theme areas dedicated to each of Texas's historic suzerains: Spain, France, Mexico, Republic of Texas, Confederacy, and the United States. The park is a thrill-seeker's paradise, with no less then eight roller coasters, led by the Titan, with its 255-foot, 80-plus-mph first drop. You can also make six upside-down loops on the Flashback or ride beneath the track with your feet dangling on Batman: The Ride. Purists will enjoy the 14-story Texas Giant, the world's best wooden roller coaster. Wind down by going to the top of the Superman Tower of Power for a 30-story free fall.
Open March through December. In-season days and hours of operation vary; for details, call ahead or check online calendar.
411 Elm Street
Dallas , Texas
Tel: 214 747 6660
History doesn't get much more vivid than this high-quality, nonexploitative museum exploring the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. Located on the sixth floor of the infamous Texas Schoolbook Depository building, the museum features the actual corner window from which Lee Harvey Oswald fired the fatal shots, with a glassed-in re-creation of the barricade of boxes found on November 22. From the next window you can see an Oswald's-eye view of the route the president's motorcade took through Dealey Plaza. Exhibits feature radio and television broadcasts from the fateful day and artifacts such as the camera that recorded the Zapruder film and the forensic model of the assassination site used in the FBI investigation.
Open Tuesdays through Sundays 10 am to 6 pm, Mondays noon to 6 pm.
Tel: 512 467 7979
Every March the big daddy of music events sweeps into town, bringing groups from as far away as Iran and Sierra Leone playing everything from jazz to metal. The emphasis, though, is on indie rockit's sort of like Sundance for the drum-banging set. Shows can be all but impossible to get into without the all-in-one badge (costing in the $600 range), which provides access to all concerts, industry conferences, and the trade show. The badge also grants you access to many of the buzzy, too-cool-for-school private parties hosted by record labels and music mags. Getting around is nearly impossible without a badgesome bars won't even let you in, concert or no concert. However, if you can't drop the cash on a pass, you can see acts at the free outdoor stage at Lady Bird Lake or check out the tamer film fest, where tickets can be obtained much more easily. Still, the frenzy of activity can be thrilling for music buffs, who get to see all of the hottest bands playing tiny venues throughout the city.
3700 Hogge Road
Parker , Texas
Tel: 972 442 7800
Everyone's going to ask if you saw it, so you might as well join the several hundred thousand who traipse through every year. Now operated as a popular site for proms, weddings, and special events, this former horse farm and Dallas television series exterior setit actually looks more like Kentucky than Texasfills in the series backstory with a lavish imagining of how J.R., Sue Ellen, et. al. might have lived at the "Ewing Mansion" (the "real" interiors for the series were shot in Hollywood). At the visitor center, you can also see the gun that shot J.R., and Lucy's wedding dress. Dallas was never like this, and neither was Dallas, but this is a fun, friendly slice of pop cultural history.
Open daily 9 am to 5 pm; last tour begins at 4:30 pm.
Forty minutes south of downtown Dallas, this small town is a museum of picturesque late-19th- and early-20th-century architecture. The centerpiece is the massive nine-story Romanesque Revival Ellis County Courthouse, built in 1897 of pink granite with marvelously carved details in red sandstone (including the emotive faces on column capitals). But the town is full of remarkable Revival concoctions, from the Renaissance Revival library to Victorian Gingerbreadstyle houses; 300 local buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places. The courthouse is surrounded by antiques shops and restaurants. Webb Gallery is one of the nation's top folk art galleries, with art from Texas originals as well as quirky artifacts of small-town culture.