DALLAS: Excursions

Article excerpt

Combining big-city sophistication with Wild West fun, Dallas has something for everyone. Interconnected by the DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) and light rail systems, the unique neighborhoods and surrounding communities of the city offer every sort of entertainment option, from fine art to rodeo. And in Dallas' twin city, Fort Worth, you can find even more. So take to the streets--dine, shop and explore--for a true taste of the Lone Star State.

Each of Dallas' districts features unique eating and shopping opportunities and a variety of sites to see. Discover the character of the lively Deep Ellum. Given its name from the local pronunciation of Elm Street, this area produced some of the nation's most talented blues musicians and artists in the early 1900s. Today, you'll find a broad range of establishments, covering the full gamut of musical tastes.

The turn of the century charm of the West End District includes vintage streetlights, horse-drawn carriages and street performers, complementing the classic storefronts and warehouses that now house shops, restaurants and nightclubs.

The authentic early 20th century McKinney Avenue trolley runs along the red brick streets through the heart of the city's antique trade.

Downtown Dallas is the historical center of the city and the grounds for its modern skyline. This is where you'll find many of the most popular city attractions, as well as the Dallas Convention Center.

History is thick in Dallas. At the Dallas County Historical Plaza, you can see the restored log cabin where John Neely Bryan, the city's first settler, set up shop in 1841. The Old Red Courthouse holds the Dallas Visitor Information Center. And at the John F. Kennedy Memorial stands a stark cenotaph, created by Philip Johnson. Nearby, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, situated in the Texas School Book Depository, examines the life, death and legacy of the fallen president. Just south of down-town is Old City Park. Thirty-three historic buildings have been restored and relocated here, including log cabins, antebellum mansions and a Victorian bandstand.

If you don't have much free time during RIMS convention week, just next door to the Dallas Convention Center, on Pioneer Plaza, Robert Summer's colossal bronze sculpture of 70 longhorns and three cowboys gives you a feel for life on the old Shawnee Trail. Across the street is City Hall, one of I.M. Pei's many architectural designs in the city. A brisk walk away is the Dallas Farmers' Market. Nearly 1,000 growers from the Rio Grande Valley sell their fresh fruits and vegetables here daily from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Covering 277 acres is the 1930s art deco showpiece in the United States, the Fair Park Dallas. Although the state fair won't make a showing until the fall, this National Historic Landmark hosts numerous entertainment and cultural facilities year-round. The African American Museum takes an artistic, social and historical look at the culture with one of the largest collections of African-American folk art in the nation. Get hands-on with chemistry, physics and biology at The Science Place. Inside is The TI Founders IMAX[R] Theater with a 79-foot domed screen. Also on the fairgrounds: Cotton Bowl Stadium, the Age of Steam Museum, the Museum of Natural History and the Dallas Aquarium. (If you're really into the fish, take a lap through the larger Dallas World Aquarium across town.)

For a bit of culture, the Dallas Museum of Art exhibits work from ancient times to the present. Shows ongoing during the week of April 10-16: Brice Marden, Works of the 1990s: Paintings, Drawings and Prints; Recent Acquisitions in African Art; Picasso, Braque, Gris: Cubists and Their Friends; and the Bill Viola video installation. Around the corner, you can stroll through the Trummell Crow Center Sculpture Garden among recasts of Rodin's masterpieces. The Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth is a memorable Louis Kahn building. …