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The two biggest cities in North Texas, Dallas and Fort Worth, are 30 miles (48km) apart but have been brought together into one urban concentration known as the 'DFW Metroplex' with a combined population of more than four million. The two cities are, however, very different halves of a whole.
Dallas, its soaring glass-sided skyscrapers growing out of the prairie, is full of glitz and glamour. This thriving city is the ninth largest city in the United States, having grown from a frontier outpost with 20 streets in 1841 to a centre for big business and big banking. This was helped along a little by 'black gold', the oil that was discovered 100 miles (161km) east of the city in 1930.
Fort Worth, the western half of the Metroplex, is the gateway to the 'Wild West'. Having started out as 'Cowtown', a base for cattle drives, Fort Worth still reflects a laidback attitude, although surprisingly it has also developed into a cultural centre with world-class museums and a thriving performing arts sector.
Dallas is certainly the place for visitors to enjoy a rich shopping experience and upmarket wining and dining, but Fort Worth is the venue for exciting and interesting attractions and a taste of western culture.
Dallas Heritage Village is a living museum of 13 acres, preserving the area's rich history between 1840 and 1910. Visitors to Dallas can explore a working farm, discover elegant Victorian homes, and take in nearly 40 buildings, including a school, church, general store and saloon.There's even a bank alleged to have been robbed by the infamous Bonnie and Clyde. Visitors are also welcome to bring picnic lunches along and enjoy them on the park's lawns. The museum also hosts many events and programs, including lectures, fun workshops and scout days for boys and girls.
The assassination of President John F. Kennedy is commemorated in the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza where the 1963 shooting took place. Most chilling of the exhibits is the window area in the former Texas School Book Depository building from where sniper Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly fired the fatal shots at the 35th President's motorcade. The museum also documents Kennedy's life and legacy, featuring more than 20,000 artefacts and a large amount of archival material, recreating the social and political climate of 1963. A granite marker at the corner of Houston and Main Streets outside shows where Kennedy was assassinated and a memorial stands in nearby John F. Kennedy Plaza.
Fort Worth is the place to experience the romance of the Wild West, and the Stockyards National Historic District is the ideal starting point. It's packed with exciting attractions, including wild rodeos, country music gigs, and shops selling genuine cowboy gear. Hungry and thirsty patrons won't be disappointed by its saloons and Texan diners either. There's also Billy Bob's Honky Tonk, a giant country music club comprising an indoor rodeo, a massive dance floor and restaurants. Further attractions in the district include the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, the Fort Worth Stockyards Stables and the Stockyards Museum.
Fort Worth's Modern Art Museum is second only in size to its counterpart in New York, and is the oldest art museum in Texas. Its permanent collection of modern and contemporary paintings includes works by Picasso, Andy Warhol, Rauschenberg and Pollock, and is particularly strong on works in the pop and minimalist genres, as well as German art from the 70s and 80s. The museum also hosts visiting exhibitions and features a large sculpture collection. Altogether, the permanent collections on display amount to 3,000 works. The building has 53,000 square feet of gallery space and a state-of-the-art auditorium regularly hosting performances and shows.
Located in the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, the Cattle Raisers Museum is dedicated to telling the story of the cowboy and ranching industry. Interactive exhibits, authentic artefacts and theatre presentations bring the legends and lore of the Wild West life, from the famed Texas Rangers to daring cattle rustlers. This museum in Fort Worth covers four broad eras in the cattle industry, starting from 1850 until the present day, along with housing the largest collection of branding irons in the world.
Since its humble beginnings, Fort Worth Zoo now ranks as one of the best in the United States. More than 5,000 animals live in enclosures around the zoo, reflecting their natural habitats. African lions lounge, Asian elephants trumpet and stunning white tigers sit resplendent in their snowy coats. Striking Sumatran orangutans perch in their trees as the imperious Komodo Dragon transfixes onlookers. The zoo also boasts loads of reptiles, amphibians and birds, along with its fair share of marine life and creepy crawlies. Along with a movie theater and petting corral, the zoo also partakes in conservation programs and educational entertainment, such as its Outdoor Learning Theater.
The Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum is a non-profit organisation dedicated to memorialising the Holocaust and its victims, as well as covering the history and continued struggle for human rights. It is widely acclaimed for its creative programs, internationally celebrated exhibits and world-class speakers. The museum provides guided tours for groups, audio tours for individuals and public lectures, and even contains digitised testimony from survivors of genocides throughout the world. There's a strong focus on education, with it welcoming hundreds of school trips each year, while its West End location means loads of award-winning pubs and restaurants are nearby.
Six Flags Over Texas has been a consistently popular family attraction for over 50 years, sitting midway between Dallas and Fort Worth. There's truly something for everyone, from thrilling coasters to gentle rides for the little ones. Six Flags Over Texas stages events and festivals throughout the year, such as Labor Day Weekend and Fathers Day Weekend. Across the road in summer sits Hurricane Harbor, a perfect antidote to those hot summer days. It's the largest waterpark in northern Texas, with numerous slides and pools. With over a million annual visitors, Six Flags Over Texas has earned its reputation as one of the premier theme parks in America and visitors to Fort Worth would be ill-advised to miss it, especially those travelling with kids in tow.
The weather in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is generally warm throughout the year, with high temperatures of up to 67°F (19°C) possible even in the midst of winter. Temperatures in January, however, usually average at cool but mild, with 37°F (3°C) lows. Snow falls roughly one to two days per winter (December to February), although freezing rain is more common.
Springtime in Dallas is lovely with mild temperatures and wildflowers in bloom; however, the weather can be volatile with severe thunderstorms, hail and occasional tornadoes. Summers (June to August) can be extremely hot and humid with average highs of 97°F (36°C), and hot, dry winds blowing in from the north and west. The northern region of Texas is among the hottest in the US during the summer months.
The North Texas Irish Festival has become a March tradition in Dallas. The festival celebrates all things Gaelic, encompassing anything from music, dance and theatre to gastronomy, Gaelic sport and art. Alongside the live music visitors will discover a variety of exhibitors, workshops and plays, while there has also been the extremely popular recent addition of the small pet adoption area. Many a festivalgoer has left with a new dog, cat or rabbit.
Running since 1886, the State Fair of Texas is one of the oldest and most revered traditions in the Lone Star State. The beaming face of Big Tex, a giant animatronic cowboy, greets crowds who flock to the 23-day flair offering an abundance of rides, exhibitions and livestock events, as well as parades and the massive Texas Star Ferris Wheel. Food forms a big part of the celebrations, with a culinary stage and celebrity chefs focusing on Texan specialities. Alongside the live music there are also motor shows displaying both classic and new cars. With over two million visitors, this state fair is the biggest of its kind.
The Deep Ellum Arts Festival shows off the hottest neighbourhood in Downtown Dallas, drawing over 100,000 devotees during its three day run. More than 200 juried decorative and visual artists display their works, including murals, fashion parades and a poetry circus, while loads of new bands and singers take to the stages. Food isn't forgotten, with a food village created by some of Deep Ellum's signature restaurants and vendors, ranging from Mexican, Caribbean and Mediterranean to the local favourite barbecues. There's also a selection of wine, craft beer and sodas when having fun becomes thirsty work. And the best thing is, entry is free.
Taste of Dallas is a food and drink festival with a long and proud history. Visitors sample culinary delights prepared by top Dallas chefs with both local and international flavours. Over 60 restaurants, food trucks and companies set up their stalls, with anything from an army of street tacos to veggie eateries and bakeries. Aside from mouth-watering Texan barbecues, there is a myriad of other cuisines on offer like Middle Eastern, Thai and Korean. Eating is thirsty work but the festival has you covered thanks to its wine garden, beer garden and experimental mixologist area. Kids will love the play zone while the Texan market proudly exhibits and supports Texan businesses, keeping alive its legacy as a genuine cultural institution.
Public transport in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex is served by the Dallas Area Rapid Transit agency. It is responsible for the cities' light rail, buses, and railways, with the Trinity Railway Express acting as an express line between Dallas and Fort Worth. Ride-sharing apps like Lyft and Uber are also in operation.
Dallas is a huge and diverse city where visitors have no shortage of things to see and do. Downtown is home to many of the city's iconic museums, including the Dallas Museum of Art, the Old Red museum of Dallas County History and Culture, the Nasher Sculpture Center and the famous Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.
The downtown area is also home to the Dallas World Aquarium and Steinway Hall. Several companies offer Segway tours of downtown Dallas, which can be a fun and informative way to explore the area. South Dallas is home to the State Fairgrounds, which are open year round, and the Dallas Zoo. Many famous attractions most associated with Dallas are actually located in the suburbs. Arlington is home to Six Flags Over Texas, Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, the Rangers Ballpark and AT&T Stadium.
Fort Worth is just as fascinating as its more famous counterpart, with a plethora of museums that include the National Cowgirl Museum, the Stockyards Museum, the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, the Amon Carter Museum, the Kimbell Art Museum and the CR Smith Aviation Museum.
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