Before I visited, Dallas had never found its way to the top of the long list of my travel priorities. Did I know where it was? Of course, but I’d never had a particular desire to travel there. As is so often the way, however, life’s priorities and my own did not necessarily agree on this. I found myself touching down in The United States at Christmas, just after Donald Trump had achieved what should have been impossible, becoming the President elect. My reasons for heading state-side were less about experiencing the country before mutually assured destruction, and more about visiting family – my partner, Linh’s, to be precise.
We arrived at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and were immediately underwhelmed by the operations of the TSA and the general uselessness of the airport system, which saw us standing in lines for almost three hours – more than we’d experienced in any less-developed country to date! But once we escaped the clutches of airport red tape, we were greeted with beautiful blue sky and moderate winter temperatures that could be compared to those we were used to in Australia (in June rather than December).
The bulk of our trip would be spent with family, but I had hoped to spend a few days exploring Texas and the surrounding states, being not averse to a long drive. Over the course of the week or so that we spent in Texas, we did get to Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana before we flew out to Utah for a week in the snow, but the bulk of our experiences were in Dallas/Fort Worth and surrounds. A trip to Dallas could conceivably be squashed into a day, however you’d probably be better with two or three. While we were there, we visited the excellent Perot Museum of Nature and Science, the obligatory Dallas JFK Museum, The George W. Bush Presidential Library, and Reunion Tower.
Perot Museum is five floors of hands-on science experimentation and museum which – while designed largely for a younger audience – could have kept us occupied for most of the day. As it was, our tourist time was limited, and we rushed through in around two hours before taking a stroll through the city centre towards Reunion tower and the Delany Centre, where JFK was shot.
Be sure to pre-book your tour of the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, because as one of the most notorious historical events in Texas’ tumultuous history, it is sure to be busy. We had to organize to visit later in our trip when we rocked up – even with our Dallas City Pass (which comes highly recommended). The museum is situated on the sixth floor of Dealey plaza, the very site from where Lee Harvey Oswald (allegedly) assassinated President John F Kennedy. Despite my occasional aversion to static museum displays, I was enthralled by the story and the conspiracy theories as I wandered through the site, and was chuffed to peer out the window that caused such controversy. Even though the actual window is glassed of with a display, I can confirm – in direct contravention of the words of Bill Hicks – that there was certainly a shot there. After that, I leave you to decide what really happened! I managed to snap a cheeky (and certainly not approved) shot from one floor above ‘Oswald’s Nest’, but once you get there, you should see for yourself.
Our next stop was Reunion Tower, the premier view of Dallas where we managed to get our bearings and learned a little about the city. The views were excellent and clearly labelled, so it’s certainly a top spot to start your city tour.
Our final stop in Dallas was the library of another notorious American President, George W. Bush. I’ve not had a great deal of experience with American politics, but visiting the library was interesting enough, even if only to understand the purpose behind the library legacy that each president leaves behind.
During our stay in Texas, we also visited San Antonio for a walk through the Alamo Mission, and Fort Worth – Dallas’ twin city – to visit the famed stockyards. There was more to see of course in the city, including the ranch from the popular TV show ‘Dallas’, and Cowboys football stadium, but I’ve never been one for soaps, and I’m a Steelers fan!
Dallas was, on the surface, a lovely city, but any drive through the town will reveal the imbalance between rich and poor for with the United States is renowned, and ultimately – as with most of the places we visited in the country, it felt a bit run down when judged as one of the wealthier cities in a wealthier state in what is sometimes referred to as a free country.