Dallas & Fort Worth: The ultimate twin city road trip
Words by leading travel writer Eleanor Napper.
I walked into the grand lobby of The Joule and was greeted by a lovely team of staff who immediately made me feel at home. This arty, Neo-Gothic hotel is housed in a historical building constructed in 1927 and is set in the heart of downtown Dallas’ central business district. Filled with dramatic art installations, unique retail boutiques, award-winning food and a world class spa, this perfectly positioned hotel was one of the most luxurious places I had stayed in in a long time.
Before getting too settled in, I venture out to the bustling city streets to explore downtown and the nearby shopping destinations. Luxury shopping abounds in Dallas, and I head first to Forty-Five Ten, a premier Dallas boutique with an impressive roster of established and emerging designers from all over the world. And, of course, no trip is complete without a stop at the flagship Neiman Marcus, just a tad further down on Main Street. After shopping, I stop off at the famous Zodiac Room on Level 6 for a drink with a view.
Next, I took the Dallas streetcar to the Bishop Arts District where the local shops carry funky, unique finds that are worth every bit of space in your carry-on. Opportunity Market is my first stop and I’m immediately in love with the handmade jewelry and, most importantly, the mission of the shop to support budding entrepreneurs. At The Wild Detectives I browse their unique book selection and sit down for a coffee before heading back for a dip in the Joule pool.
For dinner, I chose the Lower Greenville neighborhood, where I’m told the locals hang. Dinner at HG Sply Co. has a beautiful rooftop and I was just in time for the sunset. The restaurant was simple and the clean food philosophy convinced me to dive in for the cochinita nachos, topped with pulled pork, salsa and guacamole.
On my last day in Dallas, I took a walk to the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, located in the old Texas School Book Depository building. The museum chronicles the life and legacy of President John F. Kennedy through the lens of his assassination in Dallas on November 22, 1963. It’s sombre, but so interesting. The museum had insightful exhibits and artifacts, and I felt like I’d explored an important piece of American history when I left.
My Dallas trip sadly came to an end, but I was so excited to visit Fort Worth. One of my many childhood dreams was becoming Jessie the cowgirl from Toy Story 2 and, to be perfectly honest, it had never left me. I am not entirely sure why, but the idea has always filled me with excitement and after hearing great things about the cowgirl scene in Fort Worth, I was beyond excited to make my first trip there. I waved goodbye to Dallas, and began my long awaited adventure to the Wild West!
The Omni Fort Worth Hotel, Fort Worth’s largest downtown hotel, was my home for the next few days. The hotel had a very elegant and sophisticated feel and featured a lovely blend of native building materials and ultra-modern glass. I would greatly recommend this hotel to any visitors, travelling for either business or leisure purposes, after a luxurious stay with fabulous hospitality.
After checking in, I headed to the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District, and if you are looking for a true taste of Texas, then is by far the best place for it. The Stockyards was one of the largest stock handling places in the USA and therefore comes with a great deal of fascinating history.
My first mission was to find somewhere to have some lunch and I was totally spoiled for choice with the number of eateries including Riscky’s Steakhouse, Horseshoe Hill, Cooper’s BBQ and Lonesome Dove. After much deliberation, I decided to start the culinary side of my Fort Worth adventure at Horseshoe Hill as it offered a top quality western themed menu. Located on top of the hill on the west side of Exchange Avenue, Horseshoe Hill offers amazing and award-winning recipes. I opted for the ‘The Cowboy Way’ Chicken Fried Steak which was delicious and I also got chatting to some locals who were on the next table along from me. They were all super friendly and helped me devise my Fort Worth bucket list. I knew that if the rest of the city was as good as the food and locals, then I was in for a treat!
I loved exploring the endless number of authentic western wear shops. I will confess that I did splash out on my very own pair of cowgirl boots from the one and only M.L. Leddy’s Boots & Saddlery. The store sells handmade boots and saddles made from the finest custom leather.
The Stockyards are also home to the world’s largest honky-tonk, Billy Bob’s, which is where I decided to spend the rest of my afternoon. It was crazy in there, there was such a buzz about the place with so many options of things to do. There were musicians playing live country music, dozens of bars and restaurants, a massive dance floor and even some real life bull riding! I also happened to be there on the night of free line dancing lessons so I thought I might as well it a go although I can’t say I was a total natural at this!
My favourite part of my Fort Worth trip had to be the National Cowgirl Museum & Hall of Fame. The museum is the only Cowgirl museum in the world and is filled with exhibits, photographs, artefacts and presentations on world class women of the American West who have presented courage, resilience and independence. The museum even featured the one and only Jessie from Toy Story!