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"Real Texas" Experience

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Washington DC...
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"Real Texas" Experience

Hi All!

I am going to be in Dallas for 5 days (Feb 27th - Mar 1st) although I will only really have about two full days to sightsee.

My hotel is by DFW and I will have a rental car.

I'd like to get a "real Texas" experience (if possible) while I am in Dallas. The only thing I have on my list of things to do is Dealey Plaza/TSBD as I am a huge history buff.

I will be traveling with my wife and 1 year old daughter so any sort of night life is pretty much out of the picture.

I looked at the three day trip suggestion and while some of that stuff looks cool, we are not really into art.

Can you provide me with some suggestions? We'd like to eat at a "real Texan" BBQ or steak joint. And I am talking one of those places that you see on King of the Hill (72 oz. steaks etc... if those really exist).

Also, is there any desert or mountains or wilderness within a reasonable drive of Dallas?

I know this may be a stretch but any help would be GREATLY appreciated.



San Antonio, TX
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1. Re: "Real Texas" Experience

King of the Hill references the Big Texan in Amarillo http://bigtexan.com/

There are great steak/barbecue places near Dallas - some to check Sammy's Barbecue, Schoepf’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que, Perini Ranch Steakhouse, Pecan Lodge in the farmer's market. I only visit DFW about half a dozen times a year and we have great barbecue options nearer, so there may be som others locals will recommend.

Washington DC...
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2. Re: "Real Texas" Experience


How far would I need to drive to see the rolling hills/desert/armadillos? Is there anything like that near Dallas?

I hate to ask about the Texas stereotypes... but I live in the mid-Atlantic... Most of where I live is the same five box stores over and over again...

Austin, Texas
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3. Re: "Real Texas" Experience

I think you're going to find that most of Texas, at least in and near the major cities, is also the same five big box stores over and over again, too. The Dallas suburbs look just like Arlington, Alexandria, or Rockville.

Also, keep in mind that Dallas is a huge city in one of the largest metro areas in the country, so it's very urban. You'll find cocktail lounges, sushi restaurants, and wine bars just like you have in DC. There isn't much of the "real Texas" stereotype in that immediate area. Ft. Worth does still have some of it in the Stockyards and Sundance Square areas, and it's a relatively short drive between the two. If you want to see something different from Dallas, it's going to be the only place you can really go with your short amount of time.

To see the Texas of old movies and TV shows, you need to drive for hours. The Big Bend region will give you that, but it's at least an eight hour drive from Dallas. Amarillo, home of the Big Texan Steakhouse from King of the Hill, etc. is about 5 1/2 hours from Dallas. You can get rolling hills and nice scenery a bit closer if you drive down to Central Texas and take a drive through the Hill Country. Austin is about a 3 hour drive from Dallas, and you can get into some nice scenery less than an hour west of Austin, but it's not desert until you go several more hours west.

Octoby mentioned Perini Ranch Steakhouse, which is fabulous and very old Texas, but it's not really near Dallas. It's near Abilene, which is about a 3 hour drive west of Dallas.

Edited: 19 February 2014, 19:00
Grapevine, Texas
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4. Re: "Real Texas" Experience

To get your "steak fix" and the "(throwback) Real Texas Experience", I second the suggestion of driving the 30 mins west to Fort Worth's Stockyards - you'll see an up close, twice-daily mock Longhorn Cattle Drive, decent steaks at Cattleman's Steakhouse, the option for a Fri/Sat night rodeo (it's the real deal with professional riders), a museum and quite a bit of history with original architecture in the buildings along N. Main @ Exchange. There are a number of shops, inclusive of a couple of western wear (clothing/boots/hats) stores providing custom fit duds - the prices are sure to impress! If you're up for a little more quality in your steak or looking for some game meat options, Chef Tim Love's Lonesome Dove is there waiting for you.

While "today's" Stockyard caters primarily to visitors, back in the day, it was a working stockyard, the last stop for rest and supplies before driving cattle north up the Chisholm Trail. The Stockyard Hotel, then-and-now, hosts many guests. http://www.fortworthstockyards.org/

Grapevine neighbors DFW airport to the north. If you have free time surrounding your flight, you might enjoy a few hours along it's historic Main Street lined with shops/boutiques, wine rooms (some TX wines) and restaurants. www.grapevinetexasusa.com/about-grapevine/

Edited: 19 February 2014, 20:07
5. Re: "Real Texas" Experience

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Dallas, Texas
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6. Re: "Real Texas" Experience

Also, beware -- usually, places that do the 72 oz steak challenge aren't really known for having good steak.... just big steak.

Pecan Lodge (at the farmer's market) has great BBQ -- though you'll likely have to stand in line But it's a fun experience.

For more "Western" things, check out the Ft. Worth Stockyards. If you're staying near the airport and have a car, it shouldn't be hard to get there. They also have some good Tex-Mex out there (definitely try different Tex-Mex places while you're down here). They heard (subdued) longhorns down the street a couple of times a day, you can ride a steam engine train, there are lots of Western shops, you can sit on a longhorn, etc. We always take visitors out there. http://www.fortworthstockyards.org/Index.aspx

Though we are still in a drought that has been going on for years, there are no deserts here. According to NOAA, DFW is a humid subtropical climate. http://www.srh.noaa.gov/fwd/?n=dnarrative You'll have to travel quite a ways to find more desert-like climates. For some reason, in the movies and on TV, DFW tends to look a lot like Southern California.... : ) Also, no mountains. Though you can find some pretty areas with rolling hills if you're willing to drive around an hour and half Dinosaur Valley State Park and Fossil Rim (both in Glen Rose, TX) can be quite pretty.

Hope this helps some!

Dallas, Texas
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7. Re: "Real Texas" Experience

For another good true Texas dining experience, go to Babes.. Get Chicken Fried Steak. It's very Texan.

Aubrey, Texas
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8. Re: "Real Texas" Experience

Do the two days include time at TSBD? And are you willing to stay overnight away from the DFW hotel? There's lots of 19th century Texas history and pretty terrain within a 2-3 hour drive from the airport. You could do a loop which includes US Army frontier forts at Jacksboro and Graham, Frontier Texas museum at Abilene, Perini Ranch steakhouse at Buffalo Gap, Hard Eight BBQ at Stephenville, Dinosaur Valley State Park and Fossil Rim Wildlife Center at Glen Rose. Just depends on whether it's a day trip or overnight.

Dallas, Texas
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9. Re: "Real Texas" Experience

The desert and mountains aren't close, but if you want to get a feel for what the terrain here was like before the area was settled, you could go to the Fort Worth Nature Center. It's one of the largest city-owned nature preserves in the US. It has limestone bluffs, prairie, woodlands, marshes, etc. You can see the prickly pears and scrub-type vegetation that seemed so exotic to me when I first moved to Texas. And you might spot an armadillo or two. They also have a prairie dog colony and a bison herd, including a mother and baby white bison.


Arlington, Texas
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10. Re: "Real Texas" Experience

Your 1-yr-old will get a big kick out of the cattle drive. :) I agree the Stockyards is a fun place for family. http://www.fortworthstockyards.org/

If you're a history buff, you might want to consider a trip to the George W. Bush Library at SMU. That is just northeast of downtown Dallas.

The poster who stated that this is a big urban area is right. But the difference is that if you drive 45 minutes north or south, you WILL be "in the country". Lots of green and pastures and yes, even some cattle. :)

If you're staying near DFW, it wouldn't be that far to Roanoke, where I think some of the best Texas food is served at Hard Eight: http://www.hardeightbbq.com/. But you could certainly get your fix in the Stockyards if you decide to head there. :)

Depending on what type of history you like, you could visit the Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame while in Fort Worth. And though you say you are not into museums, the Kimball in Fort Worth has a current exhibit of Samurai armor. http://samurai.kimbellart.org/

(And it may not be fun for wife and child, but if you are staying near DFW, the stadium the Cowboys play in is just south of the airport and so worth a visit, if not a tour. :) http://stadium.dallascowboys.com/