Dallas, TX During the Holiday Season

Christmas tree outline in lights, image used for Robert Peters educator blog on the holiday season in Dallas, Texas

Like any city, Dallas has a wide array of events occurring during the holiday season. We love celebrating Christmas in Dallas and you’ll see this fact is true. Although it’s extremely unlikely there will be snow, you can still make the most of the holidays in the city. You have the chance to attend great events and see beautiful decorations. Dallas goes all out for the holidays and makes it a memorable time each year. If you’re in Dallas over the holidays, here are some events you should make it a point to try to check out!

Dallas Arboretum

Always a great place to visit, the Dallas Arboretum goes all out for Christmas. The Arboretum features the 12 Days of Christmas, an exhibit of twelve gazebos that are decorated for the holidays with gorgeous decorations that create elaborate scenes. You can also visit the DeGolyer House to see their display of over 800 nutcrackers. Besides these two main events, the Arboretum is decorated with half a million lights, features musical performances, a Christmas market, and reindeer.

Christmas in the Square

Now through the end of December, you can visit Frisco’s Square for endless Christmas activities. There’s an ice rink, food, sleigh rides, and plenty of live entertainment. The square even has man-made snow on Friday and Saturday nights! You’ll also see the incredible Christmas lights choreographed to music.

Grapevine, TX

Though this isn’t exactly in Dallas because Grapevine is a Dallas suburb, it certainly needs to be included on this list. Grapevine is known as “the Christmas Capital of Texas” and for good reason. The entire downtown transforms a month ahead of Christmas, featuring decorations and events all month long. Anything holiday related you could possibly think of, you’ll find in Grapevine.

Dallas by Chocolate tours

If you want to see the Christmas lights in neighborhoods around Dallas, these tours are the way to do it. Each tour takes a few hours, featuring private transportation to see the best lights in the city, all while offering participants chocolate and hot cocoa samples. You even get your own tour guide who takes you from neighborhood to neighborhood.

Lone Star Park

The park is being being transformed into a gorgeous winter wonderland this year. You’ll be able to attend a huge carnival, see Santa, watch acrobatic performances, and try incredible food. This wonderland is part of the lantern festival annually held in Houston, so make sure to visit the over-sized Chinese lantern displays.

Prairie Lights

Another Dallas suburb, Grand Prairie, offers beautiful Christmas lights that are worth visiting. There are over four million lights you can drive through and see. You can even stop in a small Christmas village with Santa, get hot chocolate, and walk through a forest filled with Christmas lights. Finally, as you finish your drive, you’ll pass through the world’s largest animated light tunnel.

Iconic Texas Foods

Some say that everything is bigger in Texas while others go the extra mile and say that everything is simply better in Texas. Everyone might not agree with those first two statements, but something people from all over can agree upon is that Texas has fantastic food. The following are some of the most iconic foods to come out of the state and are certainly worth trying if you ever get a chance to visit.

The Texan BBQ

There is no doubt that BBQ can be done all over the world, but Texas is known for their touch. For some reason, a person can tell the difference between barbecues and some are just plain better than others. Maybe Texas’s secret has to do with the slow-smoking process the meat goes through, or maybe it has to do with the marinade. Whatever it may be, something makes the BBQ in Texas one of a kind.

The Chili

Many know Texas for the chili. The deliciousness and the simplicity of the dish cannot be duplicated anywhere else. One of the key differences between this chili and others is that not one bean will be found, which is quite unusual because many people think of beans as a staple in chili.

Chicken Fried Steak

Everything tastes better fried, and that is something that Texans took to heart since the state is also known for chicken fried steak. The gravy is just the cherry on top, and it definitely makes the meal complete. This dish is one you do not want to miss.

The Queso

There is no doubt that the Latin culture has fused into the Texas culture in a few ways. One of the most beloved ways is how it has transformed food in the state. Queso is just melted cheese and some chili peppers added to the top of some Mexican food along with chips. Though that might sound simple, it takes real skill to make quality queso.

Pop over All

This may not sound great to health enthusiasts, but a good Texan will likely choose a Dr. Pepper before they reach for any other beverage. In fact, most Texans will likely push a bottle of water away if its standing in the way of a Dr. Pepper, which can be found throughout the state.

Pies in Texas

Every state has a sweet that they are known for, and Texas is no different. This state is known for pecan pies. It would be hard to find a good Texan home without pecan pies at least a few times each year. This is especially true during the holidays though pecan pies go well with any season.

These are just some of the foods that Texas is known for though there are others like the infamous Texas fair foods where almost all foods are deep fried, including Twinkies. At the end of the day, these types of foods may be duplicated elsewhere, but they can only be truly made in Texas.

How to Help Those Affected by Hurricane Harvey

Aerial shot of the eye of a storm, a large, swirling, white cloud, image used for Robert Peters blog about how to help those affected by hurricane harvey

When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, it led to widespread destruction and quite a few deaths. It was a disaster on a scale that Texas hasn’t ever seen before. Flooding occurred in the city and in many miles of the surrounding area, leading to numerous people evacuating and having to be rescued by emergency professionals. Though Dallas wasn’t buffeted like Houston, the entire state feels the repercussions of the hurricane and wants to find some way to help out, much like the rest of the country. Here are some ways to help those affected by Harvey and continue the process of healing for Texans.

Volunteer your time

Immediately after a hurricane, there’s often a need for trained professionals who have skills that can benefit local groups trying to help the community. Any help is good help, but make sure you find somewhere that actually needs volunteers and you fit the necessary qualifications before heading to Houston to help. Volunteers are vitally important, but immediately following a disaster, the people that are needed the most are those with experience to handle emergency and disaster situations.

Like many of us saw in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, rebuilding efforts take years. If you aren’t qualified or do not have the opportunity to provide assistance shortly after Harvey, there will be plenty more opportunities to volunteer your time and help out the community. Groups will be working on rebuilding the city for a long amount of time, so plan ahead and find a time to offer help to make sure those devastated by the hurricane are not forgotten.

Donate to a great charity

If you decide to donate money, you want to make sure it’s to a reputable charity. Utilize Charity Navigator to research the legitimacy of a charity before sending them money; you want your donation to actually be used to help Harvey victims. If you choose to donate to an individual, make sure you do your research first to determine whether or not it’s a legitimate person in need. After a natural disaster, monetary donations usually do the most good because unskilled volunteers can make the situation more difficult to manage and too many unnecessary items leads to waste.

Donate goods

I know I just mentioned that donating goods after a natural disaster can lead to waste, but there are some items that are actually needed. Before simply sending items you think are needed, do your research and find a charity that’s specifically asking for different items. Then, buy those items. The goods most commonly needed are food, clean water, pet supplies, and medical supplies.

Raise awareness

If you’re unable to donate your time or money, simply raising awareness can be hugely beneficial to those in need. Share articles with up-to-date information and suggestions for where to donate. The more people that are aware of the channels to make donations through and how to help out, the better.

Brief History of Dallas, Texas

Dallas, Texas

Dallas, Texas is a place filled with rich history and has cultivated many great people and moments throughout its existence and continues to be a solid breeding ground for excellence. However, many people outside of its residents do not know much about its humble beginnings so let’s take a look at a brief history of the city nicknamed “The Big D.”

Currently located on the Trinity River right in the center of Dallas County in North Central Texas, it was founded by John Neely Bryan in 1839 in what was originally known as the Three Forks area. Bryan, at the time, was actually on a mission to establish a trading post for Indians and settlers. He quickly recognized the advantages of locating this area as it was the easiest river crossing location and also was placed on what would soon be established as the Preston Trail. Dallas County formed in 1846 and Dallas was assigned as a temporary county seat. It became a permanent county seat through a vote in 1850 over Hord’s Ridge and Cedar Springs. Then in 1856, it was granted its official town charter by the Texas legislature and Dr. Samuel Pryor became its first mayor.

Dallas, during its early stages, was a major service center for the rural areas around with its many amenities such a dry goods store, groceries, a drug store, insurance agency, boot and shoe shop, brickyards and saddle shops. It also had its weekly newspaper known as the Dallas Herald. Businessmen in Dallas were aware that the key to economic expansion came through transportation in and out of the region. So when attempts to navigate the Trinity River, they then focused on securing rail service and was able to attract the Houston and Texas Central in 1872 and the Texas and Pacific in 1873. These acquisitions made Dallas one of the first rail crossroads in Texas. With cotton being the region’s premier cash crop, Dallas found itself in an ideal locational position as Elm Street became the market for cotton.

By the turn of the twentieth century, Dallas had a population of 42,638 saw itself as the leading book, drug, jewelry, and wholesale liquor market in the Southwest. It was also the world’s leading inland cotton market while remaining number one in the world in the manufacture of saddlery and cotton-gin machinery. By 1950 the population grew to 434,462, and during that period, it became the nation’s third-largest technology center due to the growth of companies like Ling-Tempco-Vaught (LTV) and Texas Instruments. During the 1960s’ however, Dallas experienced its most tragic event in the assassination of then-President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, as he was riding through Dealey Plaza. This was only a mere yards from where John Neely Bryan first settled in the city in 1841. Debates swirled as to how they should commemorate the event for about twenty-five years until the Sixth Floor museum opened in the former Texas School Book Depository. Then in 1993, Dealey Plaza was recognized as a National Historic Landmark District and became Dallas’ second after Fair Park.

Currently, Dallas serves a population of over one million and is a hub of transportation for the western US with its two commercial airports, Dallas Love Field and the Dallas Ft-Worth International airport which is the second largest airport in the country.

8 Famous People from Dallas, Texas

dallas skyline at night

Besides being home to incredible sites and food, Dallas is also home to many famous people. Various well-known actors, singers, athletes, and philanthropists have come from Dallas, which makes us proud to call it our home. It’s also likely that you may see some of these people while walking around the city. While you may want to ask them for an autograph or picture, just don’t bother them too much!

Jensen Ackles

Jensen Ackles is best known for his role in the television series, Supernatural. This series has been running for around twelve years and shows no signs of slowing down. Ackles has been on the show since its beginnings. He loves Texas and still lives in the state.

Usher

Usher is a musician from Dallas, Texas who has led an illustrious career from a young age. He’s received various rewards for his music and often appears on the Billboard Top 100 charts. Besides being a musician, Usher has also acted and participates in various other ventures.

George W. Bush

The 43rd president of the United States, George W. Bush also served as the governor of Texas for five years before being elected president. Bush comes from a family that has lived in Texas for many years and remains here today. You can even visit his presidential library in Dallas.

Selena Gomez

Selena Gomez is a singer and actress from Dallas. She became famous after her role in Wizards of Waverly Place on Disney Channel. Since then, she’s acted in various television shows and movies and even has her own production company. She also has a singing career and has released multiple albums.

Ernie Banks

Ernie Banks was a famous baseball player for the Chicago Cubs. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Many consider Banks one of the best baseball players ever. He also played baseball during the time when teams were still segregated. He was voted baseball’s MVP two years and was a National League All-Star for 11 seasons. Unfortunately, Banks passed away in 2015 after his incredible career.

Melinda Gates

Melinda Gates is the wife of Bill Gates and has made her mark as an incredible philanthropist. Gates was valedictorian when she graduated high school and went on to earn degrees from Duke University in economics and computer science. She began working at Microsoft and witnessed the company’s success. Now, Gates works as a prominent philanthropist with her organization, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which works toward providing healthcare and education around the world.

Robin Wright

Robin Wright is currently best known for her role as Claire Underwood in House of Cards. However, she’s also starred in: The Princess Bride, Forrest Gump, and Wonder Woman, along with many other movies. Wright is involved with various philanthropic pursuits focusing mainly on human rights.

LaMarcus Aldridge

LaMarcus Aldridge is a professional basketball player who initially played basketball at the University of Texas and now plays for the San Antonio Spurs. He has been selected as an NBA-All Star five times.

How to Get Involved with a New Community

sunset view of a city, image used for robert peters educator blog on how to get involved with a new community

Moving to a new community is a major step in anyone’s life, especially if you don’t know anyone there outside of your immediate family (or anyone else at all). No matter why you’re moving, whether for a job, for pleasure, or some other reason, it’ll be a huge adjustment. While it may seem difficult to branch out and get to know people in the community, it’s important to do so if you want to be happy in your new home. The best way to get to know other people and learn more about your community is by getting involved with events that take place there.

Volunteer somewhere

Every community is bound to have a group of philanthropies you can get involved with. Find a cause you care about and join the local group. You do not have to donate hours and hours each week; attending a couple of events and helping out or volunteering once a month gives you the opportunity to meet people and make a genuine difference in the community.

Start a new hobby

If there’s something you’ve always wanted to try, such as cooking, writing, or a certain kind of craft, start pursuing that interest now. You’ll be able to find other people in your community who are also interested in that hobby and you can start a club that meets regularly to work on their skills. Maybe there’s already an existing club in your area that you can join. Check the local library or community centers to find advertisements for these meetings. It’s a great opportunity to do something you’re interested in while also getting to know your neighbors.

Attend local events

By attending local events, you’re showing your support for the community and you’ll also get a better feel about the culture of your new community. Local events provide you with something to do and they’re often free or low-cost. You can meet people at these events and easily start a conversation! Whether it’s a fundraiser for a local charity, an event at the school, or a community-wide block party, attending local events is a fantastic way to get involved with your neighborhood.

Explore the neighborhood

If no events are currently happening, just take time to explore your new community. Take a walk one day and head to a local park or street where a lot of businesses are located. Take time to read flyers and check up on local news. The more familiar you are with where buildings and landmarks are situated in your town, the more at home you’ll feel.

Patronize local businesses

If you’re looking for somewhere to get food or need to buy groceries, consider patronizing local businesses. It provides a great opportunity to get to know the local business owners and also gives you a feel for what the neighborhood is like. You’ll see people who live around you and can also help the local businesses continue operating, which always makes for a healthier and happier community.

Best Restaurants in Dallas, Texas

One of the best parts about a new city is having the opportunity to experience all of the incredible food it has to offer. Dallas is no exception as far as culinary greatness is concerned. You can find a wide-range of incredible places to eat in Dallas, from casual food courts to fine dining restaurants. Look over this list and choose a place that appeals to you, or do research on your own to find other incredible restaurants in the Dallas area.

Pappas Bros. Steakhouse

One of the pricier restaurants in Dallas, Pappas Bros. Steakhouse is sure to be worth the cost. It’s truly the best steakhouse in the city and visitors from all over choose to dine at this establishment. A family-run restaurant, Pappas Bros. Steakhouse is dedicated to quality and service and never wants to disappoint customers. If the fine dining experience at the restaurant isn’t for you, keep an eye out for one of the Pappas food trucks!

Kenny’s Wood Fired Grill

Kenny’s Wood Fired Grill takes pride in offering a twist on classic American dishes. Consider stopping by Kenny’s for brunch or to enjoy some of their smoked gouda mac and cheese. Kenny’s has other affiliated restaurants throughout Texas, such as Kenny’s Burger Joint, Kenny’s Italian Kitchen, or Kenny’s Smoke House.

Pecan Lodge

Pecan Lodge is considered one of the best barbecue joints in Dallas, and with good reason. Started by a couple who wanted to spend more time with family and honor traditions, Pecan Lodge was a small stand at a farmers’ market before it became the restaurant it is today. Sticking to traditional wood-firing techniques and family recipes has made Pecan Lodge a huge success and these are aspects the owners refuse to deviate from.

Jimmy’s Food Store

Known as an incredible Italian restaurant in Dallas, Jimmy’s Food Store has been delighting patrons for decades. Before opening this restaurant, the family ran a small grocery store that they continued running for years after the beginning of the restaurant. The current restaurant opened in 2006 after extensive fire damage destroyed the old store. Now, all kinds of Italian foods are served, from various Italian desserts to dishes specific to a certain location in Italy.

Easy Slider
One of the most recent restaurants on the list, Easy Slider started out as a food truck (and still has one driving around today). Now, the restaurant has a permanent location that patrons can visit to order their favorite sliders or sample some of the incredible new recipes.

Great Day Trips from Dallas, Texas

Image of Texas state capitol in Austin, Texas. Used for Robert Peter blog about great day trips from Dallas, Texas.

Though there’s nearly an endless supply of activities to enjoy in Dallas, a plethora of day trip opportunities surrounds the city as well. If you’re spending only a weekend in Dallas, take time to explore the city itself and make plans to come back another time for some of the great day trips. But, if you recently moved to Dallas or are visiting for a longer period of time, definitely take a look at the incredible places close to the city!

 

Austin

Distance: 3 hours

Austin is located only a few hours from Dallas and also serves as the state capitol. Considered one of the most stunning capitols, visitors can take tours that are free to the public. You can choose a guided tour or wander around yourself, but either promises to be a great experience. Spend the rest of your day exploring the city and trying the great food.

 

Enchanted Rock

Distance: 4 hours

This park has the typical outdoor attractions, such as hiking and camping, but the true attraction are the rocks in the center of the park. Enchanted Rock is named for the giant pink granite rocks that visitors can climb, stargaze, or have a picnic at.

 

Jefferson

Distance: 2.5 hours

If you enjoy history and old homes, Jefferson is a town you have to visit. You’ll love the old, historic homes, some of which you can even tour. If you want to stay overnight, many of the older homes also serve as bed and breakfasts. Since Jefferson is located close to the Big Cypress Bayou, visitors can easily take a tour of the bayou in a riverboat as well.

 

Arbuckle Wilderness Park

Distance: 2 hours

The Arbuckle Wilderness Park is a perfect day trip for families; it’s home to many wild animals you’ll definitely get to see as you travel through the 200 acres of the park. Some of the animals even come up to your vehicle! If you go to this park, you might want to camp overnight at Turner Falls State Park since it’s so close and home to beautiful landscapes.

 

Tyler

Distance: 1.5 hours

While Tyler is more commonly associated with business and retail in Texas, if you go at the right time of the year, you’ll see stunning fall leaves. You can drive around and look at the leaves or you can visit the Tyler Rose Garden, which is the largest in the country. If you choose to visit in the spring, the Tyler Azalea Trail is in full-bloom and makes for a beautiful walk.

 

Fort Worth

Distance: 40 minutes

Fort Worth is often referred to as Dallas’s twin city, but it has a much more laid back atmosphere than Dallas. The city contains an endless amount of cultural and historical attractions, such as museums, art galleries, and old houses and buildings.

 

Turner Falls

Distance: ~2 hours

Turner Falls is the largest waterfall in Oklahoma and just a short trip from Dallas. There’s a state park situated around the falls, which visitors can explore and hike the various trails. You’ll see caves, streams, beautiful plants and trees, and even have a chance to hike through portions of the Arbuckle Mountains. You can camp here overnight and there are even beaches and places to swim.

Best Attractions to See When Visiting Dallas, Texas

Image for Robert Peters blog post on the top attractions to see when taking a visit to Dallas, Texas.

Whether you’re a longtime resident of Dallas or merely visiting for a weekend, there are lots of sights to see and experience. Everyone can definitely find something to do in Dallas, whether it’s tasting great food, going shopping, or visiting historical landmarks. Plan your trip ahead of time and make an effort to see as much of this wonderful city as you can; regardless of what you decide to see, you’ll have an incredible time. No matter where your interests lie, find time to visit some of these great attractions.

Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza

This museum is all about John F. Kennedy; it’s also reportedly from where the murderer of the president fired his shots. The museum is filled with exhibits and memorabilia related to the life, presidency, and death of JFK. If you visit, make sure to check out the replica Oval Office and the many historical videos kept in the museum. If you’re tired of walking outside, there’s a 15-acre park attached to the museum you can stroll around after touring the museum.

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens

If the weather’s nice and you feel like spending time outside, these gardens are stunning. Spanning nearly 70 acres, there are 19 different gardens you can wander through, filled with shady trees and beautiful flowers. There are plenty of places to have a picnic, so enjoy some time outside; you definitely won’t lack space. The Arboretum and Botanical Gardens is also attached to the White Rock Lake and Park, so you can spend even more time in nature.

Reunion Tower

This skyscraper is one of the most distinctive features of Dallas’s skyline. It’s a globe that sits on top of supporting pillars and provides views overlooking the entire city. The globe is covered with lights that are eye-catching and make it impossible to miss when it’s lit up at night. In 2011, extensive renovations were done to Reunion Tower, which now has a revolving restaurant that gives diners a view of the entire city while they eat. There’s also the Geo-Deck observation room from which visitors can view the city.

Dallas Museum of Art

Opened more than 100 years ago in 1903, the Dallas Museum of Art is home to 25,000 art pieces from all over the world. There are many permanent collections you can visit, spanning from Ancient Egypt to Claude Monet and more. In addition to the normal art pieces, there are always a few temporary art installations that visitors can experience.

Nasher Sculpture Center
In addition to the Dallas Museum of Art, the city abounds in many other art museums and exhibits. If you enjoy art, find time to visit the Nasher Sculpture Center. Using a mix of indoor and outdoor exhibits, the Nasher Sculpture Center has beautiful statues you can spend hours looking at, such as Picasso, Rodin, and Ernst, to name a few. This sculpture museum is incredibly modern and will be a pleasant contrast to the Dallas Museum of Art.