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.

Best Historic Sites in Texas

The Alamo at night, lit up, image used for Robert Peters blog about historic sites in Texas

Texas is a huge state that’s home to many incredible historic landmarks. This state has a rich history that’s gone on for centuries, even before it was known as “Texas.” Some people think of Texas as merely desert, but that’s far from the truth. The state has endless amounts of natural beauty, often right next to historic sites that helped decide the future of the Texan people and influenced the country as a whole. While there are many more historic sites to see than these few, these places are definitely some you should check out when you visit Texas.

The Alamo

First on this list because it’s likely the best known, the Alamo is a common name when discussing American history, even though not everyone may know exactly what happened here. “Remember the Alamo!” is an oft repeated phrase, referencing the historic, and horrific, battle that took place at this site. The Alamo was a fight between less than 200 American soldiers fighting for autonomy for Texas from Mexico. Though the soldiers were greatly outnumbered, they displayed extreme bravery and included notable historic figures, such as Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett. A 13 day siege occurred during the Texas Revolution of 1836 and remains etched in the minds of Texans.

Point Isabel Lighthouse

Not many people would think of Texas as a place to see lighthouses, but the Point Isabel Lighthouse is stunning. Port Isabel is one of the oldest towns in Texas and was used to direct sailors into the 1900s. Now, the lighthouse and area around it are part of the extensive Texas State Park system.

Texas State Capitol

Located in Austin and built in 1888, the Texas State Capitol is now recognized as a national landmark. People can visit the Capitol on a daily basis and see beautiful architecture while also getting an inside look at the Texan government.

San Antonio Missions

In San Antonio, you can visit the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. In this park are Missions San Jose, San Juan, Espada, and Concepcion which were built during the 17th-19th centuries. The Alamo is actually the oldest of the San Antonio missions, but has achieved fame for the battle fought there. Visiting these missions will let you learn a lot about Spanish and Indian history, in addition to that of Texas.

The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza

The Texas School Book Depository is the site that Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated President John F. Kennedy. Oswald shot JFK from the sixth floor on November 22, 1963. Now, visitors can tour the building, which has been converted into a museum dedicated to JFK’s life and presidency.

San Jacinto Battlefield

For Texans, this site is one of the most popular in the entire state. The San Jacinto Battlefield is the location where Texas officially gained its independence. There is now the San Jacinto Monument and Museum on the site of the battlefield that visitors can see and learn more about the battle and Texan history.

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.

The Top 10 National and State Parks of Texas

Texas is known for it’s rich history in the development of our nation, but it’s physically characterized by breath-taking scenery. When you think about the landscape of the Lone Star state, images of flat desert come to mind, but Texas is full of high peaks and low caves. Below is a list of top 10 national and state parks to go out and explore:

Big Bend

1. Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park

Big Bend National Park and it’s neighbor, Big Bend Ranch State Park, both sit on the border of the U.S. and Mexico. The Rio Grande runs through both parks which encompass and protect a large portion of the Chihuahua desert. The two parks offer more than 200 miles of hiking trails, some of which can be completed in a day. Notable sites within the park include Chisos Basin and Rio Grande Village.

 

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA2. Caddo Lake State Park

A Native American legend claims Caddo Lake was formed when one of the Caddo Chiefs failed to obey the Great Spirit. The Great Spirit retaliated with an earthquake which created and filled the lake. Today, the cypress swamp of Caddo Lake State Park is an excellent location to camp, hike and kayak.

 

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3. Longhorn Caverns State Park

Once a refuge for ice age animals, Native American peoples, pioneer settlers, Confederate soldiers and outlaws, Longhorn Caverns State Park is now attraction for all. The limestone caverns were formed by an underground river that dwindled away thousands of years ago. The naturally cool temperature of the caverns (68F) makes this destination ideal to visit during the summer months. While there is no overnight camping allowed, there are daily tours available.

 

padre island

4. Padre Island National Seashore

Located off the southern coast of Texas, the Padre Island National Seashore is a constantly changing coastline of dunes and tidal flats. One of the island’s greatest attractions, Kemp’s ridley sea turtles nest their eggs along the coast. If you have a chance to visit, don’t miss the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico.

 

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5. Enchanted Rock State Natural Area

The Enchanted Rock, a massive pink granite dome, is the focal piece of this Texan park, located in the plains west of Austin. Visible for miles in the area, this rock is has been exposed for (as geologists estimate) more than one billion years. A short .6 mile hike will lead you up to spectacular views of the park.

 

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6. Monahans Sandhills State Park

Located near the town of Monahans, Monahans Sandhills State Park has sand dunes that can up to 70 feet tall. This is an ideal location for recreational activities like sand-boarding, sand surfing and sand football.

 

kickapoo-Caverns

7. Kickapoo Cavern State Park

With 18 miles of trails available to birders, hikers and mountain bikers, this park has more to offer below the plains of the southwest. This state park has 20 caves, the largest of which is open to the public via guided flashlight tours. The park has something to offer to animal lovers in particular, visitors can watch Mexican free tailed bats emerge from the caves from March through October.

 

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8. Hueco Tanks Park and Historic Site

Once inhabited by the people of Jornada Mogollon, the Hueco Tanks Park and Historic Site are know for the pictographs left behind by previous cultures. There are more than 200 face designs left behind by the Mogollon, as well as pictographs from the Apaches and Kiowas.

 

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9) Pedernales Falls State Park

Whether you want to climb over the limestone rocks along the Pedernales River or wade in the low flow of the river, this park is full of gorgeous scenery. Be careful of the highly variable levels of the river, when it is low it is ideal for swimming.

 

Lighthouse-Peak

10) Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Home to the second largest canyon in the U.S., this park has 30 miles of biking, hiking and equestrian trails.  You may also see Longhorn steers grazing along these trails, part of official Texas state longhorn herd is known to wander around the edge of the park.