Everything is bigger in Texas.
Yes, in Texas size matters.
At least, that’s what most Texans want you to believe! Whether its Texas-sized chicken fried steak smothered in gravy, boot-scottin’ country & western bars, Sam Moon’s bling and fashion accessories stores, the Texas State Fair, Highland Park mansions or the Dallas’ Cowboy’s Stadium, it’s all bigger than real life. Dallas is serious about its drama!
15 Things To Know Before You Go To Dallas
If you’re attending ASAE’s 2012 Annual Meeting and Expo, August 11-14, here are some things you should know before you go.
1. Cattle in Downtown Dallas?
Most of the time, longhorns and steer don’t roam the downtown streets of Dallas. Twice daily you can see a cattle drive in our neighboring city of Fort Worth. Only during Texas’ Stampede, a Texas rodeo or Texas State Fair do you see a real cattle drive through downtown Dallas’ streets. If you’re intent on seeing a real Longhorn, visit Fuel City where you can fill your SUV limousine, take a quick swim, get some of Dallas’ best tacos and take pictures of real Texas Longhorns. Or just visit Pioneer Plaza outside of the Dallas Convention Center (DCC) to see a bronze re-creation of a Texas cattle drive.
2. It’s A Dallas Heat Wave
During the summer, a cool-front means the temps will be in the high 90s or just hitting 100 degrees. Pay attention to the morning weather reports and when meteorologists say it’s too hot to be outside for very long, don’t try to hike from Uptown to the DCC, unless you want to be soaked in sweat. Dress in layers as outside will be hot but inside the DCC will be cold.
3. Do The Dallas-Do: Big Helmet Hair
While it’s not required to visit, you might find your hair growing, teased and turning blond during your stay. We’re not sure if it’s in the water, wind or part of the native pollens in the atmosphere. Some scientists call it the Big Bang Theory. From Farrah Fawcett to Governor Ann Richards to Mary Kay Ash to the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, Texas Big Hair arrives on the scene before the rest of the woman’s body does.
4. Dress Texas-style
Can I wear a cowboy hat and boots in Dallas? Well bless your heart. Of course you can. If you’re going to do it Texas’ style, go for a ten gallon cowboy hat. Round toed Ropers (as compared to those designer pointy toed boots) are preferred, especially if you want to do some Texas Two Steppin’. Add starched, creased Wranglers that are one size too small instead of Levi’s if you want to be an authentic Dallas Cowchick or Cowboy.
5. Do All Texans Carry Guns?
Who knows? They’re concealed.
6. Isn’t Dallas Very Conservative?
Well, yes and no. While it is home to former President George W. Bush and Ross Perot and some of the largest conservative mega-churches in the nation, it is also home to Dallas County Latina lesbian Sheriff Lupe Valdez and the nation’s largest LGBT-inclusive church. That’s two-sides of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank’s freshly minted coin. Bottom line, Dallasites are friendly, welcoming, and hospitable, and you can’t help but fall in love with their Texas charm.
7. Is Dallas’ Favorite Pastime Really Shopping?
Well precious, that’s like asking if cowboys wear boots. You’d better believe it! It’s as prestigious as the hours spent setting, perming and waving big hair. It’s better than Dallas’ least favorite past time: sitting in traffic. Visit Neiman Marcus Flagship Store in downtown Dallas or take DART Rail northbound Red Line train (destination sign Parker Road) at any downtown station and get off at Park Lane Station. Then take the shuttle to NorthPark Center, the only mall built around a 1.4 acre park in the nation. It’s a high-end mall with many famous designer boutique shops (Burberry, Barneys, Hugo Boss, Ted Baker, True Religion, etc.) and of course big anchor stores like Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Macys and Dillards.
And if you’ve never been in a Neiman Marcus store, you have to at least walk in and experience the customer service!
8. Dallas Barbeque Or Tex-Mex?
That’s like asking a parent which child they love more. (They all have a favorite but just won’t say it out loud!)
Texas Barbeque and Tex-Mex are equally loved. Whether it’s Smoke, Lockhart Smoke House, The Foundry & Chicken Scratch, Mi Cocina West Village, Mesa Veracruz or BEEs Enchiladeria (Best Enchiladas Ever), you must try both before you leave. You’ll understand why most Texans either bleed queso (burnt orange-UT), barbecue sauce (maroon-Tx A&M) or jalapeño red (Tx Tech).
9. Where’s The Best Place To Eat?
Depends on what you’re in the mood to eat. You might want to visit Twisted Root Burger Company (best Dallas Hamburgers including alligator, beef, boar, elk, emu, kangaroo, lamb, ostrich, turkey, venison and of course vegetarian – don’t pass up the fried green beans either) or Cane Rossi in Deep Ellum.
Or swing just a few minutes south to Dallas’ hottest spot, Bishop Arts District with 25 dining options from Dallas’ best Sushi (Zen Sushi) to Tillman‘s to the hole in the wall authentic Greek Cafe to the new upscale seafood Driftwood (next to Bolsa Mercado) and uber-new bistro Boulevardier. After you dine, stroll and shop at more than 26 boutique stores.
If you’re still looking for more options, take the DART to City Place and walk a couple blocks to the West Village. You’ll find lots of retail and dining options.
If you want some inexpensive, southern food from a 56-year old diner where everyone is hon (short for honey) and hugs are plentiful, visit Norma’s Cafe in North Oak Cliff. You’ll swear that Flo and Alice will come walking out at anytime.
(PS, I’m partial to the Bishop Arts District and Norma’s as they are just a few blocks from my home in the historic Winnetka Heights. Come see where I check into Foursquare the most!)
10. Tumbleweeds And Tractor Trucks?
Are there tumbleweeds on Dallas’ Freeways? Well, aren’t you the most precocious little varmint. No. Just traffic and lots of it too! We deal with the same thing all other highway departments deal with, litter. That’s why our number one motto is “Don’t Mess With Texas.” You will find tumbleweeds in West Texas and the Panhandle though. And some visitors often mistake Dallas big hair for tumbleweeds too.
11. Small Talk Dallas Style
Do I have to like the Dallas Cowboys to have a conversation with locals? No, but you’re more likely to have a successful conversation if you like the Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Mavericks, Dallas Stars or FC Dallas Soccer. If you’re not a sports fan, just start talking about cooking tips for tailgating and you’ll do fine.
12. Everything In The Shape Of Texas
Is there anything that is not made in the shape of Texas? Nope! All products can be improved by making it in the shape of Texas. Seriously, have you ever seen a tortilla chip made in the shape of New York? Just sayin…
13. Get Your Howdy On
Don’t be afraid of everyone’s “Howdy, howdy,” or “How yall doin’?” There’s no ulterior motive…with the exception of wondering how you might look with Big Hair.
14. It’s Not All The Wild, Wild West
Does Dallas have any cultural affairs or is everything honky-tonk western? Well, bless your heart. There you go again. Downtown’s Dallas Arts District offers 68 acres and 19 blocks of museums, restaurants and performance centers with many unusual cosmopolitan venues.
15. Start With The Giant Texas-Size Indoor Tailgate Party And End With A Night At The Fair
Don’t miss ASAE’s opening night celebration at Dallas Cowboy’s Stadium. What to wear? Your favorite sports jersey and jeans of course. You won’t want to miss the Grammy award winning duo Big & Rich along with a Texas-size slew of other famous people!
And if you miss the closing party at the Texas State Fairgrounds, you’ll mist the biggest Texas event of all. You’ll see where all those fried-fair-foods get their start in this art deco venue. KC and the Sunshine Band, Vanilla Ice and Professor D will perform. It will end with fireworks, video projected on jet sprayed water fountains and plenty of food.
Wondering what to wear? Dallas’ own Sassy Steve (and my neighbor in the ‘hood) shares tips on what to wear for these events.
BTW, if you’re looking for a session to attend on Monday, August 13 at 1:30, come to my presentation Using Brain Science So Education Sticks in room C144!
What questions do you have about Dallas, Texas? Share your favorite Dallas tips too.