As much as I love Arkansas, sometimes it’s good to get out of the state and see how “the other side” lives. For my birthday weekend back in September, Ryan and I took a trip down to Dallas, Texas, mainly to watch the Razorbacks destroy Texas A&M, but also to spend some time getting acquainted with all that Dallas has to offer — and let me tell you, there’s a lot. Visit Dallas set me up with a plan for the weekend that included a little bit of everything.
Dallas really isn’t too far from Little Rock, so after a quick drive south we arrived in the big city and checked into the Adolphus Hotel. If you’re all about the history of buildings like I am, the Adolphus is definitely a place you want to look into. The founder, Adolphus Busch, opened the hotel’s grand doors on Oct. 5, 1912. Busch, also the founder of Anheuser-Busch, created the hotel to be the first posh and high-end hotel in the city. While it is now surrounded by buildings touching the clouds, the Adolphus Hotel was once the tallest building in the state for many years.
More than a hundred years old now, the Adolphus has seen some renovations to keep up with the times while still encapsulating the original grand design. From the lobby to the hotel bar to the room, every detail was immaculate.
After a trip, big or small, exhaustion tends to set in. The staff at the hotel wiped away any thought of fatigue in my mind with how incredibly helpful they were getting us checked in and settled. The room was amazing, to say the least. In a suite-style, there was plenty of room to move around and get comfortable, and the view was hands down my favorite part. A clear blue sky, tall buildings and the hustle and bustle of the city below really welcomed us to this great place.
Going back downstairs, you could stay in the hotel your entire trip and feel like you went out on the town. The French Room Bar transports guests back in time with blue-lacquered accents, a grand fireplace and black marble is the perfect setting for pre- or post-dinner drinks with your special someone, a group of friends or if you’re rolling solo.
Moving along to a slightly different bar, the hotel’s coffee bar was a lifesaver throughout the weekend. I am a Starbucks girl through and through, but the Adolphus stainless steel espresso maker brews actual magic.
Before exploring the city and the nightlife, we made a stop at the Sky Blossom Rooftop Bistro Bar. When I say that I got view after view the entire weekend in Dallas, I truly mean it. This rooftop bar had a fantastic view of the beautiful day. This bar is the perfect spot for after-work drinks or hanging out with the girls, and the food was phenomenal. Serving Asian cuisine, we had fried dumplings and healthy-wrapped eggrolls that were to die for, and the bar’s beautiful cocktails were perfect to pair with one of the last summer days of the year.
Dinner, the most important meal of the day, was enjoyed in the heart of downtown Dallas at what I consider to be the best Italian restaurant I have ever been to, and I don’t say that lightly. My new favorite restaurant, Partenope, is blue and white themed to match the incredible blue skies I witnessed that day. I was able to speak with the man behind the mind-blowing food, the chef, and he told me all about the oven that was brought over from Italy and the other talented chefs working alongside him to produce the greatest Italian food to ever bless my stomach. The restaurant serves Neapolitan-style pizzas baked in the Italian brick oven, panini, pasta, desserts and cocktails. From the start of the meal to the cannelloni, I did not leave a single bite on my plate. Just thinking about Partenope is making me want to hop in my car and drive there this second. I will definitely be going back to Partenope on my next trip.
Our final stop on the first day is only in the city for a limited time: the Immersive Van Gogh Experience. This exhibit is traveling all over the country to stay in a city for a few months before moving on. Because people are so enamored by the experience, the Dallas exhibit has extended its stay to Jan. 3, 2022. If you’ve ever wanted to feel like you are in a painting, this is the exhibit for you. Unlike traditional art exhibits where you walk through various rooms and admire art on your own, the Immersive Van Gogh Experience lets you sit on the floor, comfortably, and the art comes to you through 500,000 cubic feet of projections animating Vincent Van Gogh’s collections. Watch as the art takes over the room and surrounds you as though you are a detail within the painting itself. I’ve been to quite a few art exhibits in my life, and this experience was unlike any other and takes the No. 1 position.
Saturday, day two of my birthday weekend, showed me even more of what makes Dallas so unique and a timeless spot to get away. I’ve heard that the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden is gorgeous in any season of the year, but autumn at the Arboretum is next level. As we all know, it’s pumpkin season, and the Arboretum definitely got the memo with gorgeous arrangements of pumpkins scattered around the grounds and houses built out of pumpkins. The rest of the garden included miles of flowers and beautiful trees to roam through. My advice is to wear some comfy shoes because you will definitely want to spend some time here and walk, walk, walk.
Just a few minutes away was our lunch spot: Smoky Rose. This barbeque restaurant is family-friendly with plenty of things to do besides eat their amazing smoked meats. There’s live music, incredible drinks and, wait for it, cornhole. The restaurant has set up artificial turf for the ultimate cornhole competitions. You know that Ryan and I had to get in there and play a few rounds — I’ll let you decide on who won. Like most places in Dallas, the Smoky Rose is the ideal spot to take your friends out for just some light-hearted fun and memories.
We had to take a brief intermission in our Saturday plans to head to AT&T Stadium for our Hogs. If you were there, then you know that the energy in the stadium was unreal. Whether you’re going to watch the Razorbacks win or another football game, I highly recommend checking out the games that are being played in Dallas and go. Sports fans and supportive partners/friends can all have a good time at a live sporting event.
Back on our Dallas culture trip after a Razorback victory, we went to the Bishop Arts District. This used to be Dallas’ hidden gem, but after word got out of all the things to do at the Arts District, it is now home to some of the city’s most popular restaurants and unique boutique shops. The popular hub is all about shopping local, eating local and living local.
When in Texas, you have to try out the Haywire — a restaurant that bleeds the Lonestar State. On Sunday, the final day of this amazing trip, we stopped at this boutique-style restaurant for brunch. Haywire shows the urban side of Texas that any cowboy or city-slicker can enjoy. The highlight of the interior is a cute little trailer inside the restaurant with a table and chairs inside it. Not only is this so unique, but it’s also a nice intersection between the outdoor/ranch style of life in Texas and the city living. On top of the amazing atmosphere and theme, the food and drinks were incredible, and the prices were even better.
The art tour continued with a visit to Klyde Warren Park, a 5.2-acre deck park that was built over a six-lane freeway connecting Uptown, Downtown and the Arts District. The construct in and of itself is miraculous, but what the city does with this space is just as amazing. There is always something happening in the park with daily programming and food trucks stationed around. The community can get away from the city for a bit for yoga, outdoor concerts, movie screenings and anything else that the city has organized. Just being able to have that natural park setting in such an unusual location is incredible.
The Dallas Museum of Art is a true cultural hotspot. Walking through the museum takes you to different parts of the world and eras of time through art. Starting with works by Renoir, Warhol, O’Keefe and other Western artists, you then journey to collections from Africa, Asia and South America. I highly recommend you map out time in your schedule to include the Dallas Museum of Art because you will want to see everything in the museum, and there are more than 24,000 art pieces to admire and over 5,000 years of history to travel through.
Once you’ve journeyed across the world and through time, walk across the street to the Nasher Sculpture Center. A mixture of modern and contemporary sculptures are riddled throughout the inside of the exhibit and outside in a 1.4-acre outdoor gallery and garden. These sculptures are so fascinating, and it’s amazing to see the detail that the artists put in and the effect that they convey to spectators. The front of the exhibit is made of glass, allowing passersby to see straight through the gallery and out to the beautiful garden.
It’s been a couple of weeks since my trip to Dallas, but I have yet to get it out of my mind. From walking into the Adolphus to loading our bags back into the car, I fell deeply in love with the diverse cultures and history of the city. Words do not do Dallas justice, so book your trip right now to experience it yourself.
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