When you think of Dallas, the first image that comes to mind is Reunion Tower, which has graced the city's skyline with its flickering orb since 1978. The tower is not only the city's most iconic landmark, but it's also one of the most visited. Unless you're coming to eat or drink in Wolfgang Puck's famed Five Sixty restaurant, the only way up is by purchasing a ticket for the GeO-Deck, a viewing platform that allows guests to get a bird's eye view of the city with the use of interactive touch screens, high-definition zoom cameras and high-powered telescopes.
Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: Reunion Tower is Dallas' most iconic landmark and offers some of the best views of the city.
Ilene's expert tip: Be sure to check out Geo-deck's new digital, interactive experience that lets you build your very own constellation, complete with a unique avatar.
Second in size behind Ronald Reagan's Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, this stunning complex on the Southern Methodist University campus encompasses not only a library and museum but also the George W. Bush Policy Institute and the George W. Bush Foundation. However, most visitors will only see the museum, which features 14,000-square-feet of interactive displays, including a 22-foot tall ravaged steel beam from the World Trade Center and a full-scale walk-through replica of the Bush Oval Office. Also, on view are some of the many gifts given to the President and First Lady from foreign Heads of State. Keep an eye out for special exhibits and events throughout the year.
Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: The George W. Bush Presidential Center is a terrific place for all ages to learn about history and Bush's experiences during his presidency.
Ilene's expert tip: There is a parking lot adjacent to the library or if it's full there is a parking garage located down the street on the SMU campus. This venue is included in Dallas CityPASS.
Boasting over 2000 animals from roughly 400 species, the 106-acre Dallas Zoo, founded in 1888, is the largest and oldest zoological park in the state. But there's more going on here than your usual walk-through animal exhibits. Most of the enclosures have been constructed to replicate the animals' natural environments. Among them include the 11-acre Giants of the Savanna, the only zoo exhibit in the United States to mix elephants and other species in the same habitat. There's also a children's zoo, daily animal demonstrations, and a monorail safari through areas not accessible by foot. Want to take your zoo experience to the next level? Then take a 90-minute behind-the-scenes tour. Check the website for dates and times.
Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: The Dallas Zoo has been nationally recognized by numerous publications as one of the top zoos in the country.
Ilene's expert tip: There are several ways to save on admission: During January and February, entry is offered for $8, or receive $2 off tickets on Mondays and Tuesdays when you ride DART to the Zoo. Dallas Zoo is also listed on CityPass.
Perched atop a sunken freeway in the Dallas Arts District, this 5.2-acre linear park is considered one of Dallas' premier community gathering spots, boasting everything from food trucks and a butterfly garden to special areas allocated for kids, for dogs and for playing games. It is also flush with year-round programs, including fitness sessions, dance lessons, yoga, children's entertainment, musical performances and film screenings. Did we mention this is a great place for a selfie with a backdrop of the Dallas skyline? No wonder this place attracts more than a million visitors a year.
Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: Klyde Warren Park offers an endless supply of free things to do.
Ilene's expert tip: Park for free in the West Village off McKinney Ave and hop on the free trolley to get to the park.
Set along the shores of White Rock Lake, this 66-acre oasis boasts endless seasonal flowers and plant displays as well as an 8-acre, interactive children's garden featuring everything from cascading waterfalls to a treetop canopy walk and two-story treehouse. In addition to educational programs for children and adults, the Arboretum hosts a variety of public events, ranging from art shows to concerts and seasonal festivals. Try to plan your visit in the spring for Dallas Blooms, where over 500,000 blooming bulbs and annuals blanket the entire park with a vibrant display of color.
Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: The Dallas Arboretum is one of the most visited botanical gardens in the country.
Ilene's expert tip: Save $6 on parking by purchasing your parking ticket online before you come. Note that the Arboretum is listed on Dallas CityPASS.
Nestled inside a massive refurbished warehouse in Dallas' Historic West End District, this privately-owned aquatic wonderland is home to countless varieties of marine and animal life (many of which are endangered) from all over the world. In addition to stingrays, piranhas and Orinoco crocodiles, the aquarium boasts a multi-level rain-forest with a waterfall as well as a 20,000-gallon walk-through exhibit filled with sharks. Visitors can also commune with everything from three-toed sloths and manatees to giant river otters, penguins and ocelots. Not-to-be-missed are the animal talks and feeding sessions held throughout the day.
Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: The World Aquarium is jam-packed with enough exhibits and interactive features to keep both kids and adults engaged for hours.
Ilene's expert tip: The manatee and penguin feedings are extremely popular, so plan on getting to the area at least 20 minutes in advance if you want to snag a good viewing spot.
Recently re-opened in a larger location in the West End, the Dallas Holocaust museum not only offers visitors a harrowing glimpse into the Holocaust, but it also addresses other 20th century genocides as well as the American Civil Rights Movement. Among the technologically enhanced exhibits are video testimonies from Holocaust survivors, an original Nazi-era boxcar and numerous items recovered from concentration camps. A centerpiece of the museum is the Dimensions in Testimony Theater (one of only two such theaters in the world), which uses holographic imagery to facilitate real-time interactions with Dallas Holocaust survivor, Max Glauben. Note that the museum is recommended for ages 12 and over.
Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: The Dallas Holocaust Museum is a first of its kind to honor both human rights and the memory of the Holocaust.
Ilene's expert tip: Bank of America cardholders receive free admission to the Museum on the first full weekend of every month. Be sure to check in with guest services upon arrival to reserve a time slot for the Dimensions in Testimony Theater.
Designed by Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate Thom Mayne, this stunning 180,000-square-foot science museum on the outer edge of the Arts District boasts five floors of interactive exhibits focusing on everything from earth and space to geology, paleontology and engineering. Highlights include a children's museum with a dinosaur dig, an earthquake simulator, and a gallery of gems and minerals featuring a 5-foot geode. A good way to start is to take the external glass escalator up to the top and work your way down while enjoying the panoramic views of downtown Dallas.
Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: The Perot Museum is the best place in Dallas for science nerds to geek out.
Ilene's expert tip: Avoid the long lines by securing your tickets online beforehand. You can also save on admission to the Perot Museum with Dallas CityPASS. Check the website for more details.
Whether you're a history buff or a conspiracy theorist, you'll find the Sixth Floor Museum an interesting source of information about the assassination and legacy of President John F. Kennedy. The museum's exhibits contain over 45,000 items, ranging from artifacts to home movies and video footage, documenting Kennedy's presidency through to his final days. One of the highlights of the tour is the Plexiglas enclosed area where Lee Harvey Oswald is believed to have fired the fateful shot. After visiting the museum, be sure to go down to the grassy knoll to gain more perspective about what transpired that tragic day.
Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: The Sixth Floor Museum is one of the most visited attractions in Dallas.
Ilene's expert tip: The museum is also featured on the CityPASS.
Spanning 68-acres and 19 contiguous blocks, the Dallas Arts District is considered as the largest urban entertainment complex in the nation. Not only does the District offer several superb performance venues, including the nationally acclaimed Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center and three world-class museums (the Dallas Museum of Art, the Nasher Sculpture Center and the Crow Collection of Asian Art), it also houses one of the world's largest collections of Pritzker Prize-winning buildings in one location. Other not-to-be-missed gems include the nineteenth-century Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe and a half-acre sculpture walk adjacent to KPMG Plaza.
Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: Between the museums, the architecture and the public art, the Dallas Arts District is the best place to get your fill of eye-candy.
Ilene's expert tip: The best way to fully explore the district is to take one of the 90-minute architecture walking tours offered on the first and third Saturdays of the month. More information is available on the website. Note that there is free admission to the Crow Museum of Asian Art and the Dallas Museum of Art.