What To Do On Your Layover In Dallas, Texas

11:37 AM Life in Between 0 Comments

June 8, 2016

Quick Stats
Population: 1.3 million
Climate: Humid, hot, and often prone to storms. On average, there are 234 sunny days per year in Dallas, Texas. The July high is around 96 degrees. The January low is 35.
Getting around:

  1. 1. I rented a car and that made my trip much easier. There are plenty of shuttles from Dallas Fort-Worth airport to rental facilities. Just check with an airport representative to find your boarding location.
  2. 2. You can also utilize the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) for getting around the city.
  3. 3. There are Taxi services available throughout the city and from the airport. Just do your research and make sure you are using a reputable company. 
  4. 4. Of course, you can always go with Uber.  
Family-friendly Rating: 8 out of 10 (It's still a big city. Take the necessary precautions.)
Best time to visit: Sept. - Nov. (Tourist season has died down and the temperatures are more enjoyable.) 
Where to go:
Years ago on a trip from California to New York, I landed in Dallas way behind schedule. The rain was pouring down and flights had been canceled for the night. The airline was kind enough to hook me up with a complimentary hotel stay at a place called "The Night Hotel" (sounds shady, I know). They also gave me a few food vouchers for the airport. Although I had hours to kill that could have been spent having fun, I stayed in a lonely hotel room without the luxury of my luggage to comfort me--I had checked it before the flight, so there was no way of retrieving it for my layover. It was a lesson learned. I was determine to make my second quick stop in Dallas more enjoyable. 
I have become a pro at making the most of short trips. When the plane touches down I already know where my first meal will be coming from. For me, it's usually all about the food. On a recent 48-hour trip to Dallas, I gathered a few awesome tips for where to eat and what to do when time is short. 
Richardson Food Truck Park
I had spent time in Texas before when I was in fifth grade--San Antonio, to be exact. My family spent a week eating Mexican food and walking up and down the Riverwalk. We remembered the Alamo and we left with some extra pounds on our waists. But, this was Dallas. Although I was familiar with the airport (almost all my trips to California connected here), I didn't know much about the city. 
Luckily, a local gave us tips on where to eat. He suggested the nearby Richardson Food Truck Park. It was a fairly new establishment and I was sold when he said "chicken and waffles." OF COURSE I want chicken and waffles. What more is there to life? Nothing. 
The day was overcast so we were afraid that the food trucks might not show up. But, lucky for us, there were three ready to serve us. One cooked up traditional Irish food, like Shepherd's Pie. The other was a BBQ truck. At the end of the line I saw it--a decorated truck with the words "Twisted Soulfood" tattooed on the side. I rushed to get in line and order. 
The waffles were at the bottom of a mound of food. They were warm and buttery, and the chicken was thickly breaded and topped with sweet potato curls and powdered sugar. My mouth drooled all the way from the truck to the table. 
If you are anything like me, you will want to try every sauce available. (I think that's the only way to truly get the experience.) Nate's 125th Cafe, the food truck that created this magical dish, provided a sauce bar! I could choose from an array of sweet, spicy, savory, and salty condiments. The special-made maple syrup and spicy ranch sauce earned a spot at my table. It was time to dig in. 
This was my first experience with chicken and waffles. Since then I have tried a few more. Some have come close, but this is the only time I felt inspired to write about it. I'm not sure if it was the sweet potato curls, the powered sugar or the sauce that made it so memorable, but it earned a place in my heart. So far the best I have tasted. I also ordered the sweet potato grits as a side, but I probably wouldn't order those again. After you have had my aunt's cheese grits, everything else falls short.  
Because this was a work-related trip, we didn't have much time to do anything else that day. But we saved a few hours on day two to see some historic memorials and eat at a local favorite. 
JFK Memorial, The Sixth Floor Museum and Dealey Plaza, and The Grassy Knoll
The sun was bright in Dallas after we had completed work for the day. We decided to spend our afternoon exploring the heart of the city. After finally finding a parking spot--not the easiest thing to do in Dallas--we hopped out of the car and headed toward the JFK Memorial. 
The structure towered over tourists as they walked inside. In the center was a flat slab of marble that read, "John Fitzgerald Kennedy" with wilting flowers carefully, and thoughtfully, placed on top. As with most memorials, there was a somber cloud hovering throughout the enclosure. I could hear people telling the stories of "where they were when JFK was shot." Near the building was a memorial plaque that shared just how important JFK was to the American people.
After admiring the memorial, we made our way to the famous Grassy Knoll. On the road in front of us was a white "X" that marked the spot where the horrific event took place. Thousands of cars drove over it every day, never thinking that they were passing through a ghost that history had good reason to never forget. We were soon approached by a man selling newspapers--the very newspaper that was sold on the day JFK was assassinated. 

The Old Red Museum 
After taking a moment to acknowledge the gravity of where I was standing, I looked above my shoulder at Dealey Plaza. The man with the newspaper went on as I scanned the city horizon before me. One building stood out among them: The Old Red Museum. 
Built in 1892, the museum was created to "inspire and educate visitors about the rich and varied cultural, economic, political and social history of the Dallas County Area." A number of historic and artistic exhibits were housed inside, along with ongoing events and programs for locals and tourists alike. The museum is open 9-5 daily, and the building alone is a sight to behold. If you are a history buff, this is one spot you can't miss on your tour of Dallas. 
Coffee House Cafe
Famished from our afternoon of sightseeing, we searched the local reviews for the best coffee shop in town. Coffee House Cafe was our next stop.
Coffee House Cafe is perfect for the business traveler. Great coffee and tempting entrees are accompanied with a very functional booth design. Every table has access to outlets, so patrons can hook up their laptops and phones and work for hours without interruptions. It beats Starbucks by a long shot in quality, atmosphere and comfort. 
I ordered a classic mocha to drink, along with their breakfast special--Crab Cake Eggs Benedict. Oh, it was delicious! The english muffin was toasted and topped with a bed of fresh crab. The eggs and hollandaise sauce dripped over the side of the dish into my crispy potatoes. 
We were able to spend a couple of relaxing hours getting work done and preparing for our flight home.  

In-N-Out Burger--Just Because
Before leaving the Lonestar State, I knew there was one very important thing that I had to do. In-N-Out Burger became a favorite of mine years ago when I first tried the animal-style french fries. Yes, I was pigging out on this trip, but it's Texas! Appetites are bigger there--as are most things. It was the perfect "snack" before heading out.
Layovers in Dallas can be a lot of fun! Just make sure you plan ahead, hit the highlight spots and grab some great food. You'll be a lot better off when flights are delayed. 

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