Superbowl Schmuperbowl

Apparently there’s some kind of big sporting event going on, but don’t let that put you off because Dallas is a brawny, lively destination with something to offer everybody.

So whilst those strange people are busy shining their helmets, straightening their shoulder pads and getting ready to shout incomprehensible numbers at each other for several hours, it’s a perfect chance to get out and about this dramatic and sprawling conurbation.

It’s a little macabre, perhaps, but a tour of the Dealey Plaza gives the lowdown on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. It’s actually situated in the sixth floor, which is where Lee Harvey Oswald was said to have shot from (with his special magic gun that can bend the laws of physics, apparently). But without intrigue, murder and politics, history, like sport, would be a lot less interesting, of course.

Sizzle sizzle

A visit to Dallas is also a visit to some of the best BBQ in the world; you don’t have to go far to find one, either – it’s the city with the most restaurants per capita in the United States (and the most shopping centres per capita, too). Tex-mex is a big feature here as well as more authentic Mexican eats. If money’s no object, try Fearing’s Restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton – it was named 2009’s best hotel restaurant in the United States by Zagat. Steakhouses of note include Bob’s Steak & Chop House, which according to a USDA Prime Steakhouses chart is the top of the chops.

As a huge city, Dallas is also well-served with theatres and art galleries. The Dallas Museum of Art is home to artefacts ranging from 3,000BCE to the present day and also contains libraries with more than 50,000 books. Collections at the museum of art include ancient Mediterranean, South Asian, ancient American and a very highly-regarded African collection. Well worth the time.

The performing arts are serviced predominately by the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts, which includes Winspear Opera House, the Dee and Charles Wyly theatre and City Performance Hall. In days gone by, Deep Ellum was known as a centre for jazz and blues; these days, it’s a centre for independent artists and studios, as is the Cedars area nearby.

To get away from it all, there are 406 public parks which together make up 21,000 acres of land, 17 lakes and 62 miles of biking and jogging trails. Fair Park is the biggest and is home to Dallas Zoo; so big it’s divided into ZooNorth, Wilds of Africa and Giants of the Savanna. Here you can find black rhino, camel, kangaroo, wings of winder and a new exhibition sure to delight the kids – Bug U! – a collection of Texas creepy-crawlies.

Zero gravity

Totally off the wall is the Zero Gravity theme park – which in typical style is billed as The King of Dallas Attractions. As the name might suggest, it’s home to a host of weightless thrills, including a seven-storey bungee jump, the Skycoaster – a 100ft glide and Texas Blastoff – a vertical rocket ride at 70mph. There’s also Nothin’ But Net – a 16-storey freefall, plus the newest attraction of Skyscraper which reaches four Gs. Needless to say, those suffering from vertigo might want to try and find something else to do. That might well by the Dallas Scaregrounds, comprised of three haunted houses on Irving Boulevard (or, as the owners would have it, Irving BOO-levard. The scamps.) Anyway if you’re interested there’s a choice of Hallucinatorium, Necrotorium or the Terrortorium. And if you haven’t worked out what those are all about you should probably have listened a little more in the schoolatorium.

As you’d probably expect, there are also quite a number of places dedicated to separating you from your money and one of the top 10 places in the United States to do that, according to USA Today at least, is Galleria Dallas.

At the Galleria you will be able to find Thomas Pink, TOUS, BCBGeneration, Tourneau, Brahmin, Sony Style, ZARA, Karen Millen, Club Monaco, Façonnable, American Girl Boutique and Bistro, Ylang|23 and Saks Fifth Avenue – plus favorites like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., Michael Kors, Dooney & Bourke, Juicy Couture, Sephora, Macy’s and Nordstrom. There’s also an ice rink and various restaurants. Now if that sounds like heaven to you then all power to your elbow. But for others it sounds rather like one of the seven circles of Hell and makes even the eleven-hour spectacle of grunting robocop-armoured men jumping on each other’s heads and ruining a perfectly-good green field in the process seem appealing.