Super Bowl XLV: Downtown and Beyond
If you followed my advice in the previous post, you have booked your flight to Love Field and a room at a hotel in the downtown/Uptown area. Even if you chose to fly into D/FW, let’s hope you heeded my advice on the hotels and are staying in Dallas proper, as opposed to some far flung place like Grapevine or Bedford. Depending on the time of day you arrive in downtown Dallas, you may begin to wonder if anyone actually lives in the city. Indeed, the City Center is almost completely commercial and keeps pretty strict business hours. After 6 p.m. on weekdays and all weekend long, downtown Dallas is a virtual ghost town, although efforts have been made in the past few years to encourage more young professionals to move into some of the restored buildings.
Let me be the first to assure you, downtown Dallas is not as desolate as it first may seem. However, even if you’re staying at the Sheraton, Westin or Fairmont, you will want to venture out of downtown. If you did not arrange for a rental, the first thing you will want to do is invest in a Super Bowl transit pass. The transportation agencies in the Metroplex have come together to offer a four-day pass for the low price of $30, which will allow you unlimited access to DART trains and buses, as well as the TRE. Even if you have a rental car, I recommend picking up this pass.
Don’t be fooled by your hotel concierge, the West End is not where Dallas goes to have fun, but there is one place in the West End you must visit before you leave.
Dallas World Aquarium – 1801 N. Griffin St. Dallas, TX 75202
Whether you’re 1 or 101, everyone loves penguins, sharks and sloths. Oh, it’s not all aquatic animals, they have big cats too. The Aquarium is easy to get around and provides hours of entertainment, regardless of the weather conditions.
Outside of the Aquarium, you will want to head North.
As soon as you cross over Woodall Rodgers leaving downtown Dallas, you are officially in Uptown, a trendy neighborhood featuring upscale shops, bars, restaurants and residences. Uptown is accessible by foot from downtown, but it’s recommended you use DART, your car or the McKinney Avenue Trolley.
To pick up the McKinney Avenue Trolley, go to St. Paul Street, directly behind the Dallas Museum of Art. This is the end (or beginning) of the trolley route. Riding is free and easy, simply hop on and the trolley will take you across Woodall Rodgers and through the heart of Uptown. Once you’re in Uptown, you can hop off at any stop to explore Uptown on foot. The gem of Uptown has to be the West Village, located at Lemmon and McKinney Avenues. Here you can catch a movie at the Magnolia–one of the top art house theatres in the city–take in some great shopping or fine dining.
If you buy the transit pass, you can take DART to Uptown. Simply hop on any northbound train and get off at the Cityplace stop. Once you come off the platform, take the large escalator to your right up to the surface and you will come out on the back side of the West Village.
The next stop north on the DART line is Mockingbird Station, another mixed use venue, featuring another great art-house cinema–the Angelika. There are also several different upscale shops, bars and restaurants at the Mockingbird Station stop.
If you’re a Packers fan, or simply want to watch the Pack practice, you may want to consider taking the DART rail to Mockingbird Station and walking across Central Expressway to SMU, where the NFC Champions will be holding their practices.
In between Uptown and Mockingbird Station lies the Knox-Henderson area. Here you will find an Apple Store, Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware and a slew of local boutiques that will sure be hit among the glitterati descending upon Dallas. If you want a good “people watching” location, this is it. Unfortunately, neither the McKinney Avenue Trolley nor DART rail runs to Knox-Henderson, and it’s a bit too far to travel on foot from Uptown. You will definitely need a car or a cab to get here, but can navigate the neighborhood on foot once you arrive.
Highland Park Village
Directly West of Knox-Henderson you will find Highland Park Village. Established in 1931, Highland Park Village is considered to be America’s first shopping center, but this is not your grandparents shopping center. With boutiques like Chanel, Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo, Hermes and Tory Burch, it’s more like Rodeo Drive. While the upscale shopping may not appeal to a lot sports fans, it is a great place for men to drop their wives off while they go explore another part of the city, just don’t let them have your credit card. Mi Cocina serves up some of the best Mexican food in town and Cafe Pacific is known to be one of the favorite restaurants of former President George W. Bush.
If you get tired of using your hotel’s fitness center, allow me to suggest taking a jog, walk, ride, or skate along the Katy Trail. This 3.5 mile jogging/biking trail runs from the American Airlines Center through Uptown, Knox-Henderson and through the Park Cities. It’s the closest thing to jogging in Central Park Dallas has to offer and it’s well worth the sweat.
You came to Dallas for the “big game,” but also want to take in some local culture? Never fear, next up we’ll look at the Arts District, which will show you a completely different side of Dallas.