Dallas Arts District offers a sensory explosion of culture

Photo by VisitDallas
Photo by VisitDallas

Dallas isn’t just about big hats and cowboy boots. It also sports some of the best museums, performances, elegant restaurants and hotels
in the country.

A must-see for arts fans is the Dallas Arts District, the largest contiguous urban arts district in the country. It’s a $300 million, 19-block collection of museums, performing arts stages and the inviting Klyde Warren Park, a 5.2-acre public park (built atop the Woodall Rodgers Freeway).
Just across the street is the Dallas Museum of Art, which offers free admission for general exhibits and displays of more than 24,000 works of art that span 5,000 years; and the Nasher Sculpture Center, one of the few museums in the world dedicated to modern sculpture, with a lush outdoor garden of art and additional treasures by Picasso and Giacometti inside. The rotating collection of 300 masterpieces including works by Calder, de Kooning, Matisse, Miro and more, are displayed in the museum designed by world-renowned architect Renzo Piano, in collaboration with landscape architect Peter Walker.

Nearby is the Crow Collection of Asian Art, dedicated to celebrating the art and cultures of Asia, featuring one of the finest collections of later-period jades in the U.S.

While the Dallas Symphony Orchestra is worth seeing year-round, those visiting in April shouldn’t miss the fifth annual Soluna Festival, an international music and arts festival featuring installations, dance, a world premiere and prize-winning works under the direction of music director designate Fabio Luisi. The festival runs April 4-28 at the Meyerson Symphony Center — designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect I.M. Pei — and at other venues in the Dallas Arts District and throughout the city.

Just past the Arts District, at Victory Park, is the interactive Perot Museum of Nature and Science, with futuristic architecture and drought-tolerant greenery growing on its stone roof.

Puccini’s incandescent melodies will swell in the Winspear Opera House where the renowned Dallas Opera presents “La Bohème” on March 15-31, followed by “Falstaff” on April 26-May 4. The Winspear alone is worth a trip, or at least a tour. Whether visitors go there to catch opera, a Broadway touring show, a dance performance or a celebrity speaker, they should arrive early to marvel at the lavish Moody Foundation Chandelier of 318 acrylic LED light rods, which dips and rises from the ceiling before each performance, accompanied by “The Light” from American composer Philip Glass.

Across the street is the strikingly modern Wyly Theatre, where the Tony Award-winning Dallas Theater Center makes its home. The company will be presenting “The Wolves” on March 6-April 14, Sarah DeLappe’s 2017 Pulitzer Prize finalist about a fierce, female teenage soccer team that plays to win.
Dallas Summer Musicals and Broadway Across America will present “Hamilton” April 2-May 5 at the Music Hall at Fair Park.

Between the museums and the shows, sample the height of gastronomic pleasure at Stephen Pyles Flora Street Café, the only restaurant in Dallas to earn five stars from The Dallas Morning News. Pyles describes the fare as “elevated modern Texas cuisine.” Expect incredible service and food and beverage choices in a posh setting.

For a theatrical eating experience, try Wolfgang Puck’s Asian-inspired Five Sixty restaurant, which sits atop the 560-foot-high Reunion Tower. Floor-to-ceiling windows provide 360-degree views of the city.

Luxurious retreat Mirador offers another great meal with a view from its penthouse perch atop Forty Five Ten, one of the area’s premier fashion boutiques, with more than 400 designers including Prada, Celine, Dries Van Noten, Balenciaga, Rosie Assoulin and Sies Marjan. If you make a reservation for Thursday-Saturday evenings when the store is closed, visit the valet stand where you’ll be escorted in and sent to the penthouse restaurant with stunning views. While the floor doesn’t revolve, you will get an eyeful of Tony Tasset’s iconic Eye sculpture on artificial green turf.

After all of those artistic forays, rest your head at the Joule hotel complex, which houses Mirador. Among the hotel perks is an 11,500-square-foot subterranean spa and yoga and fitness studio, plus the hotel’s proximity to the flagship Neiman Marcus, a century-old Dallas fashion destination. While shopping, build in a break for The Zodiac, the store’s legendary sixth-floor restaurant where the Mandarin Orange Soufflé is a must.

The Joule is the new kid on the block compared to Dallas’ oldest, most famed and elegant luxury hotels, The Adolphus and The Mansion on Turtle Creek, known for their legendary restaurants.

The French Room at the Adolphus, with its marble floor, Murano glass chandeliers, ornate sconces, cheese carts and Champagne flutes is so old-school that folks are still gasping about new chef Anthony Dispensa adding a la carte items to the prix fixe five-course tasting menu with optional wine pairings.
The Mansion on Turtle Creek’s Mansion Restaurant is another venerable institution, featuring new American cuisine with French influences, nestled in the leafy oasis of Turtle Creek.

Those needing a breather from all the gilded lilies can sniff some real flowers at the Dallas Arboretum, a 66-acre botanical garden on the southeastern shore of White Rock Lake.

Reservations are required for afternoon tea, which features a three-part service of scones that begins with soup, followed by tea sandwiches and treats. Admission tickets include a stroll through Dallas Blooms, one of the largest floral festivals in the Southwest.

The explosion of color and fragrance continues through April 7, with over 100 varieties of spring-blooming bulbs. The sight of more than 500,000 tulips will make an artful end to a Dallas trip.

Photo by Alexander McQueen
Photo by Virginia Trudeau
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