Can't play golf in Dallas? Here are some other ways to fill four hours
Those who brought their golf clubs to the Dallas-Fort Worth area during Super Bowl week are learning what the locals have known about for a long time: You never know what you're going to get in February.
It could be in the 60s, like the forecast for Super Bowl Sunday. Or there could be snow and ice everywhere -- closing down roads, schools and golf courses -- as it has been during most of Super Bowl.
Once the roads clear, though, what do you do if you can't play golf? With a metropolitan area approaching 6 million people, and a bunch of unique cities and towns to choose from in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, there's no shortage of activities. Here's a small sampling of what the area surrounding Cowboys Stadium has to offer outside of golf:
Arlington, of course, is where Super Bowl XLV between the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers will take place, but it's also where you'll find the home of the Texas Rangers baseball club, Six Flags over Texas and the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame, which is located on Six Flags Drive.
That's right, bowling. Don't scoff. Some 95 million people bowl regularly, and the International Bowling Museum is pretty interesting stuff. For example, there are exhibits that suggest the earliest forms of bowling go back to the ancient Egyptians 3,500 years ago.
Of course, if the museum and hall of fame visit gets you in the mood, you might want to try a little bowling of your own. For that, there's Splitsville Luxury Lanes and Dinner Lounge, which is unlike any bowling center you've ever seen. It's more of a sports bar than a bowling alley, with groups of lanes scattered about (including an outdoor lane), big screen TVs and a gourmet menu. Forget the old smoky bowling alleys of the past; this place has style, and even if you're not very good at bowling, you'll have a good time.
But back to the Super Bowl for a minute: Even if you can't see the big game in person, you can almost always visit Jerry Jones' mega-stadium, the largest and most expensive in the NFL. Visitors can take tours of the $1.3 billion retractable roof structure, which is expandable to hold more than 111,000 people. It also houses the world's largest high-definition TV, which rises above the field and is 160 feet wide and 72 feet tall.
Although you can still visit the Southfork Ranch made famous in the 1980s TV show, there's a lot more to Dallas than Larry Hagman's phony Texas accent and his character's illicit affairs. The country's ninth-largest city, with more than 1.2 million people, offers world-class shopping, four- and five-diamond/star hotels and the nation's largest urban arts district.
One can't-miss attraction is the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. Located inside the Texas School Book Depository, where Lee Harvey Oswald took aim at President John F. Kennedy on that fateful day in 1963, the museum explores the events leading up to and surrounding Kennedy's assassination. Visitors can spend hours there, pouring through documents and artifacts, watching documentaries and viewing the photographs that are forever etched in history.
Dallas is also the location of the media hotel for Super Bowl XLV, the Sheraton Dallas, which used to be the Adams Mark before it recently underwent a $90 million renovation. Among the improvements is the new Draft Media Sports Lounge, which has 21 HD flat screens, 12 different draft beers and a great menu that includes barbecue pork shanks and brisket sliders.
Or if you're in the mood for a little more upscale lunch, try celebrity chef Stephan Pyle's restaurant in downtown Dallas. From ceviche to beef tenderloin enchiladas, you won't be disappointed.
Fort Worth is home to the Stockyards National Historic District, where you can see the world's only twice daily cattle drive. The Old West comes to life as a team of cowhands drives a herd of longhorns along Exchange Avenue through the Stockyards. Every detail of this cattle drive -- from the saddles to the chaps, from the hats to the boots -- is authentic and historically true, although these cows supposedly never make it to the dinner table; they are put out to pasture after their years of service are over.
The Stockyards are also where you can see the Livestock Exchange Building as well as the Stockyards Station shops and restaurants in the old sheep and hog barns. There's also the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame and the Cowtown Coliseum, as well as plenty of western shops, including Maverick, Fincher's and Leddy's, which are located along historic Exchange Avenue. Fort Worth's Rodeo Plaza is also home to the legendary Billy Bob's Texas, a three-acre Honky-Tonk that hosts some of the biggest names in country music.
Fort Worth also has one of the best museum districts in the country, including the Amon Carter Museum and the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame. The latter is the only museum in the world dedicated to honoring and documenting the lives of women who have distinguished themselves while exemplifying the pioneer spirit of the American West.
You'll also want to check out Fort Worth's quaint downtown area, which is full of great bars and restaurants, including Reata Restaurant in Sundance Square. This rooftop patio restaurant offers up a unique menu of Southwestern grub that includes favorites such as tenderloin tamales, blackened buffalo ribeye, chicken fried steak and pan-seared pepper crusted tenderloin.
Grapevine, which is located right next to Arlington, is one of the most interesting communities in Texas. Although winemakers didn't found it as the name might suggest, today there are nine wineries in Grapevine, where you can taste some of Texas' finest wines. The city also has more than 180 restaurants, the Grapevine Vintage Railroad, a 200,000-square-foot Bass Pro Shops location and a memorial dedicated to the 33 crew members who lost their lives during the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in 2001. (American Airlines is headquartered in Fort Worth.)
The city is also home to the Gaylord Texan Hotel and Convention Center, which not only serves as the official hotel of the Dallas Cowboys but also hosted the NFC champion Green Bay Packers for the 2011 Super Bowl.
The Gaylord Texan, which has more than 1,500 guest rooms, is a destination unto itself. Reminiscent of Disney's Epcot Center's World Showcase, the massive hotel, which overlooks Lake Grapevine, is four and a half acres of indoor gardens and winding waterways. Inside, there is a facsimile of the Alamo, a bell tower and rotating themes that reflect Texas history. Shopping, restaurants, a spa and the Glass Cactus Nightclub are all under one roof.
And there's also Texan Station Sports Bar, which has a 30-foot high, 52-foot wide high-def TV screen. Not quite as large as the one in Cowboys Stadium, but it will due in a pinch, especially if the weather keeps you off the golf course.