Family Vacation: Our Long Weekend in Dallas

Last month my family and I traveled to Dallas for a long weekend getaway. It's about an eight hour drive, which is a long time to be in the car with young kids, but still doable. We stopped to visit family on the way there to break up the trip, but the way back we did all in one long, long day.

I wish I had great ideas for entertaining children in the car for that length of time, but it was kind of a crap shoot keeping them happy. Two things did work well, however. Violet didn't care about this, but I put in an audiobook on CD for Jona, which, as I mentioned in my June Favorites post was Sideways Stories from Wayside School. He could have listened to that nonstop. The other thing we did was move their car seats right next to each other. On the way there, I found myself constantly turning around to hand Violet things she dropped (and therefore shouted about LOUDLY until I could grab them). On the way back, half of what she dropped ended up on Jona's lap and he could easily give it back to her. Plus I think they liked having each other nearby, especially since Violet is still rear-facing so this set-up makes it easier for them to see each other.

The car ride was only part (albeit the seemingly longest part) of our trip, so I'll move on to what we actually did in Dallas.

{where we stayed}

{testing out the hotel bed}

Hyatt Regency Downtown Dallas
- It was a very nice hotel with an outdoor pool that unfortunately we did not visit. We brought swimsuits, but no floaties or anything for the kids to use. The water was shallow for an adult, but deep for little kids, so we would have had to hold on to them the whole time. Lesson learned. If we went back, I would choose a hotel more central to the downtown area. While this hotel was downtown, we ended driving nearly everywhere we went--in 100 degree heat it was too far to walk with two kids, with one in a stroller.

{where we ate}

Wild Salsa - modern Mexican restaurant with a Day of the Dead theme. I loved the decor of this restaurant, and my Barbacoa and fish street tacos were excellent. They also treat guests with complimentary popsicles as they leave, which was nice!

Bread Winners - large unique cafe famous for brunch. Some good friends of ours used to live in Dallas, and they recommended this restaurant for brunch, so obviously we had to go--breakfast and brunch are my favorite. Aaron and I both got chicken and waffles and they did NOT disappoint. And the little basket of breakfast breads they bring out before the meal kept our children sane while we waited. So smart.

Pluckers - casual sports wing bar. The same friends also recommended Pluckers--Bread Winners was after my heart, while Pluckers spoke to Aaron. I won't complain about a good wing either though. This was definitely a sports bar, but the wings really were delicious. We sampled the spicy ranch dry rub, the Cajun dry rub, and the classic buffalo. My favorite was the Cajun.

Ellen's - go-to spot for all-day brunch. We tried to stick to just two meals out a day, so we had brunch and dinner, with snacks in between. That worked perfectly--I was able to get my breakfast fix every day. When we went I was in the mood for a classic breakfast, so I ordered their Big Ol' Breakfast (eggs, sausage, French toast). It was good, although not as memorable as Bread Winners.

El Fenix - Texas-wide chain featuring Tex Mex favorites. We stopped at the one in Arlington on our way to the Rangers game. I admit that looking at the outside of the restaurant, I didn't expect much. It looked like a run-of-the-mill Tex Mex chain. However, I had their spicy brisket enchiladas and they were excellent! I also really liked that they offered both a traditional kids menu and one with healthier options. The classic one pleased my cheese-quesadilla lover (Jona), while Violet enjoyed a chicken taco with avocado and cinnamon oranges as a side. I loved that!

AllGood Cafe - uniquely decorated hipster cafe in Deep Ellum. We visited this one on our way out of town; it's located in Deep Ellum, a neighborhood in East Dallas. I kind of wished we had spent more time in that area, it looked like a cool place, with colorful murals and artsy shops. We were there for brunch and I loved my classic breakfast and also enjoyed stealing bites from Violet's giant buttermilk pancake. The origami birds hanging from the ceiling and big Texas flag on the wall added to the charm. I loved this place!

Howdy Homemade - ice cream shop providing employment to individuals with special needs. When researching ice cream in Dallas, I knew we found a winner here. I love the mission of this ice cream shop, and their homemade ice cream didn't let us down either! They're known for their Dr. Pepper chocolate chip, but I had peanut butter chocolate, which was delightful: chocolate ice cream with peanut butter mixed in, and it tasted like there was peanut butter in the chocolate ice cream base as well. Yum! Aaron had cheesecake ice cream, complete with actual pieces of cheesecake in it. Violet even got her own bowl of "cream".

{where we went}

{We had more fun than this picture lets on. There were some very loud birds nearby which bothered Jona's sensitive ears. And Violet just has toddler RBF.}

Dallas World Aquarium - This was so much more than just an aquarium. It's more like a zoo, with exhibits featuring all kinds of wild animals, from flamingos to crocodiles. Our favorite part was walking through the aquarium tunnel and seeing the sharks swim all around us. We also got to see a diver feeding a manatee. If you're in Dallas, the World Aquarium is worth a visit!

Perot Museum of Nature and Science - This place was huge, and we only had time to see a fraction of it. Jona wanted to see the Ultimate Dinosaurs exhibit, which only recently opened when we were there. We also spent time in the Children's Museum, which had lots of hands-on exhibits for kids of all ages. They especially loved the water tables, (pretend) food sorting, the blocks, and the sand box. Finally, we visited the Sports Hall, featuring lots of simulations that kids can take part in. The only downside of this museum visit was that we went on a Monday, which I thought wouldn't be too busy. However, it happened to be a day that several schools/summer camp programs were visiting, and we had to fight through crowds of poorly supervised elementary-schoolers to see anything in the Dinosaur or Sports exhibits. It was a little frustrating to see Jona waiting in line to see something just to get shoved out of the way by a bunch of green-shirted 10 year olds. (Not that I didn't intervene on his behalf, but it got a little annoying.)

Globe Life Park in Arlington - This is the Texas Rangers baseball stadium, and the reason for our trip. As I've mentioned before, we're trying to visit a baseball stadium every year. We saw the Rangers play the Padres, and we were so glad we chose an evening game to attend, because it was scorching hot while were there. Luckily, we had fantastic seats right in the shade, and because of that we were able to stay there for quite a bit of the game. Jona and I both enjoyed some ice cream at the game (his in a helmet, mine in a waffle cone), and Aaron and I also sampled the stadium's beer offerings. I had a delicious, summery mango beer that I wish I remembered the name of. I thought it was a nice stadium and we had a great time there.

We had a wonderful time in Dallas and I'm glad we had a chance to visit. If you're planning a trip to Dallas, keep in mind that it is HOT there, even in June. Bring your sunscreen for sure.

Have you been to Dallas?

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