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The Wanderlust Chronicles

No ticket? No problem. Travel the world right here in international Dallas. Passport not required.  
WORDS BY CONNIE DUFNER

This article originally appeared in the Fall/Winter 2020 issue of VisitDallas The Magazine. To see the entire issue and read other features, click here. 

 

If this is the year your grand travel plans were rerouted into something a little closer to home, you are unquestionably in the right place. With its international flair and cosmopolitan hubs mixed with a legendary swagger and thirst for adventure, Dallas is truly a city where you can create the journey of your dreams. Choose your destination and leave the itinerary to us.  

 

ITALY 

Start your exploration with a sturdy espresso and a dreamy cornetto (usually served warm) at Palmieri Cafe, a walk-up insta-bliss station at the Dallas Farmers Market. Then get your Venetian gondola fix on the Trinity River with a canoe or kayak. Trinity River Expeditions offers rentals and guided trips to experience the natural areas, river crossings, bridges and animal and plant life.  

Browse the aisles of Jimmy's Food Store, a legendary Dallas deli, known for Italian imports, meatball sandwiches and more. For a uniquely Dallas cheese inspired by its creator's travels to Italy, score a taste of The Mozzarella Company cheese at fine supermarkets or the company's Deep Ellum market.  

Swing by the Nasher Sculpture Center for an art tour of "Pieta" by Barry X Ball, the Michelangelo-inspired reimagining of the classical work.  

Ready to shop? NorthPark Center is home to Gucci, Ferragamo, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Golden Goose and soon-to-open Eataly, the Italian emporium for all things food and cooking (northparkcenter.com). Highland Park Village will make you feel belissimo with Loro Piana, Fendi, Valentino, Etro, Cuccinelli and Zegna (hpvillage.com).   

Our romp through Ital-las wraps up with a choice of casual or fine dining. For a 1940s origin story that will make you feel like an insider, head to the original Campisi's on Mockingbird (yes, you'll learn why the restaurant still has the Egyptian sign) for signature pizza and hearty entrees (campisis.us). Or experience the culinary creativity of one of Dallas' most prolific chefs, Julian Barsotti, at Fachini, an upscale dining room where formally attired staff bustle about with delectable tableside Caesar and the chef's famous 100-layer lasagna (fachinidallas.com)   

 

KENYA 

Dallas is where the wild things are if you're looking to tap your adventurous spirit. Take a safari to the Dallas Zoo, where the Wilds of Africa habitat contains many native Kenyan animals; think hippos, African painted dogs, warthogs, cheetahs, lions, giraffes, elephants, Nile crocodiles and more (dallaszoo.com). Safari in style with a stop first at Beretta Gallery in Highland Park Village, your upscale spot for all things gear (beretta.com).  

For birding travelers, the Trinity River Audubon Center is a must-see stop. The modern building by Antone Predock, which appears birdlike from an aerial view, is home to educational programs and hiking excursions on prairie land restored from a former landfill (trinityriver.audubon.org).  

Take a caffeine break with an African brew at Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters, a java joint on up-and-coming West Davis Street, a few blocks from the Bishop Arts District (oakcliffcoffee.com). Also in Oak Cliff, browse the Pan African Connection, a longtime center for books, gifts, clothing and more celebrating the vibrant African culture (panafricanconnection.com).  

In awe of those nimble elite African runners? Find your footing at White Rock Lake, Dallas' beloved 9.3-mile hike and bike trail with views of water, woods and the Dallas skyline (whiterocklake.org) Delve into ancient cultures with two exhibits at the Dallas Museum of Art: a science-medicine mashup that explores the CT scan of a Senufo mask from the museum's department of African art and a look at wearable raffia - garments, accessories and textiles made from woven raffia palm leaves (dma.org). 

 

SPAIN 

Escape to España without the jet lag on an in-town Iberian Peninsula tour.  

The Meadows Museum at Southern Methodist University is a natural start; this fall's exhibit, "Alonso Berruguete: First Sculptor of Renaissance Spain" was scheduled to launch after the university's planned late summer reopening. Check the website for a virtual gallery exhibit. Take in the outdoor sculpture garden with Jaume Plensa's "Sho" and the mesmerizing "Wave" sculpture by Santiago Calatrava (meadowsmuseumdallas.org). And for more Calatrava, be sure your travels take you across the Margaret Hunt Hill and Margaret McDermott bridges Downtown, designed by the Valencia architect. Events celebrating Valencia, Dallas' sister city, take place often. The Meadows School of the Arts is home to world renowned pianist Joaquín Achúcarro who also holds an endowed chair in piano at SMU. Check their site for news of performances by the maestro and his students (smu.edu/meadows). 

Lucky for us, Dallas is home to the only outpost outside of Spain for the acclaimed Enrique Tomás, a tapas bar and market featuring gastronomical delights with the country's famous Jamón Ibérico at the center. Be sure to save another meal for Sketches of Spain, a new bar and restaurant featuring single bites called pinchos. (Different from tapas, which is meant for sharing.) Prepare to graze and lose track of time; it's the Spanish way (sketchesofspain.com).  

The Orchestra of New Spain performs and educates about music from the 17th and 18th centuries. Check the website for virtual and live opportunities (orchestraofnewspain.org). Peckish for paella? Longtime Dallas restaurant Café Madrid offers leisurely evenings on the patio, a robust program of Spanish wines and flamenco performances (cafemadrid.com).  

 

FRANCE 

Oh, the food, the fashion, the bridges, the landmarks! Discover this beloved country, Dallas style. Francophiles can easily immerse themselves in experiences for a taste of the good life along the Seine.  

About that scenic tower: The observation deck at Reunion Tower boasts 360-degree views of the city (and a river running through it, too). It is on the site of, what else, a short-lived French Socialist settlement in the late 1800s (reuniontower.com).  

Love the flea markets? Try Flea Style, Dallas' take on eclectic and stylish shopping with a boho flair (fleastyle.com). And who needs the Champs Elysees when Dallas speaks high-end French labels all on its own - thank you very much - Hermès, Dior, Celine, Chanel, Cartier, Christian Louboutin, Dior and Louis Vuitton? Pick any of the city's malls to find a taste of the fine life.  

Cafe surfers take note: Village Baking Co. offers authentic French pastries on walkable Greenville Avenue (villagebakingco.com). Rise No. 1 is a souffle restaurant with delectable combinations at every course--from mini-souffle studded "marshmallow soup" to savory and sweet versions of individual souffles for mains and dessert courses. Shopping alert: everything you enjoy at the table, from the linens to ceramics to glassware, is for sale (risesouffle.com) 

After dinner of upscale bistro classics at Boulevardier (dallasboulevardier.com), stroll the Bishop Arts District (bishopartsdistrict.com) and imagine you're in Paris' famous Left Bank neighborhood of creatives. And soar to heights of decadence at The French Room at The Adolphus Hotel, whether for a special occasion on Saturday night or an indulgent afternoon Sunday tea (adolphus.com).   

For an example of French eclectic architecture, take a driving tour to Swiss Avenue and peek at the Aldredge House, an event venue and historic home which this year is celebrating the centennial of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote (aldredgehouse.com).  

 

MEXICO 

Margaritas, tequila, tacos - need we say more? It's hard to say where one cultural border ends and another begins. And honestly, we're just grateful to live in the warm, friendly, fun-loving glow of our neighbor to the south.  

Dallas is known as the Official Home of the Frozen Margarita, and for good reason. The frozen margarita machine was invented here in 1971 by Mariano Martinez. Enjoy his concoction at any number of restaurants that have evolved the drink in their own ways, including Fearing's Restaurant (fearingsrestaurant.com), Beto & Son (betoandson.com) and of course Mariano's (laharanch.com). Find them all on the Margarita Mile, am app-based self-guided tour (margaritamiledallas.com). 

Newcomer Muchacho (muchachotexmex.com) and newish José (jose.mx) restaurants are great for people watching and an alfresco fix. (Bonus: Jose has an onsite market for Mexican ceramics, glassware and textiles.)  

Stuffed yet? There's much more of Mexico-flavored Dallas to love. Immerse yourself in the Mexican American experience at Cara Mia Theatre, the 24-year-old company that produces plays by acclaimed Latinx artists. During the stay-at-home period, the organization sponsored virtual workshops and classes that are still available online (caramiatheatre.org). 

At the Dallas Museum of Art, gain perspective on the depiction of women in Mexican Modernism at "Flores Mexicanas: Women in Modern Mexican Art," available virtually and onsite. The exhibit features the significant painting "Flores Mexicanas," by Alfredo Ramos Martinez, and is on loan from St. Louis. It is being exhibited only for the second time in nearly 100 years (dma.org).  

Shop the vibrant culture of Mexico at the Dallas Farmer's Market, where Folklore and Tradition Artisan Boutique offers handcrafted clothing, jewelry, handbags, accessories and gifts from Mexican and Guatemalan artists (dallasfarmersmarket.org).