This post is sponsored by the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau; however, all opinions are my own.
It all started a few weeks ago: the sweetest gal ever from the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau sent me an email asking if I’d like to bring my family on a trip to Dallas to explore some fun holiday season attractions.
UM. YES PLEASE.
You guys know this Texas girl was all for any chance to get back to the motherland, not to mention exploring a place we used to live sounded amazing. When you work and live in a city and have things like jobs and toilets to clean and bills to pay it gets hard to really explore the city you live in; I’m sad to say that was the case for us during in our Dallas years. What better time to change all of that than the holidays…with kids?! 🙂
Dallas is about 5 hours from Little Rock, an easy drive for the most part, so we left as soon as breakfast was over on Friday morning (aka Black Friday). We arrived at the front door of the Hilton Anatole around 2pm, just in time to check into our gorgeous suite and let the boys run around for an hour or two before our first adventure.
The Hilton Anatole was amazing – I remember hearing a lot about it when we lived in Dallas, and drove by it several times, but didn’t know anything specific. Y’all, this hotel is SPECTACULAR. They were so kind to us, so accommodating, so easy to work with. We had to wait a few minutes before we could get into all three (3!!!!) of our rooms, but the hotel itself was a blast to explore while we waited. The conference center is beautiful and decorated to the hilt for Christmas. The boys loved all of the little elf houses scattered throughout the lobby; mom enjoyed the free Starbucks coffee that came with staying in a beautiful room.
When we made our way upstairs to our rooms I couldn’t believe what we were staying in: a huge 3-room suite with a parlor, a master bedroom, and another attached room! We felt so at home, not to mention that Nate and I were glad to have a room for each boy to make sleeping arrangements that much easier.
We drank some coffee and then hit the road again for a few minutes to head to NorthPark Center. P.S. the boys zonked out as soon as we hit the highway – isn’t that always the case? – and then promptly woke up again when we hit Black Friday traffic around the mall.
The thing we were most excited to see at NorthPark Center were The Trains at NorthPark. It’s an exhibit featuring the most elaborate toy trains in Texas, and benefits the Ronald McDonald house. The boys loved it because HELLO TRAINS! I lost count of how many times they exclaimed, “CHOO CHOOOOOO!” while the trains rolled by! Nate and I loved it because it was just so beautiful, so picturesque – so much time and attention went into creating this creative wonderland. I loved just staring at the details!!! While we didn’t partake, you can also have the kiddos take pictures in Santa’s cozy living room. So fun!
That night we met family for dinner at Pappasito’s, a long-standing favorite for us with Tex-Mex. It was delicious and the people were so friendly and kind, even though I know our kiddos put them through the test of a lifetime. Two over-tired boys will do that! Let’s just say I’m thankful for the margarita I enjoyed with my dinner 😉
Our suite had a great view of downtown Dallas, and it was really an experience to see it all lit up. We sat and chatted and while the boys watched airplanes fly in, a perfect way to end a busy first day!
Now I don’t know if this is something the city of Dallas did for us or not, but y’all my boys slept until 8:00AM the next morning. A HOLIDAY WEEKEND MIRACLE! I’m so glad they did because we had such a busy day ahead which started with a breakfast with Santa at the Hilton Anatole. Just a small part of the hotel’s storied holiday festivities, this was probably one of the highlights of the trip for W since Santa is just starting to become real to him now.
We hustled downstairs for a fantastic breakfast buffet (I literally had a little of everything; W had pancakes with whipped cream and sprinkles) and some one-on-one time with the big man in red himself. A was a little wary, although he did get charmed by Mrs. Claus in the end. Besides getting to meet Santa the boys also got to participate in story time, a hotel-wide scavenger hunt, face-painting, hot chocolate bars and more. But you know what? It was equally magical for us to see it all through their eyes too!
After our awesome breakfast we made our way to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, which is honestly where the boys could have stayed for the next 7 days. Not even remotely kidding here.
You guys, this museum is amazing and SO GREAT for those of us with littles who love to explore. There really is no such thing as reining my boys in, but it didn’t matter because the museum encouraged them (all of us, really) to get into things and get our hands dirty. We went from the top all the way to the bottom and still could have spent another day at least there!
From now until January 8th there are two special exhibits: Birds of Paradise and Giant Gems of the Smithsonian, which explores 39 beautiful birds from New Guinea and almost 30 pieces from the world-renowned National Gem Collection of the Smithsonian. So much beauty – you won’t want to miss!
We enjoyed lunch outside from the cafe on one of the prettiest days ever before letting the boys run a little more in the entrance area. This place is so kid-friendly!
Speaking of kid-friendly, our next stop was the Dallas Zoo! Our family loves zoos, and while the boys were dead tired they still got so excited to see all of the animals. We got to see all of our favorites, plus some up close that we haven’t seen yet. The zoo was so easy to walk through and stretch our legs in the sunshine, and the fresh air was just what the doctor ordered.
I had never been to the Dallas Zoo before, but it was super clean and well-kept which made the entire experience so much more enjoyable. I highly recommend making this part of a family trip!
Next up: a trip to Reunion Tower to explore the GeO-Deck! From now through the end of the holiday season they are offering visits with Santa, animal encounters, and other fun things not to mention the already spectacular views of the DFW metroplex. We loved getting to a see a 360-view of the city and watch the boys’ faces as they spotted trains way down below.
We even had our first family selfie of the trip there – it only took
a million twelve tries!
That night we dined at Pie Tap Pizza Workshop, a fun pizza place in the Design District. I loved this place so much – the food and service were phenomenal, and they were so kind to us even though we were the only ones there with kids. It was heavenly!
The next morning we got up and headed to breakfast at one of favorites, Cafe Brazil. It tasted just like old times!
After breakfast we headed to the Dallas Arboretum where we saw one of the coolest Christmas displays I’ve ever seen in my life. The outdoor exhibit is based the song 12 Days of Christmas and followed a long path throughout the gardens, stopping every once and a while to see each of the items from the song. There’s going to be a video of our trip coming soon where you can see these amazing displays, but I was so delighted in the artistry here. Hands down one of my favorite parts of the trip!
Another great thing is that this is another super kid-friendly place. The boys had a blast and were able to explore and learn too. You really can’t go wrong!
The great thing about Dallas is that it’s in such a temperate part of the country for this season – getting outside frequently is so easy. We were so sad to leave but also so thankful to have had such a wonderful experience. The boys have since been asking at least hourly when we got to go back to Dallas!
For even more ideas on how to make this holiday season special check out this great release fro the Dallas CVB. There is something for everyone! Our trip was great for us because everything we did was self-paced and very kid-friendly which made it so much less stressful for Nate and I.
I just can’t wait to explore Dallas again soon!