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Late September/early October 2016 Milana and I flew to Dallas for 72 hours. Dave has been traveling a lot for work, so we decided to fly in for a few days to see him. The weather was perfect (in the 70s) and we were very glad to get away from the 108 degrees it was here in Southern California! Hard to believe that Texas was cooler than SoCal, but it was and it felt glorious. We flew Southwest from SNA and it was a short 2.5 hour flight. We arrived at 9pm, so we picked up our Silvercar (highly recommend using them!) and headed straight to the hotel and explored the next day.
After reading tons of reviews and blog post mentioning Pecan Lodge as being the best bbq place in Dallas, I knew we had to try it. Everyone said that the lines are really long, so we made sure to arrive just before they opened at 11. We got there 15 minutes before opening, and there were only about 10 people in line. However I’ll probably get crucified for saying this, it was some of the worst bbq we have ever had! Milana is a little food critic and said that the brisket was too slimy (pure fat!) and the ribs were too hard (way overcooked, not fall off the bone). She was right! We ended up throwing most of the food away, I would have been so mad if we had to wait in a long line! The neighborhood this place is in, Deep Ellum, is super cute though and definitely worth a visit to walk around and explore!
After lunch, we headed to the Dallas Arboretum, to see the pumpkin village. It’s named one of the top 10 pumpkin patches in the US by the Travel Channel, and it certainly didn’t disappoint! There were pumpkin houses, pumpkin piles and basically pumpkins everywhere!
They also had an area set up with many different looking gourds, pumpkins and squash, with their names next to them. Who knew there were so many varieties!
This place is amazing, and if you are in the area in the fall, definitely make it a point to visit! We didn’t explore the rest of the arboretum much because we spent so much time here, but there is lots more to see if you have the time.
Milana is obsessed with American Girl (as you can see in the above photos!), so when she heard there was an AG store in Dallas, she really wanted to go. We live near the Los Angeles one, which is much bigger than Dallas, and always busy regardless of day/time. This one was deserted with maybe 4 other people in the store, which was actually nice and gave us a chance to see everything without huge crowds. I made reservations for the afternoon tea and off we went. If you’ve ever been inside an AG store, you know this is a very expensive hobby! Thankfully, she chose a couple of outfits, some accessories, a chair, and the Christmas package so our total wasn’t too terrible. We also got her doll Julie’s ears pierced and hair done in their salon, which she really enjoyed watching.
At the hair salon, they have a book with styles you choose based on the type of hair your doll has. Julie has smooth hair and Milana chose the single braid.
On to the restaurant. When you enter the bistro, your doll is given a chair to use and if you don’t have your own doll, you can borrow one of theirs.
While you wait for your food, there is a box of conversation starters on the table. Milana loves these!
During certain times of day, the bistro has the option to do the afternoon tea and that’s what we selected. You get several different little finger foods as well as desserts, and of course tea.
And because it’s a month away from Milana’s 5th birthday (we celebrate for a full month!), they sang to her and she got to blow out a candle. You can see the video here.
Milana loved her AG afternoon and was happy to carry her loot back to the hotel.
After shopping, we headed off to Klyde Warren Park in downtown Dallas. It’s a fairly new park (opened up in 2012) with lots of things to do! They have a children’s park, dog park, restaurant, games and all sorts of other activities. It’s a must visit when in Dallas!
The playground is pretty awesome, with some really cool climbing structures.
There was also a large, grassy field to play on.
One of the coolest features of this park is the section with books/magazines/games. They had both adult and children’s books, more parks should do this!
After the park, we headed to the Truck Yard for dinner. This is a must do when in Dallas! Keep in mind that after 9pm, you must be 21 or older to enter. There were several food trucks and a really cool outside seating area to enjoy your food. Such an awesome place!
We decided to give bbq another try, and the one from the food truck happened to be awesome! Much better than our Pecan Lodge experience. For dessert, we had ice cream from Motor Sisters and it was awesome as well.
The next day, we were heading to Grapevine to spend the night at Great Wolf Lodge before heading home. But first, we stopped at Start for lunch, which is an awesome healthy fast food place, serving non-fried, made from scratch real food. They have many organic options too, don’t miss this gem when in the area! They have a drive thru as well, making eating healthy on the go easy.
Milana chose the baked nuggets with fruit and I had one of their burgers, made with all-natural, grass-fed beef. Everything was really good!
After lunch, we headed to the Great Wolf Lodge. One recently opened near us (February 2016) and we have been there once, however we went right after opening and there were still tons of kinks to work out. This one has been opened for several years, and everything was great. The biggest difference was the flooring in the water park. In SoCal, I watched person after person go down, it was like walking on ice! Here, they didn’t have this issue. I’m not sure why the chain doesn’t use the same materials at all of their locations, but SoCal definitely lacked in that department!
The entire facility was decorated for Halloween, and starting October 1st, kids can dress up in costumes and participate in their Halloween parade/trick or treating. We missed it since we checked out early in the day October 1st, but we are giving our home location another try later this month, so Milana will get to do all the Halloween activities then. The activities are the same for all locations, so I won’t mention them all here however if you want to see what there is to do besides play at the water park, look at my Great Wolf Lodge post for SoCal, it’s all detailed there.
As soon as we checked in, we noticed that it was almost time for Bingo. This was one of Milana’s favorites last time we went so we headed straight to play. Unlike the SoCal location, this wasn’t done on the floor in the lobby. They have a separate room for all kids activities, and you can sit at a table instead of the floor. I liked this much better! Because of the time (not quite check in but past check out), we were the only ones there so Milana won every game.
After Bingo, we headed off to the water park.
All that water play makes you hungry! Just like the SoCal location, the food here was awful. But I found out that there’s a Grimaldi’s Pizzeria nearby and knew we had to go. When we lived in Jersey, we’d frequent their original Brooklyn location and though it’s rare we try pizza outside of the NYC area, this was a huge hit! We ordered the 4 cheese pizza, and we all loved it. So much so that Milana grabbed a slice before I was able to take a picture!
Dallas was definitely a fun city for a quick few day getaway. The weather was perfect and there was lots to see and do to occupy us the entire time. On the way home, we found a cute little airport play area, where Milana played before we boarded our fight home.