Let's face it, Dallas is not exactly high on peoples' list of places to visit as a tourist, but if you have friends or family living there, well, that's a different story. If you have already visited them in the past, you know you enjoy the laid back 'feel' of the city and it's suburbs. And if you live here, well, you know you love it like no other place in the nation. Why wouldn't you? After all, the city allows for affordable large homes, wonderful weather for most parts, and most importantly, being host to the nation's fourth largest Indian population means it offers lot of 'desi' perks- like: Good Indian food joints, Indian stores at short distances, and of course, Indian movies in theaters complete with our favorite samosa and chai package! Yes, we love Dallas, or shall I say- Dallaas (as some visiting from India often sweetly say :)). 

But we're talking about Dallas this holiday season- for visiting family/ friends. During the Thanksgiving break, we had a fabulous time, as first my brother's family visited us and then my sister-in-law's (my husband's sis) family visited us. They loved sight-seeing (in spite of near freezing temperatures- thanks to a visiting cold front too!) and they loved the food here! So what did we see and what did we eat? Here's what I recommend from our experience....

As we know, this year (Nov 22nd, to be specific) Dallas once again took the spot light on the national stage as the nation remembered John F. Kennedy on the occasion of his 50th death anniversary. Five decades ago, one of America's favorite president was assassinated right here, in the streets of Dallas downtown's Dealey Plaza. The assassin was Lee Harvey Oswald, who was also killed within two days of being in police custody, while being transported, by Jack Ruby. Needless to say, Dallas was in news that day and for days to come. Re-live the moments of history, that led to the tragic event, with your family, especially your nieces and nephews. We took ours to the 'Sixth Floor Museum' that houses the infamous window on the sixth floor of the then warehouse from where JFK was shot at. I was pleasantly surprised at how completely engrossed and interested the kids (from ages 5 to 15) in our group were at all the details of the events related to that fateful day 50 years back. At $16 for adults and $13 for kids (under 5 go free), its worth the price.

Finish the educational trip with a must-do ride on the 'JFK Trolley Tour' right there in the Dealey Plaza. It takes you back to that tragic day in history, down the streets, tracing the path of, first, JFK's motorcade before and when he was shot and then, the path of Oswald, after he shot JFK, to when he was caught and then later killed. The good news is that there's a groupon for $10 per adult ($20 value) and kids under 10 go at half price ($10). We took this with my sister-in-law's family since she has a three year old who wouldn't have enjoyed the dark and more serious atmosphere at the Sixth Floor Museum. This, on the other hand, was a fun ride for the little one. So, again, very worth. More so because this being the 50th anniversary, the kids will have something to talk about when they return to school. A must-do for sure, especially this year!

Finally, pay your homage to the beloved president at the JFK Memorial, also close by at Dallas downtown. 

What else is there to visit with family this holiday season that actually does relate to the holiday season? Do give your family a good 'feel' of the Holiday season here in Dallas, take them to Gaylord Texas at Grapevine. You have been there yourself, you don't need me to tell you how beautifully it's decorated with Christmas theme each year and how lovely it is to just hang around there- taking pictures, having dinner at the Riverwalk and then simply relaxing at the Java Coast coffee shop afterwards, overlooking the atrium, over a cup of latte. If you have time, add checking out the Ice exhibit there. Yes, you'll agree, another must-do with visiting family/ friends.  If kids are not an issue, their nightclub, the Glass Cactus, is fun too.

And if you want to give your loved ones a feel of small town Christmas celebrations, plan on taking them to the Grapevine downtown at Main St. You can feel the Christmas magic in the air as you drive down there. Park and hang around the musical Christmas tree, walk by the small family owned businesses along the street and drop in at the lovely stores like 'Good Things For All Seasons' to look at their crafty and innovative Christmas trees and other Christmas decors. Kids in our family loved hanging around there.

What else did we do? You can't visit Dallas and not enjoy in good Hindi movie in a theater, with samosa and chai during intermission- another perk of having a large Indian community in Dallas. Add to that the fact that the movies are half-off in Hollywood Theaters at Irving, every Wednesdays and at the Fun Asia Richardson every Sundays. We watched 'Gori Tere Pyaar Mein' and loved it.

Of course, no family visit is complete until you have introduced them to good 'desi' places to eat. Of course, you know every single visitor HAS to be taken to the Taj Chaat House in Irving for a truly to-be devoured golgappas served as in India- handed to you as you stand next to the stall! But apart from that, we wanted our family to enjoy the "dhaba" style food that we're still nostalgic about from back in India. And get this, they totally and completely loved the Kadai Ghost, Mutton Biryani, Chicken Boti and Chicken Tikka at Al Markaz in Carrollton. Their lunch combo will get you all that for just $ 7.99 per person. For the vegetarians, the best taste of 'dhaba' comes from eating the Punjabi Kadhi with Chawal at 'Urban Tadka' in Irving. We just did a take out and totally loved it. Nothing but Punjabi Kadhi with plain old white steamed Rice.

So that's about Dallas- this holiday season, for visiting family!
Have fun!

(Pictures by my kids- Top: collage of historic spots seen during the JFK Trolley Tour; Bottom: Christmas trees at Gaylord Texan and Grapevine Downtown. )

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