Location: Dallas and Fort Worth

What You’ll Need: Sketch pad, beret

The body of downtown Dallas has been prayed over more times than I can count. And while it may take an act of God to finally bring the Trinity River Project to life, there’s no question that when the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts debuts, in October, downtown will have more energy than ever. Still, that doesn’t mean you have to wait until the fall for a great arts weekend in the Metroplex.


The immediate upside to checking in at the Joule, a boutique hotel on Main Street in Dallas, is that you have no doubt that you are traveling for pleasure, not business. Perhaps it’s the massive gears hanging next to the reception desk or the sleek, angular furniture reminiscent of a high-dollar, happy-ending version of A Clockwork Orange. The lingering effects are how plush and comfortable the amenities are, even if you spend the first fifteen minutes in your room figuring out how to turn on lights, open cabinets, and run water in the sink. After you unpack, head to the tenth-floor pool deck, with its wonderful view of Pegasus Plaza below and downtown buildings above. The star here is the pool itself: One end extends past the building and juts out over the street, a dramatic effect heightened by the fact that the far side is enclosed by what I can only assume is very sturdy glass.

When you’re ready for solid ground, zip over to the booming Arts District. You can monitor the construction progress of the Wyly Theatre and the Winspear Opera House, which are next to the famed Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. Head a block southwest on Flora Street to soak up some sun in the outdoor sculpture garden at the Nasher Sculpture Center. The elegantly manicured lawn provides one of downtown’s most tranquil spots, as does James Turrell’s Tending, (Blue), a walk-in exhibit with a glorious skylight. Just next door is the Dallas Museum of Art, which also boasts a sculpture garden, with relaxing waterfalls. For dinner, walk another block to Stephan Pyles, check out the gaudy sports cars parked out front, and dine on some of the city’s best prime beef tenderloin with sweet-potato chilaquiles. If you still haven’t had your fill when you arrive back at the Joule, now bathed in gorgeous blue and purple lights, relive your dancing days at the hotel’s exclusive PM nightclub.


For a low-key morning, start at Mama’s Daughters’ Diner for a from-scratch breakfast (ah, the simple pleasures of Belgian waffles and hot coffee) with a crowd that includes families, artists, and folks who haven’t been to bed yet. Then it’s off to Fort Worth, about thirty miles west, to the cultural district. First explore the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, with its beautiful “floating” pavilions and one-and-a-half-acre pond. You can scratch your head over Dan Flavin’s Diagonal of May 25, 1963 (resist the temptation to say, “I could have mounted a fluorescent light at a forty-five-degree angle”) or marvel at Anselm Kiefer’s dramatic steel, tin, and lead sculpture, Book With Wings. Afterward head just up the street to the Kimbell Art Museum, whose halls you probably first visited in high school and never grow tired of. If you’re game, stroll over to the Amon Carter Museum, which specializes in American art. Or if the day is coming to a close too soon, relax in the lovely park between the Kimbell and the Amon Carter. You might not see it all, but it’s nice to know that everything will be waiting for you next weekend.

Dallas-Fort Worth Arts Tour Directory

Amon Carter Museum 3501 Camp Bowie Blvd., 817-738-1933 or cartermuseum.org.

Dallas Museum of Art 1717 N. Harwood, 214-922-1200 or dallasmuseumofart.org.

Joule and PM 1530 Main, 214-748-1300 or luxurycollection.com/joule. Rates start at $199 a night.

Kimbell Art Museum 3333 Camp Bowie Blvd., 817-332-8451 or kimbell art.org.

Mama’s Daughters’ Diner 2014 Irving Blvd., 214-742-8646 or mamasdaughtersdiner.com.

Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth 3200 Darnell, 817-738-9215 or themodern.org.

Nasher Sculpture Center 2001 Flora, 214-242-5100 or nashersculpturecenter.org.

Stephan Pyles 1807 Ross Ave., Ste. 200; 214-580-7000 or stephanpyles.com.