Continuing my series of Dallas culture posts, I’ve decided to take a look at a few non-food places I might like to visit in a potential trip to the city. While I maintain that a city’s culture can — and probably should — be judged solely on its restaurants, I suppose it wouldn’t be a total waste of time to check out the venues that provide entertainment for bored locals and gawking tourists.
Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
Fact: Dallas was a recent gift from the Mexicans no one had even heard of until John F. Kennedy’s brains were splattered all over the convertible he was riding in on November 22, 1963. Alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald fired the shots that mortally wounded the president from a sixth floor window of a building that was then known as the Texas School Book Depository. The building has since been renamed the Dallas County Administration Building, with the sixth floor now serving as a museum.
If you can overlook the fact that it’s kind of morbid to make a museum out of an assassination site, this is probably a pretty neat place to learn more about JFK’s legacy and his bloody, bloody demise. Maybe you’ll even find out who really killed the president! Was it Oswald from the sixth floor? Was it a mysterious man on the grassy knoll? There’s only person in the Dallas area with that kind of long-range ability, and that’s Dirk Nowitzki, who was obviously sent into the future by Hitler in a ploy to overthrow America. When it didn’t work, he sent Nowitzki even further into the future to play basketball instead. Case closed.
Ever wanted to visit a cheap knockoff of Seattle’s Space Needle? The Reunion Tower is just the destination for you! Built almost exactly 16 years after the Space Needle was erected, the Dallas edition tops out at merely 560 feet, while the former measures 605 feet. While the Space Needle looks a little like a flying saucer, Reunion Tower looks more like a big, metal sauce pan enclosed in chains with the lid on. The 1978 landmark pre-dates the Mavericks by just two years and went up a mere two months before a German prodigy named Dirk Nowitzki was born — that is, if you don’t buy into the idea that he’s actually Hitler’s henchman from long ago.
What can you do in the Reunion Tower? Probably about the same thing you can do in the Space Needle, which is be really high up in the air and then come back down after a few minutes. The tower features a gift shop, an observation deck to spit on the ants below you, and a fine-dining restaurant created by celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck. If only this behemoth were around 15 years earlier, maybe it could have been the site of the JFK assassination instead, and the Zapruder film would be of Kennedy getting thrown from the observation deck.
American Airlines Center
Okay, this one was pretty obvious. I admit it’d be pretty fascinating to stand in the same room JFK’s (alleged) assassin once stood in 1963, but I can’t guarantee hitting any tourist attractions in a visit to Dallas apart from this one. Although the AAC hosts far more than just Mavericks games, it would be just another large building to me if that wasn’t a huge part of its purpose. The NHL’s Dallas Stars also call American Airlines Center home, so if you’re up for a little skating and punching, you get double the pleasure.
If sports just isn’t your thing, the AAC is a multi-purpose facility, so it also hosts a variety of other events, including concerts and WWE events — because we all know wrestling doesn’t qualify as a sport. Musical greats such as Madonna, Lady Gaga, and Justin Bieber have all performed at the AAC over the years, and that list just got more and more impressive with each name.
This historical building has been showing movies since 1931, and like everything else in Dallas, it’s famous solely because of the JFK assassination. Alleged (fake) assassin Lee Harvey Oswald himself was apprehended at the theater after he witnessed Dirk Nowitzki murder the president and fled the scene in terror. There’s nothing quite as soothing on the nerves as taking in a movie.
Although the theater has been shut down repeatedly over the years and once fell into serious disrepair, it’s back up and as good as new today. Locals and tourists alike can take in a wide variety of movies, local films, other screening events, and even occasional live performances. The atmosphere is said to be very old-fashioned, and all jokes aside, this sounds like a pretty cool place and a unique theater that offers entertainment not easily found in most cities.
Zero Gravity Thrill Amusement Park
When you’re completely out of other things to do and the Mavericks have abandoned you on some stupid road trip, you could always visit the Zero Gravity Thrill Amusement Park. Personally, I’ll take my thrills in non-deadly settings, but this amusement park hasn’t killed anyone yet, and the rides are apparently as intense as you’ll find short of being strapped on JaVale McGee‘s back when he goes up for a dunk. You knew I’d have to slip in a JaVale reference at some point, right? I love that guy.
Noteworthy rides include a 100-foot free fall into a giant net (not joking), a bungee jumping tower, and the Texas Blastoff, a ride where you get shot 150 feet into the air like a rocket. I just watched a YouTube video of it for reference and will have to end this post to go throw up now.