{Dallas Things to Do} Dallas Zoo

IMG_3856Lions and giraffes and koalas, oh my! While Daniel’s family visited over Spring Break, we went to one of my favorite attractions in the whole metroplex – The Dallas Zoo! Though our sweet girl¬†slept through most of our trip, we had an amazing day walking around enjoying the animals. It was so nice to get out of the house to do something out of the ordinary for a day! One of the best aspects of living in Dallas is the amazing weather in Spring and Fall, so February and March are actually some of the best times to visit the zoo. The crowds were low, but the weather was gorgeous and the animals were very active. Here are a few of my favorite tips for visiting the Dallas Zoo:

Before You Arrive

IMG_0026Save money by packing a cooler. Bring your own snacks and drinks (glass and alcoholic beverages are not permitted) – you can even pack a lunch to save a bit of money. There are some beautiful shaded areas to rest and have a snack. My favorites are ‘Base Camp’ in the Giants of the Savannah, where there is a shaded porch overlooking the elephant enclosure, and an area with picnic tables between the Texas Cats and Wings of Wonder exhibits. If you’d like to eat at one of the zoo’s most unique dining experiences, the Serengeti Grill in the Giants of the Savanna has floor to ceiling windows that allow you to watch the lions while you eat.

Ride the DART to add an adventure. The DART arrives at the gate of the Dallas Zoo and you save money on parking. If you show your ticket stubs on Monday or Tuesday, you save $2 on your zoo admission! It’s a fun addition to any day at the zoo.

Bring a swimsuit. Maybe not for the whole family, but at least for the littlest members! The children’s zoo is very well developed and it sure to captivate children of all ages. This area includes barn animals, underground creatures (featured in a room you have to crawl through!), and a koi pond. Your child’s favorite part will undoubtedly be the water feature. Kids can splash around and let off steam from a long day walking around the zoo, but if you want to stop meltdowns on the way home, it’s best to bring a swimsuit or at least a change of clothes.

When You Arrive

Plan to feed the giraffes. We have been to half a dozen zoos around the country. One of the most unique things about the Photo Jan 31, 12 24 39 PMDallas Zoo (and the exhibit that makes this zoo my favorite) is the giraffes. It only costs $5 to have a unique experience that will not soon be forgotten. For $5, you receive a giant head of lettuce (plenty for the family to share) and you are able to feed and pet the giraffes. They are not shy – they will come right up to the railings and stick their giant tongues out waiting for some food. The keeper will tell you how to feed them and show you how they like to be touched, then get your camera ready! Without traveling to Africa, you will likely never be this close to these beautiful, interesting creatures again.

Don’t miss the reptile house.
Tucked back in the corner of zoo is a building that could easily be looked over. If you pass by this building, you will be missing giant snakes, kimono dragons, and tiny poison dart frogs. The real treat, though, is behind closed doors. As you enter the reptile house, turn right immediately and walk through the door to see the most intriguing animal at the zoo – the albino alligator!

Check trainer encounter times. I love watching the trainers interact with their animals. They are so knowledgeable and able to share really interesting facts. You always get a better view of the animals and you can learn about each of the animals individually. We have seen the lion trainer and the elephant trainer and both were excellent – the last time we went to the zoo, we even heard an elephant trumpet!

What did I miss? What’s your favorite part of the Dallas Zoo?



{Dallas Things to Do} First Monday Trade Days

Photo May 31, 2 01 56 PMJust one hour east of Dallas is one of the most unique shopping venues I have ever experienced. Canton’s First Monday Trade Days literally has something for everyone. It is a combination of a flea market, a craft fair, and an antique store. They have everything from handmade home decor to antique tools, gorgeous furniture to unique clothes and accessories. Some of my favorite finds have been beautiful old windows for a craft project and hand stamped flags for my daughter’s nursery. My dream purchase would be one of these tables made of upcycled bowling lanes!Photo May 31, 10 25 28 AM

The grounds are huge and it would be impossible to see everything in a day, you would only make a dent if you stayed the entire weekend. My favorite day to go is Thursday, when I can avoid the stifling crowds and get first pick of the goods, but be aware that not all of the vendors will be set up on Thursday.

IMG_2928You could grab a hotel to stay overnight, but I recommend the nearby Purtis Creek State Park campgrounds. Make sure you book early as the campsites will sell out on Trade Days weekends (which we found out the hard way – read about that trip here).

This is a great trip for a girl’s weekend or a date day. You can also strap your kiddo into a carrier or wheel them in a wagon for a fun family outing. They will love the fair food like kettle corn, frozen chocolate-covered bananas, and corn dogs.

Have you been to Canton Trade Days? What treasures have you discovered?

{Dallas Things to Do} Our Babymoon Adventure

I have never been camping. My idea of ‘roughing it’ is a hotel that doesn’t serve breakfast! However, Daniel’s family LOVES camping and goes regularly, so it’s odd that for the four years of our marriage I have somehow avoided this rite of passage. Well, no longer! I am a camper – I have the bug bites to prove it ūüôā

I decided that we should¬†go camping before we had a little one to complicate the matter and the perfect weekend coincided with my girl’s trip to Canton First Monday Trade Days. I planned our weekend – I would head over to Canton for the day with the girls then Daniel would pick me up at the end of the day. 1417709_10201503586488826_881059066_oWe would camp for the night and head back to Canton in the morning because he had never been. Unfortunately, I decided all of this two weeks before our trip. I had no idea at the time, but all the campsites near Canton fill up quickly during Trade Days, so when I looked on the website for Purtis Creek State Park¬†the only campsites they had available were hike-in. I should have just stopped right then and tried for another day, but is that what I did? Of course not! I told Daniel I was up for it¬†and we booked the hike-in campsite

1441534_10201503584088766_1752250702_nNow, just to remind you, this was our¬†babymoon –¬†I am seven¬†months pregnant! We arrived with way too much stuff and hiked a mile into our campsite. We (well, Daniel) pitched the tent and started a fire. We had our dinner by the lake and watched the sun set while we ate s’mores.

It was actually a lot of fun – and it was wonderful to get away for an evening. We cooked hot dogs and watched a movie in our tent.
We saw a raccoon and a ten point buck. Of course it rained (when there was a ZERO percent chance!) while our rain flap was not on and our stuff got pretty wet, but it was a gorgeous night and I loved spending it under the stars with my best friend.

But can assure you that when I retell the story to our kids, it will definitely start with “You’ll never guess what your dad made me do…”



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{Dallas Things to Do} Dallas’ Best BBQ

Lately, Daniel and I have been watching¬†a show on Netflix called BBQ Pitmasters. They follow these amazing BBQ chefs around the country, documenting as they fight their way through intense competitions. Needless to say, watching this show has left us with quite a¬†craving for some excellent BBQ and the chain¬†restaurants¬†just weren’t making the cut. I did some digging and discovered¬†one of the teams featured later on the show was from a¬†restaurant¬†here in Dallas – Lockhart Smokehouse.

We ventured out of North Dallas through downtown and we arrived at the Bishop Arts District. We had never visited the Bishop Arts District before, so we weren’t sure what to expect, but it was exactly what we were craving. The location was great – tons of unique shops with amazing design elements. By the time we got to Lockhart, we were already planning to walk around after lunch. ¬†But that’s not the most important part…

The¬†Barbecue…OH MY the¬†barbecue!! It was SO GOOD. They pride themselves on having moist, flavorful meat that doesn’t require sauce and they succeed! It was easily the best meat I have ever tasted – seasoned perfectly and just melt-in-your-mouth delicious. I had some turkey and a sausage link, while Daniel got the brisket (their¬†specialty). On the website, it described the burnt ends of the brisket as ‘meat candy’ and I thought it would be an exaggeration, but it was not! It was fantastic and we can’t wait to go back (and take friends!)

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Our stroll through the Bishop Arts District left me feeling inspired to design all afternoon Рhere are a few of the fun shops we found:

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