Smart choices for the healthy traveler
Suggestions for a DFW layover
1. ART WALK
Dallas Fort Worth International Airport is made up of five semicircular terminals built around an arterial road known as “International Parkway”. And it is big. Larger in fact than the island of Manhattan and the 3rd busiest airport in the world. So if you have some time to spare there are plenty of corridors to stroll, and if you are in terminal D you have an ideal walking path. Endorsed by the American Heart Association, this path measures seven-tenths of a mile and leads right through the Airport’s Art Program. Featuring more than 30 sculptures, paintings and mosaics by local, national and international artists this collection of work breathes life and culture into the terminal. Underfoot you will see a series of colourful medallion terrazzo floors. Hanging from the ceiling and on the walls will be eye-catching paintings and sculptures, many on a very impressive scale. And if you make it all the way to the end and you want to work the legs even further, climb the 55-foot high staircase up to the Skylink. Not a bad workout. Not a bad walk.
2. PEACE & QUIET
As is often the case, the two quietest spots in the airport are the Yoga room and the Chapel. In DFW there are five interfaith Chapels (at A24, B25, C15, D21 & E4) and two Yoga rooms (one at gates B1/D40 & one at E31). It’s never too late to roll out your first mat and to introduce this ancient tradition to your lifestyle. The benefits of yoga are numerous: it improves your posture, muscle strength, flexibility, blood flow, breathing, self-esteem, immunity, and heart-rate, as well as releasing tension and making you feel happy, healthy and focused. When it comes to prayer the benefits are, or course, infinite.
Texas is known for BBQ and TexMex. You will find several examples of this cuisine across the donut-shaped terminals of DFW. You know what they say, when in Rome eat like the Romans, and when in Dallas eat like the Cowboys! Sticky ribs, smokehouse specials, tasty burritos: yummy. If you are arriving back from a Sanctifly workout at 24 Hour Fitness then maybe you deserve some protein. Having said that, if you are determined to track down a healthier alternative there are options. For smoothies and yogurts head to Red Mango (B10, C22) or Freshens at gate E26, while Banh Shop near gate D10 make good fresh baguettes and salads inspired by Southeast Asian street food. If you have no dietary restrictions I recommend indulging in the chopped brisket sandwich at Cousin’s Bar-B-Q! Cousins are low-and-slow specialists with a reputation as one of the best smokehouses in the state. All their meat is prepared, packaged and shipped daily from their pits in Fort Worth. The ultimate Lone Star meal. When in Rome.
DFW Airport has a fantastic outdoor area from which to watch the aircraft takeoff and land on the runways. Founders Plaza Observatory has become a favourite spot for locals, airport staff and aviation enthusiasts. Post-mounted binoculars are provided to allow people to get a closer look at the planes on approach or as they accelerate towards take-off. To enhance the experience radio broadcasts can be heard of the air-traffic control conversations. This 6-acre area is popular with families and is known as a great picnic destination. So grab a sandwich or a salad in the airport then take it outside to ‘experience the exhilaration and awe of planes landing and taking off right in front of your eyes'. Best seat in the house.
5. BEAR CREEK GOLF
You can’t get a golf course closer to an airport than Bear Creek is to Dallas Fort Worth. Adjacent to the DFW grounds Bear Creek Golf Course is a 36-hole championship-calibre course with an excellent reputation. The two courses - west and east - were both designed by renowned golf course architect Ted Robinson. Golf Digest listed it as one of the “Top 50 Resort Courses in America” and The Wall Street Journal called it one of the “10 Great Places To Play Golf”. If you don’t have the time for a full round there are chipping areas, putting greens and driving ranges on which to hone your skills or pass the time. 35 balls will cost you just $5 and you can get 125 for $12. Five minute cab ride. Good restaurant too.
6. BIG KID
We all grow up, but not all of us grow out of our childhood obsessions. If you were once a child with a love for Lego or a kid fascinated by wildlife then the city of Grapevine, Texas may have a couple of treats for you. Legoland and Sea Life are both located on the same site not far from Grapevine Lake. If you take a 10-minute taxi to this twin attraction there is every chance you will be the only grownup paying for one ticket. Yes, its a place for kids. But hey, what do you care! There’s no shame in reliving your youth. Besides, you’re never too old to enjoy toys and animals. Legoland has several exciting features for you to wander around. If those colorful little interlocking bricks still thrill you then you will have a great time seeing all the environments and sculptures on display. Sea Life contains thousands of creatures, as well as interactive touch pools and a 360° ocean tunnel. Spread across 16 zones you will encounter starfish, jellyfish, turtles and reef sharks all swimming and floating in the tanks of this popular aquarium for your interest and amusement. You can pay into one or the other, or pick up a combined ticket for both. Both attractions start from around $16 if you book online. A feast for the eyes. And a treat for the big kid.
7. SALAD BAR
If you have had enough of eating airport food and you need something fresher and healthier take a 10 minute cab to Southlake. There you will find Salata on the East State Highway. They have been in business for 12 years and today they have around 50 locations across several states. Calling themselves the Next Generation Salad Bar, they believe that if you eat good, you will look good and feel good. Step up to the counter, choose some leaves, select from 50 toppings chopped daily in-house, and top it off with one of their 10 signature dressings and the fresh, lean protein of your choice. Soups and iced teas are also available. Salad prices start from $8 but once you have added meat and all your favourite ingredients you can expect to pay closer to $15. You can get it all in a bowl or in a wrap. Then, we suggest taking it outside. Walk back to the highway and take a right onto State street. That will lead you down to McPherson Park and Southlake Town Square. Find a bench and enjoy your fresh crunchy lunch while you watch the people of Southlake go about their day. Better than a chimichanga in the terminal. Arrive back looking and feeling fresh and healthy.
8. GRAPEVINE LAKE
Grapevine Lake is actually a reservoir with the primary purpose of acting as a municipal water source. However most locals know it as a place of recreation. A pleasant place to visit for a stroll or even for watersports; fishing, swimming, and various forms of boating all take place regularly on the reservoir. Discover Kayak offer classes from April to October with a popular instructor. He is located to the southwest of the lake about 20 minutes in a taxi from the airport. If you have the time to spare and his schedule fits with yours why not give it a shot. Paddling out across still water for a few hours can be very relaxing for the mind and invigorating for the body. Rockledge Park is even closer to the airport and is a good spot to hike by the waterfront or take a quick swim. Nearby there is a large hotel called the Gaylord Texan Resort where you might like to grab a bite in one of their several bars and restaurants. And if you want to dine right on the lake look no further than Big Daddy’s Ship Store. Looks like a dive but the burgers and seafood snacks are good and the view and atmosphere is great. Best enjoyed with live blues.
DFW Airport is located halfway between two cities; hence the name. Fort Worth is to the west and Dallas is to the east. If you have the required hours available before your flight take your pick and you can be there by taxi inside half an hour. Dallas is the cultural hub of north Texas. There are art museums, a botanical gardens, a zoo and Reunion Tower - an iconic observation deck with city views. But if you do make the journey to downtown Dallas you have to make your way to Dealey Plaza, the site of John F Kennedy’s assassination. Stand on the concrete pedestal where the most famous home video in US history was filmed by Abraham Zapruder. Look for the large X on Elm Street which marks the place where the second fatal shot hit. Visit the Sixth Floor Museum of the Texas School Book Depository, the spot from which, according to four government investigations, LHO shot JFK. See the view from the window as Oswald would have seen it. Wander the area, feel the history, or even choose to engage with one of the many street peddlers selling books and newspapers about the first, the original conspiracy theory. Fascinating and moving.
10. FORT WORTH
If you decide instead to visit Fort Worth for your layover, go straight to Sundance Square. The Square spans 35 blocks and has dozens of options for shopping and dining. It is a popular area with modern and historic buildings along its red-bricked streets where you can browse the gift shops, clothing stores, and jewellers before sitting down to steaming Prince Edward Island mussels at the Bird Cafe or a rooftop cocktail at Reata. The Square is also the center of entertainment in the city. Comedy venues, live music bars, and the theatres surrounding the square offer plenty to see and do. Being on a layover it is likely that you won’t be in town at the right times to catch the acts but you never know, you might get lucky.
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