Finally, your tax refund check has arrived, and it couldn’t have come soon enough because this refund is your entire vacation fund. As you open the envelope with dreams of Hawaii or Bermuda, you see the amount is not as much as you thought. You remember now that you let your kids fill out the information on Turbo Tax, and that probably wasn’t the best idea. Not a problem — you didn’t want to go to Hawaii anyway, and you’d much rather have a staycation.
As you wipe away your tears, you throw a dart at your map of Dallas to find a place to go. The dart lands on the West End. That was a practice shot — obviously the first shot is a practice one — everyone knows that. Another throw of the dart and West End again. Fine. Third shot counts and no more do-overs. The dart lands on West End for the final time. What the hell is going on? Is there a magnet in the wall? Welp, let’s do this, let’s find seven things to do in the West End.
Swim With the Fishes (Metaphorically)
There’s no better way to start a relaxing day than by going to the zoo of the sea, the Dallas World Aquarium. The Dallas World Aquarium opened in 1992 and is home to attractions and screaming kids on field trips. From the exotic eight-story Mundo Maya exhibit to the 20,000-gallon walk-through aquarium tunnel, the DWA re-creates the environments of animals from all over the world.
Although there are sharks, rays and a variety of fish species, the aquarium is not limited to aquatic-only creatures. Birds, reptiles and mammals can be found throughout the building, like the two-toed sloth that hasn’t moved since the aquarium opened. The DWA also provides a large collection of endangered species a stable habitat to thrive in, ensuring future generations a chance to see the rare animals.
Learn About a Dark Chapter of History
The Dallas Holocaust Museum is one of the top authorities on the genocidal crimes committed during the Holocaust. Open since 1984, the museum promotes teaching the history of the Holocaust and advocates for continued efforts to fight against prejudice, hatred and indifference.
The museum is open seven days per week, hosts a variety of guest speakers, and combines a mixture of mainstay exhibits with limited-time galleries and pieces of history. It focuses on April 19, 1943, and explains the historical significance of how that date shaped the years to come. Now when that uncle you have to see every Christmas starts quoting Alex Jones, you can shut him down with the facts you learned.
Find Your Inner Zen
OK, so now you smell like fish and are feeling a little bummed out. Easy enough to fix because the Kadampa Meditation Center opened its West End location in February 2017.
People from all different walks of life, regardless of their spiritual beliefs, meet at the Kadampa Meditation Center to find inner peace. This isn’t your average strip-mall massage parlor either; there are Buddhist monks to guide you on a journey of self-enlightenment.
Those uninitiated in the art of letting go of the stress of daily life can attend weekly classes at the meditation center. The classes last, on average, an hour to an hour and a half and provide an introduction to Buddhist teachings. For those who need a release but are on a time crunch, the Kadampa Meditation Center also has 30-minute lunchtime meditations. You can hop in and still make sure you’re back at work on time for your boss to yell at you about something new.
Discover a New Restaurant
It wouldn’t be a day in the West End without eating at that great restaurant you went to years ago. As you approach where you remembered it being, you see it’s closed down. That’s a shame, but there was that other place you always meant to go ... and you find it’s also closed down. Don’t let this get you down — there are many great places available to eat in the historic district.
Outside the chains like Friday’s and Sonny Bryan’s are a multitude of hidden gems. Planet Hollywood was a dumpster fire anyway, so why not give something new a try?
Tutta’s Pizza has been making waves as the place to go in West End if you want that perfect slice. Gaining steam as a popular food truck, Tutta’s opened its West End location in February 2016. Focused on putting some much-needed energy back into the West End, Tutta’s offers a wide selection of food and beers while providing a great venue for local bands to perform.
Fetishize a Spot Where a President Was Shot
As you drive near Dealey Plaza, you’ll see cars avoiding hitting people taking photos on the street. They’re tourists from all over the world coming to see the spot President John F. Kennedy was shot. Near the grassy knoll, conspiracy theorists set up their poster boards and self-published books to answer questions they are in no way qualified to answer. Amateur sleuths come to compare notes on what they think really happened. Once they feel satisfied with their findings, they can start working on their next life’s work, “How to not have such a grim vacation.”
The Sixth Floor Museum provides more information from that fateful day in history with news footage, artifacts and images detailing the life of the slain president. The museum stands both as an impartial chronicle of the events that transpired and as a memorial for Kennedy. After you finish learning about the assassination, you can go down to the gift shop for a souvenir.
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The Old Red Museum
The Old Red Museum of Dallas County History and Culture preserves and celebrates the colorful history of the city. Filled with historical artifacts from Dallas County, the Old Red Museum — hold on. The Old Red Museum is great. Please go to it, but we need to go back to Kennedy.
Take Part in the Cash In of a Tragedy
There’s a gift shop in the museum about Kennedy’s assassination. It sells Kennedy pencils, books and puzzles of his face feet away from where he was shot. You can learn about how a nation mourned and then get a scoop of ice cream in the same building. It could be more distasteful; there could be fun Kennedy-themed names for the sandwiches sold, but that line wasn’t crossed. It’s just a reminder that if something can be sold, it will be. If it was possible to pull the Titanic out of the ocean, there would be a cafe selling Iceberg Dead Ahead Salads in it before the boat dried.
Anyway, it looks like we’ve all learned there are a multitude of great things to do in the West End.