chihulyglassHow would you complete this sentence: Dallas is a city of___? Fun? Family travel? Oil? Big business? Education? Cowboy hats? It’s all that and more! Ken Topolsky, producer of TNT’s TV show Dallas refers to the metropolis as “The city of optimism.” A New York native, he adds, “It’s nothing like I expected it to be.”  Having just finished my first ever visit to Dallas, Texas, as part of the Family Travel Conference press tour, I found both sentiments to be true.

Dallas is a city both old and new at the same time. Founded in 1841 and home to third largest concentration of Fortune 500 companies in the U.S, it is a city marked by prosperity and growth. Shiny, architecturally stunning buildings of glass, steel and concrete soar above the lower-rise, historic buildings that mark their spot on the city’s evolving timeline. Family Fun Traveling Mom refers to Dallas as “where big things happen!

Not just for business, families matter, too
The optimism Topolsky refers to is reflected not only in the successes of businesses but also in the opportunities for family fun and adventure found throughout the city. He also called Dallas “a city building for its future” and there’s no better example of that than the Dallas Arboretum.

Located on the eastern shore of White Rock Lake and referred to by Southern Living magazine as one of the “top 10 public gardens in the country,” this family friendly massive, botanical garden sits on 66 acres of lush landscape and houses two historic mansions.

While we were there glassworks by the renowned artist, Dale Chihuly, added jaw-dropping moments of mesmerizing beauty in an already extremely beautiful setting (note: the Chihuly exhibit is on display until December 31, 2012).

Living, learning and growing in Dallas
Equally inspiring, and with an eye set on the future, is the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden. Currently under construction and on track to open in early 2013, the Children’s Adventure Garden is slated to be the finest of its kind in the world.

We could only peak through construction barricades and over fences but it was clear that this 8-acre science education facility will feature interactive, hands-on, experiential learning opportunities. Families traveling with kids, multi-generational groups of all ages will fall in love with this garden and all of the opportunities it will offer.

With a curriculum designed to meet both national and state science education standards and through collaboration with Dallas’ Southern Methodist University’s Simmons School of Education, the Children’s Adventure Garden becomes a living learning laboratory that will grow and evolve to meet educational needs for years to come.

Planning to return to Dallas with family

I know I can’t wait to travel back to Dallas with my family to explore the 66-acre Arboretum and the more than 150 exhibits that will make up the Children’s Adventure Garden. In particular, the inner-child in me is looking forward to the Incredible Edible Garden and the Skywalk, an elevated walk through the tree canopy. I can’t wait to find out who lives in the tree tops of the Children’s Adventure Garden!

The Dallas Arboretum is located at 8525 Garland Road, Dallas, 75218, minutes from downtown Dallas.

Disclaimer: My tour of the Dallas Arboretum and the set of the TV show, Dallas, were hosted by Visit Dallas. Opinions expressed are my own.

Z. Kelly Queijo is founder of SmartCollegeVisit.com, a college-visit traveling planning and college search portal for college-bound teens and their families. She is also a freelance journalist focusing on higher education, technology, travel and college visits. Follow her on Twitter @zkellyq and @collegevisit.