If sightseeing time is limited, the place to start is Fort Worth. Head to the Cultural District, where you can visit five of the best museums in the Southwest, including the striking new Modern Art Museum designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando. Don't like modern? Mosey next door to the world-renowned Kimbell Art Museum, including masterpieces from Fra Angelico, Claude Monet, and Pablo Picasso, or the Amon Carter Museum, featuring a vast collection of American art from the likes of Frederic Remington and Georgia O'Keeffe. For Old West lovers, there's the National Cowgirl Museum & Hall of Fame. A few miles away you'll find the Stockyards National Historic District, where you can watch daily cattle drives.
No trip to this town "where the West begins" would be complete without melt-in-your-mouth barbecue. Two local favorites: Angelo's, where mounted animal heads complete the decor, and the Railhead Smokehouse, with plates of smoked ribs and sausage at modest prices.
After all that chow and museum-hopping, the AA League Frisco RoughRiders might provide a change of pace during a summertime visit. The Dr Pepper/Seven Up Ballpark opened last year about 25 miles north of Dallas and is winning acclaim from baseball fans. If you prefer a trendier crowd, the people-watching at Hotel ZaZa's Dragonfly restaurant in Dallas' Uptown neighborhood is almost better than its eclectic menu designed with the help of consulting chef Stephan Pyles. The elegant Abacus in the Knox-Henderson district offers creative dishes that fuse Southwestern and Asian flavors.
With another day to spend, you can squeeze in some of Big D's must-see attractions. Tops on the list is the new Nasher Sculpture Center, a light-filled museum and outdoor garden near the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center downtown. Donated by real estate developer and collector Raymond Nasher, the center is home to more than 300 sculptures by such artists as August Rodin and Picasso.
Weather permitting, consider a visit to one of the city's lushest oases: the 66-acre Dallas Arboretum on White Rock Lake. Some time amid the soothing fountains and towering trees is sure to make the plane ride home a bit more bearable. By Wendy Zellner