The US city of Dallas, Texas, is huge, glamorous and the heart of the commercial American Dream.
The ninth largest US city, everything is bigger in Texas. The city itself covers 385 square miles, has a total population of 1.2 million and, from hats to malls and hairstyles, everything is on a grand scale. The headquarters of numerous corporations, downtown Dallas is a mass of gleaming skyscrapers and the city considers itself the sophisticated face of Texas.
The Dallas area is believed to have been first visited by European settlers at the end of the 1700s, but was not founded until 1841 and was named after the eleventh United States vice president, George Mifflin Dallas. An important prairie trading post after the Civil War, Dallas rapidly became a rich city.
US president John F Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas in 1963 and the city was also put on the map by the huge success of the television soap opera Dallas in the 1970s and 1980s. Following a dip, the city is now booming again and the evidence of money is everywhere.
The city has a strong artistic heart in the Reunion district of western downtown; named in honour of the 19th century utopian community La Reunion. Cultural offerings include some good jazz venues, the Dallas Black Dance Theater, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, free summer Shakespeare in the Park productions and the Lakewood Theatre art deco cinema.
Dallas has a collection of interesting museums, the best of which are the African American Museum, the bizarre Conspiracy Museum, Nasher Sculpture Center and the Sixth Floor Museum, about the Kennedy assassination.
Fans of the soap can visit Southfork Ranch, the location of Dallas, and see the gun that shot JR, Jock's 1978 Lincoln Continental and the Miss Elie's Place deli. Younger visitors and families will appreciate Science Place, the impressive Dallas World Aquarium and the delightful Texas Discovery Gardens.
Dallas is located right in the centre of America's Bible Belt and churches are scattered across the city. The other local religion is sport and the city is home to the Dallas Cowboys football team and its famous cheerleaders. For the authentic Wild West experience, the Mesquite Championship Rodeo is just outside the city.
For those looking for lively nightlife, the quirky Deep Ellum district of the city is a first port of call. Home to a host of trendy clubs, a number of offbeat theatres and arts venues and an eclectic collection of bars, it has something for all tastes until the early hours.
Dallas has more shopping centres per capita than any United States city with huge malls on the outskirts. There are more than 5,000 restaurants across the city, serving everything from fast food to haute cuisine, and the numerous Tex-Mex outlets tend to provide large, tasty and well-priced meals.
The city is served by Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and flights to the United States are becoming increasingly cheap as airlines increase their routes. Dallas gets a lot of business traffic and hotel prices and rooms reflect this, so it is worth looking around for good deals and interesting places to stay.
Summer in Dallas is stiflingly hot and winters are cool, with milder spring and autumn offering a pleasant climate and most of the city's holidays and festivals.