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Find Your Cowboy Cool in Texas

If “cowboy cool” has a home, it’s in northeast Texas.

In a state synonymous with the Wild West and a spirit of rugged independence, Dallas, Fort Worth and several other nearby destinations are putting a 21st-century spin on classical cowboy culture. In addition to experiencing the best of the West, groups that visit this area of Texas will get their fill of arts, gardens and distinctive Lone Star charm.

This tour begins and ends in the Dallas area and includes time in Grapevine, a Dallas suburb, and Fort Worth, a city so close by that it shares an airport with Dallas. From there, it goes to Waco, a booming college town southwest of Fort Worth and then back east to Tyler. From there, groups can go 90 miles back north to Dallas to catch flights home or continue by motorcoach to points east. It’s possible to do this trip in five days and four nights, but if you have the time, making it a full week will allow for some richer experiences and opportunities to soak up the essence of Texas life.

Arts Alive in Dallas

The arts are thriving in Dallas, a city that puts a decidedly glamorous spin on the traditional Texas cowboy aesthetic. Dallas is one of the wealthiest cities in the state, and local philanthropists have funded a vibrant cultural scene that includes museums and major performing-arts spaces.

Arts lovers visiting the city will want to immerse themselves in the Dallas Arts District, the largest urban arts district in the nation. This 19-block area is anchored by museums and performing-arts centers.

To catch a great show, check out the schedule of events at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in the district. The center covers 10 acres and includes the Winspear Opera House, home to the Dallas Opera and the Texas Ballet Theater, and other performance spaces used by organizations such as the Dallas Theater Center, the Dallas Black Dance Theatre and the Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico.

While you’re there: This fall will mark the debut of “A Tasteful Place,” an $8 million farm-to-table vegetable, herb and fruit garden at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. Interactive programs for groups will allow visitors to tour the garden with a chef who will choose ingredients to bring back to the demonstration kitchen for cooking classes

Vintage Texas in Grapevine

It’s a 20-mile trip from downtown Dallas to Grapevine, a charming town sandwiched between Dallas and Fort Worth. As its name suggests, Grapevine is a hot spot of viniculture and winemaking in Texas, and there are 10 wineries and tasting rooms within walking distance of each other in the charming downtown district.

But there’s much more to Grapevine than wine. The city has several Vintage Texas experiences for groups, offering looks at historic elements of the area. Many groups enjoy stops at historic Nash Farm, the oldest operating farmstead in the area, as well as the Great American West Gallery, which features paintings and sculptures by Western artists.

Travelers can experience a bit of Texas heritage firsthand by taking excursions aboard the Grapevine Vintage Railroad. Nicknamed “Puffy,” the railroad’s 1896 steam engine pulls trains on trips back and forth to the Fort Worth Stockyards. There are numerous special themed train outings available throughout the year.

While you’re there: Even if you don’t stay overnight, it’s worth taking a couple of hours to let your group explore the shops, restaurants and gardens beneath the signature glass atrium at the massive Gaylord Texan Resort. Many groups also take time to shop at Grapevine Mills, which features more than 180 retail stores, as well as at the nearby Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.