Chinese Lantern Festival

Several years ago, the Chinese Lantern Festival came to Fair Park in Dallas. It was a traveling exhibit that was here only for a short period of time. The advertising looked interesting; so, we decided to go. I had never seen anything quite like it before. I can’t imagine how many hours it took to put this exhibit together. Everywhere we looked, there were more and more beautiful lights.

As we walked into the doorway, we were greeted by a large family of Panda Bears. There were all kinds of family members, Dads, Moms, babies, and extended family members. They were located in a bamboo forest.

Next was a colorful dragon that seemed to go on forever and ever.

As we rounded the corner, we came to another set of exhibits. Among them was this blinking circular image of two peacocks. It took several tries to get a picture of it fully lit.

A little further down the path, we felt like we were in the middle of the ocean, along with fish, jellyfish, and mermaids.

In the center of the exhibit, there was a lagoon. All of the lights surrounded the lagoon making it doubly bright because of the reflections in the water. Here are pictures of a few of our favorites.

Near the middle of the far side of the lagoon, there was a display that had numerous ants playing different musical instruments.

That evening was very magical. So many bright, colorful lights lit up an otherwise dimly lit part of the city. We want to thank all the people who spent hours working on setting this display up in order to bring a little joy to our lives.

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Perot Museum

Late December of 2012 the downtown location of the Perot Museum opened. Ever since opening day, the museum has been one of the premier locations for people interested in natural history and science. No matter what kind of science you are interested in, the museum has something that you would like. There are numerous permanent exhibits and always additional traveling exhibits. The current traveling exhibit is called “The Art of the Brick.” It has to do with legos. There are also films available that rotate to keep your interest.

Although there are many interesting exhibits at the Perot, the one that I think of right off hand is the dinosaurs. There is a room that contains full-sized fossils of dinosaurs as well as many other animals. As you ascend the stairs from this room, you enter an area that is devoted to birds – ancient birds to common birds.

One of the more unusual areas has to do with the weather. Visitors are able to touch a mini tornado or even to become a weather forecaster on a tv screen. There is a simulator of what an earthquake feels like. Visitors get on a platform and there are three levels of earthquake intensity. You can feel what the shaking feels like on all three levels.

There are areas that deal with life’s beginnings, being human, and also space. Another area deals with energy, and there is a display of many different minerals, including a five foot tall geode.

All of the areas have something that is hands on, but the engineering and innovation hall has many things that allow you to participate in one way or another. One exhibit in this area that fascinates everyone is the ability to program a robot and another to try to make robots accomplish certain tasks.

If you have any interest at all in science or natural history, any trip to Dallas should include a day at the Perot Museum.

Discovery Gardens at Fair Park

Outdoor walkway at Discovery Gardens

One of the most interesting places we have visited here in Dallas is the Discovery Gardens. It is located in Fair Park where the State Fair of Dallas is held yearly, although the Garden is open all year long. Fair Park could be a post all on its own, but the Discovery Gardens warrants its own post.

The grounds are 7.5 acres of 100 percent organically grown plants and trees. Each section showcases a variety of different plants, including a water setting. There is also a water fountain which is especially attractive to the children on the hot summer days.

Towards the back of the park is a exhibit of many of the snakes that can be found in Texas. Some are venomous and some are not. Even though I am not a fan of snakes, I can appreciate the role they play in the environment.

There is a working beehive with a side that is made of glass so that the bees can be seen in their native habitat. They are allowed to come and go as they please. It is always entertaining to watch them and to try to figure out which one of them is the queen.

Atlas Moth 12 to 18 inch wingspan

The major attraction is the Rosine Smith Sammons Butterfly House and Insectarium. Inside this glass building is a re-creation of a tropical rain forest complete with beautiful plants and trees. It’s pretty warm and humid in the building, but that is to be expected. In this area, you get to see all different types of butterflies and moths soaring around in the two story building. There is a small case that shows young butterflies emerging from their chrysalises. One of the highlights of this area is the daily butterfly release. All the butterflies that have emerged since the day before are released into the building. There is a person who explains anything you wish to know about butterflies and moths available at the release.

Butterfly Release

If you would like to see more about the Gardens or Butterfly House, please go to https://txdg.org the web page for the attraction.

Dallas World Aquarium

Although it is called an aquarium, I think that the title indoor zoo would be much more appropriate. Given the chance to visit here or the zoo in the summer, this wins. But only because our usual outdoor temperatures are at or near 100 degrees Farenheit. All other times of the year, it is a toss up because they are both very nice.

Even before you enter the building, you know that this will be a different experience. On the walkway up to the door, there are birds, fish, monkeys and even a stork. Immediately after entering the door, there are penguins swimming and entertaining you. From there, you climb a staircase. At the top of the stairs are more birds and an actual indoor waterfall that is two or three stories high. On the island in the middle of the water is a large tree with monkeys hiding throughout it. There are numerous ducks and all kinds of fish swimming around the island. From here you slowly wind your way through the building, seeing fish and other animals at every turn. One of our favorites is the sloth. Usually he is high in the tree and has his head buried, but on our last trip with the grandchildren, he was down low and eating.

Sloth

As you continue winding around the exhibit, you encounter more birds, an otter and even several crocodile.

On one of the lower levels near the cafeteria, there is an area with lots of coral, urchins and other exotic and interesting fish. My favorite is the seahorses. I could watch them for hours.

My other favorite animal at this amazing place is the manatee. He usually carries around a board with him. We think it is his security blanket.

Manatee with security blanket

As you continue meandering you way through the building heading towards the end of the exhibit, there is a tunnel that you can walk through with all types of unusual fish, like sawfish and sharks swimming on the sides and on top of you.

Tunnel with fish swimming around you on three sides

When in Dallas, if you like animals of all kinds, the World Aquarium is a wonderful place to visit. It is in downtown Dallas and easily accessible. You can ride the Dart train, take Uber or Lyft or your own car. Parking is directly across the street from the building. If you would like more information about the Aquarium please go to their homepage: https://dwazoo.com/

The Dallas Arboretum July 12

Dallas has a world class arboretum. Visitors come from all over the world to see the lovely flowers and exhibits. We visited today to see an exhibit that is being shown there. It is by Gary Lee Price and is titled “Celebrate the Children.” In various parts of the arboretum the statues are tucked away. The first set of statues is right at the entrance of the gardens.

In the garden area where fresh fruits and vegetables are grown near the Tasteful Place building are two statues, a boy and girl holding a basket of produce. In this area, you can taste samples of food. The recipes are on the website. They also have cooking demos. Across from the building is a covered area with fans, where you can sit and cool off on hot summer days while looking out on a water fountain.

As you walk back to the main garden area, there is an area full of beds of different flowers. In this area, there is a statue of a small boy with a watering can.

Further down on the left side in front of the Degolya house are statues of children jumping on pogo sticks. The Degolya house is the house where the original owners of the property used to live. At Christmas, an exhibit of thousands of Nativity scenes or Nutcrackers is set up in the house.

Back in an open area where children can play another set of statues sits. It is of children playing ring a round the rosie. As you walk down the path across from the walkway to the frog fountains and the restaurant, another statue resides. It shows children jumping out from a globe. A little further down the path to the right is a statue of a baseball player. Then along the main walkway there is a wonderful statue of two young children carrying a basket of flowers.

There are five other sets of statues of children in the main garden. There may be others in the Children’s Garden, but we did not visit that area. My favorite two are the following.

I have many other pictures of the arboretum. They are on my facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/GrannyShotIt. If you would like to see them, please go to that site.

Also, if you need any other information on the Arboretum, please visit their website: https://www.dallasarboretum.org.

The Dallas Zoo

One of our favorite places to take the grandkids is the Dallas Zoo. It is always entertaining and fun because even if you’ve seen the animals before, they seem to always be doing something different. The zoo has a carousel which is a favorite with all the kids, young and old alike. Near the entrance, there are usually parrots sitting on some perches. Their bright colors start the day off right.

Then as you go passed the carousel, you arrive at the lemur area on your left. There are several different species of lemurs.

From there, you have to decide whether to go to the area with the larger animals, like elephants, giraffes, etc. or to the original area with the birds, monkeys, etc.

The last time we went, they were having a dinosaur exhibit in the older area. There is also a building that houses snakes, crocodiles, frogs and other reptiles. In the center court, there is a train ride for the smaller children. This area also has a stage where they host a show about different birds, a petting zoo and many other animals.


You enter the newer area by going through a tunnel that goes under a street to see the larger animals. These animals include gorillas, chimpanzies, elephants, giraffes, crocodiles, lions, etc. The last time we were there a female gorilla had had a baby. It was one of the first days that they were able to be seen outside. Another time, there was a baby elephant.

This area has recently opened a rhino area. There is also a monorail that gives you an overview of many of the areas of the zoo. However, the last several times that we have been, the monorail was not working. I don’t know the reason it was closed; or if or when it will reopen.

Another interesting attraction is the ability to feed the giraffes. You are able to get really upclose and personal with them. The following picture does not depict this encounter, just a giraffe.

Many evenings the zoo has special programs. I have only attended one of these, and it was around Christmas. They were supposed to have one million lights, and I believe that they did.

We have spent many enjoyable days at the zoo. It is a wonderful place for families to go for an outing.

White Rock Lake Park

One of Dallas’ most valuable and most used assets is White Rock Lake Park. People from all over come to the park. It is a very relaxing place. Although swimming is not allowed, there is no shortage of things to do. On a typical day, many people use the trail system to exercise before or after work. They mainly walk, jog or bike. Although many rowing clubs train in the lake year round, recreational boating usually occurs in the warmer weather. Since the lake is relatively small and shallow, boats with large motors are not allowed. Sailboats and kayaks are the primary water vehicles seen.

Another activity at the lake is fishing. There are piers at various locations, but most fishing is done from the shore. The fishermen are comprised of all ages from children on their first outing, to veterans, who sometimes fish at night. Something that is totally unexpected is the number and size of large-mouth bass that can be caught along the shore, especially when they are spawning.

At the north end of the lake, the city has built a dog park where dogs can run around freely without leashes and socialize with other dogs. There is even an area where the dogs can swim, which at times can be quite amusing.

Another unique feature is a building called the Pump House. It has been restored and can be rented out for various social functions.

Egret at one of the many piers

The lake has lots of wildlike and numerous birds. Some of the wildlife includes coyotes, foxes, nutrea, beaver and even the occassional bobcat. These animals can sometimes be seen roaming the streets of the nearby neighborhoods. All types of birds stop by the lake while migrating or live there. There is a flock of monk parrots that have lived in the park for years. In the winter, white pelicans reside in the lake.

One area of the lake has been named Sunset Bay. This is where the pelicans roost in the evenings and is a wonderful place to take pictures of the setting sun.

At the southern end of the lake, there is a spillway. Lots of birds congregate there when the lake is low, but when the water is flowing over the spillway, many people come to check it out. The power of the water is an impressive thing to see.

Spillway

White Rock Park is used for many activities, but one of the best is for family gatherings and picnics. It is nice to drive around the lake and see all the families playing and relaxing together without their televisions and other electronics.

The main reasons that I think Dallas is a wonderful place to live are because of the friendly people and the wonderful green spaces provided by the city, like White Rock Park.

What is your favorite thing to do when in Dallas?