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Summer may be miserably hot and even humid in Dallas, while winter occasionally brings ice storms. But spring and fall are magnificent and longlasting. Outdoor spaces like the Dallas Arboretum—one of the top tourist destinations in the country, Katy Trail, the Arts District and adjacent Klyde Warren Park and Turtle Creek Parkway lure residents and visitors alike.

Since buying a condo in Dallas in 2010, I have discovered this Dallas. Growing up in Texarkana, 175 miles to the east, and going to college in Waco, 100 miles south, Dallas was always Neiman Marcus, SMU, the Cotton Bowl and the State Fair. I had no idea of the quality of its cultural attractions and its restaurant scene, nor did I realize how much seriously good shopping exists all over the Metroplex.

Partners Card

Partners Card Week, benefiting The Family Place, is simply the best time of the year to experience it all. For $70, you receive a 20 percent discount at 750 stores and restau. They are all listed on the website, and they include most of the finest shops in the city, Neiman Marcus and some other chains excluded. It’s a once-a-year opportunity to buy cosmetics, fragrances, lingerie and Nancy Gonzalez purses at a discount, as well as to special-order everything from Christmas cards to wedding invitations to bed linens. The merchants are eager for you to shop with your card, and they stock their stores for the week.

This year the dates are October 28–November 6. While serious shopping is the focus, you can squeeze in the arboretum, museums, symphony, opera and fine dining in your “spare time.” I find it a wondrous week every year, when my daughter and I get together to tackle our Christmas shopping.

My condo is near the bottom of the triangle that extends north from the Arts District on Flores Street downtown, between the Tollway to the west and Central Expressway to the east, to Northwest Highway. Most of the shopping areas, hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions that I describe here lie within that triangle. Those outside these boundaries are marked with an *.

Shop Until You Drop

When you buy your Partners Card from a participating merchant, you will receive a booklet listing them all by neighborhood and type of goods and services, as well as alphabetical order. For maximum shopping efficiency, study the booklet in advance and shop strategically, so you don’t waste time going back and forth across Dallas.

NorthPark Center

NorthPark Center belongs at the top of the list simply because of the number of stores in this upscale mall. Many of the smaller chains—from Williams-Sonoma, Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman to Bottega Veneta and David Yurman—participate, while Neiman Marcus generally has sales and promotions to attract shoppers as well. Lots of good dining choices at the mall: La Duni, P.F. Chang, Bazille at Nordstrom and NM Café and the Mermaid Bar at Neiman Marcus are favorites.

Highland Park Village, Dallas’ answer to Rodeo Drive, has almost 100 percent participation in Partners Card, a rare opportunity to buy designer clothes, shoes, handbags and jewelry at a discount. Bistro 31 is my favorite dining spot there, though many still seek out the venerable Café Pacific.

The Village is simply the grandest of many shopping opportunities on Oak Lawn and Preston Road, stretching far past Northwest Highway to the north and down to the Design District to the southwest. Preston Center, on both sides of the street at Northwest Highwest, has a number of good shops, including Tootsie’s for women’s fashions, Bag ’N’ Baggage for luggage and Bachendorf’s for jewelry. In addition to many casual dining spots, upscale Nick and Sam’s Grill and Hillstone are popular.

Nearer my condo are The Shops of Highland Park, a strip center with several cute boutiques and a plethora of personal favorite dining spots: Carbone’s, casual sister of the noted Nonna, Italian; T.J.’s Seafood; The Mint, Asian fusion; and Madrina, French-inspired Mexican food. Across the street are Al Biernat’s, a top local steakhouse, and Eddie V’s, a sophisticated restaurant noted for its fine fish and seafood.

Below Lemmon Avenue, Nuvo is worth seeking out for its exquisite gifts, decorative items, picture frames, handcrafted jewelry and coffee table books. It’s next door to Parigi, a French/Italian farm-to-market bistro where shared plates are featured.

Don’t overlook Stanley Korshak, in the Crescent Center on Cedar Springs. Korshak is two floors of fine men’s and women’s fashions. Here’s your place for top cosmetics, fragrances, jewelry, designer shoes and purses.

Farther north on McKinney, West Village and the surrounding neighborhood are popular with younger customers—lots of contemporary and casual men’s wear, as well as Brooks Brothers and good casual dining, including Max’s Wine Dive.

Continuing north, surrounding the Knox intersection, are top design and home shops—Crate and Barrel, Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn, Sur La Table and Into The Garden. Abacus is considered one of the best restaurants in Dallas, while La Duni, Taverna and Toulouse are more casual choices. Crossing Central Expressway, Knox turns into Henderson*, full of funky, trendy restaurants. When I am not counting calories, I head for Sissy’s Southern Kitchen*.

More good shopping and casual dining stretch along Hillcrest, across from SMU between Mockingbird and Lovers’ Lane. I particularly like Snider Plaza, with Suzanne Roberts, for stationery and McKenzie-Childs; The Ivy House, for fine china, crystal, silver, table linens and the like; and the Antique Shops next door, with stalls full of Chinese Export, old Staffordshire, leather-bound books, odd silver pieces, furniture and rugs. Penne Pomodoro has been a family favorite restaurant for years.

Last but not least, head west on Lovers’ Lane, across the Tollway to Inwood Village* to shop for fine bed linens at the Linen Boutique*, candles at the Sample House and Candle Shop*, activewear at Saint Bernard* and home furnishings at Wisteria*. Rise No. 1* is a delightful French bistro that specializes in soufflés. Around the corner on Inwood, Shinsei* has outstanding Asian fusion.

Four more excellent dining options: Nonna, in a strip center on Lomo Alta at Lemmon Avenue, is considered by many to have the best Italian food in Dallas. Abraham Salum, one of the city’s most talented chefs, offers fine dining at Salum on Cole Avenue and, next door, Komali, for contemporary Mexican cuisine. Just opened to rave reviews, by the owner of Nonna and Carbone’s, Sprezza, on Maple.

What Else Is Going On?

Autumn at the Arboretum

Dallas Arboretum* on White Rock Lake—“Autumn at the Arboretum” continues until November 23, with 90,000 pumpkins and 150,000 fall blooms. Lunch and tea are available at the DeGolyer Mansion.

The downtown Arts District stretches along Flores Street immediately south of the new Klyde Warren Park, built on top of a freeway, with food trucks and two restaurants, Savor Gastropub and Lark on the Park.

The Dallas Opera—“Eugene Onegin,” October 28, 30; November 2, 5 in repertory with “Moby Dick,” November 4, 6.

Dallas Symphony Orchestra—Dvorak’s Eighth Symphony and the Schumann Piano Concerto, November 3–6.

Also in the Arts District: Dallas Museum of Art; Nasher Sculpture Center, with a Wolfgang Puck café in a gallery designed by Renzo Piano; and Crow Collection of Asian Art.

Worth the drive—The Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, its two pavilions designed by Louis Kahn and Renzo Piano, currently has a major exhibition, “Monet: The Early Years,” on view through January 29.

Where to Stay?

Within the triangle, if shopping is your primary purpose, the Hilton Park Cities on the edge of Preston Center is a convenient choice, as is Lumen, the new boutique hotel on Hillcrest across from SMU. The Rosewood Mansion at Turtle Creek, with its excellent restaurant and bar, remains the top choice of discerning visitors who want the best.

If you plan to spend significant time in the Arts District, consider one of the fine uptown hotels—Crescent Court with Nobu and an excellent spa, ZaZa with Dragonfly or the Ritz-Carlton with Dean Fearing’s.

I’d love to know… What are your favorite stops in Dallas?


Photos, from top to bottom: Looking across Lee Park and Turtle Creek Parkway to downtown Dallas, November 2015; Partners Card display, 2015; NorthPark Center, October 2016; Dallas Arboretum, October 2013