IRVING, Texas - Nestled snugly between Dallas and Fort Worth, Irving, Texas, combines the cosmopolitan flair of a big city with the ambience of a small town. Immediately adjacent to DFW International Airport, Irving offers the best in accommodations to the traveler, with 75-plus hotels ranging from economy to five-diamond resort, all within a few minutes of the airport. The city's central location also provides easy accessibility to a world of entertainment and excitement in Dallas and Fort Worth. Irving itself is home to some of Texas' most famous landmarks, including:
Campión Trails, Irving's world-class greenbelt development along the shores of the Trinity River's Elm and West Forks, includes miles of native forest and pristine river abundant with wildlife and flora. Within Campión's bounds lie several of Texas' most historic trials and crossings, including the original Keenan's Crossing Bridge along the Bird's Fort Trial, which Sam Houston traveled en route to signing The Treaty of Peace and Friendship in 1843, and California Crossing, a junction along the California Trail favored by 49ers as they journeyed west seeking fortunes of gold. Campión Trails features paths for bikeways and walkways, along with other recreational areas. For more information, contact Irving Parks and Recreation at (972) 721-2501, or visit cityofirving.org.
One of the world's last remaining romantic symbols has a home on the Mandalay Canal, located in the heart of Las Colinas in Irving, Texas. Gondola Adventures boasts an authentic Venetian gondola, one of approximately 400 remaining in the world, in its group of gondola ride offerings. The only gondola operator in Texas, and one of a handful in the entire United States, Gondola Adventures provides one of the most unique and memorable "Venice-reverent" experiences, offering romantic opportunities throughout the year. Gondola excursions on the Mandalay Canal and adjacent Lake Carolyn are available daily. Prices range from $50 for a basic cruise to $275 for an on-board gourmet dinner. The gondolas can accommodate two to six passengers, and cruises can be tailored to any occasion. Advance reservations are required. For more information, call (866) 646-2064 or visit gondola.com.
Irving Arts Center
This arts complex includes two exhibit areas-the Main Gallery and the New Talent Gallery, featuring contemporary and traditional works by established and emerging artists. The Arts Center also offers theatre and concert programs throughout the year in its two state-of-the-art performance theaters. The Irving Arts Center is located at 3333 N. MacArthur Blvd., approximately five minutes north of Airport Freeway (Highway 183). For more information, call (972) 252-7558, (972) 252-ARTS or visit irvingartscenter.com.
Irving Heritage District
It was the railroads that put Irving on track to become the dynamic city it is today, and a tribute to that industry can be found in Irving's Heritage Park, which features the original railroad depot, the city's first library, an original water tower and a restored cabin, originally built in the 1880s. Surrounding the park is the city's historic Heritage District, which provides a friendly atmosphere, unique antique and novelty shops, and a corner drug store with a working soda fountain. Also located in the Heritage District is Centennial Park, featuring a commemorative wall depicting the history of Irving through words and pictures, and Heritage House-one of the city's first homes and a Texas State Historical Landmark. Irving's Heritage District is located near Second and Main Streets in South Irving. Heritage House is located at 303 S. O'Connor Road; free, public tours are conducted from 3-5 p.m. on the first Sunday of each month, except for Jan. and Feb. For more information, contact Irving Preservation and Redevelopment at (972) 721-2426, or visit irvingheritage.com.
Conveniently located in the heart of the Dallas-Fort Worth area and just minutes from DFW International Airport is Irving Mall, boasting more than 150 stores including Macy's, Dillard's, Sears and Burlington Coat Factory. In addition, the mall features favorite specialty shops such as American Eagle Outfitters, Bath & Body Works, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Express Men and Victoria's Secret, as well as several restaurants, a 14-screen stadium-seating AMC Entertainment and a full-service day spa and salon. Irving Mall is located Belt Line Road and Highway 183. For more information, call (972) 255-0571 or visit simon.com.
Jackie Townsell Bear Creek Heritage Center
Settled in 1850 by slaves whose owners lived nearby, the Bear Creek area in Irving, Texas, is one of the state's oldest African-American settlements. In the heart of Bear Creek is the Jackie Townsell Bear Creek Heritage Center, which tells the story of everyday people who met the hardships and discrimination of their day with determination and fortitude. The center contains two of the earliest homes from the area. The J.O. Davis home features African-American historic displays; Davis was one of Irving's first black schoolteachers. The Sam Green home, a 1920s-era farmhouse, serves as a living history center; Green was a longtime area farmer. The grounds also include a pavilion and a garden, which are maintained by community volunteers. For residents of Bear Creek, the center serves as an homage to their past; for visitors, it provides a window into a world few have ever known. The center is located at the corner of Gilbert and Jackson Streets, just south of Highway 183 off Beltline Road. Currently, tours are conducted by appointment only. For more information about the Jackie Townsell Bear Creek Heritage Center, contact Irving Preservation and Redevelopment at (972) 721-4754.
Jaycee Park Center for the Arts
The Irving Art Association has been a part of the Irving art community since the early 1950s, and has been located at the Center for the Arts at Jaycee Park for nearly as many years. The Center has two galleries that offer talent by local and regional artists in various styles and mediums. New exhibits are displayed monthly. Gallery hours are from 12:30-4:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, and 1-4 p.m. on Sunday. Closed holidays. Jaycee Park Center for the Arts is located at 2000 W. Airport Freeway. For more information, call (972) 721-2488 or visit irvingart.org.
Las Colinas Flower Clock
Fresh flowers are planted yearly around this larger-than-life, landscaped clock located at the southeast corner of Highway 114 and O'Connor Road.
Las Colinas Equestrian Center and Polo Club
A 40-acre site on the banks of the Trinity River, the Las Colinas Equestrian Center and Polo Club offers 104 stalls, a covered indoor arena, viewing lounge, tack shop and two polo fields. The Equestrian Center hosts year-round equestrian events, most of which are open to the public. Polo tournaments occur every Sunday from May through July and September through November on the Equestrian Center's Championship Field, known throughout the polo community as one of the finest facilities in the country to play and observe the dramatic and artistic sport of polo. Set on 24 lush acres, the perfectly manicured green fields coupled with the stark white tents create an ambiance as elegant as the sport itself. General admission for most polo matches is $10; children aged 12 and under are admitted free. Parking is free, and picnics are welcome. The Las Colinas Equestrian Center and Polo Club is located at 600 Royal Lane. For more information on the Las Colinas Polo Club or the Equestrian Center, call (972) 816-6804 or visit lascolinasequestrian.com.
Mandalay Canal at Las Colinas
The Mandalay Canal meanders through the Las Colinas Urban Center, offering a serene respite one level below the busy urban streets. The tree-lined, cobblestone walkway is reminiscent of an old world village, with neo-Venetian gondolas available to cruise the canal and adjacent Lake Carolyn.
Marble Cow Sculpture
High atop Brune Hill sits a tribute to the rolling ranchlands that once dominated the area now known as Las Colinas (Spanish for "the hills"). The five marble cows, sculpted by Harold Clayton, are a memorable sight. Brune Hill is located on the northeast corner of Highway 114 at Rochelle Road.
Mustangs of Las Colinas and Sculpture and Exhibit
A must-see for visitors and residents alike, nine larger-than-life bronze mustangs are depicted galloping across a granite stream in the heart of Irving's Las Colinas Urban Center. Created by African wildlife artist Robert Glen, the Mustangs are the largest equestrian sculpture in the world. The sculpture, installed in 1984, is located at Williams Square Plaza on O'Connor Road, just north of Highway 114. The Museum Exhibit, located in the West Tower of Williams Square Plaza, includes additional works by Glen, as well as a brief documentary detailing the seven years it took to create the Mustangs of Las Colinas. Exhibit hours are Wednesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call (972) 869-9047 or visit mustangsoflascolinas.com.
National Scouting Museum
The National Scouting Museum, located adjacent to the national headquarters of the Boy Scouts of America in Irving, is a tribute to the rich history of Scouting. The size of a football field, this massive state-of-the-art facility features high-tech, virtual reality adventures, hands-on learning experiences and a historical collection that traces the Scouting movement from its beginnings. The museum also boasts the largest collection of Norman Rockwell Scout paintings under one roof, including the first Scout painting he created in 1918 as an illustrator for Boys' Life magazine and his last work for the Boy Scouts, produced in 1976. All told, the museum has 61 original works of art from the famed American illustrator. Hours are Monday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, 1-5 p.m. Closed Wednesdays, major holidays, and for the first week in Jan. Ticket prices are $8 for general admission; $6 seniors, school groups and children 4-12; $5 for Scouts/Scouters; children aged 4 and under are free. The National Scouting Museum is located at 1329 West Walnut Hill Lane. For more information, call (972) 580-2100 or visit bsamuseum.org.
Trinity Broadcasting Network Virtual Reality Theater
Inside Trinity Broadcasting Network's International Production Facility is a state-of-the-art, high-definition virtual reality theater featuring a 48-channel sound system that puts you "in the picture" of a biblical film shot in Israel. Show times are every hour from 3-6 p.m. daily. Tours of Trinity Broadcasting Network's International Production facility are available at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The facility is closed on major holidays; admission is free. Trinity Broadcasting Network is located at 2900 W. Airport Freeway. For more information, please call (972) 986-0037 or visit tbn.org.