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Globally acclaimed cultural treasures and some of the nation’s best dining and shopping lie less than an hour’s drive from the tarmac of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Just landing? Then you’re just in time.

The wheels are down, the flaps are rolling out, and the engines are being throttled back. During a plane’s final approach into Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, the view of North Texas from the air -- of lakes, crazy quilt patterns of farmland, and highways dotted with traffic that connect every corner of the Metroplex -- never fails to pique the curiosity of the passengers aboard. The view is, in essence, the definition of urban sprawl.

East of DFW Airport, you’ll find downtown Dallas’s glittering skyline of high-rises, with the landmark ball that is Reunion Tower (home to the recently opened Wolfgang Puck restaurant Five Sixty, no less) juxtaposed against the hard angles of other towering skyscrapers. West of the airport, historic Fort Worth sprawls across ancient prairies; from the air, its skyline is a distant dot on the horizon. Just north of DFW Airport are Lake Grapevine’s shimmering waters, near the majestic Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center.

And south of DFW Airport, in Arlington, sits Texas’s latest architectural marvel: the Dallas Cowboys’ new billion-dollar stadium. A quarter of a mile long and the world’s largest domed structure to date, it gleams like a futuristic silver starship, dwarfing the nearby Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and the Six Flags Over Texas theme park.

What can’t be seen during final approach can be imagined -- the shopping galore and the joie de vivre that comes with the local arts, entertainment, and nightlife readily available. It’s all there to be explored, and with the right amount of time planned between flights or an extended layover arranged with ticket agents after your arrival, you can squeeze plenty of it into your trip. After all, “everything’s bigger in Texas” for a reason.

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NorthPark Center, on North Central Expressway and Northwest Highway in Dallas, draws more than 25 million visitors annually with its luxury retailers (including Neiman Marcus and Barneys New York) and market exclusives. NorthPark’s signature event -- Fashion at the Park --gives the public and international news media the privilege of a first look at the latest fashions.

Galleria Dallas, on Dallas Parkway, draws more than 19 million shoppers annually and has more than 200 stores, which range from trendy boutiques to megastores. The Galleria is uniquely designed around its centerpiece, the Galleria Ice Skating Center, located beneath its famous vaulted glass-ceiling atrium.

On a much smaller scale is Highland Park Village, set in the historic neighborhood of Dallas’s elite Highland Park. Quaint and old-fashioned, the open-air shopping center, complete with an old-timey movie theater, is a throwback to old Dallas. Stores to hit include Chanel, Anthropologie, Rugby, Scoop NYC, and Kiehl’s.

Grapevine Mills Mall, two miles north of DFW Airport, offers more than 200 outlet stores, including Neiman Marcus Last Call Clearance Center, Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, and JC Penney Outlet. Adventure awaits at the Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, a super sporting-goods store, and the famed Rainforest Cafe, which has a jungle setting and tropical storms.