PLACES          

Visitors revel in delightful Sundance Square, Fort Worth’s history-packed downtown entertainment and shopping district, and in Dallas’s West End Historic District, which has an array of restaurants, clubs, and historic sites. Paying court to Sundance Square is Fort Worth’s majestic Bass Performance Hall, complete with 48-foot angels blowing bugles on either side of the main entrance. The hall, which sits on one full city block, is home to the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, the Texas Ballet Theater, the Fort Worth Opera, and the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

The Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District offers Western museums and a host of restaurants and shops along its redbrick streets. Cattle drives begin at 11:30 a.m. and four p.m. daily -- cowboys in authentic gear saddle up and herd Texas longhorns along East Exchange Avenue.

The internationally acclaimed Fort Worth Zoo, southwest of downtown, is the oldest in Texas and one of the finest in the United States, featuring the country’s most elite herpetarium, the Museum of Living Art.

Historic Grapevine, just north of DFW Airport, preserves old-time architectural charm. Hop on the Grapevine Vintage Railroad for an open-air trip to and from Fort Worth’s Stockyards.

Five minutes southwest of downtown Dallas, the Bishop Arts District presents an eclectic mix of boutiques, shops, and restaurants that showcase everything from local artists’ works to exotic soft drinks.

For a little more adventure, parents and children can whoop it up at Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington, where shows and more than 50 rides promise a thrilling break from travel.

With all these options to choose from -- and loads more that we didn’t get to tell you about -- don’t be surprised if you find yourself extending your 24-hour stay to one that lasts the whole weekend. We won’t be.

DAVID HOUSE is a freelance writer based in Texas. He has been a reporter and an editor at the Dallas Morning News, the Denver Post, the St. Petersburg Times, and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, where he served as senior editor/reader advocate.