Exploring Irving, TX: Your Ultimate Visitor’s Guide

Nestled adjacent to the bustling DFW International Airport, Irving offers a myriad of attractions all in one convenient location. This vibrant city boasts a wide array of local restaurants and boutique shops, as well as four remarkable golf courses. Moreover, it proudly serves as the home to over 10,000 companies, including an impressive count of 50 Fortune 500 companies, and houses the world headquarters of five Fortune 500 companies. Blending the cosmopolitan flair of a big city with the charming ambiance of a small town, Irving will undoubtedly captivate your senses.

Here, we present to you 10 must-visit areas in Irving, presented in no particular order:

Gondola-Style Tour

Located in the heart of Irving’s Las Colinas Urban Center, adjacent to the Mustangs, lies the enchanting Mandalay Canal Walk at Lake Carolyn. This European-style attraction allures outdoor enthusiasts with its tree-lined cobblestone walkways and gondolas, along with recently added water activities such as stand-up paddleboarding and pedal boat rides. Embark on a captivating one- to two-hour cruise aboard the state’s only genuine Venetian-style gondola operator, Gondola Adventures® Inc. As you glide through the picturesque canal canyons between high-rise office buildings, you’ll experience one of the area’s most exclusive and breathtaking urban areas.

Unwind in Comfort

Irving boasts a diverse selection of more than 75 hotels, offering nearly 12,000 comfortable sleeping rooms to suit every preference, from budget-friendly options to luxurious resorts. Among the popular choices are the Omni Mandalay Hotel, nestled on the serene banks of Lake Carolyn, and the recently remodeled Westin Dallas/Fort Worth Airport Hotel, conveniently located just minutes away from Six Flags Over Texas and AT&T Stadium, the iconic home of the Dallas Cowboys. For a uniquely modern experience, consider accommodations at NYLO Irving/Las Colinas, Aloft Las Colinas, or Element.

Historic Downtown Irving and Heritage District

To explore the quaint and historic side of Irving, a visit to the charming Historic Downtown Irving and Heritage District is a must. This area was meticulously designed by city founders J.O. Schulze and Otis Brown back in 1903. Today, it offers a delightful mix of antique shops and dining establishments. Noteworthy attractions include the 1887 Caster Cabin, which symbolizes the 1903 Rock Island Depot, as well as Irving’s first water tower, windmill, and library. Don’t forget to treat yourself to a milkshake at Big State Fountain Grill, an iconic Irving establishment since 1948. Featuring a retro ’50s theme, this family restaurant pays homage to Irving’s history and offers a countertop café and one of the area’s two remaining old-fashioned soda fountains.

A Glimpse into History

Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the City of Irving established the Ruth Paine House Museum in 2012. This museum showcases the modest 1,250-square-foot Irving home where Ruth Paine harbored Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged assassin of JFK, and his family on the night preceding the tragic event. Restored to its 1963 appearance, the house now serves as an interactive museum, using projected vignettes with actors portraying Ruth and Michael Paine, Marina and Lee Harvey Oswald, to vividly recount the historical happenings of that time.

A Gastronomic Adventure

When it comes to dining, Irving caters to every palate, offering a diverse range of culinary options. Whether you crave home-style cooking, international delicacies, or local flavors, you’ll find it all here. Locally-owned favorites include iFratelli (Italian), Via Real (Mexican), and Po Melvin’s (down-home cooking). For delectable New York-style pizza, Cavalli Pizza is a neighborhood gem. The Ranch at Las Colinas specializes in authentic Texas farm-to-table fare, while Cool River Cafe offers a southwestern ambiance and a delightful selection of steaks and seafood. For an exquisite dining experience, head to Table and Tavern Las Colinas (formerly Sfuzzi Las Colinas), where you can savor specialty cocktails, indulge in local cuisine, and revel in the warm and welcoming atmosphere. And if you’re in the mood for more than just traditional smoked brisket and ribs, be sure to visit FM Smokehouse. Owner Brian Rudolph and Chef Marcus Cutler have collaborated to create a haven for smoked meat enthusiasts, with a menu boasting delectable, made-from-scratch offerings. FM Smokehouse also prides itself on an extensive selection of craft beers, with an impressive assortment of 30 brews from Texas breweries.

Perfect for Golf Enthusiasts

With five 18-hole courses within its city limits and numerous others just a short 20-minute drive away, Irving is a haven for golfers. A notable highlight is the prestigious AT&T Byron Nelson Championship, a premier event on the PGA Tour, held annually at the luxurious Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas. This exceptional venue features two championship 18-hole courses, the Tournament Players Course and Cottonwood Valley. In 2013, Irving had the privilege of hosting the LPGA’s inaugural North Texas Shootout, marking the tour’s return to the area after a hiatus of over 20 years. Tennis enthusiasts will also find delight at the Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas, which houses exceptional tennis courts and serves as the home to the Texas Wild of Mylan World Team Tennis since 2013, as well as hosting multiple professional tennis events throughout the year.

Irving Music Factory

Scheduled to open in early 2016, the Irving Music Factory is a remarkable $165-million, 500,000-square-foot entertainment district development set to bring a fresh, new vibe to the area. As Irving’s first Entertainment District, this complex promises to be a comprehensive destination for dining and entertainment. Highlights include a multi-functional indoor/outdoor amphitheater and concert venue with an 8,000-seat concert hall, a spacious outdoor plaza perfect for festivals and events, and a sprawling 375,000 square feet of retail, restaurant, and event space. Other exciting possibilities include a bowling alley, a movie theater, and a 50,000 square-foot plaza featuring a stage for farmer’s markets and food festivals.

Embrace Art and Culture

Irving offers abundant opportunities to immerse yourself in art, culture, and history. The renowned Irving Arts Center features two fully-equipped theaters, four captivating galleries, and a delightful sculpture garden, among other attractions. From inspiring gospel concerts and engaging workshops for children to captivating musical performances and exclusive art exhibitions, the Irving Arts Center promises an unparalleled encounter with the world of arts. Another must-visit is the National Scouting Museum, which proudly showcases a vast collection of paintings by the celebrated artist Norman Rockwell, paying homage to and honoring boy scouts of all ages.

World Famous Mustangs

Pay a visit to the mesmerizing Mustangs of Las Colinas Sculpture and Exhibit, the largest equestrian sculpture in the world. Since the 1980s, this awe-inspiring masterpiece has held the title of a top tourist spot in North Texas. Created by the talented African wildlife artist Robert Glen, the sculpture features nine larger-than-life bronze mustangs galloping across a granite stream, gracefully situated in the heart of Irving’s Las Colinas Urban Center. Installed in 1984, this iconic sculpture celebrated its 30th Anniversary in September 2015. The exhibit also includes additional works by Glen, as well as a captivating video documentary that details the seven-year journey to create the Mustangs.

A Rich Transportation Legacy

Irving’s history is deeply intertwined with transportation. In 1902, J.O. Schulze, a prominent railroad surveyor, along with his colleague Otis Brown, arrived in the area with the ambitious goal of connecting Dallas and Fort Worth. Recognizing the immense potential of this location, they purchased 80 acres of land, setting the stage for the city’s remarkable growth. Today, Irving proudly welcomes the DART Orange Line, a recent addition to the area’s major light rail service, providing convenient connectivity between the city’s vibrant Las Colinas area and downtown Dallas. The completion of the final segment of the Orange Line in August 2014, which now extends to DFW International Airport, solidifies Irving as one of the first stops on this remarkable transportation route.

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