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Two Texas Hotels Perfect for 'Local Tourism'

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© Canopy by Hilton

By Scott Laird,
TravelPulse

In college, I learned that tourism had a specific definition: to be a tourist, one had to travel at least 50 miles one way. Some scholars also require an overnight stay as a qualifier. Perhaps it was this designation that separately gave rise to the term "staycation"—that is, one who engages in tourism activities close to home.

The Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex is just the kind of place for a staycation. Dallas and Fort Worth are two large cities with distinct cultural attributes and history, with a combined population that makes the region one of the country's largest metropolitan areas. They're different enough that travel between them certainly feels transformative, despite not being quite far enough apart that visits between them qualify as tourism.

So, visitors between them are technically staycationers, and I've got a tale of two hotels well-suited for staycations or visits by out-of-towners.

Hilton Fort Worth

The Hilton Fort Worth is situated in the heart of Downtown Fort Worth, convenient to the transit center for those arriving by train, and the convention center, for those in town for a large gathering. The original building is a 1920 vintage and takes a notable place in Texas history—when President and Mrs. Kennedy were guests (the hotel was then named Hotel Texas) on the evening of November 21, 1963. President Kennedy gave his last public speech the following morning in the hotel's ballroom.

The hotel was restored in 1979 and 2005 and today operates as the Hilton Fort Worth. There are still some touches reminiscent of the bygone era, like the solid oak elevator vestibules where one could easily picture the President's entourage waiting for a car on that fateful morning.

Although completely refurbished and differently laid out, the Texas-sized lobby is just as imposing as it was when first occupied nearly a century ago. The front desk is situated where the original dining room was (a Ruth's Chris concession now occupies the opposite corner) and the original lunch counter now operates as the breakfast space.

The memorable Crystal Ballroom where Kennedy gave his last speech was added as an annex later in the century.

Although the hotel was robustly booked during my stay, the lobby and other public areas never quite felt full. The elevator, guest rooms, and Executive Club lounge all responded flawlessly to commands from Hilton's keyless app, which reduces the need for plastic keys.

Just outside the doors of the hotel is the best of the city. A statue of JFK watches over the valet entry, and the hotel is a short walk to Sundance Square, the Fort Worth Stockyards and the city's wealth of art galleries and eateries. There's no shortage of reminders of the hotel's rich history and convenient location in the center of a city that can feel both excitingly urban and sleepily Texan at the same time—perfect for a weekend staycation.

Canopy by Hilton Dallas Uptown

Second in our tale of two cities and two hotels is the brand new, opened just last month Canopy by Hilton in the Uptown neighborhood of Dallas. I first tried the millennial-focused Canopy in Washington DC just last month, and there are a lot of things to rave about in these beautifully engineered hotel rooms.

It was pleasant to note that a lot of the little didn't-notice-them-until-they-got-upgraded items were consistent in the Dallas property. Guestrooms have separate exterior knobs for Do Not Disturb signs and for the paper bags on which breakfast delivery times are specified. It's a small item, but it keeps tags and bags from junking up door handles.

Another pleasant upgrade in Dallas is that the delivered to-go breakfast consisted of fresh-squeezed orange juice and locally sourced granola with vanilla yogurt rather than national brand items in DC.

Guests preferring a full hot breakfast will find oatmeal, pastries, toast, cold cuts, cheese and egg dishes in Canopy Central, the hotel's bar and all-day dining venue in the lobby. Curved exposed brick ceilings are a nod to the M Line Trolley which runs right in front of the hotel.

Uptown Dallas is an eminently walkable neighborhood with the hotel in the thick of restaurants, parks, and the city's rail network. Valet parking is digital, so vehicles can be requested via text. However, the compact neighborhood is much easier to explore on one of the hotel's bright orange bicycles.

The impeccably designed guest rooms were just as wired and intuitively laid out as the DC property, although some in Dallas have step-out terraces with skyline views. Even better skyline views can be had at the rooftop, Upside, where inventive cocktails and local brews stand out alongside modern Texas salads, small plates and shareable nibbles. A more traditional lunch and dinner menu is available in Canopy Central.

Although a much newer building than the Hilton Fort Worth, there's local history woven throughout the building's design. Historic photos of the neighborhood adorn the corridors and guest rooms, and there's even a book full of historic photos in each guest room in aid of imaginative exploring.

Whether lounging in living history in Fort Worth or indulging in a modern hotel's links to the past in the Big D, these two DFW Metroplex properties are tops at showcasing the fascinating neighborhoods they occupy—even if they happen to be in their guest's own backyards.

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