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water fountain at Dallas Arboretum

Dallas Arboretum: A Botanical Paradise in the Heart of Dallas

The minute I arrived, I kept saying, “I can’t believe in the middle of Dallas, Texas, there’s a botanical paradise that’s a feast for my eyes and nourishment for my soul.”
The sprawling 66 acres of botanical gardens made this work trip well worth it. I’ve never been to Dallas or heard of the Dallas Arboretum, but like I do when I have a down day in any city, I search for gardens and places to walk. Sometimes, there are urban walks like in New York and other times; there are Cali beach walks in my hometown, San Diego.

The Dallas Arboretum–simply spectacular

This time, it was Texas in February. And so, I found the ultimate garden. However, I wondered how much would be blooming now or if the Dallas Arboretum would be worth seeing at this time of year. I decided to give it a go, and I am so glad I did. Exploring the gardens made me smile from ear to ear. The Dallas Arboretum is, in fact, so spectacular that it’s listed among the top arboretums in the world. Locals call this urban sanctuary “the crowning jewel” of Dallas, and I completely agree. 

Cooking Demo at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden

One of the things I loved about my all-day visit was the opportunity to attend a cooking demo. Yes, right in the gardens, surrounded by green grass and rows of kale, lettuce, and other veggies, was a building where the Dallas Arboretum hosts cooking demonstrations. On the menu, kale, potato, sausage soup. So good. In a glass building, a small group of us watched as the Chef made the soup, sharing stories about cooking and the arboretum. It was delightful. Since I’ve been back home, I’ve already made the soup; see my recipe here.

DeGolyer Historic home on the grounds of Dallas Arboretum

Another treat at the arboretum is the 30-minute tour given on the half-hour throughout the day of the 21,000-square-foot home of Mr. and Mrs. Everette DeGolyer. The 44-acre estate known as Rancho Encinal was built in 1939-1940 by DeGolyer and his wife, Nell. According to the Dallas City Hall archives website, “Everette Lee DeGolyer (1886-1956) was a pioneering geophysicist and petroleum geologist known for his outstanding contributions to science, education and community. He began his career as a geologist in Mexico, where he struck oil at the age of twenty-four.”

Everette invested his oil profits in a petroleum industry company along with Eugene McDermott and future Dallas mayor J. Erik Jonsson. The company was called, Geophysical Services Incorporated (GSI), and it developed techniques for oil detection that revolutionized the oil industry. It later became Texas Instruments, an international corporation.

Everette died in 1956. When Nell DeGolyer passed in 1972, the 13-room Spanish Colonial Revival home was willed to Southern Methodist University. The City of Dallas later purchased it as part of the Park and Recreation Department, but it is now privately operated as the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Society.

Inside the DeGolyer Historic Home in Dallas, Texas

Inside the home, there is a wealth of background history of the DeGolyer family and the history of Rancho Encinal. While some things in the home have been refurbished or completely replaced, you still get a feel for how the DeGolyer family lived.

My imagination went wild as I clicked picture after picture. It’s a charming place to visit when you go to the Dallas Arboretum.

Lunch at the DeGolyer Restaurant at Dallas Arboretum

After a day of meandering around the arboretum, I stopped at the DeGolyer Restaurant. It’s charming. With its exposed wooden beams, cozy indoor dining area, and soft music, I felt the most relaxed in a long while. I had salmon with a dill sauce, green beans, a delicious biscuit, and an iced tea.

Even after spending nearly a whole day here, I could still return for more. And as life goes, nature would provide a fresh look even at areas I may have seen before–and I know it would be a feast for my eyes and nourishment for my soul.

When I’m not blogging about travel and lifestyle, I’m creating digital content and marketing strategies for clients. I share stories that matter about your brand and teach clients to "Be the Media." I was named a "Top 50 Podcaster To Follow" for my podcast "The Brand Journalism Advantage." Listen on iTunes or at ThinkLikeAJournalist.com

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