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Subject: Planning a trip to BGGcon from the UK rss

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Ian Taylor
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Hi all

My wife and I are thinking about taking a fly/drive holiday in Texas (and surrounding area) next Autumn. Things we would like to do include (in rough order of importance):

- Go to BGGcon
- Go to an NFL game
- See the local sights
- Eat lots of Tex Mex and BBQ
- Do 'Cowboy things' (I at that, but my wife wants to go to a ranch or rodeo or something)
- Shopping (the weak dollar has to be good for something right?)

BGGcon is 18th-22nd November I think, so would it be wise to do that at the end of the trip to get better weather? I've read Texas can be quite volatile in November. I guess for the NFL we can wait for the schedule and arrange to be in either Dallas, Houston or New Orleans when they are at home.

Anyway, this is just a vague thread asking for inspiration of places to visit, things to do etc on our trip. I assume a lot of people on this forum are from that area and would have some ideas
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Steven Taylor
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Like you said, Texas is pretty volatile during that time of year, but it is less so the farther south you go.

Keeping in mind that Dallas, Houston, and New Orleans aren't terribly close to each other, Dallas weather is usually pretty nice in November, with the occasional debilitating cold snap.

I'm a little north of that area so I don't have a lot in the way of suggestions for what to do. There is a lot to choose from.
 
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David Debien
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The weather in Dallas the past 2 BGG.CONs was not condusive to outside activity, but in South Texas, things were tolerable.

As far as Cowboy things go, start here:

http://www.duderanch.com/texas/?utm_source=google&utm_medium...

NFL game in November? Perfect.

Personally, I prefer College ball, and we have one of the countries largest stadiums here in Austin (in fact the 10 largest stadiums in the US are all College football stadiums). Maybe take in a Texas Longhorn game in Austin while eating the worlds best BBQ?

Also, while you are here, you could take a wine tour of the hill country.
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Donny Behne
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casualgod wrote:
The weather in Dallas the past 2 BGG.CONs was not condusive to outside activity, but in South Texas, things were tolerable.

As far as Cowboy things go, start here:

http://www.duderanch.com/texas/?utm_source=google&utm_medium...

NFL game in November? Perfect.

Personally, I prefer College ball, and we have one of the countries largest stadiums here in Austin (in fact the 10 largest stadiums in the US are all College football stadiums). Maybe take in a Texas Longhorn game in Austin while eating the worlds best BBQ?

Also, while you are here, you could take a wine tour of the hill country.


If you're going to send him to a college game, and New Orleans is a possibility for him, he needs see the #1 environment in all of football - LSU and Death Valley. LSU vs. Bama or Arkansas is always in november.
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Patrick Kruse
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Weather can vary wildly in November. It froze in Houston this past November (which set records, IIRC). Not sure how Dallas fared, but we don't have salt trucks in Houston (I think there's one, and they only use it in 'critical' areas near the Medical Center). We aren't prepared for ice, every other year or so when we get a bad* ice storm, the whole metro area shuts down. It wasn't typical, but it happened.

*Yes, I realize bad is a relative term. The chief bad-weather concerns everything is designed around in Houston are hurricanes and floods, not ice.

Quote:
.... arrange to be in either Dallas, Houston or New Orleans


The area you described is a bit broad (Dallas to Houston is like 240 miles south and Houston to New Orleans is 350 miles east), so specific restaurant or tourist attraction stuff is difficult to describe succinctly - if you end up planning to visit either Houston or New Orleans for an NFL game, there are more places to recommend than if you just stay in the DFW area.

Quote:

- Go to an NFL game


I'm not a season ticket holder, but I've been to enough games to give a bit of advice - if you're only going to do it once or twice, spring for the better tickets (if you can afford it). I've sat at Texans games a dozen rows up on the 50 yard line. I've also sat in the very back row of the upper deck near one of the end zones - quite possibly the worst seats in the house. Better seats improve the experience immensely.

Generally I agree with the other comments and prefer college football.


Quote:

- Do 'Cowboy things' (I at that, but my wife wants to go to a ranch or rodeo or something)


I don't think any of the big professional rodeos are going on in November, but a google search turns up a smaller year round rodeo in Fort Worth: Link
 
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Steve Duke
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Ian, not sure if you have visited the USA before but one theme I have heard from some other international friends, especially from Europe, is they had no idea of the distances between places.

We have a saying in Texas that "nothing good is close to anything else good." That's largely true but fortunately for you, the Dallas Fort Worth area will offer you much or all of what you are looking for while saving you from tons of driving (and that pesky steering wheel on the wrong side thing).

Fort Worth is an underrated city and is extremely nice in my humble opinion. There are some stockyards there, the famous Billy Bobs I think or whatever it is called now, for some 'cowboy like' things.

Figure out the Cowboys schedule and catch a game before or after the con, based on when they are home. Seeing 'Jerry's World' alone is worth a stop, let along the gridiron game.

There is good bbq all over the place. Everyone will tell you theirs is the best. They are all wrong. The best is in Tennessee, but I digress. Good stuff can be found in Texas.

Good Tex Mex is easily found in the DFW footprint. Among others, try Uncle Julios.

As was said, be prepared to wear a winter coat or shorts although November in DFW is pretty chilly.

Drop me an IM if I can help further.
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Donny Behne
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Depending on the level of your boardgame fandom (which I assume is huge considering you're traveling across the pond for some)I strongly recommend you check out two things:

Dallas Games Marathon: This is a huge boardgame meetup in a storefront in Plano, TX, about 30 minutes or so from the airport. It's normally the third weekend of the month but it moves up a week in November to accommodate BGG CON. DGM has library of over 1,000 games and always has the newest stuff from GenCon and Essen. It starts Thursday evening the week before the con and stays open through the weekend (usually 24 hours a day), Monday, and Tuesday then the con starts on Wednesday and goes through Sunday. So that's a sum total of 11 straight days of non-stop gaming.

Madness Games & Comics: Just down the road from the DGM location is a Mecca of boardgaming knows as Madness Games & Comics. You would be hard pressed to find a bigger, better stocked game store. It's in an old grocery store and is amazing.

I hope you and your wife are able to plan some amazing experiences while you're here. If I can be of aid, don't hesitate to shoot me a geekmail and we can move to email if you like. I live within 45 minutes of the places above and the airport so I'm glad to assist.
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Peter Schott
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For things to do, do check out the Cowboys' schedule, but it's worth getting a behind-the-scenes tour of the stadium even if they're not playing. Do not pay for the "standing room only" areas if they're still offered - when the stadium opened they actually had/have areas where you could watch the game on a screen, but not see the field itself. I don't quite get that.

Lots of local sights - narrow that down a bit to your interests and we could probably help. You're going to be right in the middle of the DFW area in Grapevine so there's a lot to see. Downtown Grapevine is nice. Sometimes there's an "excursion train" to ride down to the Fort Worth Stockyards where you can see a small rodeo, gunfights, do some touristy shopping, get some grub, etc. It's not a bad trip for half a day or so even if you need to catch a ride to get there.

BBQ - I still think Bartley's in Grapevine is better than Hard 8, but there will likely be many groups going to the Hard 8 in nearby Coppell. It's an experience at the least. There's been a pretty good discussion on BBQ in another thread.

Tex-Mex - again lots of options here. There's an Uncle Julio's in Grapevine. El Fenix is another chain in Grapevine. There will be a bunch of smaller places as well. Install the UrbanSpoon app to check them out.

I'd probably consider a good steak house alongside the above, but just because there are some pretty good ones in the area - 3 Forks, Del Friscos, and Bob's Chop House to name a few. There are even decent ones not in the really expensive category if you want a cheaper meal.

Shopping - lots of it. The Galleria can be an experience and there are quite a few malls/shopping areas around. Near the airport just on the other side of Grapevine, there's Southlake which has a pretty good outdoor-style "town center" set of stores and restaurants. It depends on your shopping preferences there.

Check the weather before coming. It can vary between snow and heat wave at that time of year. I think I was wearing a windbreaker this past November around that time, but it really can vary.

As others have noted - it's a big area. To drive from the furthest corner of the Metroplex to the opposite corner can easily take 90-120 minutes. I did a comparison once and the DFW metroplex is slightly larger than the state of Connecticut in the US. Houston is about 4-6 hours away by car. New Orleans is easily 9-11 hours from here driving. You can find most of what you are looking for without needing to leave the metroplex with the possible exception of an NFL game at the time. (I'd also agree that the college games can be more exciting and my wife would plug for an LSU game if you can get tickets - they're an experience.)
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Gabriel Perez
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Glad you can come down to Texas.


Food: Go to Joe T. Garcia in Ft. Worth. Great Tex-Mex place, but beware it only takes Cash. Twisted Hamburgers is good. Pecan Lodge in Dallas is a great bbq place as well.

Place to visit: Gaylord Texan, I think has an ice show during that time period. Dallas World Acquarium is a good place to visit. If you like basketball or hockey that is avilable as well with the Dallas Mavericks and Stars.


I second visiting Madness or DGM for early gaming. Lots of great folks to play with.
 
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Donny Behne
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paschott wrote:
(I'd also agree that the college games can be more exciting and my wife would plug for an LSU game if you can get tickets - they're an experience.)


That geek gold is for your wife.
 
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Sam Phillips Beckerman
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I've heard European prices for games are crazy more than we pay. Fill your suitcases before you leave - and bring the max allowed. You can pre-buy games in the BGG.con Virtual Flea Market.

If you want to take advantage of Internet shopping before your arrival w/o paying shipping to England, I would be glad to serve as your local address. As would most of us that attend.
 
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Steve Duke
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My one and only trip to the Cowboys Stadium (now called AT&T i believe) was that I wished I'd paid for the standing room only tickets.
They overlooked one of the end zones from the second level and it was a party atmosphere. You could certainly see the field and the game...

I had midfield seats up so high all I could see was that damn screen.

My buddy and I moved down to the standing room only spaces, which at that time cost about $25 apiece. Wished that's all i had spent on tickets, but seeing and being in the stadium was awesome.

Personally, a tour of the stadium would be your better bet imo. Save your cash for a good sports bar and go take in ALL of the games one Sunday and pay a lot less for food, beer and parking....Ive been to the UK a few times, London mostly. You'll love one of our good sports bars.

 
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Ian Taylor
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Thanks for all the replies guys.

I'm not that interested in going to a college football game as I don't really follow college football. I've been to most of the London NFL games, so it's not like it will be my 'first time', I just fancy seeing one in the US with a more partisan atmosphere. Would be great to see Jerry's stadium, although the Superdome or Reliant would be fine if the dates work out that way.

I'm aware of how far the major cities in Texas are apart and know there will be a fair bit of driving involved, but I figure if we spend a couple of days driving on a two week trip it's not the end of the world, especially if it allows us to take in more places we would probably never visit otherwise.

The weather does sound like a problem though. It really restricts what you can do if you don't really want to be outside.
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Peter Schott
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Well, weather is definitely variable. Just keep an eye on it - it won't stop you from traveling for the most part, but may mean an outdoor activity will be curtailed.

The reason College games were suggested is that they can be a bit more interesting than the NFL games. And for the stadium tour - it's worth the time. It's the newest of those stadiums and there's a lot of neat stuff to see. I know a guy who worked security for them and he highly recommended the tour to everyone just because of the cool factor. He actually recommended the tour more than seeing a game.

And the driving isn't horrible, but it can be tedious. (Admittedly not a huge fan of driving - do it as a necessity....) There can be all sorts of things to see if you're driving more with a "see what I want to see" attitude than a "must reach this destination" attitude. For that, it's worth the trip. If you're driving to New Orleans, you'll probably get to pass over one of the longest set of bridges in the country as you go between Lafayette and Baton Rouge.
 
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Digren K
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Unfortunately, there aren't many other special events around the time of BGG Con, for the interests you've listed. I think you'd enjoy the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, but it's not until the following January. The State Fair of Texas, meanwhile, is in October and will be over already.

Given what you want to do, I suggest you stay a little bit after BGG Con and try to attend Thanksgiving-day events. You could see the Neiman-Marcus/Adolphus Children's Parade then see the Cowboys game, for example, all on November 26th, then start your journey home the next day. Between BGG Con and then, the Fort Worth museums are excellent, and there are other open-every-day things you can do in the DFW area to stay busy, without needing to travel too far.

You probably don't want to go to New Orleans unless you are flying, as that will eat way too much of a two-week trip. The furthest you should consider driving is Austin, and even then you're losing half a day. Obviously this varies if you consider driving on long bland highways for hours on end an enjoyable part of your vacations.
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james napoli
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i likely have some subjective thoughts that are not likely to jive with popular opinion:

The Hard 8 while a fun place and a fun option while at bgg.con in my opinion is not the epitome of good BBQ. There are better options if you google/yelp it up.

Austin is awesome and should be part of your trip.

You could check out a rodeo and also check out the Dallas Stars hockey team while in town as well.

Enjoy!
 
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Ian Taylor
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We did wonder about Thanksgiving. I have never been in American for thanksgiving before, but I always assumed there wouldn't have much in the way of events because it was essentially a family holiday spent at home.
 
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Digren K
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piemasteruk wrote:
We did wonder about Thanksgiving. I have never been in American for thanksgiving before, but I always assumed there wouldn't have much in the way of events because it was essentially a family holiday spent at home.


That is true for the most part, except for the Thanksgiving-day parades - one of which is in Dallas - and for the annual tradition of the Cowboys hosting a Thanksgiving-day game. Since you want to see an NFL game and you know you'll be in DFW and you'd like to see their stadium and you can be assured they will have a game there on that day, it seemed like the best fit for getting you something you want to do on your itinerary.
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Lee Trowbridge
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Digren wrote:
piemasteruk wrote:
We did wonder about Thanksgiving. I have never been in American for thanksgiving before, but I always assumed there wouldn't have much in the way of events because it was essentially a family holiday spent at home.


That is true for the most part, except for the Thanksgiving-day parades - one of which is in Dallas - and for the annual tradition of the Cowboys hosting a Thanksgiving-day game. Since you want to see an NFL game and you know you'll be in DFW and you'd like to see their stadium and you can be assured they will have a game there on that day, it seemed like the best fit for getting you something you want to do on your itinerary.


Re Thanksgiving & modern US culture: Better be warned about "Black Friday". Massive sales, Christmas shopping frenzy (with traffic and advertising blitz to go with it). Named "Black" for several reasons, one of which is that retailers hope to get "in the black" -- profitable -- by virtue of sales volume
 
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Digren K
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E_T_Lee wrote:
Re Thanksgiving & modern US culture: Better be warned about "Black Friday". Massive sales, Christmas shopping frenzy (with traffic and advertising blitz to go with it). Named "Black" for several reasons, one of which is that retailers hope to get "in the black" -- profitable -- by virtue of sales volume

Yeah, my original suggestion to "head home the next day" was a subtle way to suggest that the original poster not spend the day at Walmart. The American people are, perhaps, not at their best on black Friday, and there's no need for tourists to see that. blush
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Two words....breakfast tacos. Find them. Consume them. Happiness will follow.
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Ian Taylor
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I have no real desire to experience Black Friday sales. The only kind of shopping I am interested in is stocking up on jeans, trainers etc that are far cheaper in the US. On past trips retail outlet stores seem to offer the best deals. I assume you have those in Texas

We may be rethinking the trip now though. Although we would still like to visit that part of the US, it may not be practical to do it with BGGcon due to the unpredictability of the weather at that time of year. We may come in October or something instead.
 
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Donny Behne
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piemasteruk wrote:
Although we would still like to visit that part of the US, it may not be practical to do it with BGGcon due to the unpredictability of the weather at that time of year.


To be honest, It's only unpredictable about once every four or five years and we got it out of the way in 2013 for a while. I wouldn't let that be a deciding factor for you. It's just Texas. It isn't Minnesota.
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Steve Duke
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For a guy who flies through DFW for work frequently, let me say the weather is far from predictable, most months of the year...

Thunderstorms, lightning, winds, hail, ice, or tornadoes. It's awesome!

 
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Peter Schott
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kelann08 wrote:
piemasteruk wrote:
Although we would still like to visit that part of the US, it may not be practical to do it with BGGcon due to the unpredictability of the weather at that time of year.


To be honest, It's only unpredictable about once every four or five years and we got it out of the way in 2013 for a while. I wouldn't let that be a deciding factor for you. It's just Texas. It isn't Minnesota.


I'd agree with that. Most of the time - it's just either slightly cold or slightly warm at that time of year. Sure you may have rain or (in a really freak occurrence) the snow from last year, but most likely it will just be a bit on the cool side with some possibility of rain. Don't let the weather be a deciding factor by any means.
 
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