I discovered Irving on a trip about six years ago. The city is located only minutes from Dallas and thirty from Fort Worth. It is sophisticated, stylish, and offers a slower-pace than its neighboring big cities. But don’t worry, they aren’t skimping on anything int his Texas gem. Here are five things to love about Irving, Texas, that turned my head along time ago and again recently.
Thanks to Visit Irving for hosting our visit, which included a familiarization trip to the area, lodging, and some meals.
1. Take a Gondola Canal Cruise
Never in a million years would I have expected to take a gondola canal cruise outside of Venice, Italy, or the Venetian in Las Vegas. I mean, what are the chances? But here in beautiful Irving, you can do just that. Climb aboard an Instagram-worthy private gondola with friends, your entire family (children under 5 are free), or for a romantic interlude as you cruise through the Mandalay Canal and Lake Carolyn in Las Colinas. Expect waterfalls and an almost empty waterway for you to soak up the incredible scenery on this memorable attraction.
There are two styles of boats which operate year-round and can even hold a group of 12. Gondola Adventures offer a wide array of trips. There is an Italian dinner cruise option (with a singing gondolier), as well as lunch, casual pizza, delectable dessert, and exquisite dinner cruises.
Pro Tip: Blankets are provided in case you get chilly.
Perhaps pick up a gourmet charcuterie platter from Nosh and Bottle, the area experts, to enjoy on your gondola ride.
2. Indulge in the Food and Drink Scene
Irving, Texas, wowed me with their food scene. It wasn’t nearly as fussy or expensive as Dallas, and best of all, it was scrumptious. Via Real Restaurant is where I love to indulge in Southwest and Mexican food, though the Pecan encrusted Sea Bass with cilantro mash and pineapple cream sauce is my favorite menu item. They also have a delightful Sunday brunch buffet with unlimited mimosas.
Hugo’s Invitados was probably the coolest stop of my Irving, Texas, trip. Not only is it awesome for craft cocktails and appetizers (Prickly pear Texas red snapper ceviche is the bomb!), but you’ve got to see the eclectically-dressed mannequins on display around the restaurant. What a clever concept!
Pacific Table at Las Colinas was excellent for seafood and Pacific Rim dishes. Still, here I ordered a pecan-veggie burger, which was one of the most delicious vegetarian options I’ve ever had. They have a darned tasty sounding brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 11 AM to 3 PM.
For breakfast, I recommend Law at the Four Seasons if you want to splurge and order with full table service. Law’s Sunday brunch is one of the most fabulous I’ve witnessed in my whole life; prepare to be dazzled by the presentation and flavors. For a more casual breakfast, Kitchen 101 at the Toyota Music Factory property has amazing breakfast tacos—the Fresno salsa is to die for. If they are available, the Pimento Cheese Fritters, which will knock your socks off. I haven’t eaten an appetizer this good, in part due to the bacon horseradish jam, in ages.
3. Explore the Toyota Music Factory
One of the country’s coolest entertainment properties is right here in Las Colinas. Originally the Irving Music Factory, the now Toyota Music Factory version is an entertainment area with oodles of live music, an open-air pavilion, and restaurants. A handful of eateries include Blaze Brazilian Steak House, Reservoir, and Claudi B’s Nashville Hot Chicken and Burgers. Mama Tried is one of the locals’ favorites. They specialize in live music of all kinds, trivia, pool tables, and bar bites in a honky-tonk sports-bar setting.
Oh, and there is also some shopping and an Alamo Drafthouse Cinema.
Within the three venues in one are a 2,500-person small-scale theater, a 4,000-seater indoor theater, and almost 10,000 capacity amphitheater, which add to the 250,000 total square feet of this mammoth property. Events are promoted by Live Nation Entertainment.
Upcoming concerts at the Toyota Music Factory include Third Eye Blind, Flashback Funk (Midnight Star, Dazz Band, Lakeside, and more), Big Time Rush, and English folk-singer songwriter David Gray. Check the website for the many free concert opportunities in Texas Lottery Plaza.
4. Learn about Las Colinas
If you googled “ultimate urban center”, you’d get a description summing up the Las Colinas section of Irving, Texas. This 12,000-acre high-end master planned community is a lovely mix of highrise buildings and family homes, lakes, canals, golf courses, and green spaces. Area parks are plentiful and the Campion Trails greenbelt passes through. There were seven 2019 Fortune 500 companies in this small Texas community.
Something you can’t miss in town are the nine galloping bronze Mustangs of Las Colinas sculptures in Williams Square. They are truly a testament to Texas heritage. The gorgeous piece by by Robert Glen captures the free spirited animals and community entirely.
A fun fact I saw on their website is that there is 27.4 million sq-ft. of office space, 7.6 million sq-ft. for industry, and 2.9-million for retail space. I love numbers and this sizes Las Colinas up nicely.
5. Stay at the Texican Court
A hotel brand that has caught my attention (and I’m shouting from the rooftops about it) is Valencia Hotel Group. They are a locally-owned chain hotel with seven properties. The Texican Court is the incredible luxury boutique hotel property in Las Colinas. It has a picture-perfect check-in area, chic and stylish manicured grounds, and onsite bars and a restaurant.
Texican Court’s deluxe rooms are comfortable and picturesque, with a fully-stocked Smeg refrigerator, cool robes, wardrobe, custom-made furniture, and a barn door separating the bathroom. I thought the linens and accent pieces couldn’t have been cuter if they tried, and the Western-themed pictures and novelty items were perfectly fitting. They even have a small table and rocking chairs outside the rooms so you can enjoy the courtyard scenery.
For me, being pet-friendly is important and Texican Court can also check that mark. And can you even believe how fun and beautiful that pool is? I’m a fan of chaise loungers in the pool, adding optimal seating for working on my tan. Texican Court also offers complimentary WiFi, on-site parking, and are within walking distance to the Toyota Music Factory and many area attractions.
By night, enjoy the eye-catching fire pit and seating arrangements ranging from bean bags to wrought iron rockers.
I hope you will fall in love with these best things I found in Irving, Texas, as I did. Stay tuned for more as Taylor and I bring our #STE Southern Travelers Explore conference to Irving and the Texican Court in March 2023.
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