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A Las Colinas Adventure: 10 Experiences You Must Have in Irving TX
This Michigan girl recently traveled to Irving, Texas, home of the University of Dallas, for a visit! If you have never been to Irving, now is the time to add it to your list! Irving, Texas, is a gorgeous city in Dallas County, Texas, located approximately 15 miles west of Downtown Dallas and 10 miles east of Downtown Fort Worth. Irving and Las Colinas are a quick 15-minute car ride from DFW Airport. Las Colinas, where I spent much of my time during this visit, is tucked within the city limits of Irving.
Table of Contents
What is Las Colinas?
Las Colinas is a master-planned urban center in Irving, Texas. The term “master-planned urban center” was new to me, and maybe you, too. These urban centers, or communities, are neighborhoods designed for easy navigation via walking, biking, or public transportation, giving easy access around the community.
Urban centers typically have a variety of green spaces, such as parks, gardens, and walking trails. Living in an urban center like Las Colinas is an excellent option for people who want to live a healthy and active lifestyle.
Las Colinas was one of the first planned communities in the United States, with a land area of more than 12,000 acres. This community is home to various businesses, including Fortune 500 companies, residential neighborhoods, shopping centers, and restaurants.
I had so much fun exploring Las Colinas and discovering the many options for shopping, dining, entertainment, and outdoor recreation. So let me share some of my experiences with you.
The rooms have spacious floor plans with all the amenities you could want, including a large and comfortable walk-in shower, a fully stocked refrigerator, a comfy seating area, and all the kitschy décor you could ask for. I loved the retro-styled bright orange refrigerator and the boldly striped custom robes!
The rooms are three levels high and around a clean, beautiful pool or open green space. If you are looking for fresh air, sit on one of the rockers outside each room with a pool view. I loved the wood plank walkway that made me feel like I was in an old Ben Franklin store every time I walked to my room.
Yes indeed. The Texican court is perfect for personal and business travelers. It is the ideal location to stay if you need to access the Irving Convention Center, located directly across the street, an easy 2-minute walk.
Hungry? Grab a bite at the Two Mules Cantina right on the property. I had the pleasure of dining there several times, and the food was delicious, freshly prepared, and served with a smile.
501 W Las Colinas Blvd., Irving, TX 75039
Mustangs of Las Colinas
A visit to Las Colinas must include a stop at the Mustangs of Las Colinas! This bronze sculpture showcases nine wild mustangs galloping across a granite stream. The sculpture was commissioned in 1976 and installed and dedicated in 1984. It is the largest equestrian sculpture in the world.
I love the small fountains near the mustangs’ feet, making it feel like the horses are actually in action. You will find the sculpture in the Las Colinas Urban Center, surrounded by a beautiful and clean open space, perfect for a picnic lunch or a space to sit and reflect.
Robert Glen, a Kenyan sculptor, created the sculpture. Glen found inspiration in the wild mustangs that were historically significant inhabitants of much of Texas. The horses represent the drive, initiative, and unfettered lifestyle fundamental to the state in its pioneer days. Visiting the on-site museum is a great way to learn about the area’s history and the sculpture’s making.
5221 North O’Connor Road, Suite 110E, Irving, TX 75039, 972-869-9047
Explore the Mandalay Canals
The Mandalay Canals https://www.irvingtexas.com/things-to-do/mandalay-canals/ are a network of artificial canals in Irving, Texas. They were inspired by the canals of Venice and were created in the 1980s by Ben Carpenter, the original landowner, and developer of Las Colinas. The canals wind through restaurants, shops, hotels, residences, and office buildings, offering visitors scenic views of waterfalls, vine-covered bridges, and “Old World” charm.
You may notice (or maybe you won’t) that something big is missing when you are enjoying a Mandalay Canal walk or are on the water. Our host casually asked us what was missing from our view.
After we guessed what was missing, he revealed the hidden secret. There are no advertisements or signs visible from the canal. I’m surprised that no one noticed this until our host pointed it out.
Mandalay Canals are brimming with unique adventures. You can enjoy various activities, including gondola rides, water skiing, paddleboarding, rowing, fishing, and hiking. I was lucky enough to try out a couple of those experiences.
215 Mandalay Canal, Irving, TX 75039
Stand Up Paddle North TeXas, or SUPNTX, https://supntx.com/ is a stand-up paddleboard rental and instruction company in Irving, Texas. The company offers a variety of paddleboards for rent and lessons for everyone, from the beginner to the expert. The company’s instructors are experienced and certified by the Stand-Up Paddle Association, and they know their stuff!
SUPNTX offers a variety of paddleboards for rent, including inflatable boards, hardboards, and longboards. In addition to paddleboards, the company also offers rentals of kayaks, aqua cycle water trikes, and standard or swan-shaped pedalboats. It has a variety of accessories for rent, such as life jackets, paddles, and dry bags.
This unassuming little rental spot was founded in 2012 by two friends who were passionate about stand-up paddleboarding. The company has grown rapidly over the past few years and is now one of the leading stand-up paddleboard rental and instruction companies in the Dallas–Fort Worth area. And lucky me – I got to check them out.
First, I took a spin on an aqua cycle water trike, but that was an exercise in frustration because our trike was utterly non-responsive to steering. To be honest, I couldn’t get off fast enough. But since we still had plenty of time, I opted to spend some time on a kayak.
I loved being on the water surrounded by tall buildings and paddling under a bridge with traffic passing overhead. Kayaking in a canal surrounded by a city was a unique experience, different from kayaking in a small or remote body of water. If you are in the area, you should give it a try. The staff is very thorough and will get you on the water efficiently.
While paddling around, don’t be surprised if you spot a gondola floating past you, which brings us to our next experience!
113 Las Colinas Blvd E, Irving, TX 75039
Ride in an Italian Gondola with Gondola Adventures
We saw a gondola float by with a beautiful couple enjoying a romantic dessert on board, complete with roses, music, and a paddling gondolier wearing traditional clothing. We all ogled the gondola with envy. “What a fun experience it would be to have a private gondola cruise,” we all said to one another.
Imagine our surprise when, after we wrapped up our time at SUPNTX, our guide ushered us several blocks down E. Las Colinas Blvd to the entrance of Gondola Adventures for a surprise mini-gondola tour of the Mandalay Canals.
If you’re looking for romance, Gondola Adventures is the perfect option! This relaxing ride through the canals is genuinely unique. The gondolas are decorated Venetian style and are powered by a gondola driver dressed in a traditional striped shirt, red sash, and straw hat. Your driver will row to navigate the canals, and some will sing for you.
The rides are about an hour long, and you will be encouraged to kiss when passing under the bridges in the area. And don’t worry if you’re not after romance. The gondola rides are kid-friendly and perfect for celebrating any special occasion.
The gondolas in Irving are not made in Italy but are replicas built in the United States. Our gondola was 32 feet long and powered by an electric motor, while others employ manpower and paddles, authentic Italian style. The paddles and the forcola (pronounced fork-you-la) are made and shipped directly from Italy.
Gondola Adventures offers dinner cruises, engagement packages, and even bottle drops, where you can arrange for a secret message to appear in a floating bottle as you tour the canals. Be sure to make reservations in advance!
SUP NTX works together with nearby favorite, Gondola Adventures. The two companies have partnered to offer a package deal that includes a stand-up paddleboard rental, a gondola ride, and a lesson. This package deal is a great way to experience both unique activities in Irving, Texas.
357 W Fork, Irving, TX 75039
Love Locks of Las Colinas
When you’re in Las Colinas, make a point to stop at the Love Lock Bridge near the entrance of Gondola Adventures. Hundreds of padlocks emblazoned with names, initials, and statements of love hang from this sweet pedestrian bridge. Our host, Lori, of Visit Irving, TX, had done her homework and surprised us by providing a lock with the name of our loved one engraved.
My lock was a gorgeous shiny black with “Dan & Veronica” and “Love is forever” engraved. It also came with a super cute heart-shaped key I took home to wear on a chain.
The tradition of placing love locks on bridges started in Hungary after a woman lost her lover during World War I. Many in-love couples place a padlock on one of these bridges to symbolize their love and commitment. The Love Locks Bridge in Irving recently became more famous by being featured on the Netflix show “Love is Blind.” Of course, we searched until we found the lock!
Find the bridge on the Carolyn Promenade Lake near Las Colinas Blvd
Visit the Ruth Paine House Museum
The Ruth Paine House Museum is dedicated to the life and times of Ruth Paine, who lived in the house with her two children from 1962 to 1963. The house is also known for where Lee Harvey Oswald spent the night before he assassinated President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.
Many members of our group enjoyed a tour and were very impressed with the amount of history of the assassination of President Kennedy. The museum provides a unique perspective on that day’s events and the people involved.
The museum was established in 1997 and is open to the public. Tours of the museum are available by appointment only. The museum’s collection includes Paine’s personal belongings and items related to President Kennedy’s assassination.
801 W. Irving Boulevard, Irving TX
Las Colinas Urban Center
The Las Colinas Urban Center is an extensive shopping and entertainment complex. It features a variety of stores, restaurants, and attractions, with plenty of space to relax and enjoy the outdoors. The Urban Center is home to Lake Carolyn, a 125-acre lake with walking trails, a boat launch, and various aquatic activities. The area also has several parks and green spaces, making it a great place to take a walk, have a picnic, or enjoy the scenery.
The Urban Center is just minutes from the DFW International Airport and the DART light rail system, making it easy to get around the city and explore all it offers.
890 Lake Carolyn Parkway, Irving, TX
The Irving Greenbelt is a 22-mile trail system along the Elm and West Fork of the Trinity River. The trail system is open to the public for hiking, biking, running, and other recreational activities and features a variety of amenities, including restrooms, water fountains, and picnic areas.
The Greenbelt was conceived in the 1970s to connect the city’s parks and open spaces. The first phase of the Greenbelt reached completion in 1985, and the trail system has been expanding ever since. Today, the Greenbelt is one of the most popular parks in Irving. It is a great place to escape the city life’s hustle and bustle and enjoy the outdoors.
I got a quick peek of Greenbelt while I was in Irving, but if I had more time, I would have packed a picnic and wandered around enjoying the sunshine. Be sure to plan for some exercise along the trail while you’re in town!
Toyota Music Factory
Toyota Music Factory opened in 2017 with a ZZ Top concert! I wish I had visited then, but I am equally impressed with my visit now. Toyota Music Factory includes a 25,000-seat outdoor amphitheater, a 10,000-seat indoor arena, a 12-screen movie theater, a 20-lane bowling alley, a 12-acre lake, and various restaurants, bars, and shops.
If you like basketball, you’ll love that Toyota Music Factory is home to the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and the WNBA’s Dallas Wings. The theater has hosted, among other concerts and events, the Billboard Music Awards, the MTV Video Music Awards, and the American Music Awards. The arena has hosted various concerts and other events, including the CMT and ACM Awards. And when I visited, they hosted the Hip Grandma!
Actually, they hosted the entire Southern Travelers Explore Conference, but I like to think they hosted me! A girl can dream. On my visit, we enjoyed live music from the stage in the Texas Lottery Plaza, an open area with plenty of perfectly lit space to wander, and a cocktail on the open lawn.
316 West Las Colinas Boulevard, Irving, TX 75039, 972-810-1499
Wrapping it All Up
Writing about all the places to go and things to do while in Las Colinas and Irving, Texas, would be impossible in only a few paragraphs. The area has rich Texan history and culture, plenty of things to do, and a friendly atmosphere. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing vacation or an action-packed adventure, Irving has something to offer everyone.
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