Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex
The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex (also known as DFW, North Texas, or The Metroplex) is a large area in the Prairies and Lakes region of Texas. According to the 2010 census, the population of the Dallas–Fort Worth–Arlington, TX Metropolitan Statistical Area was just over 6.4 million, which makes it the most populated metropolitan area in Texas and the fourth most populous in the United States. Defined by the US Government as 12 counties (Collin, Dallas, Delta, Denton, Ellis, Hunt, Johnson, Kaufman, Parker, Rockwall, Tarrant, and Wise), it is anchored on the east by the city of Dallas and on the west by Fort Worth.
The Metroplex offers an entertaining array of Texana featuring everything from modern skyscrapers to old-fashioned cattle yards and essentially everything in between. It is the home to many corporations, professional sports teams, a wide variety of nightlife, and a burgeoning arts community. The Metroplex is also the location of two award winning zoos, a world class aquarium, and several historically significant locations and museums.
The City of Dallas by itself is the ninth largest by population in the United States. It is the largest in size and population in The Metroplex, the county seat of Dallas County, and generally considered the center of the area. Some of the far northern areas within the City of Dallas extend into Collin County, which is directly north of Dallas County, and also into Denton County, which is northwest of Dallas County and directly west of Collin County.
Some of the cities and towns within and surrounding Dallas include:
Fort Worth area
Many locals will refer to the cities and towns of western Dallas County and eastern Tarrant County as the Mid-Cities. Although there is no official designation, the Mid-Cities generally includes the following:
Outer areas of The Metroplex are made up of smaller towns and rural areas, especially in Delta, Ellis, Hunt, Johnson, Kaufman, Parker, and Wise counties.
Lakes in the area have been created by the construction of dams on one of the four forks of the Trinity River, or one of the river's numerous creeks and tributaries. They primarily serve as reservoirs, but they also provide plenty of recreational opportunities, especially in the hot, summer months. During extreme floods or droughts, some recreational opportunities may be limited. Further details on individual lakes may be available on the Wikitravel pages for the city in which the lake is located.
Understand that the region occupies a vast area approximately 250 miles north of the Gulf of Mexico. Unlike the densely populated metro areas in the northern U.S. which house the bulk of their inhabitants in a relatively compact space, the Metroplex is more spread out. It encompasses 9,286 square miles (24,100/km²), making it larger in land area than the states of Rhode Island and Connecticut combined. Urban sprawl has essentially made the central part of The Metroplex like one large city with very few pockets of undeveloped land in its urbanized core. The topography of the area is generally flat with hilly areas rarely exceeding 1000 feet above sea level in elevation.
Except for Native American tribes, the area was sparsely populated prior to the Republic of Texas gaining independence from Mexico in 1836. Texas was annexed by the US in 1845 leading to the Mexican-American War. After an American victory in the war, there was a surge of migration to the area. Later in the 19th century, the paths of the cattle trails and railroads made Dallas and Fort Worth important centers of business, which led to further population growth. In the 20th century, the region continued to grow in trade and industry, even during some periods of recession or depression. With many jobs available, people from near and far continued to move to the area, which was growing rapidly in size and population. This growth continues in the 21st century due to a pro-business state government and the general trend of people moving from rural to urban areas.
Most people will be dressed in standard American fashion. This fact may surprise some visitors who expect everyone to be wearing cowboy boots and hats! You will see some people dressed in that traditional fashion, and there are plenty of stores that sell such merchandise, which are popular as gifts. Native Texans are often proud of their heritage, so you will see many symbols of Texas and Southern pride around, including the display of controversial Confederate States of America emblems. Like most of the rest of the state, citizens of The Metroplex are generally more conservative and religious. However, it is a diverse region with a large minority population and people who have moved here from all over the country, so you will find people with all sorts of different viewpoints. Generally, Texans are friendly and will treat you with respect.
The region's climate is humid subtropical with hot summers. In July and August, daytime temperatures frequently exceed 100°F. Precipitation also varies considerably from year to year, ranging from less than 20 to more than 50 inches. Below freezing temperatures are possible from November to March. Winters are generally mild, but can be accompanied by sudden drops in temperature. Periods of extreme cold that occasionally occur are usually short-lived, and sometimes followed by an immediate return to mild, spring-like temperatures. Snowfall is rare with many winters having no snowfall at all. However, some years will see multiple snowfall events. Snow even occasionally falls in November or March. Rain in winter months during spells of cold winter can lead to freezing rain conditions, which can cause very hazardous conditions on roadways. Fall and spring seasons are more pleasant, but can be interrupted by periods of rainy weather, which can include thunderstorms and tornadoes. A large part of the annual precipitation results from thunderstorm activity, which can include very heavy rainfall over brief periods of time leading to flash flooding. Thunderstorms and tornadoes can occur throughout the year, but are most frequent and dangerous in the spring. They sometimes are accompanied by hail, which can sometimes cause significant damage to vehicles and structures in the region. Windstorms occurring during thunderstorm activity can also be destructive.
Like the rest of the country, English is the primary language in DFW. You will find that most people speak without any hint of a Texas drawl or twang. Although, you will definitely find that people say "y'all" instead of "you all". You may end up talking to some people with Southern accents, but they likely grew up in a more rural area. You are more likely to end up talking to someone with a foreign accent as the area is home for natives of countries from all around the world. Since Texas is a border state, it has a very large Latino population. Therefore, in some neighborhoods, Spanish may be useful because it will seem as though everyone is speaking it. Except for recent immigrants however, most people will speak at least basic, if not perfect, English. The same holds true for other ethnic neighborhoods where many people of African or Asian heritage congregate.
The Metroplex is served by two large commercial airports and a regional airport.
The large airports are:
The smaller airport is:
Keep in mind that with the high traffic, delays are common so plan well ahead and allow some extra time for contingencies.
For those traveling by bus, Greyhound  operates large terminals in both Downtown Dallas and Downtown Fort Worth, as well as smaller satellite terminals and bus stops in surrounding areas. The Downtown Dallas station is within walking distance of Dallas Area Rapid Transit Authority (DART) public transportation including Dallas Union Station where Amtrak and the Trinity Railway Express (TRE) also operate. Be aware, however, that the Greyhound station has long been known by locals as a trouble spot and tends to attract transients and vagrants. Panhandling is a common occurrence, and while the perpetrators are rarely violent, a high level of vigilance is strongly recommended for anyone who may pass through the terminal. The Fort Worth station suffers less from these problems. It is located at the Fort Worth Intermodal Transportation Center, which gives direct connection to Amtrak, the TRE, and The T (Tarrant County public transportation).
Megabus  also has stops in Downtown Dallas at the DART East Transfer Center (330 N.Olive St.) and in Grand Prairie near the intersection of Belt Line Road and Main Street (710 Davis St.), with busses heading towards Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Little Rock, St Louis, Chicago, Atlanta, and Memphis.
In addition several bus lines such as Turimex Internacional, El Expreso, and Tornado run routes from Dallas and Fort Worth across the US/Mexico border to destinations in Mexico such as Monterrey, Guadalajara, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas, Durango, Tampico, Mexico City, and Chihuahua.
The Metroplex is quite easily accessed by automobile. Interstate Highway 30 bisects the area west to east, and there are two branches of Interstate 35 that run north-south; I-35W through Fort Worth and I-35E through Dallas. In addition, Dallas is served by Interstate 45, which connects the area to Houston. The Metroplex is also served by several large US Highways and another score of Texas State highways.
For those new to the Metroplex, the area's elaborate highway system can be a bit confusing. The D/FW area has long had a tradition of naming numbered highways, e.g. U.S. Highway 75 is known as Central Expressway. The following is a fairly comprehensive list of the numbered freeways in the Metroplex and their corresponding names.
The Dallas area is also currently served by two tollways: the Dallas North Tollway (colloquially known simply as "the Tollway") and the President George Bush Turnpike (generally referred to as "the Bush Turnpike"; also locally abbreviated as "PGBT"). These two tollways often provide a welcome respite from Dallas' famously bad traffic.
The Metroplex is notorious for its traffic congestion, so a traveler unfamiliar with the area should leave a significant time for error in learning the area. The worst times to be on the freeways in the D/FW area are the rush hour times, generally between 6-9 A.M. and 4-7 P.M. Traffic on the weekends is usually fairly pain-free, but it does not take much to cause a significant backup. Pay close attention to local television and radio for backup information.
The Metroplex truly offers a little something for everyone.
The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex has more restaurants per capita than anywhere else in the United States. With the large immigrant and transplant population in the area it is also relatively easy to find different types of ethnic cuisine as well such as interior Mexican, Korean, Salvadoran, Chinese, Indian, Italian, Lebanese, Vietnamese, Thai, etc., although the heaviest concentration of those places tend to be in either Northwest Dallas, North Dallas or the various suburbs such as Garland, Richardson, Plano, Irving, Carrollton, and Arlington.
As in almost the entire United States, dial 911 to get emergency help.
As with any large metropolitan area, The Metroplex has its share of street crime. Safer areas are the more affluent areas, including parts of west Fort Worth, most of Arlington, the northern suburbs, and the Park Cities of North Dallas. Areas that warrant some extra caution include southern Dallas, parts of Downtown Dallas, the areas close to Fair Park, as well as the eastern and southeastern parts of Fort Worth. Dallas, Fort Worth, and some other cities have interactive crime maps on their web sites. See individual city articles for more specific information. In general, following normal common sense will keep you safe. Avoid unfamiliar side streets and alleys, especially at night and if you're alone. Know where you're going when you set out and stick to crowded areas.
If you will be driving around in the region, note that people can drive quite aggressively and fast. During rush hour periods, the congestion will generally prevent fast speeds. However, some drivers will change lanes quickly and often to try and cut ahead in line. Accidents and deaths attributed to road rage do occur. While driving in the region can be frustrating, try to avoid confrontation with other vehicles. Highways can have speed limits as high as 70 miles per hour. Side street speed limits vary. If no speed limit sign is posted (as is usually the case on most residential streets), the assumption is that the limit is 30 MPH. In general, police will not pull people over for speeding unless driving more than 10 MPH over the limit with the exception of school zones, which are more strictly enforced. School zones will be marked by flashing yellow lights.
As noted above in the Climate section, weather in the area can be unpredictable. So plan ahead before arriving in the region and pay attention to the local weather forecast. Extreme heat, intense sunlight, and high ozone pollution levels may cause you to limit outdoor activities in the summer months to prevent dehydration and other heat-related illnesses. The use of sunscreen in the summer, and even in other seasons, is highly recommended for those spending significant time outdoors. Also in the warmer months, note that tropical diseases spread by mosquito bites such as West Nile Virus are present in the area. Although the chances of such diseases affecting you are still very low, it is recommended to use insect repellent when outdoors for long periods of time in warmer weather.