Texas ranches don't get any more famous than Southfork. The 300-acre (121-hectare) property was the setting for the trials, scandals and love affairs of the TV series Dallas, one of the most popular and longest running series of all time. It has since become an icon, as much for its role in Hollywood as for its own beauty.
A short drive 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of Dallas, the ranch was chosen by TV executives to be the fictional Ewing family's estate in 1978, when the series began. Arrive today and you won't see a lovers' tiff or an argument between Texan oil industry heavies. Instead, take a moment to admire the beautiful Texan farmland and the opulence of the mansion.
The best way to see the estate is via a guided tour. Tours start in the visitors’ center and run daily during business hours, every 30-45 minutes. You’ll walk through the 5,000-square-foot (464-square-meter) mansion, with guides offering tidbits of information about the home and the TV show. As a visitor, you are free to walk through the ranch grounds. Don’t miss the memorabilia room, which includes the gun that shot the show’s main character, oil baron J.R. Ewing.
If you're not particularly interested in the TV series, the ranch still offers a taste of the traditional Texas experience. The Chuckwagon Dinner, which is available for a minimum group booking of 20 people, serves traditional fare. It’s a classic Texas meal brought to you on the back of a chuckwagon, the wooden-wheeled carts synonymous with the old American South. The meal is accompanied by musicians playing campfire music and reciting "cowboy poetry," and is something you won't find in many other parts of the country. You must pre-book for the dinner.
Given its location on the outskirts of Dallas, Southfork Ranch is an easy day-trip option. It's a goldmine for Dallas diehards, but it's also a worthy destination for anyone looking to experience Texas outside the major cities. Southfork Ranch is open every day, except when there is a private event.