Frisco delivers Texas-sized Fun and Food

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Pizza is baked for 60 seconds at 1,000 degrees at Pizzeria Testa Napoletana restaurant in Frisco, Texas.
Color-coded, district-oriented signs help visitors and residents find their way from highways to entertainment venues and attractions in Frisco, Texas.
Frisco, Texas, is home to the RoughRiders, a minor league baseball team, and Dr. Pepper Ballpark.
"Maternal Caress," one of the sculptures in the Texas Sculpture Garden at Hall Office Park in Frisco, Texas.
The Union Pacific Big Boy 4018, the largest and strongest steam engine, was built in 1941. It's the showpiece of the Museum of the American Railroad.

By Linda Miller

Big attractions draw plenty of visitors 

Apologies to Big D, but anotherTexas cityis gaining favor with Oklahomans who like to venture south of theRed Riverfor a little fun and entertainment.

Located about 25 miles north of downtown Dallas, the once sleepy little town ofFriscohas grown into a sports hub, shoppingMecca, arts, history and entertainment center, and culinary delight. That’s reason enough for visitors to stay and play on the edge.

Twenty years ago, Frisco was little more than a stop sign on the way to somewhere else. But city leaders had vision and long-term goals, and that wide spot in the road became one of the nation’s fastest-growing cities from 2000 to 2009.

What ignited such growth? A mall. WhenStonebriarCenteropened in 2000, Frisco’s population was 33,000. It’s now more than 130,000.

This is a city that spews energy and excitement. About one-third of the population is 18 years of age and younger. It’s a family oriented city with plenty of things to see and do for residents as well as visitors looking for a close getaway.

Take a spin around Pole Position Raceway. Get high at Canyons Rock Climbing indoor facility. Main Event offers laser tag, bowling, a two-story gravity ropes course and video games.FriscoDiscoveryCenterprovides hands-on experiences in math, science and technology for all ages. Let your creative juices flow at Paint with a Twist and then take your masterpiece home.

That’s not all there is to do, though, especially if you’re in a sports state of mind.

Frisco is home to the RoughRiders, a minor league baseball team, and FC Dallas soccer team and FC Dallas Stadium, a multipurpose sports and entertainment complex. And there’s the Dr. Pepper Arena where the Dallas Stars hockey team practices and both the Texas Tornado hockey team and the NBA D-League Texas Legends play.

And, of course, there’s shopping in Frisco. After all, that’s what jumpstarted this city that now has more than 8 million square feet of retail space. And for some, shopping really is a sport.

In 2005, Ikea chose Frisco for its second store inTexas. The Swedish-based big box store is chockfull of everything from budget-friendly furniture to paper napkins. Nearby is Stonebriar Centre, with Nordstrom as one of its anchors. More than 100 stores and restaurants have sprouted around the mall the last few years. Specialty stores and boutiques are scattered in other parts of the city, too.

Sore muscles from too much shopping or sports can be soothed at one of the city’s spas.

Frisco is as dedicated to public art as it is to sports and retail therapy.

Sculptures and paintings are displayed in parks, museums, the senior center, the athletic center and even a middle school. Visitors need only drive around the city to see bronze longhorns, cattle drives and cowboys, a nod to Frisco’s heritage.

One of the more interesting art installations is atHallOffice Park. TheTexasSculptureGardenfeatures 40 large sculptures from some ofTexas’ best-known artists. Some 100 other pieces of sculpture and art are displayed throughout the office park.

HeritageMuseum, located a few miles north of the mall where other new developments are under way, offers visitors a glimpse into Frisco’s history and start as a railroad town.

Nearby is a peek at the new Museum of the American Railroad, which is being relocated fromDallas. Several trains and two historic buildings already have been moved, and more will come. They tell a story of railroad travel from 1900 to 1970. Eventually, the museum will be an entertainment and educational site.

Now let’s talk food. It’s no secret thatOklahomafoodies drive toDallasto experience the city’s most-talked about restaurants. Frisco’s culinary landscape is diversified and tasty, and developing its own following from locals and out-of-towners.

Here’s a sampling:

Pizzeria Testa Napoletana restaurant. The owner’s mother comes from a long line of Italian pizza makers so it’s no surprise the restaurant touts only the freshest ingredients, dough made from just, flour, water and salt and a wood-burning oven. Pizza is the star, but near the oven is a show. Pizza cooks in just 60 seconds at 1,000 degrees. Manager Brian Webster moved fromOklahoma City to Frisco to oversee the restaurant.

II Brothers’ Grill & Bar. Salads, sandwiches, burgers, fried catfish and steaks are on the menu, but another big draw is breakfast. Booths and tables fill with adults and families enjoying biscuits and gravy, monster burritos and omelets. There’s anOklahoma connection here, too. Brothers Josh and Steven grew up in the restaurant business. Their family owns Watson Burger, with locations in Durant andNorth Texas.

Cedars Woodfire Grill. Fast food that’s fresh. That’s the concept here. Meals are prepared with no freezers, no fryers and no microwaves. Everything is cooked to order on a large open grill using dry heat. Menu items include wraps, sandwiches, entrée bowls and salads.

Randy’s Steakhouse. Housed in a century-old Victorian house onMain Street, Randy’s is home to some of the best food in the area and the restaurant consistently makes area wide “best of” lists. Hand-cut steaks and the signature Randy Alexander (get it?) are worth the trip.

For more information on Frisco, what to do, where to eat and where to stay, go online to visitfrisco.com.

– (published May 6, 2013)

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