Coming from California, I’ve been asked countless times by family and friends, “How’s the weather in Texas?” More often than not my response is, “Hot!” And yes, it is hot for the majority of the year, but you adapt quickly so the heat is nothing to fear. Lucky for SMU students, Dallas is home to many impressive museums and entertaining indoor activities for us to enjoy while beating the heat. When I have family or friends visiting and I know it’s going to be a warm day, I love to take them to the Dallas World Aquarium and the Perot Museum.

During Family Weekend of my sophomore year, I took my parents to the Dallas World Aquarium. We all expected a fairly typical aquarium experience with all the familiar aquatic life. You can imagine our surprised looks when we entered the aquarium to see two sloths dangling from a tree, a shoebill stork splashing in the water and an anteater running about its enclosure. The DWA has a collection of the six main classes of animals: mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians and arthropods. Expect to see crocodiles, river otters, a manatee, spiders, bats, penguins and a jaguar just to name a few of the incredible animals you can find in the aquarium. Being the nerd I am, I try to go to all the info sessions the DWA offers to educate visitors on the dozens of exhibits they host. That’s probably why I’ve been there three times and one of the reasons I love having friends and family visit: it gives me an excuse to go back to learn about these amazing animals.

Another great museum for students to visit is the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, perfect for those interested in biology, engineering, physics, geology and paleontology. When my girlfriend visited last spring, we decided it would be a good spot to visit and we’d be able to explore a different side of Dallas. Studying biology, she was extremely excited when we arrived at the “Discovering Life” and “Being Human” Halls. I still laugh when I think about how she’d tell me something she’d learned in class, and within thirty seconds we’d find that same fact displayed in the museum. I was just as excited when we arrived at the “Texas Instruments Engineering and Innovation” Hall. As a computer science major, the engineering hall was my playground. What I love most about the Perot, is its hands-on learning experience, where guests are encouraged to interact with a majority of the displays. My favorite activity was being able to program a robot to navigate an obstacle course. And while I struggled to no end with making it to the end of that course, I had a blast learning about my field of interest.

So yes, Dallas is a hot spot. Not just in temperature, but in entertaining and educational exhibits for all to enjoy. I still plan on exploring the Dallas Museum of Art and the Dallas Zoo when I get the chance. I can’t wait to share my experience!

Christopher Lanoie