Hottest headlines of 2021

Dallas' top travel stories of 2021 escape to magical treehouses and sparkling lagoons

Top Dallas travel stories of 2021: Magical treehouses, crystal lagoons

Chapelle Treehouse Utopia
The French cathedral-inspired Chapelle treehouse at adults-only Treehouse Utopia. Photo courtesy of Treehouse Utopia
Skywalk at land bridge rendering
The new San Antonio skywalk elevates nature walks to the next level. Courtesy of Stimson Landscape Architects and Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy
Lagoonfest Texas crystal lagoons floating cabana aquabanas
Guests could float and chill with these new “aquabanas.” Photo courtesy of Lagoonfest Texas
Saint Lucia Caribbean
This island paradise became just six hours away. Photo courtesy of Saint Lucia Tourism Authority
Dallas highway signs with Reunion Tower
Drive defensively out there.  Eduardo Garcia/Getty Images
Dallas Airbnb treehouse
Airbnb describes it as an “exquisite, handcrafted home” that blends Bauhaus contemporary design with “warm rustic elegance.” Photo courtesy of Independent Artists
Southwest Airlines airplane
The Southwest sale came and went fast. Southwest Airlines/Facebook
Ennis Bluebonnet Trails Festival
The Ennis Bluebonnet Trails Festival came back this year.  Facebook/Ennis Bluebonnet Trails Festival
Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek
The Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek did better than most in 2020. Photo courtesy of Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek
Thompson hotel
The Thompson Dallas was the only Dallas hotel to make the Hot List. Photo by Gus Schmiege
Chapelle Treehouse Utopia
Skywalk at land bridge rendering
Lagoonfest Texas crystal lagoons floating cabana aquabanas
Saint Lucia Caribbean
Dallas highway signs with Reunion Tower
Dallas Airbnb treehouse
Southwest Airlines airplane
Ennis Bluebonnet Trails Festival
Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek
Thompson hotel

Editor's note: As we look back at the most-read travel stories of 2021, we can see how eager readers were to get away. After months and months of staying home, Dallasites were ready to get vaxxed up and jet off to someplace spectacular — a treehouse, sparkling lagoon, nature-filled skywalk, or romantic tropical paradise. A few Dallas lodgings earned big honors, too.

1. Spectacular skywalk opens for treetop strolls at expansive Texas land bridge. An impressive and unique public works project to bridge the natural and human realms got a sky-high addition last spring that elevates nature walks to a whole new level. The Skywalk, the elevated walkway at the newly revealed Robert L.B. Tobin Land Bridge at Phil Hardberger Park in San Antonio, officially opened to the public in April.

2. Texas’ largest crystal lagoon makes a splash with new floating cabanas. The wildly popular Lagoonfest Texas stirred up a frenzy on social media with a cool new water experience announced in August. The beachy attraction, located in Texas City near Galveston on the Texas coast, introduced floating cabanas — dubbed “aquabanas” — designed to marry the thrill of water with the chill of sipping cocktails in a cabana.

3. American Airlines romances DFW with new nonstop flights to tropical honeymoon paradise. In time for summer wedding season, American Airlines lifted the veil on its first-ever nonstop flights from Dallas-Fort Worth to the romantic Caribbean island of Saint Lucia. The inaugural American Airlines A321 service started June 5, departing Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) on Saturdays through August 14.

4. 2 Dallas-Fort Worth highways crash onto list of deadliest roads in the U.S. Several of the most clogged roads in the U.S. crisscross Texas. Now, two major highways in Dallas-Fort Worth qualify for another dubious distinction: They’re among the 10 deadliest roads in the country. In a recent study from Austin-based insurance marketplace The Zebra, Interstate 20 ranks as the country's second most deadly road on a per-mile basis. I-35 appears at No. 5.

5. Ethereal Dallas treehouse climbs to top of Airbnb's most coveted rentals in Texas. This is certainly not your childhood treehouse. In March, an Instagram-worthy urban treehouse in Dallas ranked as Airbnb’s most “wish-listed” unique stay in Texas. The treehouse, in the Little Forest Hills neighborhood near White Rock Lake, is described as an “exquisite, handcrafted home” that blends Bauhaus contemporary design with “warm rustic elegance.”

6. Dallas-based Southwest Airlines rolls out crazy $29 spring break sale. For those who were already dreaming about spring break the first week of January, Southwest Airlines Co. launched a four-day sale with tickets starting as low as $29 one way. But it came and went fast. The sale ran through January 7 and was good for travel through the end of April.

7. How the winter storm could affect Texas' bluebonnets and wildflowers in spring 2021. By the end of February, when Texas had thawed out from Winter Storm Uri and we were back to shorts-weather, the question on every wildflower watcher’s mind was: What'll happen with our bluebonnets? Texans didn't have to worry. The state flower was still going to blanket fields, parks, and roadsides this year, experts said. We'd just need to be patient because their grand entrance would be delayed.

8. This Dallas luxury hotel made more money than most Texas lodgings in 2020. To coincide with its 40th anniversary, Dallas’ Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek unveiled an extensive renovation in 2020. The hotel had even more to celebrate: It ranked sixth statewide and first in Dallas-Fort Worth last year on a key indicator for the financial health of hotels, according to a March report from San Antonio-based hotel data provider Source Strategies. 

9. Sparkling downtown Dallas hotel claims coveted spot on new Conde Nast Traveler Hot List. A luxe downtown Dallas hotel captured a coveted spot on Conde Nast Traveler's Hot List for 2021: Thompson Dallas was the city's only hotel to make the prestigious list of 69 best new hotels from around the world, released May 6. Part of the lifestyle hospitality brand Thompson Hotels, the Dallas hotel opened in November 2020 in the historic George Dahl-designed building now known as The National on Akard Street. 

10. 5 adults-only getaways around Texas for a blissful post-COVID ‘vacci-cation.’ If 2020 was the summer of staycations, 2021 was the summer of “vacci-cations.” You’re now Pfizered-up, Moderna-pumped, and J&J-prepped for some R&R away. Leave your corona troubles behind, grab a travel buddy, and hit the road for a grown-up getaway to one of these dreamy destinations — no kids allowed.