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  • Our grand prize is a $7,000 experience at the Ritz-Carlton, including access tothe Ritz-Carlton Club® Level.
    Photo courtesy of Ritz-Carlton
  • Buffalo tenderloin at Fearing's might be on the menu for your three-coursefeast.
    Photo courtesy of Ritz-Carlton
  • The giveaway includes a trip to the spa.
    Photo courtesy of Ritz-Carlton, Dallas
  • Unwind with a drink in the Rattlesnake Bar.
    Photo courtesy of Ritz-Carlton, Dallas

Editor’s Note: If you have been entering our Amazing Give-back Giveaway, you have been entered automatically to win our grand prize, described below. If you have missed the previous 30 or so chances (silly!), we invite you to enter by 11:59 pm, Saturday, December 22. Share on Facebook to increase your chances of winning. Santa will notify the winner on December 25. Good luck!

We at CultureMap are fond of a grand finale. That’s why we’ve saved one of our very best giveaways for last: an ultra-luxe, super-swank weekend stay at the Ritz-Carlton, Dallas.

We’re not just talking about checking into an ordinary room. No, this $7,000 prize includes access to the Ritz-Carlton Club® Level, the only experience of its kind in Big D.

Spoil yourself (and a friend or loved one) with an array of amenities, including movies, games, and complimentary food and beverages from breakfast to cocktail hour. Check your computer with wireless access to post Instagram photos of how much fun you’re having.

Be sure to keep your own Club Level concierge busy; he or she will be at your side to assist with reservations, unpacking or anything else your heart desires.

Get prettified for the night with two Ritz-Carlton signature facials or massages in the spa’s VIP couple suite before tucking into a three-course dinner designed by renowned Texan chef Dean Fearing of Fearing’s Restaurant — complete with wine pairings, naturally)

It’s fabulous, it’s fancy and — best of all — it’s free!

Enter now for your chance to win.

December 21 giveaway: Shake off stress with a 6-month membership for 2 to HiatusSpa & Retreat

On Hiatus

Editor’s Note: The Amazing Give-back Giveaway is a luxe sweepstakes that culminates with a grand-prize drawing Christmas Day. Enter once a day, every day, to win one of 31 fabulous gifts and experiences from some of Dallas’ most exclusive retailers.

The prize below is available only for December 21. So enter now, and share on Facebook to increase your chances of winning.

We all need a little holiday from the everyday, and some pampering wouldn’t hurt, either. To ensure a zen New Year, today’s giveaway is two gold memberships — worth $886 — at that temple of relaxation and rejuvenation, Hiatus Spa & Retreat.

With a mission to create an exceptional spa experience for each and every guest, this Lovers Lane enclave offers such essential services as customized skin and body treatments, signature hand and foot massages, and customized aromatherapy.

Enjoy one essential service for two each month with your six-month gold membership, plus discounted pricing for additional services.

What a spa-tacular way to start 2013!

Enter now for your chance to win.

December 20 giveaway: Spend an enchanted $1,000 evening at the Mansion on TurtleCreek

ISN’T IT ROMANTIC

Editor’s Note: The Amazing Give-back Giveaway is a luxe sweepstakes that culminates with a grand-prize drawing Christmas Day. Enter once a day, every day, to win one of 31 fabulous gifts and experiences from some of Dallas’ most exclusive retailers.

The prize below is available only for December 20. So enter now, and share on Facebook to increase your chances of winning.

Valentine’s Day is months away (not that we’re counting). But that doesn’t mean you can’t get a jumpstart on romance with a $1,000 night to remember at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek.

Dallas’ top getaway for well-heeled trysts and rock star rendezvous, the Mansion is also known for serving up superior service from lobby to stylish suite.

Explore a room adorned with Champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries. Dine à deux in the award-winning Mansion restaurant. Relax with a massage before soaking in an aromatherapy bath.

Then enjoy an in-room movie or listen to a CD of amorous tunes — unless, of course, you’re too distracted. And cap it all off with a rose turndown, complete with two embroidered pillowcases stitched with the initials of you and your true love.

You’ll even receive an intimate American breakfast for two before departing. L’amour in total luxury plus free valet — what could be better?

Enter now for your chance to win.

December 19 giveaway: $1,000 shopping spree at Five and Ten in Highland ParkVillage

Pretty Awesome

Editor’s Note: The Amazing Give-back Giveaway is a luxe sweepstakes that culminates with a grand-prize drawing Christmas Day. Enter once a day, every day, to win one of 31 fabulous gifts and experiences from some of Dallas’ most exclusive retailers.

The prize below is available only for December 19. So enter now, and share on Facebook to increase your chances of winning.

It’s life’s little luxuries that make it all worthwhile. We’re talking about the finer things — bags by Be&D, pants by Proenza Schouler, jewels from Melissa Joy Manning.

You’ll find all that — and more — at Highland Park Village’s Five and Ten, a tony concept shop brought to you by the same chicsters who created Forty Five Ten.

And to assure a most stylish new year, we’re giving away one $1,000 shopping spree at this fab five-and-dime revamp, along with a covetable appointment with one of the shop’s expert stylists.

Super-chic? For sure. Ultra-glam? To be certain. The winner of this covetable giveaway will certainly find themselves on 2013’s best-dressed list.

Enter now for your chance to win.

December 18 giveaway: Store it all with style in a beautiful London trunk byTimothy Oulton

THE “IT” BRIT GET

Editor’s Note: The Amazing Give-back Giveaway is a luxe sweepstakes that culminates with a grand-prize drawing Christmas Day. Enter once a day, every day, to win one of 31 fabulous gifts and experiences from some of Dallas’ most exclusive retailers.

The prize below is available only for December 18. So enter now, and share on Facebook to increase your chances of winning.

It’s not the stuff you’ve got; it’s how you store it. And keeping a mess at bay has never been chicer than with a London trunk by Timothy Oulton.

Known for his handcrafted upholstery, case goods and lighting — all designed with a uniquely British sensibility — Oulton recently opened his first U.S. flagship gallery in the Knox-Henderson area. With the finest sprung locks, hand-finished solid wood trims and hand-applied studs, his London trunks are classic collectibles that recall the charm and romance of a bygone era of travel.

We’re giving away one of these essential items trimmed in striped flour sack ramut — a $1,195 value. Both posh and practical, it’s the perfect way to say “Cheerio!” to clutter.

Enter now for your chance to win.

December 17 giveaway: Make time for romance at the Rosewood Crescent Hotel

It Takes Two

Editor’s Note: The Amazing Give-back Giveaway is a luxe sweepstakes that culminates with a grand-prize drawing Christmas Day. Enter once a day, every day, to win one of 31 fabulous gifts and experiences from some of Dallas’ most exclusive retailers.

The prize below is available only for December 17. So enter now, and share on Facebook to increase your chances of winning.

Finding the perfect gift for the one you love can be a process fraught with peril. An ugly tie or household appliance can derail a relationship as soon as the wrapping paper is off.

To play it safe, we’ve got a giveaway that both you and your sweetie can share — a relaxing night for two in the luxe environs of the Rosewood Crescent Hotel.

This $750 prize includes valet parking, use of the facilities at The Spa at the Crescent and an aromatherapy massage for two. You’ll even be able to have a complimentary breakfast together in The Conservatory — or the privacy of your room, if you so desire.

We’re sure your better half will still be thanking you, long after the holiday are over.

Enter now for your chance to win.

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Texas hot spot hooks No. 1 ranking as best college city in America

Studies Show, Study Here

It might be a bit reductive to call Austin a college town, but that's what makes it so good. It certainly benefits from the creativity and industry of college living, but there's a lot more to do than go to gentrified lunches and cool, underground shows.

Recognizing this special balance, financial website WalletHub has declared Austin the No. 1 college city in the United States for 2023, beating out some obvious contenders like Pittsburgh and Columbus, Ohio.

In addition to being the best city overall, Austin also tops the large cities list, and is one of only two Texas locales represented in the top 10 of any category; the other is College Station, No. 6 on the small list.

The most represented state, perhaps not surprisingly, is Florida, with four cities in the overall top 10. The top 10 college cities for 2023, according to WalletHub, are:

1. Austin
2. Ann Arbor, Michigan
3. Orlando, Florida
4. Gainesville, Florida
5. Tampa, Florida
6. Rexburg, Idaho
7. Provo, Utah
8. Scottsdale, Arizona
9. Miami
10. Raleigh, North Carolina

And how did Austin make the grade? WalletHub looked at key metrics across three categories to determine the rankings.

Austin scored best, No. 12, in the “social environment” category, determined by metrics like students per capita; breweries, cafés, and food trucks per capita; and safety issues like vaccination and crime statistics.

Its ranking at No. 21 in the “academic & economic opportunities" category puts it in the 95th percentile, even above Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts, famous for their Ivy League prevalence.

And perhaps unsurprising to those who currently reside in Austin, the Capital City ranked worst in "wallet friendliness,” at No. 204 out of 415.

Elsewhere in Texas, El Paso did well on the overall list at No. 36, followed by Houston (No. 64), Dallas (99), Fort Worth (153), and San Antonio (169).

Dallas landed well down the list in every category: wallet friendliness (226), academic & economic opportunities (168), and social environment (147).

Fort Worth fell even farther down the list in the same categories: wallet friendliness (242), academic & economic opportunities (201), and social environment (149).

Notably, cities that tend to fall lower in similar studies ranked relatively well among college towns.

These are the 9 best food and drink events in Dallas this week

This week in gluttony

Christmas spirit is in full swing, with all but one of this week’s events being holiday-themed. Check off pics with Santa for both the family and fur babies; take a Christmas cocktail-making class; sample holiday spirits from around the world; and stroll acres of candlelit walkways while indulging in holiday hors d’oeuvres and drinks – just to name a few. ‘Tis the season.

Tuesday, December 6

Caymus Wine Dinner at Carrabba’s Italian Grill
Decadent four-course meal features pairings with wines from award-winning Caymus. Courses include Stuffed Mushrooms with Shrimp, Rigatoni Al Forno with Chicken, Filet & Scallop Spiedino with Mashed Potatoes, and Crème Brulée, paired with Caymus wines including Cabernet Sauvignon and Conundrum Red Blend. The dinner is $75 starts at 6:30 pm. For the Dallas location, reserve here, and for Plano, reserve here.

Fontodi Wine Dinner at La Stella Cucina Verace
The Dallas Arts District Italian restaurant will host a five-course dinner paired with wines from Fontodi, a producer located in the Chianti Classico region of Tuscany. Courses will include beef carpaccio, butternut squash cappellacci with brown butter and sage, porchetta di Pienza with marble potatoes, Wagyu New York strip tagliata with porcini mushroom and butternut squash, and apple crostata. Dinner begins at 7 pm and is $175 plus tax and gratuity.

Thursday, December 8

Santa Paws at Texican Court Hotel
The Irving hotel invites furry friends and their humans to pop by for photos with Santa and complimentary hot apple cider and s’mores by the fire. Santa will be available for pet photos from 5-7 pm. Also enter to win a “Pups Night Away” overnight stay. Don’t miss the hotel’s pocket tequila bar, Salt, for new holiday cocktails in jolly keepsake glassware.

Reindeer Games Bar Crawl
Here’s a holiday bar crawl that spans beyond just drink specials. Participants get their money’s worth with a night of mini golf, axe throwing, unlimited video games, a chartered “sleigh bus,” and a pizza buffet. Start at Another Round and make stops at Flashback Retro Pub, LoneStar Axe Dallas, and Sylvan Avenue Tavern. Participants will also get a beer or seltzer at each stop. Tickets are $150 per duo, and the crawl will run from 6:15-10:30 pm.

Holiday Spirits Around the World at Hotel Vin
Sample an array of global spirits during this tasting experience at Grapevine’s Hotel Vin. Spirits to be served include Montenegro Italian liqueur, The Dalmore Scottish whiskey, Komo tequila, and Horse Soldier bourbon. Each spirit will be paired with globally-inspired bites. The tasting is $50 and will begin at 7 pm.

Friday, December 9

Cocktails by Candlelight at Old City Park
Candlelight will feature more than 13 acres of holiday cheer with decorated buildings, carolers, craft vendors, and candlelit walkways in Old City Park. Its 50th edition is set to begin on December 10, but adults only can get a sneak peek the night before during Cocktails by Candlelight, which comes with heavy hors d’oeuvres and drinks. Tickets are $100 per person or $175 per couple, and the event begins at 6 pm.

Saturday, December 10

Shaken, Not Stirred, Holiday Cocktail Class at Elm & Good
The modern American restaurant inside the Kimpton Pittman Hotel will host a holiday cocktail class great for groups looking to make spirits bright. Elm & Good’s lead mixologist Indy Acevedo-Fowler will guide guests through creating three cocktails: a cranberry margarita, peppermint espresso martini, and sangria rosa. Guests will also receive a branded take-away gift. The class is $35 and will begin at 2 pm.

Sunday, December 11

Brunch with Santa at the AC Hotel Dallas by the Galleria
Meet the big guy himself while indulging in brunch dishes during this family-friendly Sunday Funday. Tickets are $25 for adults (includes one mimosa) and $15 for kids 3-12. Children will get to meet Santa and take family photos. Brunch will run from 11:30 am-1:30 pm.

Monday, December 12

12 Days of Thompson
The Thompson Hotel Dallas will spread Christmas cheer with 12 days of daily holiday activations. The festivities start Monday with Home Alone, S’mores & Sips, a movie night with cocktails themed after the Christmas classic, a s’mores bar, and movie screening amid downtown views. The price is a $15 charitable donation. Doors opens at 5 pm with the movie to start at 6 pm. Other 12 Days of Thompson events range from a pie-baking class and cookie decorating to brunch with Santa and Holiday High Tea. See the complete calendar of events here.

Dedicated volunteers extract Spaghetti Warehouse trolley from Dallas' West End

Trolley News

Thanks to a dedicated team of conservation-minded folks, the vintage trolley from the Spaghetti Warehouse in Dallas' West End has been moved to a temporary new home: in a warehouse at Orr-Reed Architectural Co., the salvage store just south of downtown Dallas, which will provide a safe space for the vehicle while it undergoes a restoration.

A permanent home is still TBD, but Orr-Reed will be housing the trolley for at least the next 12 months.

The trolley was one of the original streetcars that ran through East Dallas nearly a century ago. It surged to fame in 2019 when Spaghetti Warehouse closed after 47 years, and the company held a giant auction of its extensive collection of memorabilia.

The streetcar got a bid from an anonymous buyer, but that buyer bailed once they encountered the difficulties of removing the trolley from the location.

The trolley was donated to the Junius Heights Historic District, a neighborhood association in Old East Dallas who wanted to save the trolley because of its role in the original streetcar program that was key to the establishment of Junius Heights.

Orr-Reed is providing the space and backup manpower for free.

"The first time it went on the auction block, I wanted to buy it because I'm obsessed with keeping the city’s history," says Orr-Reed owner Hannah Hargrove. "Dallas is known for tearing things down and replacing it with bigger and better things, but 'bigger and better' only lasts 50 years. Since we have the space, we wanted to be helpful in providing the trolley's next chapter of life."


spaghetti warehouse trolley A team unloads the Spaghetti Warehouse trolley into a warehouse at Orr-Reed.Johann Huebschmann

The move
JD Middleton, who builds out restaurants and bars for his "day job," oversaw a team of volunteers who broke the trolley down into pieces and transported it to the new location.

"My buddy JJ Velez and I saw it in the news, we both had a personal connection," Middleton says. "My grandfather drove the trolley, it's possible he drove that one, while JJ had seen it when he was a little kid, after the Christmas parade in downtown Dallas."

With another friend, Randy Lasiter, assisting, they volunteered to do it on a 100 percent volunteer basis. For the past six months, they've been going there in the early morning, before heading to their regular job sites.

"We do a lot of crazy things for customer requests, and this was right up our alley," Middleton says.

This entailed cutting the exterior into parts: removing the front and back "nose pieces," breaking down the body of the trolley into panels, then splitting up the chassis foundation — like a vertebrae that they cut up, to be reassembled by a welder.

Middleton says that Uncle Dan’s Pawn Shop donated saw blades and trailers and other equipment, as did Frida's Social Club on McKinney Avenue, who provided a big trailer and truck to haul it over to Orr-Reed.

Middleton assembled a group of friends who spent four hours on December 3, loading the trolley piece-by-piece onto trailers, then unloading it at Orr-Reed. He's also volunteered to help restore it.

"There's some rusting on the inside, it's like an old Ford Model-T that's been sitting in a garage," he says. "We'll get it sand-blasted and primed and painted, then put it back together again."

Their work is saving the Junius Heights Historic District hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"It's like an art project for us, and we're getting the opportunity to help take care of history," Middleton says. "JJ ate there when he was a little kid, and he'd like to take his kid to see it when it's finished. That’s why we're doing it."


Spaghetti Warehouse trolley Spaghetti Warehouse trolley, in pieces.Johann Huebschmann

The new home
The Junius Heights group does not yet have a permanent home for the trolley, nor a plan for how it will be managed or maintained. Details details.

For now, it resides in Orr-Reed's "dry house" — a warehouse they've used for overflow and for items that need to be kept out of the elements such as big furniture items, casement windows, and things that cannot get wet.

Hargrove and her staff built shelving and redesigned the warehouse to make it work.

"It'll definitely affect our day-to-day routine — there's a giant cumbersome trolley that's taking up space — but it’s worth it," Hargrove says. "If we hadn't done it, they would have had to spend a lot of money on storing it rather than restoring it. I'm a keeper of history, it’s my duty, although I've never done anything on this scale."

"We're not doing it for the money, we're doing it because someone has to," she says. "I feel like I'm doing the right thing."