DALLAS, TX — For this year’s International Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigerating Exposition and ASHRAE Winter Meeting you can leave your galoshes at home. Just don’t forget your cowboy boots and Stetson if you really want to fit in, because Dallas is the place to be for the biggest event in the hvacr industry.

However, while most of those coming in from colder northern climates may think that Dallas will be warm and comfy in February, you’re in for a bit of a surprise. It’s definitely warmer than Chicago that time of year, but lows can get down into the 40s and highs are only in the 60s. And since Dallas can get up to a whopping 3 in. of snow a year, some of it could be falling then.

But don’t worry, because you’ll have a roof over your head. There is a wealth of lodging offerings in Dallas. More than 40,000 hotel rooms are available ranging from the budget-minded to the opulent. A recent Zagat survey named Dallas the “Best City for Lodging” in the United States. It’s also interesting to note that Dallas has more AAA Four Diamond-rated hotels than any other city in the United States.

The one hotel that might be out of the question is the Adam’s Mark, which is where most ASHRAE events will take place. Chances are that hotel is booked solid for the event. To find other accommodations, ASHRAE suggests calling Travel Planners at 800-221-3531 (U.S. and Canada). All others call 212-532-1660.

Getting around town

Those heading to Dallas from out of town will probably be flying into the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. It will take you about 30 to 45 minutes to reach downtown Dallas from the airport, depending on where you’re going and which type of transportation you choose.

Ground transportation information boards to the Dallas, Fort Worth area (also called the Metroplex) and local hotels are located near baggage claim areas inside all airport terminals. Taxicab service is available at designated areas along upper-level curbside exits. Other ground transportation is available at the lower levels.

Cab fares to downtown Dallas are approximately $28. Fares to downtown Fort Worth are approximately $32. Ground transportation between the airport and Metroplex-area destinations are provided by numerous companies. For additional ground transportation information, call 972-574-5878 or 972-574-CABS (2227).

If you don’t want to take a cab, consider Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), which provides a broad range of transportation services, from modern bus to rail services. An express bus is available from the airport to downtown Dallas and will cost only $2.

Once you’re in downtown Dallas, convenient buses and trains can get you just about anywhere you want to go. In the downtown area — between the Convention Center and Pearl stations — all passengers can ride DART Rail at a cost of 50 cents for up to 90 minutes. Regular one-way fare is $1 for adults and 50 cents for disabled persons, senior citizens, and children under 12.

Dallas is also a fairly easy city to navigate, so renting a car isn’t out of the question. All the standard car rental companies are located here.

Not to be missed

While you may not have a whole lot of time outside the show and meetings to look around town, there are several places you shouldn’t miss.

One of these is the famous Sixth Floor (JFK) Museum, which is an educational exhibit and memorial to the life, death, and legacy of President John F. Kennedy. The display is on the sixth floor of the former Texas School Book Depository, the site from which the shots that killed President Kennedy were allegedly fired.

A great place to take a break during the show is Pioneer Plaza, which houses a group of 70 large, bronze longhorn steers and cowboy horseback riders. This is considered to be the largest sculptural group in the world. The display was created and is actually located on the historic cattle trail used beginning in 1854. It now marks the entrance to the Dallas Convention Center.

The Dallas World Aquarium and Zoological Gardens is also worth checking out. This combination aquarium and zoo leads you to believe you’re descending into a South American rainforest, where rare and indigenous plants, monkeys, and toucans abound.

A bamboo-planked path takes you down into the “jungle,” where you’ll find crocodiles, jaguars, and piranhas. The path continues underwater for a look at the world’s largest freshwater aquarium.

Stepping out

And what would a trip out of town be without gorging yourself on local cuisine? You’ll find numerous world-class restaurants in Dallas, serving everything from catfish and barbecue to upscale Mexican cuisine and seafood.

To get an idea of places to eat, check out the listings on www.hometowndallas.com/ dinelink.html.

An interesting place that combines nightlife, shopping, and good food is Deep Ellum, located three blocks from the downtown area. This once-abandoned area of warehouses has been transformed into an eclectic mix of nightclubs, galleries, bars, restaurants, and homes. Chances are you’ll find some kind of music you like here, be it blues, folk, rock, or jazz.

But one of the best resources on any trip is the hotel personnel. They usually know the best places to eat and party, and they very rarely will let you down. So have fun while you’re here, y’all.