City break: free dinos and glittering gems in Dallas

If you’ve flying somewhere this weekend and have a free afternoon, check your wallet. There may be free dinosaurs or art treasures in there.


If you’re a Bank of America or Merrill Lynch credit or debit card holder, you’re eligible for a free admission at more than 150 museums around the country – a perk that returns on the first weekend each month as part of the long running Museums on Us program.

If you’re near Dallas, for example, you’ll get free entry at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science , where general admission is $15.

As I learned during an all-too-short visit this week, the museum has five floors filled with 11 interactive permanent exhibits offering everything from dazzling gems and minerals to a bird hall, a dinosaur-filled then and now exhibit and the opportunity to learn about and explore sport, science and space.


Dallas & DFW airport welcome the little people

The Little People of America organization is holding its annual conference in Dallas — a city where the slogan is “Live Large. Think Big.”

The event kicks off June 29, and more than 2,000 people of short stature, and their families, will spend a week doing what most conventioneers do: attending workshops and banquets, and going to rodeos, museums and other attractions.

While the group is in town, conference hotels will be making some special accommodations for the many guests who have shorter-than-average reach due to the medical condition known as dwarfism.

If registration desks are high, steps and platforms will be made available. Two-foot long dowels with rubber tips will be placed in elevators so all guests will be able to press the buttons for the higher floors. And extra stools will be available for use in guest rooms, especially in hotels where the bedframes are high.

“We also ask that towels be placed on sink counters instead of hung up if the racks are high; for irons and extra pillows and blankets to be placed low; and for the bathroom amenities and soap to be placed toward the front of the sinks,” said Joanna Campbell, executive director of Little People of America.

Campbell said that when the LPA chooses a city for its annual convention, the group also asks the main conference hotels to leave room thermostats on and set at a comfortable temperature and to make sure bathroom shower heads point down instead of at the wall.

And for buffets and receptions, “we will ask hotels to lower the tables the food is placed on and to make sure things are pushed forward,” said Campbell.

For this year’s Little People of America conference in Dallas, it’s not just the hotels rolling out the welcome mat; the airport is as well. Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport is permanently installing Step ‘n Wash self-retracting steps in all 131 bathrooms to make it easier for conference attendees to wash their hands.

“We are taking the Little People conference as a self-imposed deadline to install as many of these as possible,” said DFW spokesman David Magaña.

The self-retracting steps are already found in many restrooms at theme parks, museums, zoos and at the Salt Lake City, Tallahassee and Atlanta airports and are usually seen as a handy amenity for families with children. “But unlike children, who usually have a parent to give them a boost, little people often have to be much more creative and resourceful to reach a public restroom sink,” said Step ‘n Wash president Joi Sumpton.

My story “Dallas gets ready to welcome the little people,‘ first appeared msnbc.com’s Overhead Bin.