Those attending Foursquare Connection 2014 in Dallas will enjoy this year’s convention schedule and all it has to offer. Packed with inspiring speakers, important discussions, uplifting worship and fantastic events for Kids + Youth, the annual gathering of The Foursquare Church, being held at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel from May 26–29, is not to be missed.

Also not to be missed are the cultural and recreational opportunities available in the city for those wanting to make the most of their free time during the event or planning an extended visit.

Centered on the theme “Multiply,” Connection 2014 will feature a new presentation format in which keynote speakers—including pastor and bestselling author Francis Chan and Foursquare’s own elder statesman Jack Hayford—will address issues such as discipleship, healthy church ministry, and Spirit-filled life in the church.

In addition, the gathering will mark a critical point for progress reports and decisions in Foursquare’s ongoing Reimagine process, realigning the movement organizationally, financially, structurally and pastorally to better shape it for future ministry and growth.

Attendees are also encouraged to explore what Dallas has to offer.

“Dallas is such a vibrant city, rich in history and color,” says Foursquare events manager Tammy Sevcov. “Convention participants would be smart to take advantage of some of the other opportunities that are available to them while they are there. They’ll be glad they took an extra day or two to enjoy the city. There’s something for everyone—adults, teens and children.”

Here are 9-1/2 reasons—in addition to Foursquare Connection—to plan a trip to Dallas in May.

1. A Defining Moment

Consider history at the place where two shots heard around the world rang out on Nov. 22, 1963. The Sixth Floor Museum features films, photographs and artifacts chronicling the life, death and legacy of President John F. Kennedy.

2.  Bridge to Asia

From Chinese jades and sculptures to Japanese crystal spheres and screen paintings, the free-admission Trammell and Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art is one of the largest of its kind, celebrating Asian art and culture.

3. Start Your Engines

Sometimes you just need to blow off a little steam, and there’s no better place to do so than at Speed Zone Dallas, where in addition to solo and passenger racing, there’s miniature golf, video games and plenty of food.

4. A Nation’s Heritage

Housed in an ivory stone building constructed in the shape of a cross, the unique African American Museum presents one of the largest African American Folk Art collections in the United States.

5. Talk to the Animals

Budding Dr. Dolittles will enjoy their time at the Dallas Zoo, which includes a special children’s section, endangered habitats preserve, monorail safari, and keeper encounters and demonstrations.

6. Wander and Wonder

Spanning 68 acres and 19 contiguous blocks, the Dallas Arts District is the largest arts district in the country. Among the venues to be found and explored are the Nasher Sculpture Center, celebrating modern and contemporary sculpture, and Klyde Warren Park, where daily free programs include book signings, and outdoor concerts and movies.

7. Hold on Tight

From the sedate (for the little ones) to the serious (for the adventurous ones), Six Flags Over Texas theme park offers plenty of rides, plus entertainment, events, food and shopping.

8. Fishy Business

In addition to a wide range of marine life—from seadragons to sharks, from penguins to porpoises—the Dallas World Aquarium includes a major rainforest’s exhibit, feeding time viewings and educational presentations.

9. Some Serious Shopping

Both within short distance of the convention hotel are West Village, whose shops and restaurants comprise what is known as “Uptown’s Downtown,” and West End Marketplace, where stores, restaurants and nightlife are to be found in a community of preserved and renovated historical buildings.

9.5. Ride ’Em, Cowboy!

OK, this one isn’t definite, yet. But the convention team is working on having a mechanical bull as part of the event’s Connection Center at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel. Imagine seeing your favorite leader, pastor or friend trying to hold on for eight seconds—or even having a go yourself!

You can find out more about these and other Dallas opportunities here. To learn more about Connection 2014, and to register, go here.

Early bird registration runs through March 13. Individuals are $189 each; guest or spouse $169; children and youth $50 each; ForeRunners $99 each; and international guests $169 each. After March 13, the rates for ministers and guests or spouses go up $30 each, so it pays to register now.

By: Andy Butcher, a freelance writer in the Orlando, Fla., area