President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama and former President George… (Brendan Smialowski / AFP/Getty…)
When the doors of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas open to the public today, it will mark the launch of what is expected to be among the top five tourist spots in the Texas city.
"It's a beautiful museum on a beautiful campus," Phillip J. Jones, head of the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau, said Tuesday. He said he expects 300,000 to 400,000 travelers will be drawn to the center at Southern Methodist University.
But it's not the only new tourism generator in town. The Perot Museum of Nature and Science has greeted half a million visitors since it opened in December. The museum was built with a $50-million gift from the five children of onetime presidential candidate Ross Perot and his wife, Margot.
The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealy Plaza continues to be the top tourist attraction in the city, Jones said. It is inside the building from which Lee Harvey Oswald shot and killed President Kennedy in 1963 as the chief executive's motorcade passed through town. The museum, as well as the city, is gearing up with special exhibitions to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination in November.
In terms of estimated visitors, the Sixth Floor Museum is followed by the Perot Museum and the 125-year-old Dallas Zoo, Jones said. The Bush Library will probably rank fourth or fifth, he said, with Fair Park, site of the State Fair of Texas from Sept. 27 to Oct. 20, also figuring into the mix.
Does the opening of the library mean Bush will be more visible around Dallas? Jones said he doesn't think so, noting that the former president has been enjoying retirement by painting and mountain cycling, among other activities.
"He'll continue to be very selective in public appearances," Jones said.
Follow us on Twitter @latimestravel, like us on Facebook @Los Angeles Times Travel.