If you will be in the Dallas area this summer and have a bickering, idle desire to do fun stuff in your free time, this post is for you.
1. Galaxy Drive-In Theater
Go to this old-school, cheap drive-in theater in Ennis to see two films currently out in theaters for only $7 a person. Website.
2. Dallas Arboretum:
Great to go with a small group—or that special friend—the 66-acre botanical gardens stretch across the entire southeastern shore of White Rock Lake. This world of flowers, fountains, trees, etc. has great views of the lake as well as Downtown Dallas. Reinforced with facilities, food, picnic areas, and a concert venue, it is a memorable place to spend a (relatively) cool summer afternoon. Website.
3. Dallas Zoo:
Loaded with 2,000 animals across 95 eclectic, dynamic acres, the Dallas Zoo has almost every non-extinct animal you can conceptualize. Should you visit, you won’t be disappointed with its reputation as one of the country’s best zoos. Website.
4. Keller’s Drive-In:
I won’t post any other restaurants on this since it’s more of a guide to experiences, but Keller’s is unique because it’s a drive-in burger joint that has been running since 1974—and its burgers are delicious too. There are a lot of phenomenal places in Dallas with quality burgers, e.g. Off-Site Kitchen, but there is only one at which you can drive up in a double-cab pickup, flash your blinkers, order on the cheap end, devour an unhealthy dream, and admire an old-fashioned dream, packed with hardcore motorcycle crews and polished 70-year-old cars, unfolding around you. There’s no official Keller’s website, but here’s the Yelp page.
5. Klyde Warren Park:
You’re decidedly heretical if you’ve lived in Dallas for the last few years and never been to Klyde Warren Park, and you’re missing out if you’re a new resident/on vacation and haven’t spent an hour there. Known for its unique modern sylvan design, well-lit lines of trees, hip food trucks, concert stage, dog park, two children’s playground areas, ping pong tables, chess boards, putting green, lavish restaurant, incredible views, and more, Klyde Warren Park has a wide range of appeal. If you’ve already visited KWP, don’t merely ignore this paragraph, as the park is getting more and more grandiose every day—and more and more activities are becoming available there. If that’s not enough, check out the public space at the base of the nearby Fountain Place. If it will be your first time visiting KWP, make sure to bring change for parking—as it, situated right above the recessed Woodall Rogers Freeway, is a central gathering place that connects Uptown and Downtown, and its parking spaces are thus weary and costly. Website.
6. Fort Worth Road Trip:
Everyone from Fort Worth has been to Dallas, but not everybody from Dallas has been to Ft. Worth; this is the colloquial I’ve arrived at. Naturally, there is a lot of stuff to do in the 16th largest city in the United States, and I plan to make the short drive from Dallas over there once or twice. The Kimbell Art Museum is arguably the country’s finest small museum, and I definitely have it at the top of my list; moreover, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth has secured plenty of acclaim, and it will be just under the Kimbell. Fort Worth has a lot of other museums that are worth a visit too, e.g. the Amon Carter Museum of American Art and Sid Richardson Museum, but that’s enough on museums. Elsewhere, the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District has a lot to offer in terms of shopping, sights, landmarks, walking areas, etc. In the realm of the outdoors, the Fort Worth Water Gardens, Fort Worth Botanic Garden, and Fort Worth Japanese Garden stand out. Looking for a cheap place to eat while you’re there? Check out Rodeo Goat, Torchy’s Tacos (yes, I’ll recommend Torchy’s for any city that has one), and Pizza Snob. Website.
7. Alamo Drafthouse Cinema:
I admonish the fact that I have multiple movie theater recommendations in this post, but both were necessary. If you’ve been to an Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, you’ll agree that it’s one of the best theaters you’ve ever visited. Fortunately, a new one just opened in Dallas this year, and it’s basically my home now. From its architecturally fascinating building to its unique pre-movie entertainment (which is actually entertaining, unlike most pre-movie previews) to its INCREDIBLE food (it’s the one theater that has options, e.g. excellent pizza and queso, I’ll order over popcorn) to its diverse selection of beers to its fantastic, lean-back chairs to its karaoke rooms to its well-received bar area to its open parking selection, Alamo Drafthouse has become the hot spot for many. Website.
8. Attend a Concert:
Dallas is a concert hot spot and, out of the thousands of impending concerts to unfold in this city, here are the ones I suggest for the summer. List (in order of concert date): The Avett Brothers; Anderson Paak; Vans Warped Tour, the traveling music festival; Brit Floyd, for Pink Floyd fans; Twenty One Pilots; Aesop Rock; Weezer & Panic! At The Disco; Drake & Future; Modest Mouse & Brand New; Fitz and The Tantrums & Zella Day, Blink 182, A Day to Remember, & The All-American Rejects; Guns N’ Roses; Heart, Cheap Trick, and several others; Ghostface Killah & Raekwon; Zoso, for Led Zeppelin fans; and Explosions In The Sky. Website for concerts.
9. Game of Thrones:
Let’s halt the idealism, cast aside the perks and trinkets of the city, and be honest for a moment. Game of Thrones is a worthy investment of anyone’s time; I—being stubborn, half-ambitious, and fearful of wasting precious time—refused to relinquish myself to any TV show in the past, but then I started Game of Thrones and completely changed my mind. In the last few weeks, I have gone from season 1 to season 6. Like every other fan, I wholeheartedly recommend GoT (at least for those of you who can endure the undertones of violence and sex). NO SPOILERS HERE. Just get on hbo.com and start your free 1-month trial if you aren’t already immersed.
I did all 67 episodes during my free trial, so don’t feel like you’ll have to splash a single penny. Also, speaking of virtually free stuff to access on your laptop, Spotify is offering a 3-month premium deal for 99 cents; that, plus the free 1-month trial that’s always existed, gets you 1/3 of a year of unlimited music available on all of your devices—for less than a dollar.
10. Experience the Urban Areas of Dallas:
These neighborhoods are the top of the heap in one of the country’s largest metropolitan areas, and most of us have only dipped our toes in their water. Tucked just east of downtown, Deep Ellum is one of the coolest gentrified areas in the state, filled with incredible street art, prominent concert venues, midnight breakfast places, “lit” bars, and wonderful restaurants (I’m running out of adjectives). The ever-expanding Bishop Arts District has cheap housing; popular snack, coffee, and dessert places; an Instagram-worthy restaurant fleet; and a bright future. Trinity Groves, on the other side of that big white bridge, is incubating restaurants—and packing them—left and right. The Design District, on the humble end of the popularity spectrum, has 5-star coffee, Thai food, and bacon lollipops. Lower Greenville is finally booming—loaded with HG Sply Co., Truck Yard, Steel City Pops, Trader Joe’s, The Granada Theater, Buffalo Exchange, The Grape, and Teppo. Be prepared to either pay or fight for parking there. Website (the website that reviews some of these top neighborhoods).
As bored as some of you might be this summer, know that others—I included—accompany you in that feeling. I hope this article helps.
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