Best of Dallas — 2015 Guide
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Sports & Rec

Best Place to Work Out

White Rock YMCA

For days when it’s too hot to finish your whole workout at White Rock Lake, the newly renovated YMCA White Rock facility nearby offers a much more comfortable alternative. Sure, there’s the standard selection of aerobic equipment and weights available here, just like at any other gym, but the White Rock YMCA is unique. Thanks to a $3 million donation from an anonymous rich person last year, this YMCA location was able to install an outdoor swimming pool and accompanying “spray park,” perfect for people who have small children who can’t yet swim. A YMCA membership also buys gym-goers access to a wide array of classes — from standard exercise classes to more eccentric lessons, such as one that will teach you how to use essential oils in your home. Spacious, clean locker rooms and free coffee in the lobby make this location a comfortable place to recover after your workout.

7112 Gaston Ave., 214-328-2849,

Readers’ Pick: 24 Hour Fitness

Various locations,

Best Hiking Trail

North Shore Trail at Lake Grapevine

The steep terrain around Lake Grapevine is popular with mountain bikers, but its rocky curves make it an equally challenging spot for hikers and joggers ( just watch for the cyclists). The trail runs for 10 miles on the north side of the lake (30 miles northwest of Dallas), where you can also find lakefront camping, kayak rentals and other outdoor activities. In our otherwise pancake-flat North Texas landscape, this trail offers some of the best up-and-down hiking in a natural setting.

Readers’ Pick: Trinity River Audubon Center

6500 S. Great Trinity Forest Way, 214-309-5801,

Best Bowling Alley


Bowlounge was borne of an old bowling center in East Texas. But some dandy folks bought it, took it apart, shipped it to the Dallas Design District and put it back together as a supergroovy vintage bowling alley. With 12 regulation- length maple-and-pine lanes, Brunswick pin-setters and vintage automatic scoring, it’s retro cool and shabby chic. It’s got good, cheap drinks, Twisted Root burgers, fried pickles and fried Moon Pies, too, along with 40 beers on tap, old video games, new pool tables and other nifty accoutrements. Whether you’re knocking ’em down or knocking ’em back, it’s so fun here, you won’t want to split.

167 Turtle Creek Blvd., No. 103, 214-741-7737,

Readers’ Pick: Bowlounge

Best Dog Park

Meadows Foundation Dog Park

The Meadows Foundation Dog Park, also nicknamed the Swiss Avenue dog park, is tucked among stately houses, some a century old. Clean, lush and green, with grass that dogs love to roll around in, the park is quiet and the regulars (both canine and human) use it as an outdoor gathering spot to socialize or casually catch up on neighborhood news. Surrounded by a cute white fence, and with some benches for dog owners to use, this little park is a swell place to take Scruffy off his leash for a romp. The walk home down a low-traffic, tree-lined boulevard is its own reward for man and beast.

3003 Swiss Ave., 214-826-9431,

Best Social Bike Ride

The Bicycle Brewery Tour

Led by cyclist/activist Jonathan Braddick, this occasional ride is a laid-back tour of local breweries, attracting all levels of riders with its leisurely pace. Braddick starts the Dallas ride at the Continental Bridge. The one in Fort Worth starts at T&P Station, reachable by public transpo. Even in chilly February, a Dallas brewery ride drew 500 cyclists following Braddick on bikes cheap and/or fancy, cruising from brewery to brewery down Riverfront Boulevard. Braddick, president of the Dallas Bicycle Coalition, has done a half-dozen tours so far, along with a bike-in vegan dinner and film event, and some tours of historic areas of Oak Cliff. (He announces the rides on his Facebook page.) The rides are all free and the breweries offer his groups discounts. Way to peddle a great pedaling idea.

Best Running Trail for People Who Already Have Hot Bods

Katy Trail

Face it, the Katy Trail is where one-percenters go to test their Fitbits and show off their low BMIs. Get in the way of one of these taut specimens and you will be yelled at for workout interference. Dotted with pricey brunch joints and loomed over by Turtle Creek luxury highrises, the 3.5-mile Katy Trail that runs from Mockingbird Station to American Airlines Center is the preferred path for the supertoned and devoutly Lululemoned. If you’re one of the lowly hoi polloi, keep your jiggly stuff hidden and try to look confident out there. This road to fitness is paved with good intentions.

Best Trail for Serious Running

White Rock Lake

For long, quiet, meditative runs, where you get lost in your tunes and lose track of what mile you’re on, hit the White Rock Lake trails. Our manmade body of water in East Dallas is ringed by a meandering 9.3-mile trail that winds through woods, over bridges and a dam and past a small marina filled with sailboats. Run, walk or skate the trail alone or join one of many fitness clubs that do the lake in groups ( lists a bunch). If 9.3 miles isn’t enough of a training workout, the lake trail joins the 7.5-mile White Rock Creek trail at the north end, which makes a nearmarathon 24. 3-mile round trip.

Best Sports Columnist

Bob Sturm

Bob Sturm is one of the best sportswriters in The Dallas Morning News’ stable but he’s really a radio guy, co-hosting (with Dan Mc- Dowell) the noontime BaD show on The Ticket/1310AM. His well-researched columns about the Cowboys, and posts on his daily Sturminator blog, which draw on his encyclopedic knowledge of sports, offer great insights into what’s happening with America’s Team.

The Dallas Morning News

Readers’ Pick: Tim Cowlishaw

The Dallas Morning News

Best Fun Run

Go Oak Cliff 1.1 Beer Run

Go Oak Cliff’s 1.1 Beer Run is the perfect precursor to the Bishop Arts-staged Brew Riot. For a registration fee, you get to run through Bishop Arts, plus you’re granted three beers and early admission to the home-brewing competition. For completing the run, you also get a cheeky 1.1 car sticker that will help you show up any marathon-running jerks you know.

408 N. Bishop Ave.,

Readers’ Pick: Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot

November 26, 2015, Dallas City Hall Plaza, 1500 Marilla St.

Best Sporting Goods Store

Whole Earth Provision Co.

There are other sports besides baseball, football and basketball. If you participate in outdoors- y non-team sports such as camping, fishing and hiking, Whole Earth Provision will get you outfitted. They’ve got a huge variety of hammocks, guidebooks and sleeping bags (single and double), and an enormous collection of flip-flops and waterproof sandals. Friendly, knowledgeable staffers will take the time you need to find just the right quick-wicking shirt and ergonomic backpack. You need to look chill trudging up that hill.

5400 E. Mockingbird Lane, 214-824-7444,

Readers’ Pick: Academy Sports and Outdoors

Various locations,

Best Athlete

Jordan Spieth

Was it ever going to be anyone else? Champion golfer and native Texan Jordan Alexander Spieth won the 2015 Masters, the 2015 U.S. Open and came within a shot of making a playoff at the 2015 British Open. Had he won at St. Andrews, Spieth would’ve become the first golfer since Ben Hogan (in 1953) to win those three tournaments in a single season. Instead, he settled for being the first golfer since Tiger Woods (in 2002) to win the Masters and U.S. Open in the same year. Spieth bought a multi-milliondollar house in Preston Hollow and estimates put his net worth at around $16 million from winnings and endorsements. As one sportswriter put it, Spieth’s basically Dallas’ fifth major sports franchise at this point. He’s 22.

Best Free Workout

Klyde Warren Park’s Free Yoga

If you’re looking to get in shape on the cheap, your workout schedule is available at The downtown deck park offers a workout class every single day, from zumba to boot camp, but the best class on the docket takes place at 10 a.m. Saturdays. Hosted by the Dallas Yoga Center, the instructors are experts at guiding you into and out of challenging positions. Pair it with a boot camp or meditation class to feel the burn or find your inner zen. The best things in life really are free.

2012 Woodall Rodgers Freeway, R

eaders’ Pick: Klyde Warren Park

Best Yoga Studio

Sunstone Yoga

Fans of Sunstone Yoga love their signature “Fire” class, sort of like Bikram except the room is kept at a slightly less heatstroke-inducing 98. 6 degrees, but Sunstone’s menu of classes has expanded. At locations all over town, this chain of yoga studios offers multiple styles and some daily non-yoga classes like strength training and barre. No matter which studio you visit, you’ll find an inviting atmosphere and friendly instructors. Take Sunstone up on a free trial week. If you like it, you can buy a monthly unlimited pass, which gives you access to any class at any location. These yogis help you stretch your muscles and your dollars.

Multiple locations,

Readers’ Pick: Sunstone Yoga

Best Park

Klyde Warren Park

Straddling a freeway, this downtown oasis has become a grassy magnet for workers needing a break, high-rise dwellers craving a look at ground-level life, museum-goers, ATTPAC visitors, lovers, mommies with baby strollers and power walkers. With artsy lighting, well-kept landscaping and a steady stream of pedestrians and bench-sitters, the Klyde is a fave for selfietaking tourists and Uptown dog owners taking designer mutts out for a whiz (remember those poop bags). A knitting group meets one day a week in the park, a book club on another (weather permitting). You’ll find picnickers, Frisbee tossers and, because of its location, a few of the overnight “campers” who didn’t make it to the homeless shelter in time. Rain or shine, for the rich or poor, the Klyde awaits, a blanket of calm atop a busy thoroughfare.

2012 Woodall Rodgers Freeway,

Best Place to Take Your Dog

Dog Day Afternoon at Lee Harvey’s

When you visit Lee Harvey’s on a Sunday afternoon, you’ll likely fumble with the gates, only to have to push your way through a small pack of friendly dogs on your way to the bar. If you’re not a dog lover, this might sound miserable, but when you watch your furry friend join the pack of free-roaming bar hounds, you’ll smile with pride. There just aren’t enough places where your pup can socialize while you imbibe. Dog Day Afternoon is the perfect spot. The bar itself tends to attract people with big dogs — there’s one frequent guest that is the size of a horse — but the dogs are mostly friendly, and even a shy dog will feel at home under a picnic table by your feet.

1807 Gould St.,214-428-1555,

Readers’ Pick: White Rock Dog Park

8000 E. Mockingbird Lane

Best Way to Train for the Zombie Apocalypse

Trinity Strand Trail

Maintaining the proper workout motivation can be challenging. The skinny bods on the Katy Trail can set off one’s shame spiral in a big way. White Rock trails are a battle for turf among walkers, runners and cyclists. Now there’s a new road to conquer. After years of delay, the Trinity Strand Trail is complete. Linking the Design District and Medical District, the 7.8-mile, non-motorized concrete path may one day serve as the backbone of a vibrant urban neighborhood. For now it cuts through a depopulated landscape of warehouses and office buildings — which isn’t a bad thing. The level of urban grittiness is nonthreatening, even pleasant, and the areas along the trail make it look like the epicenter of a coming zombie apocalypse. Nothing invigorates a run or bike ride quite like the thought of being chased by the undead.

Best Running Store


Several dozen millennia ago, when most of humanity was still chasing prey across the African savanna, there was no running gear to speak of. That all changed when running transitioned from survival skill to healthful avocation and people realized the beauty of foot coverings that provide arch support and those billowy shorts that stop at the upper thigh. No place in Dallas has mastered the art of selling these and related accessories quite so well as RunOn! Their gait evaluations, performed by a consistently knowledgeable staff, are indispensable for selecting the right shoe for all but the most casual runners. The stores are big enough to have an ample selection but not so large as to be overwhelming. RunOn! Is also a great hub for connecting with local running groups.

5400 E. Mockingbird Lane and various other locations, 214-821-0909

Best Comeback

Texas Rangers

Three days before Major League Baseball’s July 31 trade deadline, the Rangers were dead. Deader than dead. They were five games below .500 and eight games behind the American League West-leading Houston Astros. But in the succeeding six weeks, the team went out and got the best pitcher available on the trade market (Cole Hamels) and caught up with the Astros. Despite being beset by injuries — the team’s best starting pitcher, Yu Darvish, won’t start a game this year — the Rangers have given DFW baseball fans one of the sport’s tastiest delicacies: competitive, tense games throughout the last month of the season. No one saw it coming, but new manager Jeff Banister and his players have made it happen.

Best Intramural League

GO Kickball

A couple of points: One, GO Kickball’s list of rules fills nine pages, unlike the grade-school game you remember in which the only rule was “aim for the head.” Two, among those rules is a strict ban on booze. No alcohol allowed at all. (Also different from school days. It was a tough school.) Despite that, GO Kickball in Dallas has grown to cover five sites and 25 different teams each season. It’s that 200- lb. Kid we all hated playing against in elementary school, the 11-year-old with the 5 o’clock. This is the same game you grew up playing, played now by failed, post-college athletes. And while some play for camaraderie — there’s plenty of that — some are out to prove they shouldn’t have been cut from the JV soccer squad, and watching them is pretty entertaining in its own right.

Readers’ Pick: Dallas Sports and Social Club


Best Bike Trail

Santa Fe Trail

With apologies to the Dallas Off-Road Bicycle Association and the fine work they do maintaining more than a dozen off-road bike trails in the area, we’re skinny-wheel, city-traveling cyclists here. We prefer our paths to be fast, relatively smooth and reachable by pedaling from our front doors. Relatively lightly used for now, Santa Fe passes from woods and lake into the heart of Old East Dallas, through barrios and light industrial neighborhoods into Deep Ellum, where you can pick up Main Street straight across downtown. It’s a comprehensive slice of the city, with places to stop for beer and chow along the way. (And really, don’t pass up a chance to zip down Main Street, especially on weekends. East to west is gently downhill, so you can easily pace traffic and feel like Kevin Bacon in Quicksilver.)

Between White Rock Lake and Deep Ellum, with an extension to Fair Park coming soon, friendsofsantafetrail.Org

Readers’ Pick: White Rock Lake

Best Gun Range

Eagle Gun Range

A few years back, Eagle Gun Range set up a Christmas promotion offering shooters free photos with Santa, who would be “bringing his favorite toys to share in the Christmas photos — his AR-15 and other firearms of choice.” This was two days before the Sandy Hook school shooting. (They canceled Santa.) OK, so unfortunate timing, but that doesn’t mean the idea itself was bad. Why not Santa? People like guns. Even some of use here at the Observer wouldn’t mind a Sig under the tree. And here’s the maddening thing for gun opponents: Professional, safety-conscious ranges like Eagle are the best argument going that government has no business infantilizing honest citizens by telling us we can’t have guns. Eagle has a knowledgeable, friendly, welltrained staff and instructors who offer private lessons; an extensive schedule of CHL classes; affordable, high-quality rental guns; and safe, well-maintained shooting lanes in one of the best ventilated ranges in North Texas. Truth be told, we’d rather see the guys like those at Eagle and North Texas’ other quality ranges with guns on their hips than some law enforcement officers we could name.

491 Valley Ridge Blvd., Lewisville, 972-353-4867,

Readers’ Pick: DFW Gun Range

1607 W. Mockingbird Lane, 214-630-4866,