Best Of :: Sports & Recreation
You thought you knew how to picnic until you visited the Dallas Arboretum. No other swath of greenery boasts more professional picnickers per square foot. Come to think of it, no other spot in Dallas offers this much greenery or natural beauty. No wonder so many people commit an afternoon here, grazing al fresco while sitting on Grandmother's heirloom quilt. You could bring a couple of sandwiches and some sodas from the convenience store, but you will be made to feel very small. Here, the picnic baskets are the size of Volvos and everyone worth their weight brings wine. Sandwiches are for sissies, and spreads look like the buffet tables filled with exceptional food. And why not picnic here? Even on the most crowded days it's not hard to find a space — a small square of greenery where you can sit and relax and ponder finer things.
Here's a testament to the power of The Little Ticket: At least one of us at the Observer didn't give a rat's ass about sports until one day more than a decade ago when, bored with the blandness of Clear Channel-dominated music radio, we scanned through the AM frequencies and stopped at what sounded like a half-dozen smartasses talking at once, riffing and one-upping each other on jokes about that date's celebrity birthdays. That segment, "Why Today Doesn't Suck," the daily passing of the baton from lunchtime show BaD Radio to afternoon drive's The Hardline, was chaotic and hilarious then and still is today, even if Line Four Guy is seldom heard lately. We came for the bawdy guy talk and stayed for the hot sports opinions, which range from half-baked to insightful but are always entertaining to hear.
These days, it seems like everything awesome is happening in Oak Cliff. Restaurants, bars, entertainment venues; it's all there. Add golf to that list as well, with Stevens Park Golf Course embracing the effortless cool of the city's southern tip. A couple years ago, an $8 million overhaul was done on the course to shake it out of a dormant funk, and the result is majestic. Try your hardest not to stand slack-jawed as you play the 15th hole, with the Dallas skyline teasing your focus away as you hook a drive straight into a clump of trees. Go ahead and hit another, we won't tell anybody.
With the traditional outdoor batting cage slowly fading away from our landscape, one joint has the balls and bats to take things to the next level. D-Bat in Addison offers a slew of indoor cages where you can slug to your heart's content. The rates are pretty cheap and the baseballs are the real deal, so you can do your best one-kneed Adrian Beltre impression without laying down the suicide squeeze on your wallet. They even offer lessons, so if your swing game isn't what it used to be, you'll no longer have to suffer the furtive giggles of vicious packs of 8-year olds.
There are dozens of ways to enjoy the serene expanse of White Rock Lake, but one of the best is renting a kayak from White Rock Paddle Co. and taking it for a spin on the water. Challenge a private-school crew team to a sprint or just go for a leisurely aqua trek by The Bath House Cultural Center, Filter Building or 4009 W. Lawther Drive, better known as the Mount Vernon replica estate. If you take a camera with you, shell out an extra couple bucks for a dry bag. It could save you big time if your boat gets a little tippy.
Here in the city, it's easy to forget there are places within a short drive that are green, quiet and wild. Roughly half an hour from downtown, Cedar Ridge Preserve is 600 acres of pristine hills shot through with some nine miles of surface trails and occasionally challenging terrain. It's densely thicketed with cedar and some huge red oaks. The trail opens up at times on gorgeous vistas of heavily wooded hills and a gleaming Joe Pool Lake. Nobody charges you to get in, but let your innate altruism rule. Give what you can to the maintenance of the preserve.