Best Of :: Sports & Recreation
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.)friendsofsantafetrail.org
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.
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.
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 super-groovy 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.
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.
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.