Best Of :: Sports & Recreation
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, well-trained 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.
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.
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 high-rises, the 3.5-mile Katy Trail that runs from Mockingbird Station to American Airlines Center is the preferred path for the super-toned 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.katytraildallas.org
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 (Meetup.com 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 near-marathon 24.3-mile round trip.
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 McDowell) 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.
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.gooakcliff.org
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.
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-million-dollar 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.