Dallas Puppet Theater
They are seated. They are entertained. They are, for the most part, quiet. Afterward, they slurp juice and eat cake. Then someone else cleans up the mess. What more could you ask for with a roomful of tykes?

From 10 p.m. until 4 a.m. on weekends, DJs from across the world spin here, and the music jams. The clothing ranges from your average all-black club gear to poseurs wearing overly glossy print shirts to young chicks sucking pacifiers. While a true rave is in a warehouse or out in the desert somewhere and you only know about it by word of mouth, we'll stretch the definition a bit. One offers a consistently good scene, and if it's a true rave you're after, the folks here will hook you up. They do have a bathtub shaped like a heart, and, granted, there's no water, but use your imagination.

Best place to save the world during the spin cycle

Bar of Soap

Doing the laundry is a tedious bore, but why watch the dryer toss around the unmentionables when Pac-Man, pinball, air hockey, golf, and a variety of other quarter-snarfing games lurk just steps away? The bar in the front room is stocked with all the necessities--plenty of quarters, laundry detergent, and dryer sheets, a smorgasbord of booze, and beer both bottled and on-tap. Get the supplies, then save the world from alien invasions or hungry zombies. The towels can rinse and spin on their own without your watchful gaze. Once the world is safe from extraterrestrials or the undead, and Pac-Man's belly is full of pellets and cherries, saddle up to the bar and watch a live band or escape the laundry room humidity on the backyard patio. It beats guarding the washer from apartment complex neighbors coveting your mint-condition '70s KISS T-shirt.

You can have your Dave & Busters, your fine felt tops, your designer cues. Some of us like to play pool, not billiards, and you can only do that at a dive, a place where you might actually get your pink-boy butt whupped if you act a fool. We like a place that is committed to pool, not offering tables as part of its catch-all theme-park approach. A pitcher during happy hour, a few sticks, and a roomful of tables. That's the way we like it, and that's the way Cuckoo's serves it up.

When it comes to putting on a show, the Gypsy Tea Room is the Big Kahuna. It has all of the intangibles: The bar is out of the way, yet close enough so you don't miss anything; the sound is usually perfect; and you can see the stage clearly from just about anywhere in the place, except maybe the bathroom. On top of all that, it's beautiful inside, like a brass-and-wood dancehall from way back. But we haven't even come to what Gypsy does best: music. No matter what kind of music you like, Gypsy does it, and does it better. Steve Earle (who performed at the club's grand opening), Built to Spill, Patti Smith, Macy Gray, Ween, Knife in the Water, Del tha Funkee Homosapien, Grandaddy, Luna, Macha, Bright Eyes, Sebadoh, The Jayhawks, 20 Miles, Monte Montgomery, Blackalicious, BR5--49, Wilco--they've all played there at some point. And all the best local groups make regular appearances as well, including Centro-matic, Earl Harvin Trio, Sub Oslo, Pleasant Grove, Mandarin, Stumptone, and The Old 97's, just to name a few. The New Year, the new band from Bedhead's Matt and Bubba Kadane, made its Dallas debut at Gypsy. In the few years it has been in business, Gypsy has only gotten better, and it doesn't appear this trend will end any time soon. As long as it's still in business, every other club in town is playing for second place. Believe that.

Dealey Plaza

You see it all the time in Dealey Plaza: human squirrels tempting fate by standing on the white spray-painted X where John F. Kennedy was shot by anywhere from one to 30 gunmen. Never mind that you are standing in the middle of Elm Street, in a town whose citizens disregard all pretense of Texas courtesy while behind the wheel of a vehicle. How long before some tourist secures a place in history by getting smushed by a Ford pickup on the same spot where Kennedy met his violent fate? Maybe then there will be two white X's on the road.

The World is Too Much With Us. Wordsworth could have had lovely Dallas in mind when he penned his famous early 19th-century poem. Ever get sick of living amid more cement than grass? While you're still alive, spend some time at Restland Funeral Home. There are 350 lush acres to roam, and the graves are inconspicuous enough, making it a peaceful place to leave the city behind for a while.

Texas Scottish Rite Hospital

It's true you can't just waltz, a passel of pikers in tow, onto this specially designed park at the Dallas hospital for children with severe orthopedic problems. But if you call ahead and make a reservation, this place can provide all ages of childish folk hours of safe and athletic fun. The play area's surface is covered with a soft, spongy material so you have less worry about scratched knees or broken bones.

Swiss Avenue is poised at the center of a whole bunch of socio-economic bubbling and brewing, rich and poor living pretty much cheek-by-jowl, separated only by the alleys and the cars they drive. The magic of Swiss in the evening is that nobody drives a car: Everybody walks, or, more properly, promenades. Especially on summer evenings when the temperature drops--as if it ever drops--people pour out of all manner of dwellings, low and tall, to push their babies, pull their dogs, walk with lovers or stroll alone with their thoughts, up and down this gracious old divided boulevard. It's worth driving to; lots of people do. If more aerobic pursuits are on your mind, this section of Swiss is almost exactly one mile long, making it the ideal length for an up-and-back morning run, when the sprinklers are sweeping across the majestic lawns and the gardening crews are getting to work. Using the sidewalk, you see, is the only thing non-residents can really do here. And what a sidewalk it is. Wide enough for people and dogs to coexist. Flat enough, because in this precinct, people even repave their sidewalks when they begin to buckle. In other words, they foot the bill, you provide the feet.

One-stop shopping for the softball nut with slow-pitch league games and tournaments-men's, women's, and co-ed--never ending. They're closed just two weeks out of the year, during the Christmas and New Year season, much to the chagrin of the die-hards. There are four lighted fields, a full-service concession stand that no heart doctor would go near, ample seating, and a pro shop that offers everything from balls, caps, bats, and gloves to sportswear and name-brand medication for those blisters and pulled muscles suffered by the middle-age crazies. A family affair, the clientele includes mom, pop, and the kids most nights and weekends. And, hey, if you haven't caught on with a team, bring along your glove. Some team is always short-handed and desperate for someone to play right field in that 10 p.m. game.

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