You can usually identify a denizen of North Dallas when he or she asks, sotto voce, "You live in Oak Cliff? Aren't you scared to live there?" Kessler Park, garden oasis from the big, bad streets of Oak Cliff, can surprise even a Dallas native. Beautifully kept $300,000 homes nestle along hilly, tree-lined streets. You can even put your SUV to use by climbing those steep street humps every few feet. But keep it to yourself. We don't want the wrong element sullying pretty Oak Cliff's prettiest neighborhood. Let 'em stay in North Dallas, where they belong.

Bass Pro Shops - Outdoor World

A giant aquarium, a pretend shooting range, boats to climb on, tents to test, giant stuffed catfish pillows, hot dogs, fishing equipment no one even knew existed, a driving and putting range--what more do you need to keep the kids intrigued for a few hours, short of a Pokmon? Hell, if you're really lucky you might just catch an elk-calling contest or a seminar on muzzle-loading techniques, and there are always those fly-tying demos.

Dallas Museum of Art

When most parents head downtown with the tykes in tow for a cultural or educational experience, they plan to visit somewhere obvious like The Science Place, but we think the DMA offers a great alternative. For starters, the price is right: free. But then on weekends in the afternoon, the Junior League of Dallas women (who transplant a little bit of Highland Park inside the museum's high walls) set up an art-project room where children and their parents can try their hand at making mobiles, pictures, or other functional objets d'art. After tackling the construction paper, glue, and markers, the whole family can reward themselves with a trip around the permanent exhibits. Best stop is the sculpture garden, where only the most intrepid toddler will fall in one of the ponds.

Even at its feeblest point, before the recent dredging, White Rock never lost its status as the premier walking and running site in the inner city. Now that the lake has been re-plumbed and is getting all spruced up around the verges, it's an especially upbeat place to start the day with a stroll. And with the addition of bicycle cops around the lake, you won't even have to worry that your morning stroll will become a morning run-for-your-life.

Follow the stench of sweaty hockey equipment and unshowered men to this Richardson sports spot. Brace yourself as you open the double glass doors to this testosterone palace. Divisions range from mini-mite to more than 30. Imagine, father and son can play hockey together. Youngster says, "Daddy, my bag is too heavy." Father says, "Be a man. Carry your own crap, son."

Trees should be dead now. That's what everyone believed would happen a few years ago, after some longtime employees defected to the Curtain Club. But it seems as if the joke's on all of them, as Trees is stronger than ever, having recently celebrated 10 years in business. After all this time, Trees is still the best place to see the best bands; Guided By Voices, The Flaming Lips, Stereolab, Cheap Trick, ALL, The Go, Olivia Tremor Control, and The Promise Ring have all played there in the last year or so. Don't call it a comeback--they've been here for years.

Lakewood Landing

Poor smokers. Banned from most airline flights. Shunted off to tiny corners of restaurants, left hacking and wheezing on the streets outside office buildings. Soon, they'll qualify for oppressed-minority status. If you're among the downtrodden, you will want to congregate with your own at this favorite Dallas watering hole and perhaps plan a revolution to take back your rightful, wheezing place in society. Nothing has changed too much since Lakewood Landing won our last "Best of Dallas" honors, but our most recent visit sent our clothes to the dry cleaners to get the smoke out. If nicotine is your thing, then this is where you want to swing.

Main Street's cybercaf is just like college computer labs. That is, if you went to school someplace where high-speed Internet-equipped computers were nestled in a coffeehouse among plump, over-stuffed couches, classical wall murals, and other urban loft-style amenities. Also, you don't need to sneak in the hooch inside a Thermos. There's a full bar, and live music is performed on the street-side stage on weekends. Plus, there's an open-mike affair every Wednesday. Main Street also has two rooms for gaming, with garage doors that can be closed for a little peace and quiet.

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 Of Dallas®

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