Best Place to Beat the Heat 2001 | Joe Pool Lake/Cedar Hill State Park | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer
Unless you're one of those who huddle at home in front of the air conditioner with Oprah at full blast, the truth is there's really no beating the Texas heat. So, you just find a way to enjoy it. No better place to do so than Joe Pool Lake in southern Dallas County. In addition to boating and water skiing, the bass and crappie will be biting. The 1,800 acres of shoreline have everything from overnight campsites to picnic areas, hike and bike trails to sand volleyball courts, a golf driving range and places for bank fishing. And there's the Oasis restaurant where you can get a great burger and a tall, cool one. Might as well be one of the 1.3 million who visit the lake and its adjacent parks annually.
Who in these parts isn't loyally addicted to the Texas-born drink that was invented in a Waco drugstore? If you're as devoted to the soda's sweet taste as you think, you need to make the pilgrimage down Interstate 20 to visit the oldest Dr Pepper bottling plant in the world. Not only has the Dublin Bottling Co. been in business for 110 years, but it is the only place where the original formula is still used. There, the drink is still sweetened with corn syrup, pure cane sugar and nary an additive, and you can load the trunk of the car with a few cases before returning home. You'll also want to visit the museum, get a tour of the plant and toss back a cool one. Seventy miles down the road, it is a trip, nostalgic and worthwhile, into your childhood.

Put the closest weekend to May 23 on your calendar if you're one of those who can't get enough of the Bonnie and Clyde legend. Just across the state line in Gibsland, Louisiana (about a three-hour drive from Dallas), the festival annually features discussions by Barrow Gang historians, a re-enactment of the 1934 ambush that ended the love birds' crime spree, a jambalaya and gumbo supper, cakewalks, live music, arts and crafts displays and a local museum devoted exclusively to Dallas' most infamous criminals.
Technically, and speaking in a grander scheme of things, the best night to be in Deep Ellum is when every single one of those annoying roof decks catches fire, when those hovering meat markets that serve as an unfortunate nexus of silicone, tanning beds, bleached blondes, leather pants, green apple martinis and Young MC fill the sky with the acrid smoke of bad taste gone ablaze. Failing that, Thursday is the night to be in Deep Ellum, with fewer gawking tourists--and as far as we're concerned, that includes anyone north of LBJ--and more good shows. Club Clearview, Liquid Lounge and Curtain Club usually have three-band bills without a single hole in the lineup, and Trees hosts a weekly showcase by B.I.O. (Base Intelligence Organization) that features DJs and electronic music acts and all sorts of experimental fare. One way or another, you'll find something you like, and you won't have to wade through a sea of SUVs and their South Beach-wannabe drivers to do it. Let them have the weekends.

Forty miles east of Dallas, the neon lights outside the old Majestic Theater will go on (nightly except Wednesday), owner Karl Lybrand III will fire up the popcorn machine, then take his place in the ticket booth. The 300 seats inside won't be filled, but there will be anywhere from 15 to 50 faithful patrons forking over $2 for a ticket to see a movie that showed in one of the big city's multiplexes a month earlier. The place is as fun and romantic as first love. One of only 100 single-screen theaters still in business in the United States, it is the oldest family-owned movie house in the country. The senior Lybrand first showed movies to Wills Point patrons in 1907. Doors open nightly at 7 p.m., and the feature will be shown only once. Don't be late, or you'll miss the previews.
If you hang around at The Green Room long enough, there's a good chance you'll see Angie Harmon at some point. Especially now: It's football season, and her husband, Jason Sehorn, is off attempting to play cornerback for the New York Giants, so Harmon, the former Law & Order star, has plenty of free time. And since this is her favorite restaurant in town--something she seems to bring up in virtually every story written about her, most of which are plastered on The Green Room's front window--this is your best bet to "accidentally" run into her. Play it safe and send a martini to her table before you rush over with questions about playing Assistant District Attorney Abbie Carmichael opposite Sam Waterston and Jerry Orbach for two seasons. If you plan on bringing up her stint on Baywatch Nights, however, you'd better keep a tab running.

It's true that Dallas is a concrete jungle, ruled by Rhino-like SUVs that are just waiting to mow down any pedestrian within steering distance, but there is one place a pedestrian can go to get away from it all. The Owl Hike at the Dallas Nature Center gives city folk a rare chance to hear the hoots and hollers of the great horned owl, the screech owl and the barred owl. On this nighttime trek the winged hunters are the main attraction, but they aren't the only stars. With the help of guides, walkers are taught to rely on their night vision and check out the other creatures that roam the night. Especially spiders, which spin their intricate webs beneath the pale light of the moon. Times of the tour vary by season, so plan before you go.
Lauren Drewes Daniels
A Dallas institution passed this year, but that's no reason to avoid partaking at this venerable East Dallas institution. In fact, you should go to pay your tribute to its longtime, beehived waitress queen, Lucille Mathews. For more than 30 years, Lucille brought drinks and more than a few smiles to regulars and first-timers alike, treating most patrons with more care and concern than is found in many families these days. Example: When one customer went on a 12-week diet that did not allow alcohol, Lucille would make a pitcher of tea for him as soon as he entered. She was a woman who loved the energy and smoke and life of a good bar, and the Landing is one of the best bars. Go, lift a glass, toast her image and memory. Then do so again. Lucille would have wanted it that way.
The folks who live down that way would just as soon you didn't know about it, but this is as close to the picturesque Texas Hill Country as you're going to get. You can use Joe Pool Lake as a gateway, then drive into Cedar Hill, where you'll want to visit a real old-timey town square. Take the back roads toward Ovilla and marvel at the tree-canopied lanes that seem a million miles away from the heat and concrete of Big D. If you're in the mood for a nature study walk, stop in at the Dallas Nature Center on Mountain Creek Parkway or take a picnic lunch and fishing pole with you and visit little-known Lorch Park (972-291-8229), cited last year as the Best Scenic Park You've Never Heard Of.
Still the best, if not the only great place in Dallas to turn yourself into a leaping lizard. A combined total of 65 years' tattooing experience makes the staff here one of the most consistent in town, with high marks in both technical skill and artistic flair. You can spend 50 bucks getting a black star tattooed on your butt or you could spend up to $70,000 on a "full body suit." Just remember: no trade-ins or returns.

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