In most towns, the nerds who like to dress up in medieval battle gear and wage "war" are relegated to some far corner of the playground. Not so in Waxahachie. In this town just 35 minutes south on Interstate 35E, the Renaissance-loving dorks aren't just celebrated; every April and May they take over the town. That's just one reason to check out this town of 20,000. Another reason is the Webb Gallery, a 10,000-square foot space off the main square that revels in the weirdness of folk and "naïve" art, from carnival banners to disturbing Masonic masks. Collectors come from around the country to see what new stuff the Webbs have found. The town's also full of gingerbread-style architecture. Back in the 1980s major motion pictures, including Places in the Heart, loved this place. We know it has a special place in our heart.

Dallas Zoo

When the Dallas Zoo's 39-year-old elephant KeKe died in May, the media spotlight shined on KeKe's cage mate Jenny, who either needed a new home or a new buddy. Zoo officials decided to send Jenny to the Africam Safari Park, a drive-through zoo in Mexico. A group called Concerned Citizens for Jenny, along with council member Angela Hunt and even actress Lily Tomlin, demanded that Jenny instead be sent to the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, where she would have more space to roam. Eventually, the zoo and Park and Recreation Department chose an option that no one was fighting for: Keep Jenny in Dallas by bringing in another elephant and building a $40 million Africa Savannah exhibit. We're not sure where Jenny's future should be spent, though anywhere but Dallas is best given the knuckleheads making the decisions in this city.

Café Brazil

It's 2:30 in the a.m. on a weekend, half-past last call, and you're closing down some bar on Lower Greenville or in Deep Ellum or on the Southside—it doesn't matter. All are within designated driving distance of Café Brazil on North Central Expressway, assuming your designatee knows the way. If the two-hour wait isn't sobering enough, pour yourself a cup of coffee or three from the seven varieties that are offered at the self-serve coffee bar. The aromas and roasts will wake the drunk right out of you. And it's breakfast anytime, with omelets fluffy and fat with veggies and other treats, which are also good for grounding. If the French toast, which rivals the best in town, is too sweet for the bourbon and Coke you've been gulping all night, try the BLT or the grilled cheese or whatever lunch item suits you. And when you've had your fill, make sure that you can drive, because it's your ass that will be toast if you pick up a DWI.

Barcadia

Why so serious, Dallas nightlife? We already work all day, pay bills, eat salads and do all that other grown-up stuff; our "fun" shouldn't be limited to trendy bars with long lines, dress codes and drinks we can't pronounce (or afford). Inner child, meet Barcadia. With '50s pinup girls on the walls, The Cure playing in the background and an entire wall of '80s arcade games for a quarter a play, it's a refuge for Denton kids who graduate and move to the big city, ex-brat packers feeling nostalgic or anyone who's bored with the scene. Here you can still get your pretty people on the patio along with drink specials every night, super-friendly bartenders and skeeball. Yes, skeeball. And you don't have to wear heels or pay a cover.

Cedar Ridge Preserve

Yes, it's sort of far. It's 20 minutes outside of Dallas. But you need it, because you're sick of sucking tailpipes and the never-ending tangle of freeways that is Dallas proper. You need to breathe deeply, to take some dirt in your hands, to see some blue sky. At an elevation of 755 feet, they like to say that the Cedar Ridge Preserve is a slice of the Hill Country in Dallas. The preserve, which spans 633 acres, features 10 miles of hiking trails, a native plant nursery and butterfly gardens. Really want to get your hands dirty? Come out in June and July when volunteers hack the weeds around the Cattail Pond.

Dallas Heritage Village

By looking to the past every so often we can avoid taking the present, and certainly the future, for granted. Try a stroll through the "living history" at Dallas Heritage Village. Costumed interpreters invite visitors to help with farm chores (you gotta love a good sheep shear), hear stories of North Texas during the mid-19th century and early 20th, and even learn about pottery, self-sustaining households of yore and traditional Judaism. The village says, "The light from the past can illuminate the future." And we couldn't agree more. After all, seeing a detached kitchen only makes us appreciate the fantasy cooking haven we have planned for our dream house. And who doesn't need a reminder that running water ain't too shabby?

Barley House

Ah, sorority girls. So cheerful, so put-together, so...likely to have a nice car and a trust fund. They're alluring for so many different superficial reasons. And, because, here in Dallas, you're most likely to find them at and around SMU, your best bet to meet one is at the Barley House, a favorite among SMU greeks. Seriously, they're all over that place, getting in your way as you try to order a drink, yapping loudly to their friends as you try to watch a game on the projection screen, glaring at you as you ogle them—it's obnoxious, really. And yet...enticing? The best part—you creepy, creepy pervert, you—is that you can tell your friends that the reason you're really going there is because you want to see this great new local band play the Barley House's stage. Ha! Yeah, they'll believe that. Right.

Best Place to Piss Off a Cop Without Consequences

Taco Cabana

Taco Cabana

The food at the good ol' TC hardly does a body good, but after a night of going hard at the bars on Lower Greenville, few drunkards seem to really care. And, as a result, the crowds show up in force at this branch of the Taco Cabana franchise once the 2 a.m. cries of "Last call!" make their way up and down the strip. They make it nearly impossible to grab a bite of fast Mexican without having to deal with half-hour-long waits first. But it's quite the place to see some hilarious drunk action too—which is why you can always see a cop, eyes droopy from dealing with the crowds over the course of a long night, looking like he'd rather be anywhere else in the world, stationed by the door on the weekends. Say pretty much anything you want to him. Unless you're stumbling-over-yourself drunk, you're the least of their worries.

Addison Circle Park

When you're landlocked and the closest river is low and sluggish most of the year, you have to take your running water where you can get it. The fountains at Addison Circle are a great place to eat lunch on your work break, take the kids to play when it's hot, or stargaze at night. Plus there are nearby performance halls, outdoor fields and walking trails, as well as exhibit space for art. Whatever the weather, the fountains make it easy to pretend you're sitting in a waterfall-filled Zen garden.

Greenville Avenue Pizza Company

Earlier this summer, the folks who run Greenville Avenue Pizza Company decided that they needed to bring some entertainment into their Lowest Greenville restaurant. Who knows why—the lines for their slices are so long after the neighborhood's bars let out, but maybe they were just sick of missing out on the pre-2 a.m. crowd. Along the way somehow, the owners got hooked up with a group of semi-professional magicians. And before long, the restaurant's newest, um, attraction was born: Every Wednesday night, a group of five or more magicians stop by and try out some new tricks for a curious, pizza-eating audience. Because it's not an official performance, the show's pretty informal—so much so that you've got a damn good chance of seeing a few tricks fail while you laugh silently to yourself and smugly make your slice of pizza disappear before the magician's eyes.

Best Of Dallas®

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