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 Place to See Garbage Bags as Outerwear

Kiest Park

Located in Oak Cliff, Kiest Park's 2.8-mile path is perfect for anyone looking to get fit without paying a gym membership. It winds through dense woods that provide shade during the hottest summer days and features several stations for modified push-ups, sit-ups and climbing exercises. Best of all, your eyes will not get bored. There's the pretty scenery, sure. But even better are your fellow exercise enthusiasts. You're guaranteed to see at least a couple of hotties every time, but our favorite people-watching sport is looking for the mysterious trash-bag people. For some reason, many of Kiest Park's walkers and joggers favor a strange outfit that looks exactly like an inflated trash bag. Often clinging to the material are beads of moisture that might be distilled sweat. Are these bizarre outfits intended to increase weight loss through excessive perspiration? Is their aerodynamic inefficiency intended to increase resistance? Or are they simply fashionable among middle-aged Hispanics? Figuring it out will give your mind something to do as you torture your body with exercise.

Best Place to See Musicians in Compromising Positions

Stage Dumps

Don't lie. You like a little toilet humor here and there. And you like rock 'n' roll, yes? Well, the love child of rock and shock value is Stage Dumps. Created by some well-known but slightly secretive Denton-based musicians, the blog pays photographic homage to musicians who rock out so hard, it appears they've filled their diapers. But fret not. It's all strain and posture and no actual elimination. Aside from slightly humiliating pics of our favorite bands, Stage Dumps excels in its tags. Some of our favorites include "no shame," "proud clencher" and "standing in my own fog." A pic of Rod Stewart is posted as "forever dung"; Joe Satriani is titled "Shitting With the Alien." Local Will Johnson is pictured perched in Good Records under "Fart Recovery." Loads of fun, Stage Dumps is nothing short of craptacular.

Brooklyn Jazz Cafe

With its semi-industrial location and red brick exterior, Brooklyn Jazz Café indeed evokes the mighty borough that is its namesake. Inside, too, the rough-hewn brick walls, copper bar top and intimate feel are urban and urbane. It's clear someone put some thought into the detailed décor and, for once in this town, didn't go cheap on executing a vision. Every time we enter the place for a glass of wine and some downright soulful, amazing jazz, we remember: Dr. Cliff Huxtable lived in Brooklyn, and he too liked jazz. Coincidence? We thought so, until we looked around and noticed a number of hip, grandpa-aged men sporting "Huxtable" sweaters—those loose-hewn acrylic numbers, each with its own unique, complicated geometric pattern. It makes the whole thing kind of eerie, like stepping into a time machine and a television set. But no matter—the ambiance at Brooklyn is one of Dallas' semi-known—but still underappreciated—gems, a nice spot for a cocktail and some always varied, always riveting jazz.

Hey, you, the writerly type. We know you're shy. We know you'd rather sit inside with your nose in a book, keeping humanity at bay. But you have to leave the house sometime, so you might as well do some good while you're out there. We recommend volunteering with the Writers in the Schools Program (WITS) and its companion, Writers in Neighborhoods (WIN). Both focus on getting kids to use their imaginations through the use of reading and writing skills. The programs are fun, you get to know some great kids, and you get to see great results. WITS director Sue Glenn says many kids in the program show healthy improvement in their test scores. And that spells success that could change lives.

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