Burns was the Morning News investment columnist for 21 years until three years ago when he walked out the back door in one of the News' draconian staff cuts. But he's still in the paper on Sundays and Thursdays as an independent "syndicated" columnist, meaning he works for himself now and sells his column back to the News and 82 other newspapers around the country. Let's not even try to understand why the News would allow Burns to leave but keep Steve Bloviatin' Blow on the payroll. The point here is that Burns has always churned out smart, people-centric investment advice without a drop of churn-and-burn hype. The fact that he is semi-retired himself—and an entrepreneurial success in his golden years—only adds to his credibility. For a straight-on treatment of financial issues in language you can understand, Burns can't be beat. And who knows? Stay in a state park some day: He might be that bald guy in the Airstream next to you.

Fallout Lounge

Don't expect a red carpet or a VIP list here—it's a divey sort of place where you can never be sure what lies in store. Relatively small and cave-like, with a rustic concrete floor and DJs spinning on the weekends, it tends to turn into an all-out dance party on Friday nights. Like any dance party worth its salt, this includes a decent dose of '80s music, along with some contemporary tracks in the mix. The crowd is generally laidback, the same people who patronize The Amsterdam and The Meridian Room nearby. Occasionally the place is surprisingly empty, which we think is cool, because it means you can create your own private dance party for special occasions.

With the advent of new dog parks around the metroplex, this competition has gotten downright dog-eat-dog. (Sorry.) It would be easy to bark up the same old tree (another apology) and give the Mockingbird Point Dog Park at White Rock Lake, which teaches socialization skills for both man and beast, our annual nod. But there is a new canine scene in town, Unleashed, and it has amenities other dog parks can't match. First off, it's indoors, has 25,000 square feet of K9Grass, an antimicrobial, easy on the paws (and the human nose) synthetic grass, and safe environs, with attendants on call to break up any fight between territorial terriers or whomever. Yes, there's a fee, but it's worth it, particularly during long bouts of inclement weather when Rover just can't rove without getting heat stroke or mud-caked paws. There's a café and a lounge and on-site grooming—a one-of-a-kind experience for dog and dog lover. The only thing missing from the indoor park is well, the outdoors, and that's in the park's future.

We know you guys love Salim Nourallah. He's won the Best Producer award at the Dallas Observer Music Awards for, like, eleventy years now. But you guys are dead wrong on this one, as Nourallah isn't even close to the best producer in North Texas—especially considering that world-class talents like Stuart Sikes (White Stripes, Dove Hunter), Matt Pence (Centro-matic, American Music Club) and John Congleton (St. Vincent, The Paper Chase) reside here. That's not even counting our personal favorite sound engineer, the Echo Lab's Matt Barnhart, who not only worked on two of last year's best records—Shearwater's Rook and The New Year's self-titled release—but also found time (when he wasn't on the road running sound for A.C. Newman, Lift to Experience or The New Year, that is) for a slew of locals, including Deep Snapper, Les Americains, The Angelus, Nervous Curtains and his own Tre Orsi. Consider this a wake-up call for your ears, dear readers. Vote Barnhart in 2010.

Don't let the Uptown yuppies in their Polo shirts and Banana Republic slacks fool you: There is, indeed, quite the hip streetwear fashion scene in Dallas—and it's growing every year. Case in point: Kixpo, Dallas' annual sneaker and streetwear expo. Run by a group of sneaker and streetwear fiends who collectively call themselves Dead Stock, the annual event draws sneakerheads and fashion-savvy skate-punks from far beyond North Texas into town for a weekend of hip-hop, basketball and, most important, a couple hours of showing off. The third annual event, held this past July 25 at Life in Deep Ellum, saw a room full of sneaker collectors, streetwear fashion boutiques and mixtape makers showing off their own collections' finest pieces. And, even though few items were actually for sale—"Don't Touch!" signs littered the display booths covered in some of the flashiest kicks you've ever seen—around 2,000 squeezed into the room to jealously stare down the materials being flaunted. With an increasing fan base and not too many other national sneaker conventions to speak of, the sky seems the limit for this foot-obsessed, fetishy upstart.

Lots of countries have a can-do spirit, but if there's one that combines serious fun and frolic with theirs, it's Ireland. After a potato famine as well as civil, political and religious unrest for years, the island of Éire and its people still know how to party (that's probably why they know how to party, now that we think about it). Thus, the North Texas Irish Festival makes for one helluva weekend. You get the full-on guts, the humor, the dances, the music (the festival books an impressive roster of Irish and Celtic performers, both modern and traditional) , yes, the potent potables of the fair green land, perfectly imported for Dallas. We're not sure Ireland is really known for its face painting, but the NTIF often has that too, should the kiddos demand it. More than 60,000 people attended this last year—which is impressive for a festival celebrating but one culture—so really, who are we to doubt the shamrockian shenanigans?

Dallas Museum of Art

You may think downtown Dallas is the last place on earth you'd go to relax, but you're missing out. Located in the heart of downtown is a free sculpture garden shaded by mature oaks and filled with pools of water and forceful waterfalls. The large area is surrounded by 12-foot concrete walls draped in twisted ivy, so the traffic noise is muffled. The sculptures placed throughout the garden are made of bronze, stone or wood, like the French Henri Laurens abstract bronze from 1937. The large artworks and surprising large surface area of the garden have an expansive effect on your psyche. Take a book and sit at one of the cafe tables by one of the four falls inside. It's open during regular museum hours, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the weekdays and weekends and on Thursdays until 9 p.m.

Round-Up Saloon

Be prepared to enter a whole new world: photos displayed on flat screens of muscular, all-American men in cowboy hats with hairless chests; a front "parlor" for karaoke where "they sing all the time," said a bouncer; and an authentic, good-sized dance floor for country dancing. Above the sunken dance floor, a giant neon red outline of the great state of Texas surrounds a spinning disco ball, which shoots off flashes of color around the room. Three times a week—Monday, Tuesday and Thursday—show up for free country dance lessons from 8:30 to 10 p.m. While you're there, try the most popular shots, a Jagerbomb or a Cowboy Cock Sucker. That's butterscotch schnapps and a bit of Irish cream, y'all.

The Bavarian Grill

The drink specials aren't all that special during Stein Hour at Bavarian Grill: $2.75 domestic longnecks, $3.25 Loewenbraus, or a dollar off selected drafts. They're better than nothing, but going to a bar with so many great German brews only to drink domestic longnecks (or Loewenbrau, for that matter) is like going to Six Flags and never getting off the parking tram. It's the food specials that really make Stein Hour so happy. For each half-liter draft, you can add an authentic Bavarian biergarten dish for just 95 cents: weisswurst or Bratwürstel sausages with mustard, crispy meatloaf frikadelles, tangy and meaty goulash, chicken-and-grape salad and more. They're substantial snacks, too, plenty to tide you over till a late dinner. Better yet, have a few as a light meal. Prost!

Cedar Ridge Preserve

The trails at Southwest Dallas' Audubon-managed Cedar Ridge Preserve make for some of the best hiking in North Texas. Whether you pick the leisurely Possumhaw Trail or the heavy woods and elevation changes of the Cedar Break Trail, you're sure to enjoy the experience, which puts the hiking at nearby Cedar Hill State Park to shame. (If you're with your honey the observation towers are prime make-out spots too.) After all that hiking, you'll find it easy to justify a post-exercise treat at Sheridan's, where the frozen custard will satisfy any sweet tooth. We'd suggest the Grant's Grasshopper (vanilla custard with mint, chocolate chips and Oreos), but we're sure you'll have your own ideas—a Brownie Bling Pothole, perhaps?

Best Of Dallas®

Best Of