The Consignment Store

The Consignment Store may have a generic name, but its selection is second to none. Items found throughout the 15,000-square-foot showroom in North Dallas are from manufacturers from around the world and include various dining tables, sofas, desks, armoires and beds. While most of the inventory is used and antique furniture, knickknacks and clothing are also for sale. In addition to the unique assortment of items, The Consignment Store commits to daily price reductions to make room for new inventory. Lower prices and a steady stream of new goodies—we knew there was a reason they've been in business for 24 years.

White Rock Lake
White Rock Lake
Scardello Artisan Cheese

You just can't rush cheese, and you're a fool if you try. Everything about cheesemonger Rich Rogers' Oak Lawn Avenue shop suggests a slower pace, from the rustic wooden tables and cheese boards to the cool light streaming in from outside. It'd take awhile to work your way through Scardello's cheese case, packed with edible science projects from around the world, cheeses that gush when sliced, cheeses rubbed down with espresso and veined with obscure tastes, cheeses made from the milk of strange animals. With regular cheese classes to peel the mystery off the dairy world's most pungent members, and late-night jazz to challenge even the strongest of constitutions, Scardello has brought a little more culture to one food that, by definition, already had plenty.

Bath House Cultural Center

While studying to become a Master Gardener, Janet Smith conceived of this lovely little public garden in 2005. It was completed two years later by the Dallas County Master Gardeners and garden designer Carmel Womack, and now blooms with all manner of flowers as a sustainable, year-round garden designed to attract butterflies. The plants are watered with a drip irrigation system and the garden is accessible by a ramp, with benches for a comfy sitdown. In the middle is a specially commissioned sculpture, Whirl, by Austin artist John Christensen. A lovely addition to the Bath House environs.

Sprouts Farmers Market

If you haven't been to Sprouts, picture Whole Foods with better produce and prices. The wide aisles also allow for easy navigation of the fresh fruits and veggies, and the staff is always helpful and friendly. The Arizona-based company's business model was developed more than 30 years ago in San Diego as Henry's Marketplace, and its first store opened locally in Plano five years ago. The only downside is that Sprouts is located in a dry area, meaning beer and wine sales are prohibited. But being a one-stop shop has never been Sprouts' forte. It has always counted on customers making a second stop. After all, it's not like they carry laundry detergent either.

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens
Courtesy Dallas Arboretum
Dallas Arboretum
Albertson's

Located right in the heart of Uptown, which, in case you didn't know, is where every pretty college coed in Texas is required to live upon graduating, the McKinney Avenue location of the Albertson's grocery chain is, without a doubt, the greatest grocery store in the entire metroplex—and not because it has a solid selection of produce and the same exact things you'll find stocking the shelves of every other modern-day supermarket. No, this Albertson's location deserves a nod for another reason entirely: Its patrons. We've shopped all around town looking for the stores with the best deals, and you know what we've found? The prices are all pretty much the same everywhere. But this location—and we've been there enough to say it's not even up for debate—has far and away the best-looking crop of shoppers you'll find at any grocery store in the city, and maybe even America. Mom always told us to try meeting a nice girl, and to maybe look for her in a place that isn't a bar. Well, thanks to the McKinney Albertson's, we're finally looking. Probably too much.

Texas Discovery Gardens

The Texas Discovery Gardens now include a new wonderful butterfly conservatory that is basically a rain forest in a three-story greenhouse brimming with exotic butterflies. Elevated walkways allow guests to follow the butterflies all the way up into the tops of the trees. For $200 you can take 40 kids there for a unique and memorable birthday party. The thoughtful folks at the Discovery Gardens provide decorations and have even come up with gender-specific themes: "For the Love of Butterflies" for girls, and for boys, "For the Love of Bugs." You get two hours, an educational gift for your child and the staff does the clean-up. Kids can roam out into the outdoor gardens if the butterflies aren't enough. Two shifts, Saturdays and Sunday. Make reservations.

Neiman Marcus Downtown

Taking the old-fashioned wood-paneled escalator up to the women's fashion floor at the downtown Neiman Marcus transports the shopper back in time, but only briefly. Because while she'll feel like Audrey, Marilyn or Jackie on the way up the glamorously lit moving staircase, once she spots row upon row of designer denim, edgy cocktail attire and new takes on designer classics, she'll be sure she couldn't be anywhere but right here, right now, in Dallas' most storied and respected women's clothing department. To be sure, there are more affordable and less intimidating places to rifle through the racks in search of something fabulous, but there's nothing quite like fingering a soft, little black knit amid the history and prestige of Neiman's. For those on a budget, the store's seasonal close-out sales can be fantastic opportunities to take home something special. Priced-out, regardless? Neiman's impeccably dressed mannequins are great inspiration when it comes to creating new pairings out of anyone's closet.

READERS' PICK BEST PLACE FOR A KID'S PARTY

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