Best Small Public Garden 2010 | Butterfly Garden | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

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.

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.

Courtesy Dallas Arboretum
Dallas Arboretum

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.

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.

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.


Pump It Up

Pump It Up

After a tummy-full of corn dogs, fried what-have-you's and a gastro-churning spin on the Techno Power carnival ride, a State Fair of Texas patron could be forgiven for just wanting to have a sit for a minute. But that's not what State Fair of Texas patrons do. Because if you've come in from halfway across who-knows-where to see the best of what the state has to offer, you won't turn around after one go-round on the Texas Star. Whereas Dealey Plaza and Reunion Tower are surely nice places to take ferners, a few minutes at the Kennedy site and one round at Reunion are plenty. The State Fair demands a full day's devotion, with every aspect of Texas' storied past and present on display for locals and tourists alike, from our rich rural past to Texas' finest tradesmen and technology. And there's also that little matter of Texas being the best at deep-frying absolutely anything. If that doesn't impress tourists, they can just mosey on back to wherever they came from.

Last time around, it rained, and the Bishop Arts Mardi Gras still drew a crowd of "four to five thousand," according to organizers. So imagine what size mob will show up next year if the weather is good. Which it will be. The planning is already under way, with an evening masquerade ball slated for the Kessler Theater March 5 and a full-blown beads parade at 4 p.m. March 6. This being Dallas instead of the Big Easy, we can expect lots of bawdy cheering from the crowd and cries of "Show us your ankles!" And some of those crazy girls may do it! Not a thing to miss.

Best Think After You Drink

Getting together with your smartest friends to drink is always a fun time. But now, if you have a well-rounded gang of friends with a diverse range of interests, you can win acclaim and a bar tab too. (And we mean it when we recommend a wide-ranging group—having nothing but bookworms from your fiction workshop isn't gonna help when a sports question comes up.) If you're bored by the sluggish readings of Trivial Pursuit cards at other pub trivia nights, this fast-paced match is right up your alley.

Maybe you don't want to show up here with a big roll of tweed from your vacation in Ireland and tell them to whip you up a suit, but if your needs are more of the mundane alterations variety, Unique Tailor is the stop you want to make. It's a little place with an unflappable staff of tailors able to handle anyone and anything from the biggest crazed diva in Highland Park ("Why does my butt look so huge?") to the East Dallas plumber who tore his coveralls in a tight crawlspace ("Got anything for me to wear while I wait?"). For easy stuff, pants shortening, waist-letting-outing and so on, they do a 24-hour turn-around. Nothing takes more than a few days. If you have a problem with the work, they do it again. Prices are very reasonable—no gouging—and they tell you ahead of time what it will be. Can't ask for more than that.

Best Of Dallas®

Best Of