Katy Trail Animal Hospital
We all know that old cliché about our furry friends being family members is true, and it's as much of a bummer when man's best friend gets sick as when your better half does. Sometimes veterinarian costs can run higher than human healthcare costs, but the folks at Katy Trail Animal Hospital aren't in the business of helping animals just for the money, and that certainly shows not only when you're paying the bill, but also when you see the staff interact with the four-legged clients. The doctors and staff are certified animal lovers, the hospital features a state-of-the-art surgical facility and the kitty boarding area has plenty of windows for our cat to stare at her favorite birds.
Avalon Salon
There's no better feeling than stepping out of the hair salon with a shiny, swishy new 'do, especially if that new cut, color and/or blow-out hasn't made you break the bank. In a city full of fancy (read: expensive) hair salons, Avalon has consistently been our go-to spot for reasonably priced hair styling and up-to-the-second trends. Those feathers you see all the young, hot things sporting in their manes? You could have been the first to have those red and yellow streaks in your hair and made all the kids envious. We give Avalon bonus points for the West Village location extending weekday hours and being open on Sundays and Mondays, a rarity in the salon world.
Adrift Float Spa
As much as massages have been touted as the ultimate way to melt away stress, there's another stress reliever that puts the standard massage to shame. Adrift Float Spa specializes in floating treatments coupled with anti-gravity massage. First, you spend 15 minutes or so in the anti-gravity massage chair, which loosens up your muscles and surprisingly feels as good as a massage from a real, live person. Afterward you're whisked away to a private room that contains a giant saltwater tank with enough salt to allow you to be blissfully buoyant for an hour. With the dim lighting and soothing music, your stress immediately melts away as you enjoy the feeling of being almost weightless. After an hour of floating, you'll forget about those Swedish massages. It's like having The Dead Sea all to yourself.
The Labyrinth Metaphysical Herbal Apothecary
In a purple cottage tucked away in a mysterious corner of Old East Dallas, this ... store? ... venue? ... spooky little hideaway offers a variety of merchandise associated with Wicca and other forms of magic. At the front in a glass cabinet is the best selection of tarot cards you're going to find in the city, certainly better than Walmart, ranging all the way from Aleister Crowley's Thoth deck to the more common and less infamous Rider deck. Lessons in tarot reading are offered here as well. But be polite, or you may get out to your car and find you've become a newt.
Baylor Medical Center
If you're having a medical emergency, the best facility isn't usually the one that shows up on U.S. News & World Report's hospital rankings year after year or the one that landed 14 consecutive Consumer Choice Awards. It's the closest. Fortunately for an East Dallas-dwelling friend who had a recent health crisis in which seconds counted, his nearest medical center was Baylor, which has won all of those honors along with many others. His experience with a top-notch medical team was just as positive as those of other friends and family members who've been patients there recently. And it doesn't hurt that the cafeteria food options are surprisingly good, including a Chik-fil-A stand instead of the dreaded McDonald's outpost. Baylor, while not always the closest, is the best choice when you have a choice.
Cliff Notes Prolonged Media
Just like the literature summaries that inspired the bookstore's name, Cliff Notes is small. Before its move a couple doors down from 1222 W. Davis St. to its just slightly bigger current space, you could reach the register from the opposite wall in a couple of steps. But Carlos and Opalina Salas' shop is all the better for its diminutive size, with a selection (used and new) that shows an inclination toward Beat writers such as Ginsburg, Kerouac and Burroughs but also includes music history books and biographies, cannabis growing guides, biographies of revolutionaries and other edgy literature. Further, if they don't have what you're looking for, they're happy to order it for you. There are also a couple crates of vinyl if you're interested in a new 180-gram reissue or a used Kraftwerk LP. A shelf full of art and literary zines is the only place in town to find works from some up-and-coming writers and poets. But perhaps its biggest contribution to the community is the programming, ranging from poetry readings to an author signing by Dirty South hip-hop chronicler Ben Westhoff to weekly children's enrichment activities. And yes, for the students undertaking a last-minute cram session, they also sell CliffsNotes study guides.
Centre
If you don't know about Centre, chances are you're old, hate rap music and have never been on a skateboard. Because everyone else in town knows well about this Mockingbird Station shop, the go-to retail spot for all things street wear and culturally up-to-date. Eye-catching graphic tees, hard-to-find sneakers, expressive ballcaps and even ceramic toys — Centre's got it all. Other things, too, like in-store appearances from musicians and artists rolling through town. Plus, it's just a cool spot to hang out in, a haven for those for which the "new" is too old and "new-new" can't come fast enough. The best part: Aside, even, from being Dallas' epicenter of all things cool, the people who work and shop here are proud of their Dallas roots. You need a shirt that says you proudly rep the D, but you're sick of wearing another sports team tee? Hit up Centre. They'll hook you up with a fresh look.
Good Records
For one of the worst industries you can be in, Good Records seems to be doing quite well. With vinyl back in fashion, the Lower Greenville Avenue record store is staying afloat; more than half of their sales are LPs. But their success is probably because they sell more than just records. Their impressive in-store performances from national touring acts and local bands with new records to hawk take place on the covered stage on the store's back wall, which is pretty much unmatched by any other music venue on all of Lower Greenville Avenue. The shows, coupled with a weekly rock-and-roll movie night, make Good Records one of the coolest places to hang out on Lower Greenville.
Traders Village
There's a certain odd comfort that comes from wandering around the expansive grounds of Trader's Village in South Grand Prairie. It's like a giant flea market mixed with the State Fair of Texas, and it happens every weekend of the year. Hundreds of vendors open up shop in small garage units, selling anything imaginable from furniture to comic books and music. The merchandise is mostly fake (don't look too closely at the diamonds on those gold necklaces), but the tattoos you'll likely see are all too real. The only thing better than the people-watching is the price of beer in the food tents: $2 for a Pacifico.
Avant Garden
If your idea of a great flower arrangement comes from 1-800-FLOWERS, you might be surprised by the sophisticated European-style offerings from Avant Garden. The Highland Park Village flower shop has been serving the surrounding affluent community for well more than a decade, but in 2010 it received a makeover thanks to new owner Todd Fiscus. While the shop's appearance changed, one thing that didn't was the style of the small, compact, hydrangea-heavy arrangements that the shop is known for, all of which come in artfully designed vases that you don't have to be filthy rich to appreciate.

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