Best Actual Sports Team 2014 | Dallas Stars | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

Bear with us here. Your Cowboys are at best average, the Rangers are apocalyptically bad and FC Dallas are no great shakes either. That leaves the Mavs and the Stars, and the Mavs are relying on a somewhat-past-his-prime Dirk. The Stars, however, have the two most promising young players in the NHL, a recently acquired superstar and the hunger and desire to go further than their first-round playoff exit last year. It's going to be a big year at the AAC for both teams that play there, but the Stars really could go all the way.

Free your mind, America. Cast off the shackles of American Sportsball and embrace the weird shit the rest of the world came up with while you were perfecting rounders and ruining rugby so there could be more commercial breaks. At any given time in Trinity Hall you can see sports like hurling (which is very different from curling, in that there's no ice or brooms, just furious Irishmen), Aussie rules football, rugby, cricket and that strangest of non-American enigmas, soccer. Soccer all the time. Soccer for breakfast, soccer for dinner, obscure games from countries you had no idea existed. All here, alongside a remarkably good food menu.

Yes. It's a real thing. Basically, it's golf, on a real golf course, but you replace the club with your foot and the ball with a soccer ball. Obviously the holes are much bigger, otherwise the whole thing would be a Sisyphean endeavor. The first course in Texas just opened up at Lake Park Golf Club in Lewisville, and it's really, really entertaining. Over nine full-size holes, you can boot the thing to your heart's content, even under floodlights to ensure you don't burn to death from daytime footgolf. Also, you can hire a golf cart. So, you know, it's basically golf without being crap.

It's the perfect summertime date trail, with a fantastic view of the lake in the evening. Isle du Bois has a fancy French name, which makes it feel just a little more exotic than other local trails. It is part of the Lake Ray Roberts State Park and runs along the side of the lake. People can and do jump in the lake when it gets too hot, but there are plenty of designated swimming areas and overnight camping grounds as well. There are tons of horseback riders along the trail, and park staff offers a nifty bird checklist. Canoeing, boating and fishing are also popular activities. This place has it all.

He may not be gray yet, but he's the old wolf of the Morning News' sports section. Labeled as the "lead sports columnist" since 1998, Cowlishaw's conversational writing style invites readers in. They know that in several hundred words they will get a reasoned and interesting take on the day's sports news. And it won't just be about one city, and it won't just be about one sport. Recently, he's tackled Derek Jeter's retirement and Ray Rice's punishment. A local boy, Cowlishaw is a national voice. He's a regular talking head on ESPN's Around the Horn, and he co-hosts KESN-FM 103.3 ESPN Radio's The Afternoon Show. But he excels the most on the page.

Sure, many might object to this choice. That one station, the one that just turned 20, inspires such rabid passion among its followers that it's hard to fathom that sports fans might tune their radios to anything other than that other station — you know, the one that's won this category here forever. This year, we thought we'd offer some praise to the other guys. Being an ESPN fan is almost like being a Texans fan in a Cowboys city, but for listeners who want mostly unadulterated sports talk without the frills, 103.3 is their destination. We're sure there are people like that out there, and for them ESPN is just the ticket.

Just for a few blissful seconds, let your mind wander back to the 2010-2011 Mavericks season. Remember the blue "The Time Is Now" shirts. Remember getting back at the Miami Heat (particularly Dwyane Wade) for 2006. Most important, remember Tyson Chandler, the other 7-footer of Dallas' dreams. For one amazing year, he provided the best complement to Dirk — a defensive-minded, wears-his-passion-on-his-shooting-sleeve center. He helped bring the city a championship. Then, he left for the bright lights and big money of New York. Without him, the Mavs couldn't get out of the playoffs' first round. But now, the big man is back. Hopefully for longer than his first stay. Is another championship in the making, especially with the addition of former Houston Rocket and young-up-and-comer Chandler Parsons? Let your mind wander for just a few blissful seconds.

The Katy Trail, a 3.5-mile paved path that stretches from Uptown to Highland Park, has a lot to offer — dense trees and foliage that keep summer temperatures to a modest 105 degrees, a wide track for walking your dog or walking slowly abreast with three friends. (Gotta remind those runners and cyclists to slow down and smell the roses.) A slow pace is also good for one of the best Katy Trail bonuses — window shopping for a town home or apartment, or maybe just picking up a few decorating tips by peering into the windows of the homes that line the trail. Besides, why would anyone want to fly by the crowd that assembles on the route around 6 p.m. after a long day at work? Intimidatingly good-looking urban professionals pump their toned legs, do sit-ups and push-ups on the trail side and bop their heads to the music in their earphones, totally at one with a bit of nature in the heart of the city, and completely deaf to the calls of "on your left" by cyclists, runners or anyone with a heart rate above 85 bpm.

We may be hippie pinko lefties here at the Dallas Observer, but we're Texas hippie pinko lefties, which means many of us are comfortable with guns. (Except the British guy, of course.) That means that when we look for a gun range, we want someplace that makes us feel welcome, which basically means no Tea Party slogans on the walls, no pictures of Sarah Palin, posters of triumphant eagles are not necessary and target outlines that in any way resemble President Obama are right out. The ever-popular DFW Gun Range, back after being damaged in an accidental fire a couple of years ago, is nearly perfect. The staff is friendly and helpful without a hint of condescension to new shooters. The lanes are well-ventilated and clean and the retail shop offers a full range of rental guns and gear, plus training and concealed carry classes at reasonable rates. Best part yet, it's not in the far-flung suburbs but on Mockingbird near Love Field. If it had a salad bar and served green tea, it'd be perfect. Anyone know how to fit a rifle rack on a bicycle?

OK, so at its namesake time of day, it might be more appropriate to say Sunset Bay is the "best place to be one with wildlife and 20-plus other people," but at any other time one can pretty much kick back with ducks, geese and any number of other waterfowl. Accessible off the trail by riding, walking or driving up, Sunset Bay offers what might be the best view of the sunset (duh), a shaded place to relax mid-workout and inspired conversation with strangers — who may be educated bird watchers, web-footed, pro photographers, feathered or wildlife rescuers (sadly, while it's a natural habitat, Sunset Bay is also a place where people dump ducks and geese they don't feel like caring for anymore). According to signs, humans aren't supposed to feed the birds, but that's never stopped anyone before, so if generosity strikes, take greens and peas and spare friendly waterfowl that scary white bread.

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