White Rock Paddle Company offers several ways to get out on White Rock Lake without the expense and enormous bother of owning a canoe, kayak or paddle board (when looking at them to buy in the store, always ask yourself, "And I store this where?"). You can rent a single kayak for about 15 bucks an hour, canoes for about five bucks more an hour, paddle boards for 20 bucks an hour. After the first full hour, you can rent by the half hour. The people at White Rock Paddle Company also offer lessons for 40 bucks an hour, but an inexperienced paddler on a calm day can usually figure it out. If you're going to take to the lake when there's strong wind blowing or waves and you've never done it before, then, yeah, get a lesson. And don't go out on a super-hot day without a hat. You know what: Just don't go out when it's super hot.

Cedar Ridge Preserve

Formerly the Dallas Nature Center, the Cedar Ridge Preserve occupies 600 acres of relatively untrammeled hills in southwestern Dallas County blanketed by native wildflowers and, of course, cedar trees. It boasts an extensive network of hiking trails, which connect ambitious walkers to the Dogwood Canyon Aububon Center and Cedar Hill State Park, plus a two-story observation giving an expansive view of southwestern Dallas County. There's no better place in the city to commune with nature.

The Owners Box

It's not in a particularly great neighborhood — in fact it's actually pretty isolated — but for pure game-watching nirvana, there isn't a better sports bar in Dallas than the Omni Convention Center's The Owner's Box. A 16-foot screen for the biggest games of the day and private tables with isolated sound if you're a poor soul who just wants somewhere to watch your wretched alma mater lose by 50 in peace. It's worth dodging all the inevitable conventioneers for sure.

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.

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