Best Of :: Sports & Recreation
The old-school batting cages at Ellen's in Cedar Hill feature pitch speeds from 45 mph to 85 mph, in addition to both fast- and slow-pitched soft balls. They're cheap as far as batting cages go at $1.50 for 20 pitches and have a comforting, no-frills, low-pressure vibe. You don't feel like you're wasting anybody's time by hacking at slow-pitched meatballs for an hour or two. After taking out your frustrations, be sure to enjoy the complex's miniature golf course, one of the best in DFW.
Readers' Pick Topgolf
Add some country club vibes to a gym and you get Life Time. When you walk in, you're greeted immediately by a welcoming smile at the front desk, and it's followed up by a couple more on the way to the luxury locker rooms. The club has plenty of machines, so you're never awkwardly waiting for something to open up. It also offers several classes: HIIT, TCX, yoga, dance, cycling and more. On top of all of that, it has indoor and outdoor pools, basketball courts, a sauna and a steam room. A solid balance of members — gym rats, olds and dad bods — frequents the gym, so you'll never feel out of place. After your workout, stop by the Life Cafe for a delicious (but healthy) chipotle chicken quesadilla and a strawberry sunrise smoothie.
Readers' Pick Life Time Fitness
What is more spiritual than 90 minutes on a bike listening to your favorite pop or hip-hop music? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. And SoulCycle Uptown is proof of that. Whether it's a Beyoncé themed day or a Taylor Swift versus Katy Perry hype session to get your legs going on the stationary bike, there's no better place in town for the rejuvenating and toxin-cleansing workout that is SoulCycle Uptown. It almost feels like an out-of-body experience when the lights are dimmed and you cycle your ass off. It's like a less-sexy Ariana Grande music video, but somehow we are into it. And we keep going back for more.
Readers' Pick SoulCycle
If there's ever a workout almost everyone thinks he or she can do, it's yoga. But of course, we all know that once you actually get inside a yoga studio, it's apparent that it's not for the weak-minded or weak-boned. Yoga is for the mentally strong who thrive in a quiet room surrounded by quietly likeminded people. At Uptown Yoga, everyone is welcome, with students ranging from young adults to those in their 60s. If you're ready to cleanse your soul and mind and be renewed with one workout, head to Uptown Yoga.
Readers' Pick SunstoneFIT
There are definitely worse ways to spend a fall afternoon than finishing the Rangers' annual 5K. For the entry fee, runners get the usual stuff, including a T-shirt and post-race food and drinks, but they also get the chance to finish on Globe Life Park's warning track and a ticket and parking pass to that night's Rangers game. Proceeds from race benefit the Rangers Foundation, which contributes to youth baseball, education and crisis prevention throughout North Texas.
Readers' Pick Katy Trail 5K
In an era when some Dallas bowling haunts have become more club than alley, with wait times and prices to match, USA Bowl in Northwest Dallas sticks out for its simplicity. More than four dozen lanes, a decent pro shop and fair-to-horrible bowling alley food make for a decent way to spend a Saturday afternoon or a Tuesday morning, depending on your schedule. If you aren't worn out from all that rolling, USA Bowl boasts some stellar neighbors to visit after bowling as well — the Spearmint Rhino is right across the street.
Readers' Pick Bowlounge
At the risk of raising howls of outrage from Dallas' bike community, we're just gonna say it: There's a lot of snobbery and cliqueishness in the bike world. "Oh, you have derailleurs? My fixed-gear just seems more kind of the back-to-basics real thing." "Ah, still riding aluminum, eh? Well, maybe when you get serious, you can make the jump to carbon frame." "Carbon? I find it just doesn't have the same feel as my custom-made titanium beauty, hand welded by an artisan in Boulder." It's driven by gear lust, and it's why we once heard high-end bikes described as "a poor man's Porsche." No place in Dallas satiates gear lust better than Richardson Bike Mart, the perennial readers' favorite for best Dallas bike shop. The main shop on Campbell Road isn't the cheapest shop in town. It doesn't offer the personalized service of some of the smaller local joints. It's just so damn big. It has everything, from entry-level commuter bikes to recumbents to e-bikes on up to a $12,000 Trek Domane roadster with electric shifters. (Pedals sold separately. No kidding.) Neon spandex, ultralight and cool helmets, shoes that would make Manolo Blahnik envious — it's all there. Don't worry. You can get out of Richardson Bike Mart with a decent set of wheels and money in your pocket. But if you fall in love with the sport, you'll be back for more. So much more.
Readers' Pick: Richardson Bike Mart
The Dallas Morning News has exactly one sports columnist worth reading any time his byline crosses your Twitter feed. Bob Sturm, who also does great work for The Ticket, the Dallas Stars studio show and FC Dallas' local broadcasts, breaks down the Cowboys offense and defense in two columns each week during the season, in addition to providing commentary on prospects in the runup to the NFL draft. His writing is insightful, nerdy and still easy to read, perfect for anyone who wants to dive deeper into the Cowboys' performance every week. Even when he's wrong, and he rarely is, Sturm is perceptive. After panning Dak Prescott before the 2016 draft, Sturm had the good humor to eat some crow and try to figure out what he and the rest of the media missed about the new Cowboys star.
Readers' Pick Dale Hanson, WFAA
Our apologies to the Dallas Off Road Bicycle Association (dorba.org) and the fine work it does maintaining a large number of off-road trails in the area, but we're skinny-tire guys here. In fact, some of our staff members occasionally bike-commute to work, though to be honest, a good, solid mountain bike is needed to ride many of Dallas' poorly maintained streets. For our money (new rims cost a bundle), give us the good ol' White Rock Trail — not the part around the lake, necessarily, but the portion that runs from the north of the lake to Valley View Park north of LBJ Freeway. Its 9.3 miles aren't packed with pedestrians and strollers like Katy Trail, and it takes riders through native forest, past shopping plazas and under freeways, giving cyclists the full panorama of city living. That includes the grittier side — we've seen homeless guys bathing in the creek and one shaven-headed, shirtless soul lugging a 6-foot-tall cross on a freeway bridge embankment. Best yet, if you really want to put some miles on, you can connect to the Santa Fe Trail to downtown, or with a little backstreet maneuvering past Valley View Park or from the connecting Cottonwood Trail (watch out for homeless people's shopping carts), riders can reach Plano's extensive trail system, making it possible to ride from downtown to Frisco without fear of catching an SUV in the back.
Readers' Pick White Rock Lake
In the natural bottomlands and prairies along the Trinity River in Arlington are 8 miles of paved hike and bike trails. The more than 1,000-acre park, much of which is shaded, is open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., and its wooded areas are natural habitats to hundreds of species of wildlife, including bobcats, armadillos, raccoons, wild boars, snakes and turtles, which can often be spotted along the trail routes. Although not 100 percent complete, River Legacy Trails are part of the vision to link Dallas and Fort Worth via trail, says Michael Debrecht, park operations manager. "We are in the planning stages to extend our eastern portion to [State Highway] 360, where [Fort Worth] and Grand Prairie can then join and extend within their jurisdictions," he says.
Readers' Pick Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve
Early in its first-season run, The Doomsday Podcast got a bit of a shock when ESPN laid off co-host and longtime NFL reporter Ed Werder. What started out as an interesting but straightforward weekly look into the Cowboys added an intriguing layer of pathos as Werder's career was in limbo. For the first time in years, he isn't on ESPN, but he can't work anywhere else because the network continues to pay his contracted salary. He's only allowed to keep doing the podcast, he says, because he got the go-ahead before being laid off. Stir in the fantastic guests Werder and fellow host Matt Mosley have booked, including Dak Prescott, Jaylon Smith and Wade Phillips, and Doomsday has become an appointment download for fans of the Cowboys and pro football in general.
Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott scored a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, Dec. 18. After his two-yard run, Elliott ran through the back of the end zone and headed for the oversized Salvation Army kettle that the team displays during the holiday season. He hopped in, drawing a 15-yard penalty thanks to NFL's humorless anticelebration policy. The Cowboys came out unscathed, however, eventually winning the game 26-20. The real winner, however, was the Salvation Army. In the two days following Elliott's leap, the charity raised more than $800,000.