Best Historical Landmark (That You've Probably Never Heard Of) 2018 | California Crossing Park | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

Best Historical Landmark (That You've Probably Never Heard Of)

California Crossing Park

In the 1800s, settlers voyaged cross-country on wagon trains carrying freight and other goods. A historical site is marked in Irving for a large caravan hailing from the Pennsylvania area that crossed the Trinity River as the group neared the end of what would ultimately be an almost 3,000-mile trek. Get a feel for their journey on a visit to California Crossing Park in Valley Ranch, a beautiful 34.5-acre park dotted with streams and walking trails. You may just forget you're in Irving when history comes to life at California Crossing.

It's no secret that Dallas is not a world-class city when it comes to treatment of animals: Strays and packed-full animal shelters have been a constant battle for years. Flower Mound-based nonprofit Humane Tomorrow is on the forefront of that battle. Not only do they work to find homes for animals in their own Dallas suburb, but they also operate an innovative educational outreach program that visits Dallas schools. That's where Sweetie the Incredible, a 12-year-old pit mix, and her five-year-old pit mix BFF Poindexter, come in. These multitalented canines empower and motivate pre-K to second-graders to make a difference in the lives of animals — and humans — through compassion and action. The "ambassadogs" were both rescued from tough circumstances and provide a great example of how a little bit of compassion goes a long way. Poindexter is often spotted in retro sunglasses and gives plenty of hugs, while Sweetie's resilience makes her a gifted storyteller. Kids that visit with these two get a dose of character education that encourages them to make life better for all creatures great and small.

For the ultimate dog's day out: a restaurant-dog park with a huge outdoor patio, a beer garden and cheap draft beers. Bring your best friend to hang out on the dog-friendly patio or in the private dog park (fees apply). There's a full menu for humans and dogs, and the cantina hosts special events all the time, such as movie screenings, Bumble meet-ups and succulent workshops. Even if you don't have a dog, Mutts is a guaranteed good time. The people-watching is superb, and the beer and wine garden is always full.

A proverbial playground for adults, The Backyard in Deep Ellum is the perfect spot for whiling away a Sunday afternoon. Play beer pong, shuffleboard, giant Jenga or cornhole — there's no shortage of games and activities. There are jumbo screens throughout the outdoor space, making it the ideal location for game day. And it's dog-friendly. Standard bar fare is available, but weekend brunch is where it's at. Look for a Bloody Mary bar, champagne cocktails and hangover food galore.

Art as far as the eye can see, luxe furnishings and libations to satisfy the most discriminating of palates — oh how we love The Joule. Despite its many merits, the hotel's crowning jewel — pun intended — resides in its basement. Follow the neon sign beckoning you downstairs to enter Midnight Rambler, a stylish subterranean space with a rock 'n' roll vibe reflecting the Rolling Stones' song the space is named for. With brass bar tops, walnut ceilings and terrazzo checkerboard flooring, the space is undeniably chic. But its creative craft cocktails prepared with house-made infusions are the real stars of the show.

The Porch

Not to state the obvious, but it is called The Porch. So it comes as no surprise that this upscale Knox-Henderson gastropub's patio is at least as worthy of attention as its food. They offer elevated comfort food and out-there cocktails like the Blackberry Basil Lemonade and Pecan Old-Fashioned. The salmon burger has yet to disappoint, and at $5 a pop you can brunch-drink Bloody Mary after Bloody Mary Saturdays and Sundays to your heart's content. The true jewel on The Porch's crown is its patio, where you can people-watch the action on Henderson Avenue until you're too stuffed and tipsy to see.

Readers' Choice:Ozona Grill & Bar4615 Greenville Ave., 214-265-9105

If low-key and unassuming are what you're after, watch the game, or pretend to care about the game, at this unpretentious downtown spot. There are TVs blanketing every corner (16 to be exact, including one that's 112 inches), so you'll catch every touchdown even if you actively avoid it. Menu highlights include the Shiner Bock brisket sandwich and jalapeño pork chops. Beer aficionados rejoice, because Press Box offers 36 beers on draft, 24 of which are from Texas breweries. Don't let its diminutive size fool you: This place gets rowdy. Consider yourself warned.

Owned by the same company as Station 4, JR's Bar and Grill and Roundup Saloon, TMC is one of the only clubs on the Cedar Springs strip that actually feels like Dallas. From the music played, the bartenders and go-go dancers, the people you'll find represent folks from all walks of Dallas life. It's not all that spacious inside, giving it a divey feel. The staff are in touch with people who vibe to more than EDM and Top 40 music. It's the type of bar where you can start your night, or the place where you can finish it. That is to say, the bar is versatile.

Ever thought about going back to school? This is the way to do it. Offering "an education in the art of food and beer," Los Angeles-based Public School takes kitsch to a whole new level. The gastropub serves up Southern favorites alongside spirits and craft beer. From decor evoking grade-school nostalgia — typewriters as wall art, menus masquerading as notebooks, et al — to adult "recess" (aka happy hour), every detail speaks to the scholastic theme. Look for craft brews, including a rotating list of regional favorites, and A+ deals on brunch.

Who knew a DART Train day pass could lead to some of the best people-watching ever? Each stop, no matter how seemingly jejune, is never short of top-notch fascinations, whether it's the opportunity to smell the breakfast of a woman with the smallest feet you've ever seen on an adult or feel the tweed fibers of a well-dressed academic type on your arm as you're squeezed uncomfortably together during rush hour. You'll get a small sample of what it's like to walk in someone else's shoes, if only for a stop or two.

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