BEST PLACE TO ESCAPE THE CITY 2020 | Cedar Ridge Preserve | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer
Kathy Tran

Tucked in the far southwest corner of Dallas County is 300 acres of peaceful trails and a nature preserve that will take you away quicker than a tub full of Calgon. The parking lot can get crowded, but walk a hundred yards along any of the trailheads and you're quickly, sometimes eerily, alone. Make what you want of the outing: an easy walk to the pond or an intense hike. Or better yet, bring a hammock or towel to perch atop the limestone escarpment that overlooks the Blackland Prairie. Inhale the good air, exhale the bad air. Don't freak out about the snake signs unless that's something you're prone to do. Just stick to the trails. Signage is ample, making navigation simple.

The Star in Frisco is home to many a bougie nightlife destination, whether it be locations for Concrete Cowboy, Cane Rosso or even The Omni. Over at the intersection of Winning Drive and Gaylord Parkway lies a swanky bar, restaurant, arcade and bowling alley called Trophy Park. While outward appearances don't hint of any grandiosity, bowlers are immediately greeted by opulent and faux-rustic décor. Apropos to the name is its affinity for hanging taxidermy on the walls, but if marble eyes of dead animals aren't a deterrent for you, perhaps you'll find the back of the room cozy and conducive to some games of bowling or bocce ball.

A little-discussed fact about tennis is that it's one of the cheapest and most accessible sports out there. For about a $30 investment, you can buy a brand-new racket, a set of tennis balls and pass unlimited hours on a free, public tennis court. Dallas alone has hundreds. Among your best options are the courts at the Dallas College Eastfield Campus just across the Mesquite border. There are 10 new courts, and even on a rare, cool Saturday morning, they're almost always unoccupied. All the better for first-timers, who can have fun getting a feel for the game free of watching eyes.

Train like a rockstar, champion or just come as you are to this rapidly expanding gym, JOURNEYFIT Studio. Owned and operated by lawyer and former semipro volleyball and superstar football player Victoria Thomas, this fitness and sports performance studio takes group workouts, adds meal planning and sprinkles in accountability to help build your next-level lifestyle. It's not all about the fancy equipment, maxed-out reps or locker room selfies for this facility. It's about members' overall change. Take a "journey" to your new body either in-person (limited spots because of COVID-19) or online, as dedicated JOURNEYFIT staff ensure that you strengthen both your mental and physical capabilities. As the only black, female-owned gym owner in Richardson, and opening a location in the Design District this fall, Thomas is committed to seeing Dallas evolve beautifully and healthily from both the inside and out.

Good music and even greater vibes await at this cycling studio that helps you to "rock your ride." For those who have yet to board the Peloton train, CycleBar has many DFW locations still offering in-person sessions. Mixing spin, strength, endurance, challenges, hills and drills, this all-around, full-body workout is just the boost you need for life in Big D. Power up as the lights go down, beats turn up and your sweat begins to fall. If you've never experienced the CycleBar, get ready — it's about to be the ride of your life.

Whether you're a soccer enthusiast or you catch the fever every four years, this spacious complex is perfect for a game of futbol. MoneyGram is home to 19 soccer fields (or "pitches," as our brothers and sisters across the pond call them) and conveniently located next to a wide range of trails. There's plenty of lighting, too, meaning you and your friends can kick around a soccer ball long after the sun has gone down. This expansive facility has hosted some major competitions, so it's passed muster with the pros and soon-to-be pros.

Scheels' newest store in Grandscape Texas is impressive for reasons beyond its massive selection of sporting stuff. It's like some kind of consumer funhouse for people who like to do more than sit in one place and stare at an inanimate object for hours at a time. It has helpful staff and an impressive selection even by big-box store standards that runs from aerobics to youth sports. The staff who work the floor and manage the place own part of the company, so you're not dealing with surly teenagers who are just counting the minutes until closing time. The place has a Ferris wheel. Seriously, the place has a frickin' Ferris wheel along with an arcade with a 10-pin bowling alley and places for unique selfies, so the kids will have something to do.

The Trinity Forest Trail is one of the most beautiful we have in the entire city. It's fine for running, but it feels much safer on a bike. It's flat, much like the rest of Dallas, so don't plan on getting a huge quad workout, but do take a ride to experience the overwhelming beauty that is the Great Trinity Forest. There's no loop, but going back and forth allows you to take in different perspectives of the landscape. Enter at the small entrance near 4608 TX-12 Loop (west of the Audubon) to get as much mileage as possible, connecting to the AT&T Trail, which will show off Dallas' best boondoggles (the golf course and horse park).

Daniel Rockey

This is a wonderful spot because you can get lost for a while in its 121 acres, forgetting you're in Dallas as you wind up and down through both prairie and dense trees. You can spend hours on these trails, and they're actually worthy of putting on higher boots instead of regular sneakers.

Kathy Tran

Far North Dallas has a spacious dog park that's nearly worth the drive if you live in the city center. NorthBark has 22 acres for your pups to roam off leash among a lake, trails, a pavilion and showers. It's even the largest of its kind in North Texas.

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