Best Sporting Venue 2021 | Riders Field | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

DFW can lay claim to having its share of unique sports venues. There's the American Airlines Center in downtown, the historic Cotton Bowl and, of course, the glitz and glamour of AT&T Stadium. While we would love to give the nod to Globe Life Field, the Rangers' new palace of air conditioning, we're still sorting out our feelings about the move from The Temple. Instead, in terms of a fun night at the ballpark, we're drawn to the intimacy of Riders Field, home of the Rangers' Double-A affiliate in Frisco. Since 2003 it's offered a mix of minor league charm and big-league conveniences. With a cheaper ticket and a team sitting atop its division, Riders Field can give you that needed Field of Dreams vibe. Except for, you know, there's an Ikea next door instead of corn.

Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Biking is a much smarter individual transportation solution than those city scooters that turned out to be a fiasco, plus it's great exercise, which we all need after a year of doing little to nothing. But in a traffic-heavy city such as Dallas, you want to know what to expect before you take off on a bicycle to the great unknown. The Santa Fe Trails are paved, smooth and bike friendly, and run from White Rock Lake to Deep Ellum — so you can start your day with a scenic route and end it with a beer and live show.

There's simply no cooler bowling alley than Bowlski's. The newly renovated Lakewood landmark is worth visiting even if you don't plan to bowl at all. The former movie theater now has Instagram op-worthy art, 10 lanes and a candy shop. Sometimes they book bands that perform behind the bowling machines — yes, you can hear them through all the noise. Entertainment director Moody Fuqua (formerly from Club Dada and RBC) also keeps the venue's adjacent bar, The Arcade Bar, booked with live music and dance nights, turning the place into a small entertainment Mecca.

Yeah, we know, the idea of a staycation is less appealing when you've been staying put for a year and a half, but at least you can make a point to get out of your damn house and spend most of your time outdoors. The Arlington hotel has an infinity pool that'll make you feel like swimming for infinity. The modern, upscale bed and breakfast is not your grandma's inn; the sleek, modern building is a design marvel, which is reason enough to rent a room and check out Arlington's entertainment district. The hotel's pool, however, is the indisputable star, with stunning views, a cabana and pool bar.

As much as we love to get a drink at a pool bar, swim-up or otherwise, there is a time and place for a family swim at a public pool with $3 admission and a good old-fashioned concession stand slinging nothing harder than sugary soft drinks. Unlike so many other options, the toddler pool is more than a shallow pool the size of a billiards table and the temperature of urine — it's spacious, cool and even has a slide and water-spraying playground. And for adults and big kids, there are two bigger (not Hurricane Harbor big, but c'mon, it's only $3) water slides, a lap pool, diving board, water basketball and a climbing wall where you can find out just how strong your fingers are right before splashing into the deep end. Plenty of shade and lounge chairs and spacious changing areas make it even more relaxing.

Flagpole Hill has seen a lot of sunsets since it was established in 1929. The 107-acre park is an outdoors paradise with trails, an inclusive playground (meaning it's equipped to accommodate wheelchairs, for example) and a large pavilion with picnic tables and grills. But most impressive is the park's view of White Rock Lake. Pro tip: if you climb up the stone steps to the platform that holds the flagpole area, you'll catch a view of the sunset between the trees that'll remind you of everything you love about living on your home planet.

Kathy Tran

As long as the weather allows, Cedar Ridge Preserve opens its gates Tuesday through Sunday from 6:30 a.m. until sundown. You can walk, jog or sprint your way up and down the winding trails carving their way across this slice of nature. Less than a half hour from downtown Dallas, and with nine miles of trails, Cedar Ridge unravels across some 600 acres. Some of the trails are more challenging than others, but Cedar Ridge has options for both beginning runners and experienced trail trekkers. Better still, the views aren't too shabby; you can spot all sorts of wild mammals, birds and reptilian friends native to North Texas as you sweat out your stress.

Patrick Strickland

Just a hair north of the Dallas border with Richardson, Wizards is a popular watering hole that as of late has something even more interesting to offer than beers and hard booze. Whether it's your run-of-the-mill karaoke night, playing Texas Hold 'Em for cash money or watching tiny people ravage one another in the micro wrestling ring, Wizards offers an interesting variety of entertainment. In August, the Richardson establishment hosted the Micro Wrestling Federation for a night of brawling before drunken patrons. But if you're looking for something more, well, low key, pop in and play pool on a mellower night.

The name is a bit misleading, as Cousins Paintball Dallas is actually located in Forney, but it's only about 20 minutes east of downtown Dallas. Dallas or not, Cousins is the place to go if you and your pals are looking for somewhere to hammer the heck out of each other with little, painful, paint-filled balls. The property stretches across 300 acres of what Cousins describes as "awesome terrain," chock full of good hiding spots from which to ambush your buddy and light him up. Cousins offers open play Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., but you can also book private sessions any day of the week.

Larry D. Moore, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Some 20 minutes from downtown Dallas and 10 miles southwest of the city, Cedar Hill State Park unfurls across more than 1,800 acres of nature. Cedar Hill's been open since 1991, and it's a popular camping destination for those Dallas residents who don't want to venture too far from home. With campsites dotting the park, you can go for a dip in the lake, fish for crappie or catfish, or explore the DORBA trail by foot or on off-road bicycle. Luckier still, the park's restrooms are equipped with hot showers, and if you're rolling down there in an RV, there are plenty of spots to hook up to the electricity or sewerage.

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