Best Kids Pop-Up 2023 | PRISMATIC at SPARK! | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

Kids are active, vibrant, imagination machines who run around trying to live out their most fantastical dreams, even if that means just pretending that they have an imaginary friend or believing they can fly. Don't believe us? Sit a young person down, give them a pad and a piece of paper and tell them to draw whatever they want. So what happens when you give a bunch of imaginative teenagers a whole room to use as their canvas? The creative learning center SPARK! did exactly that for a pop-up exhibition called Prismatic, and the results were fantastic. A group of four high school students was tasked with designing one of six rooms in which they would immerse their guests, using only a single color as their theme. They produced rooms that could draw emotions from pure happiness in the bright and cheery "Sunjoy" room to sheer dread in the "CitySlime" room. One group created a monstrous, friendly creature decorated in furry orange and another used its red room to make guests feel invaded by prying eyes poking out of pixelated walls. SPARK! took a chance on them in a way that paid off big.

Kathy Tran

The word "clubbing" has gotten a bad rap. Maybe because it evokes soulless, machine-made, repetitive beats fit for a torture chamber, or maybe it's the memory of velvet-roped-off snobbery and overpriced and disappointing nights. But clubs can also be catalysts for counterculture. Think Studio 54, Lizard Lounge, Starck Club. Double D's is not quite like any of those, but it was truly needed in Dallas. The name and slogan ("This is not a tittie bar") should tip you off. The Design District bar doesn't take itself so seriously; it's glamorous but unpretentious, the crowd is ageless, the service friendly and the cocktails exciting. This is the place to tell your intrusive, self-aware thoughts to shut up and dance.

Social media serves many functions, and influencers' jobs largely consist of being better than you in every way. Connor Hubbard, known online as @Hubs.Life, wants to normalize ... normalcy. The Dallas native films himself doing the most mundane 9–5 yuppie crap ever: getting dressed, making a smoothie, going to work. It's like the start of a great film, except nothing eventful will disrupt the flat plot line, and there's a real beauty to finding value in our comfortable monotony and coming to love the expected.

There are Latin clubs where you can dance salsa, and then there's Club Vivo, a dark, warehouse-ish, large box that's more of a meeting spot for South Americans. Whether it's a World Cup game or a Los Auténticos Decadentes concert, Vivo provides a safe space to let your flags fly. You can count on finding empanadas for sale on Argentine cumbia night — when you can bust out soccer chants like you have Messi-specific Tourette's. The drinks are overpriced like they're denominated in pesos, not dollars, but the club upstairs knows the real Latin songs we want to hear, so we're drunk enough on nostalgia.


Great artistic experiences walk a fine line between avant-garde and laughably artsy. Ochre House has always been on point. Its theater productions are original, boundlessly creative, well-produced small wonders that leave audiences as pensive as they are delighted for a good few months after a show. Founder Matthew Posey is a courageous art conspirator who's long enriched the cultural scene through Ochre House's oddball characters, strikingly original plays and locally grown music and theatrical talent. The Exposition Avenue theater is a nook of uncompromising art in a vast landscape of commercialized entertainment. That alone is worth the ticket, but there's also a "donate what you can" night.

Nonprofit Dallas Summer Musicals has brought the best of New York's marquees to Dallas since 1941, so it only made sense that a year ago the company changed its name to Broadway Dallas. With recent productions such as Moulin Rouge and Pretty Woman, the organization brings the lights, action and super-nasal singing of musical theater to places such as the Winspear Opera House and Fair Park. Give your regards to Broadway right at home.

It seems that every influencer is in cahoots with the airline industry to get you flying like a bat outta hell anywhere away from your couch. But we really just want to know what's nearby, so we can have some attainable goals for realistic day trips we're actually going to take. Not that a treehouse hotel in Bali doesn't sound nice; we just know ourselves. That's why blogger My Curly Adventures is such a spirit guide. She knows the best stays, pools, events and natural beauty spots near and far from North Texas. If you're looking for the nearest turquoise-water oasis or the "weirdest" things to do, she has the map to these Texas treasures.

Downtown McKinney is absolutely charming. Among its cookie shops, record shop and vintage shops is a big comic book store with a wide-open space large enough to fit your enthusiasm for all things nerdville. The shop has a well-stocked selection of board games, anime books, posters and comics to entertain every type of cool geek out there. Our favorite thing, though, is the long mezzanine overlooking the store, which offers seating so you can get lost in your fantasy of choice.

Noah Ferche

Here's one fantasy we don't share with one another enough: the game shows on which we'd love to participate. Not everyone needs to be Jeopardy smart. Some of those clues are unnecessarily convoluted, and those who can guess when the price is right just might be far more financially intelligent. Whatever your personal skills, show them off with a group at Game Show Battle Rooms. Yes, this is something Michael Scott would totally force on his Dunder-Mifflin staff as a (cringe) team-building exercise, but we only wish we could spend the workday this way. Or, bring your relatives and get ahead of the Thanksgiving fights by starting the family feud early.

Courtesy of Dallas Opera

Opera can sometimes seem like an excuse for rich people to dress up and take a really fancy nap. And while the most moving of arias and fanciful costumes are worth the splurge, there's a whole lot of "what's happening" in between the breathtaking moments if you don't speak Italian. Or German. Or is it Elvish? Wagner's Das Rheingold, performed by the Dallas Opera in February, is part of the composer's four-opera Ring Cycle series. The Dallas Opera delivered the "visual magic" it aimed for with an inarguably spectacular production.

Best Of Dallas®

Best Of