Best place to (pseudo) rave

One

From 10 p.m. until 4 a.m. on weekends, DJs from across the world spin here, and the music jams. The clothing ranges from your average all-black club gear to poseurs wearing overly glossy print shirts to young chicks sucking pacifiers. While a true rave is in a warehouse or out in the desert somewhere and you only know about it by word of mouth, we'll stretch the definition a bit. One offers a consistently good scene, and if it's a true rave you're after, the folks here will hook you up. They do have a bathtub shaped like a heart, and, granted, there's no water, but use your imagination.

Best place to save the world during the spin cycle

Bar of Soap

Doing the laundry is a tedious bore, but why watch the dryer toss around the unmentionables when Pac-Man, pinball, air hockey, golf, and a variety of other quarter-snarfing games lurk just steps away? The bar in the front room is stocked with all the necessities--plenty of quarters, laundry detergent, and dryer sheets, a smorgasbord of booze, and beer both bottled and on-tap. Get the supplies, then save the world from alien invasions or hungry zombies. The towels can rinse and spin on their own without your watchful gaze. Once the world is safe from extraterrestrials or the undead, and Pac-Man's belly is full of pellets and cherries, saddle up to the bar and watch a live band or escape the laundry room humidity on the backyard patio. It beats guarding the washer from apartment complex neighbors coveting your mint-condition '70s KISS T-shirt.

You can have your Dave & Busters, your fine felt tops, your designer cues. Some of us like to play pool, not billiards, and you can only do that at a dive, a place where you might actually get your pink-boy butt whupped if you act a fool. We like a place that is committed to pool, not offering tables as part of its catch-all theme-park approach. A pitcher during happy hour, a few sticks, and a roomful of tables. That's the way we like it, and that's the way Cuckoo's serves it up.

From Memorial Day to Labor Day, we gather defenses, pool resources and try our damnedest to beat the heat. And, though we may win a few battles along the way, the heat always wins the war. You can't beat it, so why not--as the cliché goes--join it. Revel in it. Bake in it. And the best place to do it is Hurricane Harbor, which opens just as the heat kicks into gear and closes as it begins to peter out into fall. The water park offers respite in the form of dozens of slides for the novice and the cowardly to the experienced and the brave, along with a lazy river for floating, pools and a pirate's ship play area for the kids. Though the lines twist up and up for popular rides such as the Black Hole, most of the waiting area is shaded and, with a 500-foot drop into a pool, the payoff is worth the wait.

The large, renovated ballroom upstairs at Sons of Hermann Hall is the perfect venue for swing-dance nights, which it hosts every Wednesday. There's a refinished hardwood floor, smooth enough for twirling without friction but with enough traction that you can stay on your feet. There are tables and chairs for those who need to take a breather, and a bar for those who need some liquid incentive to strut their stuff. With the air conditioner cranked and music blaring from the sound booth or from the bandstand, it's easy to feel as if you've stepped back in time, since Sons was around decades before swing was popular the first time.

On the weekends you can't stir the bicycles with a stick. Mom and Dad are there with their trail bikes, and the kiddies, some still maneuvering with training wheels, tag right along. There's a maze of off-road cycling for all ages and all levels of expertise. The park's most popular trail is a collection of three single-track routes that wind through woods and a tall grass prairie with a nice, cooling view of Joe Pool Lake. If it has rained recently, you might want to call and check on trail conditions before loading up and heading out.

When it comes to putting on a show, the Gypsy Tea Room is the Big Kahuna. It has all of the intangibles: The bar is out of the way, yet close enough so you don't miss anything; the sound is usually perfect; and you can see the stage clearly from just about anywhere in the place, except maybe the bathroom. On top of all that, it's beautiful inside, like a brass-and-wood dancehall from way back. But we haven't even come to what Gypsy does best: music. No matter what kind of music you like, Gypsy does it, and does it better. Steve Earle (who performed at the club's grand opening), Built to Spill, Patti Smith, Macy Gray, Ween, Knife in the Water, Del tha Funkee Homosapien, Grandaddy, Luna, Macha, Bright Eyes, Sebadoh, The Jayhawks, 20 Miles, Monte Montgomery, Blackalicious, BR5--49, Wilco--they've all played there at some point. And all the best local groups make regular appearances as well, including Centro-matic, Earl Harvin Trio, Sub Oslo, Pleasant Grove, Mandarin, Stumptone, and The Old 97's, just to name a few. The New Year, the new band from Bedhead's Matt and Bubba Kadane, made its Dallas debut at Gypsy. In the few years it has been in business, Gypsy has only gotten better, and it doesn't appear this trend will end any time soon. As long as it's still in business, every other club in town is playing for second place. Believe that.

Little kids who like airplanes, trucks and other big stuff (which means all of them, natch) will truly be thrilled to spend an hour watching the jets come and go from this busy airport. The plaza overlooks main runways and provides a clear view of takeoffs and landings. Voices of air-traffic controllers and pilots can be heard over a speaker on the plaza. There is room to walk around on grass around the plaza, but parking is also plentiful from places where you can see the big beasts soar.

Best tragic place to invite more tragedy

Dealey Plaza

You see it all the time in Dealey Plaza: human squirrels tempting fate by standing on the white spray-painted X where John F. Kennedy was shot by anywhere from one to 30 gunmen. Never mind that you are standing in the middle of Elm Street, in a town whose citizens disregard all pretense of Texas courtesy while behind the wheel of a vehicle. How long before some tourist secures a place in history by getting smushed by a Ford pickup on the same spot where Kennedy met his violent fate? Maybe then there will be two white X's on the road.

Best Secret Fishing Hole Surrounded by High-end Real Estate

Beverly Drive overpass in Lakeside Park

A true hidden paradise for local anglers, this Turtle Creek estuary is home to 1- to 2-pound bass. On a recent summer day, a single fisherman was casting his line (a light-action pole with an open cast reel), relishing the solitude away from the city traffic just a few yards away. Besides the bass, there are also some nice-sized bluegills and carp around here, according to the University Park Wildlife Department. All are edible, say the park officials. Ready to be fried up on one of those $5,000 Viking stoves in the mansions nearby.

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