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50 Reasons We're Thankful to Live in Dallas

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Thanksgiving is almost here, Dallas. What are you thankful for?

1. Despite years of dedicated efforts by the city, we've yet to screw up the Trinity River so badly that it can't eventually become something really cool.

2. Craft coffee, urban farming, urban parks, cycling -- it's like living in Portland in the '90s without having to time-travel.

3. So far, the good Baptists among us have helped beat back semi-annual efforts to place a casino downtown. There's never yet been built a casino that doesn't shout sadness and tackiness.

4. Corruption at our City Hall is pretty easy to expose and generally involves fairly small amounts of theft, so it's more entertaining than chilling.

5. You seldom have to wait much more than 40 minutes for a seat at a good restaurant on a weekend. Too bad about all the damn valets, though.

6. Klyde Warren Park at 10 p.m. on a Friday welcomes all comers, whether they're wearing $6,000 suits or $6 sweatpants. And there's pingpong.

7. The Dallas Arboretum on a fine spring day when the tulips are blooming and dozens of smiling brides are in their gowns getting photographs -- that's a happy, hopeful place.

8. We come down like hell's fury on animal abusers, and the region has several no-kill shelters and rescue groups for dogs, cats, even rabbits.

9. White Rock Lake is Dallas' Central Park, a 2-square-mile lake that is unlike any other urban park because it has been so wonderfully cared for -- dredged, maintained and watched over -- while also being neglected just the right amount, with cool little niches to explore that have never been civilized. Half city park, half hillbilly outback, White Rock is the perfect mirror to a city's soul.

10. A new exciting thing is opening in Deep Ellum every three minutes.

11. Our two coolest rock stars (still a sausage fest of a field) are both women: St. Vincent's Annie Clark and Sarah Jaffe.

12. We continue to be a major stopover for coast-to-coast touring bands as well as a spillover city for Austin festivals, so we get all the best music with far less of the crowds.

13. Our malls have better art than some cities' museums.

14. Half Price Books

15. We possess an equal number of fancy places/people and divey places/laid-back people.

16. We have a honky-tonk gay bar. Where Lady Gaga goes for fun.

17. Halloween on Swiss Avenue is a crazy thronging cultural mash-up, the American holiday meets Día de los Muertos, with thousands of costumed treat-seekers door-to-door along a broad avenue of elaborately decorated early 20th century mansions. There are wandering buskers and push-cart vendors in the streets, all of it jolly and sweet-tempered, a reminder that you're in two cultures at once and it's working.

18. For a place with no mountains, the mountain bike trails are pretty awesome.

19. We have a lesbian Latina sheriff, a black exonerating district attorney and a healthy Democratic Party. If you squint, you could almost believe we're not in the same state as Ted Cruz.

20. You can afford to buy a house (maybe) (OK, probably not) (maybe your parents could help with the down payment?).

21. An insane and growing number of awesome patios, rooftop and otherwise.

22. The Double Wide. For last-stop YooHoo Yeehaws, really funny themed karaoke nights, and interesting bands I've never heard of but that almost always end up being great.

23. Fancy-ass hotels (and fancy-ass hotel bars).

24. If not for us, the Miami Heat would already have a threepeat.

25. Two airports.

The next 25 reasons are on the next page.

26. There's a smell here that's sort of woodsy-sweet. We can't really explain it.

27. Businesses inside old southern cottages, like Crooked Tree Coffee House. Even the annoying construction project hasn't ruined that cozy place.

28. Yellow Cab aside, it's pretty easy for a drunk to get around at night: Trolley, Lyft, Uber, a golf-cart ride service called E-frog, and a cab company called Henry's Cab, where Henry will literally be the guy who picks up the phone and gives you a ride.

29. Downtown's weird underground tunnels. There's totally a TCBY down there, which would be -- hands down -- the weirdest date in Dallas. Also, it would have to end by 5 p.m.

30. Teddy Bear, the talking porcupine.

31. Hey! We have bike lanes now!

32. Exall Park on Live Oak Street, a small inner-city park that isn't particularly trendy or well-known but is a lot more relaxing to visit, and it's easier to find parking there than at other parks.

33. We have more craft breweries than we can keep up with in the area, and even dive bars and chain restaurants that only served Bud, Miller and Coors just a few years ago now offer local beers.

34. While many cities have resurrected art houses, but the Texas Theatre has real history, and that's celebrated daily by the filmmaker preservationists running the place. Their passion is so infectious that we get films that don't show anywhere else in the state.

35. We have a fun and supportive food scene in which some of the most respected chefs in the country will get together and compete in something called Meat Fight, put on by the city's crassest smartass, and raise $50,000 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

36. Because of its status as a national convention destination, the buckle of the Bible Belt and a crucial transportation hub, it has a wonderful selection of strip clubs.

37. Our museum is free.

38. The leader of our pro basketball team is a gangly German who won't hesitate to squeak and keen and generally embarrass himself in the service of viral marketing videos.

39. And his boss is a big-mouthed champion of innovation and St. Patrick's Day drunkenness.

40. We're practically a seat of power for the Baptist Church, yet we're also home to one of the most exuberant, gyrating displays of LGBT pride you'll find in the South.

41. Once a year, the city sanctions the exorcism of Dallas' pent-up id by not arresting us as we drink ourselves blind to honor the Irish.

42. The weather. While a few of the months at the peak of summer can be intolerable, the rest of the year is mostly stunning when it's not awful.

43. For next to nothing you can get a warm cup of elotes on nearly any corner in town. Corn, crema, a little cotija, a lot of lime and as much hot sauce as you can handle -- it's heaven.

44. One of the country's best-sounding classical music spaces, and one of its best conductors.

45. The Great Trinity Forest, 6,000 acres of real forest entirely within the confines of the city, not a park put together to look like a forest like Central Park but a real live forest where you can explore, get truly lost and find all kinds of scary stuff, some of it on two legs.

46. Our theater companies will occupy crack houses, back alleys, parks and apartments to get their work out there. And what's even cooler still is that Dallas is going into those places to watch it. Those pearl-clutching days are over.

47. When someone says "We should get together," there's a very good chance you'll soon be standing in their kitchen.

48. We invented the frozen margarita in 1971, which means we have to keep drinking it. For history's sake.

49. At least five central movie theaters show great stuff and don't require going to the mall -- and a really nice mall when you're left with no choice.

50. We're not in Houston.

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Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.


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