Choose your own adventure just beyond Oak Cliff

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You are the star of these super-awesome summer daycations

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It’s summer and it seems all your friends and acquaintances are enjoying lavish vacations. You can’t click on your favorite social media site without images of their surfing and seaside lounging slapping you in the eyes. You wonder: “Am I the only person with a job and a budget in this world?” For starters, you are not alone. Furthermore, you don’t have to travel far for relaxation, entertainment and excitement.

For the landlocked Oak Cliff dweller, follow our story for four tailored-to-your-taste itineraries, each only 10-20 minutes from home.

EAST

White Rock Lake and glamorous Garland Road we know all about. If you’re bothering to leave Oak Cliff, let’s find something a little more off-beat to do. Here are a few paths to take for finding something unexpected east of our neighborhood.

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ONE

Head over to Beckley Avenue for a burger at Wingfield’s. Do not be tempted to order a double-patty burger at this legendary hamburger stand. A single patty is plenty. If you arrive before 10:30 a.m., do consider ordering the ham, egg and cheese sandwich. For a different kind of meal that is no healthier, head over to Lancaster Avenue and order a chicken basket at the new-and-improved Rudy’s (give yourself a pat on the back for contributing to the fried-chicken stand’s city-funded $900,000 renovation). It is possibly the best restaurant chicken anywhere, but be prepared to wait as long as 20 minutes in the drive-through during peak times. If that’s not your style, there are many more options on the East Side.

Are you hungry and want to be seen? Go to No. 2

Would a picnic be more your speed? Go to No. 3

Full? Go to No. 4.

TWO

As much as we love a good dive, sometimes we want a scene. Head over to Deep Ellum to have a great meal, see and be seen at Pecan Lodge. This is one of a few places to bring out-of-towners for an authentic Texas barbecue experience. The brisket is perfection, and the bbq-stuffed baked potatoes are an updated take on a Dallas classic. If vintage is more your vibe, take a cruise to Lower Greenville and give Remedy a try. This hipster destination offers wonderful sandwiches, old-fashioned soda-fountain drinks and killer desserts from pastry chef Gmo Tristan, our Oak Cliff neighbor.

Let’s explore the East Side a little. Do you have kids with you? Go to No. 4.

Would you rather see a show? Go to No. 6

THREE

Dallas Heritage Village at Old City Park is one of the most underrated attractions in town. Full of antique Texas commercial buildings, homes and barns, it is a lovely place to recline on the grass with good cheese and a nice baguette (or, you know, chicken from Rudy’s).

Let’s explore the East Side a little. Do you have kids with you? Go to No. 4.

Would you rather see a show? Go to No. 6

FOUR

Rory Meyers Children's Garden at the Dallas Arboretum :Photo by Danny Fulgencio
Rory Meyers Children’s Garden at the Dallas Arboretum :Photo by Danny Fulgencio

The Dallas Arboretum Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden is part theme park, part science museum. The little ones can see what’s going on in the treetops from the Texas Skywalk, fire a water cannon, play detective and do lots of other fun stuff that secretly tricks them into learning about nature and science.

Is it raining? Go to No. 5

FIVE

Texas Discovery Gardens at Fair Park has a two-story indoor butterfly garden and insectarium. Every day at noon, there is a butterfly talk preceding the release of newly emerged butterflies into the exhibit.

Would dancing be more fun for the littles? Go to No. 8

SIX

Trees: Photo by Benjamin Hager
Trees: Photo by Benjamin Hager

The newly opened Bomb Factory in Deep Ellum is not the grungy ’90s venue where you once saw the Chemical Brothers while overdosing on second-hand smoke. Renovated and reopened by the same Dallas-based entrepreneurs that revived Trees, it’s like the Bomb Factory graduated from college, traveled around Europe and lived in New York for a few years before returning home to the delight of everyone. The venue has been booking a ton of exciting stuff. Elusive R&B singer D’Angelo plays there this month, for example.

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Feel like putting on your dancing shoes? Go to No. 7

SEVEN

R.L. Blues Palace: Photo by Danny Fulgencio
R.L. Blues Palace: Photo by Danny Fulgencio

R.L. Blues Palace is for the grown and sexy only. Other than that, all are welcome at this low-down funky palace of the blues near Fair Park. R.L. Griffin and his house band are true pros that have kept crowds dancing for decades, and they pack the house week after week. You must be 25 to enter, but many of the good-timers you’ll meet will exceed that by at least double. [END]

EIGHT

At least there is a place where you can let the little ones wear their booties out on the dance floor. Every Friday from 6-9 p.m. is reserved for Disco Kids at It’ll Do, the Old East Dallas nightlife hotspot. They also offer break-dance classes for children from 6-7 p.m. Tuesdays.

Congratulations! Your East Side experience is complete. [END]

NORTH

If you consider Kessler Park to be North Dallas, it’s time to get out of the neighborhood. Don’t be afraid of “north.” Wouldn’t it be rude to judge northern Dallasites for being too Dallas, when after all, we are part of Dallas, too? Follow this path for a day in northern lands. We promise not to take you as far as Northwest Highway.

ONE

How about a bite to eat? Rodeo Goat expanded from its original location in Fort Worth and couldn’t have found a cooler spot to land in Dallas. Its building in the Dallas Design District backs up to the Trinity Strand Trail. Take a seat on the patio, order a delicious burger (there are a couple of veggie options, too) and squint a little so you won’t notice how polluted with litter the river is.

Had enough of Texas and want to experience a little bit of Spain? Go to No. 2

Looking for the perfect tchotchke? Go to No. 3

TWO

The Meadows Museum at SMU is nicknamed “the little Prado” because it houses the largest collection of Spanish art outside of Spain. The museum celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and an exhibition running through Aug. 2 will teach you all about the museum itself. Also on display through Aug. 2 is the Abello collection, which features work from Francis Bacon, Georges Braque, Canaletto, Marc Chagall, Salvador Dalí, Edgar Degas, Francisco Goya, El Greco, Henri Matisse, Joan Miró, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso and Jusepe de Ribera.

Art is cool, but I’d rather go shopping. Go to No. 3

Nah, shopping is hard. Let’s drink. Go to No. 4

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THREE

Amid the galleries and showrooms of the Dallas Design District are some of the most interesting shops in Texas. Anteks, from Oak Cliff neighbor Jason Lenox, offers home goods with a rustic bent. Find Pendleton blankets, hand-woven rugs and turquoise tiles, among other Southwest-inspired items. A full directory of shops is at dallas-design-district.com.

Woo, I’m parched. Go to No. 4.

FOUR

The Meddlesome Moth in the Dallas Design District has one of the most extensive beer menus around. Pilsner? Belgian Ale? Barleywine? Cider? Mead? Any type of brew you can dream up, the Meddlesome Moth probably has it, along with a huge wine list and a delightful menu, offering lunch and dinner as well as brunch.

No thanks, I don’t feel like drinking. Go to No. 5

FIVE

Try Ascension, which is right next door to the Moth. This coffee shop likely will give you a distinctly Dallas vibe — think red-bottom shoes and Land Rovers — but in the good way. And it’s worth it for the outstanding coffee, including a cold brew that could wake the dead, and a simple and delicious menu that is not terribly overpriced.

Congratulations, you’ve enjoyed yourself north of the Trinity! [END]

SOUTH

The farther south one goes from Dallas, the prettier the landscape seems to get. Within 20 miles of our neighborhood, there are loads of things to do outdoors. Get your nature on and enjoy all the beauty just south of us.

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ONE

How lucky are we? There are two Audubon centers within 20 miles of North Oak Cliff. The Trinity River Audubon Center offers a ton of great programming, and it’s also the only public park within Dallas city limits where camping is allowed. The Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center in Cedar Hill offers guided nature hikes. Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve in Duncanville also is a great place for a little hike and nature time.

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Do you like camping? Go to No. 2

Would you rather take a boat ride? Go to No. 3

TWO

Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve: Photo by Danny Fulgencio
Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve: Photo by Danny Fulgencio

Cedar Hill State Park, about 15 miles away, offers camping, hiking, fishing and swimming at Joe Pool Lake.

Camping is OK, but I’d rather chill out. Go to No. 3

THREE

Renting a boat is so much better than owning one. At Lynn Creek Marina at Joe Pool Lake, you can rent a fishing boat, pontoon or ski boat for a few hours. If you’d rather not play captain, catch the sunset cruise for $20 per person.

Fun times! Your friends vacationing in Port Aransas and Marfa will be so jealous.  [END]

WEST

No, the world does not end at Westmoreland Road. In fact, it even continues past Loop 12. Not only that, but beyond that divide, there are many fun things to do, especially for children and families.

ONE

Theo’s Drive In: Photo by Danny Fulgencio
Theo’s Drive In: Photo by Danny Fulgencio

West Davis is part of the old Fort Worth-to-Dallas turnpike, still Highway 180, and it was a major thoroughfare before Interstate 30 was built in the 1960s. That’s why it still has old-school roadside remnants like motor court hotels and drive-in restaurants. One of the latter is Theo’s Drive In, just a few miles west of Oak Cliff across the Grand Prairie city line. Order a burger and root beer while you appreciate the mid-20th century Googie architecture.

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That was a lot of calories. Let’s get some cardio. Go to No. 2.

Cardio? No thanks. Let’s go gambling! Go to No. 3.

TWO

Change up your workout routine with an adventure to the exotic city of Irving, Texas. Irving’s Campion Trails are like Bizarro White Rock Lake. Find stroller pushers, bearded cross-fitters and spandexed-up bike riders from another dimension (Irving), as well as smooth, wide pavement and low incidence of crime. Park and hop on a 6.5-mile loop at Birds Fort Trail Park, 5756 Riverside Dr.

Is it raining, or perhaps, oppressively hot? Go to No. 4.

THREE

Lone Star Park: Photo by Danny Fulgencio
Lone Star Park: Photo by Danny Fulgencio

Live horse racing happens at Lone Star Park every Thursday-Sunday through July 19. On most Friday nights, they also have live music and drink specials, and grandstand admission starts at $5.

Would you prefer baseball? Go to No. 5.

FOUR

Ripley's Believe it or Not: Photo by Danny Fulgencio
Ripley’s Believe it or Not: Photo by Danny Fulgencio

On display in the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not “odditorium” in Grand Prairie are a shrunken head, an authentic 19th century vampire-hunting kit and unusual animal skeletons. The mirror maze is fun for little kids, and the wax museum is hysterical for grownups.

Is this a baseball town? Go to No. 5

FIVE

However you feel about Josh Hamilton, the Rangers aren’t the only game in town. The Grand Prairie Airhogs of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball are like our version of the Flint Tropics. Except this team, which is unaffiliated with Major League Baseball, is not battling for sixth place, like the team in “Semi-Pro.” They’re the league’s defending champions.

Congratulations! You’ve won the West. [END]

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