Americans are expected to spend less on travel this year, which means that a lot of us are staying here in Dallas this summer, or we’re only going as far as San Antonio — maybe.

Sitting by the pool, reading novels, and pretending you can hear the waves crashing are OK ways to get through the onerous swelter of Texas in July, if you’re saving money by sticking close to home. But for a break in the idleness, our neighborhood has plenty of options for self-improvement.

And besides, there’s nothing good on TV.

Cool classes on cooking, fitness and do-it-yourself projects abound. We’ve picked a few that are unique and worth the price.

Vegan cooking
Eggless excellence

Why it’s worth a try: Because Spiral Diner knows how to make everything taste good, even without eggs and cheese.

If you go: Pay in advance to reserve a spot — classes fill up quickly.

Spiral Diner & Bakery is famous for vegan desserts so tasty that you forget there’s no milk or eggs in them. That’s why a June 13 baking class teaching blueberry pie and chocolate chip cookies sold out soon after it was announced. The July class is just as tempting: Comfort Foods. Students will learn how to make vegan meatloaf with gravy, macaroni and cheese, stroganoff, cornbread and rolls. Spiral Diner chefs walk you through all the steps, from choosing a recipe to presentation.

“You get to keep anything you make, and you get to keep the recipes,” manager Ashley Arostegui says.

Call ahead and pay when you sign up to ensure a spot in these Saturday classes, which can accommodate 25 or 30 people.

Where: Spiral Diner & Bakery, 1101 N. Beckley

When: July 26 from 7-9 p.m.

How much: $40

For more information: 214.948.4747

African dance
Rhythmic fantastics

Why it’s worth a try: Africa is fascinating, plus it’s a fun workout.

If you go: Wear workout clothes, like what you would wear to yoga.

This offering from the Ice House Cultural Center teaches the basic rhythms from West Africa. The weekly class caters to skill levels from beginner to advanced, says Tisha Creer, the center’s director. “We have guest teachers come in all the time from Africa or from dance troupes. It’s a really good time,” she says.

The center also offers classes in capoeira (pronounced “cap-oh-WAY-dah”), the Afro-Brazilian art form that mixes martial arts, acrobatics, singing and percussion. Other classes for adults include jewelry making and sewing. All classes besides African dance are $10 per session, and most take place on evenings and weekends.

Where: Ice House Cultural Center, 1004 W. Page

When: Saturdays from 2-4 p.m.

How much: $7

For more information: 214.670.7524

FUNtastic Education
Don’t just twiddle your thumbs — put them to good use

Why it’s worth a try: Impress your friends with basket-weaving skills.

If you go: Have fun; be fantastic.

Mountain View College offers 45 courses on topics including crafts, cooking, sewing, fitness and sports. Algonquin basket weaving is a one-day course in which students learn to weave a large basket for laundry or newspapers — and that’s just one of several basket-weaving courses. There are three levels of cake decorating, spaced so that a student could take all three in one summer. If that doesn’t satisfy your sweet tooth, try cookie decorating, candy making or a cupcake workshop.

You can get crafty with a beginner sewing class, beginner and intermediate crochet, calligraphy, and greeting card design. Besides that, Mountain View offers dance classes, including ballroom (“Dancing with the Stars”, anyone?), salsa and swing. The college also offers fitness courses and tennis and golf lessons.

Where: Mountain View College, 4849 W. Illinois

When: Various times

How much: Most classes are under $50, plus supplies for some classes

For more information: 214. 860.8680 or

Be crafty

Why it’s worth a try: This is not your mother’s sewing class.

If you go: Reserve a spot ahead of time because the most popular classes fill up quickly.

At Make Shop & Studio, students don’t have to worry about their sewing projects turning out to be awkward or unsightly.

The studio’s basic sewing classes are for people who have never threaded a needle, and the end products are things you can actually use. Instructors teach the basics of using a sewing machine, choosing fabric, and following a pattern for a handbag or vintage-inspired apron. (Wasn’t an apron always the first sewing assignment in old-timey home economics classes?)
In more advanced sewing classes, students learn to follow a summer dress pattern, or a pattern for an adorable clutch handbag. Other popular classes include screen-printing and candle making.

“We have a very modern approach to old crafts,” Make owner Julie McCullough Kim says.

Make offers classes Wednesday through Sunday, plus has a retail shop for handmade goods, so if your project really does turn out badly, at least you can buy something cool.

Where: Make Shop & Studio, 313 N. Bishop

When: Various times, Wednesday through Sunday

How much: Roughly between $50 and $150

For more information: 214. 256.3061