Appreciating the unique, fun and beautiful things our neighborhood has to offer
Our neighborhood — it’s the place where we live out most of our days. Where we — often robotically — run errands, taxi around our children, pick up the dry cleaning, sit in traffic and perform myriad mundane tasks. Sometimes, as it plays host to our busy lives, home can lose its magic. This new year, stop for a moment, take a step back, and have a look at Lake Highlands, and the city that surrounds it, through fresh eyes.
Improve your swing at Top Golf
Park Lane and Abrams
Golf was once quiet, stuffy, difficult and borderline boring, but that predated Top Golf. This sprawling playground caters to kids, adults and golfers of all skill levels. From a second-story platform, players take aim at the bulls-eye in a field below. Microchips in the balls keep track of participants’ performance. It’s very high tech. Once you are famished from all that swinging, check out the menu, which features an extensive selection of beverages, brunch, burgers, wraps, desserts and daily specials.
Hike, bike or play around Lake Highlands
Provided it’s not during deep summer, or one of our rare ice, hail or tornado scenarios, our area is a fabulous one to walk, jog or bike. There are several spots in Lake Highlands from which to access our city’s extensive paved-trail system. You can hop on the Cottonwood Trail from Forest Lane near TI Boulevard. From there, head south toward the White Rock Creek Trail. This route winds through the historic Hamilton Park area, along the back nine of the Royal Oaks Country Club, through Fair Oaks Park and Tennis Center (a good access point if you plan to park a car) and eventually to White Rock Lake. Or, park and access the White Rock Creek Trail from the Forest Lane DART station or Harry S. Moss Park at 8000 Greenville.
Watercrest Park at Lake Highlands Town Center has been compared, by parks and rec authorities, to the picturesque Lakeside Drive in Highland Park. “This is really a first-class linear greenbelt,” says Willis Winters, who is an authority on the topic as the Dallas Park Department’s assistant director of planning, design and construction. Sprawling behind the outline of the future Town Center at Walnut Hill and Skillman, the paved walking trail at Watercrest flanks a little lake and is adorned with sculptures from local artists.
If you’re seeking outdoor exercise that doesn’t involve running or pedaling, think paddling. Once you make your way to White Rock Lake, check out White Rock Paddle Co. near the Mockingbird bridge at Buckner and Mockingbird. March through November, rent kayaks and stand up paddleboards. Rentals of single and tandem kayaks run from $15 an hour or $55-$65 a day. The company also offers monthly memberships featuring discount rentals and frequent paddler punch cards, as well as lessons.
Harry Moss Park at 7601 Greenville (try not to confuse it with Harry S. Moss Park, just down the road) offers a 5.46-mile single-track dirt trail. Hikers, trail runners and off-road cyclists choose from several different loops ranging in distance from a quarter mile to a mile and a half. Enter the trail just south of the soccer fields and encounter deep woodsy surroundings complete with pretty flowing creeks and shimmering ponds. Avoid after a storm because rains tend to bring an undue amount of trash and muddy conditions to this trail system. Check the Dallas Off Road Bicycle Association website, dorba.org, for current trail conditions.
Texas doesn’t have the terrain of Colorado or Utah, but that doesn’t mean mountain climbing is totally inaccessible. The Summit Climbing Gym, located at 9201 Forest near Greenville, brings rock climbing (use your imagination) to our flat-as-a-pancake ‘hood. For $20, acquire an all-day pass and all necessary equipment. Newcomers never fear — the staff will show you the ropes, pro bono. Want more intensive instruction? Classes are also available. If you really dig it, get a membership. Check the website summitrockgym.com for specials such as late night passes, ladies and students nights, and two-for-ones.
*TIP Plan your kayaking, cycling or hiking around a Dallas Arboretum concert. Dallas’ magnificent botanical gardens boast seasonal events and special exhibits year round. The spring/summer and fall/winter concert series featuring the stylings of rock-and-roll, hip hop and country bands are wildly popular. But if you are not down for the whole pack-a-picnic, navigate-the-crowd and sit-on-the-lawn concert-going experience, paddle your boat up to the north shore, or post up on a park bench outside the arboretum fence. The acoustics are aces — you’ll swear Hard Day’s Night, those talented Beatles imitators, are playing on the pier. Find the concert schedule at dallasarboretum.org/concerts.
*TIP Bring binoculars or a camera fitted with a powerful lens when you visit White Rock Lake, because there is plenty of opportunity for bird and wildlife watching. Ubiquitously referred to as our “urban oasis,” White Rock Lake is home to more than 210 types of fauna.
Taste Lake Highlands
From neighborhood staples such as Highlands Café and Brothers Pizza to newer endeavors such as quaint Café Silva or Gina’s Organic Kitchen, Lake Highlands has a king’s share of under-the-radar culinary gems (see tinyurl.com/lhdining for our neighborhood restaurant guide). In addition to its eclectic eatery selection, our area offers ample opportunity to shop for quality, locally reared foods.
The White Rock Local Market pops up twice a month, March–December, in front of Green Spot Market and Fuels, 702 N. Buckner. On the second Saturday of each month, the increasingly popular collaborative features produce and food vendors. For more extensive shopping — candles, furniture, art, clothing, jewelry and much more — return the fourth Saturday of the month. All vendors hail from within a 150-mile radius of our city and directly raise, grow or manufacture their products. Green Spot owner Bruce Bagelman played a pivotal role in the market’s success by allowing use of his lot, market co-founder Mary Norvell has said. During the market’s off-season, simply head inside the little eco-venience store for healthy eats and drinks.
Fanatical supporters of homegrown foods should check into the Lake Highlands Community Garden, where you can secure your own plot for planting your favorite veggies. lhgarden.org
Ride Lake Highlands to entertainment, art, science and history
Lake Highlands DART station is located at Walnut Hill and Skillman, and the rail is your cheap and easy ride to several must-experience venues. Hop the blue train straight to West End Station where you can visit the Sixth Floor JFK Museum at 411 Elm. From the same stop, walk to the renowned Dallas Holocaust Museum at 211 N. Record. Ride any DART line to either the West End or Akard Station, walk a few blocks north and arrive at the brand new Perot Museum of Science and History. If assassinated presidents and the holocaust are too weighty, get off the red or blue train at Mockingbird Station and visit the Angelica Theater, grab a basket of fish and chips at Trinity Irish Pub, see a comedy show at Hyenas or do some shopping. DART day passes are $4 for unlimited travel.
Show the kids Lake Highlands
It’s kind of like stepping back in time: The slick maple floors and spinning lights, the sounds of the “Hokey Pokey” and beginners’ rickety orange wheels slapping the solid burgundy carpet, and, what’s that smell? It’s the musty, nostalgic aroma of your adolescence, that’s what. Now is the time to introduce a new generation to the grooviness of White Rock Skate Rink. They’ll love the loud music and the limbo contest.
*TIP No child can resist the charm of Cinnamon the pony and his barnyard buddies at the Barnyard at Park Lane Ranch. Add clowns, miniature golf, arts and crafts making and bounce houses, and this magical milieu equals perfect party headquarters. Visit parklaneranch.com or call 214.349.2002 for details.
Let Lake Highlands entertain you
Remember Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? We may never know why there was a parade going on during a school day, but we do understand the adventurous teens’ visit to, and fascination with, the Chicago Museum of Art. Lake Highlands doesn’t have MoMA or The Louvre, but we aren’t so shabby when it comes to cultural arts.
The Dallas Children’s Theater has been bringing local thespians and educators together since the 1980s. In the early 2000s the theater moved into a state-of-the-art facility on Skillman at Northwest Highway. TIME Magazine rated it one of the top five children’s theaters in the country. Take the kids to a show or enroll them in a class and perhaps they will someday star in a production. Visit dct.org for schedules.
Located on the eastern beach of White Rock Lake, the Bath House Cultural Center is a charming relic of days past — days when folks swam in the lake and sunbathed on the shore. Today it serves as a multi-medium venue including a black box theater, three gallery spaces and the White Rock Lake Museum. Admission is free, but some of the productions require tickets. Visit
dallasculture.org/bathhouseculturecenter for a schedule of events.
Tucked into a nondescript shopping center at Northwest Highway and Ferndale, Dutch Art Gallery is a longstanding 9,800-square-foot venue showcasing traditional art, decorative arts, oil paintings and limited-edition prints. Periodically the gallery hosts shows, such as the annual Artists of Texas exhibit each winter.