There are the obvious choices: the high school, the lake, the tight-knit community. And then there are the less evident but no less dearly loved aspects of our neighborhood. Those are what you will find on this love letter of sorts to Lake Highlands. It’s by no means an extensive list, but we hope that it will rekindle some old flames and perhaps even introduce you to a few new loves.

  1. FREE FERTILIZER – Watching horses graze in neighborhood pastures is a treat in and of itself – heck, the fact that our urban neighborhood even has pastures is pretty incredible – but an added bonus is the crap they leave behind. Every spring, a sign appears at White Rock Stables along Goforth and Lanshire offering free compost to anyone who wants to fertilize their gardens. All you have to do is back in your pick-up and shovel the manure into your bed. It might be a while before you can drive with the windows down, but your spring flowers will smell delightful.
  1. ROCK CAKE AT ST CAFE – Without diminshing all of the other delectable (and award-winning) desserts that Clare Van Loenen carefully creates, there’s a reason her customers keep coming back to this one. The combination of chocolate Meringue, chocolate mousse and rich chocolate sponge cake drizzled with kahlua rum sauce is hard to top.
  1. DINING ON MI COCINA’S PATIO – It’s not the food (though it is some of the best Mexican eats Dallas has to offer). It’s the misters that start spraying at the onset of summer, making the heat bearable.
  1. AUDELIA ROAD LIBRARY – It has something for everyone – storytime with beanbag chairs in the sunlit corner, after-school homework help, discussion-packed book club gatherings and a support group for grandparents raising their grandchildren. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg; Audelia’s monthly activities list puts other branches to shame. Plus, the recent updates make for easy browsing of its wide selection – no wonder it has the highest circulation rate of any Dallas library.
  1. BANG FOR YOUR BUCK – With our good schools and quick commute to just about anywhere in Dallas, it’s no wonder our property values are appreciating so quickly that named us one of the top five neighborhoods in the country to buy a home.
  1. THE CAR WASH – Longtime neighbors know and love this relic on the northeast corner of Walnut Hill and Audelia. Once dubbed the “Lake Highlands Car Wash,” the sign proclaiming it such is gone. All that’s left are the decrepit brick stalls, showing their age not just with decades worth of soap scum and water stains but also the worn “how to” signage. Still, for a squeaky clean shine, a few quarters go a long way.
  1. PRIVATE ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS – With reputable places such as White Rock North, Scofield, St. Patrick’s and St. John’s, our kids can attend private school and never leave our neighborhood.
  1. THE ANNUAL FOURTH OF JULY PARADE – Few people actually watch the procession; most people are too busy being in it. Little girls with red, white and blue streamers poking out of their bicycle handlebars share the road with antique cars and convertibles carrying local dignitaries. Colonial clad marchers dressed in Revolutionary War uniforms come on the heels of neighborhood sons and daughters currently serving in the Armed Forces. And float after float of pick-ups covered in patriotic papier-mache pull trailers crammed with flag-waving elementary school kids. Why would anyone want to go to the lake?
  1. ORDERING OFF THE MENU AT TONY’S – It’s a fairly open secret that when you dine at Tony’s Pizza & Pasta at Northwest Highway and Ferndale, you’re not limited to the listed dishes. True, you can’t go wrong with the lasagna or the cheap-yet-hearty slices of pizza, but there’s something adventurous about trying an unprinted concoction – say, the chicken parmesan with artichokes and cream sauce. The other great thing about Tony’s? You may not be able to order wine, but you’re welcome to bring your own bottle, and the restaurant won’t charge you a corking fee.
  1. WHITE ROCK SKATE – Knocking down the limbo bar. Winning the lucky number game. That first couples skate. Longtime Lake Highlanders who made these memories more than 30 years ago when the rink opened are now dropping their children off at the entrance. Though it’s one of the last of its breed, the institution’s orange and brown quads aren’t suffering from lack of use. A new generation is lacing up and whizzing around the wooden floor to the latest top 40 hits.
  1. PEE-FREE KIDDIE ‘POOL’ – The best thing about our sprayground is not the waterfall or even the squirt guns – it’s that we no longer have to worry about what our children are swallowing.
  1. HIKE AND BIKE TRAILS – You can hop on your bicycle at Moss Farm and get to the lake almost as fast as it would take you to drive there.
  1. TOUR OF CHRISTMAS DECOR – The home tour put on by the Lake Highlands Women’s League every holiday season is more than just a chance to peek at our neighbors’ houses. It’s also a primer on innovative ways to trim the tree and deck the halls. Bring a notepad – you’ll want to jot down some ideas.
  1. CRAPPIE AT THE CREEK – From November to early March, the anglers cluster at the base of Flag Pole Hill, casting their lines and catching the fish that run in White Rock Creek during the cooler weather. Texas Parks and Wildlife rates the fishing excellent, and the white crappie, which gets as big as three or four pounds, are quite tasty pan-fried and finished with some herbs and a touch of lemon juice.
  1. ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS “AROUND THE CORNER” – Bordered mostly by neighborhood streets instead of busy intersections, parents can easily strap on Sophie’s backpack and send her on the three-block walk to school with complete peace of mind. (And it’s just as easy to hold her hand and walk with her on those mornings when parents need a little quality time because, my, they do grow up fast.)
  1. FRIDAY AND SATURDAY NIGHTS AT HENK’S – A fairly quiet storefront during daytime hours, Henk’s European Deli transforms into a cultural gathering place on the weekends, with customers piling in to order wiener schnitzel and grilled brats and wash them down with a pint of German beer. The legendary Black Forest dessert is not to be missed, but it’s the accordion music that takes the cake.
  1. MOSS PARK – OK, so we’re a little proud of our pristine soccer fields, but we’re not the only ones who think so highly of them. Every year when the best soccer players from all over the world descend on our city for the Dallas Cup, Moss Park is their place of choice for scrimmages.
  1. LIVE MUSIC AT HIGHLANDS CAFE – This cozy neighborhood restaurant specializing in home-cooked meals is an unlikely venue for breakout rock and folk artists, but its concerts feature some of the most talented musicians in the Dallas scene. Where else can you get up close and personal with performers while savoring a piece of banana cake that tastes just like Grandma’s?
  1. THE ORIGINAL CHILI’S – When Norman Brinker took over the establishment at Meadow and Greenville in 1975, the restaurant’s staples were hamburgers, tacos and (of course) chili. Both the menu and the number of locations have expanded over the years, and today it’s not unusual to dine at Chili’s during an airport layover. But our neighborhood can boast that it was home to the first.
  1. THE NO. 5 AT KELLER’S – Maybe it’s the poppy seed buns, or the Thousand Island-like sauce, or the fact that it’s being served by a spitfire biker chick whose rough-and-tumble friends are hanging out nearby in a Harley cluster. Who knows, and who cares? Whatever it is, it’s one dang good burger.
  1. FRISBEE GOLF – This ain’t no amateur course. The dense woods of B.B. Owen Park at Walnut Hill and Plano are home to a bona fide Professional Disc Golf Association course. Online commentators describe it as having “minor elevation” with “an even number of lefty and righty holes.” Anyone can chuck or lob to his heart’s content at no charge – just bring your own projectile.
  1. POOLSIDE COCKTAILS AT THE KC – Neighborhood parents say they flock to the members-only waterhole because it’s the place their kids love to splash and slide. Yeah, right.
  1. DRUM CORPS INTERNATIONAL AT WILDCAT STADIUM – Many neighbors have never heard of the Madison Scouts or the Phantom Regiment, but every summer, thousands of people drive from miles around to hear these and other drum and bugle corps beat and blast under the bright stadium lights.
  1. SMALL TOWN INSIDE A BIG CITY – It’s knowing that our neighbors will call if we leave our garage door open, that our children can ride their bikes around the block because other pairs of eyes will be watching out for them. It’s having someone bring over a pot of chili when we’re sick and offering to pick up our mail while we’re on vacation. It’s a plate of chocolate chip cookies greeting us minutes after our moving van pulls into the driveway, and realizing that it’s the last moving van we’ll ever rent – we’re home.
  1. WAKING UP WITH A WHITE ROCKER – And sipping White Rock Coffee’s signature concoction while taking advantage of free WiFi.