Entertainment

Actually Cool Things to Do in Dallas this Summer

Sun's out, (water)guns out.

Philip Lange/Shutterstock
Philip Lange/Shutterstock
Philip Lange/Shutterstock

Oh, oh, the summer nights! Those lyrics might’ve been sung by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John way back in 1978, but we still get excited some 40 years later thinking about those long, sticky-hot evenings of fun, romance, and adventure ahead of us. And as things return to a closer shade of normal, we have so many things to look forward to. As you’d expect in the Land of Triple-Digit Temperatures, many of the best things to do in Dallas-Fort Worth this time of year involve the deep waters and cool shade of the great outdoors, but you’ll discover a nearly equal amount of activities in the great air-conditioned indoors, as well. Gear up for a variety of summer-specific excursions, as well as numerous year-round activities you can tackle whenever you please.

The Texas Pool
The Texas Pool
The Texas Pool

Swim across the state of Texas

Plano
The 60th anniversary season of the Texas Pool (listed on the National Register of Historic Places) kicks off this Memorial Day with 168,000 gallons of saltwater bliss. You’ll find a snack bar onsite, as well as BBQ grills if you prefer to BYO cookout. Just make sure to wait at least 30 minutes after eating before attempting to swim from El Paso to Houston.

Grapevine Wine Tours
Grapevine Wine Tours
Grapevine Wine Tours

Get to know the local wine scene

Grapevine
Oexas vino has become a world-class option for catching a grapey buzz over the past decade or so, and the aptly-named suburb of Grapevine just so happens to be home to one of the state’s most coveted wine trails. Taste through the offerings with a lunch or dinner wine tour that includes samplings at three wineries plus a three-course meal with a professional guide on hand to teach you everything you ever wanted to know about local viticulture (and probably a few things you’d rather skip over in favor of another generous pour).

Smoky Rose
Smoky Rose
Smoky Rose

SUP your heart out on White Rock Like

East Dallas
Whether you’re looking to kayak solo, share a boat with a friend, or get vertical on a stand-up paddleboard, the 2021 season has officially begun at White Rock Paddle Company. Book your time on the lake by the hour, then hit up happy hour, lunch, dinner, or Sunday brunch on the patio at nearby Smoky Rose for a full day of sun-soaked R&R.

Indulge in a little al fresco iambic pentameter

East Dallas
Starting May 22, Shakespeare Dallas returns to in-person performances on the lawn at the Samuell-Grand Amphitheatre. Bring your own blanket or chair (or rent one onsite) for limited-capacity performances of The Wars of the Roses, Hamlet Project, and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) [Revised]. The productions here rarely go for the traditional approach, so you can always expect something unique, and the fact that you can pack your own picnic to enjoy under the stars-including beer and wine, mind you-means this is one date night no-brainer.

Hop on a horse and hit the trails

Fort Worth
Live like a true Texan (or at least the stereotype so many people outside the state envision) by climbing atop a horse for an outdoor adventure. The scenic trails around Lake Benbrook provide a picturesque backdrop for a little time enjoying nature. You’ll be matched with a horse that complements your riding experience. We’re guessing the horse named Turtle goes pretty slow, or it’s one really twisted inside joke.

Go on safari at Fossil Rim

Glen Rose
Giraffes, zebras, wildebeests, bison, and cheetahs await-along with dozens of other species-at this drive-thru wildlife center dedicated to the preservation of species in peril. Wind your way through 7.2 miles of roads where you can stop whenever you like to feed the animals from your car. Or opt for a private guided tour for your immediate household or up to 10 people in your pandemic pod. It’s all in Glen Rose, a short 90-minute-or-less jaunt from most parts of Dallas-Fort Worth.

Courtesy of FORT WORTH WATER GARDENS
Courtesy of FORT WORTH WATER GARDENS
Courtesy of FORT WORTH WATER GARDENS

Find tranquility at the Fort Worth Water Gardens

Designed by architect Philip Johnson, a variety of water features cascade all around you as you explore this spectacular urban oasis in the heart of downtown Fort Worth. There’s a serene quiet pool that’s ideal for contemplating life or simply losing yourself in the moment.

Get face-to-face with a shark

Grapevine
Grapevine Mills offers plenty of retail therapy and dining opportunities, but when you’ve had enough H&M and Applebee’s, make sure to check out the Sea Life Grapevine Aquarium located right inside the mall. Journey through Texas’s only 360-degree ocean tunnel filled with thousands of fish, rays, and sharks, or check out the state’s only sea turtle hospital. Schedule your visit around feeding times for the most underwater action or book a behind-the-scenes tour for an in-depth look at what it takes to operate a large-scale aquarium.

Texas Rangers
Texas Rangers
Texas Rangers

Take yourself out to a ballgame

Arlington; Frisco
Few things feel more like summer than sitting in the stands cheering on some men in uniform running around bases. In the metroplex, you have your choice between a major league game with the Texas Rangers or head up to Frisco for nine innings with the minor league Frisco Rough Riders. Buying some peanuts, cracker jacks, and root-root-rooting for the home team will help you live the famous song to its fullest.

Six Flags Over Texas
Six Flags Over Texas
Six Flags Over Texas

Test your fears at Six Flags

Arlington
Exchange your pandemic-fueled Netflix streaming for some coaster-fueled screaming courtesy of the one and only Six Flags. The park opens on weekends in the off season until May 28 when it resumes daily hours for the regular summer season. And if there’s even a remote possibility you’ll venture out more than once this year, a season pass always packs the best deal for frequent thrill-seekers.

Get a history lesson where JFK was assassinated

Dealey Plaza
For some people, the first thing that comes to mind when they think of Dallas is: That’s the city where JFK was shot. Although Dallas shouldn’t be defined by that one moment almost 60 years ago, it is still the most historically significant event to take place in the city. Take a walk around Dealey Plaza and the infamous grassy knoll to spot where the former president was assassinated in 1963. When you’re done dodging the conspiracy theorists hanging around the plaza, check out the content available online from the Sixth Floor Museum to learn the full story of that time in American history

Ice skate at the Galleria

Far North Dallas
Even though you can ice skate year-round at this indoor rink, there’s something that makes the activity that much more anti-establishment when it’s warm outside. Masks are required of all guests and social distancing is encouraged. And if you really want to step things up with a few salchows and double axels, you can enroll in three-day beginner courses that include guest passes and other freebies.

Enjoy the city’s coolest urban green spaces

Downtown Dallas
Dallas has made huge strides in recent years in increasing the amount of green space in its urban core. See for yourself by touring all the parks that make downtown a vibrant place to live starting with Klyde Warren Park, a 5.2-acre public expanse built over a major freeway. From there, walk south to Harwood Street for a glimpse of Pacific Plaza and Main Street Garden Park. You can also catch performances while lounging on the lawn at Annette Strauss Square if you plan in advance.

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden
Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden
Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden

Become one with nature at the Arboretum

White Rock Lake
There may be no better place to celebrate the gorgeous spring weather than the Dallas Arboretum. Dallas Blooms at the Arboretum offers even more to look at than the usual flora and fauna with this year’s “America the Beautiful” theme. Visits right now require a pre-purchased ticket, scheduled arrival window and face covering when social distancing is not possible.

Hula Girl Poke
Hula Girl Poke
Hula Girl Poke

Find dining inspiration at Trinity Groves

Trinity Groves
Can’t decide what you’re in the mood to eat? Check out the multitude of options available at Trinity Groves. Asian, Italian, Mexican, barbecue, vegan, pizza, poké, wings, even a restaurant focused solely on avocados-it can all be found just across the river from downtown. Still can’t decide? Patio hop from restaurant to restaurant or order bites to-go as you munch your way across the globe. Start by sharing a bowl from Hula Girl Poké then check out some vegan delights at V-Eats before sitting down to stacked enchiladas from Beto & Son for a reconfigured New Mexico-style version of a classic. For dessert, don’t sleep on the hummingbird cake at Cake Bar.

Feel the drama at Southfork Ranch

Parker
Who shot J.R.? If you don’t know the answer, you can find out in-person at Southfork Ranch. As cheesy as it may be, a visit to the Ewing Mansion made famous on two different Dallas TV series should be part of everyone’s bucket list. The tour includes several rooms inside the home, including J.R.’s bedroom, the family living room, and the famous pool where J.R.’s would-be assassin met her fate. The whole thing ends with not a cliffhanger, but a memorabilia exhibit featuring items from the actual TV show. All guests are also welcome to tour the ranch grounds where you can do your own shooting-of the camera variety

Search for wildlife at the Great Trinity Forest

South Dallas
Dallas has a forest, y’all! Even some longtime residents don’t know that there’s a hardwood forest right in our backyard, but experiencing the lush green spaces can easily remedy the oversight. Paved trails make it easy to explore with routes where it’s perfectly common to see everything from birds and waterfowl to river otters and maybe even a snake or two. Plus, this time of year you can visit almost any time of day because you’ll be protected from the sweltering heat come summer when hiking the trails should only be done during the early morning hours unless you really love to sweat.

Fair Park, TX
Fair Park, TX
Fair Park, TX

Admire Art Deco buildings at Fair Park

Fair Park
Dallasites shouldn’t have to miss their annual pilgrimage out to Fair Park just because the 2020 State Fair was canceled. Before this year’s fair returns, Dallas Pride will be back in-person this June. Even during the quiet days between major events, Fair Park is a great place to walk around and appreciate one of the nation’s largest collections of 1930s Art Deco architecture and murals, with some museums currently open for visitors, too. Even if you aren’t an architecture buff, the fountains, Texas Star Ferris wheel, and Cotton Bowl stadium make it an interesting place to explore, especially as a reward if you’ve already gone to Fair Park for the COVID vaccine.

Sample some fine Texas barbecue

Various locations
If you visited Texas and didn’t try some barbecue, did you really come here at all? Dallas hosts the full scope of Texas barbecue from Central Texas-style brisket to east Texas pork ribs. Call ahead to pick up and sample your way through the city’s barbeque scene starting with Pecan Lodge in Deep Ellum or Lockhart Smokehouse in Bishop Arts for some of that aforementioned brisket. Next, head to Off the Bone in the Cedars for a few pecan smoked baby back ribs or Blu’s Barbeque for some smoked brisket tamales and prime rib on Sundays (and other daily specials throughout the week). Finish the tour at 18th & Vine for some burnt ends that are so caramelized and tender that they’re practically dessert.

Retrace the steps of Bonnie & Clyde

West Dallas
The two infamous outlaw lovers called Dallas home when they weren’t on the run from the law. Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow are said to have met at a house on Herbert Street, behind Trinity Groves today. Just a few blocks away at 1221 Singleton Boulevard stands Clyde’s childhood home where the Barrow family ran a gas station (long since abandoned and very creepy). Bonnie and Clyde are both buried in Dallas as well, though in separate gravesites per Bonnie’s mother’s wishes. All of these historic sites are open to the public and easy to enjoy without interacting with anyone.

Silvio Ligutti/Shutterstock
Silvio Ligutti/Shutterstock
Silvio Ligutti/Shutterstock

Snap gorgeous photos of the skyline

Ronald Kirk Bridge
If you’re dying to get the perfect picture of the Dallas skyline, make your way to the Ronald Kirk Bridge. This cool retrofitted pedestrian park sits right next to the gorgeous Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge and makes for some great photos. Once you’ve done your Instragam duties, follow the path down between the Trinity levees to spot some native wildlife like white egrets and blue herons.

Tour a replica of the mansion Herman, Lily, and Grandpa called home

Waxahachie
One of the most unlikely (yet thoroughly enjoyable) tourist attractions in the area is this lovingly recreated replica of the mansion from the 1960s TV series, The Munsters. Private tours make it one of the safest ways to witness a part of pop culture history with a room-by-room tour filled with actual artifacts from the series, recreated elements, and fascinating stories from the owners’ interactions with the stars over the years. 

Giddy up at the world’s only year-round rodeo

Fort Worth Stockyards
Each Friday and Saturday in the heart of the Fort Worth Stockyards, you can watch cowboys and cowgirls riding atop bucking broncos and feisty bulls in addition to other traditional events. Hot tip: Capacity has returned to 100% and masks are not required, so if you’re still rocking a socially-distanced lifestyle, this may not be the activity for you.

Hilton Anatole Dallas
Hilton Anatole Dallas
Hilton Anatole Dallas

Get wet and wild at a waterpark

Multiple locations
Chilling out by the pool may be fine and good for some people looking to beat the hellish Texas heat, but if you want to add an adrenaline rush to your chlorine-scented days, nearby waterpark possibilities are abundant. Bask in the air-conditioning at Epic Waters Indoor Waterpark in Grand Prairie (they do have an outdoor wave pool open during summer only), or head a few miles down the road to Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, with its more than 20 rides and attractions. If you prefer a resort-style experience, book a room at the beautiful Hilton Anatole and get free access for two to their JadeWaters pools, including the adults-only leisure cove. And for even more splashy local fun, head to one of the four Hawaiian Falls metroplex locations.

Alissala/Shutterstock
Alissala/Shutterstock
Alissala/Shutterstock

Ride a bike around White Rock Lake

White Rock Lake
From runners to bikers to casual park-goers, more than 1 million people visit this urban lake every year. It’s a little more than nine miles all the way around the lake, most of which can be done on a paved path separated from car traffic. Rent a bike and hit the road! If biking isn’t your thing, go for a walk near the Filter Building and check out the 1930s Art Deco boathouse nearby. Watching sunset from the shores near Winfrey Point means views of the downtown skyline in the distance and gorgeous colors as the sun dips behind the treeline each evening. 

Go for a stroll or a run down the Katy Trail

Uptown Dallas
The Katy Trail is the perfect spot for a run, bike ride, or just a nice walk. The trail extends 3.5 miles across Highland Park and Uptown before ending at American Airlines Center. If you’re not sure where to park or how to access it, there’s usually plenty of parking at Reverchon Park adjacent to the trail. If you walk far enough, reward yourself with a margarita to go from Katy Trail Ice House.

Spinster Records Dallas
Spinster Records Dallas
Spinster Records Dallas

Shop local in Bishop Arts District

Bishop Arts District
The Brooklyn to Dallas’ Manhattan, Bishop Arts District in Oak Cliff is going through a rapid transformation with new developments popping up all over the neighborhood. It’s a quaint and walkable area not to be missed, especially if you like Instagrammable murals and cool shops like Spinster Records or Wild Detectives bookstore bar. Check out Eno’s Pizza Tavern for everyone’s favorite to-go food (pizza, duh) and hit up the “pie thru” at Emporium Pies for the ultimate dessert convenience.

Take a hike at Cedar Hill State Park

Cedar Hill
Hills are pretty scarce in Dallas, but you can get a hint of the Texas hill country at Cedar Hill State Park. The park road winds through the modest hills with views of Joe Pool Lake that are quite scenic (for North Texas at least). Make sure to call ahead for a reservation and to ensure the trails are open, which close after heavy rains. There are multiple trails that range from a short two-mile loop to a 12-mile route shared with mountain bikers. 

Ngon
Ngon
Ngon

Enjoy the eats at Lowest Greenville

Lowest Greenville
The buzzy bar scene in this popular section of town has slowly started to come back, but you can also plan your Lowest Greenville adventure around some of the city’s best eats ( drinks, too, don’t worry). For starters, Wabi House boasts some of the best ramen in the city, Ngon Vietnamese Kitchen puts out some fantastic, lesser-known dishes such as duck curry, and HG Supply Co. has been a neighborhood staple for years with an emphasis on healthy and sustainable meals available to-go or via their awesome rooftop. Make sure to satisfy your sweet tooth with a scoop or sundae from Botolino Gelato Artigianale, offering some of the best in the city. For more outdoor calorie consumption, hit up Truck Yard across the street with plenty of seating options, a tree house bar, and regular live music.

Explore the largest zoological experience in Texas

South Dallas
With 106 acres of all things zoological, you could spend a whole day here without experiencing the slightest tinge of boredom. The zoo was founded in 1888, making it the first in the entire Southwest, and currently features about 430 species from across the globe (and that’s not including fish). Be sure to check out the Wilds of Africa, which was named Best African Exhibit in the US by The Zoo Book: A Guide to America’s Best. At this time, you still need to purchase tickets in advance and some indoor viewing areas and other attractions remain closed along with other continuing safety measures

Nasher Sculpture Center
Nasher Sculpture Center
Nasher Sculpture Center

Stroll the garden at the Nasher Sculpture Center

Dallas Arts District
The iconic Dallas skyline stands as the perfect backdrop for the city’s most impressive collection of sculpture. After all, skyscrapers are just sculptures built to an enormous scale right? The Nasher might be the most impressive museum in Dallas and most comfortable to enjoy while keeping social distance since its outdoor collection is the main attraction here. Right now, tickets can be pre-purchased before arrival with timed entry for crowd control.

fitzcrittle / Shutterstock.com
fitzcrittle / Shutterstock.com
fitzcrittle / Shutterstock.com

Scope out the home of the Dallas Cowboys

Arlington
The Cowboys had a rougher season than usual, sure, but there’s always the next season to look forward to. Even so, rather than spend extreme amounts of money to see them at one of their games, consider a tour of their home stadium instead. Options include the chance to hang out on the field the day before a game, self-guided walkabouts, a VIP behind-the-scenes look, and an art tour featuring one of the area’s top contemporary art collections. All tour guides and guests are required to maske-up and groups are limited to 35 folks at a time

See what’s in season at the Dallas Farmers Market

Downtown Dallas
See where Dallas urbanites come to shop and dine. Formerly the wholesale fruit and vegetable hub for all of North Texas, the Dallas Farmers Market has evolved into a community oriented space. Each weekend, local farmers and vendors set up under The Shed to sell their fresh goods. The indoor shed is a food hall with more than 20 restaurants and shops open regular hours throughout the week. 

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 Steven Lindsey is a Thrillist contributor

Entertainment

Why the Shocking Twist in 'Bodies Bodies Bodies' Is So Killer

The A24 horror-comedy has a lot to say about how logged on we are today.

A24
A24
A24

This story contains spoilers about the ending of Bodies, Bodies, Bodies.Even if you’ve tried to game the TikTok algorithm to feed you videos from #fashiontok, #foodtok, or whatever else you might be interested in, when you open the app, you tend to be inundated with a whole lot of discourse. In many ways, it’s incredible how attuned young people are in knowing who they are and how comfortable they are having frank conversations. But in other ways, sometimes it can feel like quick-hit platforms have a tendency to deduce real issues or strip things of their meanings-whether that’s teens self-diagnosing themselves with mental illness, or people labelling musicians as “female or male manipulator artists” without ever listening to their music.

A24’s latest horror comedy Bodies Bodies Bodies (out now in theatres) about a group of 20-somethings partying during a hurricane that turns into a hunt for a killer is like a movie downloaded from the current millennial-Gen-Z cusp moment of the internet we’re in. When the trailer for the movie directed by Halina Reijn and written by Sarah DeLappe, based on a story from “Cat Person” author Kristen Roupenian, dropped earlier this year, it made that very clear. In just over a minute and a half, we hear the cast of cool girl breakouts yelling, “You’re always gaslighting me,” “you fucking trigger me,” “you’re so toxic,” and “you’re silencing me.” Even the movie’s tagline is, “This is not a safe space.”

Bodies Bodies Bodies is very much logged onto millennial/Gen Z social media-isms throughout, from lines hilariously pieced together by the Twitter zeitgeist to scenes featuring TikTok dances. The movie operates on a delectable kind of slasher-movie paranoia, making the audience just as unsure as the slumber party gone wrong with who is killing them off left and right. But given how much of a playful satire it is of contemporary youth culture, it ends up being a twist that feels all but inevitable, and couldn’t be more razor-blade sharp.

A24
A24
A24

Once the torrential downpour stops and the sun comes up, it seems as if Maria Bakalova‘s Bee is about to be our Bodies Bodies Bodies final girl, now that she’s realized how much her relationship with Sophia (Amandla Stenberg) is based on lies. As a test to see how easily Sophie can lie-and therefore deny killing all of her friends from midnight until dawn-Bee asks her if she cheated on her with Myha’la Herrold’s Jordan. It’s a fact that Bee already knows to be true, considering she came across a pair of panties in Sophie’s car that matched a bra she noticed in Jordan’s bag. When Sophie denies it, Bee tries to take her phone (which Jordan admitted would have texts about their recent hook-up on it), and the two start fighting outside in the remnants of the storm. Bee eventually pulls a phone out of the mud, and it looks like the WiFi and cell phone service that was gone all night is finally back. Thinking she’ll pull up the evidence she needs-and confirmation to get the hell out of there-she’s surprised when Sophie says, “That’s not my phone,” and even more surprised to see what’s on it.

It turns out that it belongs to David, Pete Davidson’s coked-out rich kid character whose parents’ house they’re partying at and was the first one to die in the movie. They know it’s David’s phone because it opens to a TikTok, soundtracked by the lockdown classic TikTok song “Bored In The House” by Curtis Roach and Tyga, that shows him waving around his dad’s decorative but very real sword (!) to try to open a champagne bottle (!), idiotically waving it towards himself, only to slice right into his own neck. As it turns out, nobody killed David-not an intruder, not Jordan, not Sophie, not Alice’s (Rachel Sennott) older boyfriend Greg (Lee Pace) she knew nothing about (except for the fact that he was a Libra moon), and not their friend Max (Conner O’Malley) who left early the night before. David accidentally killed himself, and hysteria is what killed everybody else. You could say that it’s almost predictable that it turns out to be a clout-chasing TikTok that led to the movie’s murderous spiral of events. Although, that would undercut what Reijn and DeLappe are trying to say with the darkly funny movie with an especially dark, funny twist. Like TikTok or Twitter, the movie is a constant feed of discourse, buzzwords, and blanket statements that snarkily laugh at and with its ensemble. There are many moments in particular that drive this home-like Alice trying to be sympathetic in talking about mental health, only to make the conversation about her, and David ridiculing his girlfriend Emma (Chase Sui Wonders) for getting all of her thoughts from Twitter after she says he “gaslights” her. On top of that, David picks up the sword and tries to go viral to begin with because his masculinity felt threatened by Greg, who did the trick in the first place.

While it would be downright terrifying if a party with people who are supposedly your best friends turned into a slasher flick, in Bodies Bodies Bodies, the horror isn’t a vengeful or heartless killer. Everybody may become a psychopath of sorts when they feel physically threatened or legitimately toxic name-calling and backstabbing ensues, but Bodies Bodies Bodies and its devilish twist is about the humour and horror in the devoid way we can use social media today more than anything else. Like Sophie and Bee’s terrified realization at the end, it makes you want to log off for awhile… right after you post a 100K-worthy tweet about it.

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Sadie Bell is the entertainment associate editor at Thrillist. She’s on Twitter and Instagram.

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