Travel

The 11 Best Things to Do Indoors in Dallas When It's Just Too Hot

Treat yourself to art, bar games, and plenty of air-conditioning.

King Spa and Waterpark
King Spa and Waterpark
King Spa and Waterpark

Information listed here may be subject to change depending on the developing situation with COVID-19’s Omicron variant. Please check for the latest updates available or contact each establishment directly for more info.The only reasonable outdoor activity right now is lounging in a swimming pool. Fortunately, there are lots of great pools in Dallas, but you can’t spend all your time submerged in water. When you’re on dry land, however, air conditioning is mandatory, lest you melt under the sun’s harsh rays.

We’re here to help, with 11 fun things to do indoors at more than two dozen venues around town, from art museums and breweries to mini golf palaces and all-day spas. Each provides a lot more respite than a shade tree.

Texas Rangers
Texas Rangers
Texas Rangers

Go to a Rangers Game

This would have been terrible advice for nearly 50 years. But now that the Rangers play inside a climate-controlled stadium, you can actually attend a baseball game in the summer-and enjoy it. Open since 2020, Globe Life Field has a retractable roof that stays shut during the hottest days (i.e. right now), so you can comfortably eat a hot dog, drink a beer, and watch our underachieving baseball team all summer long.

Play Some Bar Games

It’s too hot to play real sports outside, but you can play fake sports indoors at several bars and entertainment venues around town. Electric Shuffle has high-tech shuffleboards with automatic scoring that allows large groups to play together. Or head to Scout inside the Statler hotel for a fun day of bowling, billiards, ping pong, and foosball. Prefer video games? Cidercade has nearly 150 arcade games and 26 ciders on tap, and Flashback Retro Pub has all your favorite retro arcade games from the ‘80s and ‘90s, plus a large selection of craft beers.

Dallas Museum of Art
Dallas Museum of Art
Dallas Museum of Art

Stroll Through a Museum

The Dallas Arts District is one of the nation’s best, so take advantage of this fact and enjoy a couple hours inside a museum. If it’s art you’re after, the Dallas Museum of Art, Crow Museum of Asian Art, and Nasher Sculpture Center are always ready with permanent and special exhibits. Or mix things up at the kid-friendly Perot Museum of Nature and Science, where you’ll find five levels of dinosaurs, DNA, and solar systems.

See a Show

Concert halls and theater centers are stationed all over Dallas, from intimate venues to large stages putting on traveling Broadway shows. But that same Arts District is also a hotbed for performing arts, with plays, musicals, and concerts nearly every night of the week, so you don’t have to go far to see a great show. Relax with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, feel bad about your own singing at the Winspear Opera House, or catch a play at the Wyly Theater, a unique space that can be shaped into multiple sizes and configurations.

Peruse an Indie Bookstore

Yes, we’ve heard of Amazon. But it’s hard to beat the atmosphere at The Wild Detectives in Bishop Arts, where you can settle in with a book and a glass of wine or a cocktail. Interabang Books in West Dallas has a good selection and knowledgeable staff, and Deep Vellum is a publishing house that doubles as a bookstore and coffee shop. Stop by to browse some titles, dose up on caffeine, and be sure to pet the shop dog.

Community Beer Company
Community Beer Company
Community Beer Company

Visit a Brewery

You can barely go two blocks these days without stumbling upon a brewery, so you’ve got your pick of options. Community Beer Co.’s new digs pair a massive beer garden with plenty of indoor space. Manhattan Project has a menu of interesting beers and excellent fried chicken, which is a hard combo to beat. Peticolas Brewing Company’s three-level taproom is a comfortable place to spend an afternoon, and Pegasus City offers two locations-the original in the Design District and a larger space downtown-to sample beer flights and avoid the sun.

Hone Your Cooking Skills

If you want to cook dinner under a pro’s supervision, gather a friend, date, or group and take a class at The Cookery. The Design District school offers regular, rotating classes that cover cuisines ranging from Italian to Indian to sushi. The instructors will pour drinks as you go, and once the food’s ready, everyone sits down at a communal table to eat what you made.

Sample Local Flavors at a Food Hall

If cooking your own meal is too much work, then head to a food hall to sample an assortment of goods. The Exchange at the AT&T Discovery District has top-notch tacos, pizza, and noodles, plus a full bar. The Dallas Farmers Market is stocked with fresh oysters, bánh mì, shawarma, and a cheesemonger. And up in Plano, Legacy Hall has two dozen vendors serving all manner of food and drinks.

King Spa and Waterpark
King Spa and Waterpark
King Spa and Waterpark

Spend All Day at a Korean Spa

King Spa has a cornucopia of spa amenities, including massage treatments, saunas, and steam rooms, plus a series of themed rooms featuring hot stones, cypress wood, salt, and infrared rays. There’s even a food court. But when you need to cool off, take a dip in the cold plunge pool, then visit the attached waterpark, where you can relax in pools, try the 30-foot water slide, and score drinks at the swim-up bar.

Play a Round of Mini Golf

We’re not talking about the kind of mini golf you played as a kid. Another Round has two indoor nine-hole mini golf courses that were designed by a local architecture firm with rolling hills and interactive elements. There’s also a beverage cart serving drinks on the go, plus a full bar and a small food menu. If walking around feels like too much effort, the bar installed a new Duffleboard tabletop game, which combines golf with shuffleboard. And over at The Puttery in The Colony, you can challenge yourself to four nine-hole courses, each with unique themes.

Or Smack Golf Balls at a Simulator

To let loose with some full swings, try a golf simulator. The best ones are calibrated to match your real distance, dispersion, and trajectory, so you can work on your game or just hammer balls into the screen. Serious golfers may want to stick to pro-level simulators, like the kind you’ll find at Eight Under and City Golf Club, while hackers who like to drink between swings will prefer the laid-back vibes at Village Golf Club.

Kevin Gray is a freelance writer and editor covering all things food, drinks, and travel. He’s written for The Dallas Morning NewsForbesLiquor.comMen’s Health, and Wine Enthusiast, and his extensive home bar is turning into a real Hoarders situation.

Travel

Ditch your Phone for ‘Dome Life’ in this Pastoral Paradise Outside Port Macquarie 

A responsible, sustainable travel choice for escaping big city life for a few days.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

The urge to get as far away as possible from the incessant noise and pressures of ‘big city life’ has witnessed increasingly more of us turn to off-grid adventures for our holidays: Booking.com polled travellers at the start of 2023 and 55% of us wanted to spend our holidays ‘off-grid’.  Achieving total disconnection from the unyielding demands of our digitised lives via some kind of off-grid nature time—soft or adventurous—is positioned not only as a holiday but, indeed, a necessity for our mental health. 

Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, an accommodation collection of geodesic domes dotted across a lush rural property in Greater Port Macquarie (a few hours’ drive from Sydney, NSW), offers a travel experience that is truly ‘off-grid’. In the figurative ‘wellness travel’ sense of the word, and literally, they run on their own independent power supply—bolstered by solar—and rely not on the town grid. 

Ten minutes before you arrive at the gates for a stay at Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, your phone goes into ‘SOS ONLY’. Apple Maps gives up, and you’re pushed out of your comfort zone, driving down unsealed roads in the dark, dodging dozens of dozing cows. Then, you must ditch your car altogether and hoist yourself into an open-air, all-terrain 4WD with gargantuan wheels. It’s great fun being driven through muddy gullies in this buggy; you feel like Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park.  As your buggy pulls in front of your personal Nature Dome, it’s not far off that “Welcome…to Jurassic Park” jaw-dropping moment—your futuristic-looking home is completely engulfed by thriving native bushland; beyond the outdoor campfire lie expansive hills and valleys of green farmland, dotted with sheep and trees. You’re almost waiting to see a roaming brachiosaurus glide past, munching on a towering gum tree…instead, a few inquisitive llamas trot past your Dome to check out their new visitor. 

To fully capture the awe of inhabiting a geodesic dome for a few days, a little history of these futuristic-looking spherical structures helps. Consisting of interlocking triangular skeletal struts supported by (often transparent) light walls, geodesic domes were developed in the 20th century by American engineer and architect R. Buckminster Fuller, and were used for arenas. Smaller incarnations have evolved into a ‘future-proof’ form of modern housing: domes are able to withstand harsh elements due to the stability provided by the durable materials of their construction and their large surface area to volume ratio (which helps minimize wind impact and prevents the structure from collapsing). As housing, they’re also hugely energy efficient – their curved shape helps to conserve heat and reduce energy costs, making them less susceptible to temperature changes outside. The ample light let in by their panels further reduces the need for artificial power. 

Due to their low environmental impact, they’re an ideal sustainable travel choice. Of course, Tom’s Creek Nature Domes’ owner-operators, Cardia and Lee Forsyth, know all this, which is why they have set up their one-of-a-kind Nature Domes experience for the modern traveller. It’s also no surprise to learn that owner Lee is an electrical engineer—experienced in renewable energy—and that he designed the whole set-up. As well as the off-grid power supply, rainwater tanks are used, and the outdoor hot tub is heated by a wood fire—your campfire heats up your tub water via a large metal coil. Like most places in regional Australia, the nights get cold – but rather than blast a heater, the Domes provide you with hot water bottles, warm blankets, lush robes and heavy curtains to ward off the chill.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

You’ll need to be self-sufficient during your stay at the Domes, bringing your own food. Support local businesses and stock up in the town of Wauchope on your drive-in (and grab some pastries and coffee at Baked Culture while you’re at it). There’s a stovetop, fridge (stocked as per a mini bar), BBQs, lanterns and mozzie coils, and you can even order DIY S’More packs for fireside fun. The interiors of the Domes have a cosy, stylish fit-out, with a modern bathroom (and a proper flushing toilet—none of that drop bush toilet stuff). As there’s no mobile reception, pack a good book or make the most of treasures that lie waiting to be discovered at every turn: a bed chest full of board games, a cupboard crammed with retro DVDs, a stargazing telescope (the skies are ablaze come night time). Many of these activities are ideal for couples, but there’s plenty on offer for solo travellers, such as yoga mats, locally-made face masks and bath bombs for hot tub soaks. 

It’s these thoughtful human touches that reinforce the benefit of making a responsible travel choice by booking local and giving your money to a tourism operator in the Greater Port Macquarie Region, such as Tom’s Creek Nature Domes. The owners are still working on the property following the setbacks of COVID-19, and flooding in the region —a new series of Domes designed with families and groups in mind is under construction, along with an open-air, barn-style dining hall and garden stage. Once ready, the venue will be ideal for wedding celebrations, with wedding parties able to book out the property. They’ve already got one couple—who honeymooned at the Domes—ready and waiting. Just need to train up the llamas for ring-bearer duties! 

An abundance of favourite moments come to mind from my two-night stay at Tom’s Creek: sipping champagne and gourmet picnicking at the top of a hill on a giant swing under a tree, with a bird’s eye view of the entire property (the ‘Mountain Top picnic’ is a must-do activity add on during your stay), lying on a deckchair at night wrapped in a blanket gazing up at starry constellations and eating hot melted marshmallows, to revelling in the joys of travellers before me, scrawled on notes in a jar of wishes left by the telescope (you’re encouraged to write your own to add to the jar). But I’ll leave you with a gratitude journal entry I made while staying there. I will preface this by saying that I don’t actually keep a gratitude journal, but Tom’s Creek Nature Domes is just the kind of place that makes you want to start one. And so, waking up on my second morning at Tom’s —lacking any 4G bars to facilitate my bad habit of a morning Instagram scroll—I finally opened up a notebook and made my first journal entry:

‘I am grateful to wake up after a deep sleep and breathe in the biggest breaths of this clean air, purified by nature and scented with eucalyptus and rain. I am grateful for this steaming hot coffee brewed on a fire. I feel accomplished at having made myself. I am grateful for the skittish sheep that made me laugh as I enjoyed a long nature walk at dawn and the animated billy goats and friendly llamas overlooking my shoulder as I write this: agreeable company for any solo traveller. I’m grateful for total peace, absolute stillness.” 

Off-grid holiday status: unlocked.

Where: Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, Port Macquarie, 2001 Toms Creek Rd
Price: $450 per night, book at the Natura Domes website.

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