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The Dallas Summer Bucket List

04 April 2013

The sounds of pool water splashing after a cannonball off a boingy diving board. The smell of sunscreen and a heat so dense you wonder if you'll make it across a Target parking lot alive. I'm yearning for it all. The sensory overload that is summer in Dallas, Texas.

Spring may just have moseyed into to town, but I'd like for summer to feel free to make its grand appearance any day now. So much so that I've taken it upon myself to ready us fine citizens of the best city in the world and its visitors with the list of everything I must do to soak up summertime, a collection of hot and fabulous weeks that for their longer days, can seem to whirl by in an instant.

If you were here for the Dallas Christmas Bucket List and my 13 Things to Do in Dallas in 2013, you know the drill. We're going for maximum Dallasyness (though I do have the audacity to suggest a few trips out to the suburbs on this list) and minimal to no overlap with previous recommendations. If you're new here, please have a warm welcome and stop by my Go Do Dallas page to see all the adventures I love to find in such a fine and fancy city.

You ready?

A gorgeous night with my loves, Markus and Mike Rhyner from Petty Theft, at the Arboretum last year.

Hot n' Cultured in the City - Plays and Concerts

Shakespeare in the Park is one of Markus' favorite date nights in Dallas. We love to bring a big blanket and a picnic to enjoy! I've seen Romeo and Juliet as a street gang and The Merry Wives of Windsor set in Small Town, Texas. Both were adorable.

Concerts at the Arboretum are a great way to see the gorgeous landscape of the Arboretum on a week night and see some of Dallas' most treasured cover and funk bands. The bands play at the bottom of the big hill with a backdrop of a glistening White Rock Lake during sunset. My must-see band is Petty Theft!

Astroturf Shows at Good Records are another fun local concert treat with the benefit of air conditioning. Local bands play inside Good Records, the most perfect and charming local record store on Greenville Avenue. Please follow with dinner at Blue Goose, Terelli's or The Grape.

Barefoot at the Belmont is sponsored by my #1 radio preset, KXT (91.7 FM in Dallas), and occurs by the pool at the Belmont Hotel. I love seeing stripped down (muscially speaking - but I mean, our local musicians are pretty secksi) sets from Dallas music icons like Rhett Miller and Tim Delaughter with my feet in the pool and a view of downtown Dallas that cannot be beat.

With the fam at Kaboomtown Addison on my 24th birthday! Oh to be young. And tan.

Explosions in the Sky (and other Displays of Patriotism)

Memorial Day Fireworks with the DSO at Flag Pole Hill are a patriot way to kick off your next wet hot American summer. The orchestra plays at the top of the hill and fireworks go off in the background in accompaniment to their songs. My pro trick is to eat all the watermelon I brought up during the show so I don't have to carry it down the hill with me after.

Kaboomtown in Addison on July 3 Maybe at this point you are wondering, "Is she really a Dallas summer expert?" And I will prove to you that I am right now when I tell you that my birthday is July 3 and I have a 90+% attendance rate at Kaboomtown every year to celebrate since I was maybe 10 years old. Go to your favorite watering hole for a parking lot party, head to the main events in Circle Park or just park your car on the side of the road and sit on the hood. There is a Whole Foods opening in Addison this year, so I'm hoping I can get a chair over there for birthday celebrations and Kombucha tea!

Fair Park Fireworks on July 4 I spend my Fourth of July mornings at neighborhood parades, my afternoon at my grandmother's pool and my evening getting sad that America and I's birthday weekend is almost over. The fireworks at Fair Park are on the evening of the 4th, and the perfect way to send the holiday out with a bang (har har). Fair Park is really ramping up their summer actvities right now, so this year's celebration should be better than ever!

Sistah and I sailing with Scott at her beautiful bachelorette!

Make a Splash - Swimming and Sailing

Fraternal Order of the Eagles Pool is going to happen for me this year. It sounds exactly like the crazy fun and retro community pools I grew up with as a young Dallas gal. There is also talk of grilled hamburgers and jello shots for sale. Como se dice sign this girl up?

White Rock Paddle Company is one of Markus and I's favorite ways to unwind on a Friday night or celebrate our wedding anniversary at White Rock Lake. I love the paddleboards, since White Rock is really calm due to the lack of motorboats, and a good canoe session for us gets us all the way to the other side of the lake right up to our wedding site, Winfrey Point, and back in under an hour.

The hotel pools at the Joule or Great Wolf Lodge are on totally opposite ends of the hotel pool spectrum, but I think each is the best representation of pool staycation getaways for friends/couples and families. Hotel staycations are my favorite - no travel time, lots of great food options, a fun swim and someone else cleans up the mess!

Sail with Scott on Lake Ray Hubbard was the way both Sistah and I chose to sail off from our single days with our lakeside bachelorette parties. Scott is a gem and the sail is super fun and BYOB. I just saw where he's built quite the big new boat and can now cruise during firework shows on Lake Ray Hubbard, so I think it is time Sis and I got our fellas in on the fun with a double date on the lake this year!

Burger Lake in Fort Worth was a fun day trip with college friends when we were home for the summer that I've been thinking about ever since. It's a short drive from Dallas for swimming in the lake, water slides, diving boards and a trapeze. I like that no alcohol is allowed so you can be assured that family time won't get weird.

Little Child and I cheered on the Rangers to a W in 2011!

Feelin' Alright - Sports, Fitness and Outdoors

Hiking Yoga is a cool combo of hikes around the Katy Trail with stops for toning and stretching with yoga. It sounds like the perfect way to take in some new views of my favorite city now that I've really upped my cardio endurance this year with Flywheel classes. (Keep an eye out as this comes up on Groupon quite a bit!)

Tennison Golf Course is a public course in South Dallas and, in my opinion, absolutely gorgeous. There are huge trees that surround the course instead of McMansion homes or apartments, which can be the case with most of our local country clubs. Markus and I played nine holes here last summer and it was like being at a resort!

Disc Golf Courses are where Markus goes to kick back when he needs to unwind. His favorite courses are B.B. Owen in Dallas, Shawnee Park in Plano and the UTD Alumni Course in Richardson. Sometimes I throw but most times I just like to play caddy!

Bark at the Park with the Texas Rangers was one of the best days of summer the year we took Little Child! Every dog gets two seats to sprawl out and a swag bag with treats and a water bowl! LC is a big baseball and Elvis Andrus fan so she had a blast. Her momager was very excited when we made it to the jumbotron!

City Surf Fitness should be where you find yourself ahead of your beach vacation this summer. This boutique fitness studio in Uptown has indoor classes with equipment designed to make you feel like you're riding a surfboard! See what surfing is all about, knock the dust of your five-0 skills or just tone up all over for your trip to the local pool by testing your balance in this cool new way. I saw them on Shark Tank before they opened a studio here and I can't wait to try a class soon!

Two of my favorites enjoying the patio at Company Cafe. LC was not supposed to jump on the table, sorry bout that!

Savor the Summer - Food and Drink

Taste of Dallas brings samplings and small dishes from all of your favorite area restaurants to Fair Park for the day with fun activities and local bands. I love finding the ice cream/frozen treat booths and settling under the music tent for performances from favorites like The Old 97's or the King Bucks.

Patio Dining can be risky during July and August, but I love it in the early summer as a way to unwind on a Friday night or after work. Must-try spots on my list are the gluten-free friendly Company Cafe as well as Common Table and The Porch.

Shaved Ice is truly my favorite summer treat and the sweetest way to wrap up my list. My personal favorite spots are TC's Shaved ice in Garland, Sno in central Dallas (the fruit purees here are delish and a more natural route) and the Enticed shaved ice truck that makes the rounds around Dallas, including my local Lowe's Home Improvement when I'm lucky!

That's twenty things I think I gotta do this summer. It's a good thing I'm getting started early!

Have you tried any of these before? Have something in the Dallas area you love to do every summer? The comments on these bucket lists have grown to be my favorite part, so I do hope you'll share!

Let's make summer a verb and get out and do something this year!


  1. Miss Lilly!!! What a wonderful list and such great ideas. The Mister and I are going to leave our comfort zone and try out a couple of these!

  2. These recommendations for a fun summer in Dallas are AWESOME! I love that so many of them are free. I hope I can check a lot of them off my bucket list.

  3. This is an AWESOME list! I'm feeling pretty lame I haven't taken advantage of half of those things. The concerts at the Arboretum would be great to see and hear (plus it's our wedding venue!) Thanks girl!

  4. Shhh, don't let the FOE secret out!! Its a horrible horrible place.... not recommended!

  5. I SO want to try to hit all (or at least most) of these this summer! Thanks for the list!

  6. Dallas is a great place for summer getaways. Hotel staycations are always nice. We try some favorite food places like Velvet Taco and visit museums.

  7. OMG I've lived a short ways away from Dallas when I was younger and will be moving back this April. This list is fantastic! Thanks for all the great suggestions!

  8. Please, Tennison Golf Course is not in South Dallas, it is in East Dallas. If you travel southward from Tennison and cross under the freeway (not advisable, unless you are making a u-turn & heading further east), you will be in South Dallas.

  9. In hot summer day everybody wants to get rid from sun's bright shine. It will be easy if you rent our water slide game in your home. By play with it they will feel fresh. water slide game

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  11. Very interesting and amazing list for summer travel, thanks for sharing this article with us, Great guide keeps sharing, Tour Operator in Agra


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