By Barbara Glass
Anyone who has lived in North Texas for any length of time has said, “The weather is good now—but just stick around awhile and it will change!” Although we have some balmy 60-70 degree days in winter with sunshine galore, they can be abruptly followed by a thirty degree temperature drop with rain. Even worse—ice and snow. An outside activity might be warmish at the start, but the ground is usually muddy, and the temperature drops quickly with cloud cover. Planning family outings is treacherous. Recall when Dallas hosted the 2011 Super Bowl during an especially nasty two-week stretch of below-freezing temperatures when snow and ice gripped the streets and overpasses. Sun, ice, rain, cold, and snow are all on the North Texas menu of possible weather conditions.
Small wonder there are few outside events planned for this time of year. Why? Because, like Forrest Gump’s observation, “You never know what you’re gonna get,” in terms of weather. Inside is always warm and dry.
So gather up the family and plan your next inside adventure. Rest from the holidays, reflect, get in shape, learn new things, and plan for a fantastic 2020. Up in the Air with IFly at Stonebriar Centre where gravity is defied daily. Put on the safety gear and let the experts guide you on a weightless experience like the astronauts on the Space Station. If you ever plan to skydive, this is a great way to prepare for the experience. This is fun for the family and for other groups as well: military, “team building,” boy and girl scouts, STEM programs, or a fun way to celebrate a birthday. Discounts are available for first-timers. iflyworld.com/dallas
To defy gravity further, try rock climbing at Canyons Rock Climbing in Frisco (canyonsclimbinggym.com) or Summit Gyms in Carrollton. If you’ve passed Belt Line Road on I-35E and wondered what those grain silos are still there for, enter North Texas Outdoor Pursuit Center from Fourth Avenue and discover a climbing wall paradise. For kids, for parents, for anyone wanting to learn the art of rock climbing, these are excellent indoor environments to hone skills before spring and summer hiking trips. summitgyms.com northtexasopc.com
If you’re planning a cruise or beach vacation, learning to snorkel and scuba dive will add a whole new vista to your trip. Visit Adventure Scuba & Snorkeling Center in Plano. With classes from beginners to advanced, for children and adults, and for groups as well. For swim lessons and water safety education, this is the place. adventurescubaonline.com
Speaking of water safety, did you know that the Red Cross offers classes for teens and young adults who want to become Life Guards? There are swim classes for kids, CPR and First Aid instruction, Lifeguard Certification—good information for any person who owns a boat or plans to buy one for the family. There are several Dallas locations to choose from. For teens looking for their first childcare job, Red Cross even offers online courses on babysitting! redcross.org
In winter months, why not take to the ice? Whether the Galleria rink or the Children’s Health StarCenters, there are skates to rent and fun to be had. Check out nhl.com/stars/starcenters/ for locations in Plano, Richardson, Farmers Branch, and Frisco. Lessons are available, beginners to advanced, for young hockey players and figure skaters. Stick around and watch the clubs and pros play. Watching Mom or Dad slip on the ice is free. nhl.com
New sports fun this year is the Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) that has two franchises in Dallas: the Mesquite Outlaws, playing at the Mesquite Rodeo Arena, and the Dallas Sidekicks, playing at the Allen Event Center. Great soccer action, affordable ticket prices, refreshments, and fun family entertainment. If your family is into soccer, make a point of supporting these brand new teams. mesquiteoutlaws.com dallassidekicks.com
Winter is the season for basketball. The Texas Legends are fun for the whole family and groups of friends. There are seven home games in January and February. Visit texas.gleague.nba.com for details and tickets. For food, beer, and entertainment with competitive action at its best, there is no place more fun than the Texas Legends at the Comerica Center. texaslegends.com
Where can you find laser tag, bumper cars, video games, climbing walls, and bowling all in the same place? Pinstack – that’s where! With locations in Allen, Frisco, and Irving, Pinstack is a place for families and adults to enjoy an active day or evening while the weather is chilly and rainy. pinstackbowl.com
For fun and laughs, make time to visit Stomping Ground Comedy Theater in Dallas’ Design District. It’s worth the trip for the whole family. (stompinggroundcomedy.org) For classes in Stand Up, Improv and Sketch Comedy, Writing Skills, and Scene Prep, Stomping Ground offers a raucous good time while honing your performance skills.
Good for the kids, good for the grown-ups. FYI—Stomping Ground is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, which offers scholarships and improv training for caregivers. stompinggroundcomedy.org
Museum-minded folks will enjoy the Dallas Museum of Art’s weekend activities such as Open Studio for children. Evenings include Arts and Letters speakers for parents and older children. It’s easy to spend an enjoyable family day visiting their regular collections and having lunch at the café. dma.org.
The newly open Holocaust & Human Rights Museum has age-appropriate tours for families. If you have not visited yet, the winter months offer a great opportunity to experience these exhibits. Weather-permitting, follow the museum visit with a walk around Klyde Warren Park while enjoying a treat from one of the many food vendors. There is always something to do or see there. dhhrm.org klydewarrenpark.org
For some enjoyable adult time—say, around Valentine’s Day—plan a weekend at the Hilton Anatole that includes several hours at the Verandah Club and V Spa, followed by dinner at SER Steak & Spirits on the 27th Floor. hiltonanatolehotel.com
The Cru Wine Bar, with three Dallas locations, offers 300 wines and excellent menu choices, evocative of the relaxed Napa Valley atmosphere. (cruwinebar.com) For an intimate evening away from the kids, some wine and quiet conversation are always on the Cru menu. cruwinebar.com
Of course, there are times in winter when just sitting back and relaxing seems the right choice. Gathering by the warmth of a fire is one of life’s great pleasures. Hot cocoa or mulled wine with hands wrapped around the warm mug meshes with the sounds of the crackling wood. Meanwhile, the cold is somewhere far away. Winter at home can be made more enjoyable by bringing the “outside inside” with a renovated fireplace. The “inside” can also be brought “outside” by creating a patio area that is weather-protected and has a hearth for warmth. Whatever your plan, Trinity Fireside can make it happen. trinityfireside.com
Who says all the good movies come out before Christmas? For the ultimate family outing, make every night movie night with a home theatre from Starpower. If you’re a football fan, watching the NFL playoff games and Super Bowl on a jumbo screen makes it feel like you’re in the stands. Relax and enjoy the action in your own home while it’s brrrrr cold outside. starpower.com
The winter months can be the best of the year to seek out new places and experiences that are a short drive away. Check out the websites, pack up the family, and go forth!