An idle mind is the devil’s playground, some mother of a school-age child wrote one summer. And when it comes to summer, there’s probably a little bit of child in all of us – even whose summers are filled more with routine than the extended summer vacation of our youth.

The good news for neighborhood residents is that there are enough summer activities right around the body – if not the mind – busy.

Without leaving our neighborhoods, and in most cases without spending mall-sized amounts, individuals or families of any size or type can enjoy dozens of recreational activities, from sports to camps to picnics.

Free Fun

Sign the kids up for no-charge activities at the City-operated Samuell-Grand Recreation Center, such as basketball camps, soccer camp, golf, volleyball, football, baseball, kickball, dodge ball, floor hockey, table tennis and nature walk, or take advantage of the open periods for basketball and table tennis (6200 E. Grand Ave., 670-1383, open every day). The center also schedules field trips for kids that require a fee for transportation.

Walk in beauty (or picnic on one of the shaded table) at the Dallas Arboretum, which doesn’t charge admission on Fridays from 3-6 p.m. (8617 Garland Road, 327-8263.)

Instead of sitting home with the Rangers on TV, spend an evening at the local ballpark playing or watching softball. Games are played almost every night at Norbuck Park, Winfrey Point, Samuell-Grand Park, Randall Park and Tietze Park.

Go fish. You might not catch enough for supper, but there are plenty of anglers who relax over their poles in the shallows below the White Rock Lake Spillway. Buy bait at Jimmy’s Wheel In, 7524 E. Grand Ave. at Gaston Road (open at 7 a.m. every day), or at the boat house concession, 3240 W. Lawther Drive (10 a.m. until sunset).

Picnic at one of the prettiest spots in town, Flagpole Hill (overlooking Northwest Highway at Buckner Boulevard): plenty of tables, trees and toilets, plus a great view. It’s also a super place to fly a kite. (There’s a pavilion that may be rented for large groups (620-8243), but it’s $75 for six hours.)

Visit one of a series of free exhibits at the Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E. Lawther, open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 to 6 (670-8749).

Wave a flag at the Lakewood Fourth of July parade, which starts at 9 a.m. at Cambria and Lakewood Boulevard and ends in a neighborhood gathering at the park at Lakeshore Drive and Tokalon Drive.

Run, job, walk or bike the trails that completely encircle White Rock Lake. For information on City bicycle trail maps, call 670-4272.

Not Quite Free, But Still A Pretty Good Deal

OK, most neighborhood recreation requires a fee, but at least the choices range from miniature gold to Tai Chi. Here’s a rundown:


The 9.1 mile trail around White Rock Lake never goes unused. There’s a race of some kind on the first Saturday of each month (Cross Country Club of Dallas, 855-1511), plus one of the Fourth of July and the Summer Bath 15K on Aug. 14.


The 10-mile lake trail connects to a 7.5-mile trail that runs westward along White Rock Creek. Rent bikes of all types at Jack Johnston Bicycles, 7820 Garland (328-5238, $7 per hour or $20 all day) or at the boat house concession, 3240 W. Lawther ($7.50 hour).

Paddle Boats

Once again, try the boat house concession, 3240 W. Lawther ($5 per half hour).


Here you’ll find spacious grounds full of gardens, flowers, picnic tables and a new nature trail with a garden hunt for kids (8617 Garland, 327-8263, admission $6 adults, $5 senior citizens, $3 ages 6-12, free for under-6; $2 parking fee for special events only; free admission at all times to members, free to all on Fridays 3-6 p.m.).

Bath House Cultural Center

Summer classes for children in visual arts, photography classes for adults, theater productions, free exhibits, picnic area (521 E. Lawther Drive, 670-8749).


The Corinthian Sailing Club (579-8845) and the White Rock Sailing Club (328-7361) on the northeast side of White Rock Lake welcome experienced and beginning sailors’ participation. The clubs race boats as small as 15 feet and offer instruction. White Rock members give informal instruction at the club at 1 p.m. each Sunday, and races are held on Sunday afternoons at 1:30.


City pools at Tietze and Samuell-Grand parks opened on Splash Day, May 29. Pools will be open from 1-8 p.m. five days per week (under 11, 50 cents, 12 and over, $1, family swim $3, lessons $10 for 10 sessions; swim teams will be formed, Fourth of July is special Family Day; call (670-8847).

Other pools will open at East Dallas YMCA (6200 Worth, 824-8139) and Central YWCA (indoor pool, 4621 Ross, 827-5600). Most Y pool activities are for members only, but the YWCA has open swim periods for all in afternoons $4 per person (call for times). The East Dallas YMCA has a scholarship program for those needing assistance with fees.


Samuell-Grand Tennis Center has 20 lighted courts ($2 to $4 per court for 90 minutes), league play, lessons and pro shop (6200 E. Grand Ave., 670-1374, open 9 a.m.-9 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. weekends).


Tenison Golf Course has two 18-hole courses, lessons, youth clinics, and a summer youth pass that costs $30 and allows the holder to play for 50 cents per round all summer at all five City courses (3501 Samuell, call 670-1402 for reservations; greens fees $11 weekdays, $14 weekends, club rental $10.83).

Also, there’s Northwest Golf Range and Par-3 Course (10726 Northwest Highway, 348-3693, open 9 a.m.-10 p.m.); Galaxie Park miniature golf and batting cages (10808 Northwest Highway, open 3:30-9:30 p.m. weekdays, 11-11 weekends; and Scotty’s Golf Park, par-3 course and driving range (8787 Park Lane, 341-9600).

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