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Down by the Lake Shore

White Rock Lake
Multiple access points along West Lawther Drive and East Lawther Drive.
Park and Recreation Department office: 8007 E. Northwest Hwy., Dallas
Administration: 214/670-4100
Reservations: 214/670-8890
Hours: Open every day, 6am–11pm
Admission: Free
Parking: Free lots around the lake

Resist the urge to plunge feet first into White Rock Lake. For those uninitiated to this 1,000-plus-acre reservoir five miles from downtown Dallas, the city banned swimming back in the ’50s. But more options for water sports and recreation on solid ground guarantee all-day family entertainment — too many, in fact, for one trip. So we’ve broken them down into three must-have experiences.

Join the parents pulling bike caddies and pushing jogging strollers, and take off in any direction on the 9.3-mile paved loop that hugs the lake’s curves from top to bottom. Painted lanes separate the opposing traffic of bicyclists, joggers and dog walkers. If you have extra time, stop by one of the seven playgrounds or any place along the shore for a quiet picnic.

By the north pedestrian bridge on Mockingbird Lane, you’ll find the White Rock Paddle Co., open Wednesday–Sunday for kayak (tandem or single), canoe or paddleboard rentals by the hour. To get out on the water with your kids, reserve your preferred mode of water transport online and the crew will outfit your brood with lifejackets. Want some formal instruction first? The company hosts a one-hour class on Wednesdays from 6–7pm.

Whether you paddle, bike or drive around the lake, the slew of bird species is not to miss. Take a peek through the vintage-style viewfinder on the Bath House Cultural Center’s back patio, or better yet, head where the city’s most avid birders frequent — the fish hatchery by the spillway. The parking lot at the south end of Winsted Drive leads right up to a wooded section along White Rock Lake Trail for a stroll with binoculars in hand.

Published June 2014