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kristina james and her family

Kristina James’ Picks for Family Fun in Wylie

where to get your queso fix, indulge your inner pirate and cool off

Kristina James and her husband Carlos have called Wylie home for more than 13 years, and now it’s also home to their children, 10-year-old Bria and 7-year-old Benjamin. Ask James (a NICU nurse) what makes her community so great, and she’ll rattle off a long list that includes—in no particular order—parks, pools, charitable giving opportunities, her neighbors, spots for relaxation and the Mexican food. “I hope you can tell we love Wylie,” she finally adds. Yep, we can tell.

Favorite Family Restaurant: Our favorite restaurant to visit as a family in Wylie is definitely Frankies. We love Mexican food—especially the queso for the kids, and margs for Mom and Dad—and their service is great. It’s our go-to spot for family celebrations or when grandparents come into town. You’ll always find families dining on the patio, with rarely an empty table on the weekend. 302 N. Ballard Ave., Wylie; 469/367-4466 

Courtesy Julie Pannell/Wylie Parks and Recreation

Best Park: The parks we visit most are Founders and Olde City Park. Founders Park—or “the pirate park,” as my kids call it—is big enough for the big kids to play, but it’s also great for the little ones to explore safely. We love that it’s located right next to the soccer fields, so it’s perfect for some free play after Ben’s soccer games. Olde City Park is also a great park because of its location right next to the downtown Wylie shops. I can swing by Shoemaker & Hardt to grab a cup of coffee, then sit under the large pavilion while the kids burn off their energy with friends. Founders Park, 851 Hensley Lane, Wylie; 972/516-6340, . Olde City Park, 112 S. Ballard Ave., Wylie; 972/516-6340 

Favorite Family Outing: This would be riding bikes or walking together over to the trails near Wylie Municipal Complex. It’s always clean, paved, has lots of shade, and is just a very pretty area to be outside. I always like to stop and do my “momtography” of the kids at my favorite bridge. They’ll usually cooperate as long as we look for spiders, turtles and snakes first! 300 Country Club Road, Wylie; 972/516-6340

Go-To for Going Out: There’s one place all Wylie women can agree on for girls night, and that’s Landon Winery, especially on half-price Wine Down Wednesday! It’s the best mid-week spot to catch up with the girls or even take the hubs on a date and get away for a little bit without the kids. They often have various wine pairing and shopping events on the calendar, and it’s just a great atmosphere to have some adult time and unwind. The wine is amazing (we love the Cab), and they have charcuterie boards for a snack. If we bring the guys, we’ll order pizza from Villa Vinci right around the corner to be delivered for dinner. It’s Wylie’s best little treasure, right in the heart of downtown. Landon Winery, 103 N. Ballard Ave., Wylie; 972/442-0155; Villa Vinci, 117 N. Ballard Ave., Wylie; 972/429-4799

Self-Care Spot: Massage Bliss & Cryo. This place has so many services, including our favorites, NormaTEC compression therapy and cryotherapy (they call it “squeeze and freeze”) to improve circulation. Since Bria is a competitive cheerleader, she benefits from those therapies to prevent injury and recover her sore muscles. For Mom, they offer facials, massages and skincare services as well as an in-house chiropractor. It’s a one-stop shop for everything we need. 8040 Woodbridge Parkway, Suite 600, Sachse; 214/425-5477 

Where They Get Active: Our family has loved Camp Gladiator, an outdoor bootcamp-style workout with several locations across town and hours that are convenient for our schedules. For indoor fitness, we like the Wylie Rec Center—rock climbing for the kids and cardio, weights, the indoor track and Zumba classes for the adults. Camp Gladiator Wylie-Sachse-Murphy, multiple locations; 214/930-7698; Wylie Rec Center, 300 Country Club Road, Building 200, Wylie; 972/516-6340 

For Cooling Off: We often swim with friends at a neighborhood pool (the Inspiration neighborhood has the best pool, with a lazy river), or we’ll hit up Scallywags—known as “the pirate ship” in my family. When we see that the ship is open and we can make our first trip for a shaved ice, it’s officially summer. Our other favorite is OMG Creamery downtown. The flavors they come up with are homemade and delicious, and we love the old-fashioned ice cream shop vibe. The owner is wonderful and kind, and always churning up something new for his customers. Don’t sleep on the chili dogs and fried pies either. OMG Creamery is more than just ice cream! Club Inspiration pools, 1715 Inspiration Blvd., St. Paul; 469/482-9770; Scallywags, 2771 FM 544, Wylie; 214/733-2296; OMG Creamery, 100 N. Ballard St., Wylie; 214/299-9776

How They Give Back: Since Wylie is such a close-knit community, there are always opportunities to volunteer and help out great causes. The biggest events that the school district holds are the School Supply Drive and Wylie Way Christmas. Our family has participated in adopting a child (or a few) for the toy drive and helping families in need make their children’s Christmas wishes come true.

We also have worked with 5 Loaves Food Pantry and the Christian Care Center to facilitate food donation delivery from Panera Bread. In the summer I have taught vacation Bible school at our church, First Baptist Wylie, for several years, and I always look forward to that opportunity to serve the amazing kids of our community.

School Supply Drive and Wylie Way Christmas through Wylie ISD, 951 S. Ballard Ave., Wylie; 972/429-3000; 5 Loaves Food Pantry, 4401 Williford Road, Sachse; 469/767-8071; Wylie Community Christian Care Center, 1310 W. Brown St., Wylie; 972/442-4341; First Baptist Wylie, 100 N. 1st St., Wylie; 972/442-2261

Why Wylie is Great for Families: We chose to raise our kids here because we just love the small-town vibe and active community events. We moved here for the school district and opportunity for our kids to be in the dual-language program, learning English and Spanish simultaneously in public school. We also love that Wylie is close enough to many neighboring cities and the tollway but still small enough that you feel safe, connected and a deep sense of pride in the community.

How She Met Her Mom Friends: Like many moms, I have met most of my friends through my kids’ school and sports activities. Pre-COVID, I was able to spend a lot of time at their school volunteering as room mom, and got to know other moms and their teachers. The cheer community is a tight one, so some of my closest friendships are other cheer moms because we spend so much time together. We are also very lucky to have great neighbors around us with kids, so we are often hanging in the driveway or in the neighbors’ pools together, because the kids and adults have all built great friendships.

Featured photo courtesy of Zenia Curiel Photography.