Diana Nelson has lived in the East Dallas area since college, so it was easy for her and husband Joel to choose Lakewood as the place to raise their kids: Edie, 10, Hugh, 8, and Bea, 6. As a special needs mama, Nelson loves the community she’s found. “My mom friendships were forged from church, the kids’ schools, the gym and the best neighbors in the world. Sometimes I make a new mom friend standing in line at the grocery store. I love how local moms support other moms.”
Favorite family restaurant Our son has autism, and eating out can be challenging—not so much for us, but for other diners. Sitting quietly through a meal is hard for him. Our neighborhood restaurants are laid–back, understanding and welcoming. We love the food and family-friendly vibe of Penne Pomodoro Lakewood. And when the weather is nice, we head to the outdoor patio at Smoky Rose for live music, fire pits and green space.
Best park Winfrey Point is the spot. We love trees except when they eat our kites. Winfrey Point is great for kite flying, picnicking and wildflower trails down to White Rock Lake. We’ve become amateur birders and have fun looking for the monk parakeets and red-winged black birds that live there.
Winfrey Point // 950 E. Lawther Drive, Dallas
Favorite family outing The Dallas Arboretum spoils us year-round. There are acres of flowers, ponds, lawns and paths where you can lose yourself. And they are always celebrating something. They go all–in for Halloween and Christmas but surprisingly big for lesser holidays like Groundhog Day. It’s educational and relaxing.
The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden // 8525 Garland Rd., Dallas
For a night out Although we live in a family-centric area, there are plenty of adult spots on our side of town. We start with a cocktail at Lounge Here, a chic neighborhood hideout, followed by dinner at our current favorite restaurant, Local Traveler. It’s a low-light, intimate dining room with a back patio that makes you feel like you’re in the woods. Finish the night with live jazz at the Balcony Club and voilà—perfect date night.
Self-care spot Vivian’s Boutique Spa is a neighborhood gem. They’ve got the pampering thing down and change up the menu to reflect the season.
Vivian’s Boutique Spa // 5420 Ross Ave., Dallas
Go-to for getting active I’d like to say the great outdoors, but the Texas heat persuaded me to join a gym. Life Time Fitness (aka Premier Club) has group classes that keep me on my toes. My favorite class is Dance Jam.
Life Time Fitness (Formerly Premier Club) // 5910 N. Central Expressway, Dallas
For cooling off The kids love to swim. I like to paddle around and visit with mom friends. My husband likes to display his diving board skills, so we spend most of the summer at the Lakewood pool.
Lakewood Country Club // 6430 Gaston Ave., Dallas
How they give back Our proximity to a lake gives us a front row view of the problems caused by litter. We hate to see baby ducklings swimming in trash! For the Love of the Lake is a non-profit that cleans up the lake once a month. The kids are excited to volunteer. They see immediate results and are proud to help. Also, we are members of the St. Thomas Aquinas church and school community and volunteer often to support the parish.
How she found her mom squad I’ve lived in the same area of Dallas since college, so many of my mom friends were friends before we were in charge of small humans. My new mom friendships were forged from church, the kids’ schools, the gym and the best neighbors in the world. Sometimes I make a new mom friend standing in line at the grocery store. I love how local moms support other moms.
Why Lakewood is great for families Just a few miles from downtown, our neighborhood is an urban oasis. Someone once told me east Dallas is “gently bohemian.” I think it’s a perfect description. East Dallas is unpretentious, diverse and full of nature lovers.
Photo courtesy of Diana Nelson.