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Why Rita Strickler Loves Garland

her family’s favorite spots to get out some energy

Full-time mom Rita Strickler enjoys living in her Garland neighborhood with her three boys (Luke, 8, Anthony, 6, and Nicholas, 4) and her husband Mark. Strickler shares where they have a meal together, where she gets the boys’ their energy out and more.

Favorite family restaurant: The Main Street Cafe in downtown Garland is our favorite. It is locally owned and the owners are just as sweet as they come. The restaurant is small and quaint and everything that you could possibly hope for: home cooked desserts, incredible burgers, specialty sandwiches and super delicious entrees. We recommend the truffle fries, the Chicken Nathan and the Banana Pudding! Yum! 627 W. Main St., Garland; 214/703-0210

Eastern Hills Park Courtesy City of Garland

Favorite local park: The city of Garland just recently renovated Eastern Hills Park (just around the corner from our house) and it’s just lovely! The park features a lovely walking trail and is surrounded by huge trees. We live walking distance to Lake Ray Hubbard, so we frequently see all kinds of unique waterfowl flying overhead. We also have a rather large population of bluebirds and cardinals and see families of bunnies all the time. It’s our kids’ favorite park in the area. We also frequently go to Audubon Park (the entire recreation center is under renovation at the moment; we can’t wait for it to open back up). Eastern Hills Park, 3415 S. Country Club Road, Garland; 972/205-2750; Lake Ray Hubbard; Audubon Park, 342 W. Oates Road, Garland; 972/205-2750 

Favorite family outing: Our three young boys have loads of energy, so we go to Obstacle Warrior Kids at Firewheel; the management is fantastic and they have a great setup for older and younger kids alike. It is just a quick 15-minute drive from our house. Pre-COVID, we used to go to the kids story time hour at Barnes & Noble and would walk over to the kids’ nature trail in the Firewheel Town Center green space. We also frequently go to Urban Air. Can you tell that we have really active boys? Obstacle Warrior Kids, 305 Prairie Clover Drive, Garland; 972/495-4222; Barnes & Noble, 190 Cedar Sage Drive, Unit BB01, Garland; 972/496-2000; Firewheel Town Center, 245 Cedar Sage Drive, Garland; 972/675-1041; Urban Air, 3046 Lavon Drive, Suite 129, Garland; 972/295-9177

Go-to date night spots? My husband and I adore Ferah at Firewheel. There is also a cute little mom-and-pop owned burger joint around the corner called Don Burger that has the best burgers around. Ferah Tex-Med Kitchen, 690 Beebalm Lane, Garland; 972/496-0201; Don Burger, 4133 Broadway Blvd., Suite 100, Garland; 469/931-2280

For self-care: We love to garden so we visit Suburban Plants almost every other week. We go so frequently that the people that work there actually came up to our house to help us with our kiddos’ cacti & sensory gardens in our backyard. We all enjoy being outside together with our speakers blaring Kacey Musgraves and getting all dirty in our backyard. 1810 La Prada Drive, Mesquite; 214/748-7438

Get active: Does power shopping at Target count? What about chasing the dog down the street when he spots a squirrel? We walk to the park, we do GoNoodle when the weather stinks, gardening can definitely be intense, we ride bikes and we do lots of yoga with our boys.

Cool off: Our neighbors are elderly and, due to COVID-19, we weren’t able to continue going to our gym, so we cover the expenses of their pool care during the summer and we go keep them company. We also love TC Shaved Ice. 503 S. Garland Ave., Garland; 214/535-4536

Give back: We have been limited because of having a child with special needs, but we mainly donate through our church, St. Joseph Catholic Church in Richardson, and they work directly with St. Vincent De Paul. St. Joseph Catholic Church, 600 S. Jupiter Road, Richardson; 972/231-2951; St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store, 3052 W. Northwest Hwy., Dallas; 214/373-7837

Why Garland is a great place to raise a family: Our area is off the beaten path and very quiet, a hidden little gem just off that is only a half-mile away from the lake. There are three parks and it is very undisturbed. We have huge trees, big lots and the neighborhood is very diverse.

Find your tribe: Most of my mom friends are from Little Disciples Learning Academy within St. Joseph Catholic School. This program has truly been the most incredible and life-altering school for our children. The director, Amy Mackey, is an angel on Earth (I’m convinced). There are also always moms at the park, and I would talk to a wall, so I meet them there as well. St. Joseph Catholic School, 600 S. Jupiter Road, Richardson; 972/231-2951

Featured photo courtesy of Anna Patterson.