Don’t ever believe tout children if they say there’s nothing to doooooooo in Dallas. Whatever their pleasure-nature, race cars, video warfare, swimming, reading-the Metroplex has endless options for working off youthful energy. A sampler:
Benbrook Ranch and Stables. Saddle up and hit the trails. The ranch offers riding lessons, and. for you more advanced cowboys, solo rides out there on the plains. Rt.17. Box 226. Benbrook. near Fort Worth on Highway 377. (817) 249-1176. Daily 8:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.; Riding lessons: prices van. Horse rentals: $10 per hour. All children under 18 must have a parent present or a notarized Benbrook Stable parental consent form to ride.
The Children’s Arts and Ideas Foundation. 2812 Swiss Ave., 75204. 823-1903. Provides art classes for the purpose of developing self-esteem and creativity. Classes include ceramics, painting, sculpture, mime, drama, creative writing, and music.
The Dallas Library. Don’t overlook your neighborhood branch library. A whole host of activities is scheduled year-round for preschool (puppet shows, visits from circus clowns, arts and crafts) as well as school-age youngsters (term-paper workshops, summer reading clubs, bicycle safely presentations). Contact the library for specific activities, dates, and times, or go by and pick up The Almanac, which publishes events scheduled each month, For hours and branch locations, call 670-1400. Most library activities are free.
Dallas Park and Recreation Department. Sometimes you don’t even have to leave your neighborhood to find fun and excitement. The Park and Recreation department answers a 24-hour activity line that outlines major city-wide activities at the various park grounds. Call 670-7070.
The Dallas Zoo. Take a walk on the wild side. There are lions and tigers and bears: there are scheduled feeding limes [3 p.m daily) and a behind-the-scenes tour of the Bird and Reptile building. Board the zoo train for a leisurely ride around the zoo if your feet get tired. 621 East Clarendon (946-5155). April-September. 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; October-March, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Adults $2; Children (6-11) $1.25: under 6 free.
Fort Worth Botanic and Japanese Garden. The Botanic Garden features orchids, southern magnolia, narcissus, tulip trees. and flowering dogwood (to name only a few). Visit the Japanese Garden and see Mandarin ducks and Imperial Carp. (It’s okay to feed them.) There’s also a fragrance garden. 3220 Botanic Garden Drive. Fort Worth. (817) 870-7686. Botanic Gardens: 8 a.m. -dark daily: Japanese Garden: November-March, Tuesday-Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; April-October. Tuesday-Sunday 9 a.m.-7 p.m. (Ticket sales slop 30 minutes before closing.); Students 50 cents; adults $1: $1.50 weekends; children under 12 free.
Fort Worth Stockyards. When you find our sister city to the west, you’re sure to discover her famed stockyards. North Main and Exchange Avenue form the stockyard borders. On these two streets, you’ll receive a hefty dose of true Texana. There’s the Livestock Exchange Building. and be sure to catch the rodeo in the renovated Cowtown Coliseum. For a detailed map of the Stockyards District, call the North Fort Worth Historical Society at (817) 625-5082.
Fort Worth Water Gardens. A maze of dancing waterfalls and fountains makes this one of the most tranquil spots around on sunny days. Grab a picnic basket, pack up the kids, and head to the heart of downtown Fort Worth. The water is activated daily. Located 1-30 at Main, south of the Tarrant County Convention Center. Open at all times, seven days a week. Free.
Fort Worth Zoological Park. The Fort Worth Zoo is home to one of the largest aquariums in the Southwest. But if you’ve come to see the lions, tigers, and bears, you won’t be disappointed. Take a look at the new elephant breeding facility and at the extensive collection (more than 600) of reptiles and amphibians in the Herpetarium. 2727 Zoological Park Drive. Fort Worth. (817) 870-7050. Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Saturday 9 a,m.-6 p.m.; Sunday 9 a.m-6:30 p.m.; Adults $2; youth (12-17) $1.50; ’ children (3-11) 25 cents; tots (0-2) free.
4-H Program of Dallas County. For boys and girls ages 9-19 and their families. They participate in projects, such as food and nutrition, that teach life skills and make the children feel good about themselves. In conjunction with the Texas .Agriculture Extension Service of Texas A&M University. 653-7402.
Heritage Farmstead. Since 1891, this Piano farmstead has withstood the test of time, and today it offers a rare visit into the past. The four-acre museum tells a story of a way of life during the heydey of farm prosperity in our area. 1900 W. 15th St.. Plano. 424-7874. Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-l p.m., Sunday 1 p.m.-4 p.m. Tour available every hour from 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
Hundley Boat and Recreation Center. Rent a bike, paddle boat, or surrey (that’s a bicycle built for two) and lour White Rock on your own. 3240 W. Lawther near the Old Boat House. 823-6933. 10 a.m.-one hour before sunset. Bicycles. $4.50 per hour, paddle boats: $8.50 per hour: surreys: $8.50 per hour.
International Wildlife Park. Feel like going on safari? As you drive through this natural preserve, you’ll see plenty of exotic animals stalking the grounds. A few of the beasts are bold enough to come right up to your car for closer inspection. And if you’re hearing the call of the wild, take a camel or elephant ride in the park’s Entertainment Village (open daily June-August). 1-30 at Bell Line, Grand Prairie. 263-2203. Monday-Friday 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.. Saturday-Sunday 9:30 a.m -6 p.m. $6.95 per person during the week: $9.95 per person on weekends.
LB. Houston Park Nature Area. So, you’re really tired of having someone else pint out the animals, tell you what kind of flower that is, remind you to stay behind the rope, and herd you to the next exhibit. Have we got the place for you. This nature area is exactly that-natural and undisturbed. You’ll find your own birds, beaver tracks, fossils. honey locusts, and, of course, a swamp rabbit or (wo. Be prepared to rough it. For the park’s specific location (it branches out near the Trinity River!. call Doug Vergara with the City of Dallas at 352-3967.
Learning About Me, A Child’s Introduction to the Arts. 7115 Lavendale 75230. 691-3093. Pamela Stone Ciaccio. director. Creative arts school has creative movement, art, drama, and music activities for children ages 2 1/2 to 9. Preschool classes are available, as well as a creative arts day camp during the summer and classes on Saturdays throughout the fall.
Log Cabin Village. Turn the clock back to the frontier days. Seven pioneer cabins, all built in the 1800s, makeup this rustic neighborhood. University Drive and Log Cabin Lane, Fort Worth- (817) 926-5881; Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.. Saturday 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Sunday 1 p.m.-4:30 p.m. Adults $1; children (under 12) 50 cents.
Malibu Grand Prix. Here’s a half-mile of pure racing pleasure. Race cars punch up to 70 m.p.h., so buckle up and pretend you’re on Central Expressway. 11150 Mali-bu Drive. Stemmons at Walnut Hill. 247-5318. Monday-Thursday 12 p.m.-10 p.m., Friday 12 p.m.-midnight, Saturday 11 a.m.-midnight, Sunday 11 a.m. -10 p.m. Adults $1.95 per lap; children $1.85 per lap.
Penny Whistle Park. Here’s an enclosed and air-conditioned amusement park full of carnival rides, a boat ride around a magic fountain, even a sea of red and yellow balk to”swim” in. 10717 East Northwed Hwy.348-8297. Tuesday. Wednesday. Friday 1 p.nv-6 p.m.. Thursday 1 p.m.-9 p.m. (through August).
Photon. Players suit up in space-age warrior gear and ward off the bad guy at this living fantasy. 12630 E, Northwest Hwy. 270-7616. Tuesday-Thursday 7:30 pm-10 p.m., Friday 7:30 p.m.-midnight. Saturday 12 p. m.-midnight, Sunday 12 p.m-10 p.m. Must be 4’6″ to play; $4,50 for ID card (one-lime charge); $2 per game.
The Science Place I. Features Hands-On Physics: The Erik Jonsson Physical Sciences Exhibition, a permanent display with interactive exhibits designed to teach the fundamentals of physics and math; Seashells, a collection of 1,700 species of shells; and looking at the Light, another interactive display shotting optical effect and the physical properties of light. Also hosts major traveling exhibits, such as More Robotic Creatures. State Fair Grounds, Fair Park. 421-3466. Tuesday-Sunday 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Adults $3; kids ages 7-16 and senior citizens $2; children under 7 free (limit 2 per adult); Wednesday afternoons free.
The Science Place II and Planetarium. Planetarium show changes seasonally; permanent exhibits on explora-(ion of the planets, energy, future human environments, and the Transparent Couple. State Fair Grounds, Fair Park. 428-5555. Tuesday-Saturday 9:30 a m.-5:30 p.m., Sunday noon-5:30 p.m. Adults $1; kids ages 7-16 and senior citizens free; children under 7 free (limit 2 per adult); planetarium $1.
Six Flags Over Trias. Six Flags offers something for everyone: rides. games, and conceits. The Avalanche Bobsled is sure to give you goosebumps. And the swanky Festival Concert Pavilion hosts some top-name performers. But some things never change: don’t miss eating at least one Pink Thing. I-30 at Hwy 360. Arlington. 640-5050. Sunday-Thursday 10 a.m.-l0 p.m., Friday-Saturday 10 a.m.-midnight, Adults $17.95: Children under 4 $11.95.
Southfork Ranch. J.R. won’t be there, but you can lake a tour of the house and grounds. Magic shows are per-foimed several times throughout the day. On weekends, see authentic clog dancing, and (for a dollar extra) take a tide wild-west style in a stagecoach or surrey. Parker Road at FM 2551, Parker. 442-6536. Open 7 days. 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Adults $6.95; children (4-12) $4.95; 3 and under free.
Wax Museum of the Southwest. Come (ace to lace with figures from the Old West, heroes from American history, heartthrobs From the silver screen, and ghouls in the new Theater of Horrors. 601 E. Safari Pkwy., Crand Prairie. 263-2391. January-May, September-December, Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday-Sunday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; June-August, Monday-Sunday 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Adults $5.95; children (4-12) $4.95; under 4 free.
Wet ’n’ Wild. Forget the neighbor’s pool-the wave of the Eighties is water parks. Wet ’n’ Wild is speed slides. fiume tides, wave pools, and an old-fashioned Tom Sawyer-like river raft ride. 1800 East Lamar, Arlington, 265-3356, and 12715 LBJ Freeway at Northwest Highway in Dallas, 271-5637. Sunday-Thursday 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Friday-Saturday 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Adults $12.50; children (3-12) $10.50.
We know, we know-the old nature question. Dallas just doesn’t look like the Shenandoah Valley. Where are the beaches, the rolling hills. Nan, blah, blah? Sorry. If you’re desperate, move to Montana and tend sheep or something. But before you do park your car for a moment by Turtle Creek. There is civilization nearby, you will see buildings, and there will be no chance sightings of deer. But as you walk along the old flowing creek, even in the midst of a heat wave, there will come a moment when you will walk under a shade tree, and the birds will be calling from over the water, and a little gust of breeze will come out of nowhere. And you will find something stealing over you. if only for a moment, something you haven’t felt in a long, long time. Could it be, in the heart of the city, that you just felt a sense of-peace?