Editor's note: This story was originally published in 2015. We have added a few new places and made other adjustments to bring it up-to-date for summer 2017.
Ah, the eternal tedium of adulthood. Days wasted behind the glare of a monitor imprisoned in cubicle walls. Nights tethered to the beck-and-call of a smartphone's reliable chirp. Sleep's monotony interrupted by the gnawing grind of trash truck at dawn. Nevermore to relish the idyllic simplicity of afternoon hopscotch and recess Dunkables, pleasures lost to unknowing youth ...
Haha, just kidding: Being a grown-up has never been better since the eradication of cooties in 1996. As if hanging out past curfew weren't fun enough, plenty of local spots up the ante by providing full-on playgrounds. Here are 15 spots that help recapture that youthful exuberance all over D-FW.
Golf within everyone's range
Whether you schmooze clients over the back nine on the reg or you never even held a club, TopGolf is your "skills optional" destination with locations all over the country and all over the Metroplex.
How it works: Start with a required membership card, which keeps track of your name, previous scores, and how many games you've purchased. Then, grab a table (which seats up to 6 and includes meal and drink service) at a climate-controlled bay.
Taking turns, players hit microchipped balls onto an outdoor driving range set up with targets like a massive dart board. Play specific target-based games or just go for the long-game: The chip keeps score of your points and distance and automatically displays it on monitors.
Food/drink: The burgers get the praise, but you can also snag salads, wings, flatbreads and even crazy chicken and waffle sliders with jalapeno gravy during brunch. Drinks differ by location, but beer tends toward the domestic. There are also frosty margaritas, signature cocktails, and a selection of Fishbowls for multiperson parties.
What makes it special: Where else can you throw a co-birthday party for a 10-year-old daughter and 60-year-old dad where everyone wins?
Craving something quirkier? The Goat Ranch near Fair Park could be called a "dive-bar TopGolf," its co-owner explained when it opened back in 2016. In addition to 15 hitting bays on its driving range, The Goat Ranch also features a pool table, arcade games, a pinball machine and other odd pop culture paraphernalia.
It's OK if you don't roll on Shabbos, but Dallas' craft beer and bowling scenes have joined in holy matrimony, and there are six other nights per week to get in on this good action. Even a real Munson can enjoy great food and drink at places like Bowl and Barrel on Park Lane, Bowlounge in the Design District and Pinstack, with locations in Irving and Plano and a third planned for Allen in fall 2017.
How it works: Similar to your quintessential, old-school bowling alley, but with a chic edge and individual twists. Bowl and Barrel offers 15 lanes with new Qubica/AMF bowling equipment and an upscale finish. On the other hand, Bowlounge takes a retro approach by rescuing, refinishing and restoring vintage equipment from an old East Texas venue. It features 12 lanes, "vintage Brunswick A2 pinsetters and ball returns," and "first generation electronic scoring." Pinstack offers bowling with 21 and up options after 9 p.m. and a VIP section with a "Vegas-style feel." It also has an arcade section, rock climbing wall and ropes course.
Food/drink: Bowl and Barrel features "high-end American tavern" food with unexpected options like hot fried quail, a Wagyu steak and blue cheese sandwich, and pork shoulder tender with braised kale, a bacon dollop and crumbled cornbread. From the bar, you'll find local craft beers on draught plus hand-crafted cocktails, over 20 whiskeys and even independent wines on tap.
Bowlounge offers all the regular menu items from burger joint, Twisted Root, plus Bowlounge exclusive items, and late night breakfast tacos after 11 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. When it comes to drinks, they serve up craft cocktails (including the thematically-named "Out of Your Element Donnie!" and "Nobody F's With the Jesus") and 40 beer taps with local draughts and a 75 foot bar constructed from an old bowling lane.
Pinstack makes an effort to keep everyone happy, and that's why the arcade and restaurant are "comfortably separated," our Tiney Ricciardi reported about the first location's opening in 2015. The menu focuses on scratch modern American cuisine with a full bar.
What makes it special: The proof is in the popularity. At Bowl and Barrel, walk-ins are technically welcome, but seriously, call ahead and reserve a lane if you want to get near the action. Bowlounge, on the other hand, doesn't take them, but during peak hours lanes may be limited to two games and only 21+ are allowed after 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Spiked drinks and sand
Dallas may be landlocked, but that doesn't mean you have to invest in a 4-plus hour drive to get your feet in some premium Maverick vs. Ice Man style sand. Sandbar Cantina & Grill - aka "Beach Ellum" - became a downtown destination when former pro Skylar Davis built it, somewhat unexpectedly, in 2012.
How it works: At Sandbar, it's free to play and first-come-first-served, so during peak hours, you might wait awhile. There's also year-round league play, private lessons and facility rentals for parties.
Food/drink: The scratch kitchen's hand-cut fries are oft-praised, but that's about as bar-food as it gets. Other options keep with the destination theme, offering blackened cod, fish tacos, apricot marmalade glazed skewers, fajitas and a healthy "Beach Bowl" with lean protein, rice, black beans and other southwestern flavors. Craft beer and cocktails reign supreme - both separately and combined. Take, for example, the "Mandarin Sunrise," which mixes Revolver Blood and Honey with St. Germaine, Absolut Mandarin and orange juice.
What makes it special: Lots of places claim they've created a "destination," but Sandbar succeeds in every way. The Dallas skyline looms directly above, but there's little urban otherwise, to this urban oasis.
Coming soon: A new sand volleyball bar called Beachcomber is expected any day now in The Colony. Read our full story here.
Play all the games
The spots lifted below have games such as Giant Jenga, cornhole (not that kind), bocce ball (what the H is that) and trashcan beer pong.Social House
Bryan Street Tavern
The Nodding Donkey
Community Beer Co.
HG Sply Co. (Fort Worth location)
Honorable mention: The Grapevine Bar's half basketball court for pick-up games while you try to pick up good-lookers.