If you don't live or work in Irving, you might just think of it as an old-fashioned city with some horse statues (that would be "The Mustangs of Las Colinas"). But if you look downtown and even dig a little deeper in Las Colinas, you'll find one-of- kind restaurants, a scenic running trail, and even a beautiful canal that offers more than just a water view. Here are seven hidden gems in Irving you don't want to miss:
Try Texas-inspired meals at the RanchIf you love Whiskey Cake or Ida Claire, then stop by the Ranch, which is owned by the same restaurant group. It features a farm-to-fork menu that changes with the season. Chicken-fried steak, the Bar N Ranch Wagyu burger, and Texas goat cheese grits are just a few of the items the Ranch has to offer. Hit happy hour Monday through Saturday from 4 to 7 p.m. and enjoy half-price flatbreads while sipping on an assortment of drink specials.
857 W. John Carpenter Freeway, Irving. Check our listing for details.
Ride in a gondola on Lake Carolyn
One of the most beautiful areas in Irving is Lake Carolyn. It's a hot spot for popular city events, such as the DFW Dragon Boat Festival and the Independence Day fireworks show. But when it's not hopping with festive activities, it can also be part of a fun day out or even a romantic date. Irving's Gondola Adventures offers gondolas of several different styles to cruise on Lake Carolyn and through the Mandalay Canal. Go with friends or choose one of the romantic packages that feature catered meals. If gondolas aren't for you, then be sure to check out the stand-up paddleboard options that are also available for rent.
Reservations are required. Check the website for details on boarding locations, which are in Irving.
Take a stroll around the Mandalay Canal
Surprisingly, not everyone knows of this cherished part of Irving, which is picture-perfect enough to provide a popular backdrop for wedding and engagement photos. The bridges and tree-lined paths along the Mandalay Canal are surrounded by office buildings, restaurants and shops. Follow the walkway until you reach a serene waterfall. After that, make your way back to try one of the dining options. Avocado Restaurant and Lounge has patio seating overlooking the canals. A fun time to visit is during Canal Fest, which features arts and cultural fun.
215 Mandalay Canal, Irving. Check our listing for details.
Have a giant slice of pizza at Di Rosani's
One of the newer gems in Irving is located on Main Street in a newly remodeled historical building. Di Rosani's is a family-owned and operated, authentic Italian restaurant featuring extremely large pizzas, traditional Italian dishes and an array of wines. This best bang for your buck would be the daily $8 lunch specials, available Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
105 S. Main St., Irving. Check the website for details.
Explore the National Scouting Museum
The National Scouting Museum is the official museum of the Boy Scouts of America. The museum is an enormous facility that includes hands-on learning experiences, a Norman Rockwell art gallery, exciting programs, and much more. It's an interesting look into the scouting movement. Museum admission usually ranges from $5 to $8 and it's open daily. If you're looking for a bargain, go on Sunday or Monday, when it's free.
1329 W. Walnut Hill Lane, Irving. Check our listing for details.
Run along the Campion Trail
The Campion Trail is a 22-mile path along the Elm Fork and West Fork of the Trinity River (check here for info on the parts of the trail that are open now -- rainfall and resulting damage have resulted in some closures). The serene trail is one of the most popular spots in Irving for a picturesque jog or walk. It's also a great spot for a family picnic.
Riverside Drive and Spur 348, Irving. Check the website for details.
Get a tasty treat at Outta the Oven
If you like to indulge that sweet tooth, stop on by Outta the Oven Homemade Cafe and Bakery. Cake flavors include Coca Cola Fudge and Kahlua Crunch, and pies, cookies, quiches and many other treats are available for purchase. Make sure you try the delicious, soft ginger snaps. Outta the Oven also serves breakfast and lunch.
7979 N. MacArthur Blvd., Irving. Check the website for details.
By Susan Kamyab/GuideLive Contributor