An individual enjoying a local park with their dog.

How to make a day of it at Downtown Dallas’ cute new parks

These green spaces can be a destination or a starting point for a day full of fun.

You’ve probably noticed a shift if you’ve visited Downtown Dallas recently. Since 2019, four “neighborhood urban parks” have popped up, transforming parking lots into green spaces with ample amenities and activities. The parks are a serene respite in their own right, and they can also be a starting point for an incredible day with loved ones. If you’re looking for a low-cost, all-upside outing to explore the best of Downtown Dallas, we’ll outline which parks to visit and nearby activities. 

Harwood Park: Best for families (including dog parents)

What to do at the park: Opened in September 2023, Harwood Park is the newest addition to Downtown’s outdoor draws. Kids will love Harwood Parks’ playground, which includes two mammoth-shaped play structures (the trunks are slides!), and parents will find plenty of seating nearby. The park also features two dog parks with water fountains and landscape-play elements to entertain even the most high-energy canine.

What to do after the park: After some fun frolicking at one of the best parks in Dallas, walk a few blocks to the Dallas Farmers Market, which is pet- and family-friendly. On Saturdays and Sundays, you can visit the open-air pavilion to pick up produce, meats, cheese, canned foods, bread, and wine. You can also dine at The Market — a 26,000-square-foot food hall open seven days a week — offering a variety of local favorites like Taqueria La Ventana, Rex’s Seafood & Market, and Ka-Tip Thai Street Food. Opt for any of the dog-friendly patios or find ample seating inside.

Carpenter Park: Best for art lovers 

What to do at the park: At nearly six acres, Carpenter Park is one of the largest parks in the urban core and offers plenty to do — from the outdoor public basketball court to an interactive fountain where kids and dogs can splash on a warm day. Make sure to see the “Portal Park Slice” sculpture, a reimagination of the late artist Robert Irwin’s original public installation that visitors have enjoyed for more than five decades. 

What to do after the park: Don your walking shoes and head to the Dallas Arts District, which is about a half-mile away (about a 15-minute walk). See rotating exhibits at the Nasher Sculpture Center or The Dallas Museum of Art, or catch a performance at the AT&T Performing Arts Center. If you’re hungry, upscale eateries pepper the district, like Tei-An, beloved by food critics and diners alike for its hand-crafted soba noodles and top-notch sushi. Prefer a more low-key nosh? Enjoy an order of Scotch eggs alongside a pint at the Playwright Irish Pub.

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Pacific Plaza: Best for picnickers and readers 

What to do at the park: Opened to the public in 2019, this park replaced more than 100,000 square feet of asphalt with dozens of trees and plants, creating a lush outdoor environment. Relax under the circular pavilion with abstracted punches of American Morse code, creating a striking visual pattern on sunny days. It’s one of the many details that make this park worth perusing.  

What to do after the park: Stay there! Sure, you can access Deep Ellum, Downtown, and the Arts District from Pacific Plaza, but you can also spend a delightful day relaxing in the park. A limestone seating area stretches throughout the park and offers shaded, semi-shaded, and full-sun seating so you can pick the perfect place to read. With more than 30,000 square feet of lawn, outdoor enthusiasts will find ample room for lounging at one of the best parks in Dallas for a picnic.

West End Square: Best for working, writing, or finding inspiration

What to do at the park: Designed to be a “testing ground” for incorporating technology and nature in urban areas, West End Square offers plenty of ways to plug in. The Outdoor Workroom offers a 50-foot-long table fitted with charging stations so you can finally write that manuscript or take a meeting outside. Or visit the Innovation Arcade to find inspiration among temporary installations, performances, and artwork along Market Street. 

What to do after the park: Hit the West End Historic District to explore other worlds, like the Dallas World Aquarium, with exhibits that feature marine life and animals from around the globe, like flamingos and ocelots. There’s also the Museum of Illusions, where mind-bending exhibits featuring optical illusions and visual tricks may have you questioning your perceptions.

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People Walking in a Shopping Plaza

How to maximize your experience at 3 Atlanta entertainment districts

Some consider these developments hallmarks of the city. Here’s what to know if you plan to visit.

Ask any ATL native how much the city has changed over the years, and you’re probably in for a half-hour rant. Fellow residents have likely noticed the emergence of large-scale developments offering trendy restaurants, retail storefronts, office space, and concert venues in up-and-coming areas of Atlanta. Now, some believe these mixed-use spaces are hallmarks of the city.

With all the new offerings, it can be intimidating to determine how to navigate each of them. This guide takes you through everything you need to know — from the restaurants worth visiting to the parking situations you’ll find — to maximize your experience at three entertainment districts. 

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Ponce City Market (PCM)

Let’s start where every tourist begins: Ponce City Market. Sure, major construction can block views of the city, but the iconic neon signs and unique spots keep drawing visitors back. 

Parking: PCM offers reasonably priced spots on the deck at $2.60 per hour. Street parking is an option if you’re not opposed to searching and then walking down Ponce de Leon Avenue. 

Food & Beverage:  Depending on your vibe, the PCM food hall can be a cuisine wonderland or completely overwhelming. For a standout option, try one Minero’s burritos, loaded with white rice, beans, Oaxaca cheese, crema, poblano peppers, cabbage, cilantro, salsa verde, and avocado. Did we mention they toast the burrito in cheese, creating an irresistible crispy exterior?

For those looking for a luxury lounge experience, the exclusive 12 Cocktail Bar fits the bill. Its craft cocktails, such as the Oaxacan smash featuring Siete Misterios Mezcal, lemon, lime, blueberry, passion fruit, and orange, are sure to impress. Get there before the 5 p.m. opening each day, or make a reservation before your next date night! 

Retail: PCM is home to many big-name retailers like Allbirds, Casper Mattress, and Atlanta’s only Glossier storefront (one of only 11 worldwide). Whether you’re in the mood to splurge or window shop, it’s undoubtedly a fun opportunity to experience online-first brands in their brick-and-mortar store. 

The Krog District

Let’s head south to The Krog District, a fascinating piece of Atlanta’s history, named after notable resident Frederick Krog. It’s been going strong since its redevelopment in 2004, with new additions and old favorites among the ever-expanding mix. 

Parking: The Krog District offers surface lot and garage parking options starting at $4 per hour on weekdays and $6 per hour on weekends (beginning Fridays at 5:30 p.m.).

Food & Beverage: You’ll find two restaurants here that have earned the Bib Gourmand honor in the Michelin Guide. First, there’s the intimate Ticonderoga Club — where you’ll want to opt for a reservation when (and if) you can. The Club rotates seasonal standout entrees, including the catch of the day, served alongside Carnaroli risotto, red grapefruit, parmesan, and fresh chives.

For a more casual spot, Fred’s Meat and Bread offers unbeatable food at a reasonable price. Sample tried-and-true sandwiches like the classic parm and tuna melt, or opt for eclectic creations like the “almost vegetarian” cauliflower and eggplant banh mi. It features pickled carrot, daikon, spicy mayo, jalapeno, cilantro, and a Thai vinaigrette. 

For a nightcap, walk to Brewdog or Pour Taproom, breweries with ample space and plenty of hops.

Retail: The Krog District boasts many unique storefronts as well, including Outdoor Voices, Patagonia, Xocolatl Small Batch Chocolate, and at least a dozen other highly recommended retail spots to hit up. 

The Battery Atlanta

Braves fans are likely familiar with The Battery, which includes Truist Park, home of the Atlanta Braves. In addition to food and drinks, concertgoers also flock to The Coca-Cola Roxy, which features notable comedians, musicians, and other performers. 

Parking: Great news! Self-parking is complimentary at the battery for the first three hours on the red, green, yellow, and purple decks. Not such good news: Event-day parking has a fairly complicated set of new rules. Uber or Lyft may be your best bet.

Food & Beverage: Crowds visit for sports and beer, and those are truly the standout draws. However, Antico Pizza Napoletana and elevated Tex-Mex eatery Superica are excellent choices if you’re seeking a full meal. Regarding drinks, there’s no lack of beer (think $12 tall boys) in every corner. Try Terrapin Taproom for an ice-cold Luau Krunkles POG, a hazy IPA with tropical aromas.

Retail: There’s no lack of Braves swag available, with two different storefronts selling team merch. 

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Vendors setting up a produce stand at a farmers market

7 essential Greater Phoenix farmers markets to visit

Where to shop for local produce and more this season.

Grocery shopping is a hassle. A solution to big-box grocery stores is your local farmers market, where you can avoid long lines, high prices, and bright overhead lighting and find fresh, locally made goods. These open-air weekend markets bring out local vendors from the Phoenix Metro region who dish fresh produce, in-season items, baked bread, and other local snacky goods. There’s music, community, art, artisan-made crafts, food trucks, and vendors. What are you waiting for? Jot down that grocery list, grab your reusable totes, and plot your next market run to these local Phoenix farmers markets.

Uptown Farmers Market

Uptown Phoenix

Every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., every Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

Mexican fusion barbecue, seasonal honey, and organic coffee are just a few things you can check off your grocery list at the Uptown Farmers Market. The year-round market draws out crowds for its community-focused atmosphere, kid-friendly activities (pet kids, too), and unmatched roster of Arizona growers and producers. And you don’t have to wait until the weekend to restock your pantry with sourdough bagels and prickly pear teas since the Uptown Farmers Market is recurring every morning on Saturday and Wednesday. 

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Downtown PHX Farmers Market

Downtown Phoenix 

Every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The Downtown PHX Farmers Market is widely considered the best farmers market in town. It’s certainly one of the biggest around, boasting close to 100 Arizona-based vendors for every Saturday market. In addition to the fresh produce, and lots of it, the Downtown PHX Farmers Market platforms local Phoenix artisans and makers. So, you can shop for fresh-pressed juice and jewelry on your next market run. 

Bread-maker setting up an outdoor stand for fresh-baked bread

Gilbert Farmers Market

Downtown Gilbert

Every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

This popular East Valley market is known for its lineup of food trucks and for being very dog-friendly. The local artisan bread booths, iced coffee pop-ups, and organic produce are also big draws, of course. Come out early to beat the crowds and find your place in line for some breakfast, like strawberry and whipped cream-covered waffles, while you watch the adorable pups go by on their morning walks. 

Old Town Scottsdale Farmers Market  

Old Town Scottsdale 

Every Saturday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

Built on local connection, the Old Town Scottsdale Farmers Market boasts a local lineup of farmers, vendors, and growers every weekend. The food- and farming-only market is stocked with stuff you won’t find on any ordinary grocery store shelf, like spicy vegan toffee, hand-rolled pasta, bottled cashew oat milk, and free-range organic blue eggs. A word to the wise: Don’t forget to pick up a pack of tamales for lunch while you’re there. 

Tempe Farmers Market (TFM)

Downtown Tempe 

Open daily

Tempe Farmers Market begs the question: Why wait until the weekend? Here, you can shop for your favorite local goods every day. The Tempe Farmers Market, also known as TFM, is a permanent brick-and-mortar space that specializes in local specialty products, fair trade teas and espresso drinks, made-to-order paninis and smoothies, and takeaway vegan deli-style eats. We can’t forget to mention the selection of basic produce items like locally grown fruit and vegetables. At night, the space transforms into a sort of speakeasy-style lounge where you can catch live performances and music while you sip on TFM’s tasty chilled drinks. 

Downtown Mesa Farmers Market

Downtown Mesa 

Every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

While the Downtown Mesa Farmers Market is a newcomer to the local farmers market scene, it has amassed a large following for its curated selection of unique vendors and its offering of handcrafted goods. And, thanks to a series of local partnerships, the market is able to bring live music to its outdoor venue. The Downtown Mesa Farmers Market features a different local musician or band each week. So, you can expect to hear a range of tunes, from jazz to upbeat ukulele melodies, while browsing the soy candles and gourmet butter.

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