Things to Do

Don’t Take Garland for Granted: Go on a Great Garland Tour

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After my husband and I spent a few days in Garland recently, I realized I’d been taking the city for granted. I thought I knew Garland, but didn’t know how much there is to do in this North Texas city. It’s just to the east of Dallas and on the shores of Lake Ray Hubbard.

I’ve been to Garland so many times before, and even have a lot of friends there. I knew the city had a thriving art scene, since I’ve been attending the Garland Summer Musicals for decades. I tried not to miss any of their Broadway-caliber shows; that is, until 2020, when the pandemic brought down the curtain on all entertainment venues. The musicals are back, though, with “Grease” and “Nine to Five” on this summer’s schedule.

The Flying Saucer

Don't Take Garland for Granted: Go on a Great Garland Tour

Photo: Holt photo-The Flying Saucer pretzels

With so many attractions in Garland, visitors need longer than a few days to explore the city. Garland is now the ninth-largest city in Texas and boasts an amazing number of parks (63), plus three championship golf courses. Our headquarters for exploring Garland was in a suite-style room at Hyatt Place. The hotel is conveniently located by Garland Convention Center just off George Bush Freeway. It’s also near Firewheel Golf Course (named for the prolific wildflower, aka as Indian Paint Brush).

Outdoorsy types can find hiking and mountain bike trails, or head for scenic Lake Ray Hubbard for fishing, boating, sailing, water skiing, or windsurfing.

During our recent visit, we had a great time watching competitive arm wrestling on The Flying Saucer’s patio overlooking the lake. Experiencing all that exertion helped us work up an appetite for the restaurant’s yummy giant pretzels and German-style sausage plates.

The Flying Saucer’s extensive menu offers plenty of other options, ranging from salads to desserts and an impressive assortment of craft beer. The Flying Saucer is a great place for happy hour and people watching, even without the arm wrestling. Check out beerknurd.com for upcoming events.

Historic Downtown Garland Square

Don't Take Garland for Granted

Photo: Courtesy Rosalind’s Coffee Shop

We spent another afternoon strolling around Garland’s historic downtown square. The square has a lovely small-town feel and look, with benches and green space welcoming visitors to sit awhile. We learned from Visit Garland’s Dana Lodge that the city is planning to spend $16M on even more renovations to their delightful square.

Rosalind’s Coffee Shop on the square is a favorite breakfast and lunch spot for locals. We stopped by for coffee at 10 a.m. on a recent rainy Friday and found the charmingly decorated interior packed. We were lucky to find an empty, quite comfy couch and table near the back. I ordered the house specialty, Lavender Love coffee, which was smooth, delicious, and probably addictive. They also have quiche and pastries that looked delish.

Jimmy Wallace Guitar Gallery

Don't Take Garland for Granted: Go on a Great Garland Tour

Photo: Holt-Guitar Gallery

One of the newest shops on Garland’s downtown square is Jimmy Wallace Guitar Gallery, which opened late in 2019, shortly before the pandemic. It’s a combination museum and store that features so much memorabilia a music fan can easily spend a day browsing. Plus rooms filled with guitars ranging from not-too-expensive to those totally out of range for most of us.

Jimmy Wallace is the producer of the Dallas International Guitar Festival (DIGF, the world’s largest and oldest guitar show). We enjoyed hearing him and other musicians perform at Intrinsic BBQ April 15 to kick off the 2021 DIGF. The live concert was held on the covered outdoor stage at Intrinsic BBQ, also located on Garland’s square. A large crowd of beer, BBQ and music lovers turned out for the event, in spite of the rainy evening. Intrinsic owner Cary Hodson helped our table decide on what to order from his BBQ and craft beer selections.

Intrinsic Smokehouse Brewing & BBQ

Don't Take Garland for Granted

Photo: Courtesy Garland CVB

While I’m a wimpy beer drinker and usually prefer wine, I bravely offered to try a tasting flight with four samples of Intrinsic’s own brewed beer. After all, Garland is known for its Beer & BBQ Trail and boasts plenty of both at local breweries and restaurants. I was surprised to find all four of the beers in my flight (curated by Cary) were really good. Even the Brown ale wasn’t too strong but had a smooth flavor.

My favorite was their Kolsch craft beer, and that’s what I’ll order on future visits. I ordered a BBQ brisket plate, and Intrinsic’s tender brisket was delicious. My two sides, Jalepeno cream corn and turnip greens, were also terrific. My husband ordered a rib plate and said they were some of the best he’s ever had. He was happy with his favorite beverage, Dr Pepper, claiming it melded perfectly with BBQ.

Intrinsic’s prices aren’t bad either! Our one-meat plates with two sides were $13.50. Next time we visit them, I’ll order their half pound of Prime Brisket ($9) to take home. Intrinsic also has a thriving catering business, which helped them stay active during the pandemic. They also have happy hour, Sunday brunch, and many other specials (see Intrinsicbrewing.com).