Discovering One of Dallas’ Most Underrated Suburbs — 10 Things to do in Richardson
New Developments, Restaurants and Parks Mean Plenty of OptionsBY Megan Ziots
Free Play has 95+ arcade and pinball games.
Spring Creek Nature Area and trails. Photo by Sandra Hoffer via All Trails
The Alamo Drafthouse Richardson is the best place to catch a film.
Breckinridge Park has trails, gazebos, playgrounds and more. Photo by Jennifer Fritz via All Trails
The Ann Eisemann Inclusive Playground is for various ages and abilities.
The Eisemann Center puts on all kinds of performances, from The Nutcracker to comedy shows.
CityLine is a walkable city to live, work, and play.
Four Bullets Brewery brews English ale with a Texas twist. Courtesy of Four Bullets
Eiland Coffee Roasters is a local Richardson roaster and one of the best in DFW.
Adventure Landing has 18 holes of mini golf. Courtesy of Groupon
Richardson, Texas is an underdog suburb. For those who don’t live there, there’s not a ton of information available and it rarely gets the attention that it deserves. But this pleasant Collin County suburb has some great sites, activities, bites, brews, and even a new kind of city life that is beginning to make it stand out.
My first house as a kid was in Richardson, on the very eastern edge on Renner Road, right next to Breckinridge Park. I remember going to the park often, which is still there and looking to add more to the expansive trail. My family would go to the Richardson City Hall every Christmas for the annual Santa’s Village set up. I’d go to the Public Library to check out my Junie B. Jones books.
A few years ago, CityLine opened at President George Bush Turnpike and I-75. It brought State Farm and Texas Health offices, as well as new residences, retail and restaurants. I meet my dad there, who lives in Allen, about once a month for dinner at one of the many new restaurants, which include Fernando’s, Fish City Grill and Luna Grill. They also just put in Char’d Southeast Asian Kitchen and Oni Ramen is coming soon.
And soon, Richardson will be revitalizing its historic downtown. There’s a lot to look forward to. There’s also a lot to head to Richardson for now. Even if for nostalgic, childhood memory purposes, I already loved this suburb.
Here’s a list of the 10 best things to do in Richardson.
Free Play Richardson
1730 E. Belt Line Road
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had this place brought up to me. My Dallas friends are constantly talking about heading over to Richardson to hit this retro arcade and bar for date night or a group hang. For about $11, you gain access to all of the games you could ever desire to play. There are more than 95 games and pinball machines, drinks and arcade food.
Games include Ms. Pac Man, Dragon’s Lair, Mortal Kombat, Donkey Kong, Smash TV, Mario Bros., and so many more. On Friday and Saturday nights after 9 pm, the arcade is only open to ages 21 and up. The bar offers beer, wine, liquor, ciders and spiked sodas.
Alamo Drafthouse Richardson
100 S. Central Expressway
The first Alamo Drafthouse in the Dallas area, I used to frequent this movie theater a lot. Especially when I worked there for three or so weeks one summer, before I quit from utter exhaustion. Being a server at this place is tough. I give those guys a lot of credit. Taking orders, running food… all in the pitch black darkness of a movie theater? But I digress.
Personally, I believe that Alamo Drafthouse is the only place to see a movie nowadays and the Richardson one is a great Alamo. There is lots of parking, a bar, and easy access to Central Expressway. There are also great restaurants in the adjacent strip mall like Haystack Burgers.
3555 Brand Road
The 417 acre park at the corner of Renner Road and N. Brand Road has a multi-use trail, picnic and playground areas, two pavilions, a gazebo, 12 soccer fields, two softball fields, three ponds, and natural areas. When I was a kid, this was the prime spot for riding bikes, playing soccer games, and taking embarrassing family photos. My parents set my younger brother and I up once, posed in the fall leaves, both wearing turtleneck shirts with more leaves on them.
A couple of weeks ago, the city council approved of the parks department to pursue grant funding for additions to the Breckinridge Trail. The funding, if it is granted, will improve two segments of the trail, one creating safe crossing to connect Ruth Back Toler Park to Breckinridge. The other will allow for continuous access to the park by connecting a couple of parking lots.
Spring Creek Nature Area
Intersection of Renner and Plano Roads
This 51 acre park is not nearly as big as Breck, but it has some pretty scenery. There’s a 2.3 mile paved walking trail that forms a loop and a meandering creek. It’s dog friendly and kid friendly. The trail is kind of a hidden gem, situated right in between the busy highway and office buildings.
The area is wooded enough that if offers a mini-escape within the city.
Ann Eisemann Inclusive Playground at Cottonwood Park
1321 W. Belt Line Road
Just opened in April, this inclusive playground at Cottonwood Park is a 11,000 square foot amenity for all ages and abilities. The playground includes separate areas for ages 2 to 5 and ages 5 to 12. There are four types of swings, including traditional belt swings and tot buckets, as well as high-backed, plastic seats for added support, and two-person swings, where a child and adult face each other.
An adaptive merry-go-round is at the park, with seats and standing room, as well as a double see-saw and tire swing. There’s also a sensory garden.
The idea came from the Richardson East Rotary Club. The $500,000 project broke ground in January and opened this April.
Eisemann Center for Performing Arts
2351 Performance Drive
Since 2002, the Eisemann Center has been putting on all sorts of performances. From The Nutcracker during Christmastime to Miss Texas competitions, the center is critically acclaimed for not only the shows it puts on, but the architectural design of the building.
This July, “Old Jews Telling Jokes” is performing several shows. Created by Peter Gethers and Daniel Okrent, the performance showcases five actors in a revue-type production that pays tribute to and reinvents classic jokes of the past and present. It celebrates Jewish humor and all the rabbis, complaining wives, fed-up husbands, gossiping ladies and more. The humor is ideal for ages 17 and up.
3661 N. Plano Road
One of the newest additions to Richardson, CityLine is a walkable development with apartments, offices, restaurants, a Whole Foods store, and more. It has the feel of a city with the convenience of the suburbs. There’s easy access to other areas of Dallas with President George Bush Turnpike and Central Expressway being nearby.
It’s super modern living and eating. And there are many events that go on for community bonding. From wine dinners to yoga classes and live music, there’s lots to do. Char’d Southeastern Asian Kitchen is the newest addition to the dining scene, and many more hot spots are on the way. The Aloft hotel is right in the middle of the little city and more parks are coming soon.
Four Bullets Brewery
640 N. Interurban Street
Local Richardson brewery, Four Bullets, was founded by Andrew Smeeton and Jeff Douglas in 2015. The duo brews English ale with a Texas twist and has nine beers on tap. The taproom is open on Fridays from 4 pm to 9 pm and Saturdays from noon to 8 pm, and will soon be open on Thursdays from 4 pm to 9 pm.
The brewery has live music, individual pints available for purchase, a patio, food trucks, and bar games. For $15 on Saturdays, you can do a beer tasting that includes a free pint souvenir glass and three pints of beer from the bar. Some of the beers include a red ale, an English pub ale, a pale ale and brown ale.
Eiland Coffee Roasters
532 N. Interurban Street
Founded in 1998 by Clay Eiland, Eiland Coffee Roasters is a small batch, artisan coffee roaster that specializes in rare & unique single estate coffee. The roaster has small coffee bar where you can order a latte, americano, cappuccino, or drip coffee. They also do a Kyoto cold brew.
Hours are Mondays through Fridays from 7 am to 6 pm and Saturdays from 8 am to 4 pm. You can come in to order a drink, buy wholesale beans, or learn a bit about the coffee roasting process.
Eiland purchased a second location (the old Pancho’s Mexican Buffet off of I-75) two years ago to expand into a bigger cafe. The plan to create a three-story facility with a drive-thru, larger cafe, restaurant, and second roastery was very exciting to me (I love their coffee), but was shot down by Richardson City Council earlier this year.
It’ll be interesting to see what the roaster decides to do next.
17717 Coit Road
Technically in Dallas, this amusement park is close enough to the Richardson border to be considered a Richardson attraction. I’ve been here several times to play putt-putt, arcade games, and go-kart race. They also have laser tag, batting cages, and bumper boats. It was also one of the top places to have a birthday party as a kid in the early 2000s.
I still think about it today, as I love putt-putt and it has one of the most fun courses for kids and adults. The mini golf course has 18 holes designed with fun zoo animals, a waterfall, and cave-like features. The go-karts are also super fun with a quarter mile track to zoom around on. And the arcade has the classic tickets and prizes you can redeem them for.