White Rock Lake is one of the most popular places for North Texas locals to get back to nature while enjoying fresh air and exercise — usually by walking, jogging or cycling the 17.1 miles of paved trails that surround the lake. It’s a very convenient place to visit for residents of Lakewood, Forest Hills, Lake Highlands and greater East Dallas, but it’s also a drive-worthy destination for people living all over the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. The agents of Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty love White Rock Lake, both as visitors to it and for its almost irresistible appeal as a selling point for homes in nearby neighborhoods. So, we’ve gathered a list of seven things you can do at White Rock Lake in addition to — or instead of — strolling, running or riding a bike.
1. Set sail
Have you really visited a lake if you haven’t ventured out onto the water? It’s easy to experience the gentle waves aboard the The Spirit of Dallas sailboat. Book a public sail in the afternoon, at sunset or under the night sky. If you have a sailboat of your own, join the Corinthian Sailing Club or the White Rock Boat Club to share tales of the hometown sea with fellow boaters.
2. Paddle for power
For anyone seeking something a little more active than kicking back on a sailboat, White Rock Paddle Co. rents single and tandem kayaks and stand-up paddleboards by the hour. (Bonus: Either option is a significant upper-body workout.)
3. Eat BBQ to brag about
Across from Garland Road is one of the most popular restaurants by White Rock Lake, thanks to a vibrant, energetic beer garden and a massive, indoor-outdoor, climate-controlled patio. Smoky Rose has an extensive menu to enjoy on-site before or after a visit to the lake. Its barbecue meats by the pound and side dishes are excellent for takeout, too, to enjoy at a picnic table or spread out on a blanket on the lake’s shores.
4. Tiptoe through the tulips
Nestled against the White Rock Lake waterfront, the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden features thousands upon thousands of flowers on its 66 acres, including special plantings each spring and fall. It also offers multiple food and beverage options within the park itself.
5. Go birdwatching
White Rock Lake made big headlines in 2022 thanks to a pair of federally protected bald eagles that nested in a tree near the reservoir. But even if they have flown away to a new destination, you can still experience plenty of avian species at specific points around the lake. The species you might see? Gulls, loons, herons, ducks and pelicans — the white kind, not pink.
6. Dance to live music
The Bath House Cultural Center has regular arts programming, including a series of lakefront concerts through July. The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden also hosts Cool Thursdays concerts on the lawn overlooking the lake each spring and fall, adding a nice soundtrack to the scenery.
7. Set out for a sunset
Head to Winfrey Point, then walk down the hill to the lake facing the downtown Dallas skyline. Here you can snuggle up with someone special or gather with a group of friends to catch the spectacular sunset in the western skies above White Rock Lake.