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20 Unique Ways to Spend Your Summer Nights

A helicopter ride to dinner, drinks at Sunset on a private sailboat—we've gathered all the A-list activities needed for a smashing summer.

The Santiago Calatrava-designed Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge is the gateway to Trinity Groves.

1. FLYING HIGH
Baby, you can’t get much higher than this utterly romantic dinner date built for two. A helicopter ride by Epic Helicopters at sunset with breathtaking views of the Dallas skyline gets taken up a notch when you add in a flyover to dinner at Rough Creek Lodge in Glen Rose. Your aerial adventure starts with your ’copter pickup at Dallas Love Field, Addison Airport or, for those with acreage, your own backyard. Don’t forget the Dom and a personalized iPod playlist for the 30-minute scenic flight to pretty Somervell County. Once you land at the luxury hunting lodge, you’ll be escorted to the rustic-chic dining room for game-inspired cuisine by chef Gerard Thompson. Still not had enough? Have your pilot buzz you over to the Glass Cactus at the Gaylord Texan for a nightcap. It’s time you had a dinner date to remember, don’t you think? From $1,500, Epic Helicopters, 214.799.1501; Rough Creek Lodge, 5165 County Road 2013, Glen Rose, 254.965.3700

2. TOP CHEF
Liven up a staid summer gathering with a fresh dinner-party twist. Host 20 of your closest friends at 3015 at Trinity Groves. Chef and owner Sharon Van Meter has created an atmosphere where she crafts custom menus that include housemade ricotta salad and grilled whole fish with mint pesto—all with stunning views of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. Take it to the next level by tossing aside your summer 2014 Spotify playlist and enlisting DJ Lucy Wrubel to set the mood. But come prepared: She is bound to start a dance party by the time you finish dessert. That otherwise mundane evening just took a turn for the best. Private dinners from $4,250, 3015 Dallas, 3015 Gulden Lane, 214.939.3051

3. SAIL AWAY
Imagine setting sail on Lake Lewisville just as the sun sets, a bottle of wine in hand, a picnic basket between you and a warm breeze in your hair. It sounds like we’re setting a scene in a romantic comedy, but Sail Dallas offers just this sort of picturesque evening out. Step onto a classic 1969 Hinckley Competition 41 sailboat with sweeping overhangs, a flag-blue hull and a wood-burning fireplace for the evening. Just grab the protagonist of your movie (add another couple for a group date), and ask Captain Matt Meadows to start the fire. $250 an hour, Pier 121 Marina, Lake Lewisville, 214.215.7245

4. WINE SPOKEN HERE
Lafite Rothschild. Chateau Latour. Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. If those names mean anything to you, then keep reading. Dallas’ dedicated oenophiles know their subculture headquarters is Graileys Fine Wines and Cellars, a country club for wine drinkers by way of the Design District, where grape pedigree counts. Open to serious buyers of hard-to-find and rare wines, they also welcome those ready to pony up the $1,500 annual membership fee and $15,000 in yearly wine purchases. With their much-talked-about private wine dinners where a sommelier walks you through courses; weekly tastings with industry experts; and a personal wine locker to keep 18 bottles of your most prized possessions, expect a promising shift in your social standing. By appointment, 1544 Edison St., 214.741.1855

Live music plays five nights a week at the all-Texas all-the-time music venue/restaurant, The Rustic.

5. SAY CHEESE
The cheese pairing classes at Scardello’s Artisan Cheese sell out fast—and no wonder; the names say it all: Chocolate Cheese and Bubbles, Out-of-This-World Cheese Pairings, Italian Wine and Cheese, French Wine and Cheese, Charcuterie and Cheese, Beer Versus Wine Smackdown! and Texas Wine and Cheese. Classes are customizable, from two to 34 (for less structured affairs, rent out the room after hours—the 1,200-square-foot space will hold up to 50). Co-owner Rich Rogers knows his cheese—the focus is on artisanal, handcrafted varieties, and at any given time, he’ll have 150 on hand, including American and European farmstead and Texas cheeses. (Scardello is named after Rogers’ Italian immigrant grandfather, Peter Scardello, who also knew his cheese.) Bump it up a few notches and customize the menu—Rogers frequently tracks down hard-to-find cheeses and wines for discerning customers. Topping Rogers’ list of rarities are Anthill Farms Tina Marie Vineyard Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, a highly sought-after wine produced in small quantities, paired with equally hard-to-obtain Beecher’s Flagship cheddar, a recent American Cheese Society Best in Show. He’s also sourced Stephane Coquillette Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs Brut, a small-production grower’s Champagne, which he pairs with Cremeux des Citeaux aux Truffes from France, a stack of triple creme wheels layered with black truffle. $35 per person, 3511 Oak Lawn Ave., 214.219.1300

6. MEGA MANSIONS
Don’t let the sweltering heat bring you down this summer. Head to Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, the city’s original luxury hotel, and book yourself a private poolside suite. With only three rooms available with french doors opening onto the pool, the intimate, serene setting feels like you’re in the backyard of—well—a gorgeous mansion. Take the experience to the extreme, and book in-room private dining with Executive Chef Bruno Davaillon, who creates a menu designed to your specifications. That and a bottle of Dom Pérignon, and it’s the happiest you’ll ever be not leaving your room. From $650, 2821 Turtle Creek Blvd., 214.559.2100

7. HIGH SPEED
Schedule some time at Eagles Canyon private raceway in Decatur to sate your speed appetite. Car companies such as BMW and Porsche choose to race here, but amateur drivers can also get their Dale Earnhardt on during their monthly track days for nonmembers (this month’s date: June 21). Any street car and driver is welcome—just make sure you’re set with high-temperature brake fluid—and a private instructor is assigned to teach you how to drive like a pro. Don a helmet; rev your engine; it’s go time. 7629 North FM 51, Decatur, 940.466.9775

8. GOING GOURMET IN FORT WORTH
The Dallas/Fort Worth rivalry is so passé. With metro detente on the upswing, it’s an ideal moment to visit Firestone & Robertson, a retro distillery turning out meticulously crafted whiskey. Reservations are required for F&R’s weekly tour at 2pm Saturday—they always sell out at $15 a ticket. After a sample or two, catch the 4pm opening of the chic bar at Grace, which serves the acclaimed restaurant’s full menu of modern American fare highlighted by diver scallops, Colorado rack of lamb and housemade pasta. Grace’s dining room welcomes guests at 5:30pm; however we suggest eschewing a brush with the public by booking the private dining room, where Executive Chef Blaine Staniford will turn out a custom menu that in-house sommelier Jenny Kornblum pairs perfectly with chardonnays, pinots or whatever your sophisticated palate prefers. From $100, Firestone & Robertson, 901 W. Vickery Blvd., Fort Worth, 817.840.9140; Grace, 777 Main St., Fort Worth, 817.877.3388

9. THE LITTLE HOUSE
Somewhere along the way, whiskey got itself a manly reputation. Bowen House, with its plush banquets, white marble tabletops and sleek chandelier, is appealing to the ladies one whiskey tasting at a time. Book a private party where you can ask the mix-masters for a little lesson on bourbon barrels, heritage and single malts. Even the most dedicated vodka-soda drinker will change her tune. 2614 Boll St.

10. PROM NIGHT
Relive those high school moments through song. Be a part of the U.S. debut of Night of the Proms, a nostalgic evening of musical hits from ’80s faves Kenny Loggins, The Pointer Sisters, Michael McDonald and Nile Rodgers & Chic. But this time around, no teen awkwardness allowed. Eighty-six the public seats in lieu of the cush surroundings of Verizon Theatre’s luxury suites. Each one comes with up to 16 tickets to the concert, private building entrance, access to the Club Lounge, catering by Wolfgang Puck and a concierge to make sure the entire night runs smoothly. Aren’t you glad you’re all grown up? From $2,350, June 19, 7:30pm, Verizon Theatre, 1001 Performance Place, Grand Prairie, 972.854.5111, verizontheatre.com

11. RACING DAYS
An aristocratic afternoon of thoroughbred racing and Champagne sipping is a Dallas summer unmissable at Lone Star Park. Reserve second-level box seats by the finish line, and watch the horses run until the sun goes down. Afterward, balance out the refined nature of the equestrian sport with the park’s Lone Star Music Series. On June 7, the stage lights up for a 38 Special concert under the stars, where an exclusive package for the evening includes valet parking, drink tickets and entry to the VIP front-of-the-stage section for the concert. From $62, 1000 Lone Star Parkway, Grand Prairie, 972.263.7223

12. A PRIVATE AFFAIR
The Design District is no longer just a one-stop shopping spot for perfectly curated living rooms; Mark Beardon’s new event space is helping curate your parties too. The Globe is, he describes, a “hybrid” venue where, since its February opening, clients have thrown everything from concerts and weddings to corporate events and fashion shows. The fully customizable venue is versatile, with a sleek white, black and silver interior that’s easily adapted to your concept. There’s multitiered sections, a large stage that can be seen from any point in the room and more than 45,000 square feet of space surrounding the building for outdoor events. The full-service kitchen will fill any of your caterer’s needs, while The Globe’s beverage package comes with an expansive inventory of wine, Champagne, liquor and an in-house mixologist who will help you create custom cocktails. Sounds like you just need to come up with a reason to party. 525 S. Riverfront Blvd., 214.402.6741

13. COUNTRY STRONG
It’s all about Texas at The Rustic. With chart-topping singer-songwriter Pat Green as the frontman and restaurateurs Kyle Noonan and Josh Sepkowitz running the show, the indoor-outdoor hot spot crafts state-sourced cuisine and libations paired with live music five nights a week. For a premier experience, email manager Kara Cook (kcook@freerangeconcepts.com) to nab one of two VIP horseshoe 10-tops on a mezzanine above the dining room. The leather-banquette booths offer a bird’s-eye view of the stage and the open kitchen. 3656 Howell St., 214.730.0596, therusticrestaurant.com

14. CULTURED CUP
Take in a night of cocktails and culture with two classics: rooftop drinks and dinner at Tei-An and the Dallas debut of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. Start with libations at everyone’s favorite Japanese noodle house. Sip on sake as the sun goes down on the rooftop lounge, where access is only granted to those with dinner reservations or to membership cardholders of Tei-An. Afterward, head to Wyly Theatre for the classic story of love and redemption. It doesn’t get better than the intimate setting, where the seats are configured around a center stage making everyone feel like they’re in the VIP section. $140, June 27-Aug.10, Wyly Theatre, 2400 Flora St., 214.880.0202, attpac.org; Tei-An, 1722 Routh St., 214.220.2828

15. NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM
The only museum outside of Japan whose focus is samurai armor is right here in Dallas at the Ann & Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum, which just so happens to be in the preserved and converted St. Ann’s School building, a charming brick structure with a restaurant on the ground floor, overlooking an expansive garden patio. All this sounds lovely, but now, for the first time, you can enjoy it in an all-in-one evening out. This month, you can book an after-hours tour of the Samurai Collection, enjoying an informal tour of the stunning collection of suits of armor, helmets, masks and more. Afterward, enjoy a special prix-fixe dinner just for Modern Luxury readers at Saint Ann Restaurant & Bar. We know we can’t help but pause and peer through the door of the closed museum every time we traipse up those stairs post-dinner—your urge to knock has been satiated. From $55, for reservations, info@samuraicollection.org, 214.965.1032

16. ROCK ON
Paul McCartney’s Out There world tour invades Dallas June 16, promising to be the summer’s hottest ticket. Sir Paul hasn’t been to Dallas since 2009, when he sold out Cowboys Stadium. This tour leans toward the nostalgic, with McCartney playing hits from his entire career, a long one that includes The Beatles and Paul McCartney and Wings, along with his recent studio album, NEW. The best way to see this living legend? Rent an American Airlines Center Flagship Suite for up to 18 people. Closest to the arena floor, these come with private in-suite catering, personal waitstaff and VIP parking passes. It will be the best three-hour trip down memory lane you’ve ever experienced. $12,500, 2500 Victory Ave., 214.222.3687, americanairlinescenter.com

17. TENDER IS THE (LATE) NIGHT
During any given night at the Library Bar, you half expect for Daisy Buchanan to sidle up to the beautiful lapis lazuli bar with a chalice of Champagne in her hand. It is no surprise, then, that the bar at Warwick Melrose (the hotel celebrates its 90th birthday this year) feels like an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel come to life. And if you are at all like the author’s characters, you never want the night to end, which is why this dimly lit ode to bibliophiles is the ideal late-night haunt. Chicly dressed women and men in suits nibble on brisket sliders and sip on the bar’s most popular cocktail, the Mexi-tini, under the chandeliers and amid the din of live jazz music, until 2am on the weekends. Jay Gatsby himself couldn’t resist a night in this library, and even he’d need to make a reservation if he wanted a table, so call ahead. 3015 Oak Lawn Ave., 214.224.3152

18. PAIRING UP
Coming off their successful stint with underground dinner guru Chef DAT, the boys at The Standard Pour are zeroing in on the private dinner and drink pairing format so popular in Dallas these days. In-house chef Peja Krstic and barmen Omar Yeefoon and Josh Hendrix are curating intimate, thematic dinners (Feeling like a quick visit to Spain? Maybe the ’20s?) at your request, creating a dialogue between themselves and the diner. Meanwhile, mixologist Brian McCullough is heading personalized parties with an educational drink program to walk you through a personalized menu, paired with dinner, of course. Just call; describe your needs; and watch them come to life. Talk about a bespoke bar experience! Prices upon request, 2900 McKinney Ave., 214.935.1370

19. HERBAL ESSENCE
Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass were a bravura instrumental musical force in the ’60s with hits like “The Lonely Bull” and “A Taste of Honey.” Denton’s A Taste of Herb has been paying tribute to the man and his music since 2012, wowing area cognoscenti with their fun, faithful, loving recreations of Alpert’s repertoire. Catch them in the speakeasy ambience of Fort Worth’s Scat Jazz Lounge on June 26 and the Twilite Lounge in Dallas on July 18; retro but not kitsch, suave but unstuffy. Olé!

20. PASSPORT TO SPAIN
Construct a night of Spanish culture with a trio of local stops, no passport required. Each Thursday the Meadows Museum is open until 9pm, giving night-owl intellects the chance to browse the halls of Picassos, Miros and De Goyas. After, head to Sangria for tapas of calamari a la plancha, ham and chicken croquettes, and toasted Marcona almonds. Close down the night at The Wild Detectives, a bookstore-coffee-Spanish-wine-shop suggestive of Madrid’s indie lounge scene.