Oak Lawn's Ultimate Party Spots For Your After Dark Itinerary

Photo courtesy of Instagram follower-sampeters82
Photo courtesy of Bowlounge Facebook
Photo courtesy of Taboo Lounge Facebook
Photo courtesy of JR's Bar & Grill Facebook
Photo courtesy of Station 4 Facebook
Photo courtesy of The Grapevine Bar
Photo courtesy of Windmill Lounge Facebook
Photo courtesy of The Ivy Tavern Facebook
Photo courtesy of Library Bar
Photo courtesy of The Mansion Bar
By Ilene Jacobs, Dallas Local Expert

Best known as one of the top LGBT-friendly 'hoods in the country, the Oak Lawn area offers a booming gay nightlife scene, boasting dozens of friendly hot spots, each with a unique vibe and many within walking distance of one another.

For the best action, you'll want to head down Cedar Springs where you'll find one of the city's best dance clubs, Station 4– a cavernous nightspot featuring amazing music and an epic motion-sensor light display. The drag shows here are also a must-see. More dancing and drinking can be had next door at JR's, a sprawling multi-level oasis that's been drawing in crowds for decades.

There's also the Grapevine Bar, a gay straight-friendly (or straight gay-friendly) dive sporting a basketball court, ping pong, pool tables and an awesome rooftop deck offering views of the skyline. Speaking of cool dives, be sure not to miss the Windmill Lounge, a friendly neighborhood haunt that happens to be one of the most beloved cocktail havens in town.  

If you fancy a swanky night out on the town that includes seriously delicious cocktails and live entertainment to boot, then hit the Mansion Bar, located in the Rosewood Mansion Hotel or the Library Bar at the Warwick Melrose Hotel.  

And if something less formal is on your agenda, you've got places like the Taboo Lounge and the Ivy Tavern.

You can also booze and bowl at the Bowlounge or sip spiked sno-cones and play sand volleyball at The Grove.

With its diverse array of bars, clubs and upscale lounges, it's no wonder that this neighborhood attracts night crawlers from across Dallas and beyond. But before you head out, make sure to add these 10best options to your bar hopping hot list.

10. The Grove at Harwood
Photo courtesy of Instagram follower-sampeters82

Sand volleyball, spiked sno-cones and sensational paninis? If that combination is your recipe for an evening (or afternoon) of bliss, then you'll certainly find your happy place at The Grove, a wonderfully secluded urban oasis wedged between the Oak Lawn and Uptown 'hoods. Though, this alfresco only supping spot, kitted out with picnic tables, hammocks, sand volleyball courts and a bocce ball pit-- isn't exactly a secret, it certainly feels like one. Not only because the place is hidden away behind a renovated 1940s era cottage (that serves as the kitchen), but also because it's only open spring through fall. Along with a super line-up of games, you'll find a menu of small bites, cocktails, beer, wine and adult frozen concoctions, including those spiked sno-cones in flavors like strawberry whipped cream vodka and orange with champagne. Oh, and best of all, you can being along your kiddos, (even your four-legged ones) to join in all the fun. Make sure you follow on Facebook to find out about drink specials and ongoing events like "yappy hours," volleyball tournaments and live music.

9. Bowlounge
Photo courtesy of Bowlounge Facebook

If burgers, booze and bowling are more up your alley, then you'll want to roll on down to this retro-cool bowling alley, tucked away in a converted Design District warehouse. And when we say retro, we're not talking about a replica, this one's the real deal. The guys behind Bowlounge actually took apart an old 60s era bowling center in East Texas, shipped it to Dallas and reassembled it into a 12-lane hipster haven complete with vintage electronic scoring, Brunswick pin-setters and a 75 foot bar repurposed out of old bowling lanes. Speaking of the bar, while you're knocking 'em down you can knock a few back--with Lebowski style cocktails like the Nihilist, Donnie's Element and The Dude. They also crank out a terrific selection of brew, along with grub options that range from burgers to chicken with all the fixings. Not into bowling? No problem. You can shoot billiards, play a round of golden tee or just cozy up with your neighbors in front of the big screens in the lounge.

8. Taboo Lounge
Photo courtesy of Taboo Lounge Facebook

The recently opened Taboo Lounge isn't the kind of place you'd expect to find inside of an old building in the Dallas Design District. In fact, don't be surprised if you drive past the bar without even noticing it's there, as there's not much to look at on the outside. But that's certainly not the case once you step through the doors. Inside, you'll find a seductive, candlelit cocktail sanctuary-- think prohibition chic meets twenty-first-century cool: with exposed pipes, cinder block walls, reclaimed shiplap floors, antique objets d'art and a gorgeous lime green back-lit bar. And the cozy, secluded seating areas, each with their own distinctive personality-- offer an extremely pleasant place to hang out. But it doesn't stop there. Cocktails are the focus here, with classic mixes such as margaritas, martinis and mojitos alongside unique drink innovations made with unusual flavor combinations. There's also craft draft beer by local brewers as well as a range of tequila on tap. Expect to find a party vibe on weekends when live bands and guest DJs rock the house.

7. JR's Bar & Grill
Photo courtesy of JR's Bar & Grill Facebook

This sprawling multi-level oasis resting at the gay crossroads of the city-- is a terrific place to drink and an even better place to party. Going strong for over three decades, JR's draws in an eclectic crew of gay, lesbian, straight folk and the like for its friendly atmosphere and packed party calendar of events, covering everything from DJ nights and drag shows to costume contests, pool tournaments and album release parties. All this fun is lubricated by a slew of drink specials ($2 schnapps tooters, jello shots & cherry bombs to name a few) on offer every night of the week. And the upstairs terrace provides some of the best people watching entertainment on the street. No wonder this place always packs a crowd.

6. Station 4
Photo courtesy of Station 4 Facebook

Easily one of the city's best and biggest gay dance clubs, Station 4 (or S4 as locals call it) boasts late-night house and hip hop madness Thursday through Sunday, plus awesome drag shows and pageants in the Rose Room upstairs. Spread across 24,000 square feet, this cavernous, multilevel nightspot offers numerous bars, a state-of-the-art sound system and lighting powered by dancers on a motion-sensing, stainless steel dance floor. When you're ready for a breather, you can chill out in a VIP Lounge to watch the party action from above or take in some fresh air from a lofty two-story balcony. Cutting-edge DJs and a host of regular events, from gay bingo to costume contests--make this a hot spot for a mostly gay (and young) crowd, but it's just as welcoming to anyone who's looking for a good time.

5. The Grapevine Bar
Photo courtesy of The Grapevine Bar

One of Dallas' secret gems, this ultra-laid back neighborhood haunt attracts a following as diverse as its hodgepodge of mismatched furnishings. Voted best straight bar by Dallas' leading gay publication and best gay bar by one of Dallas' straight magazines, The Grapevine Bar is everything you'd want a cozy watering hole/dive to be and more: The booze is ridiculously cheap (the specialty is frozen beverages made with Everclear); the crowd is refreshingly friendly, and the bar throws some of the best happy hours in town. There's also a spiffy rooftop deck where you can sip and scope out the skyline. And any place that boasts ping pong, billiards and a basketball court definitely rates in A+ in our books. Keep an eye out for events like their annual crawfish boil, better known as "Suck Fest."

4. Windmill Lounge
Photo courtesy of Windmill Lounge Facebook

While some places strive to be a dive, this quirky booze filled oasis, hidden down a sketchy stretch of Maple Avenue-- is the epitome of one. And as such, it's one of the most beloved cocktail havens in town, and perhaps, even in the country. But don't take our word for it, take Esquire magazine's-- which ranked it among the Best Bars in America in 2013. Sporting a neon windmill on the roof and a decidedly no-frills decor, complete with the requisite jukebox banging out Iggy Pop and Sinatra, the Windmill Lounge is a veritable outpost of cool. It's also the kind of place where everyone is friends, the drinks are sensational and the bartenders are having as good a time as the guests. Another reason to head here? The place puts on the best karaoke nights (held on Thursdays) in town.

3. The Ivy Tavern
Photo courtesy of The Ivy Tavern Facebook

Live music? Check. Giant Jenga? Check. Craft beer? Check. Behold the Ivy Tavern, a wildly popular, wood-clad watering hole that's hidden behind a wall of ivy along a busy shopping strip. And it's a handsome fellow too-- with all the trappings of an old-style pub: think wainscoted walls, taxidermy animal heads, vintage looking decor, and-- most notably-- a huge tree-lined beer garden at the back where games of Jenga and cornhole are always on the agenda. Add in a solid range of brews, wickedly good (and cheap) cocktails, plus delicious "damn good bar food" and you've got the makings for a night load of fun. Make sure to keep an eye out for special events, which include everything from weekly DJs and trivia nights to game watching parties and outdoor concerts.

2. Library Bar
Photo courtesy of Library Bar

If you are looking for a mind-blowing delicious cocktail in surroundings perfect for a romantic rendezvous or catch-up with friends, you've come to the right place. Tucked inside the lobby of the Warwick Melrose Hotel (a historic Dallas landmark dating back to 1924)-- this suave, shelf-lined drinking den is quite possibly the coziest place to sip a drink in the city. Named one of the "30 Iconic American Bars" by Business Insider, the dimly-lit space, fitted out with leather chairs, intimate seating nooks and a flickering fireplace, is also one of Dallas' top spots for live piano entertainment (jazz and pop) six nights a week. Though you probably won't be reading any of the books in the shelves, you'll want to explore the drinks menu: it's quite extensive (as well as expensive) and includes everything from phenomenally crafted tipples at $16 a pop to 27 wines by the glass, priced from $9 to $28. For something a little lighter on the wallet, the Library Bar offers happy hour Sunday through Friday from 2 to 6 p.m. and on Saturday from 11a.m. to 6 p.m.--plus, the entertainment is always free. Don't miss the bar bites, they're good too.

1. The Mansion Bar
Photo courtesy of The Mansion Bar

Nestled inside the iconic four-star Rosewood Mansion Hotel on Turtle Creek, the Mansion Bar is the ultimate debonair drinking den-- blending a wow-factor interior (think: wood paneled walls with cognac-colored leather inlays, leather seating and a hand-carved stone fireplace) with excellent service and top-quality (albeit pricey) tipples. Having a drink here will make you feel as though you're hanging out in the stately home of a Texas cotton baron. And you are. The stunning circa-1925 estate was originally the private residence for oil and cotton magnate Sheppard W. King. In fact, the bar was originally King's dining room. It's a see-and-be-seen place that not only attracts Dallas' movers and shakers, but also visiting dignitaries and even A-list celebrities. However, you don't need to be a V.I.P. to come as the staff treats all-comers like royalty. A weekly lineup of live entertainment ( jazz, R&B and pop) plus a menu of seriously delicious cocktails and bar snacks-- makes this place one of the most enticing bars to hole up in with a date.