While I work on my next trip report, I thought I’d share a light-hearted story from the July 4th holiday. We stayed at home over the long weekend, just heading down the road to mom’s house occasionally. But as we often do, we started talking about travel around the dinner table. Specifically, my mother wanting to take my nephew on a beach holiday over Christmas. My son Ashok absolutely loves the beach. In fact, I don’t think he’s met one he doesn’t like. So naturally, when he heard about the beach, he wanted to go. Like now. Right now.
Great…we live 300 miles from the nearest one, a 6 hour drive one way with a kid. And last minute flights to Corpus or South Padre over a holiday weekend? Yeah, you don’t want to know how much those cost. And so, dad had to improvise.
Planning the Perfect Beach Day
Ashok started asking to go to the beach at 8:30 at night. Naturally, that isn’t happening, but I did manage to convince him that we needed to go home first. “You need to pack your suitcase before we go, Ashok!” I sort of hoped he’d forget by morning, but nope. As soon as he finished breakfast, he wanted to pack his bags to go to the beach. So I indulged him, and asked him to get his suitcase from the closet and pack some clothes in there. Meanwhile, that gave me a few minutes to figure out a solution – find a nearby lake with a “beach”. Fortunately, the east side of Lake Lavon, about 40 minutes away, had several swimming beaches. The one at Mallard Park in Lavon looked like the best bet.
Little Ashok sure was pumped to get his suitcase and shovels packed in the trunk.
And then off we went for our 45 minute ride to the “beach”.
A Short Visit to the Lake Beach
Several DFW-area lakes feature “beaches” along swimming coves. These are usually pebbly sandbars along a portion of the lakeshore set aside for swimming and paddling. Lake Lavon has several of these, with the one at Mallard Park generally considered the largest.
It actually was a near perfect beach day as we arrived around midday on the 5th. The day featured seasonably hot weather for early July, but not obnoxiously so. And so I led Ashok down to the pebbly shore, hoping he’d accept the substitute.
Fortunately, he decided the pebbles made a fair substitute for beach sand, and immediately got to work with his shovels. Score one for dad’s ingenuity!
He also enjoyed walking along the shoreline, staring out over the lake, and dropping pebbles in the water.
You can swim here, but beware of twigs randomly sticking up out of the ground.
This park also makes a good spot for a picnic. There are several picnic tables between the water and parking lot; more importantly, large trees provide plenty of shade. If the kids want to continue their digging project, but you’re tired of sitting out in the hot sun, there’s plenty of digging dirt under the trees, too.
Or, bring a lawn chair, and sit back and enjoy the view of the lake.
Local Eats to Wrap Up
After about an hour at the beach, we headed home about 12:15. I really didn’t want to cook, so I Googled somewhere on the way to grab lunch. What came to the rescue? An unassuming hamburger shack on the west side of the lake in Lucas, Kelly Family Farms.
It’s a simple spot, with a few tables under umbrellas. I gather most people pick up food to take home; the website prominently features the call-in, online, or Grubhub options.
The simple spot serves up an equally simple menu. Namely, burgers, either single, double, triple, or quad. A grilled chicken sandwich is also on the menu. If you’re vegetarian, even though the grilled cheese is part of the kid’s menu, they will make one for adults if you ask.
I went with the double cheeseburger with bacon.
I thought it was – pretty good? The chef cooked the meat well, with bacon that hit the happy medium between floppy and crispy. But the meat itself had an oddly sweet taste, almost like honey. I don’t know if it’s the seasoning they use, or if that’s just the flavor of grass fed beef. Anyway, it didn’t stop me from eating the whole thing. $10.50 for a double cheeseburger sounds steep, but that does include chips and a drink. Still pricey, if you ask me, but not as bad.
If you’re headed to the lake and have a grill, Kelly’s also sells meat by the pound and steaks.
Mallard Park is in Lavon, off State Highway 78 about 35 miles northeast of Dallas. Beware, it’s easy to miss, especially going eastbound on 78. Just past FM 6, where the road goes from 6 lanes to 2, you’ll see a picnic area on the left. Immediately past that picnic area is the turnoff for Mallard Park. Look very closely, and you’ll see the sign at the top of the hill. After a short distance, one road continues straight to the boat launch. Another heads left, which winds around to the beach and picnic area.
Although the federal government (US Army Corps of Engineers) operates the park, this one does not charge an entrance fee, or require a permit to use.
I offer this up as both a lighthearted travelogue, and an option if your young kids start demanding a trip to the beach. If you live 300 miles from one like we do, you don’t have to break the bank to enjoy a “beach day”. Chances are, there’s a nearby lake where you can replicate our substitute day at the beach. They’ll enjoy it all the same. Well, until they’re older, and realize they’ve been fooled…