Rowlett, TX: Lakeside Charm Outside the City
Festivals, parks, 30+ miles of shoreline, lots of local dining and more
With a motto of “On the Water, and on the Move!” Rowlett offers its residents a high quality of life. The city’s lifestyle amenities include popular community events, a thriving dining scene and great outdoor recreation on the 22,000-acre Lake Ray Hubbard and numerous parks.
Ray and Shirley Kneggs moved here 50 years ago and say they’ve seen many changes.
“When we moved here, we thought we were in the country,” Ray Kneggs says. “Rowlett has grown a lot and it still has a lot going for it — the parks, the lake, the utilities and the roads. It’s a wonderful place to live, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
Kneggs, owner of A Ray Kneggs Electric Company and Kneggs Investment Properties, says Lake Ray Hubbard was newly impounded when the couple first moved to Rowlett. They now have three children, six grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren who all enjoy the lake and living nearby.
“You just don’t get 30 miles of lake shoreline in many cities,” he says.
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With lots of local parks, miles of trails and boating opportunities, Rowlett’s outdoors enthusiasts are never at a loss for something interesting to do.
There are 15 parks in the city’s system, including the 137-acre Rowlett Community Park, which features fishing piers, shaded playgrounds, ballfields, hiking trails and picnicking areas. The 117-acre Springfield Park's many amenities include a disc golf course, soccer and football fields, hiking and biking trails, and a radio-controlled air field. The new Scenic Point Park features a boardwalk offering stunning views of Lake Ray Hubbard, making it popular with runners and joggers. With 200 acres, 15 acres of lakes and 1,500 trees, Rowlett’s Waterview Golf Club is a championship golf course for all ability levels.
Rowlett has a trio of recreation destinations that are adjacent to one another: Rowlett Community Centre with fitness equipment, gymnasiums, meeting spaces and services for all ages; the 27-acre Pecan Grove Park with its community-built Kids Kingdom Playground and specimen pecan trees; and Wet Zone, Rowlett’s Family Waterpark.
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Bobby Roan, owner of Bobby Roan Realtors, has lived here for 70 years. His four daughters went to local schools and enjoyed playing softball at the area’s many parks, as well as waterskiing and boating on Lake Ray Hubbard.
“There was just one park downtown when I was growing up,” Roan says. “We have so much more for kids – and adults – to do now.”
Among the area's most popular spots for outdoor recreation are Paddle Point Park and Paddle Point Creek Paddling Trail, beloved among kayakers, canoeists and wildlife watchers. The 1.4-acre park has a launch area for canoes, kayaks and johnboats, and the 6.4-mile paddling trail on Lake Ray Hubbard features stunning scenery and frequent glimpses of blue herons, bald eagles and other wildlife, as well as cooler, shady areas along the banks.
Kayak rentals and classes at Paddle Point Park are available through Kayak Instruction Inc., which offers courses for a variety of ages and skill levels, as well as special programs for Scouting groups and private instruction.
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A Year of Celebrations
Texans are known for their love of festivals, and Rowlett offers celebrations year round.
“This is an inviting place, and we have a lot of good things happening here all year that give a sense of community,” Kneggs says.
The events season kicks off each February with the Little Sweetheart Dance, an evening of dancing and refreshments for fathers and their daughters. In springtime, the Easter Eggstravaganza in Pecan Grove Park features 20,000 treat-filled Easter eggs and hunt times categorized by age group, inviting participation from babies on up to children of all ages. Dogs can get in on the fun with the Easter Pup-A-Palooza at Herfurth Park, where dogs of all sizes can search for Easter eggs filled with doggie treats and special “prize eggs,” and join in friendly contests. Also in the spring, the community comes out to see who will float, sink or swim in the annual Rowlett Cardboard Boat Regatta at Community Park.
The city’s annual Memorial Day celebration pays homage to the nation’s fallen soldiers, and also includes a “Touch a Truck” activity that invites visitors to explore a couple dozen trucks – including a fire truck, ambulance and 18-wheeler – lined up in the Rowlett Community Centre parking lot.
The Rowlett Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Golf Classic at the Waterview Golf Club, usually held in September, is popular among business leaders and others in the community and features golf, prizes and a fundraiser for community programs.
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Rowlett celebrates Independence Day with a city-sponsored July 4 Fireworks on Main Festival that also includes live music and food. Along with the Independence Day celebrations, there’s also the Rowlett Freedom 5K on Main, a dog- and stroller-friendly fundraiser that’s sponsored by the Rowlett Chamber of Commerce and includes a fun run.
On Friday evenings in September, the community comes out for Movies at Pecan Grove Park to watch family-friendly films under the stars and enjoy picnics and children’s entertainment. And in November, dozens of restaurants and other businesses showcase what they offer at the chamber-sponsored Taste & Trade, which features lots of food samples for attendees.
In December, Rowlett gets into the holiday spirit with its Main Street Fest with food, live music and family-friendly activities that include a tree-lighting ceremony and writing letters to Santa. New in 2017, a Lighted Holiday Parade on Main Street ushered in the holidays with music, dance and floats, and opportunities for community groups and individuals to participate.
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A Growing Dining Scene
Longtime Rowlett residents say they have enjoyed seeing their dining options grow with the community, and newcomers are often pleasantly surprised by the variety and quality of local restaurants.
Among locally owned dining options are OPA! Greek Taverna on Lakeview Parkway; Bankhead Brewing Company, which features its own tap brews and an outdoor patio; Deno’s Kitchen, which features diverse menus for adults and children; and Yogurt Wasted!, popular with all ages, that specializes in bubble teas, Vietnamese cuisine and several frozen yogurt flavors. A variety of Vietnamese dishes also are on the menu at Panda Pho & BoBa House, while the small family-owned El Centro Mexican Restaurant serves up authentic south-of-the-border dishes. Minced Meal Prep health food restaurant offers smoothies and pre-set prepared meals and snacks, while Main Street Bistro & Bakery serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and also caters. Hibachi chefs cook meals at your table at Kyoto Japanese Steakhouse, which also offers vegetarian options and is located by Lake Ray Hubbard.
“The people of Rowlett are proud — without being boastful — of all we have here," Kneggs says.