From its beginning as a small town caught in the Civil War to one of the biggest agricultural producers in Texas, Arlington has modernized dramatically. Today, this lively city has maintained a reputation as the capital of fun and entertainment in Texas for over forty years. Whether it’s spending time at Six Flags Over Texas, one of the biggest theme parks in the United States, playing in the water at Hurricane Harbor or golfing at Putt-Putt Entertainment Center, Arlington is filled with thrills and excitement for travelers. Surrounding these entertainment centers are accommodations, restaurants, and museums to keep visitors comfortable and entertained. Sports are also indelibly etched in the fabric of Arlington as it is the home to the Texas Rangers, a Major League Baseball team. Sports fans also have the opportunity to indulge in sports known to cause an adrenaline rush—stock car and drag racing. Hosting the Championship Fantasy Racing every year, Arlington indeed lives up to its reputation as Fun Central. The warm weather lasts year-round and is perfect for a visit to local parks and hiking trails, both of which offer interactive and educational activities.
Situated halfway between Dallas and Fort Worth in east Tarrant County, Arlington was officially recognized as a town in 1876. It is also roughly 6.57 mi (10.57 km) east from Grand Prairie and 14.71 mi (23.67 km) north from Haltom City. Both these towns offer alternative accommodations, restaurants, and shopping services.
Known for its fertile Blackland in the East and sandy loam in the West, the area predominantly attracted farmers who also availed themselves of the Trinity River and its tributaries for irrigation and sustenance. According to archaeological evidence, the earliest settlers in Arlington were American Indians circa 5,000 B.C. Primary residents were the Caddo tribe who traded with the Mexicans, French, and Spanish for agricultural goods. However, harmony in the1800s was disrupted when a fight broke out between the tribes and Anglo settlers, which led to the Battle of Village Creek in 1841 when 225 Indian villages were torched and the tribes were driven out of the area. Through this aggression, Gen. Edward H. Tarrant managed to open up the Arlington Village Creek area for white settlers.
Peace was somewhat established in 1843 when the Republic of Texas signed a treaty with nine Indian tribes but animosity continued to persist throughout the 1850s. During the time the peace treaty was signed, a trading post was set up at Marrow Bone Spring near Johnson Station, establishing the first means of transportation for the residents of Arlington. Thereafter, the town began to modernize agriculturally and economically.
Cotton was a major source of revenue but peanuts, potatoes, and other crops were also being produced. Not only did Arlington become a major agricultural producer, but the town was also a site of large produce sales and a distribution center for shipment of goods. Another source of major revenue came with a mineral well located in the center of the town. Profit was accumulated from the medicinal crystals that were being produced and sold in bottles for medical treatments.
Arlington experienced dramatic growth economically and culturally in the 1950s with the rise in the town’s population from 8,000 to 45,000 people. Although the city’s entertainment district has grown over the last fifty years with the establishment of several themed amusement parks, Arlington still has a prominent agricultural economy.
The most favorable time to visit Arlington is during the Fall (October) and Winter (December) seasons when days and nights are moderately cool. In the summer, the weather could reach over 100ºF (38ºC), with rain and thunderstorms usually filling the months of May and October. Arlington is known to be a great year-round vacation destination because the weather is always warm
Arlington remains as the largest metropolitan city in the United States without a public transportation system, however, there is a trolley shuttle to deliver visitors to most local sites and convention centers. Arlington’s senior residents have access to Handitran buses that are equipped with wheelchair lifts and have been designed specifically for residents who are 65 years and over or have disabilities. Buses from Greyhound Lines are also available for visitors of Arlington and once in the city, visitors have the option of renting cars or trucks or requesting a limousine service to tour the city. If traveling by air, the Arlington Municipal Airport is located in the South of Arlington between Fort Worth and Dallas. It accommodates all kinds of aircrafts ranging from corporate jets to hot air balloons. Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport is approximately 30 minutes away from Arlington and is known to be an ideal alternative route for travelers.
Amusement & Entertainment
Arlington underwent a dramatic transition from a small town to a major tourist attraction during the 1950s and 1960s. A mayor of Arlington for 26 years, Judge Tom Vandergriff watched as Disney World established itself in Florida as a major amusement park, and with this concept in mind, he pitched his own idea of building a similar attraction in Arlington. Finally in 1961, Six Flags Over Texas opened to the public, and shortly after, Six Flags Hurricane Harbor also made its way into the city, changing Arlington’s small-town image forever.
Six Flags Over Texas
Six Flags Over Texas attracts thousands of visitors every year, which has helped make Arlington the entertainment capital of Texas with its thrilling rides, great food, entertaining marquee shows and underwater adventures. Featuring 11 showcase hotels and numerous rides and attractions, Six Flags offers an exciting, action-packed vacation for all ages. The Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants ride plunges guests underwater and riders equipped with 3-D glasses are in for a stinging surprise. Meanwhile, for those who enjoy the jolt of a roller coaster, Six Flags introduces the Titan where the three-and-a-half-minute ride spirals into a 120-foot tunnel with unexpecting twists and turns. Undoubtedly, visitors who seek a Texan-style approach to entertainment will find exactly what they’re looking for at Six Flags Over Texas.
Six Flags Hurricane Harbor
Six Flags Hurricane Harbor is one of the largest water parks in southern Texas with over three million gallons of invigorating water and more than 26 water-slides. A favorite family water park for generations, Hurricane Harbor also offers interactive adventures such as the Hook’s Lagoon that features 5-stories of net ladders, water slides and more. If visitors want to dry-off from being drenched with the buckets of water at the Lagoon, then Boogie Beach provides a sand area for dry sporting events such as volleyball. Guests can also experience surfing on simulated water on the Surf Rider or simply relax on the Lazy River and soak up the sun.
Aside from the amusement parks, Arlington also hosts a variety of annual events such as Texas Scottish Festival in June, the Annual Independence Day Parade on July fourth and the Saturday Nature Walks and Animal Presentations from June through February.
Visitors who are interested in a variety of sports will undoubtedly enjoy spending time at the Putt-Putt Entertainment Center. The center is filled with numerous fun activities such as the championship putting course, the race track for go-cart racing and state-of-the-art batting cages. The game rooms provide guests with the ultimate arcade gaming experience with its latest pinball and redemption games. The 16 flavors of ice cream are also a highlight that visitors must ensure they indulge themselves in.
Another favorite attraction that defines Arlington as Fun Central is the Palace of Wax and Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum. While the Palace of Wax features an exhibition of wax figures with themes of Hollywood, history, religion and more, visitors to this museum also have the chance to tour the figure-making studio to see wax pieces under construction. Other themed exhibits also help re-create historical moments in time. For those who prefer witnessing the weird, strange or just plain scary, The Ripley’s Believe It or Not! The museum is a perfect attraction to visit. Featuring galleries of oddities and illusions by Robert L. Ripley, a famous eccentric illustrator, and cartoonist, this museum fascinates visitors of all ages.
The River Legacy Parks Science Center & Trails is an integration of nature and wildlife with an educational center. Located on the Trinity River, the park consists of paved hiking trails, picnic areas, The Legacy Pavilion, and river overlooks. The 12,000-square-foot Living Science Center exhibits the preservation of wildlife and ecology while embracing the art of sustainable design. The main goal of the center is to educate visitors about the architecture as well as the conservation of wildlife through its wide interactive collection. Lake Arlington is located on Village Creek in Tarrant County and is the site of recreational activities such as picnics on hill areas or boating and fishing on the lake. A variety of fish can be found living in the reservoir, including the largemouth bass and white bass. A tributary of the West Fork Trinity River, this reservoir is also used for local municipal and industrial water supply.
Fans of Major League Baseball have the opportunity to watch the Texas Rangers at the Ameriquest Field in Arlington from April through October. The ballpark is home to the Rangers and was the site of the 1995 All-Star game. Also open to visitors is the Legends of the Game Museum, located at Ameriquest Field where souvenir items and collectibles can be purchased. The museum also features items that reflect the history of baseball and the Texas Rangers.
Arlington also hosts Championship Fantasy Racing every season giving car racing fans a chance to either participate in a race or watch the competition. The racing season is split into sessions when drivers and leagues also have the opportunity to enter in special events. Souvenir stands are set up for racing fans who are interested in purchasing collectibles and other memorabilia.
Texas contemporary art is proudly celebrated and showcased at the Arlington Museum of Art. A must-see when in Arlington, visitors to this grand museum have the opportunity to participate in Art Talk seminars and view the vast art collections in the galleries. Conveniently located in downtown Arlington, this museum is decorated with a sophisticated artistic backdrop, which is perfect for weddings and other special events. An abundance of family and children’s art programs are also offered by the museum, creating a fun learning center for all ages. The museum also provides educational materials such as self-guided texts to explore the numerous shows and workshops that are offered.