Situated 20 miles west of Dallas, the city of Arlington is often referred to as the entertainments capital of Texas, thanks to its array of blockbuster attractions. Among them, the Dallas Cowboys football team and Texas Rangers baseball team are two behemoths of American sports, with both plying their trade in the city.
A view of the AT&T sports stadium in Arlington, home of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo: Tony Fernandez via Flickr)
As well as its rich sporting heritage, Arlington is also home to a diverse mix of shops and restaurant, along with one of the country’s finest theme parks, Six Flags, which extends across 212 acres and offers unrivalled fun for all the family. But then there’s the city’s lesser known side, featuring places of interest that don’t always make it into the guide books. Here are 12 of the best.
1. Texas Coffee School
If you’ve always wanted to learn the true art of coffee making, why not sign up for a course at the Texas Coffee School? Since opening in 2008, the coffee lab claims to have served as an entrepreneurial launch pad for nearly 200 coffee companies – but it also caters for individuals too, with 3-day courses available to all-comers . Lessons are held in a single room that’s filled with all the coffee paraphernalia required to turn you into an expert, including pour-over drippers, espresso machines, grinders and brewers.
LOCATION 7203 S Cooper Street HOURS
A lesson in progress at Texas Coffee School (Photo: Texas Coffee School)
2. World of Beer
This popular Arlington watering hole is a great place for getting a taste of Arlington’s vibrant social scene – not to mention some of the 500 global beers served here, including plenty of craft drafts. What’s more, the venue also serves tasty and affordable pub grub which can be enjoyed inside on one of the patio tables outdoors on a sunny day. If the weather’s not being kind, there’s no hardship in kicking back indoors, sinking into one of the comfy sofas and watching one of the numerous TVs dotted around the pub with a drink in tow. But be aware, weekends get seriously busy.
LOCATION 5005 South Cooper Street HOURS Fri 12pm-2am Sat 11am-2am Sun 11am-12am Mon-Thurs 3pm-12am
Patrons clink glasses at World of Beer (Photo: World of Beer)
3. Eskimo Hut
Eskimo Hut is a unique walk up store where patrons choose from thousands of different hand crafted daiquiris and margaritas to go. They package their drinks so patrons can take them away to your party, tailgate or simply chill on the couch with your besties. They have a choice of three sizes and gallon bags; 15 flavors of jello shots, and their very own rum-soaked gummy bears. Kick up your drink with an extra shot of rum, tequila, vodka or whiskey. Meanwhile for the beer lover, they offer several bottles, cans and cups of craft beer and draft to go too.
A range of goodies at Arlington’s Eskimo Hut (Photo: Eskimo Hut )
LOCATION 1000 W Arkansas Ln HOURS Mon-Thurs 11am-11pm Fri-Sat 11am-12am Sun 12pm-11pm
4. Top O’ The Hill Terrace
Before you even enter the grounds of Arlington Baptist College, it’s hard to miss the beautiful sandstone gatehouse and the Texas historical marker beside it. It’s perhaps your first clue that this wasn’t always a place of worship. In fact, more than 85 years ago, it was the Top O’ Hill Terrace, a private residence that hid one of the most exclusive underground casinos in the country – not to mention a brothel. The building was almost completely overhauled in the 1970’s, but a few years ago maintenance workers stumbled upon a secret room. Experts believe there are several other hidden rooms and tunnels within the property, but excavating them is an expensive proposition. For now, visitors must satisfy themselves with the single room unearthed so far, along with the genteel restaurant and tea garden that once concealed the more disreputable activities taking place below.
LOCATION 3001 West Division Street
5. Decorators Warehouse
If you’re sentimental about Christmas, and can’t wait until the next one comes around to get your annual fix, then the Decorator’s Warehouse will be just the ticket. This vast emporium is one of the largest Christmas stores anywhere in the world, featuring more than one acre of beautiful festive décor and incredible displays. There’s candy canes, gingerbread houses, lights, garland, ornaments, ribbons and wreaths – but perhaps the stand-out exhibit is the 150 pre-lit lifelike Christmas trees that stand up to 14 feet tall. And if you’re not a fan of shopping (or Christmas), there’s a lounge with a 50-inch plasma TV where you can kick back and wait for your companions to finish. But you might be waiting a while…
LOCATION 3708 West Pioneer Parkway HOURS Mon-Sat 10am-6pm Closed Sun
6. Six Flags Over Texas Oil Derrick
The world’s tallest land based oil derrick can be found in Arlington, offering a unique vantage point from which to cast your eye over the city and its surroundings. Nestled within the grounds of the famous Six Flags theme park, the 300-foot tall, steel observation tower opened in 1969 and has been captivating visitors ever since. The beautiful steel structure is impressive enough to view from afar, but the real highlight comes from taking the 1 minute 30 open-walled elevator ride up to the top where you’ll be greeted by stunning views of the park, Arlington itself, and the Dallas and Fort Worth skylines in the distance.
LOCATION East Copeland Road
The 300-foot tall Oil Derrick observation tower (Photo: dhouston67 via Flickr)
7. Triple T Stables
Where better to learn how to ride a horse than in the cowboy state of Texas? This popular and highly regarded self-care boarding facility offers traditional Western style riding lessons for ages 6 and upwards, with private lessons priced at $40 per hour (part-private lessons cost $35). The venue is also famous for hosting rip-roaring barnyard and pony parties and other special events. A word of warning: bring your own helmets as they aren’t provided.
LOCATION 3715 Curt Drive
8. The Upstairs Gallery
For a one-of-a-kind art experience in Arlington, take a trip to The Upstairs Gallery, which has been captivating arts lovers since its foundation in 1967. The historic gallery space features a wide variety of works including watercolours, oils, pottery, jewellery and mixed media creations, with a strong focus on giving local artists an opportunity to display their talents, as well as those from further afield too. Having just celebrated its 50th anniversary, this is a great time to visit one of the region’s most exceptional – and original – arts venue.
LOCATION 1038 West Abram Street HOURS Tues-Sat 12.30pm-5pm Closed Sun-Mon
9. Historic Fielder House and Museum
Dating back to 1914, this charming two-storied prairie-style home is one of Arlington’s unique cultural institutions. Within its beautifully-maintained confines lives the permanent collections of the Arlington Historic Society, offering a fascinating insight into the culture and history of the local area. Among the stand-out exhibits are an extensive collection of more than 200 early local photographs, plus a turn-of-the-century barbershop, bedroom and general store. As well as its exceptional exhibits, the venue also serves as a creative learning centre, with an education outreach programme tailored to aid public schools in their study of local and state history.
LOCATION 1616 West Abram Street HOURS Tues-Sat 10am-2pm Closed Sun-Mon
An exterior view of the charming Historic Fielder House and Museum (Photo: dhouston67 via Flickr)
10. The Popcorn Store
Popping out popcorn for more than 35 years from its Lincoln Square location, this family-owned store dedicated to the humble but oh-so-delicious corn kernel is unsurprisingly a major Arlington attraction. Their 100% home-made popcorn is served fresh out of the frying pan and into the mouths of sugar-hungry kids (and the odd adult too), with a wide range of takeaway options available too, as well as party and gift ideas. If you’re in Arlington on a rainy day with grumpy little’uns in tow, this is somewhere that’s guaranteed to put a smile on everyone’s face – and a liberal coating of sugar, too.
LOCATION 208 West 4th Street HOURS Mon-Sat 5pm-2am Sun 3pm-2am
11. Living Science Center
The sustainably-designed Nature Centre is a wonderful place to take your kids to teach them about the value of nature. It offers a variety of exhibits, classes and public programmes, all aimed at educating visitors about the importance of protecting the earth’s resources. Spread across an impressive 12,000 square feet, it’s home to aquariums, terrariums, self-exploration stations, environmental exhibits, nature trails and a gift shop. On weekends there’s also nature walks and other animal exploration events, plus adult workshops and story times for kids.
LOCATION 703 NW Green Oaks Boulevard HOURS Mon-Sat 9am-5pm Closed Sun
A view over the water towards the Living Science Center (Photo: George Hamilton III via Flickr)
12. Potager’s Other Stuff
This funky café is part counter-serve eatery, part organic coffee shop and part social meeting place. In short, it’s where to head to experience Arlington’s community spirit at its very best. The venue offers tasty food items, hard to find wines, natural healing remedies, and locally made craft items, with all food and drink priced at diners’ discretion. For this reason it is a truly unique attraction and well worth a visit if you’re in town, not only to offer your much-valued patronage and support, but also to sample some of the delicious treats served up by the philanthropic owner – who is rightly considered a local hero.
LOCATION 208 South Mesquite Street HOURS Tues-Sat 11am-6pm Closed Sun-Mon