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City in the Middle
Arlington is Fun Central in the DFW Metroplex
Story and photos by Rona Distenfeld

Sandwiched between Dallas and Fort Worth, Arlington, Texas is focused on fun. From baseball to birding, there’s something here for almost every interest.

The Ballpark in Arlington is home to the Texas Rangers baseball team. This decade-old stadium offers behind-the-scenes tours on non-game days letting you visit everything from the dugout to the elegant new clubhouse facilities. The Legends of the Game Baseball Museum at the ballpark offers interactive exhibits that are both educational and fun. You can test your knowledge of American history, put your analytical skills to work, and see what it feels like to play catcher to pitching great Nolan Ryan.

Six Flags Over Texas is another popular destination. With more than 100 rides and attractions on 212 well-shaded acres, there’s something for everyone. The newest ride, Superman: Tower of Power, is the tallest three-combo drop ride in the world — 325 feet! Other favorites include the Titan roller coaster, Batman the Ride, and Mr. Freeze. Little ones have their own Loony Toons themed rides. For those who prefer to keep their feet on the ground there are scores of arcade games, a virtual reality game, and the Wild West Show. The entire park is handicap accessible and unusually clean and green. You can even avoid standing in line by using the park’s Q-Bot reservation system.

For those who prefer their fun to be wet and wild, Hurricane Harbor offers water rides of all types. Hook’s Lagoon is a mecca for smaller kids and their parents, while teens and adults revel in the many water slides and wave pools. Hurricane Harbor also hosts the annual Surfrider at Boogie Beach Championship. Now in its fifth year, this national amateur competition attracts surfriders from around the world, and any visitor can try the ride at other times.

Lesser Known Fun Central Destinations
If you’ve ever dreamt of being a fighter pilot, Arlington is the only place in the country that offers real flight training to the public. Since 1987, Air Combat School has trained as many as 4,000 people a year. Even former fighter pilots come to relive their experiences. Students “suit up” and see what it really feels like to train, brief, and fly. Students are encouraged to see what they can really do when they have to — all the way to learning how to get down when you parachute into a tree. Anyone over 12 is welcome and reservations are recommended, but don’t expect to be coddled. This isn’t a game or a ride, it’s the real deal without ever leaving the ground.

Tamer and more refined entertainment can be found at the Arlington Museum of Art, which features ever-changing exhibits of established and emerging Texas artists. The museum takes an interactive approach with artist and curator talks, special classes and workshops, and a “Saturdays at the Museum” program that encourages families to engage in creative activities together .

Country music fans have enjoyed the Johnnie High Country Music Review at the Arlington Music Hall since 1975. At the other end of the scale, Ballet Arlington offers classic works like the Nutcracker and more modern works, such as Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante.

Outdoor Fans Have Their Fun Too.
Nature fans can satisfy a wide range of interests in Arlington. At the River Legacy Living Science Center visitors will find serene trails through 1,300 wooded acres along the Trinity River. Guided nature walks, student programs for all ages, and a junior naturalist club offer a variety of educational opportunities. Plus, the park has been selected to be part of the Great Texas Birding Trail, so bird watchers can expect to spot many of Texas’ migratory species here.

Birders and golfers share a unique environment at Tierre Verde Golf Club, an Audobon Signature golf course. This 18-hole course is one of three public courses in Arlington, so be sure to bring your clubs!

Arlington also has many parks offering trails, tennis, swimming, biking, hiking, and more. And water enthusiasts will enjoy boating and fishing on the 2,250 acre Lake Arlington.

Stay in Style
With more than 6,000 hotel rooms, visitors will find accommodations for every budget. All the major hotel chains are here, and for those looking for a truly special experience, The Sanford House bed and breakfast offers elegance and many unique touches. Every room is furnished with real and reproduction antiques and includes a private bath. Separate guest cottages offer kitchens and living areas. All guests are welcome to help themselves to goodies in the pantry, stroll the gardens, and use the pool. Along with breakfast, gourmet meals and catering for special events can be provided upon request. The Sanford House also features a full service spa offering massage, manicures and pedicures, facials, and more for those who really want to be pampered.

Whatever your idea of fun is, chances are you’ll find it in Arlington, Fun Central in the middle of the metroplex.

When You Go
Arlington Convention and Visitors Bureau
Information on attractions, accommodations and discounts for groups and individuals.
(800) 433-5374
www.arlington.org

Texas Rangers
(817) 273-5100
www.texasrangers.com

Ballpark in Arlington
(817) 273-5222
http://museum.texasrangers.com

Legends of the Game
(817) 273-5600
http://museum.texasrangers.com

Six Flags Over Texas
(817) 640-8900
www.sixflags.com

Hurricane Harbor-A Six Flags park
(817) 263-3356
www.sixflags.com

Air Combat School
(817) 640-1886
www.aircombatschool.com

Arlington Museum of Art
(817) 275-4600
www.arlingtonmuseum.org

River Legacy Living Science Center
(817) 860-6752
www.riverlegacy.org

Ballet Arlington
(817) 465-4644
www.balletarlington.org

Johnnie High Music Review/Arlington Music Hall
(800) 540-5127
www.mid-cities.com/cmr

Tierre Verde Golf Club
(817) 572-1300
www.arlingtongolf.com

The Sanford House
(877) 205-4914
www.thesanfordhouse.com

Photo captions:
#1: Sanford House B&B offers comfortable, elegant accommodations just blocks from Arlington’s main attractions.

#2: A stay at Sanford House should include a stroll in the garden.

#3: Sanford House offers lovely cottages for those wanting more privacy, including a special honeymoon cottage.

#4: Pamper yourself with a massage at the Sanford House Spa.

#5-9: Batman the Ride is a favorite with Six Flag visitors, but be sure your pockets are closed as this roller coaster twists you upside-down and sideways!

#10: Conquer gravity as you free fall on Superman” Tower of Power, the tallest 3-combo drop ride in the world.

#11: The Titan is the most popular ride at Six Flags, but it’s not for the faint of heart!

#12: Learn the ropes in a real cockpit at Air Combat School.

#13: The Ballpark in Arlington, home to the Texas Rangers baseball team, offers tours and special packages for groups of all sizes.

#14: The Ranger’s clubhouse is one of the most elegant in the American League.

#15: Enjoy the quiet and the change to glimpse some of Texas’ migratory birds as you stroll the paths at the River Legacy Living Science Center.

#16: Fondue anyone? Arlington has restaurants to suit every taste.

#17-20: Golfers and birders can enjoy the unique environment at Tierre Verde, an 18-hole Audobon Signature golf course.