Motivational words at Twisted Root downtown Arlington TX (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Motivational words at Twisted Root downtown Arlington TX (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

“Too bad Arlington doesn’t have a downtown,” I said to my friend Ryan, who works in tourism for the city after a stint promoting Lubbock (the man is a die-hard optimist.)

“Oh, but we DO have a downtown. I’ll show you!”

I was pretty skeptical that I’d ever find much of anything interesting in Arlington – part of that vast swath of concrete, highways and housing in between Dallas and Fort Worth – but after a few hours there as part of my masochistic bus and train trip from Austin to Tulsa, I have to confess that Ryan did change my mind.

Arlington, Texas is best known for Cowboys Stadium, the humongous steel-and-glass bubble that is home to the Dallas Cowboys football team. The stadium is one of the most expensive ever built; proof that throwing money at something can give you blindingly mediocre results, since the team has not done much since the glory days of Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman.

Giant screen inside Cowboys Stadium Arlington TX (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Giant screen inside Cowboys Stadium Arlington TX (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

The Texas Rangers baseball team is close by in a very nice retro-style Rangers Ballpark, and the Six Flags Over Texas amusement park is also in Arlington, but none of that really rings my travel bell.

Here’s what did:

**  An art gallery throughout Cowboys Stadium (this is what convinced me to go inside “JerryWorld” despite my antipathy towards overpaid football players who don’t produce.)

Part of Matthew Richie's Line of Play in Cowboys Stadium Arlington TX (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Part of Matthew Richie’s Line of Play in Cowboys Stadium Arlington TX (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

The artwork is spread throughout the facility, and there are placards near each of them that give you the artist’s information and background on the piece.

There’s also a Cowboys Stadium Art App for iPhone and you can go on guided tours of the stadium art.

Gary Simmons Blue Field Explosions at Cowboys Stadium Arlington TX (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Gary Simmons Blue Field Explosions at Cowboys Stadium Arlington TX (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

**  A delicious lunch at the funky Twisted Root Burger Company; it’s only one of many unique places to eat in downtown Arlington.

A Twisted Root burger in downtown Arlington TX (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

A Twisted Root burger in downtown Arlington TX (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

I’m not a pickle fan, but was intrigued by all of the pickle flavors offered at the Root….flavors are shown above each jar (wasabi?)

Pickle jars at Twisted Root Burgers downtown Arlington TX (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Pickle jars at Twisted Root Burgers downtown Arlington TX (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

**  The nascent arts scene that deserves support, including the Arlington Museum of Art, the Fifties-era Arlington Music Hall (one of the few period buildings spared in the city’s short-sighted “urban renewal” years ago) and happenings at College Park Center on the nearby UT Arlington campus.

There are free outdoor concerts/performances at the Levitt Pavilion, the same national nonprofit that funded the Pavilion at SteelStacks in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Arlington TX Music Hall marquee (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Arlington TX Music Hall marquee (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

What has surprised you lately in a suburban community? Please share down in the comments!

Customer training sign downtown Arlington TX (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Customer training sign downtown Arlington TX (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Disclosure: I was a guest of the Arlington CVB (Convention & Visitors Bureau) and want to thank Ryan Callison for running me around his city so that I could see as much as possible in one afternoon. Their Arlington Insider blog is a handy source of info.

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