Growing up in Arlington, TX in the ‘80s, I had plenty of reasons to love summer. Those were the fun months of no homework, Pink Things at Six Flags, late-night trips to the frozen yogurt shop (frozen yogurt being a cool new thing back then), summer nights at the old Arlington Stadium, and hours spent floating on the Lazy River at Wet ‘n Wild, the forerunner of today’s Hurricane Harbor.

Among my standout summer memories are the many Independence Day mornings I spent at the Arlington 4th of July Parade, first as a spectator and later as a participant. Man, did I ever feel cool and grownup the first time I rode on a float with my little cheerleading squad, dressed in a red-and-white-striped short set with my name embroidered in blue. A few years later, I again appeared in the parade as part of my dance studio’s performance troupe (which means I long ago checked “chasséd my way through the streets of Downtown Arlington while also using jazz hands” off my bucket list). In high school, I rode in the parade perched on top of a convertible along with other candidates for the Cinderella Charity Ball (a longtime Boys & Girls Clubs charity event), waving a miniature American flag with one hand and waving to the crowds with the other. It was the closest I’ll ever get to feeling like a beauty pageant winner (or royalty), and TOTALLY worth the awkward-looking tan line I got from my sundress.

In fact, I wouldn’t trade any of my memories of 4th of July in Arlington—they’re among the most favorite of my summer memory treasure chest. If you’re looking to create similar memories for yourself or your kids—or if you’re just looking for fun things to do for the 4th in Arlington—let’s look at some of next week’s best opportunities:

July 4th Fest at Six Flags Over Texas

Saturday, June 30-Wednesday, July 4—see website for hours

Six Flags Over Texas' weeklong celebration features a 4th-themed “food village”, an all-you-can drink soft drink special that includes a limited-edition souvenir cup, nightly fireworks and after-parties, and of course the usual lineup of thrill rides, classic rides, and live entertainment. Get your tickets now.

Light Up Arlington [FREE]

Tuesday, July 3

6-10:30 p.m. (Fireworks begin at 9:45 p.m.)

Arlington’s biggest Fourth of July party will kick off in Downtown Arlington with kids’ activities, train rides, food trucks, live music and more, all leading up to a dazzling fireworks display you won’t want to miss. Best of all, the event is free (but you’ll want to bring cash and plastic for a few attractions that have entry fees, as well as for food and drink). TIPS: Arrive early to get a jump on the crowd and a good parking spot (you can park for free at UTA, on any side street, or in any designated Downtown Arlington lot). Also, don’t forget to wear comfy shoes and pack insect repellant.

Arlington 4th of July Parade [FREE]

Wednesday, July 4 at 9 a.m.

The legendary Arlington 4th of July parade dates back to the 1960s, and despite the fact that it’s now one of the largest parades in Texas,  the event retains a lot of small town, hometown nostalgia that’s made it a summer tradition for generations of Arlington families. The route winds through portions of Downtown Arlington and the UTA campus, and many of the area retail and dining establishments will be open to welcome you before and afterwards for breakfast, coffee or lunch. TIPS: Since more than 75,000 guests are expected, we highly recommend that you target a viewing area and parking spot in advance, and that you arrive as early as possible. Get more parade tips here.

Texas Rangers vs. Houston Astros

Tuesday, July 3 at 6:05 p.m. and Wednesday, July 4 at 7:05 p.m.

Next to a hometown parade, nothing beats a baseball game when it comes to old-fashioned 4th of July fun. Head to Globe Life Park Tuesday or Wednesday night to cheer on the Texas Rangers as they take on the Astros—and while you’re there, you can enjoy Navy or Air Force Appreciation Night (Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively), Dollar Hot Dog Night (Wednesday), Autograph Night (Tuesday – kids only) and post-game fireworks shows (Tuesday and Wednesday). Get tickets.

Levitt Pavilion [FREE]

Live music and events all week—see website for details

In addition to providing live music for Light Up Arlington on July 3, the Levitt will also offer free concerts on July 6-8 (Friday through Sunday) featuring Marcia Ball, The Derailers, and Trout Fishing in America. The Levitt is also hosting an outdoor sing-along screening of “Mamma Mia,” set for Thursday, July 5 at 8:30 p.m. You know you wanna be there, dancing queens!  Find out more.

Find more things to do for Fourth of July in Arlington

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