Arlington’s rich history and Downtown Cultural District can offer you and your family a perfect chance to get out and about while keeping your distance. Self-guided driving and walking tours that showcase history, culture, and art through the City of Arlington and Downtown Arlington are available to enjoy at your own pace. Put these tours on your next fun day list!

Downtown Arlington has developed several self-guided walking/biking tours that highlight many of the outdoor spaces in downtown. They take you to all the Stars of Arlington in downtown and also showcase the murals and other arts and cultural hotspots.

Photo of cowgirl butterfly mural outside of Arlington Museum of Art

To visit all the Stars of Arlington check out the complete list here. These sculptural installations have been designed and painted by local artists and visiting all the Stars will take you across the entire City of Arlington highlighting many different aspects of the community all while enjoying the great outdoors.

The City of Arlington offers a four-part video series on the history of Arlington. After watching the video series, venture out on the self-guided driving tours available for download. The Pioneer Trail driving tour highlights the early settlements from Johnson Station and Watson Community. The Historic Buildings driving tour explores Arlington as it has grown into the entertainment hub of today.

Before heading out on your historical and cultural treks, amaze your family and friends with these historical facts about Arlington!

  • People have been meeting in Arlington for more than 150 years! The Republic of Texas signed it's first Indian peace treaty here in 1843 at what was Bird's Fort. This led the way for new settlement in the area and the eventual establishment of Johnson Station, which is one of the communities that would later become Arlington.
  • There is a dispute as to who named the city. Was it Reverend Andrew Shannon Hayter, who helped survey the area and ensured the railroad would pass through? Or was it the Postmaster James Ditto, Sr? Either way, “Arlington” was the name that was officially accepted by the Postal Service on January 22, 1877.
  • Arlington was home to many natural springs, making it an ideal location for farming. In fact, a well that was once located in Downtown Arlington was rumored to have healing properties. The chamber of commerce, at the time, even erected a four-sided monument with lion heads so people could access the magic waters. Now there is a commemorative statue near city hall and the downtown library. For the full scoop, check out our blog
  • The University of Texas at Arlington was originally established at Arlington College for grades 1-10 in 1895. Over the next 70 years, it would trace it's history through 7 different schools: Carlisle Military Academy, Arlington Training School, Arlington Military Academy, Grubbs Vocational College (which was part of the Texas A&M System), North Texas Agricultural College, and Arlington State College. The current name was established in 1967 after the school was transferred into the University of Texas System in 1965.
  • Tarrant County started the first public library in Arlington in 1922 with 300 books; the first librarian earned a $6 monthly salary. This is a far cry from the state-of-the-art library that now calls downtown home!
  • Meadowbrook Park, the city's first park, opened in 1924. The park covered more than 45 acres of land and eventually had the city's first nine-hole golf course and swimming pool. Today, you can still play golf at Meadowbrook Park and experience a little history as you tee off!

A vintage car near the gate at Top O' Hill Terrace in Arlington, TX

  • By the late 1930s, Arlington's location on the Bankhead Highway created "Vegas before Vegas" with both a racing track, Arlington Downs, and an illegal casino, Top 'O Hill Terrace. Arlington Downs is long gone, but the legacy and secret tunnels of Top 'O Hill Terrace are still accessible today on the campus of Arlington Baptist University where you can take a tour and learn all about Arlington's more elicit past. 
  • Six Flags Over Texas opened in Arlington in 1961, creating the anchor for the Arlington Entertainment District that has continued to expand over time. The original admission price was $2.75 for adults and $2.25 for children.
  • Within Six Flags Over Texas, you can experience real Texas history by finding the historical markers of the Texas Historical Commission. Some of the markers are found at: a replica of Fort St. Louis, which was originally established in 1685; a "Boom Town" that contains some of the oil rigging and tools used by roughnecks during the 1920s; and an antique hand-carved carousel. Another is located at the park's demonstration of Texas railroads, which provides visitors a view of some of the original narrow-gauge railway tracks used in the nineteenth century.
  • Arlington's history of being an entertainment mecca continued into the 1970s with the creation of Seven Seas Marine Life Park. The marine mammal and animal park was owned by the City of Arlington and located near Six Flags Over Texas and Arlington Stadium. The park closed in 1976, but a few remaining buildings and pieces form the Japan Garden outside the Sheraton Arlington Hotel pool area. So when staying at the Sheraton, be sure to spend some time at the pool so you can soak up the history and some sun.