Why Arlington, Texas Is ‘The Most Popular’ Suburb in America

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Credit: Courtesy of City of Arlington

Arlington was chosen as one of Apartment Therapy’s Coolest Suburbs in America 2019. We showcased the burbs nationwide that offer the most when it comes to cultural activities, a sense of community, and simply a good quality of life. For more on how we define “cool” and what exactly counts as a suburb, check out our methodology here. To view Apartment Therapy’s other Coolest Suburbs in America 2019, head here.

Arlington, situated in the heart of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, is the area’s largest suburb and a hotspot for thrill seekers, sports fans, and intellectuals alike. From Six Flags Over Texas and AT&T Stadium (home of the Dallas Cowboys) to the University of Texas at Arlington to the International Bowling Museum & Hall of Fame, Arlington has something for both residents and visitors.

Fun fact: Arlington ranks third nationwide for first-time U.S. homebuyers! The city has dozens of parks and trails for running and playing, as well as great restaurants for enjoying all types of cuisine. The downtown is undergoing a large renovation project that will offer residents even more food and drink options.

Although there are dozens of Arlingtons dotting the map nationwide, Arlington, Texas, earns the Class of 2019 Suburb Superlative of “Most Popular” in Apartment Therapy’s book. It holds the spot as the most searched burb, according to data provided by Google to Apartment Therapy. From sports to city access, it’s easy to see why Arlington is such a popular place to live. Arlington also holds the honor of being ranked No. 1 on SmartAsset.com’s list of the Top 10 “Best Cities to Raise a Family” last year. The suburb is also home to three professional sports teams and boasts affordable housing.

Editor’s note: There’s been a longstanding debate about Arlington’s status as a suburb. Some city officials have decried the label, but Arlington technically is considered an “inner-suburb,” meaning it’s an older, more populated suburb of a metropolitan area.

Median rent price:

$1,595, according to Zillow.

Median house price:

$249,990, according to Zillow.

Price per square foot (compared to city):

$123 in Arlington compared to $139 in the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington Metro area, according to Zillow.

Walkability score:

37, according to Walkscore.com.

Median household income:

$57, 652, according to Census data.

Population:

365,438, according to Census data.

What the suburb is known for:

In addition to being North Texas’ premiere destination for professional sports and amusement parks, Arlington is known for its close proximity to both Dallas and Fort Worth. It is home to a large university with a modern planetarium. To experience Arlington’s fascinating history, start at Top O’ Hill Terrace. In the 1920s, Top O’ Hill Terrace was a thriving casino with an escape tunnel and hidden room for hiding gambling paraphernalia during raids.

Why the Arlington deserves the superlative “Most Popular”:

Roger Meiners, chair and professor of economics at the University of Texas at Arlington, explains why Arlington might be such a frequently searched suburb online:

“I suspect the searching is due to the constant growth in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex—[it’s] people looking for places to live if moving here,” he told Apartment Therapy.

Meiners points out that the suburb’s many offerings make it well-known and recognizable. “If you live in Arlington, you can drive to offices in Dallas, or Fort Worth, or up toward [the] airport. And the Cowboys and Rangers are in Arlington, which may help with name recognition,” he says.

“The fastest growing areas are north of Dallas—Plano, Frisco, and such—explosive growth. But outsiders may not have heard of those names as much as Arlington,” Meiners says.

Hidden gem:

Tucked off the main thoroughfare behind a gas station, Fork In The Road is a local favorite.

Place that makes you happy to live there:

Place that makes you happy to live there: The new George W. Hawkes Downtown Library offers so much more than books. With meeting rooms, rooftop gardens, and a makerspace complete with a 3D printer and sewing machines, the library has something for everyone. Don’t skip the kids area, if you have little ones!

Favorite activity for families:

Residents love Arlington’s pools and splash pads, which includes six outdoor pools, one indoor pool, and three splash pads, or mini water recreation areas. To cool off during long Texas summers, try Randol Mill Family Aquatic Center, and for toddlers, the splash pad at Don Misenheimer Park.

Favorite hangout for young professionals:

On Tap. Because beer.

Favorite place to catch a movie:

Catch a movie and dinner, or grab a drink at Studio Movie Grill at Arlington Highlands or Lincoln Square, two restaurant-and-movie theater combos that let you have it all.

Favorite teen hangout:

At Free Play Arlington, admission grants you unlimited access to more than 130 old-school video games. Pac-Man, anyone?

Favorite outdoor lounge spot:

With a chef-driven menu, an extensive beer-and-wine list, and an outdoor stage for local performances, you can’t go wrong at The Tipsy Oak, one of Arlington’s newest downtown hotspots. Grab a drink and a seat while you take in the performances and soak up the Texas sun.

Favorite date spot:

For more than 30 years, locally owned Mac’s Bar & Grill has been a hometown favorite, serving up American fare near Lake Arlington.

Average commute/traffic report:

Arlington doesn’t offer public transportation. Many residents own vehicles and commute to Fort Worth (15 miles west) or Dallas (20 miles east) for work. Traffic can be sticky during the morning and evening commute on Interstates 20 and 30, the two major highways that run east and west through Arlington. Many residents also commute north to the airport on Highway 360, which runs north and south along Arlington’s east border.

Credit: Courtesy of Amy J. Schultz

Favorite place to get coffee:

Urban Alchemy is one of downtown Arlington’s newest coffee shops that doubles as a wine spot when it’s time to unwind. With comfy seating and a modern feel, Urban Alchemy delivers delicious coffee to caffeinate your mornings, as well as a small food menu.

Credit: Courtesy of Lauren Carter

Favorite bar for when you want to be around people:

Grab a locally-brewed beer and a seat at Legal Draft Beer Company to decompress after a long day. A casual atmosphere, plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, and a wall of board games make Legal Draft the perfect place to relax with friends.

Favorite alone spot:

Located on Lake Arlington, Bowman Springs Park is a great place to escape the daily grind. Feed the ducks, take a stroll, or grab a bench and savor the quiet.

Favorite free cultural event to take part in:

Grab a few friends and enjoy The Stars of Texas Challenge, a journey that will take you around Arlington in search of 20 star sculptures, painted and decorated by artists, which represent their interpretations of why Arlington is nicknamed the “American Dream City.”

Signature food:

At Babe’s Chicken Dinner House, you pick a main dish of chicken cooked one of four ways, or catfish. The sides are served family-style. Add sweet tea and you’ve got a truly Southern meal.

Favorite boutique:

Jazzy Jems is known for keeping residents looking trendy and fabulous.

Favorite bike trails/parks/outdoor activity:

River Legacy Parks contains Arlington’s segment of a 75-mile greenbelt parkland that extends from West Fort Worth to East Dallas. Bring a bike and binoculars, and hit the trails to scout more than 400 different bird species, or bring the kids to play on the one-of-a-kind playground, which even has a life-size T-Rex dinosaur skeleton.

Favorite spot for an Instagram:

Strike a pose in front of the bright murals painted on the sides of local businesses. The one at Sugar Bee Sweets Bakery, featuring a colorful heart, is particularly Insta-worthy.

Favorite brunch:

At Restaurant506 at the Sanford House Inn & Spa, feel free to dress up a bit for weekend brunch. It’s hard to pick a favorite off this menu, but the 506 Breakfast Tower is particularly good.

Favorite free activity:

Grab a blanket, a lawn chair, and all the snacks you can fit in your cooler, then head to a free summer concert at Levitt Pavilion for music under the stars. From country to oldies to bluegrass to contemporary, the bands and musicians will have everyone singing along!

Favorite grocery store:

Stop by Green’s Produce and Plants for the freshest, yummiest fruits and vegetables in town.

Favorite place for a workout:

Camp Gladiator is a one-hour, full-body, outdoor workout, with both morning and evening sessions. With locations all over Arlington, fitness lovers of all ages and abilities come together for this heart-pounding, calorie-burning, boot camp-style workout.

Favorite place to take an out-of-towner:

At Texas Live!, an indoor-outdoor entertainment venue that houses bars, restaurants, a stage, and more, you can dance at a concert, grab a beer, catch a game, ride a mechanical bull, or try a taco from Guy Fieri and a pizza from Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez. You can do it all here!

Worst place to find parking and easiest place to find parking:

It is fairly easy to find parking throughout Arlington—except when the Cowboys play at home! During home games, parking on the north side of town is the stuff nightmares are made of.

What the neighbors say:

Residents say they love Arlington for its affordable cost of living, proximity to Dallas and Fort Worth, and diverse population. “Arlington is a melting pot, and its diversity makes it a great place to live” resident Tracy Tollefsen says.

Others say they love the mild Texas winters and small-town feel. “We love that we don’t feel like we live in the hustle and bustle of city life, but we are only a couple of streets over from everything we need and more,” says Kelly Reed, an Arlington resident since 2010.

Out-of-towners may think of Arlington as an entertainment hub for North Texas, but residents say they have the perks of city living without living in the city.

Many also say the biggest perk living in Arlington is the collaboration among residents. “I love seeing all the small businesses and entrepreneurs working together to collaborate and make really cool things happen in Arlington!” Mary Hale, a resident and local business owner, says.

Favorite annual event:

Enchant Christmas, one of the world’s largest light mazes, made its U.S. debut in Arlington in 2017 and was an instant hit. The event returned in 2018 with thousands of sparkling lights and an ice-skating trail that delighted skaters of all ages.

What I miss about the city living in a suburb:

Arlington requires a car. At times, I miss being able to walk to the bar, to the grocery store, or to the closest Starbucks when I want to grab something quickly.

What I never miss about the city:

The parking and the crowds! It may sound cliché, but I love living in a suburb, and never worrying about finding parking or how much parking is going to cost me.

Favorite local home store:

Gracie Lane is a shopping hot spot, with dozens of vendors selling all types of wares.

Credit: Courtesy of Courtney Hale

Favorite local garden store:

Idlewild Botanical has awesome pop-up events, where you can pose for a photo in front of a pretty flower mural, or pick up the gardening accessories you need for spring.

Favorite local diner:

Try to find a dish you don’t like at Skillet N’ Grill. The veggie omelet is fantastic.

Favorite neighborhood for yard sales:

Woodland West is an old Arlington neighborhood that’s filled with treasures!

Favorite dog park:

Tails N’ Trails Dog Park is a South Arlington favorite, with separate areas for large and small dogs to run around off leash. Shaded areas and benches make it easy for owners to sit and relax, while the dogs play.

Favorite salon/spa:

Kick your feet up at Daired’s Salon and Spa Pangea, and prepare to be pampered. Grab a bite to eat in the café, relax with a massage, or get ready for the weekend with a new ‘do.   

Favorite resale and antique store:

Hunt for cool finds at Cooper Street Antique Mall. After shopping in this 53,000-square-foot antique mall, stop for a bite in the Tin Tulip Tea Room, located inside the mall.

Why do you think your suburb is cool?:

Arlington truly is the suburb that has it all. In recent years, the downtown has been revitalized and is now home to fantastic local businesses that attract locals and out-of-towners alike. Homes are extremely affordable in Arlington, and the suburb’s proximity to two major Texas cities makes it a hotspot for individuals who want more more space than city living can offer.

Credit: Apartment Therapy