For as long as I can remember, Arlington has been the whipping boy among the Metroplex's cooler-kid cities. The place you drive through on your way to Dallas or Fort Worth. And the punch line to so many cruel (but mostly true) jokes.
But look who's laughing now. Arlington has become the sexiest city in DFW at the moment, with a billion or so reasons to brag about its prowess.
The Pygmalion-like transformation began with the arrival of the Dallas Cowboys and their $1.2 billion palace last year. There's just something about hanging with America's Team that immediately makes you more attractive. Since then, every major sporting event has made reservations to come here (NBA All-Star Game in 2010, Super Bowl XLV in 2011, Final Four in 2014). And since the Texas Rangers caught fire this postseason, Arlington hosted its first World Series.
But sports is not the only thing raising Arlington's Q score. Swanky clubs and restaurants have joined the Arlington entourage, too -- even the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame.
So when Men's Health magazine named Arlington No. 7 on its list of sexy cities recently, the creators of that cockamamie survey had no idea how right they were.
Arlington has never been hotter; here are just 10 reasons why.
1. Cowboys Stadium
It's not just the Dallas Cowboys or their world-famous cheerleaders that are increasing Arlington's sex appeal. It's such marquee events as the NBA All-Star Game, George Strait and U2 concerts, Manny Pacquiao fights, the Big XII Championship game and the annual AT&T Cotton Bowl, as well as the 2014 NCAA Final Four. When the ultimate spectacle, Super Bowl XLV, arrives in February 2011, all eyes will be on Arlington. In the meantime, visitors to DFW are planning entire vacations around a stop at Cowboys Stadium. The numbers for the stadium tours have been through the retractable roof.
2. The AL West champion Texas Rangers
It's a whole new ballgame at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. After watching former Rangers Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira celebrate a championship in 2009 with the New York Yankees, local baseball fans were treated to playoff baseball in 2010 for the first time since 1999. While the Rangers were already in first place, the fans began to truly get behind the team in July, when it acquired one of the best pitchers in all of baseball, Cliff Lee, to join hitters like Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler and Michael Young. As the Rangers continued their magical run to the World Series, the Ballpark was the sexy place to be, as fans turned out in droves to support the Rangers. Something about winning just brings out the beautiful people!
3. Breastaurant central
Arlington has never suffered from a shortage of national chains, but we think that's a good thing when it comes to breastaurants. The city has not one but two Hooters locations. The first is (surprise!) on Collins Street just south of Interstate 30. If you happen to be in south Arlington near Interstate 20, there is another Hooters off Green Oaks Boulevard and Little Road. Maybe you're not in the mood for orange shorts and buffalo wings? Bone Daddy's and its amazing barbecue in the Arlington Highlands complex at I-20 and Matlock Road is within shouting distance. Or if you are up by Six Flags and the Ballpark, 3rd Base Sports Bar & Grill certainly fits the bill.
4. Lincoln Square
This shopping center in the shadow of Cowboys Stadium is thriving, especially on game days. Nosh on some great grub at Olenjack's Grille, grab a beer at Sherlock's Pub and hang out at BoomerJack's Grill and Bar, which has more than 100 flat-screens and a really cool patio. On the flipside of the center is a Palm Beach Tan (translation: tons of hot girls).
5. 'Men's Health's' Arlington
This is the third time in recent memory that Arlington has turned up high on a magazine's survey. It was the No. 3 city in which to meet a man in 2007. In 2009, it was ranked No. 1 on the list of fast-food cities. And in 2010 Arlington was No. 7 on the list of Men's Health's "Hotbeds of Sex" survey. (To be fair, Dallas was No. 2 and Austin No. 1.) Of course, the calculation was made from stats on condom sales, birthrates, sex-toy sales and STDs. So maybe not as sexy as it sounds. But Arlington doesn't shy away from a little naughty fun. Condom Sense on Collins is certainly not hurting for business. And the Baby Dolls location on Texas 157 (technically it's in Fort Worth, but it's on the same street as Cowboys Stadium) never lacks for cars in its parking lot. Baby Dolls' and the neighboring Jaguars' exotic dancers have to get their outfits somewhere. And that place is Electric Boutique, in Lincoln Square.
Part of the credit for making the Men's Health list no doubt goes to the students at the city's major university, the University of Texas at Arlington. Long considered a "commuter" school, UTA just continues to grow and attract more energy to the campus area. Just check out nearby Fuzzy's Taco Shop or J. Gilligan's on a Friday night, and you'll see for your yourself. With an expected record enrollment of more than 30,000 this fall, that's a lot of people in their early 20s looking to get out and have a good time in Arlington.
7. Arlington Highlands
And where will those 20-somethings spend their parents' cash? This outdoor megamall in south Arlington has something for practically everyone. It features a Dave & Buster's, Houlihan's Bar & Grill, Bone Daddy's, Freebirds, Pluckers Wing Bar, Pinkberry, Splitsville Luxury Lanes, Genghis Grill, BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse, Chuy's, BlackFinn American Saloon, Piranha Killer Sushi, Gloria's Restaurant and Studio Movie Grill. And if none of those places sounds appealing to you, well, there are dozens more retail outlets and an Improv, where they can surgically remove the stick from your butt.
8. Reality stars
Since the beginning, Texans have been kickin' their boots all over the reality-show map, but in these last few years, Arlington seems lousy with contestants. America's Next Top Model started last season with three Arlington women (Liz Williams and sisters Chris and Terra White). Arlingtonians have also wound up on recent seasons of The Amazing Race and MasterChef, but we recall biggies like musician Cas Haley, who was runner-up on America's Got Talent three years ago, and Blake Mycoskie, who with his sister came in third on the second season of The Amazing Race -- and went on to found TOMS Shoes. And let's not forget Eddie McGee. He was originally from Long Island, but was a UTA student when he scored $500,000 for winning the first Big Brother in 2000.
9. Bowling mecca
If you don't think bowling is a sexy sport, a trip to Splitsville will change your mind. The luxury lanes and lounge in Arlington Highlands is a combination nightclub/bowling alley with tons of TVs and great food. There is even sushi and an outdoor bowling lane. Alley Cats nearby has a similarly hip vibe, but it also has rock climbing, billiards and Laser tag. True lovers of the game no doubt are aware of the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame. This is a unique experience -- an 18,000-plus-square-foot facility that includes a museum and accommodates groups of 20 to 400.
10. Ice, ice skating at The Parks
From the outside, The Parks looks like just another mall. And it has all the de facto stores, from Macy's to Dillard's to Chick-fil-A. But the full-size skating rink inside makes The Parks cooler than it has to be. So does the Cheesecake Factory and the 18-screen AMC theater that now features an IMAX theater. And before you leave, don't forget to stop in at the Frederick's of Hollywood on the lower level.
You are in Arlington, after all. It's OK to feel a little sexier.