Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas

Walkability and friendliness reign supreme, with big development plans on the horizon.

This small city has a big heart. Sandwiched between Dallas and Fort Worth, Arlington offers many big-city amenities with small town attention to detail and genuine care for clients and guests, says Jon Hixon, vice president of sales and services for Arlington Convention & Visitor’s Bureau. It’s just 8 miles to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), which is the 10th-largest airport in the world in terms of passenger traffic and only a four-hour flight from every major airport in the United States.

Arlington Convention Center sits in the heart of the Entertainment District alongside Six Flags Over Texas and the Dallas Cowboys’ stomping ground, AT&T Stadium. The center offers 50,000 sq. ft. of column-free exhibit space as well as a 30,000-square-foot Grand Hall and more than 8,500 sq. ft. of meeting rooms. An added bonus: “Arlington boasts a growing research university, University of Texas at Arlington—can you say ‘expert speakers?’” Hixon says.

Next door is the newly refurbished Sheraton Arlington Hotel, which has 311 freshly furnished guest rooms and plans to revamp the lobby and meeting rooms this year. The Hilton Arlington also got a $12 million remodel two years ago. Hilton Hotel & Resorts just opened DoubleTree DFW Airport Hotel, with 237 guest rooms, to further bolster the city’s accommodations.

AT&T Stadium is much more than just home to the Dallas Cowboys: It’s also the largest domed structure in the world. Tours vary from self-guided to art-specific (the stadium is also home to museum-quality contemporary art). “AT&T Stadium offers more than 20 event spaces that can accommodate groups from 30 to 8,000,” Hixon says.  “You can even meet in the Cowboys Locker Room—if the ‘boys aren’t in town, of course!”

Tours and event space are also available at the home of the Texas Rangers, Globe Life Park. It’s great for those who favor America’s favorite pastime.

But the real change come in spring of 2018, when the Texas Rangers’ stadium will be surrounded by 20,000 sq. ft. of dining and entertainment attractions called Texas Live. The $1.25 billion project will include restaurants, bars, and a new hotel and convention facility. It’s a project that’s been a pipe dream for nearly four decades, and will soon be a reality for Texas Rangers fans and convention-goers alike.

Plans are in place for a 300 room hotel with 35,000 sq. ft. of convention space right next door to Globe Life Park. The upscale accommodations will tower over the ball park and surrounding district so that guests will always have a view of the action below.

It was also recently announced that Guy Fieri is working on a restaurant concept for the district. The Emmy-award winning chef and TV personality will open the flagship restaurant for Texas Live. While the concept is still under wraps, you can bet it will be heavily influenced by Texan cuisine.

For beers, Texan craft brewers Revolver Brewing have stepped up to the plate. From nearby Granbury, they specialize in all-American wheat ales, IPAs and blonde ales. There’s something for every beer lover on their list.

But the piece de resistance of Texas Live is the Live Arena. With a capacity for 5,000, plans for 5 jumbo screens and a stage for musical guests, this massive living room will be a great place to gather for pregame beers, or to watch the action live.

Currently, dining is a group affair in Arlington. The Melting Pot serves up six different types of cheese fondue, which provides a quick bonding experience for convention-goers, as well as salads and four-course dinners. For those craving red meat, The Keg Steakhouse and Bar has all the prime cuts of beef, plus seafood for surf-and-turf lovers. Lincoln Square provides budget-friendly lunch options and plenty of variety, from bowls of pho at Sprouts Spring Roll & Pho to hometown cooking at The Black-Eyed Pea.

For after-hours bites, head to either Chaucer’s Sushi and Bar as well as Sherlock Baker Street Pub & Grill. But Dave and Buster’s is the spot for cutting loose after a long day of conferences: You can sip on a spiked root beer while playing billiards on their handcrafted mahogany and rosewood-railed tables. For those who love to bowl, check out Dave & Buster’s neon-lit lanes. Have energy to burn? Challenge a colleague to a round of Dance Dance Revolution.

For a convention field trip, Six Flags over Texas offers fun of the pulse-pounding variety. With 18 separate thrill rides, you could spend the entire day wind-whipped and screaming. The Joker will be the newest addition to the park, opening this year, but you can’t beat the 225-foot drop of the Titan, which reached a speed of up to 85 miles per hour.

The true selling point for this small town is that all these attractions are within walking distance of the convention center. Nothing is more than 1 1/2 mile away, which provides for a great stretch of the legs between seminars. For those in a bit more of a rush or who don’t want to bear the mid-summer Texan heat, the Arlington Entertainment District Trolley offers complimentary seasonal service to hotel guests within the entertainment district to and from Six Flags, Hurricane Harbor, AT&T Stadium, Globe Life Park, shopping centers and of course, the convention center.