Architecture and Design

Claim to Fame: What Are Dallas Suburbs Best Known For?

Money Magazine named McKinney the best place to live in 2014.
Money Magazine named McKinney the best place to live in 2014. courtesy Scott Polikov
If you go outside the great state of Texas, and you mention that you’re from Dallas, you’ll probably get one of a few standard reactions. We’re generally known for three things: the Dallas Cowboys, the Dallas TV series and the fact that JFK was shot here. Of course, those of us who live in Dallas know that we’re really about more than just those things. For example, the State Fair of Texas is the biggest state fair in the United States, and this is where the frozen margarita was officially invented by Mariano Martinez in 1971. Yeah. You’re welcome, world.

But what about Dallas' suburbs? Suburban sprawl is after all a contributing factor to Dallas’ identity, and many of its suburbs have at least one claim to fame worth noting. So, what are the things that make out-of-towners take a detour or Dallas’ urban dwellers drive to the suburbs? Here are a few of the best.


Not only is Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington a major attraction for Dallasites, but it is often on the to-do lists of visitors as well. Six Flags Over Texas was first opened in 1961 by Angus Wynne. His vision was to combine innovative rides with theme presentations, a formula that's seen enormous success over the decades, expanding to other states, as well as Canada and Mexico. With 26 theme and water parks, Six Flags Entertainment Corporation is now the largest theme park company in the world.

Grapevine is one of the oldest suburbs in DFW. It was founded in 1844, three years after Dallas was founded and a year before the Republic of Texas became the State of Texas, so the city is loaded with juicy historical nuggets, the crowd favorite being that an associate of the infamous outlaws Bonnie and Clyde killed two of Grapevine’s motorcycle patrolmen in 1934.

Addison is best known for what’s above it, rather than what’s in it: airplanes. Every Fourth of July people flock from all over DFW to attend the award-winning Addison Kaboom Town! Air Show, which features fireworks, day flights, night flights, skydiving and aerobatics. The airplanes for this show are courtesy of the Cavanaugh Flight Museum in Addison, which houses aircraft from World War I, WWII, the Vietnam War, the Korean War and even some civilian planes and other impressive vehicles. They have a regular calendar of airshow events, and visitors can even pay to shoot through the skies on one of these warbirds. (Also it's the city with the most restaurants per capita in the country, but that's really all we have to say about that.)

Get your fill of sports in Frisco, home to seven professional sports teams. The NFL’s Dallas Cowboys practice in the shiny new Ford Center at The Star, which is also where the MML’s Dallas Rattlers and CIFL’s Texas Revolution play. Also in Frisco, the NHL’s Dallas Stars are based out of the Dr Pepper StarCenter; MLS’s FC Dallas calls Toyota Stadium its home pitch; the Frisco RoughRiders, the minor leagues' Class AA affiliate of the Texas Rangers, play at Dr Pepper Ballpark; and the Texas Legends, the NBA’s G League affiliate of the Dallas Mavericks, call the Comerica Center home.

click to enlarge A place of business in ol' downtown Plano, where a Texas-shaped pool shows our Texas-sized pride. - DALLAS OBSERVER- FROM BEST OF 2017
A place of business in ol' downtown Plano, where a Texas-shaped pool shows our Texas-sized pride.
Dallas Observer- From Best Of 2017
Plano has an interesting national landmark. No, it’s not a building. It’s a pool. More specifically it’s a pool shaped like the State of Texas. The Historic Texas Pool in Plano, which was first opened in 1961, features a wading area in “South Texas,” a diving board in “the Panhandle” and an island in the center. Why? Because Texas.

Irving is all about business, which is probably why it’s home to more than 140 international companies, several of which are Fortune 500. Centrally located between Dallas and DFW International Airport, the City of Irving website claims it's “striving to be the leading international business center in America,” and the number of accolades they’ve received from business-minded publications proves they must be doing something right.


McKinney’s biggest selling points are its quaint, low-crime neighborhoods with highly ranked schools and its public parks with hike and bike trails and calendar packed with family-friendly activities. It’s more the kind of place you live than the place you visit, as has been demonstrated by McKinney’s placement on more than one “best places to live” listicles. Since 2002, McKinney has often found itself at or near the top of the Census Bureau’s list for the nation’s fastest-growing cities, and that trend doesn’t look to be stopping anytime soon.

When Dallasites think of Rockwall, we most likely think of the city across Lake Ray Hubbard with the beautiful harbor lined with restaurant patios that overlook the lake, but Rockwall has a less quaint claim to fame that would elicit raised eyebrows just about anywhere: Right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones of InfoWars, who was recently banned from all major social media platforms, grew up there in the '80s and '90s. He even claimed in one of his segments (which we watched so you don’t have to) that beautiful, rich girls at Rockwall High School repeatedly tried to date him in order to lure him into satanism. Classic.


You’ve heard of a college town, but what about a rodeo town? Sometimes called “the Fort Worth of Dallas,” Mesquite is such a town. The award-winning Mesquite Championship Rodeo is held at the Mesquite Arena and it’s been a big spittin’ deal since 1957. Hundreds of thousands of visitors pass through the arena every season from June through August, and it has hosted presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.


Southlake is home to one of the wealthiest ZIP codes in the country, a fact that they’re quite proud of. You don’t have to look far into the Southlake website to find statistics like the average household income ($225,348, according to a 2018 report) or the average home sale price ($718,531). So it shouldn’t surprise us that the thing Southlake is best known for is a shopping center. Southlake Town Square opened 20 years ago and quickly became one of the most popular shopping centers in DFW. “Since opening, Southlake Town Square has acted as a model for other cities interested in revitalizing their community downtowns,” Southlake Style magazine stated in its February issue.

Lake Lewisville is a recreational hub for locals seeking those lake vibes, which naturally makes Lewisville a staycation destination location as well. Lake Lewisville is a reservoir on Elm Fork of the Trinity River that was first engineered in 1927 and later expanded. Today it’s a go-to spot for the boating, fishing, camping needs of the DFW area. Start in Lewisville, end in Party Cove.

This one’s for the Eagles. The Allen High School football program has been one of the top football programs in Texas, with five state championships under their belt. From 2012 to 2014 they won three state championships, becoming the fourth high school in state history to do so in the state’s highest classification. Allen ISD built a 18,000-seat stadium for the team, which cost nearly $60 million. Take that, rich people in Southlake.


Every October, people flock to Bedford from all over North Texas to Moxley Manor Haunted House, because that’s where you go to get the best scare of your life. Its backstory is based on the true story of the Moxley family, who were all suspiciously killed inside the Moxley Manor. The business is not located in the original Moxley Manor due to “safety reasons,” but they still manage to scare the ever-livin’ out of visitors during their Halloween and off-season events.

Wylie is where the wildcats are. No, we’re not talking about another sports team. In-Sync Exotics in Wylie is a nonprofit that rescues neglected and abused exotic cats, and they have a long lineup of furry felines in their care, from African lions and Bengal tigers to smaller varieties like African servals. They hold tours seven days a week as well as host a slew of fundraising events for people looking to get involved.
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