This summer in Downtown Arlington, we’re tied together with a smile! “Why?” you may ask. Because this summer is Taylor Swift’s Summer! The red-lipped, 12-time Grammy award-winning artist has landed in Downtown for an exhibition at the Arlington Museum of Art exploring her “eras” of evolution. Running from June 3rd to September 24th, Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour Collection comes on the heels of Swift’s sell-out concerts earlier this Spring at AT&T Stadium.
Curated by the AMA from Swift’s own private collection, Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour Collection, presented by the HELP Center for LGBT Health & Wellness, features original costumes and photographs, plus a timeline and other visuals inspired by her creative eras. Even the three other exhibits that are running concurrently at the AMA are interconnected with Swift’s eras (and Easter eggs) in subtle ways.
To celebrate this special occasion, our entire city is getting involved! From cardboard cutouts at Union Worx Coworking to themed drinks at Hooligan’s Pub and sweets at Sugar Bee Sweets Bakery, we are embracing Taylor Swift with open arms and open ears.
And you can too! Here’s a list of things to do in Downtown Arlington to represent your favorite Taylor Swift era!
1. Self-Titled – Discover Local Talent at Downtown’s Various Live Music Venues
“Taylor Swift,” the album where it all began. The year is 2006. You hear rumblings of a new star on the rise, making her way through Nashville’s bars and venues as she tirelessly works to get a record deal. You’re driving in your car one day when the melody of “Teardrops on My Guitar” begins to play on the radio, and from that point forward, you’re hooked! At just 16 years old, Taylor Swift swept the nation by storm with her chart-topping debut album. Soon after that, she was opening for country music icons such as Rascal Flatts, Tim McGraw, and Faith Hill.
If you’ve been around since the beginning of Swift’s career, then you clearly have a good ear for rising talent and an affinity for hardworking artists, which makes checking out Downtown’s diverse selection of live music venues the perfect activity for you! Downtown Arlington is a music-friendly community not only for its music-centric locations such as the Levitt Pavilion, Arlington Music Hall, and Growl Records, but also for its range of multi-purpose venues as well.
Bars and restaurants such as Division Brewing, J. Gilligan’s Bar & Grill, Cartel Taco Bar, and Grease Monkey offer high-quality entertainment along with their high-quality menu, while unsuspecting businesses such as Create Arlington, an art gallery and artist coworking space, transform their day-to-day atmosphere into a welcoming stage for local artists. Your endless support and unwavering dedication to Taylor Swift from the very beginning makes you the perfect audience for Arlington’s underground and emerging artists. Come on out and discover more icons in the making!
2. Fearless and Fearless (Taylor’s Version) – Visit a Local Coffee Shop
Fearless was Taylor’s sophomore album and is a recollection of all the lessons learned from the reality shift of realizing life isn’t as perfect as the romanticized stories shown in movies. However, if you’re a fan of Taylor Swift, especially during her debut years, chances are you’ve dreamt of sitting in a coffee shop staring at your crush from across the bar while “You Belong with Me” plays in the background.
3. Speak Now and Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) – Catch a Show at Theatre Arlington
Speak Now was Taylor’s first album that she wrote entirely by herself. It is also when people started to truly recognize her storytelling skills, with each song telling its own tale about the crossroads of adolescence and adulthood and how these important phases of our lives clash and complement one another.
Fans who were lucky enough to catch performances from the Speak Now tour remember this era by its intricate stage designs which included fire, lights, dancers, and acrobatics. The theatrics of this era make Theatre Arlington the perfect destination for those who have Speak Now on repeat. If you’re a fan of highly personal and extravagant performances, then you must see a show at the newly renovated theater. Each year Theatre Arlington tackles a large range of shows focusing on a variety of topics reminiscent of many of life’s journeys, such as “Fly by Night” by Will Connolly, Michael Mitnick, and Kim Rosenstock, “Superior Donuts” by Tracy Letts, and “Avenue Q” by Robert Lopez, Jeff Marx, and Jeff Whitty.
4. Red (Taylor’s Version) – Go on a Date Night with Friends
Red is known for its sort of chaotic form of storytelling, yet, for some people, is regarded as the best
representation of the chaos after a heartbreak. It’s gloomy yet freeing, confusing yet reassuring, and lonely yet fun all at the same time. This makes for the best time to go out with your friends for a night on the town and forget about the past.
5. 1989 – Bar Hop between Downtown’s Bar, Pubs, and Breweries
Some say 1989 was Swift’s most memorable album, as it would ultimately redefine her from the country girl next door to a worldwide pop icon. This was an era of great change for Swift as she moved to New York and tackled adulthood and developed a completely different style than when she first rose to stardom.
To celebrate your own adulthood and honor Taylor’s transition to pop, visit any number of Downtown’s bars, pubs, or breweries and “pop” open a nice, cold beer. Each bar offers something unique so don’t stop at just one! When you start feeling a little buzz, “Shake it Off” and move on to the next one to try any of their specialty drinks and mixes! Drink responsibly and feel free to take advantage of Downtown’s rideshare programs to get home safely.
6. Reputation – Embrace Your Dark Side at Lone Star Axe Throwing
We all remember where we were in the year 2017 when Taylor dropped Reputation, her edgiest and arguably, her most experimental era yet. Coming from months out of the public eye, Taylor returned with a vengeance, embracing the good-girl-gone-bad image the media painted her out to be. If this is your favorite era by Taylor Swift, then it should come to no surprise that we suggest you check out Lone Star Axe Throwing.
If you think we wrote this article for the sole purpose of connecting her “edgiest” album with axe throwing, you’d be correct. Puns aside, Lone Star Axe Throwing is a great way to blow off a little steam. From axes to ninja shuriken, you can throw it all! All while enjoying good drinks and food. If you’ve never tried axe throwing, remember “x marks the spot,” so picture an old ex is the target and take aim!
7. Lover – Take a Self-Guided Tour of Downtown’s Murals
Taking a complete left turn after the Reputation era is the Lover era! Leaving her dark and edgy persona behind her, T-Swift transformed into a sparkling ray of sunshine and pastel rainbows. During her Lover era, fans were flooded with positive vibes and recounts of all the optimism and tenderness that comes in life. This era is revered for its pops of color and visual vitality, so it’s only right that you check out the many vibrant murals sprinkled throughout Downtown Arlington. The murals are located on the side of your favorite businesses and are perfect for capturing Instagrammable moments.
8. Folklore and Evermore – Enjoy a Nice Picnic in Any of Downtown’s Outdoor Spaces
2020 may not have been kind to us, but Taylor sure was! She changed the game in 2020 when she surprise-released her folklore and evermore albums just a couple of months apart. With their indie-folk and alternative rock sounds, these two albums conveyed the energy of a peaceful serenity in nature and idealized the resurgence of the internet aesthetic “cottagecore.”
What better way to commemorate your love for her most aesthetically pleasing era than by grabbing your cardigan, a long flowy dress, and a basket full of food and taking to the green spaces of Downtown for a beautiful day outdoors. Scenic green spaces are in front of the Arlington Museum of Art, the Dream Sculpture, the City Center Plaza, and more.
9. Midnights – Check Out Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour Collection at the Arlington Museum of Art (Duh!)
“Midnights” is Swift’s 10th studio album and is a collection of 13 stories written on 13 different nights from throughout her career. “Midnights” is the culmination of experiences and lessons learned over the course of an entire career, decades in the making. This extremely personal tale borrows themes and styles from every Swift era and combines them into a deep recount of her life. So, naturally, fans of this album absolutely must visit the Arlington Museum of Art’s Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour Collection.
This exhibit commemorates Taylor Swift’s career by showcasing photos and eight costumes worn by Swift from her record-breaking albums Midnights, folklore, Red (Taylor’s Version), and Fearless (Taylor’s Version). The AMA’s new exhibition pairs perfectly with “Midnights” as they both honor and explore the evolution of the award-winning, record-breaking legend. Tickets are timed entry and available on line, so be sure to visit arlingtonmuseum.org/taylor-swift-the-eras-tour-collection to reserve a time slot today.