Although Mansfield, Texas, is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country and is located just 30 minutes from Forth Worth, the community prides itself on a small-town feel and family-friendly vibe. Tree-lined streets and charming neighborhoods convey an upscale, Mayberry-type atmosphere that encourages leisurely exploration.
Mansfield got its name inadvertently in the mid 1800s, when early residents Ralph Man and Julian Feild built a grist mill in the area. The building soon became the center of a growing community. The pair of entrepreneurs then built a general store and a post office, which earned the original name of "Mansfeild" as a combination of the founders' names. That version eventually changed over to the current spelling.
When planning things to do in Mansfield, a good starting point is the Mansfield Historical Society, located in the town's center on Main Street. In addition to artifacts from the city history, the society offers four different walking tour maps for exploring significant landmarks, including the home of Ralph Man. All Mansfield tours begin at the Historical Society and loop back to downtown, lasting approximately one hour each.
After taking in area historical sights, head about four miles east to Big League Dreams, one of the top things to do in Mansfield. The park is built to resemble scaled-down versions of famous baseball fields, like Fenway Park in Boston. Fenway's signature green wall, nicknamed the “Green Monster,” is echoed in the green border of the Mansfield version, giving any kid—or adult—the feeling of major-league play. The park even features “fans” cheering on the players, thanks to a photo-realistic mural in the outfield. Other small-scale stadium replicas include Chicago's Wrigley Field, New York's Yankee Stadium, and St. Louis's Sportsman's Park.
Hawaiian Falls Waterpark, just steps away from Big League Dreams, is another favorite Mansfield attraction. Rides like the Hawaiian Halfpipe and Flyin' Hawaiian send park visitors shooting down water-filled tubes, while thrill seekers gravitate to The Torpedo, an enclosed pipe that creates intense acceleration and a splash landing. For young children, the park's Waikiki Beach provides a gentle wave pool, and Splashwater Reef offers shallow swimming pool areas.
After a day of big-league play or water-filled adventure, the culinary attractions of Mansfield beckon. Comfort food is in abundance at Our Place Restaurant, in the northern part of town. The eatery offers chicken-fried steak, homemade rolls and a sizeable selection of fresh-baked pies. A surprising number of Asian restaurants also call Mansfield home, including Japanese finds like Sake Hibachi, Sushi 2 Go and Suzushii Sushi and Grill, as well as Thai pick Blue Mint.
Mansfield's strong growth track is likely to keep the restaurants and attractions building in the near future, making now the perfect time to catch the city's small-town atmosphere before the place booms once again. The proximity to Fort Worth makes Mansfield a top day-trip candidate, and nearby Joe Pool Lake provides natural vistas for those escaping the big city.