August 18, 2015
Just half an hour outside of Dallas, Fort Worth is the perfect day-trip destination for those after a taste of authentic Texan culture. Though it’s no less sophisticated or cosmopolitan than Dallas, Fort Worth is a city that has wholeheartedly embraced its cowboy heritage, attracting visitors from all over the world. From cattle drives and cowboy museums to Texas BBQ, Fort Worth is the place to go for a thrilling Wild West beyond Dallas.
Though it’s an easy trip from Dallas to “Cowtown”, an overnight stay or long weekend ensures maximum exposure to the city’s offerings. Since 1907, the Old West-style Stockyards Hotel has been a favourite property in the heart of the historic Stockyards. Over the years, cattle barons, country music stars and notorious outlaws Bonnie and Clyde have rested their heads at this cosy little retreat.
The Stockyards National Historic District is the centrepiece of Fort Worth’s cowboy culture. Bursting at the seams with shopping, restaurants, saloons, rodeos and Billy Bob’s Texas, the world’s largest honky tonk, many parts of the district are like travelling back in time to the heyday of the Wild, Wild West.
One of the most popular local events features the Fort Worth Herd, a group of Texas longhorns appearing with cowboys in twice-daily cattle drives. It’s a great photo opportunity, but even better caught on video.
Every Friday and Saturday night at 8:00 p.m., the Cowtown Coliseum, home to the world’s first indoor rodeo, holds the Stockyard Championship Rodeo. Twice each Saturday, crowds gather for the Pawnee Bill’s Wild West Show.
Fort Worth is home to many museums, from fine art to more niche exhibits. The Amon Carter Museum of American Art is one of the best museums beyond Dallas, and is housed in a structure designed by world-renowned architect Philip Johnson. The museum is home to 19th and 20th century paintings and sculptures, as well as one of the nation’s major collections of American photography, and also features approximately 400 works by Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell – the two greatest artists of the American West.
The Stockyards Museum is a blast from Fort Worth’s past with plenty of memorabilia from a bygone era. There’s even a Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame with more than 100-plus inductees and artefacts for each.
The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame is the only museum in the world dedicated to honouring and documenting the lives and contributions of female pioneers of the American West, while the Sid Richardson Museum is one of the best places to see paintings of the Old West.
Downtown, the Heritage Trail Markers features a series of 22 bronze sidewalk markers detailing historic events that occurred in Fort Worth’s early years, leading to the spectacular Fort Worth Water Gardens. And in nearby Sundance Square Plaza, the three-storey-high Chisholm Trail Mural pays homage to Fort Worth’s historic 19th-century cattle drives.
Fort Worth is home to several eateries that embrace Texas cooking techniques. From casual saloons to up-market restaurants, there are plenty of great places to chow down in this city. Start with a drink at White Elephant Saloon, an authentic Old West saloon in the former red-light district once known as Hell’s Half Acre. Live country music every night of the week perfectly sets the mood.
Two of celebrity chef Tim Love’s local restaurants wholeheartedly embrace Texas cuisine. His flagship Lonesome Dove Western Bistro celebrates the trailblazers of the 19th century with juicy steaks, grilled Texas quail quesadillas, buffalo rib eye and kangaroo carpaccio nachos. Love’s Woodshed Smokehouse, on the banks of the Trinity River, is a tribute to the art of grilling, roasting and slow cooking. Try the Texas Trinity, a gigantic group-friendly platter featuring the sausage of the day (which could be made from rattlesnake, if you’re lucky), pork ribs and beef brisket with several side dishes.
Other must-visit Fort Worth restaurants include Reata Restaurant, home to cooking that fuses together Southwestern, Creole, Southern and traditional Steak House dishes; H3 Ranch, a local steakhouse with something to please every palate; and Cooper’s Old Time Pit BBQ, famous for its skyline views and delicious “big chop”.
If you want to look the part while exploring Fort Worth, there are plenty of destinations ready to give you that authentic cowboy look, starting with the boots. Since 1922, custom cowboy boots have been the staple at M.L. Leddy’s, while more modern country-inspired items and gifts can be found at Leddy’s Ranch in Sundance Square.
Booking a flight to Dallas? Our codeshare arrangement with Delta makes it simple for you to travel all over North America, so why not discover Fort Worth during your next trip?
Have you travelled beyond Dallas to Fort Worth? Where are your favourite places to visit when you’re in town? Let us know in the comments section below.
Writen by Steven Lindsey