Much more than Dallas' grown-up, slightly stuffy older brother, Fort Worth is a superb vacation destination in its own right. In fact, it's combination of Wild West history, country music, museums and gourmet food could blow its neighbor out of the water.
If you want to experience Western culture at its most entertaining and authentic, Fort Worth Stockyards will be a revelation. Watch rodeo performers contend with steers, hear country music maestros at honky tonks like Billy Bob's and buy yourself that Stetson you've always wanted.
But Fort Worth has plenty of modern appeal as well. Galleries like the Kimbell or the Amon Carter Museum match any others in the southwest, the City Zoo has more than 7,000 animals to meet, while the program of concerts at the Bass Performance Hall includes leading contemporary pop and classical acts.
Every family member can enjoy a visit to one of Fort Worth's Texan BBQ restaurants in the evening for a taste of the Old West that never goes out of style. So if you want a destination that everyone can enjoy, Fort Worth should be right at the top of your shortlist.
Fort Worth is full of world-class art institutions and museums, with something for all tastes. Hardcore art lovers will be able to lose themselves in the Kimbell or Amon Carter Museum, while the Museum of Science and History will delight both kids and adults.
Fort Worth is very proud of its cattle herding traditions, and there are few better places to learn about Western history than the Stockyards. Head to the Cowboy and Cowgirl Halls of Fame, buy yourself some spurs or a Stetson, watch a rodeo and discover what the Wild West was really all about.
You might think you know country music, but think again. At Billy Bob's, you can hear country music at its rawest and most powerful. Billing itself as the world's largest honky tonk venue, it's an essential place to visit for all music fans.
Fort Worth is the place to go to discover Texas BBQ, one of America's great cuisines. Taste hickory smoked beef with Fort Worth's distinctive blend of spices at local favorites like Angelo's or the Railhead Smokehouse.
Fort Worth always keeps families entertained. If you love shopping, Sundance Square and the Stockyards have stores that will keep guys and girls satisfied. If your kids love nature, Fort Worth Zoo is a delight, while the Science Museum's range of hands-on exhibits is a great rainy-day option.
Housed in an iconic building designed by modernist master Louis I. Kahn, the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth is renowned for its prestigious art collection as well as its special exhibits, educational programs, and research library. Featuring the private collection of Kay and Velma Kimbell, the museum consists of a curated selection of 350 works of art, including masterpieces by Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Rubens, Monet, Matisse, and Picasso, among others.
Opened in 1961, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art features a permanent collection of nineteenth- and twentieth-century artworks. With more than 400 pieces by American artists Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell, including drawings, illustrations, paintings, and sculptures, the museum explores the settlement of the Old West. The gallery also specializes in Native American and expeditionary art, and landscape and coastal scenes from the nineteenth century Hudson River School movement, as well as American Impressionism, Modernism, and photography, as exemplified by William Merritt Chase, Joseph Stella, and Alfred Stieglitz to name a few.
Designed by David M. Schwarz and built in limestone in 1998, the 2,042-seat venue was inspired by classic European opera houses. The Bass Performance Hall hosts world-class entertainment, including national Broadway tours, the McDavid Studio concert series, and popular music concerts. The hall is also the permanent home of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, the Fort Worth Opera, the Texas Ballet Theater, and the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition and Cliburn Concerts. The Bass stage also features a variety of children's educational programs, performances, and student matinees.
A former nineteenth-century livestock market, the Fort Worth Stockyards are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Celebrating the city's cattle herding tradition, the stockyards house entertainment and shopping attractions, including shops such as M.L. Leddy's Boots & Saddlery, Texas Jake's Trading Company, and Maverick Fine Western Wear and Saloon, as well as hot spots like the Horseshoe Hill Café, Hunter Brothers H3 Ranch steakhouse, and Billy Bob's Texas Honky Tonk Kitchen. This quintessential Western location also features cattle drives, horseback riding, and overnight accommodations for adventurous guests.
Established in 1934, the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, set on 109 acres, is the oldest botanic garden in Texas. Featuring 2,501 species of native and exotic plants, the park showcases a variety of gardens, including a conservatory with orchid and bromeliad displays, a four seasons garden with irises, daylilies, and chrysanthemums, a Japanese garden with koi ponds, waterfalls, cherry trees, pagodas and a teahouse, and an entry garden with Texas and Mexican Bush sage, red yucca, and agave plants. The park also houses the largest collection of begonias in the United States and hosts special events, such as weddings and garden parties.
Fort Worth becomes blisteringly hot during the peak of summer (July and August), which may deter some vacationers. If you want to enjoy the best sightseeing conditions, visit between April and early June or in September and October, when temperatures will generally be around 70 and rain is rare. November is another alternative. The nights get a bit colder, but you'll have the bonus of watching the spellbinding Parade of Lights.
Dallas Forth Worth is the nearest airport to Fort Worth, and it's around 17 miles out of town. To get from there to hotels in Downtown Fort Worth, you can either use the Go Yellow Checker Shuttle bus, which costs $19, take a conventional cab or pick up a rental vehicle from one of the many outlets at the airport. Expect a taxi to cost around $25-30.
Fort Worth's Amtrak station is located at 1001 Jones St. It is served by the Heartland Flyer, which runs to Oklahoma City and the Texas Eagle, which connects Fort Worth with Chicago. There's also a regular light rail connection between Fort Worth and Dallas, which could be useful for tourists as well.
The Dallas/Fort Worth Metropolitan Area has excellent road connections to the rest of the country. If you are coming from the north or the south, I-35 is the road to take, while anyone driving from eastern or western cities can take I-20.
Greyhound is the major intercity bus operator into Forth Worth and their buses terminate at the Amtrak Station. However, you may also be able to find cheaper fares from Megabus, who run buses from cities like Houston and Memphis.
The best family accommodation in Forth Worth tends to be located downtown. Some of the most popular options include the boutique Ashton Hotel and the business-oriented Omni Fort Worth, while the Residence Inn is a handy place for families to stay in the city center. If you want to stay in a more intimate bed and breakfast, the Texas White House provides a warm welcome, and the four Motel 6 outlets in north, south, east and west Fort Worth offer reliable budget accommodation.
Downtown Fort Worth – Downtown Fort Worth has recently undergone a significant facelift, creating a vibrant, appealing place to stay, eat and be entertained. Most of the main tourist attractions are nearby, including Sundance Square and the Bass Performance Hall.
Fort Worth Stockyards – If you walk a short distance north of Downtown Fort Worth, you'll come to the Stockyards, a historic district that is full of bars and clubs. Bars like Billy Bob's are the place to go for authentic country music while Riscky's BBQ is generally thought to serve the best Texas BBQ in the city.
The Cultural District – If you head west from Downtown Fort Worth, you'll come to the Cultural District. As its name suggests, this is the city's artistic and theatrical hub. If you love culture, you'll adore local attractions like the Kimbell Art Museum or the Modern Art Museum.
Known as "the T", Fort Worth's public transit system provides good coverage of the city center, mainly via its bus network (although light rail serves some suburbs as well). Local bus fares are $1.75, but $3.50 day passes may provide better value.
Taxis in the Fort Worth area have a fixed schedule of rates, which include $2.25 for the meter drop, then $1.80 per mile after that ($0.20 for a ninth of a mile). Uber also operates in Fort Worth. Their cheapest UberX services charge a base rate of $1 plus $0.85 per mile, with a minimum fare of $5.50.
Having your own wheels is a good option in Fort Worth, which has a regular grid system, so getting around shouldn't be too hard. Finding parking spaces should be simple as well, and the FW Park app makes the task even easier. You can even take advantage of valet parking at Sundance Square if you book ahead.
If you want to shop for western souvenirs like spurs or chaps, head to the Stockyards, where stores like Maverick Fine Western Wear and M.L. Leddy's have been kitting out cowboys for generations. Downtown is the place to go for contemporary boutiques, with some of the best including Coyote Urban and Pappagallo. Camp Bowie Boulevard is another place to head for independent stores. Check out the jewelry at Maven and the locally made toys at Toy Works if you are in the area.
Upmarket grocery stores in the city center include Trader Joe's, Sprouts Farmers Market and Central Market, while there are plenty of cheaper retailers as well, including Krogers, Walmart and Town Talk, so self-catering vacationers should be able to stock their kitchen cheaply. Fort Worth tends to be fairly cheap, with a gallon of milk costing around $2.50 and 12 eggs available for less than $2.
If you want to try some authentic Texan BBQ, you're in luck. The aroma of sizzling BBQ is all over Fort Worth, and great places to go include Angelo's and the Railhead Smokehouse. But there's more available too. From the vegan menu at Spiral Diner to the upscale Texan cuisine at Reata or the gourmet European cuisine at Sapristi, you can find great meals at all price ranges in Fort Worth. Expect to pay $10-15 for a mid-range meal and $25 or more at gourmet restaurants.