48 Hours in Fort Worth

Aerial view of Sundance Plaza at night

Courtesy of Visit Fort Worth

Often overlooked for its larger neighbor, Dallas, Fort Worth has created a uniquely charming identity that is drawing a cooler, younger crowd, while still holding on to its wild west roots. Thinking the two cities are interchangeable is indeed a mistake—which you'll realize after spending a weekend soaking up Fort Worth's rollicking honky-tonks, world-class museums, and excellent food.

01 of 06

Day 1: Morning

Lobby of The Sinclar Hotel Autograph Collection

TripSavvy / Taylor McIntyre 

9 a.m.: Upon arrival, check in to the Sinclair Hotel, a new Autograph Collection property that is an attraction in itself. Built in the 20s, Art Deco style permeates along with modern touches like touch screen controls in all rooms, a podcast studio, and is also the first hotel in the world to run on a lithium battery entirely. Guests can even help power the hotel by hitting the gym, where one treadmill and one elliptical are connected to the battery. 

10 a.m.: You’ll be surrounded by great food options for breakfast but head to Yolk in Sundance Square and dive into their extensive menu, including everything from a kale scramble to cinnamon roll french toast. Another great option: Hot Box Biscuit Club. What started as a pop-up restaurant is now a permanent fixture in the Fort Worth food scene and serves a menu loaded with homemade buttermilk biscuits and other modern twists on Southern classics.

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02 of 06

Day 1: Afternoon

Sign for Fort Worth Stock Yards

TripSavvy / Taylor McIntyre

1 p.m.: Head to Fort Worth's Cultural District. This neighborhood has seen significant urban development in recent years and now offers several top attractions all within a short distance of each other. Some must-sees include the National Cowgirl Museum Hall of Fame, a one-of-its-kind interactive museum that honors the women who pioneered the West, and recognizes and addresses the relationships and lives of the Native American people also living in this region at the time. Art lovers can visit the Kimbell Art Museum and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, or enjoy Fort Worth's typically-mild climate at the Fort Worth Botanical Garden or nearby Trinity Park.

2 p.m.: You might still be full from breakfast, but you won't want to skip lunch either. Taco Heads started as a local food truck and has evolved into a local favorite with two permanent locations with one in Fort Worth and one in Dallas. Stop by for a signature cocktail or their $5 Margarita Mondays. Or stop by Cafe Modern, at the Modern Art Museum, for a gourmet touch. Their locally-sourced menu showcases the full spectrum of Fort Worth's culinary scene. 

4 p.m.: No visit to Fort Worth is complete without experiencing the Stockyards. You can watch modern-day cowboys in action as they herd their cattle down the historic streets of Fort Worth twice-daily at 11 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Make sure you get there a bit early to grab a spot as this Fort Worth ritual always draws a crowd!

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03 of 06

Day 1: Evening

A woman posing on a mechanical bull for a photo at Billy Bob's

TripSavvy / Taylor McIntyre

5 p.m.: After the cattle drive take some time to explore the rest of this historic district. You’ll find western apparel shops like the famous Leddy’s Boots and can learn about the neighborhood's rich history at the Stockyards Museum or the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame. You can even stop by the Stockyards Hotel, which was once Bonnie and Clyde’s hideout. 

7 p.m.: Billy Bob's is not only a Fort Worth institution, but it's also the largest honky-tonk in the world. If you want a truly Texas experience, look no further. Check the schedule for themed nights some of which include live music from big names in country music, line dancing lessons, and bull riding. Nothing on the calendar? No worries you can enjoy a drink, a meal, and mingle with the locals who will gladly tell you about the famous Billy Bob’s.

10 p.m.: Billy Bob’s is only where the night gets started. Step into to White Elephant Saloon, another classic honky-tonk with live music that is best known for its banana pudding shots. Or head back downtown and check out Thompson's, a speakeasy located in an old bookstore and pharmacy with a "secret" basement. Downstairs you’ll find perfectly crafted cocktails using local favorite TX Whiskey. Another old-is-new-again establishment is Shipping and Receiving, a former golf warehouse transformed into a live music venue. (Fun fact: Shipping and Receiving also has a recording studio where hometown hero Leon Bridges recorded his first album.)

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04 of 06

Day 2: Morning

People walking through the Fort Worth Water Garden

Courtesy of Visit Fort Worth

9 a.m.: Start day two off strong with a delicious breakfast at Bird Cafe, which serves a rotating seasonal menu focused on local produce. Their menu elevates the brunch game with items like creole benedict and pecan cheddar biscuits. Or for a traditional Mexican breakfast check out Esperanza’s Bakery, where you can find fresh pan dulce and Huevos Rancheros. If margaritas are a must for your brunch then just head across the street to their long-standing Fort Worth sibling, Joe T. Garcia’s.

10 a.m.: The immediate area surrounding the hotel—known as Sundance Square—is considered one of the city's cultural centers, filled with eateries, shops, galleries and more. The Sundance Square Plaza is marked by large upturned umbrellas and a fountain. After exploring here, make your way down to the Fort Worth Water Gardens, a stunning architectural achievement, designed by Philip Johnson. Whether you need to beat the Texas summer heat or just need a calm oasis from the busy downtown, the water gardens are a perfect spot. 

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05 of 06

Day 2: Afternoon

Backyard at Wild Acre Distillery

TripSavvy / Taylor McIntyre

12 p.m.: If you’re hungry for more, casual cafe Little Red Wasp offers up quality classics and updated favorites like cheeseburgers and roasted portobello mushroom sandwiches. Flying Saucer, a popular (and long-running) craft beer bar is another great option.

2 p.m.: While you can visit a zoo in almost any city, the Fort Worth Zoo, established in 1909, stands out among the crowd. With a focus on conservation and education and programs that focus on rehabilitation and reintroducing animals back into the wild, it’s no wonder why the Fort Worth Zoo is frequently cited as one of the best zoos in the country.

If animals aren’t your thing then dive head first into Fort Worth’s extensive beer scene. Craft breweries are popping up all over the city. Some like Wild Acre are equipped with full back yards stocked with games and live music. You can even pick up an Ale Trail Passport from the visitor center—complete it and get a prize!

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06 of 06

Day 2: Evening

A drink at Proper with an absinth dispenser and neon sign in the background

TripSavvy / Taylor McIntyre

6 p.m.: If you want to know where the cool kids of Fort Worth go head to the South Side. What was once abandoned warehouses and has recently been transformed into trendy eateries, quirky bars, and locally owned boutiques. The main streets of these areas are South Main Street and West Magnolia Avenue. Bearded Lady on South Main features numerous beer taps with famous women painted with beards on, natch. Or head to The Usual on Magnolia for perfectly crafted cocktails on a beautiful patio.

8 p.m.: After a day of brewery hopping you’ll likely need to re-fuel. Enjoy some farm to table menu at Ellerbe Fine Foods, a fine dining experience with a come-as-you-are mentality. Of course, you should also save room for some famous Texas barbecque, because you can’t leave Texas without trying it! Heim BBQ on Magnolia is a newcomer but has quickly won over crowds and is one of the most buzzed about spots in town.

10 p.m: Keep the drinks flowing at Proper, a modern cocktail bar with speakeasy throwbacks like a traditional absinthe dispenser. The owner is frequently behind the bar and will gladly whip up something original for you. Grandma’s is another great spot with a misleading name—and you just might spot a musical celeb there. (Leon Bridges is often spotted there when in town and former Neon Indian member Ronnie Heart DJs there every weekend.)