Fort Worth is home to a rich, enticing blend of cultures. Deep-rooted cowboy grit, vast green spaces, and some of the country's most impressive museums and arts venues all combine to give Cowtown a wholly interesting look and feel. Texas’ fifth-largest city is one of the state’s most iconic destinations, and travelers would do well not to overlook it in favor of more glammed-up cities like Dallas or Austin. Classy yet unpretentious, charming yet laid-back, Fort Worth is infused with Wild West spirit and an urban allure that's bound to win you over. And, each of the city’s neighborhoods is a pocket of Fort Worth history just waiting to be discovered.
Pulsing with energy, Downtown Fort Worth is teeming with art, entertainment, and top-notch restaurants. At the heart of it all is Sundance Square, the perfect place to dine, shop, and sip coffee or cocktails under the giant umbrellas. Stroll around and marvel at the renovated turn-of-the-century buildings, anchored by Bass Performance Hall on one side and the historic Tarrant County Courthouse on the other.
Among many bars and eateries, the Red Goose Saloon offers vintage, dive-y vibes and classic cocktails, while the Reata Restaurant boasts Western-style grandeur and cowboy-cosmopolitan fare (think blackened buffalo rib eye, jalapeño cilantro-crusted Texas red fish, and pan-seared pepper-crusted tenderloin with port wine sauce). Oh, and don’t forget to experience Thompson’s Bookstore, a super hip speakeasy—so hip, in fact, that you’ll have to procure the password from their Facebook page.
Aside from doing your fair share of eating and drinking, be sure to explore the JFK Tribute in General Worth Square and the Fort Worth Water Gardens, a stunning modernist landscape of pools, fountains, and terraced steps.
For a fun way to get around, hop on board Molly the Trolley, an old school-style trolley that travels from the Fort Worth Convention Center to Sundance Square, seven days a week.
Located just a few miles west of downtown, the Cultural District is where you’ll find the city’s treasure trove of world-class museums and performing arts venues. In a single, park-like setting, you can explore hundreds of years’ worth of art via the Kimbell (which is easily one of the best small museums in the country), the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (where you'll find Rothkos, Warhols, and Pollocks galore), and the Amon Carter Museum of American Art.
Pro tip: Pick up a bike at one of the many B-Cycle bike-sharing stations in the district for an easy and fun way to get around—and to see as much art as possible. If you're itching for your nature fix, you can go biking or hiking along the pretty Trinity River or wander around the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens, which are the oldest botanic gardens in Texas.
There’s a lot going on in this pedestrian-friendly, five-block urban village, which bridges the Cultural District and downtown. Namely, this is where you’ll find some of the hottest restaurants in the city.
Texas Christian University (TCU)
Youthful, green, buzzing, and vibrant, the TCU campus is home to the newly expanded Amon G. Carter Stadium, where the city’s beloved Horned Frogs play. While you’re touring around campus—and navigating your way through a sea of purple T-shirted coeds—pop into The University Pub (or “The Pub,” as it’s known around these parts) for snacks and drinks. If you’re dining out, be sure to do so on the patio at Woodshed Smokehouse, where bands serenade diners almost every night and you can enjoy the scenic views overlooking the Trinity.
Camp Bowie District
Renamed after a nearby World War I military training camp, Camp Bowie Boulevard is now known for its plethora of cute boutiques and cozy eateries set along leafy, tree-lined streets. Check out the landmark Ridglea Theater, which was built in 1947 and is now listed on the National Registry of Historic Places (the theater’s eye-catching Spanish-Mediterranean architecture is a sight to see). As far as food goes, Kincaid’s Hamburgers, Nothing Bundt Cakes, The Meat Board, and Tokyo Cafe are all hometown favorites.
This is where you’ll find the Stockyards National Historic District, along with a collection of touristy Texas-centric shops if that’s your thing. You can’t come to Cowtown without paying a visit to the Stockyards, of course; it’s one of the most popular attractions in Texas. This historic cattle district is steeped in cowboy history, and there’s plenty to do here to keep you occupied for days on end, from restaurants and shops to saloons and live music.
Do as the locals do and two-step the night away at Billy Bob’s Texas, which bills itself as “the world’s largest honky-tonk.” Authentic Texas cuisine can be found at Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, and you can pick up your very own pair of hand-tooled cowboy boots at either Maverick Fine Western Wear or Fincher’s White Front Western Wear. And don’t miss the Fort Worth Herd, a twice-daily cattle drive where cowhands proudly walk a herd of Texas Longhorns through the streets.
Known as the largest historic neighborhood in the Southwest, Fairmount has a bevy of towering, historic homes; it’s fun to simply stroll around, soak up the unique character of the area, and gape at all the cool houses. West Magnolia Avenue is cluttered with cool coffee shops, bakeries, and restaurants, like Craftwork Coffee Co. and Cane Rosso. This is also where you’ll find HopFusion Ale Works, one of the city’s most beloved breweries.
Pro tip: This area is even more fun to explore by bike! The B-Cycle program has five different locations in the area.