Many people know Fort Worth, Texas simply as part of the name of an airport (as in DFW, Dallas-Fort Worth). However, just west of Dallas, Fort Worth has its own distinct personality and is well worth a visit on your own or with kids.
I was in Fort Worth recently for the Cowtown Half Marathon and had the opportunity to explore this western town. I love learning about the Wild West and it was fascinating to hear about the growth and decline of this Cowtown that sits squarely on the Chisholm Trail, the path that cowboys and cattle traveled between San Antonio and Abilene, KS. Fort Worth was a popular stopping point to rest along the way.
While in town, I stayed at the Omni Fort Worth. Situated on Houston Street, one of the main thoroughfares through the downtown area, the hotel is across the street from the popular Fort Worth Water Gardens. Even better, there’s a free trolley stop right in front of the hotel. There’s also a Starbucks right there.
If you book a stay at the Omni, here’s a quick tip. Ask for a room on one of the higher floors on the odd-numbered side of the building. You’ll be treated to a fantastic sunset. Enjoy. Meantime, here are 10 things you’ll want to do when you visit Fort Worth, Texas. Have fun.
1. Watch the Fort Worth Herd Cattle Drive. This happens twice a day in the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District at 11:30 am and 4 pm. Visitors line the streets to watch a dozen or two longhorn cattle amble their way along the street. While in town, I watched the cattle drive twice. 🙂
2. Join a Historical Guided Walking Tour. My second day in town I signed up for a guided walking tour at Stockyards Station. Led by a gentleman whose family has been in Fort Worth for generations, I learned so much about the history behind this Cowtown, including the significance of the 900+ mile Chisholm Trail.
3. Ride Molly the Trolley. Fort Worth has a fantastic free trolley called Molly the Trolley that makes stops at downtown hotels, restaurants and attractions, like the Fort Worth Water Gardens. It’s perfect for visitors with little legs. On Saturdays, the trolley even goes to and from the Fort Worth Stockyards.
4. Get Lost in the Cowtown Cattlepen Maze. In the Fort Worth Stockyards, look for the Cowtown Cattlepen Maze and see how long it takes you to make your way to the end of this maze designed to look like old-time cattlepens. Fun fact, this maze was one of the challenges on the fifth season of The Amazing Race.
5. Explore Sundance Square. Take time to explore Sundance Square in downtown Fort Worth, which boasts a massive mural of the Chisholm Trail. Splash in the fountains, listen to live music or grab an ice cream cone at the Nestle Toll House Café and wander about the shops. There are also a number of restaurants, including The Cheesecake Factory and Riscky’s Barbecue.
6. Eat at Joe T’s. Officially Joe T. Garcia’s, this is the place to go for Mexican food. Just a few blocks from the Fort Worth Stockyards, there are three things to know. One, they only take cash (there’s an ATM on-site). Two, there is no menu. They only offer enchiladas or fajitas. Three, yes, the food is amazing. Go now.
7. Explore the Fort Worth Water Gardens. Across the street from the Omni, you’ll find the Fort Worth Water Gardens, a super relaxing place to go with the kids. There’s a lot of room to run around, as well as different areas to climb and explore. As a bonus, I found several new water Pokemon there. 🙂
8. Eat at Yolk. Yolk is hands-down the best place to go for breakfast. I went there after I ran the half marathon. Expect a long line, especially on weekend mornings, but the red velvet French toast will not disappoint. Quick tip, reduce the wait and get the Nowait app to book your place in line before you go.
9. Make Time for the Rodeo. If you’re in Fort Worth on the weekend, you must go to the indoor rodeo at the Cowtown Coliseum. It’s every Friday and Saturday night at 8 pm. Alternatively, if the rodeo is too late for your small children, go to Pawnee Bill’s Wild West Show (2:30 & 4:30 on Saturdays).
10. Watch a Gun Fight. You can’t go to a Wild West town and not stay for a gun fight re-enactment. I’ve watched them in both Dodge City, KS and Tombstone, AZ. Kids love them. Called “Legends of Texas” in Fort Worth, gun fight re-enactments take place after both cattle drives of the day (11:45 am & 4:15 pm).
Disclaimer: I was a guest of the Fort Worth CVB. However, I received no compensation for this article and all opinions expressed here are my own.