Still cowboy cool
Home to rodeo and the Stockyards National Historic District, as well as the world’s largest honky-tonk, travellers can certainly get their cowboy on when visiting Fort Worth.
In the late 19th century, Fort Worth became an important trading post for cowboys at the end of the Chisholm Trail. Today, it is modern and one of the fastest growing cities in the US. The Texas city has come of age with many international art institutions like the Kimbell Art Museum helping put it on the map.
“We’re not just cowboy, although it is dear to our hearts and we’re very proud of it,” Estela Martinez-Stuart, director of tourism at the Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau, told Travel Courier. “We’re much more than our western heritage. We’re very big on the arts, and even have our own symphony.”
She said visitors need to spend two to three days minimum to explore the western heritage, enjoy one of the many live music venues or sample the bike-friendly Fort Worth Ale Trail.
“You’ve also got to keep your eyes on the arts, from opera, ballet, symphony and performing arts,” said Martinez-Stuart. “
The tourism official noted that Fort Worth is a great sports town with easy access to the Texas Motor Speedway (the second-largest sports and entertainment facility in the US and host of NASCAR and Indy races, among many other things), more than 250 golf courses and such professional sports teams as the Dallas Cowboys, the Texas Rangers, the Dallas Stars and the Dallas Mavericks.
New on the accommodation front, there are new Courtyard Marriott (121 rooms), Hampton Inn & Suites (285 rooms), Fairfield Inn & Suites (120 rooms) and Aloft (180 rooms) properties now open.
Coming soon are the Magnolia Boutique Hotel (near Southside and opening this summer), The Sinclair Hotel (Autograph Collection), opening this fall, Springhill Suites by Marriott, opening this fall, Drover Hotel (Stockyards Autograph Collection, opening spring 2020, and AC Hotel by Marriott, opening 2020.
But, back to cowboy. The Fort Worth Stockyards is home to rodeos (year-round every Friday and Saturday night in the historic Fort Worth Cowtown Coliseum), the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame and the world’s only twice-daily cattle drive (held every day at 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.).
There are also more than 20 distinction shops and restaurants. Those looking for authentic western wear will be in their element.
Guests can also watch re-enactments of historical gun fights, saddle up for a ride along part of the famous Chisholm Trail or enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride.
Visitors will also want to drop by Billy Bob’s Texas, either for dinner or lunch, a little line dancing or to watch some live music. The honky-tonk has a capacity to hold 6,000 people, has 26 bars, hosts live concerts and has live bull riding every Friday and Saturday night.
At the heart of Fort Worth’s city centre – a very walkable 35-block shopping and entertainment district – is Sundance Square which comes alive day and night. At night, twinkling lights line the sidewalks around beautifully restored buildings. The city’s music scene is extensive and boasts more than 40 live music venues, including the popular Bass Performance Hall.
Fort Worth’s Cultural District features five internationally recognized museums – Kimbell Art Museum (permanent home to Michelangelo’s first painting), Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, National Cowgirl Museum & Hall of Fame (honouring women of the American West), and the Fort Worth Museum, of Science and History.
Dickies Arena, a new US$450-million 14,000-seat multi-purpose arena, will open this year and host the annual Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo, concerts, sporting events, and more.
Also unique to Fort Worth is the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (U.S. Department of the Treasury). It is one of only two such facilities in the US and produces more than half of the nation’s currency. Facilities include two floors of interactive exhibits and displays, an informative movie film and a 45-minute guided tour on an elevated walkway.
Admission is free and security is tight – so don’t get any crazy ideas. Those looking to leave with some currency can drop by the Moneyfactory Gift Shop where souvenir items, including uncut currency sheets and other specialty currency products, can be purchased. (www.moneyfactory.gov)
Another new experience now available to Fort Worth visitors is the newly opened Whiskey Ranch, producer of award-winning TX Whiskey and TX Straight Bourbon, and located on a historic golf course where golf legends Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson once played.
The venue is perfect for meeting and events and offers public tours and tastings on Thursdays and Fridays. Facilities include bar and tasting room, merchandise store and back porch with outdoor fireplaces. (www.frdistilling.com/whiskey-ranch)
While dining options are plentiful in Fort Worth, highly recommended is Joe T. Garcia’s Restaurant. In operation since 1935, this popular establishment is located in a Mexico hacienda-style home, complete with an outdoor patio large enough to seat 1,000 people. The lineups may be long, but it’s worth the wait. (www.joets.com)
For shoppers, check out Tanger Outlets or The Shops at Clearfolk.