The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is big ya’ll, encompassing about 9,286 square miles. It’s bigger than Rhode Island and Connecticut combined and with traffic, can feel larger than the entire eastern seaboard combined. If you live on the Dallas side of the metro, you may find yourself wandering over to the Fort Worth side once or twice a year, if that. However, there’s plenty to see and do on that side that can make for a great day or weekend getaway. Here’s a quick list of over 20 things to do in Fort Worth, Texas.
Tourists are often disappointed when they visit Dallas and Houston because it doesn’t feel like the “Texas” they’ve seen on television or in movies with cowboys, cattle, and rodeos. The Fort Worth Stockyards Historic District embodies that Western spirit and puts on events from concerts to the rodeo that will satisfy that craving for the “Cowtown” spirit. The Stockyards opened for business in 1890, but parts of its livestock market date back to 1866. While visitors can still watch cowboys guide livestock down the roads in cattle drives and the area surrounding the market has an authentic Western motif. A general store, trading post, Star Café, and White Elephant Saloon are also available to visit. Side note: weekend crowds and even those around lunchtime on weekdays in the summer can be brutal. If you’re not a big fan of crowds, plan your visit accordingly. Parking is limited.
While you’re in the area, go to Billy Bob’s Texas (2520 Rodeo Plaza, Fort Worth, TX 76164), an iconic honky-tonk restaurant that also offers dance lessons, bull riding, and an authentic Texas atmosphere.
For a modern approach to city living, Sundance Square in downtown Fort Worth is a pedestrian-friendly district with restaurants, clothing chains, and sports bars. Concerts, events, and holiday celebrations are held at the Sundance Square Plaza and the nearby Bass Performance Hall. The square, named after the Sundance Kid, began in 1979 as part of a renovation project of downtown Fort Worth. While keeping the historical integrity of the buildings, the area is a great mix of urban design that has over 30 places to eat, national stores, boutiques, movie screens, and more.
In the mix of Sundance Squire, check out Bass Performance Hall (525 Commerce St, Fort Worth, TX 76102), a performing arts venue. The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra performs here as well as touring Broadway productions, ballet, and opera performances.
The Sid Richardson Museum (309 Main St, Fort Worth, TX 76102)can also be found in the Sundance Square. The museum features a collection of permanent and special exhibitions of paintings from the American West.
Established in 1975, and recently removed, the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame celebrates women, past and present, whose lives typify the courage, resilience, and independence that helped shape the American West. The first floor has display and audio exhibits of famous historical cowgirls, such as Annie Oakley. The second floor has more contemporary exhibits showcasing women who have been cowgirls, ranchers, and other figureheads. Like the Fort Worth Stockyards, the museum gives a good taste of old-west Texas. A contemporary exhibit explores the unique relationship between women, horses, and the West. It’s very close to other museums, such as the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. Note: the construction is ongoing in this area, so follow the road signs for redirects and drive carefully.
The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, right next to the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History and Will Rogers Memorial Center, opened in 1945 and moved to its current location in 1954. The museum includes hands-on science exhibits, the Fort Worth Children’s Museum, the Noble Planetarium, and IMAX films. The DinoLabs and DinoDig exhibits contain full articulations of dinosaur skeletons and a dig site that reproduces a local paleontological field. A 10,000-square-foot Cattle Raisers Museum is another exhibition dedicated to celebrating and preserving the cattle industry. The Innovation Studios are another great place for kids; five glass-walled studios include 6,000 feet of engaging learning spaces such as “Inventory,” “Doodler,” “Designer,” “Imaginer,” and “Explorer.” Another adventure is the exhibit called Tornado Alley, which explores the phenomena of this weather pattern.
Kimbell Art Museum, near the Museum of Science and History and across from the Will Rogers Memorial Center, contains over 350 works of renowned Asian- and European-focused collections, traveling art exhibitions, educational programs, and an extensive research library. The museum opened on October 4, 1972, as a result of donations to the Kimbell Art Foundation, established in 1936 by Kay and Velma Kimbell, Dr. and Mrs. Coleman Carter. Recent traveling exhibitions include The Age of Picasso and Matisse: Modern Masters from the Art Institute of Chicago (2013), and Botticelli to Braque: Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Scotland (2015). Entrance to the Kimbell collection is free of charge. Additional exhibitions, such as Monet: The Late Years, may have cover charges.
Across the street is the Will Rogers Memorial Center (3401 W Lancaster Ave, Fort Worth, TX 76107), an 85-acre entertainment, sports, and livestock center named for American humorist and writer Will Rogers. While it might be mistaken for a museum, it’s really a civic center type of place, so if you want to visit, check to see if any events or activities are being held there. Architecturally, it is quite the showpiece!
Next door to the Kimbell Art Museum is the stunning home of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. This contemporary glass building houses more than 3,000 post-World-War-II artworks in all forms of media. The exhibits include paintings, sculptures, videos, photographs, and prints dated between 1945 and the present. Pop and Minimalism art feature heavily as do other international movements such as German art from the 1970s and 1980s. The museum building itself is an example of modern art, which is comprised of five long, flat-roofed glass pavilions situated on a 1.5-acre pond.
Located near the other two museums in the Fort Worth’s cultural district, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art includes Western artworks, Hudson River School paints, and other exhibits. The museum is currently closed for Summer 2019 for renovations but will be reopened to the public on September 14th. So, while it is not a summer destination at the moment, you can make plans for this coming fall or next summer. You can still installed the Google Arts & Culture App to explore virtual reality tours from the Amon Carter Museum of Art. Admission is always free to the museum’s permanent collection.
The oldest botanic garden in Texas, the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens are home to more than 2,500 species of plants in its 23 specialty gardens. The Japanese Garden is one of its true masterpieces, with koi-filled pools, crafted stonework, waterfalls, and sculptured landscapes. A 10,000-square-foot Conservatory has long winding paths of tropical foliage that can be enjoyed year-round. The gardens close at 5 p.m., but in March through May, the garden hosts Lanterns in the Garden from 6 to 10:00 p.m., with over 20 sets of lanterns crafted from silk, wire, and steel. Check the website for seasonal events and plan your visit accordingly.
Adjacent to the Fort Worth Convention Center, and near the historic St. Patrick’s Cathedral, is a 4.3-acre relaxing urban park that’s been called a “cooling oasis in the concrete jungle.” Fort Worth Water Gardens has three pools of water that work down into a blue meditation tool are encircled with cypress trees. The walls are covered with thing planes of water that cascade into the pool, providing for a relaxing area in the middle of the city.
The Log Cabin Village is a living history museum with historic buildings and costumed actors that demonstrate life in mid-19th-century Texas. Six log houses dating to the mid-1800s were relocated to the present site and restored in the 1950s and 1960s. The Foster Cabin, a 1850s plantation log house, was added in the 1970s. The Marine School, dating from the 1870s, was added in 2003 and the Reynolds Smokehouse was restored in 2005. In addition to the log homes, other exhibits include a one-room schoolhouse, blacksmith shop, herb garden, water-powered gristmill. The exhibits interpret life on the North Texas frontier during the 1840s through 1890s.
The Eddleman–McFarland House, sometimes known as the Ball–Eddleman–McFarland House or just the McFarland House, is a large Victorian and Queen Anne-style home from the “Cattle Baron” family era. Howard Messer designed the house for Sarah Ball, and it was built in 1899. The exterior includes turrets, gables, copper finials, a slate tile roof, and a porch of red sandstone. The interior comprises ornate oak mantles, coffered ceilings, paneling, and parquet floors. The house is open for group or individual tours.
One of the premier outdoor venues of downtown Fort Worth, Panther Island Pavilion sits along the Trinity River that runs through downtown Fort Worth. With the skyline as its backdrop, the site provides multiple stages for entertainment and has the only waterfront stage in Texas. There is plenty of free parking at the pavilion, and you can bring your own float to float, kayak, or paddleboard along the river or rest on the sandy beach. You can also rent kayaks, tubes, and paddleboats onsite at the Panther Island rentals. Concerts and events are also held at an indoor stage called the Shack, a 10,000-square-foot building on the site.
Stretching along the banks of the Trinity River, 252-acre Trinity Park offers an expansive series of trails and parks that offer a stunning view of the Fort Worth skyline. You can find a duck pond, water fountains, miniature railroad, as well as playgrounds. Several community events, such as Mayfest, and fun runs happen throughout the year.
Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge is a great place to escape from the hectic DFW Metroplex. Over 20 miles of hiking trails cross this 3,621-acre preserve that is home to a variety of Bison, gators, deer, and bird species. The natural area contains prairies, forests, and wetlands that allow visitors to explore what North Texas looked like in the early 20th century. All plants, animals, and nature objects are protected within the refuge, making it a relaxing place to view species in their own safe environments.
Half of the nation’s currency order is produced at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing on the outside edges of Fort Worth. The Bureau offers free tours and visitors can see where billions of dollars are printed from an enclosed walkway suspended above the production floor. The experience includes an informative film, two levels of interactive exhibits, and displays showcasing currency history and the art of currency manufacturing. Note: The Bureau is nowhere near downtown or the stockyards so plan ahead if you want to see both in one day.
Burger’s Lake is a 30-acre park featuring a one-acre spring lake for swimming. Certified lifeguards cover the two sandy beaches. A 20-foot slide and 25-foot trapeze accompany the six diving boards. Weekends are incredibly crowded, so try to go on a weekday or arrive as early as possible. Play in the sand and grass volleyball courts. Concessions are also available, where you can purchase items such as nachos, hot dogs, ice cream, etc.
Eagle Mountain Lake spans 8,694 acres and is about 12 miles north of Downtown Fort Worth. Numerous parks surround the lake along with marinas and boat rentals. The recreational lake is used for fishing, skiing, wakeboarding, and recreational boating, and there are some great hiking trails around the lake. Eagle Mountain Park itself has 450 acres of beautiful woodland and nearly 6 miles of hiking trails.
If you’re a fan of car racing, Texas Motor Speedway offers a racing surface you won’t soon forget. The 1,500-acre speedway also gives fans a unique experience with pit, pre-race, and garage passes. Texas Motor Speedway also has the world’s largest HD screen.
Lots of other entertainment and dining opportunities can be found throughout the city. What’s your favorite?