I confess that Fort Worth is one of my favourite little big cities. With more than 850,000 people, it has a real cowboy culture, including the Stockyards, rodeos, the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame, daily cattle drives and loads more that kids and adults will and do love.
The other side of its personality — sophisticated Texas metropolis — is evident in the world-class art museums, a delicious foodie scene, and a happening downtown.
We visited this summer with Hertz driving the Deep in the Heart of Texas route. The company has created the marvelous Hertz Road Trip Planner, which helps you plan trips all around the U.S., with cool stops and authentic experiences. For my Jenography trip, Hertz covered the cost of the car and we chose the route. See ours and others’ routes on social media with #Hertztrip tag.
We came from Wildcatter Ranch (read about this Texas experience here). You can see Fort Worth on this map, along the top line on the right.
Here, some of the photos that capture some of the pleasures of Fort Worth for families — and things to do on your visit. I usually do these kind of posts featuring 15 pictures but, hey, it’s Texas so everything has to be bigger!
Ride a longhorn
Well, not ride exactly, but pose on one. In the Stockyard district there’s loads to do and see, including an opportunity to climb up onto one of these impressive creatures that are a symbol of Texas. The one my daughter posed on looked well-cared-for and was set up on a special mat in the shade with plenty of water. Its handler was well schooled in dealing with cow-riding debutantes, encouraging riders to raise their hands, hold on tight and smile.
Go dancing at Billy Bobs
Every Thursday there are free line dancing lessons at Billy Bobs, but there’s so much more here too: concerts (Chris Isaac was playing during one of our visits), pool tables, watch bull riding, eat and drink. There is an admission fee, with some of the events costing more.
Chase a calf in the rodeo ring
Rodeos take place every Friday and Saturday, with bull riding, bucking bronchos, barrel racing and rodeo clowns. One of the highlights is the calf scramble, where kids are invited down to chase a calf round the ring in an effort to take off the ribbon tied to its tail. No animals are harmed in the event, but your child’s future dignity may be humorously challenged when you tell this story and pull out your video from this moment, years later.
Appreciate the cowboy skills…and the cowboys
The Stockyard rodeos feature real-live cowboys and cowgirls, all impressive. These are folks who really wear Wranglers, boots and hats in their regular lives and who know how to rope and ride. Yeehaw!
Practically every Texan you see will be wearing a cowboy hat. If you forget to pack yours, don’t worry: you can pick one up just about anywhere, including this street stand we saw in the Stockyard district.
Get back in the saddle..in a bar!
Look, in case you haven’t gotten the picture, you can go really Texan in Fort Worth. I loved these bar stools there actually mounted saddles. It certainly makes handling that third beer easier to wrangle.
Cool off in the river
Panther Island Pavillion is a venue located on the Trinity River for outdoor concerts and events. You can also go kayaking and stand-up paddle-boarding here. The water is calm, which means it’s as easy to paddle back to the rental place as it was to paddle out. It makes for a relaxing experience, and easy to jump off and get cool without your craft floating away without you. pantherislandpavilion.com/Watersports
Dig into a dirty burger & fries at Rodeo Goat
Belly up to the old-fashioned diner counter or settle at a table and prepare to get your hands dirty at this tasty burger joint. Cheese fries come with or without “surprise”, the milk shakes are kid-friendly or with an adult twist (booze, natch) and the burgers have names as tasty as their ingredients. (The Bad Hombre includes maple bacon, swiss cheese, mango pico and hot sauce; the Olivia Darling, olive tapenade, garlic and herb boursin and tomato aioli.) The best name of all belongs to one of the veggie burgers: the Redheaded Stranger. www.rodeogoat.com/fort-worth
Get smokin’ at the Woodshed
The Woodshed Smokehouse not only has fantastic food — grilled, smoked, roasted and slow-cooked. It also has an awesome patio on the banks of the Trinity River with live music. A don’t-miss on any visit, no matter how short.
Eat at Joe T. Garcias
Joe T. Garcias is an institution — one of the best places to eat Tex-Mex. Established in 1935 it’s still going strong — expect a wait during busy times. There’s a gorgeous lively patio and platters big enough to strain your jeans’ top button. I always go classic with the enchiladas or tacos, my husband loves the fajitas, and the Mexican Jaritos sodas are a great alternative to the regular colas.
Get groovy in Near Southside
We made a pilgrimage to Melt, which sells “happy” ice cream including vegan varieties and discovered Near Southside, a district devoted to urban rejuvenation with music, theatre, restaurants, coffee shops and living. Go here for lunch, to explore, for one of the events or, of course, ice cream. www.nearsouthsidefw.org
Feel the vibe at West 7th Street
The West 7th Street area in downtown Fort Worth is awash in cool restaurants, including Barcadia, an eatery that features vintage arcade games and is open to under-21s during the day; a food truck park; Steel City Pops gourmet popsicles, and the Cork & Pig Tavern (below), in the event you fancy an experience that reminds you of the UK and home.
Get some culture at the Kimbell…and the other museums
I could go to the Kimbell Art Museum every day and never get tired of it, with the amazing architecture by Louis I. Kahn and Renzo Piano, the collections and temporary exhibits, not to mention the fountains and garden (below). The Fort Worth Cultural District is home to five museums so close to each other you can walk between them. Don’t miss the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, the Museum of Science and History and the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, which was designed by Philip Johnson.
Get comfortable while relaxing
We stayed at the Omni Fort Worth which is sophisticated but also relaxed and welcoming. (We were guests of the hotel both times.) There’s valet parking,
Disclosure: This post is part of our #hertztrip, promoting the U.S. Road Trip Planner on Hertz’s website. The U.S. Road Trip Planner plots out routes in regions across the U.S. My family and I are following parts of the Deep in the Heart of Texas route, highlighting family stops along the way. Hertz UK has covered the cost of our vehicle rental; all opinions are my own.
Seven days hire of a Jeep Compass (or similar mid-sized SUV) from Dallas Fort Worth Airport costs from £316. Book online at www.Hertz.co.uk
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Read more about stops on the Deep in the Heart of Texas tour:
- 9 top things to do in Fort Worth with kids
- A Texas road trip in pictures
- What to do in Abilene with kids
- Fort Worth: Visiting the rodeo
- The best ice pops in Fort Worth