12 Best Things to Do in Fort Worth, Texas

 By JANIE PACE

Today Fort Worth thrives on its deposits of oil and gas, the aviation industry, and its Cowtown History.

Fort Worth is famous for slogans like “Where the West Begins” and “Cowboys and Culture.” Here are a dozen things to do to get the lay of the land in Fort Worth.

1. Stockyards National Historic District

© Janie Pace

Where’s better to experience Cowtown’s history firsthand than at the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District? 

See the New Mule Alley, a repurposed addition by Stockyards Heritage Development Company, with new stores, restaurants, entertainment venues, and a winery. The development is anchored by the new, upscale $100 million Drover Hotel, scheduled to open in October 2020. 

See the Longhorn Cattle Drive, scheduled twice daily at 11.30 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Exchange Avenue, herded by drovers and cowboys. You might see a shootout near the cattle yards or get your photo taken sitting atop a longhorn steer. 

Stay at the Stockyards Legendary Hotel frequented by Bonnie & Clyde. 

Don’t miss Billy Bob’s Texas, known as “The World’s Largest Honky-Tonk” for hosting top country and western stars. You will see mechanical bulls, indoor rodeo arenas, and dozens of bars and eateries. 

Shop for Lucchese boots and Stetson hats on Main Street and have dinner at Tim Love’s Lonesome Dove restaurant or indulge in drinks and small plates at his new tapas bar, Atico, atop the Springhill Suites Hotel with views of downtown. 

Visit the Cowtown Coliseum Friday or Saturday night for authentic rodeo entertainment.

2. Sundance Square Downtown

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Sundance Square anchors the downtown Fort Worth area with numerous hotels and restaurants. Popular choices for overnight stays include The Worthington, The Sinclair Autograph Collection, the boutique hotel The Ashton, the JFK Tribute hotel Hilton Fort Worth, and the sleek new Marriott Aloft. Don’t forget the Omni Hotel across from the Convention Center housing Whiskey & Rye, Bob’s Steak House, and a Kimbell Art Museum Gift Shop. 

Of the more than 75 restaurants downtown, try Reata, famous for their tenderloin tamales and prime steaks, or Chef Staniford’s tasting menu (with wine pairings!) at Grace.

There’s also no shortage of entertainment venues around Sundance Square. 

For local performing arts, visit the Jubilee Theater, the Circle Theater, or the famous Casa Manana Theater in the Museum Arts district. The latter opened in 1936 as part of the official Texas Centennial and hosts Broadway and children’s performances.

The Bass Performance Hall is home to the Van Cliburn Piano Competition, the FW Symphony Orchestra, Texas Ballet Theater, and FW Opera. Broadway performances and famous musical entertainers also play here. Outside, remember to look for the two majestic angels with brass horns standing guard.

For comedy, you’ll find the 4-Day Weekend improvisational show and Hyena’s Comedy Nightclub headlining local and national stars, plus karaoke, a jukebox, two bars, pool tables, and multiple stages. 

For more bars and entertainment, visit Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar, Houston Street Bar & Patio, Studio Eighty, Flying Saucer Draught Emporium, the Brass Tap, Durty Murphy’s, Red Goose Saloon, or Little Red Wasp. 

There’s also the speakeasy-style Scat Jazz Lounge, which hosts live jazz from local and national talent; enter through an alley door. 

3. The Cultural Museum District

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Start with the Kimbell Art Museum housing the Italian Masterpieces exhibition from March 1 to June 14, 2020. See the permanent classical collections by Picasso, Monet, Michelangelo, and more. 

Have lunch in the café at the Kimbell or walk across the street to The Modern Art Museum and enjoy lunch at Café Modern, headed by Chef Denise Shavandy, recent winner of the Food Network’s “Chopped.” Enjoy their Modern Friday Nights with seasonal entrees, wine pairings, inventive cocktails, free gallery admission from 5 p.m. to 8.30 p.m., and popular films for a creative cinema, culture, and dining all-in-one experience. 

For a renowned collection of American Art, tour the Amon Carter Museum to see his collection of western art by Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell. 

See the latest IMAX movie at the Omni Theater in the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. While there, visit the DinaGlow exhibit of Dinosaurs.

Experience exciting rodeo action, bull’s night out, livestock and horse exhibits, or the Fort Worth Livestock Show and Rodeo at the Will Rogers Coliseum Complex and the new Dickies Arena. The 15,000 seat Dickies Arena hosts musical acts from George Strait to Rod Stewart.

4. The Fort Worth Botanic Garden, Fort Worth Zoo, and Fort Worth Water Gardens

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Established in 1934, the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens is the oldest botanic garden in Texas. See 21 gardens, including the Rose Garden, the Japanese Garden, and the Fuller Garden. Enjoy Butterflies in the garden, Feb. 29 to April 12, annually.

Also on-site is the BRIT Botanical Research Institute of Texas, an international scientific research and learning center focused on conservation and knowledge sharing.

The Fort Worth Zoo, the fourth top zoo in the nation, features “A Wilder Vision,” a $100 million master plan to completely redesign the zoo with renovated and reimagined habitats. New at the zoo is Texas Wild!, Parrot Paradise, the Australian Outback, the Behind-the-Scenes Giraffe experience, Raptor Canyon, the Caribbean flamingo chicks hatch, and more.

Located in the south end of downtown near the Convention Center, the Fort Worth Water Gardens offers a 4.3-acre architectural and engineering wonder with refreshing water features, including a water pool and fountain.

5. A Fort Worth Distillery Tour

© Blackland Distillery Facebook

Trinity River Distillery, 1734 E El Paso St, Fort Worth

Visit Trinity River Distillery located near Wild Acre Brewery, a few minutes southeast of downtown Fort Worth.

The distillery produces award-winning Silver Star Whiskey aged in charred American white oak barrels, as well as Silver Star Texas Honey Liquor, and Silver Star Vodka. All three are made with signature double reverse osmosis purified Texas rainwater. 

Enjoy craft cocktail creations at the one-of-a-kind shaded Whiskey Garden and Bar.

Blackland Distillery, 2616 Weisenberger St, Fort Worth

Blackland is a new distillery, cocktail, and tasting room in the Foundry District. Start with a tasting flight, vodka, gin, rye, and bourbon. Founder Markus Kypreos is native of Fort Worth, certified sommelier, and graduate of the Culinary School of Fort Worth. 

Purchase a five or 10-gallon barrel of your custom spirit choice. After appropriate aging, Blackland will host a bottling and release party, creating a private label per design requests. You get your 20 to 25 or 40 to 50 bottles of spirits plus the barrel as part of the program.

Acre Distilling, 1309 Calhoun Street, Fort Worth

Acre Distillery opened in December 2015 in the old Hell’s Half Acre, where Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, Doc Holliday, Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp, and Etta Place hung out. It’s known as Fort Worth’s den of sin and vice. 

Grab a seat at the distiller’s table for Tour + Tasting events and sample small-batch award-winning single malt whisky, bourbon, gin, vodka, rum, liqueurs, and cordials. 

Upstairs from the distillery is the Hell’s Half Acre Bar, public and private event space, and a retail store with merchandise and bottles to purchase. 

Tony Formby, the owner of Acre Distilling, and JB Flowers, lead distiller, handcraft over 18 products bearing the Acre Distilling name like Texas Jack Peach Flavored Whisky, Two Minnies London Dry Gin, Longhair Jim Straight Bourbon Whisky, Hell’s Half Acre Rum, Meander Wooded London Dry Gin, and Cinnamon Girl Cinnamon Flavored Whisky.

Firestone & Robertson Distilling, 4250 Mitchell Blvd, Fort Worth

Leonard Firestone and Troy Robertson founded Firestone and Robertson Distilling Company a few years ago in a reclaimed prohibition-era warehouse just south of downtown Fort Worth.

Whiskey Ranch is a second distillery that sits on the grounds of the historic golf course, Glen Garden Country Club. The Ranch House houses the Ranch Store, Oak Room for larger private events, Back Porch with two outdoor fireplaces overlooking the golf course, and Barrel Breezeway, all overlooking Benders Lake. 

Texas Tavern is a spectacular bar and tasting room with a western lounge atmosphere. The Still House & Bottling House have 19-foot tall sliding barn doors, which open to the 50-foot tall gleaming copper column still. Their Texas Blended Whiskey is the award-winning “Best American Craft Whiskey.”

BlackEyed Distilling, 503 Bryan Avenue, Fort Worth

J. Todd Gregory and Scott Billings are owners of BlackEyed Distilling, which makes Blk Eye Vodka. The vodka is crafted by hand from corn and Texas-grown black-eyed peas, earning Double-Gold and Best Traditional Vodka medals in Las Vegas, and also medaled at the New York World Wine & Spirits Competition. 

Drink responsibly or hire a limo, like PDK Limousines, which serves Cleburne and the surrounding DFW area. 682-228-6214.

6. Cattle Baron Homes and Other Historic Places

© Questermark Flickr

Thistle Hill, also known as the Wharton-Scott House, is a historic mansion just south of downtown built in 1904 by a Texas cattle baron. This 11,000 square foot red brick Georgian Revival-style mansion has been restored to its 1912 condition and listed on the National Register. Tours are by appointment only.

The Ball-Eddleman-McFarland House is Fort Worth’s premier example of Queen Ann-style Victorian architecture with turrets, gables, copper finials, and a slate tile roof. Built in 1899 on the bluff above the Trinity River, the house was designed by Howard Messer for Sarah Ball, who died five years later. After multiple changes in ownership, Historic Fort Worth Inc. acquired the home. 

Construction of St. Patrick’s Cathedral began in 1888 and was dedicated in 1892. James J. Kane designed the cathedral in the Gothic Revival style. The church and academy buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and Recorded Texas Historic Landmarks.

The Tarrant County Courthouse and Museum, also on the list of National Register of Historic Places, is a pink granite building in the Renaissance Revival style erected in 1894 on the bluff overlooking the Trinity River. Visit the 1895 Museum inside for Fort Worth history. 

The Sid Richardson Museum in historic Sundance Square is home to special exhibitions and the permanent collection of American West paintings by Charles M. Russell and Frederic Remington.

7. Fort Worth Breweries

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Check out the 20-plus breweries in the Fort Worth area, each with a unique craft experience. Most are located in the near southside area. 

Among the top 10 are Martin House Brewing, famous for its micro-seasonal beers; Wild Acre Brewing, celebrated for its beers Texas Blonde, Ranch Style Pils, and Roasted Ricky; and HopFusion Ale Works, which was voted best brewery in Fort Worth three years in a row and features live music, karaoke, and beer-to-go.

Panther Island Brewing features craft beers like Allergeez, Cannonball, Tailgater, and War Chant. Belgian Warrior is a Belgian Dark Strong Ale with 11.5% ABV. Beers that are more seasonal include There Gose My Hero, Red Bandit, and Winter Czar. 

At Fort Brewery and Pizza, find craft beers and an array of pizzas, mini calzones, Italian caprese, pretzels, and garlic knots. 

Rahr & Sons Brewing opened in 2004 with a tagline: “The brand-new beer with a 150-year history”. Order Grey Eagle, Los Muertos, 1849 Irish Red Ale, or Zeppelin. 

Deep Ellum Funkytown Fermatorium, an offshoot of Deep Ellum Brewing Headquarters, focuses on small-batch brewing and wood-fired pizzas. The tap list includes Neato Bandito, Rough Edges, Cherry Chocolate Double Brown Stout, and DDH Panhandler. 

Funky Picnic Brewery and Café, starting with a group of friends brewing in a garage, has expanded to a brand new beer style and house-made artisan sandwiches, sides, and desserts. 

Shannon Brewing Company, a Texas brewery in nearby Keller, features handcrafted beer that is fire-brewed with pure Texas spring water, whole grain, whole flower hops, and a whole “lotta” love. 

At Cowtown Brewing Co, you’ll find craft beer and smoked meats just minutes from Sundance Square in downtown Fort Worth. Freshly tapped is Moondance, Everybody’s Doing It, La Mera Hora, and La Cabra Dorada. 

8. The Near Southside Area of Fort Worth

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Visit the Near Southside area of Fort Worth, a mixture of condominiums, art studios, restaurants, bars, shops, breweries, distilleries, boutique wine stores, and more. 

You’ll find restaurants like Ellerbe Fine Foods, Hot Damn Tamales, Chadra Mezza and Grill, Four Sisters, Black Cat Pizza, Salsa Limon “Maggie” Taco Shop, and Fixture Kitchen and Social Lounge. 

Booze joints include Fort Brewery, Locust Cider, Grand Cru Wine Bar & Boutique, The Boardroom Whisky and Cigar Lounge, The Collective Brewing Project, Cat City Grill, Pouring Glory, Lent & Co Wines, The 515 Bar, and more. 

Plus shop at FunkyTown Donuts, Ephemera Terrariums, Leaves Book and Tea Shop, Modern Mansion, Park + Eighth, and Grow Plant Shop.

9. West 7th District

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Explore the West 7th district, bridging downtown and the Cultural District, for high-concept dining like Blue Sushi Sake Grill, Gloria’s, and Eddie V’s Prime Seafood; local fashion specialty retailers; shops like Dude, Sweet Chocolate; and hot entertainment venues and museum events. 

10. Sports Headquarters

© Marco Becerra Flickr

Fort Worth has an outstanding sports headquarters with AT&T Stadium, home to the Dallas Cowboys, and select college football games, rodeos, supercross events, in nearby Arlington. 

The new Globe Life Field, the domed Texas Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and Tarrant County, celebrates its opening season this year. 

Texas Motor Speedway in north Fort Worth is home to the NASCAR, AAA Texas 500, Texas Sprint Car Nationals, and Monster Energy Series Racing. 

TCU Texas Christian University is home to the Big 12 Conference Horned Frogs headed up by football coach Gary Patterson. 

The PGA Charles Schwab Challenge golf tournament is played annually in May at the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth. 

The Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, held for three weeks every January to mid-February, makes its home at the Will Rogers Coliseum and the New Dickies Arena. 

ESPN College GameDay Kickoff is broadcast every Labor Day Weekend at Sundance Square. 

Tickets to high school and college football games are sold out every weekend during Texas football season.

11. Outdoor Parks and Public Areas

© Dameon Hudson Wikimedia Commons

Outdoor parks and public spaces are plentiful, with over 200 in the Fort Worth area. These include Trinity Park, Dream Park, Candleridge Park, Tillery Park, Oakhurst Park, Airfield Falls Conservation Park, Eagle Mountain Park, Capp Smith Park, Adventure World Park, Foster Park, as well as the 3,000-acre Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge with 20 miles of hiking trails and alligators, deer, buffalo, and flocks of birds.

12. The Fort Worth Aviation Industry

© Larry D. Moore Wikimedia Commons

The Fort Worth Aviation Museum, at Mecham Airport north of downtown, tells the history of aviation in Fort Worth with 26 military aircraft from the Blue Angel F/A-18 Hornet to the 1943 BT-13 trainer.

Lockheed Martin in west Fort Worth constructs long-range precision strike missiles on a multimillion-dollar U. S. Army contract, plus the F-16 fighting falcon and the F-35 Lightning II Fighter.

The Bell Fort Worth Alliance Air Show held every October displays the products, services, and importance of the aviation industry, culminating with the Blue Angels Flyover.

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