Until recently I had never heard of Fort Worth in Texas. Have you? I was enlightened about the ‘City of Cowboys’ at a bloggers’ lunch in London where the good people from Visit Fort Worth filled the gaps in my US knowledge and geography.
Surrounded by heaps of delicious BBQ meat, ‘slaw and mac n’ cheese (thank you Grillstock), I sat, enthralled, by talk of a place where an authentic taste of the American West awaits. Serenaded by the live music talents of Luke Wade (a former contestant on the US Voice), I listened to tales of seeing real cowboys in action, herds of cattle walking through the old town and learnt a bit about what a ‘honky-tonk’ is. It soon became evident that Fort Worth is also an appealing place to visit as a family.
Before I get to the list of really cool things to do there, here’s a brief overview of Fort Worth for those (like me) who are unfamiliar with the city. Known as the ‘City of Cowboys and Culture’ or simply ‘Cowtown’, Fort Worth is around a 40 minute drive from Dallas, and is the fifth largest city in Texas. As well as its historic centre in the Stockyards, it is also a modern, cosmopolitan city. Once a military outpost established to protect northern Texas in the mid 1800s, it became the centre of cattle drives in the late 19th century as ranchers herded them from Texas to Kansas railroad as part of the Chisholm Trail. It is where saloons, sheriffs and cowboys actually existed!
1. Go to a rodeo
Surely this is the top thing to do when in the American West? Join the locals at one of the quintessential Texan events and see real life cowboys and girls in action with bull riding and barrel racing too. If you go in January and February, you’ll see the Stock Show and Rodeo. Lasting 23 days it is America’s oldest continuous livestock show which takes place at Fort Worth’s indoor rodeo centre.
2. See the cattle walk
Twice a day you can see drovers in action at the Fort Worth Herd Cattle Drive at 11.30am and 4pm. Longhorns, a symbol of the city, are guided down Exchange Avenue. An incredible sight that is fairy unique to that part of the world.
3. Go to a honky-tonk
Not sure what a honky-tonk is? I wasn’t! It’s essentially a bar playing music where you dance, hang out with friends, drink and play pool. Fort Worth is home to the world’s largest honky-tonk, Billy Bob’s Texas. A huge bar and nightclub with an indoor rodeo as well. Listen to country music and brush up on your two-step!
4. Get some authentic cowboy boots
What better souvenir from the American West than a pair of cowboy boots! A favourite with real cowboys, Justin Boots has its headquarters in Fort Worth and an outlet store so you could pick up a deal. I can attest for the boot’s quality. We received a pair during our bloggers’ lunch.
5. Watch a movie at a drive-in
Ever since watching the film Grease (which I LOVE), I have always been intrigued by the concept of a drive-in. How cool would it be to actually go to one? Well, that’s something else you can experience at Fort Worth. Coyote Drive-in is open daily showing recent films so you can sit back in your car and enjoy. Just don’t get stranded.
6. See billions of dollars being printed
Learn about the production and history of the US currency and see dollars being printed under your feet at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. You can get a free guided tour on weekdays.
7. National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame
The West isn’t just about cowBOYS! The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame celebrates the pioneering women of the American West. Somewhere I would enjoy looking around with my two daughters and getting some inspiration from female icons.
8. Get high-speed thrills at Texas Motor Speedway
Watch cars race at one of the largest stadiums in the US. Known as the ‘Great American Speedway‘, families and car enthusiasts gather at this huge venue which also has the world’s largest HD TV screen nicknamed the ‘Big Hoss’. There’s no doubt, things really are bigger in America.
Those are just a few activities which I personally would love to experience but there are tons more. If you are into beer, you could take part in Fort Worth Ale Trail and there’s also Panther Island – an outdoor recreation centre where you can go tubing on the Trinity River. Not to mention plenty of top restaurants to experience Texan food, live music venues and a number of museums including Kimbell Art Museum which has the only Michelangelo in America.
Phew! If that has whet your appetite, find out more about Fort Worth at the official website and check out some accommodation options.
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Have you ever been to Fort Worth? What would you fancy doing if you did go?
*Pictures courtesy of Visit Fort Worth and Wander Mum
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