Fort Worth is the epitome of everything cowboy related; once home to cattlemen, outlaws and cowboys themselves, it has kept its identity, albeit in a more urban environment, with interesting museums such as the marvelous Kimbell Art Museum and the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. However, let us not lose this much loved city’s original reason for being here; watch the Fort Worth Herd, the world’s only twice daily cattle drive, take in a rodeo, or two step the night way at one of Billy Bob’s honky-tonk concerts. Ready to take your partners? Let’s have a look at the best things to do in Fort Worth.
1. Kimbell Art Museum
This is quite an unusual art museum in that the natural light inside always displays its pieces in a way that shows them to their best advantage. And, cleverly, the humidity is carefully controlled to keep the art at its best condition. The museum hosts a small and excellent collection together with educational programs, traveling art exhibitions and an extensive research library. The lovely thing about this museum is that its intimate size makes it more approachable for people who are new to art museums. There are just a few exemplary examples on show, so a nice place to take your kids to get them started! There is also a fabulous shop selling everything from publications, prints, gifts, jewelry and more.
2. Fort Worth Zoo
For many reasons, I have included Fort Worth Zoo in lieu of its Dallas counterpart nearby. Fort Worth zoo has been named a top zoo through prestigious publications such as the LA Times, Family Life magazine and USA Today. One of the lovely thing about this zoo is the nurture and growth that has gone into it; founded in 1909 with only one lion, an alligator, two bear cubs, a peacock, a coyote and a few rabbits, it is now home to 5,000 native and exotic animals. One part of its popularity is due to its intimacy and easy navigation and the excellent job it does in introducing kids to the care and conservation of animals. Your kids will have an unforgettable visit!
3. Amon Carter Museum of American Art
This museum has a truly fascinating collection of 19th and early 20th century American art and should really not be missed! Some of the works include works of artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe, John Singer Sargent, Alexander Calder and Thomas Cole, as well as a considerable assortment of photographic works. Its ‘piece de resistance’ of course, must be the museum’s 150,000 items which focus on American history, art and culture. For families interested in American western art, this is a paradise! Besides the museum’s free admission, it also boasts a fabulous restaurant with an interesting menu that include great desserts!
4. Fort Worth Stockyards
The family will really feel they’ve touched down in cowboy country when visiting the Fort Worth Stockyards. As you watch the drovers corralling the cattle up the Chisholm Trail to the railheads, you will start to get a taste of how things had been in the late 1800s, when more than four million head of cattle had trailed through the city. The arrival of the railroad brought the construction of the Union Stockyards and the city became a major livestock shipping point. There is plenty to do and see here and where you can still experience some of the old “wild west”, from meeting the cowboys to visiting the many original, authentic shops. All the buildings have been renovated but have somehow been able to retain the look of old fashioned saloons and bars.
5. Bureau of Engraving and Printing
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing’s Western Currency facility is one of only two in the United States that prints money. (The other one is situated in Washington, D.C.). Take a free 45 minute guided tour – available on weekdays – and watch how money is printed as well as learning all about the history of American money and stories about the various money designs. The kids in particular will be interested in the various demonstration exhibits. There is also a turn of the century spider press and an engraver’s bench to see. Security is super efficient of course, but the facility’s staff is very friendly and happy to answer any questions.
6. Sundance Square
Make sure not to miss a visit to Sundance Square when you’re here in Forth Worth. The area is packed with a variety of museums, art galleries, movie houses, and an amazing amount of options for shopping and dining too! Suitable to keep all the family entertained, though the night life and improve comedy venues might be of more interest to the adults. Look out for the many special events and festivals for everyone and have fun just people watching from a café or one of the many ice cream shops situated on one of the red brick streets and pretty courtyards which add to the ambiance of the area. On a hot day the kids can cool off in the nearby water gardens!
7. Hidden Valley Miniature Golf
This miniature golf course has lots more to it than just a very pleasant family golf course; it also comes with a video game room which includes an air hockey table and a spot to pitch a baseball, picnic, grill and cook out area too. Because of its excellent reviews – which include very clean facilities, nice staff and affordable prices, it is easy to recommend this venue as a great day out for the whole family. The course takes about 30 minutes to complete, and that’s with kids, too. Everyone will enjoy the relaxed and comfortable old fashioned fun atmosphere!
8. Trinity Park
Trinity Park is 252 acres of park that is stretched along the banks of the Trinity River. Popular with locals and tourists alike, it really is a lovely venue for families to enjoy and have fun, with its duck pond, several playgrounds for the kiddies, a miniature train and known as having the best biking and hiking trails around town! If you want to try your hand at fishing, you’ll be pleased to know that fish are periodically released into the River. With its basketball court, ample walking areas, bike rental facilities, picnic pavilions, water fountains and plenty of clean restrooms, everybody from tots to grown ups will have an enjoyable visit to this lovely park.
9. The Secret Chambers Escape Challenge
For the James Rockford aficionados of the family, why not try your hand at finding clues, solving puzzles, cracking codes and searching working escape routes at the Secret Chambers Escape Challenge? There’s no time to waste as you and your team have only 60 minutes to complete all the challenges and successfully break out! This is a very fun outing for all the family to get involved in, and it’s guaranteed to bring you all closer together as you jointly attempt to solve all the clues. And should you get stuck at any point, guidance is at hand, just in case. The puzzle room is well known for its great ambiance and fun experience!
10. Flight Deck Trampoline Park
For the ultimate in family fun, drop into Flight Deck Trampoline Park! Or should I say, bounce your way in! The trampoline park is a massive indoor court made up of connecting trampolines, where kids can have the greatest of fun ducking and diving on dodge ball courts or soaring into huge foam pits. For the younger members of the family (including toddlers) there is also what is known as the safe zone, so everyone gets to have safe fun, whatever age. Great exercise and super enjoyment for all!
11. Log Cabin Village
The initiative of a replica log cabin village was the clever idea of the Pioneer Heritage Committee and members of the Tarrant County Historical Society who had come to the conclusion that the wonderful and original log structures, prevalent in the 1800s, were disappearing from the Texas landscape, and taking an important portion of Texas history with it, too. A replica village dedicated to log cabin history and culture was created, with six log houses for visitors to learn all about past times. Its authentic artifacts provide an in depth look into the 19th century and encapsulates pioneer life, including a blacksmith shop, schoolhouse, water powered gristmill and herb garden. You will also meet artisans dressed in costumes of the day. A wonderful learning experience for all the family.
12. Texas Motor Speedway
A thrill a minute is guaranteed at the Texas Motor Speedway, home to two NASCAR Spring Cup racing, the AAA Texas 500 and the Duck Commander 500. If that wasn’t enough, it also hosts the WinStar World Casino & Resort 400 (which takes place on the same weekend as the Indycar Firestone 600) and the WinStar World Casino & Resort 350. For a special treat, take the family to one of the exciting meets, where very affordable 4 seat family packages are available. The speedway track measures 1.5 miles around and is of an oval design, banked 24 degrees in the turns, for extra excitement. If you take a tour yourselves, you’ll even be able to do a couple of laps to get an idea of what it feels like to hit those awesome turns! A very exciting trip for all the family!
13. Texas Civil War Museum
This is a fascinating museum and one in which to learn so much about the Civil War. It is actually the largest Civil War museum west of the Mississippi River, its galleries sharing many fascinating artifacts with exhibits that are on loan from the Texas Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. There are three separate galleries to explore, displaying many items relative to the war, including an amazing Victorian dress collection, uniforms, rifles, flags, cannon artillery, and much more.
Best of all, together with the exhibits, there is a 75 seat movie theatre hosting the commissioned movie, “Our Homes Our Rights – Texas in the Civil War.” This is a tremendous learning opportunity for all the family.
14. Amon G. Carter Stadium
Amon G. Carter Stadium is an open-air football stadium situated on the campus of the Texas Christian University and home stadium of the TCU Horned Frogs football team. It’s a popular sporting arena not just because it might be your home team, but has a reputation for friendly people, reasonably priced tickets and concessions as well. Handy to know if you’re planning on bringing the kids with you too; there are lots of kid activities for them to get involved in, including a bounce house, live music and lots of fun free goodies too. If you have time, try and get there a little early so you can appreciate the beautiful common area and lovely bronze fountain.
15. Cross-Eyed Moose Antique
This antique shop is a panoply of unusual and fascinating bric-a-brac and worth spending at least an hour or two of your time! The shop deals in all styles of western, lodge and rustic furnishings as well as often hard to find western collectibles. Jam packed with curious and intriguing treasures as well as offering archival picture framing, it also prides itself as representing the Texas Artists defining contemporary western art. In fact, the shop is a treasure all of its own!
16. Fort Worth Nature Center
The Nature Center is a real city jewel in the crown, consisting of a 3,000-acre preserve with 25 miles of hiking trails that will lead you through forests, prairies and marshes and, with a bit of luck, plenty of sightings of buffalo, alligators, deer & an amazing amount of colorful and raucous bird life. You can go at your own pace too, so whether you’re out for a leisurely slow paced hike or up for some serious exercise, there is plenty of choice for everyone. There is also a handy interpretive center with restrooms, and a wonderful view of the lake on the Canyon Ridge trail if you’re planning on following that route.
17. National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame
This fascinating museum was constructed with the idea of honoring women of the American West who had displayed extraordinary pioneering courage through the difficult and challenging growth of this amazing State. Think of names like Annie Oakley, Georgia O’Keeffe, Patsy Cline and more; all independent brave ladies whose statues you’ll find here, along with 33,000 sq ft devoted to rare photos, interactive exhibits, captivating artifacts, a traveling exhibit gallery and theater presentations. The grand rotunda, situated within the multi story space is worth a visit alone! Enjoy choosing some authentic souvenirs in the well stocked, interesting gift shop too. The kiddies will enjoy a ride on the electric bucking horse too!
18. Museum of Science & History
The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History opened in 1945 and concentrates on information relating to teaching children, with some fascinating projects and exhibits. There is, for example, an excellent science section in which kids can learn how to figure out the workings of a pinwheel, why a beach ball floats, and all about shadows, light and reflections. There is a very well supplied Lego and art room too. And not forgetting the tots in the family, there is an area for dressing up dolls, doctors and firemen and even an ambulance with a siren! For the older kids, the planetarium with some excellent space related information is sure to keep them enthralled. The fun dinosaur slide is bound to keep everyone happy too!
For a real sweet treat for all the family, drop into Pop-N-Cream, the ever popular ice cream and delectable popcorn store, whose claim to fame is offering over 300 flavors of gourmet candies, 75 gourmet popcorn treats and, if that wasn’t enough, 24 hard to find and unusual ice cream treats. To add to the pure joy of all of this, your kids will have so much fun tasting one of the store’s awesome ice cream sundaes sitting in a booth that’s made out of a truck! The store has a really old fashioned, welcoming feel to it with very welcoming staff helping you to choose your yummy gummy bears, jelly belly and other candy treats!
20. Vintage Flying Museum
For aviation junkies who find themselves on a visit to Fort Worth, please try and make time to visit this museum! Although not a large venue, the restored aircraft are definitely worth a look. From awesome flying machines like the Piasecki CH-21B Workhorse, Douglas A-26B Invader, Stinson Reliant Model 77, Boeing PT-17 Kaydet and more, the museum works hard to keep their collection of historic aircraft flying, with volunteers happy to perform regular checks and whatever maintenance required. Besides the aircraft itself, there are lots of military artifacts which include posters, pictures, plane models and flight equipment, mostly pertaining to the WWII era. The volunteer docents are always eager to show you around and share display stories, too.
21. Botanic Garden
Spend a family afternoon exploring this lovely botanic garden, with its generous display of wooded areas, a 10,000 sq ft conservatory that boasts an awesome tropical displays of orchids, bromeliads, and trees, a seven acre Japanese Garden complete with three koi fish ponds, waterfalls, bridges, teahouse, pagodas, Zen garden, cherry trees, and Japanese maples, the Oval Rose Garden with its hundreds of roses, and Rock Springs, consisting of ponds, a small waterfall and herb collections, and much more. This really is an amazing Botanic Garden for the whole family to enjoy a leisurely walk in or just enjoy the peaceful freshness of the surroundings. You have the choice of taking a picnic or enjoying a meal at the Garden’s well stocked restaurant.
22. Stockyards Rodeo
It’s almost a prerequisite when visiting Texas to attend a rodeo, and seeing the Stockyards Rodeo at the Cowtown Coliseum should tick all the boxes for you! This 3,418 seat multi purpose arena hosts local sporting events and concerts but just as important, weekly rodeo shows too! In fact the structure was the first indoor arena for North American rodeos. A must for all members of the family, you will be swept away with the constant action and thrills of it all, from watching the bull riding and bronco riding, all magnified on the big screen with the enthusiastic announcers adding to the excitement of it all! If you want, you can even talk to the ranchers and find out all about what it takes to be a real cowboy!
23. Coyote Drive-In
Not as common an entertainment venue as it used to be, the Coyote Drive-In is still very much in favor with its regulars, offering outdoor double features with a big, covered concession area serving snacks and local brews, as well as a playground for the kids. It really is a fun place for weekend enjoyment for the whole family and anyone who likes movies. The play area is handy too, as it’s available for the kids to let off steam before the movie and also during intermission. Bring your own snacks if you wish but there is also a generous choice of food to purchase here too.
24. Forest Park Miniature Railroad
Why not treat the family to a ride on the Forest Park Miniature Railroad, which offers a five-mile round trip train ride around the TCU/Zoo area and Fort Worth’s Trinity Park? Opened in 1959, the train ride takes about forty minutes from the Forest Park Depot to the gorgeous Duck Pond in Trinity Park and back again, making one stop at the Trinity Park’s Depot where passengers can hop on or off if they wish. The interesting train journey crosses six bridges, including a 350 foot girder bridge and 175 foot truss bridge, both of which cross the Clear Fork of the Trinity River. A must for all railway fans!
25. Ol’ South Pancake House
They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and who am I to disagree? If you drop into Ol’ South Pancake House you’ll realize there’s no argument there at all! Opened since 1962, this family restaurant has been busy serving the locals of Fort Worth with delicious pancakes of all varieties, from what is fondly known as their “Dutch babies”, small, sweet pancakes that are topped with lemon, butter and powdered sugar, to other equally yummy options. And if pancakes really aren’t your bag, there are plenty of other choices of food besides. You’ll be able to immediately see the popular of this outlet by the busy and cheerful serving staff!