So, you woke up this morning, took a look around your stale, plain-old walls and thought, "Today is the day for an adventure!" Well, aren't you lucky you stumbled onto me, your wise, all-knowing, slightly sarcastic guide to all things to do in Fort Worth, Texas.
Yeah, you've heard the stories: cowboy boots, wide-brimmed hats, and the twangy drawl of country music. But let me tell you, friend, Fort Worth is not just another old tumbleweed in the wild, wild, old west here. It's a dynamic city, where you can ride high in a rodeo, lose yourself in an art deco wonder, or fill your belly with the juiciest Tex-Mex feast this side of the Rio Grande.
So, dust off that ten-gallon hat, slap on some sunblock, and get ready to immerse yourself in a vibrant, quirky fusion of old and new. You asked for it, partner, so here are 26 fun - and did I mention sometimes free? - things to do in the cowboy city of Fort Worth, Texas.
First: A Brief History Buff Lesson on Fort Worth
I bet you thought you could escape your high school history lessons by reading a fun, snarky travel guide, didn't you? Sorry to burst your bubble, pal, but you're not getting off that easy. Here's a little history of Fort Worth, Texas, to set the stage for your upcoming shenanigans.
You see, this city was born with only a few animals and wild hair. It started its days as an army outpost way back in 1849, keeping a wary eye on the western frontier. But, oh boy, how it’s grown.
The cattle business kicked things into high gear, and before you knew it, Fort Worth was an essential stop on the Chisholm Trail, home to butchers, barbers, and more than a few gunslingers. Then oil struck. Suddenly, Fort Worth was rolling in it - money and oil both - and our cowboy town transformed into the "Wall Street of the West," while still maintaining a twang in its heart.
Ok, enough of that. So there's your history lesson on things Fort Worth...now let's mosey on over to the 26 best things to do in Fort Worth. Buckle up, partner, it's going to be a wild ride.
1. The Unbridled Spirit of the Fort Worth Stockyards
"Yeehaw!" Isn't that what you've been dying to scream out at the top of your lungs? Well, friend, now's your chance. Wander your way down to the historic Fort Worth Stockyards and get a taste of the real Wild West. Step back in time with a visit to this district that once thundered with the hooves of millions of cattle, earning national historic district of Fort Worth the nickname "Cowtown".
If your idea of a good time includes watching live rodeo shows, strutting your stuff at the world’s largest honky-tonk, Billy Bob's Texas, or gawping at cattle drives led by real-life cowhands, then this is the spot for you. Just remember, don't try to pet the longhorns – they're not as cuddly as they look.
2. The Wild Wonders of Fort Worth Zoo
You've been practicing your cowboy yells, now how about some roaring and trumpeting? Make your way to the Fort Worth Zoo, home to over 7,000 critters from around the globe. It's like a United Nations meeting, but with fur, feathers, and scales instead of blazers and ties.
Need to impress a date with your worldly knowledge? Point out the reticulated giraffes and casually mention they're native to Somalia. Got kids to entertain? Let them marvel at the Penguins exhibit while you relax with a soft pretzel nearby. There's more to see than just the animals though – the Zoo's Texas Wild! section takes you on a journey through the diverse ecosystems of the Lone Star State.
It's like hiking across Texas without the actual hiking. You're welcome.
3. Need for Speed at Texas Motor Speedway
After all those animal encounters, it's time to engage your inner speed demon. Welcome to the Texas Motor Speedway, a colosseum of velocity, where cars whiz around faster than greased lightning. If watching racing on TV makes you snooze, experiencing it in person here will have you on the edge of your seat. And by 'edge of your seat', I mean hanging onto your hat and trying not to spill your chili dog.
Ever fancied feeling the G-force for yourself? Buckle up for a NASCAR racing experience, where you can ride shotgun or even take the wheel. Pro tip: Don't eat the chili dog before you go for the ride. And if high-octane racing isn't enough for you, there are always concerts, car shows, and other events year-round.
At Texas Motor Speedway, even when the engines cool down, the fun doesn't stop.
4. Billy Bob's: Not Your Average Barn Dance
Thought you'd only ever hear about Billy Bob's from that old George Strait song? Think again. Step into Billy Bob's Texas, and you'll understand why they proudly boast that it's "not just a country music nightclub, but an entertainment complex."
With a staggering 100,000 square feet to explore, you're in for a true honky-tonk extravaganza. Line dance the night away, show off your billiards skills, or take a spin on the mechanical bull – if you dare. Heck, there's even an indoor rodeo arena for when you feel the need to watch man versus beast while sipping your cold brew.
But remember, partner, bull riding is best left to the professionals – or at least the sober.
5. Fort Worth Water Gardens: An Oasis in the Concrete Jungle
After all the wild shenanigans at Billy Bob's, you might be hankering for a moment of serenity. And what could be more serene than a water garden? The Fort Worth Water Gardens is not just any garden, though. It's an architectural marvel where you can amble through cascading waterfalls, tranquil pools, and lush greenery right in the heart of downtown.
It's a bit like stepping into a science fiction movie set – only with fewer aliens and more picnicking families. Slip off your boots, let the soothing sounds of water wash over you, and soak in the peaceful atmosphere. Just remember – this isn't a water park.
Save the cannonball dive for the hotel pool.
6. Sundance Square: Fort Worth's Beating Heart
Still got energy left? Good, because it's time to strut over to Sundance Square, the vibrant 35-block epicenter of Fort Worth's downtown scene. This isn't your typical sleepy town square, but a humming hive of shops, restaurants, art galleries, and theaters, where the old world charm of Fort Worth's cultural district meets its energetic modern pulse.
It's a little like stepping into a bustling European piazza – if that piazza, sundance square plaza was filled with Texans. Whether you're in the mood for an art house film, a world-class performance at Bass Performance Hall, or just want to lounge by the beautiful fountains, Sundance Square has you covered.
When the Texas sun goes down, the Square lights up with lively bars and music venues. So grab your stetson and two-step the night away under the stars.
7. Bureau of Engraving and Printing: Where Money Grows on Presses
Ever watched a crime show and wondered how money gets made? Or perhaps you’ve pondered over a late-night pizza, "Why can't I just print my own?" Well, don your detective hat and put your curiosity to rest at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
Spoiler alert: It’s a tad more complicated than running off a few twenties on your home printer.
This place churns out a whopping 60% of the nation's paper currency. Take a free tour (that's right, free - no bills needed!) and marvel at the fascinating, intricate process of money production. No, you won't leave with a bag of cash, but you'll certainly walk out richer in knowledge.
Just don't get any funny ideas – remember, counterfeiting is a crime!
8. Trinity Park: A Breath of Fresh Texas Air
After hanging out with all that cash, why not spend some quality time with Mother Nature, the original big spender? Trinity Park, nestled along the banks of the Trinity River, is your perfect outdoor retreat. With more than 100 acres to roam, there’s something for everyone.
Rent a paddleboat, bike along the picturesque hiking trails there, or simply plop down for a picnic and watch the ducks paddle by. The park is also home to the beloved miniature train, a Fort Worth staple since 1959. It's a bit like taking a ride through a picture book.
Pro tip: Take along a frisbee or a ball. After all, nothing says "park" like a game of catch or a surprise frisbee attack.
9. Fort Worth Aviation Museum: Come Fly with Me
Last but not least, for all you flyboys and flygirls, or anyone who just loves a good 'zoom', we have the Fort Worth Aviation Museum. This place is more than a collection of metal birds; it's a testament to Fort Worth's integral role in aviation history.
With over 24 aircraft on display, you can swoon over vintage warbirds, get up close with jet fighters, or fantasize about piloting a stealth bomber. And if you think museums are all 'look but don't touch,' think again. You can hop into a cockpit and channel your inner Maverick.
Just remember, "I feel the need for speed" is best left as a catchphrase and not taken as actual flight advice.
10. Bass Hall: Culture, With a Side of Grandeur
Tired of the cowboy hats and boots? Ready for a dose of refinement? Then it's high time you mosey on over to Bass Hall. No, it's not where you learn to play the bass guitar. It's Fort Worth's stunningly beautiful center for the performing arts.
Bass Hall will charm you with its grandeur, then blow your socks off with world-class opera, ballet, symphony performances, and even Broadway shows. The architecture alone is worth a gawk – it's like stepping into a European opera house, sans the need for a passport.
Remember to dress to impress, and don't be that person whose cell phone sings the 'Friends' theme in the middle of La Traviata.
11. Texas Civil War Museum: A Blast From the Past
Next up, we're trading the fancy footlights for a different kind of drama: the Texas Civil War Museum. Here, you can dive headlong into the Lone Star State's turbulent past and gain a deeper understanding of Texas's role in the Civil War.
Wander through the thoughtfully curated exhibits, marvel at the authentic Civil War artifacts, and gaze upon the stunningly preserved Victorian dress collection. It's like being in an episode of "Antiques Roadshow," only without the surprise million-dollar finds.
And remember, no matter how tempting, these relics are for observing, not for practicing your "Gone with the Wind" reenactments.
12. Vintage Flying Museum: Sky-High Nostalgia
If the past is your thing, but you're more 'Top Gun' than 'Little House on the Prairie', then the Vintage Flying Museum will be your jam. Here, you'll be able to explore a treasure trove of historic aircraft, including bombers and fighters that once ruled the skies.
It's not just about the big birds, though. You'll also get a peek at flight uniforms, World War II memorabilia, and other artifacts that tell the story of aviation history. And hey, if you’re really feeling the need for speed, you can even book a flight in a vintage aircraft.
Just remember to keep the 'I feel the need, the need for speed' lines to a minimum – the pilots have probably heard them all before.
13. Kimbell Art Museum: A Masterpiece of a Masterpiece Collection
If you fancy yourself a bit of an art aficionado, or if you just appreciate a good excuse to use the word "juxtaposition" in a sentence, then the Kimbell Art Museum is calling your name.
This little gem is home to an intimate and impressive collection, featuring everything from Egyptian antiquities to European masterpieces. Walk in the footsteps of Monet, Picasso, and Rembrandt, and feel the culture seeping into your pores. And the building itself is a work of art – the vaulted galleries are lit by natural light, making every visit feel a bit like stepping into a sophisticated art heist movie.
Just remember: you're there to admire, not to acquire.
14. Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame: Tip Your Hat to the Legends
Did you really think you could visit Fort Worth and not pay homage to the greats of the cowboy world? Head on over to the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame and doff your Stetson to those who've made significant contributions to our cowboy, rodeo, and western lifestyle.
With over 125 inductees, including luminaries like Nolan Ryan and George Strait, you'll walk away with newfound respect for the cowboy life. Just remember: all that glitters is not gold.
Sometimes, it's a well-polished pair of spurs.
15. Forest Park Miniature Railroad: All Aboard the Nostalgia Express
Alright, buckle up, because we're about to shift gears...and sizes. All aboard the Forest Park Miniature Railroad! This charming, pint-sized train has been a Fort Worth staple since 1959, giving kids of all ages a five-mile, thirty-five-minute trip around Forest and Trinity Parks.
It's a bit like being in a model train set, minus the giant face peering down at you. The scenery is delightful, the ride is smooth, and the joy is infectious.
And remember, when it comes to the miniature train, size really doesn't matter – it's all about the journey.
16. Fort Worth Botanic Garden: A Blooming Marvelous Escape
Ready to swap the concrete jungle for an actual, bonafide, full-of-plants jungle? Then let's head over to the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, the oldest botanical garden in Texas. With over 110 acres of flora-filled glory, this place is like an all-you-can-smell buffet of botanical beauty.
From the serenity of the Japanese Garden to the riotous color of the Rose Garden, you can wander through different ecosystems without ever needing a passport.
Keep in mind: while smelling the flowers is encouraged, uprooting a rose bush for your personal garden is generally frowned upon.
17. Amon G. Carter Stadium: Where the Wild Rides Happen
[Credit: Wikipedia Commons - Michael Barera]
Are you ready for some football? How about the kind that's played with the hands rather than the feet? Well, you're in luck, because next up is the Amon G. Carter Stadium, home of the TCU Horned Frogs. This stadium has seen more ups, downs, touchdowns, and field goals than a sports commentator's playbook.
Whether you're a die-hard Frogs fan or just love the energy of a game, there's nothing quite like a match under the Texas sky.
Bring your team spirit, but leave your vuvuzela at home – this isn't the World Cup, partner.
18. Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth: A Gaze into the Avant-Garde
Fancy a gander at a urinal turned fountain? Or maybe a soup can that's not just for soup? It's time to take a walk on the wild side of art at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Home to thousands of works of art, the museum invites you to challenge your perspectives and contemplate the strange, beautiful, and downright weird.
From Warhol to Hockney, the collection boasts a who's who of modern and contemporary artists. Whether you're an art lover or a casual observer, there's something for everyone.
And as Picasso said, "Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth." Ponder that while gazing at the giant steel tree.
19. Fort Worth Museum of Science and History: A Double Whammy of Wisdom
Done with contemplating the avant-garde and ready to ponder the mysteries of the universe? Swing by the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. Here, you'll get a double dose of knowledge with exhibitions that span the gamut from dinosaurs to DNA, from the wild west to the reaches of space.
Whether you're a self-proclaimed science geek or a history buff, this museum is like a box of intellectual chocolates – there's something delightful to bite into around every corner.
Pro tip: no, you can't ride the T-Rex. Just in case you were wondering.
20. Colonial Country Club: The Greenest of Greens
Next, we're trading the science lab for the golf course. Welcome to the Colonial Country Club, one of the most prestigious and verdant patches of Fort Worth. This isn't your run-of-the-mill mini golf joint. Oh no, this is the real deal, folks.
But it's not all hushed voices and polite clapping – the Colonial is also home to the annual PGA Tour's Charles Schwab Challenge. Whether you're a seasoned golfer or a newbie trying to figure out why the heck the ball doesn't go straight, this is a must-visit for any fan of the game.
And remember, if you can't tell a birdie from an eagle, just nod wisely and enjoy the view.
21. Dickies Arena: Not Your Average Rodeo
Last but certainly not least, strap on your boots and grab your cowboy hat – we're going to Dickies Arena. This is no ordinary arena, folks. Sure, it can handle concerts, sporting events, and family shows, but it's also home to the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo.
There’s something bizarrely fascinating about watching people try to stay on an angry 2,000-pound animal. For those who prefer their entertainment slightly less wild, there's also world-class bull riding, barrel racing, and livestock shows.
Note to self...no matter how inspired you feel, it's probably best to leave the bull riding to the professionals.
22. Amon Carter Museum of American Art: Get Your Yee-haw On, Cultured Style
We’re heading back to the world of art, but this time with a distinctly American twist. Say howdy to the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. You might think you're about to encounter endless depictions of apple pie and baseball, but the reality is far more fascinating.
This is where the Wild West meets fine art, where cowboy artists like Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell are given the spotlight they deserve.
If you find yourself strangely moved by a painting of a cattle drive, just embrace it. You're in Texas, after all.
23. DFW Adventure Park: Your Adrenaline-Filled Playground
Ready for a rush that's got nothing to do with caffeine or deadlines? Then get ready to let loose at DFW Adventure Park. This place is like a smorgasbord of adrenaline-pumping activities: paintball, ziplining, ATV riding, you name it.
If it's likely to make your heart pound and your friends question your sanity, it's probably here.
Remember to pack your courage and maybe an extra pair of pants – just in case the adrenaline gets a little too intense.
24. Chop Shop Roanoke: Eating Your Way to Happiness
After all that exploring, creating, and adrenaline-rushing, you've probably worked up a Texas-sized appetite. The solution? A trip to ChopShop Roanoke. This isn't your typical chop shop – instead of questionable car parts, you'll find mouth-watering, healthy, and flavorful fare.
From protein bowls to fresh juices, this is the perfect pit stop to fuel your next Fort Worth food adventures. Just remember, eating a salad doesn't make you a rabbit, any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.
25. SeaQuest Fort Worth: Dive Into a World of Wonder
Are you ready to say “see ya” to the Texas plains and "hello" to the seven seas? Then make waves in the direction of SeaQuest Fort Worth.
With interactive exhibits featuring animals from across the globe, this is your chance to hand-feed sharks, hang out with capybaras, and generally pretend you're an underpaid but overly enthusiastic nature show host.
You'll find more species here than in a Hollywood alien movie, and the best part? They're all real! Just remember: no matter how friendly they seem, eels are not to be used as scarves.
26. City of Roanoke: Discover the Unique Charm
After immersing yourself in the aquatic, it's time to head to the land of unique charm and hospitality – welcome to the City of Roanoke! Known as the Unique Dining Capital of Texas, this place has got a food scene that's as diverse and vibrant as a Texan sunset.
The streets echo with stories from the past, making history buffs swoon. And for those of you looking for entertainment, look no further. Roanoke boasts a rich calendar of events, from music concerts to community parades.
Oh, and just a friendly reminder: don't get too excited and try to introduce a conga line into the community parade. Not speaking from personal experience, of course...
Well, there it is! Your whistle-stop tour of the wonders of Fort Worth and a smattering of its surroundings. We’ve saddle-soared through the rich history of the cowboy city, galloped around art museums, chased adrenaline highs at adventure parks, flirted with aquatic life, and gorged ourselves silly on delicious grub.
You've now got a bigger bucket list than a Texan's got tall tales. So what are you waiting for? Your Texan adventure is just a 'yee-haw' away. Put on your cowboy boots, grab that ten-gallon hat, and giddy on up to explore everything that the great city of Fort Worth, Texas, has to offer.
Trust me, you won't be disappointed - unless you try to ride a bull, that is. That would be a really, really bad idea.