The first place visitors to Fort Worth should head is the Stockyards National Historic District. In the days of cowboys and cattle drives, great Longhorn cattle were gathered from southern Texas and driven north. Fort Worth was the last major stop along the Chisholm Trail before the cattle were driven to market in Missouri.
The Stockyards Historic District may be a bit more tamed than it was in those days, but you’ll get a feel for the lifeblood that built a city. As you wander along the sidewalks you can’t help but notice the Texas Trail of Fame, stars inlaid in the sidewalks sharing the names of those who contributed to the “cowboy way of life”. You’ll find names you know- Stetson and John Wayne, to name just two- and plenty you’ve never heard of but whose names are lore in Texas.
The twice daily cattle drives at 11:30am and 4pm (with 4pm being the larger drive of the two) are a main attraction of the Stockyards district. The impressive expanse of longhorns “on the foot” give you a pretty good idea of what the drovers of yesteryear were up against. I’m pretty sure those horns could cause quite a gash if they got a hold of you. The cattle used today are used to their stroll down Exchange Avenue, but don’t let that deter you from this reenactment of Wild West history.
There is plenty to keep you busy while waiting for the cattle drives. Even if you don’t boot-scoot a stop at Billy Bob’s, the world’s largest honky-tonk, is a tourist must. It’s a family place and has live bull riding on Friday and Saturday night.
For a full-on rodeo the Cowtown Coliseum delivers on Friday and Saturday evenings as well, with bull riding, barrel racing, calf roping and kids events.
Both the Stockyards Museum and the Cowboy Hall of Fame are filled with memorabilia, photos and cowboy history.
When you’ve had your fill of history there is plenty of shopping to be found. A cowboy (or cowgirl) hat makes the perfect souvenir- though you may hear “yee-haw” the rest of the day. If you’re looking for cowboy boots you’ll find some of the most beautiful handmade boots at Leddy’s- just be prepared to pay for the quality.
When hunger strikes a variety of restaurants are available to tempt you. Steaks reign supreme here, of course, but you’ll also find a fancy cupcake shop, Tex-Mex and barbeque. For a memorable dining experience head up Commerce Street to the incredible Joe T. Garcia’s- it’s where Fort Worth goes for Mexican.
The Stockyards District is a “must” when visiting Fort Worth. Plan to spend at least 3 hours here; an afternoon and evening would be ideal to take in all the activities and get a taste of Fort Worth’s history.Photos by Jody Halsted
Jody Halsted shares tips for family
travel at her site Family Rambling.