The 17th largest city in America and fifth largest in Texas, Fort Worth was established in 1849 as an army outpost overlooking Trinity River. Today, the nearly 800,000 strong population prides itself on great museums that hold outstanding collections, some of the most impressive/extensive in the world. The city is also home to a number of educational institutes including Texas Christian University, Texas Wesleyan University, University of North Texas Health Science Center and more. Some multinationals call Forth Worth home (Lockheed, American Airlines), but a more unique feature is the Sister Cities International program it is a part of. Eight cities from eight countries (Italy, Japan, Germany, Hungary, Mexico, Swaziland, China, U.S.A.) maintain cultural and economic exchanges. Noted for its dedication to transportation, electric streetcars were adopted as early as 1876, it has continued its tradition of being at the forefront of transportation ever since. Fort Worth has four airports within its city limits, two Amtrak routes, and a railway. This Northeast Texas city may fly under the radar, but there is certainly no shortage of must-sees in Fort Worth.
10. Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
With one of the foremost collections of modern and contemporary international art in the central United States, the Modern takes pride in showcasing some of its particular mainstays on a rotational basis. Themes such as abstract expressionism, color field painting, minimalism and new image painting from the 1970’s onward are featured including photography, video and digital images. A current favorite is the work of Chinese/Japanese collaborators RongRong&inri. For over 14 years this team has created works that are not only outside the box, but push boundaries. Their take on traditional black and white photography acts as a chronicle of their lives as husband and wife. This along with other exhibits are the Modern’s attempt to collect and present all post-World War II art in all its forms. Nearly 2,600 objects are part of the collection that is revered locally as well as nationally. Admission is free for children, $4 for students and $10 for general.
9. Fort Worth Water Gardens
The Fort Worth Water Gardens is very modern and cool; it resembles the type of place Greek Gods would conduct a meeting in. The urban park is a trek down into the ground, traversing across stepping stones to get into the center where water flows beneath and all around. This is sure to be a favorite for the whole family. Some describe feeling small at the top of the “active pool”, which changes in speed and trajectory on the way down to the “quiet pool”. There, the water opens up to a large space. The architecture is spectacular and almost seems out of place in the city center, but this is not a drawback, in fact it is more sanctuary-like above anything else. The Fort Worth Water Gardens is a great little getaway within the city, and with no admission fee, it is the perfect setting to have a picnic near, or simply stroll by on one’s way to another attraction.
8. Fort Worth Botanic Garden
The awe-inspiring, 100-acre garden is placed within the cultural district and is home to over 2,500 species of exotic plants as well as those native to the Fort Worth area. Over 22 gardens combine to make this a memorable experience for plant lovers. The non-profit Botanic Garden includes the Japanese Garden, Rock Springs, Native Texas Boardwalk, and Backyard Vegetable Garden. The Japanese Garden is maybe the most breathtaking, seemingly a painting come to life. 10 adults are required for a guided tour ($6 each) but the admission is well worth it. When strolling through the lush Japanese agriculture, one is more likely to believe they are on a movie set as opposed to strolling through north Texas. Not only does the setting make one forget where they are, the magnificent colors and sparkling water are worth the entry-fee alone. Take as many pictures as possible in this spot, it is not likely you’ll find yourself in this picturesque of an area in quite some time.
7. Texas Motor Speedway
Everything is bigger in Texas and this speedway is no exemption. Home to multiple NASCAR events & race types, the Texas Motor Speedway seats over 180,000 speed fanatics. Built in 1996 for $250 million, it hosts events from the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Xfinity Series, and the most popular Sprint Cup Series which is the pride of NASCAR. The biggest race of the year is the Duck Commander 500 (not kidding) but the venue also showcases the occasional country music festival (obviously). The area of the speedway is massive but well laid out, as is the surrounding area. Buy weekend camping packs or race day packages for the big event, but perhaps the most economical (for the biggest race mentioned above) is the $150 family pack. They may only be turning left for 500 laps, but the stadium rumbles with noise and simply put, a trip to Texas is nothing without the Speedway and NASCAR.
6. Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar
Pete’s is a “sing-along, clap-along, drink-along, have-one-helluva-good-time-along bar!” you can’t make this stuff up. It’s basically one big show, accompanied by singing and a ton of mixed drinks, in all sorts of varieties. If visiting Fort Worth with friends or family (maybe put the kids to bed) this is a must visit. Perfect for a birthday or just a good time, this is a place where one is certain to know they are Texas. Four piano players play two baby grand pianos on rotation, for an hour, every hour. They join together from time to time to up the tempo and energy making for a crazy experience. The pianists play everything from Elvis to Eminem, so no one goes home without singing along. If you’re lucky, the waitresses and staff join in, too. If in Fort Worth, this really is an experience that is too good to miss out on.
5. Fort Worth Stock Yards
This historical district was a major stop for rest and supplies for those bringing cattle up north, which morphed the area into an entertainment district that has been bumping since the late 1800’s. There’s plenty to see and do in this area: cafes and restaurants host consistent musical performances, there’s a rodeo, a museum and even a petting zoo. The Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame is one of the many other unique attractions in the historical district that make this area front runner to spend an entire day exploring. An old time photo studio and more saloons than one can count, show a dedication to long-lasting memories and a good time. Fort Worth is sure an entertainer’s town, and the Stock Yards provide a lot of it. Amidst all the craziness is good food; try out one of the famous steakhouses such as Cattlemen’s or, host a more private event (wedding, corporate) at the River Ranch to make sure no bottles get thrown.
4. Sundance Square
If the Stock Yards don’t sound like you’re cup of tea, consider Sundance Square for a more, let’s say “controlled” environment. Jazz, live theater and contemporary music events may be a little more enjoyable for some as opposed to the wild, hooting & hollering elsewhere. This area is more for fine dining and cocktails but the nightlife isn’t exactly boring. “The Flying Saucer” is ranked as one of the 12 best bars in America, as well there’s Frankie’s Sports Bar; a huge 8,000 square foot restaurant with a 15 foot video wall and a lot of TVs. Check out Hyena’s Comedy Nightclub or the Jazz Lounge if those are more your speed. There is literally something for everyone in Sundance Square. Go from classy to sassy just by crossing the street and back again; suit up or dress down, the decision is yours.
3. Amon Carter Museum of American Art
This museum was designed by renowned architect Philip Johnson and contains 19th and 20th century paintings, sculptures and even works on paper. It is considered one of the largest housings of American photography in the U.S. Close to 400 works by those considered to be the great artists of western America are home here, that of Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell. Their exhibit is called Remington and Russell. Other exhibits include Like Father Like Son (a father/son duo’s abstract photos) and Aubudon’s Beasts (depictions of animals in their natural habitats). Admission is free to this museum and it’s generally open until 4 p.m. (5 on Sundays) and closed on Mondays and all major holidays. It is worth the visit to see the perspective of artists from this region of the country, and how they vary from other popular art forms on display in other museums in the Fort Worth area.
2. Fort Worth Zoo
The Fort Worth Zoo has some fun exhibits including the Shooting Gallery, the Swinging Swamp Bridge and the Tasmanian Tower (a 25-foot, cylindrical rock climbing wall). The Outdoor Learning Center is wonderfully designed in a canopy-like setting, providing shade and style while learning. 98 endangered species are housed at the Fort Worth Zoo along with many other creatures. Featured reptiles include the American alligator, Burmese python, and the incredibly dangerous Komodo dragon. Among the mammals are gorillas, Asian elephants and rhinos. In short, the Fort Worth Zoo’s warm climate allows it to hold many of the planet’s species used to a hot climate. However, don’t be surprised to see a penguin waddling around. Children are $9 and adults are $12 to get in, but the price is worth the vast array of animals at this zoo, which seemingly has everything a zoo can and should have to offer.
1. Kimbell Art Museum
The pride of Fort Worth, the Kimbell Art Museum originally collected British and French portraits of the 18th and 19th centuries. Now the collections include African/Oceanic, American, Ancient, Asian, European and Pre-Colombian among others. The exhibits are mainly portraits keeping to the tradition, but they should not be overlooked as there are simply wonderful paintings among them. The educational factor goes a little above and beyond that of most museums; offering lectures, films, performances, workshops, university programs and more. Of course, guided tours are a staple Fort Worth. The Kimbell Art Museum is the culmination of this culture rich city, and it is suggested to make a visit to this venue a pivotal or even closing point to one’s trip to Fort Worth. Admission is free, and there is even a buffet-style restaurant should conversation shift to appetite.