Fort Worth, TX
Established in 1849, Fort Worth, Texas, grew up with a reputation for lawlessness based as much on fact as fiction. The outpost became a cattle-drive stop on the Chisholm Trail. Thousands more passed through with the arrival of the Texas and Pacific Railway. Transient cowboys, along with con men, gamblers, bandits and military deserters, took pleasure in the saloons, bordellos and dance halls that sprang up at the time. Known then as “Hell’s Half Acre,” the area retained its dubious distinction for decades, even housing such nefarious characters as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, the Hole in the Wall Gang, and Bonnie and Clyde.
Today, Fort Worth has shed its reputation as a wild “cow town.” Still, it remains a premier destination for tourists in search of the true American West. Hell’s Half Acre has given way to Sundance Square, a 35-block complex of upscale entertainment, shopping and dining options.
A major Fort Worth attraction is the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District, offering activities for would-be cowboys of all ages. Catch some real rodeo action every Friday and Saturday night, tour the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, watch twice-daily cattle drives and brush up on your two-steppin’ at Billy Bob’s Texas, the world’s largest honky tonk.
Visitors can venture to the Fort Worth Zoo to observe indigenous Texas creatures and more exotic species. For a look at the state’s pioneer era, head to Log Cabin Village, a living history museum and favorite local attraction. Families and the young-at-heart like to head over to nearby Arlington, home of the Six Flags Over Texas and Six Flags Hurricane Harbor amusement parks. Racing fans know Fort Worth as the home of Texas Motor Speedway, where the stars of NASCAR and IndyCar come to shine.
30 miles away, Dallas garners renown as the more cosmopolitan of the sister cities. “The Big D” has its own eclectic array of world-class museums. The Amon Carter Museum of American Art, best known for its collection of works by Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell, offers 19th- and 20th-century photographs and extensive genealogical information about the American West. Other not-to-miss museums are the Kimbell Art Museum, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the Texas Civil War Museum and the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. There is even a one-of-a-kind National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame.
Fort Worth serves an eclectic selection of menus, too, from steaks and haute cuisine to Southwestern flavors and Tex-Mex. The city’s top steakhouse, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House, serves top cuts for serious beef lovers. Locals enjoy premium steaks and seafood at Silver Fox Steakhouse and rooftop dining with Southwestern nuances at Reata Restaurant. Nationally acclaimed Bonnell’s infuses regional influences in its Southwestern, Creole and Mexican specialties.
For a taste of true Mexican cuisine, try Lanny’s Alta Cocina Mexicana. Three best bets for down-home Tex-Mex are Joe T. Garcia’s Mexican Restaurant, Uncle Julio’s and Los Molcajetes. Barbecue aficionados should try Angelo’s Great Texas Bar-B-Que, a Fort Worth institution since 1958, and Cousin’s Bar-B-Q.