When you think tourism in the US state of Texas, Houston and Dallas immediately come to mind. Between professional sports and the historical importance of both cities, these are the ones visitors most often flock to. Yet we suggest you think about Fort Worth as well. A city that is often considered an afterthought to Dallas is competing to be a top tourist destination among both Americans and travellers coming from abroad.
Fort Worth is located in the central section of the state and is the fifth largest city in Texas. Its total area of nearly 350 square miles actually encompasses parts of four different Texas counties: Tarrant, Denton, Parker, and Wise. It is the county seat of Tarrant County. Fort Worth is also part of the greater DFW Metroplex, something we’ll talk about a bit later.
One of the first things visitors notice about Fort Worth is the history of its architecture. The city was established in the mid-19th century as a US military outpost on the Trinity River. Despite several generations of development since that time, Fort Worth still retains its Old West architectural style and design in many parts of the city. Even new buildings have been constructed with a nod to the past.
Fort Worth – Sports Tourism
Every city seeks to have some sort of identity linked to its tourist trade. In Fort Worth, their identity is tied to professional and amateur sports. NFL football fans know that the Dallas Cowboys are just up the road in Arlington while the Texas Rangers baseball team is there also. Texas Christian University (TCU) offers collegiate football, basketball, and baseball just eight miles from downtown.
Just outside of town is Texas Motor Speedway, also known as ‘The Great American Speedway’. It hosts NASCAR and IndyCar events throughout the year. Motorsport Ranch and Eagles Canyon Raceway offer additional racing opportunities sanctioned by prestigious organisations like the Porsche Club of America and the National Auto Sports Association.
Visit the Stockyards Championship Rodeo
Rodeo is a truly American sport, and unlike anything else you may have seen. It combines modern athletics with Old West cattle ranching in an event that is sure to please. You can catch a live rodeo every Friday and Saturday night at the Stockyards Championship Rodeo at Cowtown Coliseum.
You will be treated to all of the best rodeo events including bull riding, calf roping, barrel racing, and even bronco busting. The evening includes a historical Wild West show reminiscent of the days when cowboys passed their time learning to do tricks with their ropes and rifles. You will even be treated to authentic cowboy music and an entertaining look at Old West history.
Visit AT&T Stadium
AT&T Stadium is not only the home of the Dallas Cowboys, but it is also the largest domed stadium in the world. You can participate in one of the daily tours designed to allow fans to see what goes into making events at this spectacular venue possible. You might even get a chance to throw a football or two on the field.
Fort Worth – Lifestyle Tourism
The city offers a tremendous amount of outdoor activities that take advantage of a climate that is generally subtropical. For example, Panther Island is an incredible ‘island’ neighbourhood just north of downtown in the Trinity River. It is home to the only waterfront stage in the state of Texas and a full menu of outdoor events held throughout the year. When development of the neighbourhood is complete, it will offer more than 33 square miles of waterfront and 800 acres of recreation, entertainment, and leisure.
On the outskirts of town, you will find mile after mile of hiking trails and recreation areas. There is plenty of room to roam; that’s for sure. And except for a few weeks in the summer and a few more in the winter, being outdoors in Fort Worth is very pleasant from a climate standpoint.
Check out Backwoods Paddlesports at Panther Island
Taking a gentle and slow canoe ride down the Trinity River is an interesting way to see downtown Fort Worth. Backwoods Paddlesports offers hourly rentals of canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards to both individuals and groups. If you have a large enough group, you could even arrange a private tour with an experienced guide. By the way, just before dusk is the best time of day to take your tour. You’ll see Fort Worth in a whole new way — a little bit of country set right in the middle of the city!
Fort Worth – Leisure and Culture
You may be a tourist not really interested in things like major sporting events and the multi-day music festivals of Panther Island. Perhaps you are more into just seeing how the locals live. Once again, Fort Worth delivers. The city is a hotbed of culture and leisure thanks to dozens of theatres, museums, music venues, and a historic district known as the Stockyards.
The Stockyards National Historic District used to be home to cattle ranchers and genuine American outlaws. It is now one of the most popular districts in Fort Worth. Wander down the streets as you browse, look into shop windows, and chat with locals. Don’t be surprised if the cattle rancher rides by on his horse with a small herd of Texas steer in tow.
In the city’s cultural district, you will find five internationally known museums as well as dozens of others. Not far away is the West 7th neighbourhood that is now considered one of the premier entertainment areas in the city; it offers high fashion, high-end dining, and modern entertainment for people who love the nightlife.
Visit Log Cabin Village
One of the best things about Texas is that it takes its history seriously. You will see that on full display when you visit Log Cabin Village, a living museum consisting of nine historic buildings dating back to the founding of Fort Worth. Check out an authentic log home along with a one-room schoolhouse, smokehouse, gristmill, and blacksmith shop. Log Cabin Village is open Tuesday through Sunday throughout the year, except for a few days in May when they close for annual maintenance. Admission is $5 for adults and $4.50 for kids.
Visit the American Airlines CR Smith Museum
Fort Worth is only one of a handful of cities in the world offering a museum dedicated solely to aviation. The CR Smith Museum is a hands-on presentation of everything related to flight. Check out a rare Douglas DC-3 airliner along with dozens of full-sized aircraft engines. Throughout the museum are literally hundreds of aviation artefacts dating back to the earliest days of flight. Best of all, you don’t have to worry about little hands. The museum invites you to hear, see, and touch everything you find.
The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is $7 for adults, $4 for children and seniors.
A Great Place to Visit
Tying everything together is the fact that Fort Worth is part of the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington Metroplex that encompasses more than 9000 square miles. It’s easy to stay in Fort Worth and use it as a home base for discovering Dallas and Arlington as well. Everything is easily accessible with plenty of public transportation options should you choose not to drive, or by way of an extensive road network that can get you anywhere you want to go in short order.
Fort Worth is well worth your time if you’re planning a trip to the American South West. There is a lot to see and do, whether you plan just a few days or an entire week or more in north-central Texas.