Fort Worth has long been a hub for Western heritage and art. Cowboys, honky-tonk enthusiasts, and culture vultures have always embraced the city thanks to the Stockyards and world-class museums. But lately, it’s growing into much more. Identified as the 13th most-populated city in the nation earlier this year, Fort Worth has expanded its number and level of restaurants, watering holes, and art galleries. The influx of new residents has brought with it a youthful energy found in neighborhoods like the Near Southside, downtown, and even the historic North Side. Here’s how to experience it all—classic and new—in one weekend.
Check into your room at the Texas White House, an art-filled inn occupying a big, white 1910 home with a broad wraparound porch on the city’s booming Near Southside. When owner Cindy Lucio purchased the city’s oldest bed-and-breakfast a few years ago, she turned it into a contemporary gallery space with changing exhibits by local artists. The lodging includes three upstairs rooms in the main house and three more in the carriage house across the back patio, all filled with natural light. Choose rooms with themes like “Tejas,” with Mexican folk art and a pair of leather chairs; and “Cowtown East,” with a coffee bar and work space.
The Cowtown Experience
Mosey over to the Stockyards, the 100-acre national historic district that once served as home to outlaws and gunslingers, cattle drovers, and meatpacking houses. Today, it’s the place to see Western lore come alive. During “the world’s only twice-daily cattle drive,” a collection of gentle Longhorns lumbers down the well-worn bricks that pave Exchange Avenue. Afterward, sip a cold longneck at the White Elephant Saloon, the site of a historical gunfight reenactment every February, or pick out a pair of cowboy boots at M.L. Leddy’s, a local landmark on the corner of Exchange and Main since the 1940s.
Burgers and Bulls
Grab something quick at Love Shack. The burger stand, like the White Elephant Saloon, is owned by renowned chef Tim Love. He shows off his zeal for quality meat with burger patties incorporating a signature 50/50 blend of ground prime beef tenderloin and prime brisket. Across the street, the Stockyards Championship Rodeo at the 1908 Cowtown Coliseum offers front-row seats to bronc riding and barrel racing. Should a nightcap call to you, imbibe a craft cocktail at Thompson’s Bookstore, which does indeed occupy a former, much-loved bookstore. For a different kind of nightcap, there’s always Melt Ice Creams in Sundance Square.
Check Out the Goods
Head over to The Clearfork Farmers Market for a free yoga class on a grassy spread next to the Trinity River. The farmers market features local vendors, including Fratelli Colletti, selling olive oil harvested by a Fort Worth family from its orchards in Sicily; sourdough breads made with a variety of grains by Icon Bread; seasonal fruit and cream pies from Sweet Lucy’s Pies; fresh local honey from SD Captain Bees; and assorted handmade seasonal loose-leaf teas from Black Poodle Tea Co. The treats are best enjoyed while strolling along the Trinity Trails, paved pathways following the river’s flow east and west.
Tastes of the Town
West Magnolia Avenue is best explored on foot. The milelong stretch featuring lovingly restored turn-of-the-century buildings is the heartbeat of the Fairmount National Historic District. For lunch, try the poblano cheeseburger and gorgonzola waffle fries, or the chicken salad/tabouli combo at Lili’s Bistro, a popular restaurant within a vintage dry cleaning building. Stop at SiNaCa Studios for a fascinating glass-blowing demonstration or to take part in an afternoon workshop. Across town, Firestone & Robertson bourbon distillery offers guided tours and a fantastic view of downtown Fort Worth.
A Certain Glow
Venture back to West Magnolia for dinner—there are plenty of tempting options there. One favorite is Ellerbe Fine Foods, an homage to Southern elegance in a restored gas station. Seasonal dishes include housemade gravlax with dill crème fraiche, crispy Texas quail with pimento cheese stuffing, and sautéed wild Alaskan halibut with lemon-tarragon butter. Take an after-dinner stroll along sidewalks aglow with sparkling white lights in the trees. Stop for a specialty cocktail at Proper, a tiny bar where talented mixologists shake-up custom drinks.
At the Texas White House, Lucio, who’s also a Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts-trained chef, creates sumptuous breakfasts for her guests. Changing each morning, this spread can include Texas-shaped waffles with sautéed fruit, along with homemade pastries and jams, usually made with her own garden produce and herbs. With 46 kiosks around the city, B-Cycles are a great way to see Fort Worth on two wheels. Ride to Forest Park to hop on the miniature train that follows a 5-mile route through the trees along the Trinity River. A detour to Panther City BBQ is well worth it—just be in line by noon, before they sell out of their famous pork belly burnt ends.
Heart of the Arts
In the same triangle where you’ll find the Kimbell Art Museum and the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth screens arthouse films at Magnolia at the Modern, open only on weekends. After the show, drop by the Cafe Modern for coffee and chocolate cake with tangerine glaze. Outside, artist Richard Serra’s “Vortex,” a rusted steel work rising 67 feet, serves as a natural echo chamber. It’s customary to stand inside the structure and shout something. We recommend a hearty “yeehaw!” for a fitting end to your weekend in Cowtown.
Eighteen miles southwest of downtown, Holiday Park Campground on Benbrook Lake offers campsites and RV sites, boat ramps, a fishing pier, equestrian and hiking trails, picnic sites, and restrooms with showers. 6000 Pearl Ranch Road, Fort Worth. Reserve at 877-444-6777; recreation.gov