48 hours in Fort Worth, Texas
Prior to visiting Fort Worth, I knew very little about the city. My pre-trip research for things to do in Fort Worth highlighted the Fort Worth Stockyards historical district as the main attraction.
However, beyond the Stockyards, I got the feeling that Fort Worth was more of a day trip from Dallas, and not a stand-alone travel destination.
Fortunately, the purpose of my short trip to Fort Worth was to attend an event that was being hosted at the Fort Worth Stockyards. After the event, I had time to explore the Stockyards and channel my inner cowboy.
Unfortunately, most of the shops and activities were already closed by the time my event ended. But it was still fun wandering the streets of the Stockyards at night (see photos below).
I spent two nights in downtown Forth Worth, which gave me a decent introduction to the city.
It’s an interesting city that exceeded my expectations. Although, I’m not entirely sure what my expectations were prior to visiting?
I enjoyed my time there and I think it’s worth visiting. However, I don’t think a first-time visitor needs more than 48 hours in Fort Worth. Unless it’s part of a bigger trip that includes Dallas and surrounding areas.
Here are some unique things to do in Fort Worth:
- Visit the legendary Fort Worth Stockyards. Try to time your visit so you can witness the cattle drive and catch a live rodeo.
- Visit the Sundance Square Plaza (picture above)
- Explore the Fort Worth Water Gardens (more on that below)
- Enjoy real Texas BBQ at one of these fine establishments
- Sample craft beer at a local brewery, including Cowtown Brewing Co, Second Rodeo Brewing and Panther Island Brewery (here’s a list of the best breweries in Fort Worth)
- Admire the architecture in downtown Fort Worth, including Tarrant County Courthouse, Bass Performance Hall, Flatiron Building and Saint Patrick Cathedral
- Rent an electric bike and ride around Trinity Park (252 acre public park)
- Visit a museum – Kimbell Art Museum, Museum of Science and History, Modern Art Museum, Sid Richardson Museum, Stockyards Museum
The downtown area is very walkable and safe. Unlike other major cities in the USA, I found the downtown core to be calm and quiet. Not a lot of vehicle traffic and few pedestrians walking on the sidewalks. It has a small town feel, with old brick buildings and cobblestone roads.
Most of the high-rise buildings appear to used as office space or hotels, not residential condos. There’s not a lot happening in the city at night, so my assumption is that people live in the suburbs and commute to the downtown area for work. I did not spend time with any locals or residents, so this is purely an observation.
Fort Worth Stockyards
The Fort Worth Stockyards is one of the most unique things to do in Fort Worth. I would argue that every first time visitor to Fort Worth should spend some time here.
When you think of Texas, what comes to mind? For me, it’s cowboys, longhorns, horses, rodeo, BBQ, cowboy hats and boots. The Stockyards has all of these and more. Here’s a list of all the things to do at the Fort Worth Stockyards.
As mentioned earlier, the purpose of my trip was to attend an event that was hosted at the Stockyards. The event was held at the iconic Billy Bob’s Texas, said to be The World’s Largest Honky Tonk. Our event was actually located in a separate venue that’s connected to the main building.
By the time the event ended, many of the shops were closed. I had hoped to visit the Cowtown Coliseum, but it closed at 5:30 PM.
The Fort Worth Cattle Drive is held every day at 11:30 AM & 4:00 PM at the Stockyards. I was not able to make either time. However, if you can time your visit to the Stockyards better than me, it looks like a really fun Texas experience.
Below are photos of Fort Worth Stockyards
Above is a photo of Billy Bob’s Texas, originally built in 1910.
Although I missed the famous Stockyards Cattle Drive, the event that I attended had a huge Texas Longhorn onsite. Look at the size of those horns!
Sadly, there was no rodeo event that evening. I’d love to watch a live Texas rodeo at the Stockyards. Now that’s an original Texas experience.
The Stockyards Station is a popular shopping area. See below for list of shops and restaurants.
Mule Alley is another fun spot at the Stockyards. It’s an entertainment district with historic brick horse and mule barns that have been converted into shops, restaurants and live music venues.
Second Rodeo Brewing at Mule Alley in the Stockyards.
Neon signage on the main road that leads to the Stockyards.
The swanky Hotel Drover is located in the heart of the Stockyards.
Fort Worth Water Gardens
Another interesting tourist attraction is the Fort Worth Water Gardens. Located behind the Fort Worth Convention Center, this outdoor space incorporates the flow of water with waterfalls, fountains and pools.
It’s an unusual urban park, I must say. It occupies 4 acres of prime real estate in the downtown core. I imagine it was quite expensive to create.
I can see this park being a nice place for people to take a break or have lunch. The sound of waterfalls and flowing water is relaxing. However, during our mid-day visit, the park was empty. The only people walking through the park were visitors attending an event at the nearby convention center (the corporate lanyards gave it away).
For first time visitors, like myself, I think the Fort Worth Water Gardens is worth visiting. It’s quite unique. But 30 minutes is more than enough time to spend here.
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JFK Tribute in General Worth Square
The John F. Kennedy Tribute is located in General Worth Square in the downtown area. This is where President John F. Kennedy stood in front of the historic Hotel Texas, now the Hilton Fort Worth, and gave a famous speech to thousands in attendance.
Later that same day, the president was assassinated in Dallas.
General Worth Square and the JFK Tribute in front of the old Hotel Texas (brown brick building on the right).
Sundance Square is a pedestrian-friendly district in the downtown area. It’s surrounded by retail stores, Western-wear shops, coffee shops, steakhouses and sports bars.
It’s also known as an entertainment hub, with small theaters, events and concerts at Sundance Square Plaza and the Bass Performance Hall.
More photos of Downtown Fort Worth
I think one of the best things to do in Fort Worth is to simply wander around the downtown core. It’s not very big, so just let your curiosity guide you. There are several restaurants, shops and cafes to keep you entertained. I always enjoy looking at an old city’s architecture.
Burk Burnett Building and brick roads at Sundance Square.
The Knights of Pythias Building, a historic redbrick building located at Sundance Square.
The beautiful Tarrant County Courthouse, built in 1895.
Saint Patrick Cathedral is a Catholic Church built in 1892. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Old architecture on Houston Street, including the popular MELT Ice Creams shop.
Old brick fire station in downtown Fort Worth. Built in 1907 and refurbished in 1982
The iconic Flatiron Building in downtown Fort Worth, located at the corner of Houston and West 9th streets. At the time of its completion in 1907 it was one of the city’s first steel frame buildings and the tallest building in north Texas.
Fun décor inside the old Flying Saucer Draught Emporium.
Man with a Briefcase Statue at Burnett Park. It’s a 50-foot tall brushed aluminum sculpture.
Kimpton Harper Hotel in Downtown Fort Worth
I spent two nights at the Kimpton Harper Hotel in Downtown Fort Worth. It’s an upscale hotel located in the central Sundance Square district. The building dates back to 1921, with subtle details that showcase it’s past.
The rooms are newly renovated with modern decor and furnishings. I enjoyed my time at this property and would recommend it for anyone wanting to stay in the downtown area.
A few photos from my room at the Kimpton Harper Hotel .
The hotel has a swanky bar and lounge on the 24th floor. You’ll find some of the best views of the city at this spot.
View of the Fort Worth Convention Center from the 24th floor lounge at Kimpton Harper Hotel.
City views from the 24th floor at Kimpton Harper Hotel. It has an interesting mix of old brown brick building and new modern architecture. Notice the red brick street in the photo below.
Have you visited Fort Worth, Texas?
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