Old meets new: Explore classic Western heritage with a contemporary twist in Fort Worth


When cowboy poet Arthur Chapman described Fort Worth as ‘Where the West Begins’ in 1921, he wouldn’t have known this line would become the city’s official motto. And with cowboy culture is still well and truly thriving and there are plenty of ways to get a taste of the true American Wild West.

Fort Worth is the scene of the iconic cattle herding Chisholm Trail Route – the central mover of Texan beef, running all the way through the city centre. This cowboy country town is a central part of America’s Western heritage – only now, it comes with a contemporary twist.

History meets modernity at the Stockyards

For a truly memorable stay, immerse yourself in the pioneering spirit at rustic-luxe Hotel Drover

(Visit Fort Worth)

Start by slipping on your cowboy boots and making your way to the 21st-century Stockyards National Historic District, where you can see the cowboys versus the bulls and broncs at a weekly rodeo show. Later, get up close to the world’s only cattle drive at the Fort Worth Herd. Here, you can try a traditional Texas-style cuisine at Hunter Brothers H3 Ranch, where you can dine on dishes like tomahawk pork chop with mashed sweet potatoes and rich maple butter.

For a stay that taps into the pioneering spirit of the West, Hotel Drover boasts rustic-luxe rooms and suites set in the heart of the historic Fort Worth stockyards, as well as 97 West Kitchen and Bar where you can indulge in adventurous takes on American classics from seared redfish to stockyards style ribs and carpetbagger steak.

Nearby at Mule Alley, you can enjoy a wealth of boutiques, restaurants, bars and live music venues in beautifully restored and converted brick horse and mule barns, with a market style feel, and pick up classic Western items, from Lucchese luxury cowboy boots to Wrangler jeans. Finally, foodies should also make a pilgrimage to one (or all) of local chef Tim Love’s restaurants to experience his signature Urban Western cuisine at Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, Atico and Paloma Suerte.

Creativity and culture in Cowtown

Visit the Modern Art Museum to catch contemporary art in a stunning setting

(Visit Fort Worth)

It’s not all cowboys and cattle in Fort Worth, there’s also a booming creative scene supported by world-class art institutions and museums. The internationally acclaimed Kimbell Art Museum houses collections by legendary artists Michelangelo, Carvaggio, Monet, Matisse and more. But it’s the architectural design of the 1972-built museum that attracts building buffs from all over the world – with many recognising it as one of the most impressive architectural landmarks of the modern era. The striking structure of the Modern Art Museum is similarly impressive on the eye, and houses more than 3000 contemporary works, including Andy Warhol, Francis Bacon, Claes Oldenburg and Roy Lichtenstein.

If you want to delve deeper into Fort Worth’s Western heritage, the Sid Richardson Museum displays historic works of Western Art that reflect a time and spirit of the region. While the ladies of the West are honoured at the National Cowgirl Museum – a dedication to the strong-spirited women who helped shape local culture as we know it today.

A backdrop for blockbuster movies

From urban metropolitan to Old Western scenery, Fort Worth’s diverse range of settings has made it a popular filming choice for blockbuster movies, commercials and TV shows for the past 100 years. From classics such as Logan’s Run (where you can spot the spot The Fort Worth Water Gardens) to long-running TV shows like Walker, Texas Ranger (which features The Tarrant County Courthouse and The White Elephant Saloon) to recent hits like The Old Man and the Gun starring Robert Redford, 12 Mighty Orphans starring Robert Duvall and Luke Wilson, Miss Juneteenth (created by Fort Worth native Channing Godfrey Peoples), and recent Paramount+ show 1883 (from another Fort Worth writer/director, Taylor Sheridan), the city has lent its backdrop to top notch drama that’s been broadcast worldwide. Film-buffs might want to,plan their trip so it coincides with the Lone Star Film Festival – this year taking place at the Stockyards – which features screenings, film talks, and parties.

Two-stepping and Texas Country

With everyone from country star John Denver to pop idol Kelly Clarkson and grammy-nominated soul singer Leon Bridges hailing from the area, music is another key element of the Fort Worth experience. Fort Worth was designated the first-music friendly city in Texas by the Texas Music Office, Office of the Governor in 2017, and its music scene is on par with its brilliant movie reputation, and you’ll find some of the most legendary music venues in North Texas here.

For classic Texas country music, locals hit up Pearl’s located in the Stockyard District – a former brothel transformed into a Texas-style dance hall which makes an excellent spot to try your hand at two-stepping. Or head to Billy Bob’s Texas, once an open-air barn used to house prize cattle, refurbished beautifully as the world’s largest honky tonk venue which has, in its 41-year history hosted the biggest stars in country music and classic rock from Alabama to ZZ Top, complete with its own Wall of Fame and fascinating memorabilia.

If you want to fill your ears with local talent, Lola’s Saloon hosts live performances every night of the week. It’s also been known to attract more well-known bands that happen to be touring through the city, too. So, you never know who might be swinging by.

Dining Downtown in the Lone Star State

Hit the Stockyards for a night exploring the Fort Worth food scene

(Visit Fort Worth)

From mouth-watering Tex-Mex tacos and tenderloin tamales to German-style pancakes and chicken fried-steaks; the food in Fort Worth is a blend of Texas ingredients and flavours from all around the world. Don your fancy attire for steak and cocktails at modern steakhouse Clay Pigeon Food and Drink or get a taste of farm-to-table Southern-Creole-Mexican fare at Bonnell’s. Here you can feast on the likes of Texas shrimp and grits, chipotle mashed potatoes, and cinnamon-sugar crusted buttermilk pie.

For a luxury take on American comfort food, head to Provender Hall in the Stockyards and sample their chopped beef sandwich, chicken fried steak or southern grain shrimp bowl, or enjoy Mexican al fresco on the pretty patio at Joe T Garcia’s, tree-lined and complete with its own water feature for an idyllic evening out.

Discover more must-experience Fort Worth sights, activities and places to stay at Visit Fort Worth

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