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FORT WORTH, TEXAS
Stefan Ugljevarevic / Shutterstock.comFORT WORTH, TEXAS

The best things to do in Fort Worth, Texas

Stockyards, gardens, and museums make up some of the best things to do in Fort Worth right now. Welcome to Texan Texas.

James Wong
Written by
James Wong
Contributor
Justine Harrington
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First time in Fort Worth and searching for the best things to see, do and experience? You’ve come to the right place. Cowtown, as it’s affectionately known, is your one-stop-shop for all things old-school Texas. This is the Texas you imagine it to be, the one in the movies (old movies, that is!).

Though Fort Worth is frequently overshadowed by Dallas, those arriving in DFW should factor in a couple of days in this delectable city. Why? Firstly, it is deep-rooted in cowboy culture and Old Western heritage meaning fascinating museums and historic mom-and-pop stores specializing in boots and cowboy hats. Second, this is the fifth-largest city in the state, so there is plenty to keep the family entertained, including shopping, galleries, restaurants, and gorgeous green spaces. Time to add Fort Worth to your Texan itinerary—here’s what to do there.

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Best things to do in Fort Worth

Situated downtown, right next to the Fort Worth Convention Center, the Fort Worth Water Gardens are perfect for those craving a quiet, nature-filled hideout away from all the hustle and bustle. Impeccably designed by Philip Johnson, the gardens are a true architectural feat: there are modernist pools, cascading waterfalls, terraces, and a central plaza, but the highlight is undoubtedly the Active Pool, where water rushes down steep, stone steps to a sunken gorge below. Perfect at any time of year.

One of the most revered American art museums in the country, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art opened in 1961 under the will of the late Amon G. Carter, the founder and publisher of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Today, this state-renowned museum houses more than 200,000 objects, including oil paintings, rare books, sculptures, and an incredible photography collection. Best of all? It’s free. Before you go, look at their calendar of events for mixers, tours, and family days.

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Easily the most famous (and photographed) attraction in town, the Fort Worth Stockyards is a historic cattle district steeped in longtime cowboy tradition; now a hub for live entertainment, including rodeos, concerts, and shootout shows. This is where to get a rich insight into Fort Worth’s Wild West culture and its famous livestock industry—the city used to be known as “Cowtown” due to being one of the biggest stockyards and processing operations in the West. Strolling through the Stockyards is akin to stepping back in time. Don’t miss the free twice-daily cattle drive starring their iconic Texas Longhorns.

Located in the Cultural District, the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History contains several awesome science and history exhibits, a planetarium, and an IMAX Dome, which features a 120-foot screen. Adults and children alike are bound to thoroughly enjoy this museum and its dazzling variety of immersive, hands-on exhibits. Catch a show in the Omni Theater, the IMAX Dome, and pass the time in the Noble Planetarium, which offers dynamic views of the night sky, the galaxy, and beyond.

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Art and architecture fans should not miss the Kimbell, whose permanent collection is one of the best in the country, if not the world. Designed by famed architect Louis Kahn, this world-class art museum boasts a top-notch collection of masterpieces by Matisse, Picasso, Rembrandt, Goya, and dozens of others. Apart from the artwork, the building itself is often referred to as one of the most notable works of architecture of the 20th century. Glorious!

Sundance Square, a 35-block entertainment and residential district in downtown Fort Worth is the city’s foremost destination for dining, shopping, and enjoying a cocktail or two (or three). It’s one of the most walkable urban areas in Texas (or elsewhere), and you’re super spoilt for choice with pit stops: there are hundreds of bars, restaurants, boutiques, and galleries in beautifully restored historic buildings. After exploring, relax in scenic Hyde Park, Burnett Park, or the ever-popular Sundance Square Plaza, which hosts live music on weekends.

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The Fort Worth Botanic Garden is the oldest botanic garden in the whole of Texas; complete with 2,500 plant species and 23 specialty gardens, this is a peaceful haven conveniently located in Fort Worth’s Cultural District. You’ll step onto an enchanting world comprised of 109 acres of lush greenery, specialty garden spaces, sweeping city vistas, a garden conservatory, and several winding footpaths. Be sure to check out the Rose Garden, which features over 2,000 roses, and the Japanese Garden, a gorgeous space with sculpted hillsides, bamboo, bridges, colorful cherry trees, waterfalls, and koi ponds.

Modern art aficionados will love exploring the Modern. This gallery is a remarkable collection of contemporary artworks that span various movements (Abstract Expressionism, Pop, Minimalism, and New Image Painting), all displayed in a spectacular glass-and-concrete building designed by architect Tadao Ando. Discover works by prominent artists like Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, meander through special exhibitions and pause to admire the building’s truly unique architecture. Then, take a coffee break in Café Modern’s dining room, set on the museum’s picturesque reflecting pond.

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Featuring prairies, forests, and wetlands, the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge covers more than 3,600 acres and is home to over 20 miles of walking trails. For travelers who’ve had their fill of city life and want a quick dose of nature, the center is a must-visit. Located just 10 miles from downtown Fort Worth, the beautiful park and outdoor education center is home to bison, alligators, prairie dogs, and other diverse local flora and fauna.

Having opened in 1909 with just six species (some of which were rabbits), Fort Worth Zoo has stuck its ground and become a major tourist attraction, as well as earning the title of oldest continuously run zoo in Texas. Today they have over 7,000 national and exotic creatures, a petting enclosure, a rock climbing wall, a hurricane simulator, and a miniature train that runs between the Safari Depot and Texas Wild attraction. Open year-round, come by on Wednesday if you want to save some cash—tickets are half price.

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