My daughter is now a college freshman at TCU in Ft. Worth, TX so I have found myself in this city quite a bit lately. It’s coming full circle for me since my parents lived there when my mother was pregnant. Until we went to check out TCU this past February, I had not been back. I’ve now been 6 times in as many months and I love it more each time I go. I’ve always been a lover of and frequent traveler to Dallas but I encourage you, if you find yourself in the DFW Metroplex, to give Ft. Worth a try as well. You’ll be glad you did.
1) I could do an entire list on Ft. Worth’s art scene alone. Museums and galleries abound in “Cowtown”! Exceptional ones. World-class stuff, people. But for this list I’m going to tell you to go to the Museum of Modern Art. It’s an absolutely incredible place. The museum is surrounded by a crystal-clear reflecting pool that is stunning. Peaceful. Gorgeous, really. And to reach it, you really need to pass through the museum restaurant, The Modern Grill. The mid-century architecture makes me feel like I’ve stepped back in time. I’ve heard the food is great but haven’t had a chance to sample it myself. You should plan your visit to coincide with lunch.
This is one of my favorite installations at the museum & your children will be fascinated at every turn. These bands of letters move constantly and as you can see, the installation looks out on the reflecting pool.
You can actually plan a day of museum hopping without ever leaving a three-block area. Right next to the Museum of Modern Art is The Kimbell Museum & the Amon Carter Museum of American Art.
2) Eat lunch or dinner at Joe T Garcia’s ! It’s a fabulous restaurant near the Stockyards. Legend has it that it’s the oldest Mexican restaurant in the Lone Star State. Our daughter took us there recently on Family Weekend and we were impressed. There are three choices on the menu: Beef Fajitas, Chicken Fajitas and the “Family Dinner”. Trust me, you don’t need anything else. The chips and salsa are excellent and we had a pitcher of strawberry margaritas that disappeared almost as soon as our adorable, attentive waitress delivered it to our table. Aside from the food, the outdoor seating area is HUGE and it’s like eating in a botanical garden! Lush foliage, fountains and water features abound. And we were even serenaded at our table.
3) The Coyote Drive-In. Their slogan is “Fort Worth is bringing back the drive-in!” That’s because people in Ft. Worth seem to have a wonderful pulse on what’s cool and seem well-versed on how to get things done. One trip downtown will leave you with this incredible sense that you are in a progressive place that is at once aware of what it takes to move ahead and conscious of not letting go of the past. You will find the Coyote Drive-In on the banks of the Trinity River on the edge of downtown. There are 5 screens, a beer garden and I recently read that Ft. Worth’s first outdoor ice rink will be added. Reviews are good. They show kid’s movies too and what kid doesn’t need to experience a drive-in movie? Read more about the Coyote here.
4) Check out the Ft. Worth Water Gardens, also downtown but on the opposite end from the Coyote. I was staying at the downtown Sheraton in September and this is right across the street. There are three distinct features: a reflecting pool (huge!), a pool with fountains, called the “aeration” pool and a fountain that is like an inverted pyramid that you can actually climb down in. It’s a fun place for kids to explore or, depending on which pool you choose and what time of day you’re there, a really peaceful place to hang out and enjoy a few moments alone. These pictures show the three different features:
5) In the fall, don some purple & catch a Texas Christian University “Horned Frog” football game at the recently renovated Amon G. Carter Stadium. It’s impressive. You might run into baseball great, Nolan Ryan watching the Frogs play. The stadium was renovated completely between the 2010 and 2012 seasons, totally funded by donors with no bonds or debt. Great care was taken to build the stadium into the ground so the Robert Carr Chapel spire would remain the tallest building on the TCU campus. It’s a beautiful place. Just learn the Horned Frog sign and school cheer before you go:
Rif Ram, Bah Zoo
Lickety, Lickety, Zoo, Zoo
Who, Wah, Wah, Who
Give Em Hell, TCU!
(It makes no sense to me either. Just learn it.)
6) Catch a musical, play, symphony performance, concert……..SOMETHING, at Bass Performance Hall. Just checking the current schedule, you can catch a variety of events/performers: Clint Black, David Sedaris, Ft. Worth Symphony, Band of Heathens, Tony & Tina’s Wedding, the Doobie Brothers, Hungarian Folk Ensemble, etc. The list goes on and the facility itself is blindingly beautiful inside as well as outside. See?
Maybe before or after, you can enjoy a good meal at Ferre, an Italian chophouse right across the street!
7) Buy yourself some real, leather cowboy boots. One of my favorite western stores is Maverick Fine Western Wear & Saloon in the Stockyards. You can find boots in any color or style, with stitching in myriad colors, in ostrich-skin, snakeskin, calfskin, etc. In Fort Worth, you can spend $300 on your boots or you can spend $5000. I didn’t know that either but yes, you can.
8) Visit the Stockyards! When I first began coming to Ft. Worth, I thought, “Why would I want my hotel to be beside the stockyards? I’m not a cattle farmer!” Then on one of my many trips, my daughter and I decided to venture over that way because, after all, JR and Jock Ewing traded cattle there. Might as well see what the Stockyards look like. I’ll admit that, yes, it’s a bit touristy. But it’s just a really, really fun place to be. There are lots of restaurants to choose from, a hotel or two (highly recommend the Hyatt Place – Stockyards), twice daily cattle drives, horseback rides, a weekend rodeo and should you so desire, on Sunday, you can attend Cowboy Church. I could do an entire entry on the Stockyards and it’s such a great place to go with kids. We actually stayed at the Hyatt I linked to above on our last trip and it was a wonderful experience. Except I forgot my swimsuit and the pool is perfection.
9) Enjoy a meal at Reata downtown in Sundance Square. A Texas tornado destroyed the original location in 2000 but it’s back at 310 Houston St. and better than ever. With four stories and 20,000 square feet plus a huge menu, you can’t help but leave satisfied. The menu is inspired by real cowboy cooking and the Stacked Chicken Enchiladas will not disappoint. Dine on the roof or at least go up for a drink before you leave to explore the rest of the Square.
10) Explore the West 7th Corridor! This is one of my very favorite areas of Fort Worth! It’s near the museum district so if you enjoy lunch at the Museum of Modern Art, you can have a wonderful dinner here. It’s walking distance. (But should you drive — there is plenty of parking in the parking structures.) There’s even a Movie Tavern, if you’d like to catch a movie and have a drink too. Shop at WRARE, a unique home furnishings store. I wanted so much of what they had to offer, but Chuck was along too. I did make it home with a very neat metal “B” to add to my collection. There are sooo many restaurants, which you can see using the link above. Be sure to end your night at Sweet Sammie’s, an ice cream shop where you can create your own giant ice cream cookie sandwich. Yet another thing in Ft. Worth that your kids will thank you for.
I’m a firm believer that every city has a lot to offer if you look hard enough, but you won’t need to look long in Ft. Worth. The dining scene is stellar. The cultural district and the area surrounding TCU offers museums and a zoo plus too much shopping to even get started in a weekend! Hotel rooms abound and I’ve scored some amazing deals on Priceline. I look forward to each trip because I know I’m going to discover something new. With our daughter living there for the next four years, you can expect more posts on “Cowtown” in the future. In the meantime, take your family and check it out for yourself.