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Kicking It Up in Cowtown

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Fort Worth, Texas, is a great choice for a fun weekend getaway.  

By Niki Jones, Photos by Carrin Welch

The Stockyards

To get right into the vibe of Fort Worth, also known as Cowtown, head straight to the famous Fort Worth Stockyards, making sure to arrive with plenty of time to see the cattle drive, during which Texas longhorns led by genuine Texas cowboys make their way along Main Street.

Wander up and down the Stockyards’ East Exchange Avenue, stop in the many Texas-themed shops and pick up a pair of boots at M.L. Leddy’s, a boot store that has been in the Stockyards since 1941. Enjoy a cold beer at one of the many old-style saloons that line the strip, like Filthy McNasty’s Saloon, or opt for a glass of wine at Cowtown Winery.

So, you didn’t find the perfect pair of boots but still want a Stockyards souvenir? For $5, you can have your photo taken atop a real longhorn. Pro tip: They don’t love to be kissed!

Heim Barbeque

As the sun goes down, a decision must be made: Shall you stay for the rodeo or head to downtown for dinner?

If you stay for the Stockyards Championship Rodeo, which takes place every Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Cowtown Coliseum, grab a wood-fired steak or some spit-roasted suckling pig at Hunter Brothers’ H3 Ranch, or some brisket at Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que.

After the rodeo, you can two-step the night away at Lil’ Red’s Longhorn Saloon, or if you’re seeking a larger venue, you can’t get beat Billy Bob’s Texas, a Fort Worth favorite. Fulfill your Urban Cowboy dreams by riding the mechanical bull.

If heading back downtown is your choice, the Sheraton Fort Worth Downtown Hotel, a 12-story, centrally located, comfortable property in the Convention District, is a good choice. The rooms are spacious, the staff is friendly and the rates are very reasonable.  

Before you leave, make sure you’ve dined at Reata Restaurant. The smoked pork shank with black-eyed peas is outstanding, and on weekends, the restaurant features a different specialty game dish. The pan-seared duck with sweet potato au gratin is to die for. Cocktails and desserts are equally stellar, and the icing on the cake is Reata’s rooftop bar with sweeping views of downtown Fort Worth.

To continue soaking in the city, go for a stroll at Sundance Square, where people of all ages gather to sit, relax, drink coffee and watch the fountain-and-light show, which is absolutely mesmerizing.

The Modern

A few blocks over is Thompson’s Bookstore, a unique bar in a historic building that features next-level craft cocktails. A secret entrance and a password will gain you entrance to the basement speakeasy.

Saturday is a perfect day to hit  The Clearfork Farmers Market, which runs from 8 a.m. until noon, at The Trailhead at Clearfork.

Fort Worth has some world-class museums, so make sure you stop by The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, usually referred to as just The Modern. Pro tip: Arrive at 10 a.m., when the museum opens, to avoid the crowds. Appreciate the permanent collections, but don’t miss the temporary exhibitions. Relax by the reflecting pool as you refuel with a delicious beet, orange and fennel salad from the onsite Café Modern. And don’t forget to exit through the gift shop.

Across the street, easily within walking distance of The Modern, is the Kimbell Art Museum. Opened in 1972, the museum has an extensive collection which includes Asian, European, American, African and ancient art.

Recharge back at the hotel before Ubering over to Near Southside, an up-and-coming district just south of downtown, and take your time strolling up and down West Magnolia Avenue.   

If there’s not too long of a line at Heim Barbecue, take advantage and give it a try. Don’t miss out on the sausage, twice-baked potato salad and green chili mac ’n’ cheese.

Brewed is a cute, kitschy spot offering a little of everything, from coffee drinks to craft beer and all-day breakfast. But if you’d like a cocktail instead, keep heading east to Proper, an intimate, artsy space with an impressive craft-cocktail menu.

The Usual

Another bar offering some next-level concoctions is The Usual, a modern, minimalistic space with friendly bartenders and a truly unique drink menu. Try the Unconventional Wisdom, a drink with bison-grass-infused vodka, sage, molasses and lemon.

For late-night munchies, nothing beats The Bearded Lady, a gastropub with lots of outdoor seating.

Sundays are for sleeping in, but when you’re ready to head out for your final day in Fort Worth, swing by the Sheraton’s restaurant, The Chef’s Table, and pick up a couple wraps and a slice of walnut carrot cake to go.

Cross the street and you’ll hit the stunning Fort Worth Water Gardens. Designed by well-known architect Philip Johnson, the park has three different water features: an aerated pool, a still pool and a large, terraced, cascading pool. The park, which sits right in the middle of an urban area, feels separate from the rest of the city, and is the perfect spot for a picnic before heading back to Austin.

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