Aerial view of downtown Fort Worth

Welcome to Fort Worth! (Photo: Getty Images)

Weekend Getaways

Plan Your 72-Hour Trip to Fort Worth, Texas

Fort Worth, Texas, is a city of almost a million people that still feels like a charming small town. It pays homage to its cattle-ranching history at the Fort Worth Stockyards Historic District, where there are twice-daily cattle drives. But these days, there’s more to Fort Worth than ranching, roping and bull riding.

It’s a vibrant cultural hub filled with art museums, independent galleries and fine-dining restaurants. Each year it hosts the world famous Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. And the city, the 12th-largest in the U.S., has a much-loved football team — and a whole lot of hometown pride.

As always, check for travel restrictions and closures before planning your trip.

Friday: Learn How Cowtown Earned Its Nickname

Sign for Fort Worth Stock Yards
Take in a history lesson at the Fort Worth Stockyards Historic District. (Photo: Getty Images)

In the early 1900s, Fort Worth was a major livestock-trading hub where cattle, sheep and hogs were brought to market. Millions of longhorn cattle, in particular, were driven through so-called “Cowtown” every year. Now, the 98-acre Fort Worth Stockyards Historic District tells that story — and so much more.

Start your history lesson with breakfast at the Biscuit Bar, owned by a husband-and-wife team whose simple belief is that “everything’s better on a biscuit.” You’ll be a convert after tucking into the pulled-pork biscuit or the FABB (that’s figs, arugula, bacon and Brie) and — well, just come see for yourself.

Take a guided walking tour for a deep dive into the history and present-day operations of this sprawling venue. Or simply spend a few hours ambling among the shows, animal-viewing areas and stores.

Do step aside (literally) to watch the twice-daily Fort Worth Herd Cattle Drive, which sends gorgeous longhorns down the thoroughfare — to the tune of animals bawling, hoofbeats pounding and spurs jingling. It’s quite a sight.

Looking to try out your own rodeo skills? We thought so. Luckily, today’s lunch spot, Billy Bob’s Texas has a mechanical bull (just maybe hop on before you eat).

Because this is Fort Worth, the self-proclaimed “world’s largest honky-tonk” has a storied history of its own, starting out as a rowdy cowboy-themed nightclub in 1981. Today the Honky Tonk Kitchen serves up such heaping platters of rib-eye, chicken-fried steak and barbecue ribs that you might need to find a Western-wear store (that won’t be hard) and buy a bigger belt.

For a softer side of town, head to Fort Worth’s Near Southside, a rapidly redeveloping neighborhood just south of downtown. This area is home to a glass-blowing school, a vinyl record store and plenty of locally owned restaurants, breweries and boutiques. There’s even a vodka distillery and a whiskey and cigar lounge.

You’ll have ample time to select a dinner spot in this happening area, but a local favorite is Fixture Kitchen & Social Lounge, for modern Texan cuisine. For post-supper fun, check out the micro-brewed ales and live music at HopFusion Ale Works.

Saturday: Get Your Fill of Art, Rodeo and Tex-Mex

Grab breakfast at the hotel, then take yourself on a museum crawl through one of the most walkable neighborhoods in town.

The cultural district is home to the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, the Kimbell Arts Museum and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, each of which has been recognized for architecture as well as art. And traveling among them is literally a walk through a gorgeous park. Prefer two wheels? Bike-sharing stations are available along the route.

Keep the artistic theme rolling by stopping for lunch inside the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth at Café Modern. The interiors are lofty and hushed. The changing, experimental menu features a vegan risotto-like vegetable dish made with farro (a “farrotto”) but also simple-but-delicious soups and burgers.

And, charmingly, the chef offers milk and cookies for dessert, along with a house-made red velvet whoopie pie.

Cowboy on kicking horse at rodeo
Catch some entertainment at the rodeo. (Photo: Getty Images)

Next up: action of a different sort altogether. If it’s early in the year, make sure to stop by the Will Rogers Memorial Center to see the nation’s top riders and ropers in action at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo.

The event traces its history to 1896 and takes place over 23 days each winter. Expect live music, livestock and bull riding — all performed by some of the best in the business (and that characterization applies to both the two-legged and four-legged stars).

For dinner, head to Joe T. Garcia’s for Tex-Mex. Butcher Joe T. Garcia opened his first restaurant in 1935.

At the time, he was selling barbecue and smoked meats in front of his house. Nowadays, his namesake restaurant is best known for family-style Tex-Mex dinners that include nachos, enchiladas, tacos, rice, beans, guacamole and tortillas. Fajitas, Mexican sodas and a variety of margaritas are also on the menu.

Sunday: Tour a Stadium and a Square

In Texas, Sundays are for pro football. Consider heading to nearby Arlington to catch a football game or even tour this amazing stadium if it’s not a game day. And the attractions here are not only grid-iron focused.

The world’s largest domed structure has much more inside — a guided Art Tour is offered, as well as the VIP Guided Tour, which takes you behind the scenes, into the press box, post-game interview area, VIP seating and more.

Arlington also has the River Legacy Living Science Center and the park surrounding it with walking and biking trails.

After Arlington, head back to town to the pedestrian-friendly Sundance Square, a vibrant entertainment district in the decidedly-not-businessy heart of downtown Fort Worth.

Stop first for lunch at Riscky’s, a local favorite since 1927 and the self-proclaimed “best darn barbecue this side of anywhere.” You be the judge — but do start with the fried pickles and a plate of “Blazing Buzzard Wings” to share. From there, consider the “Texas Gobbler” sandwich or chopped beef brisket sandwich (and Riscky’s famous bread pudding for dessert).

Next, wander Sundance Square, checking out the schedule at the Bass Performance Hall — a live performance venue for Broadway shows, ballet and more, known for its 48-foot-high limestone angels and excellent acoustics.

Stop by the Sid Richardson Museum, where a Western art collection is displayed. The Square itself hosts public events, and it’s surrounded by galleries, restaurants, bars and Western-wear shops.

Red cocktail in glass with orange twist
Toast to a great trip! (Photo: Marriott International)

For your last meal in Fort Worth, ascend 17 floors to the top of the Sinclair, an art deco hotel with a rooftop bar and terrace. This elegant building is also one of the tallest around, with sweeping views over Sundance Square and the glittering lights of downtown and beyond. Stay for dinner at Wicked Butcher for (literally) elevated surf and turf.