North Texas may be home to two of the state’s biggest cities, but only one has a distinctive country-meets-city vibe that locals and visitors alike love: Fort Worth. Originally settled in 1849, Fort Worth was initially an outpost on the Trinity River for westbound settlers. It’s a little more than 30 miles from downtown Dallas to downtown Fort Worth, and the cities, while both unique and fun in their own ways, have their own distinct personalities that set them apart from one another.
Sometimes called Panther City, Fort Worth has a reputation in the area as being the lazier of the two booming cities. In fact, according to local legend, about 150 years ago a Dallas attorney who was not a fan of Fort Worth commented that he saw a panther asleep on the streets of downtown Fort Worth and the locals were so lazy and indifferent that they wouldn’t even chase it off. The City of Fort Worth now uses the panther as a mascot and a symbol of strength, turning what was meant as an insult into a badge of honor.
If a trip to Panther City (or Cowtown, or Fort Worth) is in your future, here a few spots that will enable you to truly soak up the ambiance of this charming city.
Six fun things to do in Fort Worth, Texas
- Go boot-scooting at the world’s biggest honky tonk, Billy Bob’s Texas. First opened in 1981, Billy Bob’s is the place to go for fun any night of the week. Catch live music with some of today’s biggest stars on the big stage, grab a bite to eat and something cold to drink, shop at the gift shop, watch live bull riding and much more. Billy Bob’s blends Fort Worth hospitality with a laidback vibe that you won’t soon forget.
- Take a stroll down Mule Alley in the Fort Worth Stockyards. This new development in the city’s beloved Stockyards provides entertainment, food and shopping with a distinctly western feel. Visitors can shop for cowboy boots, eat delicious ice cream, sit down for a yummy meal- the list goes on. Don’t be fooled by the country-sounding name of this popular spot, all the attractions that will lure you to Mule Alley are distinctively high-end and worth a visit.
- Wander your way through Fort Worth’s well-known Sundance Square. This area of town offers up a number of spots to stop and grab a bite to eat that includes well-known chains and unique-to-Fort Worth eateries. Boutiques with unique wares will encourage you to find a souvenir to remind you of your trip, and Sundance Square’s free and open-to-the-public programming, including movie night and live music is and more will have you coming back again and again.
- Learn about the important cowgirls of the Wild West at the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame. This museum is dedicated to the women who were pioneers in their time, paving the path for today’s cowgirls. See what they wore, learn about their journeys and experience and interact with the exhibits here. If ever there was a spot designed to celebrate how far women have come in the US, this is it.
- Visit the city in January to experience the world-famous Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo. Since 1896, the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo has been uniting people for days on end who want to watch some bull riding, do some shopping and have some fun. This three-week long event offers fun for the whole family, including a kids’ area, livestock shows, live music and more. This event only happens once a year so be sure to get your tickets early if you do decide to go.
- See a cattle drive and ride a mechanical bull to really soak up the ambiance of Fort Worth. Cattle drives through the Stockyards happen twice daily- at 11:30 am and 4 pm and are free to watch. Fun for all ages, this event really captures the flavor of Fort Worth. Then try your hand at the mechanical bull located in the Fort Worth Stockyards. Think you have what it takes to be a real cowboy? Prove it, partner.
Fort Worth lodging
Once you’ve spent a day living out your cowboy dreams, you’ll want a soft spot to kick off your spurs and stay a while. For this, you should check out West Bay Marina RV Park at Eagle Mountain Lake. Located about 30 minutes from the Fort Worth Stockyards, West Bay Marina RV Park is the perfect spot to enjoy the lake and the country within easy driving distance of laidback Fort Worth. You can rent a spot for your RV as well as a boat so you can hang out on the lake all day and then two-step the night away at Billy Bob’s Texas. Talk about a getaway you won’t soon forget!