Things to Do in Fort Worth Stockyards
If you really want to get a taste of Texas, spend a weekend in the gritty Fort Worth Stockyards, just 10 minutes from Downtown Fort Worth. It's a historic district that'll make you feel like you're walking onto the set of an old western film where nearly everyone's in character—dressed in cowboy hats, boots with spurs, and, occasionally, on horseback.
Because the Historic Stockyards District is so compact, 2 or 3 days or a long weekend is plenty of time to explore.
Where to Stay in the stockyards
When I travel, I love to visit towns with character, places that are easy to describe and hard to forget. So, when possible, I prefer to skip the hotel chains and opt for a boutique experience. In Fort Worth, your best bet, if you're looking for authenticity, is the Stockyards Hotel, a small hotel that's been in operation since 1907 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. For over a century, they've been charming guests like George Strait; Chuck Norris, aka Walker, Texas Ranger; and even the outlaw duo Bonnie and Clyde.
Every room in the Stockyards Hotel is themed. You can pick from classic rooms, like the one I stayed in above called "The Native American," deluxe rooms, signature rooms, or premier suites. If you want to retrace the footsteps of the infamous Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, hotel guests in 1933, book the "The Bonnie and Clyde."
The Stockyards Hotel, 109 East Exchange Ave, Fort Worth, TX 76164, stockyardshotel.com
What to Do in the stockyards
Whether you want to shop, sightsee or down a few margs to cool off, everything to see and do in the Stockyards is within walking distance of the Stockyards Hotel. To snap an obligatory tourist photo, you can carefully climb on a massive Texas longhorn right outside the Live Stock Exchange. The Live Stock Exchange, dubbed "The Wall Street of the West" in its heyday, put Fort Worth on the map when it was built in 1902 to house cattle traders.
To get a sense of what the district was like in it's prime, watch a real live cattle drive. The cows stampede down Exchange Avenue, corraled by drovers—men and women on horseback—twice daily at 11:30 am and 4:30 pm (weather permitting). There's no fee to watch, just stand on the lawn of the Live Stock Exchange or take a seat on any of the patios along the street.
The Herd Cattle Drive, Exchange Avenue, Fort Worth, TX 76164, fortworth.com/the-herd
To experience nature and still see skyline views, head to Stockyards Stables. A guide will lead you down Old Chisholm Trail, a horse and walking path, dotted with cactuses and wildflowers, that parallels the Trinity River. If you can stand the heat, you can choose from a 30-minute or an hour loop, down the trail and back to the stables.
Stockyards Stables Horseback Riding, 157 E Exchange Ave Fort Worth, Texas 76164, fortworthstockyardsstables.com
Where to Eat in the stockyards
Two things you absolutely can't miss when eating in Texas? Solid steak and Tex-Mex. And with three locations, Los Vaqueros is a Fort Worth favorite for Mexican food with a Texas twist. With vines growing up the side of the restaurant's brick exterior, the food isn't the only thing that'll catch your eye. The place has serious curb appeal.
Order a margarita to sip on while snacking on the complimentary chips and salsa, then go for one of their specialties. I tried steak and chicken fajitas (a classic, I know) and loved every mouth-watering bite of it. The platter arrives smoking hot to the table with fresh, corn tortillas, Spanish rice, and Frijoles a la Charra.
Los Vaqueros, 2629 North Main Street, Fort Worth, Texas 76164, losvaqueros.com
Ok, so while Town and Hearth isn't in Fort Worth, it's a short drive down the road in Dallas' Design District and is one of the swankiest steakhouses I've ever been to. There are dozens of chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, a yellow submarine submerged in the fish tank, a '74 Ducati motorcycle hoisted above the bar (and listed on the menu for a mere $75k), and a sports car in the kitchen.
Don't be fooled by the bright lights, Town and Hearth is a show stopper when it comes to food, too. Like most fine-dining steakhouses, everything is a la carte and the portions are huge. To split, I ordered Cauliflower 'a la Plancha, roasted in brown butter and topped with parmesan; a white cheddar Macaroni Casserole; Roasted Corn, elote style; and the In-House Spaghetti, served with a charred tomato ragu. And, as if that wasn't enough, the 16 oz. Delmonico ribeye. Perfection!
Town and Hearth, 1617 Market Center Blvd, Dallas, TX 75207