Fort Worth Travel Guide

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Fort Worth Travel Guide

Fort Worth Local History

It started with a fort. In 1849, the North Texas plains were home to a few scattered settlements and a handful of now forgotten Indian tribes. To help fill up the vast empty areas, colonization companies had been granted generous charters by the state legislature to settle colonies. The companies proved unsuccessful. In another attempt to establish control over North Texas, the Republic attempted to set up a line of "Ranger" (militia) stations on the frontier. When Ranger stations proved inadequate, the U.S. Army stepped in and took over the job of watching the frontier. Adopting a "picket line" strategy of establishing forts every hundred miles, stretching from Rio Grande to the Red River.

In 1849, Fort Graham represented the northern anchor of the defensive line; leaving a hundred-and-thirty mile gap up to the Red River that was a blind spot in the state's defenses. To extend the line farther north and close that gap. Major Ripley Arnold was sent, in 1850, to find a suitable site for a new fort. They rode west to a spot near the confluence of the Clear and West forks of the Trinity River. There, at the end of May, they planted their flag on the future site of Fort Worth. During the few years that Fort Worth stood guard on the Trinity , a small civilian community grew up in the comforting shadow of the Fort. When the Army rode out in September 1853, the settlers promptly moved in and took over. The small frontier post was transformed almost over-night into a small frontier village.

It struggled for the next 2 decades, but in 1859 the citizens built the first county courthouse (completion was delayed by the Civil War until 1867). The War nearly killed off the town by calling many of the young men away to fight, but they came back after the war and rebuilt the town. They staked their hope for the future on cattle drives and the railroad. Gradually Fort Worth grew into a city after it became the undisputed railroad center of the Southwest. In 1880 the city took an ever-increasing role in the slaughtering and shipping of Texas beef. After the discovery of oil, the economy boomed and people streamed in Fort Worth.

Fort Worth Attractions

Fort Worth Shopping

You are in luck if you're looking for Western clothing and souvenirs of the city's cow town history. Fort Worth has plenty of authentic Western fashions, antiques, art, and souvenirs, many found in shops inhabiting historic quarters.

Cowtown Antiques - You'll find Western antiques, vintage clothing, chaps and saddles, mounts and hides, and those loveable antler chandeliers. 2400 N. Main St. Tel: 817/626-4565.

M. L. Leddy's - It is one of the city's oldest Western wear shops and has fine cowboy duds like handmade belts, formalwear, custom-made boots, and the best-selling top-of-the-line cowboy hats. 2455 N. Main at Exchange. Tel: 817/624-3149.

Ernest Tubb's Record Shop - Has a great stock of honky-tonk, cowboy, and country-and-western recordings, including old vinyl and hard-to-find stuff. This is a good place to visit if you are a music fan and everything comes at reasonable prices. 140 E. Exchange Ave. in Stockyards Station. Tel: 817/624-8449.

Fort Worth Activities

Texas Town in Stockyards Station - A theme park of sorts: an Old West hotel, bar, outhouse, and jail, as well as a vintage ride park, with an antique merry-go-round. Actors in chaps and vests enact High Noon gun duels. Nearby, kids can try to find their way through the Cowtown Cattlepen Maze, designed to resemble the cattle pens of the Old West. Young cowboys and cowgirls will enjoy horseback trail rides at the Stockyard Station Livery.Tel: 817/624-3446.

Fort Worth Zoo - The Zoo has a great layout of natural habitats and fantastic animals from around the world, and is one of the top zoos in the country. It has an African Savannah with endangered rhinos and giraffes, a Koala Outback with kangaroos, wallabies, and lazy koalas. Other attractions include Komodo dragons, lots of apes, orangutans and rainforest monkeys, and white tigers. Your children (and you!) will have a blast. Admission: $9 adults, $6.50 children ages 3-12, free for children under 2. Parking $5. Tel:817/759-7555.

The Tarantula Steam Train - The train makes the Trinity River Run, a 1-hour trip from Stockyards Station to 8th Avenue in Fort Worth, and another travels along the Chisholm Trail to the Cotton Belt Depot in historic Grapevine, Texas. To 8th Avenue, the train leaves the Stockyards on Saturday at noon and Sunday at 3pm (round-trip $10 adults, $9 seniors, $6 children ages 3-12). To Grapevine, trains leave the Stockyards Saturdays at 2pm and Sundays at 4:45pm, arriving in Grapevine an hour and 15 minutes later (round-trip $20 adults, $18 seniors, and $10 children ages 3-12). The train trip to Grapevine is more involved and interesting (as well as more expensive) than the one that ends in Forth Worth. Tel: 800/457-6338 or 817/625-RAIL for exact schedules.

Fort Worth Parks & Gardens

Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge - The 3,500-acre sanctuary is located just 10 miles from downtown Fort Worth. You'll see native wildlife and plants, including buffalo, white-tailed deer and Texas wildflowers, as you discover 25 miles of trails. The Hardwicke Interpretive Center includes nature programs, exhibits, and a library. 9601 Fossil Ridge Road. Tel: 817-237-1111.

Japanese Garden - This incredibly beautiful 7.5-acre garden is a haven of peaceful beauty, with waterfalls and pools filled with Koi fish surrounded by evergreen shrubs, trees, flowers and colorful foliage. 3220 Botanic Garden Boulevard at University Drive. Tel: 817-871-7686.

Fort Worth Botanical Garden - 109 acres of attractive gardens and natural settings, this spacious showcase houses more than 2,500 native and exotic species of plants. It is the oldest botanical garden in Texas and some of its highlights include the Texas Rose Garden, and a 10,000-square-foot conservatory of exotic plants and tropical trees from around the world. Free admission to gardens. 3220 Botanic Dr. Tel: 817/871-7689.

Fort Worth Restaurants and Bars

Great food, and lots of it. Cajun, German, Native-American, Mexican-you name it, it's all here. Tex-Mex is truly the best of two worlds. Rich with Mexican flavors and ingredients, teamed with Texas flair, Tex-Mex is only found in the Lone Star State. Menudo is a very special stew, made with vegetables (most notably, hominy) and "tripas," or cow stomach. Developed out of ingenuity to not waste any part of a cow, menudo is to Tex-Mex as chili is to the rest of Texan cuisine.

You can get great Tex-Mex all over the state, but get closer to the border and the South Texas Plains for what is considered to be the best. A tall glass of ice tea is the perfect beverage to accompany meals in Texas.

Fort Worth Restaurants

Angeluna - Facing the Bass Performance Hall, this chic restaurant draws people before and after theater and music performances. The eclectic fusion menu is hard to pin down. Dishes are New American, Asian, and Mediterranean. Appetizers include lobster dumplings and flash-fried calamari with "burnt chile" sweet-and-sour sauce. Gourmet pizzas baked in a wood-fired oven, are great. Smoking is allowed on the cozy and leafy patio. Main courses: $10 - $14 (lunch), $13 - $29 (supper). Reservations are recommended. 215 E. 4th Street. Tel: 817/334-0080.

Cattlemen's Steakhouse - This relaxed, affordable, and nicely worn spot is just the place to go for a thick steak and a good crowd. It is a great place for families and the service is very friendly and low-key. Reservations are recommended. Main courses: $5.45 - $11 (lunch), $9.95 - $31 (supper). 2458 North Main Street. Tel: 817/624-3945.

Reata - It sports a huge rooftop bar and dining area inside the glass dome on the roof. The basic fare lie chicken-fried steak and chicken chile rellenos, and more daring interpretations like carne asada with cacciota cheese enchiladas, is well prepared and interesting enough to keep adventurous diners satisfied. Portions are huge, so go hungry. Main courses: $13 - $27. 310 Houston Street. Tel: 817/336-1009.

Kinkaid's Grocery Market - Kinkaid's is a beloved institution in Fort Worth and the winner of the "Best Burger in Texas" polls. A standard order is a thick, juicy burger and fries or onion rings. There are a few other items, like hot dogs, grilled cheese sandwiches and grilled chicken on the menu, but the burgers is by far the most popular. Main courses: $3.50 - $7. Keep in mind that they do not accept any credit cards. 4901 Camp Bowie Blvd. Tel: 817/732-2881.

Fort Worth Bars & Clubs

White Elephant Saloon - The oldest bar in Fort Worth and site of the most famous gunfight in 1897. It is a great place to have a beer or check out some live Western music nightly on the small stage. There is also a beer garden, with live bands under the trees. 106 E. Exchange Ave. Tel: 817/624-1887.

J&J Blues Bar - The top blues joint in town and a little rough around the edges. It hosts local and national acts Wednesdays through Sunday nights. 937 Woodward St. Tel:817/870-2337.

Flying Saucer Draught Emporium - A beer snob's dream, boasting 75 beers on tap and 125 bottles, including a slew of American microbrews and exotics like Belgian guerze and German seasonals. It is one of the best places in Fort Worth to visit if you are into beer drinking. Food tends toward beer-complementary items like bratwurst and beer cheese soup. 111 E. 4th St. Tel: 817/336-7468.

The Grape Escape - Specializes in wines from around the world, served by the glass, half-glass, and in sampling flights. Lots of snack foods, including mini pizzas and fries, are also served. 500 Commerce St.Tel: 817/336-9463.

Fort Worth children's activities

Texas Town in Stockyards Station - A theme park of sorts: an Old West hotel, bar, outhouse, and jail, as well as a vintage ride park, with an antique merry-go-round. Actors in chaps and vests enact High Noon gun duels. Nearby, kids can try to find their way through the Cowtown Cattlepen Maze, designed to resemble the cattle pens of the Old West. Young cowboys and cowgirls will enjoy horseback trail rides at the Stockyard Station Livery.Tel: 817/624-3446.

Fort Worth Zoo - The Zoo has a great layout of natural habitats and fantastic animals from around the world, and is one of the top zoos in the country. It has an African Savannah with endangered rhinos and giraffes, a Koala Outback with kangaroos, wallabies, and lazy koalas. Other attractions include Komodo dragons, lots of apes, orangutans and rainforest monkeys, and white tigers. Your children (and you!) will have a blast. Admission: $9 adults, $6.50 children ages 3-12, free for children under 2. Parking $5. Tel:817/759-7555.

The Tarantula Steam Train - The train makes the Trinity River Run, a 1-hour trip from Stockyards Station to 8th Avenue in Fort Worth, and another travels along the Chisholm Trail to the Cotton Belt Depot in historic Grapevine, Texas. To 8th Avenue, the train leaves the Stockyards on Saturday at noon and Sunday at 3pm (round-trip $10 adults, $9 seniors, $6 children ages 3-12). To Grapevine, trains leave the Stockyards Saturdays at 2pm and Sundays at 4:45pm, arriving in Grapevine an hour and 15 minutes later (round-trip $20 adults, $18 seniors, and $10 children ages 3-12). The train trip to Grapevine is more involved and interesting (as well as more expensive) than the one that ends in Forth Worth. Tel: 800/457-6338 or 817/625-RAIL for exact schedules.

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