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Fort Worth may get second billing to its glamorous twin, Dallas (their shared metropolitan area is known as Dallas-Fort Worth), but this northern Texas city is nobody’s sidekick. Once just a stop on the Chisholm Trail — a major cattle transportation route in the late 19th century — Fort Worth has a proud history rooted in ranching and the traditions of the American West. Today, that legacy is on full display in the historic Stockyards district, but it also echoes through the city in subtler ways. Watch for modern-day cowboys (complete with boots and hats), locally crafted leather goods, and, of course, a wealth of family-owned barbecue joints.
But don’t let the “Cowtown” moniker fool you: There’s more to Fort Worth than its pioneer past. The city is also home to a sophisticated Cultural District with major art museums and architecturally significant buildings; a buzzy downtown shopping and entertainment district packed with performing arts venues, restaurants, and shops; and plenty of wide, shady streets lined with eclectic boutiques, trendy eateries, and homegrown distilleries and breweries.
Both Fort Worth Meacham International Airport (FTW), located just north of the city, and busy Dallas/FortWorth International Airport (DFW), which is only 30 minutes away by car, offer many flights into the area. A commuter light rail connects DFW with downtown Fort Worth, and rideshares and taxis are available.
Once you’re here, the city of Fort Worth is extremely walkable — or bikeable, thanks to the city bike-share program; most of the major districts are within a five-mile radius, and are also connected by a local metro service. You may consider renting a car if you’re staying outside of the city center, or visiting in the middle of summer, when air conditioning becomes a necessity.
Hands down, the best time to visit Fort Worth is in the spring, when the weather is warm and pleasant and the wildflowers — including the bluebonnet, the Texas state flower — are in bloom. It’s a comparatively quieter time of year here, after the football season, which always draws sports fans, has ended and before the summer crowds arrive, although there are quite a few music, food, and art festivals in the spring. You might want to bring an umbrella in the spring, though, as there’s a chance you’ll catch a thunderstorm around the end of May.
Despite the long, hot days, June through August are the liveliest months here, and the local events calendar gets busy, with celebrations and concerts that stretch into the languid, balmy nights. Fall sees a repeat of spring’s comfortable weather, though come September and football season, lodging can book up quickly when the local team is playing at home. Winters in Fort Worth can get chilly, though visitors escaping blizzards in other parts of the country will consider the weather downright warm.
In a city with so many world-class museums, some of the best art in Fort Worth is surprisingly free and open to the public. Bold, beautiful, funky, and sometimes funny murals and installations by local artists grace walls all over the city. Be sure to stop by the well-known “Love the Fort/Worth the Love” mural in the hip Near Southside neighborhood, where you’ll find a number of other beloved works too.
Most people delve into Fort Worth’s past at the cowboy and cowgirl museums in the Stockyards district. Glimpse an alternate past when strolling by the Victorian mansion downtown and the historic, renovated bungalows and foursquare homes in the Fairmont neighborhood.
Set on the Trinity River east of downtown Fort Worth, the Panther Island Pavilion was built as a venue for concerts and major events. But when it’s not in use, the area is popular with kayakers who paddle the Trinity, as well as swimmers and picnickers.