Things to Do in Fort Worth: By JUNKET
Did you know Fort Worth has a hidden network of underground street car tunnels beneath its downtown area? Or that the city’s Stockyard Hotel was a favorite hideout for Bonnie and Clyde?
Surrounded by the rolling hills and scenic prairies of the vast Lone Star State, Fort Worth sprawls across the rugged terrain, a testament to the grit and determination of the hardy pioneers who tamed the Wild West. With a history steeped in the legends of cowboys and cattle drives, it is a city of dramatic contrasts and vibrant energy. Its skyline boasts a mix of modern skyscrapers and historic landmarks, and the air is alive with the sounds of clanging spurs and honky-tonk music.
Cowboys and Culture
Pull on your boots and travel back in time to the Wild West, where the sounds of horses' hooves and the occasional lowing of cattle fill the air as you explore the shops, restaurants, and museums of the historic district’s Fort Worth Stockyards. Be sure to watch a cattle drive, where cowboys herd longhorns through the streets, or cheer with excitement at an indoor rodeo at the Cowtown Coliseum. Experience the essence of the American West and honor the legend of the Duke himself at the John Wayne Museum.
Despite its nickname "Cowtown," Fort Worth also offers cultural experiences on par with the most sophisticated cities in the world. Wander through the galleries of the world-renowned Kimbell Art Museum, where you'll be struck by the dramatic beauty of the ancient sculptures and priceless paintings, including works by Michelangelo, Monet, and Rembrandt. Be swept away by the dramatic music and artistry of a performance by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. As you settle into your seat, admire the elegance of Bass Performance Hall, with its soaring ceilings and stunning chandeliers.
As the sun sets over the city, the sky turns shades of pink and orange, casting a warm glow over the bustling streets. The night air is filled with the sounds of live music pouring from honky-tonks and nightclubs, while the aroma of delicious Tex-Mex cuisine wafts from open-air cafes and food trucks.
But the skies at night aren’t the only things that are big in this iconic Texas town. Fort Worth’s haunted history is as bold and brash as the city itself, and nowhere will you come closer to its restless spirits than the Fort Worth Ghost Tour. Ride into the darker side of Fort Worth on this fascinating tour, where you will:
- Uncover the vengeful ghost of the White Elephant Saloon
- Unearth the spectral cowboy of the Stockyards Hotel
- Discover ghostly figures at the Scott Theatre
- Encounter the tragic apparitions of Miss Molly’s Hotel
- And so much more…
There’s a Junket for everyone – Pick yours.
Fort Worth History
The Final Frontier
Fort Worth's story is one of grandeur and grit, of ambition and resilience that has defined this city from its very beginnings. It is a story of cowboys and cattle drives, of gunslingers and outlaws, of oil barons and entrepreneurs, all converging on this frontier town to make their fortunes and leave their mark on history.
The fertile north Texas land surrounding the banks of the Trinity River was a favorite hunting ground for several indigenous tribes of Native Americans before settlers arrived in the area. Once a major stop on the cattle industry’s Chisholm Trail, the settlement began its development as a rough and tumble outpost on the edge of the Texas frontier. In 1849, a military post was established to protect settlers from hostile tribes and outlaws, and named for Gen. William Jenkins Worth, commander of the Texas army.
Wild, Wild West
During the late 1800s, Fort Worth became an important hub for cattle drives, earning the nickname "Cowtown." The Stockyards National Historic District, now a popular tourist attraction, was once the site of the world's largest livestock market. Cowboys and outlaws roamed the streets, while saloons and brothels offered entertainment for the hard-working ranch hands.
"Fort Worth was a trading center for cowboys, freighters, and other Westerners in the early days of the cattle drives. It was a rough and rowdy town, with more saloons and gamblers than churches and schools." - Charles Goodnight, legendary Texas cattleman
Cattle drives, saloons, and gambling dens dominated the city's landscape, attracting cowboys, outlaws, and fortune-seekers from all over. Shootouts were a common occurrence, and the streets were ruled by notorious gunslingers like “Big Jim” Courtright. The large concentration of criminal activity and violence that occurred there led to Fort Worth’s town center being referred to as “Hell’s Half Acre.”
Legend has it that Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch, including the Sundance Kid, used the city’s Hell’s Half Acre as their playground between robberies.
But Fort Worth's history is not all crime and cowboys. Despite the lawlessness, Fort Worth continued to develop, becoming a major transportation hub with the arrival of the Texas and Pacific Railway, a railroad line connecting the ranches of Texas with the markets of California. Railroads and cattle drives brought wealth and prosperity to the town, and Fort Worth quickly transformed into a bustling city with a thriving economy by the early 1900s.
Striking Black Gold
But with the dawn of the 20th century, the city began to change. Fort Worth diversified its economy and began to attract businesses from a variety of industries, such as meatpacking, milling, and grain storage.
Yet, it would be the discovery of oil in Texas that would impact Fort Worth forever.
The Texas Oil Boom in nearby areas in the 1920s and 1930s brought new wealth and opportunity to Fort Worth. The city saw rapid growth and development, as people flocked to the city in search of work and prosperity. The city's skyline began to change, as new buildings sprang up to house the growing population.
The growth continued throughout the 1940s and 1950s, as Fort Worth became a hub for the aviation and defense industries. The city was home to major aircraft manufacturers, such as General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin, and played a crucial role in the military-industrial complex. The city's economy boomed, and the population has grown exponentially in recent years.
Fort Worth's early days were wild and untamed, but they also laid the foundation for the city's future success. Through hard work and perseverance, the people of Fort Worth transformed their rowdy frontier town into a thriving metropolis, one that continues to flourish to this day.
Fort Worth Today
Saddle Up for Adventure
Welcome to the land of cowboys and class, where the Wild West meets modern luxury. Fort Worth commands attention with its rugged western charm, vibrant cultural scene, and sprawling landscape that still echoes with the imprint of its rich history.
Step into the Old West and experience the legendary cowboy lifestyle at the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District. From the sound of hooves on the wooden boardwalks to the sight of longhorn cattle drives and adrenaline-fueled rodeo shows, this historic district is a living, breathing embodiment of Texas heritage.
For a truly unforgettable experience, get up close and personal with a Longhorn at a Fort Worth Herd Cattle Drive.
Celebrating the contributions of cowboys and cowgirls to the Western way of life, the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame showcases rodeo legends, ranchers, and Western performers.
“If you want to understand the whole United States, go to Fort Worth. It's like a miniature America.”
– Will Rogers
Artistry and Elegance
But Fort Worth is more than just Cowtown. The city is also home to acclaimed museums, such as the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, which showcases art collections from Pollack to Picasso, and they will leave you in awe. Discover the tumultuous history of the War Between the States and the role Texas played in the conflict at the Texas Civil War Museum.
Fort Worth also offers plenty of outdoor adventures for nature lovers. Enjoy a scenic trek along the Trinity Trails, which offer miles of hiking and biking trails along the Trinity River. Discover the beauty of the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, where thousands of plant species are on display, or head to the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge for a more dramatic outdoor adventure. This stunning nature preserve spans over 3,600 acres and features a diverse range of landscapes, with unparalleled scenery and tons of wildlife, including bison, alligators, and a wide variety of bird species.
And of course, no trip to Fort Worth would be complete without indulging in some of the city's famous cuisine. From mouthwatering barbecue to Tex-Mex, Fort Worth has something to satisfy every craving. Visitors can sample the city's culinary delights at local favorites like Joe T. Garcia's and Railhead Smokehouse, or dine, drink, and dance the night away at the world-famous Billy Bob's Texas.
Get to Know Fort Worth
From rodeos and cowboy festivals to historic architecture and fascinating museums, the city is teeming with entertainment, in addition to the Junket Fort Worth Experience. Some of the most popular attractions in Fort Worth include:
- John Wayne Experience: Celebrate the origins and cultural influence of this legendary star of the big screen through family-curated artifacts.
- Fort Worth Stockyards: Travel back in time to the days of the great cattle roundups on this 100-acre, Old-West-themed entertainment area.
- National Cowgirl Museum: Discover the contributions of women in the American West through rare exhibits and memorabilia.
- Fort Worth Water Gardens: Explore a picturesque series of waterfalls, pools, and fountains in this unique urban park.
- Fort Worth Zoo: Encounter nearly 7,000 animals at this award-winning zoo, the only facility in America to house all four species of Great Apes.
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