What to see in Fort Worth in a week?
April 15, 2007 11:29 AM   Subscribe

What should I see to get a feel for Fort Worth in just one short week?

I'm currently looking in to the possibility of getting a job in Fort Worth (TX) for a couple of years, but as I've never even been to the US (I live in the UK), let alone lived there before, I'd like to see what I'm letting myself in for before I go. I'm sure I'll have many more questions about this topic as I look into the possibility further...

Hence, my question - I'm planning a visit to take a quick look around the city and surrounding area. Assuming I'm there for a week or so and have a rental car at my disposal, what should I see/where should I go that will give me a feel for the place?

For bonus points, can anyone recommend any books/websites, both for short visits and/or for ex-pats moving to the area?

posted by Nice Guy Mike to Travel & Transportation around Fort Worth, TX (23 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Definitely eat at Joe T. Garcia's. They have a very simple menu (enchiladas and fajitas) and the food is very very good. If you're lucky you'll get a seat on the patio.

I love Ft. Worth. It has just about everything you could want, plus proximity to Dallas for everything else. I'd love to live there.
posted by Bud Dickman at 11:57 AM on April 15, 2007

The Kimbell is a great museum. If you enjoy art, it's worth a visit -- get a glimpse of the type of culture Fort Worth has to offer.
In terms of getting a feel for how it would be to live there, go to grocery stores. Visit a mall. Drive to Dallas and see how you feel about the traffic and the time to get there -- as Bud Dickman points out, there are things you may not be able to find as easily in FW, but Dallas is right there.
Chat with the people you meet. Everybody I've ever met in Fort Worth has been very kind and friendly, but I'm a fellow Texan -- I don't know whether it would make people from other places uncomfortable. (Trivial example: in FW and the rest of the southern US, women older than about 7 are commonly referred to as "ma'am" by sales clerks, receptionists, etc. In the northern US, even elderly women are referred to as "miss". Each way drives some people from the other place crazy -- many Yankees feel old when called ma'am, and I think someone's incredibly impertinent and rude to call me (or my mother!) miss.)
posted by katemonster at 12:11 PM on April 15, 2007

For art, the Fort Worth Modern is pretty good, too.
posted by jayder at 12:22 PM on April 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

If you want to experience some live country music and/or a rodeo and some of the craziest shit Texas has to offer, check out Billy Bob's. This is in a district called the Stockyards where there are lots of clubs and bars.
posted by chillmost at 12:27 PM on April 15, 2007

I think Fortworth Zoo is a place to avoid.
It's so small with almost nothing to see.
posted by WizKid at 1:45 PM on April 15, 2007

Having lived in FW several years ago, I can attest to the fact that it ain't Dallas -- and doesn't want to be. It's more friendly, easier to get around (stay off the Mixmaster -- ask a local what that is!) and it still has Texas natives living there. Not sure Dallas does. (Just kidding, metroglobbers.)

And it DOES have culture! The Kimbell, the Modern, the Van Cliburn international competition, theater/theatre, ballet, opera, symphony, music at the Bass concert hall -- such as Tony Bennett, Doc Watson, Pink Floyd, Gordon Lightfood (just this season) -- and probably something I left out. I second Joe T's for Mexican food and highly recommend Cousin's barbecue AND Maharaja Indian Restaurant. In addition, it's got the great Fort Worth Zoo, the Botanic Garden & Japanese Garden and sports.

Be sure to visit the Stockyards; my Swedish friend (in his 50s) visiting Texas a few years ago had the best time there, watching a "gunfight," a cattle drive with real longhorns, drinking at the White Elephant Saloon and buying a cowboy hat at M.L. Leddy's Boots & Saddlery. You'll get a good taste of Texas at the Stockyards.

To learn more about FW, read the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (daily newspaper) online, or check out the chamber of commerce or local tourism office. Also, read this New York Times piece, if you get a chance. And e-mail one or two of the staff writers at the Star-Telegram. Maybe someone there can give you better advice. I no longer live there but I still love Fort Worth!
posted by Smalltown Girl at 2:02 PM on April 15, 2007

Oops. Forgot the NYTimes link. http://travel.nytimes.com/2007/04/06/travel/escapes/06american.html?ref=travel
posted by Smalltown Girl at 2:04 PM on April 15, 2007

Along with the Cultural District and the Stockyards, I'd explore the neighborhoods on the west and southwest side of town (Ridglea, Arlington Heights, the area around TCU, etc.). Also, make sure to spend some time Downtown. It's a pretty active place compared to the average American city.

I grew up in Fort Worth (I now live in Denver), and always found it to be a quirky place. The mix of Cowtown and cosmopolitan culture makes for an interesting dynamic... it's just a fun city to explore and get to know. And, of course, it's part of one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country. If you ever get bored with Fort Worth, Dallas (and a kajillion suburbs, some with unique personalities all their own) is just a drive - or, depending on your destination, train ride - away.

If you have a week and want to get a feel for what it would be like to live in the city, I'd suggest simply exploring far and wide, getting lost, visiting places where locals congregate, and so on. Also, I think it's important that you spend some time exploring the suburbs... as it the case with most Sunbelt cities, the suburbs are as much a part of the local culture (good and bad) as Fort Worth itself. After all, that's where most of the local population lives. In the 22 years I lived in the area, I never once had a Fort Worth address, yet I'll always consider Fort Worth to be my hometown.
posted by jal0021 at 2:08 PM on April 15, 2007

Visit the Amon Carter Museum. Texas cowboys loves 'em some Western art.

And go get a chicken-fried steak.
posted by Opposite George at 7:37 PM on April 15, 2007

Oh, yeah - a visit to Cavender's will teach you almost everything you need to know about boots, hats and buckles (yes, folks down there really do wear that stuff.)
posted by Opposite George at 7:44 PM on April 15, 2007

Eat breakfast in the middle of the night at Ol' South Pancake House.

Forget Joe T. Garcia's. El Rancho Grande is way better and just up the block. But if you want something more authentic (and risk a case of the runs) hang out on 28th or North Main and wait for a Taco wagon to drive by.

Online resources: Pegasus News is a good representation of the alternative press. FW weekly is the weekly tabloid (I think that's UKian word for it) that has most of the progressive (relatively; local politics, protests, ets.) news, freely available most places. Lots of entertainment listings.

If you have a car at your disposal, you should try driving from Fort Worth to Dallas - just to find out how much a pain in the ass it is and how you hopefully won't have to do it often. You'll find a friendly but entrenched rivalry between Dallas and Fort Worth - and a big suburban mess called the mid-cities in between.

Fort Worth has a very pedestrian friendly downtown area, by Texas standards, anyway. Pretty good nightlife downtown on the weekends.

More than anything, meet some locals. I'll hope you'll find us approachable.
posted by GPF at 8:54 PM on April 15, 2007

from my sister, the one who decided to stay in Texas:

I've lived in Fort Worth for about 10 years now. I
grew up in Arlington which is right between Fort Worth
and Dallas. In a week, I would try to show someone as
much of the following as possible...

The Cultural District which includes:
The Modern, Amon Carter, and Kimball Art Museums, Will
Rogers Coliseum,which has a huge Stock Show and rodeo
every year, fabulous live theatre by Stage West
Theatre Company, the Cowgirl Hall of Fame and several
nice restaurants including The Modern Cafe, Lanny's
Alta Mexicana Cuisine, Tommy's Hamburgers, Sardines,
Montgomery Street Grill and Milanos. It's a mix of
every flavor and it's all good. The Modern also shows
some great independent movies, but only one a week,

Sundance Square is the main section of downtown which
is filled with shops, mainstream movie theatres, more
live theatres, beautiful hotels, bookstores, bars and
restaurants. It's a great place to walk around. In a
few years, the Trinity River will be diverted through
downtown to create a riverwalk there. Excellent urban
living and a great place to walk around. Each year
this is a fabulous Main Street Arts Festival.
Restaurants of choice: Piranha Killer Sushi, Taverna,
Ferre, Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House, Daddy
Jacks, Billy Miners, Razoo's.

Camp Bowie and Hulen: These are two major streets in
Fort Worth. You can get a lot of errands run at the
shops on these streets. Definitely check out the
Central Market and World Market off I-30 and Hulen.
Just drive from one end to the other to see the basic
stores. I'd recommend doing the same on Camp Bowie.
It's a much older streets. Brick near the east end.
You'll see some cool houses there and lots of
independently run stores. Restaurants- Lucille's
Stateside Bistro, The Original, Le Madeline, Bistro
Louise and every chain.

This is the old cowtown side. Every morning there is
a cattle drive through Main Street (12 Longhorns..
haha). Lots of cowboy stuff, and a large Hispanic
influence. Some good food- Joe T. Garcias (CASH ONLY)
and La Playa Maya. Best to stick with the Tex/Mex or
full on Mexican food in this area. There is also
Billy Bob's, "The World's Biggest Honky-Tonk"

Dallas: Might as well truck over there to see it. I
don't care for it too much. Very pretentious. LOTS
of plastic surgery addicts. I'd say 1/5 women here
have had at least SOMETHING altered. I wouldn't doubt
a large number of men too. To each his own. Anyway,
it has some great theatre, restaurants, museums, etc-
Dallas Theatre Center, Theatre Three, Kitchen Dog
Theatre... Cafe Brazil... The Nasher Sculpture Center
and the Dallas Aquarium. Plus there is the Grassy
Knoll where Kennedy was shot and a nice Memorial.
DON'T bother much with walking around downtown proper.
It sucks.

Parks in Fort Worth: Botanic Gardens, Trinity River
Park (and jogging/biking paths) and Overland Park.
Plus, Fort Worth has the #1 rated Dog Park in America-
Fort Woof (!)

There's also tons of sports (The Rangers, Cowboys,
Mavericks and Burn as well as a super huge race

It would also be worth it to ride the train system a
little. The TRE goes from downtown Fort Worth to
Dallas where there is an extensive light rail system
called DART.

Good Luck!
posted by tingting at 9:19 PM on April 15, 2007

(whoops, apologies on that narrow column formatting there...)
posted by tingting at 9:21 PM on April 15, 2007

Former Fort Worther here.

Skip the Old South, it sucks. You'd be better off at the IHOP.

Yes you need to go up to the Stockyards, and you need to prowl the museum district. They really do have some cute little museums.

If you have cash to burn, stay at the Worthington, it's as close to a really nice hotel as it gets.

The town is practically overrun with really good Tex-Mex. Pick something! I cannot recall the name of the place just off I-35W just north of downtown, but it's the kind of place that has a mariachi band.

Take a nice afternoon in the Botanic Gardens and pay to get in the Japanese Gardens.

How sad it is that the Tandy Center Subway is gone.

I am told that there is a great German restaurant on the near north side.

For Indian food, the Taj Mahal on south Hulen.

Hulen Mall is a nice mall, but it is just a mall.

For gourmet whatnots, go to the Central Market at Hulen and I-30 across from Arlington Heights HS ("it's the place we love the best, dear old AHHS!")

Fort Worth does have an opera and a symphony, as well as a youth orchestra. Dallas has both those and more museums and more "new music" groups than you can shake a stick at. If you are really into the new music scene, call SMU for recommendations.

And yes, even though there are people who will scream and shout about Dallas, you should go visit.

If you need a place to live there, be very selective. The Ridglea area is nice, as is the University area. I don't know that I would voluntarily live east of 35W. South Hulen is also desirable. If you have kids in school, seriously consider the HEB (Hurst, Euless, Bedford) area.

The best burgers are at Kinkaid's.

More if I think of it......
posted by ilsa at 9:24 PM on April 15, 2007

OMDFG I miss La Madelaine's. It used to be you could order in French and get what you wanted....
posted by ilsa at 9:25 PM on April 15, 2007

There is also Billy Bob's, "The World's Biggest Honky-Tonk"

You have to go there, if only to check out the indoor bullring. Yes, you read that right. Real cowboys riding real bulls.

Okay, so maybe it isn't something that'd be part of your daily life as a resident of the area but, I mean, a bar with an indoor bullring! How cool is that?
posted by Opposite George at 10:17 PM on April 15, 2007

Thirding Billy Bob's. Certainly one of the strangest drinking establishments anywhere. I went to a Willie Nelson show where there were real Texas cowboys and hippies drinking and getting along. Fantastic!
posted by fieldtrip at 10:25 PM on April 15, 2007

While it may not cater to the plain palate, Angelo's holds its own as a Texas tradition.
posted by jazzkat11 at 12:03 AM on April 16, 2007

If you can't tell, Texans love our state. Not everyone wears cowboy boots and a cowboy hat, but lots of us do.

I think you should definitely try and hit Billy Bob's, the Kimbell, the Stockyards, and La Madelaine's so you know we're not all about cowboys and rodeos.

If you find the time, you might take in a ballgame. The Rangers may not be the best baseball game, but The Ballpark is an awesome place, even if its in Arlington.
posted by Kraki at 12:40 AM on April 16, 2007

(my sister says: I could go on and on about Fort Worth...)

Some follow-ups: Ol South Pancake House is dirty and dank and filled with gap-toothed waitresses, but it IS Fort Worth history. It's the great equalizer of the classes. You'll see rich lawyers, drag queens, cowboys, groups dressed in obnoxious boe-down attire, etc. It's worth at least making note of its location. Ihop is Ihop - a chain. Not a BAD thing but not as much color. Plus, there's a nice shopping center across the street from Ol' South called University Village. It's a bit pricey but nice stuff. Also, I'd give the Fort Worth Zoo a chance (it IS great) but not on your 1 week visit.

Yeah, The Worthington is swanky. But there is also Etta's Place (a cool downtown B&B named for a woman who ran Hell's Half Acre, Fort Worth's wild district back in the 1800's), and The Ashton, a beautiful, restored 1900 hotel with all the bells and most whistles. Also downtown, it is within walking distance of Sundance Square.

For German, go to the German Restaurant on Bluebonnet Circle in the TCU area.

For Pizza, the Mellow Mushroom on Bluebonnet Circle

For Mexican, take your pick but Benito's in the hospital district is my favorite.

For Steak: Del Frisco's downtown

Eclectic: The Modern Cafe

French: Saint Emilion

As far as housing is concerned, the cheapest areas are Stop 6 (eastside, south of I-35), Northside, and Como (s/w of downtown). They also have the highest crime rates. These aren't places to walk around by yourself. Most likely nothing would happen but it's best to be safe.

The museum district has some great housing starting at around $550 for a duplex. The further n/w part of this district has million dollar, very old homes.
That's where the oil/cattle families live.

Historic Fairmount - great old houses. This used to be a bit of a crack head hangout. Over the last 20-30 years, people started restoring the homes. Now there are still a dozen questionable houses among hundreds of gorgeous, restored late 1800's-early 1900's homes. $250k to start up to a million, at least. Great, cheap garage apartments! Lots of cool people.

Hulen, Camp Bowie and TCU area for apartments.
Hope that helps!
posted by tingting at 6:51 AM on April 16, 2007

Ol South Pancake House is dirty and dank and filled with gap-toothed waitresses, but it IS Fort Worth history. It's the great equalizer of the classes.

Agreed. Their mediocre food doesn't justify how religiously people pack this place. If you go late on Sunday morning, you're as likely to see a preacher with a table of parishoners as a hung-over Hell's Angels gang. If you go late on Sunday morning, be prepared to wait. There are hundreds of IHOPs across the US - and they're all the same. Ol' South is an institution. A dressed down, close to the Earth institution.

Feel free to email, in my profile.
posted by GPF at 1:30 PM on April 16, 2007

We recently ate at the Reata restaurant in Sundance Square (downtown). Top notch all the way...even as native Texans, we were impressed with the Texas atmosphere. They have the best service of any restaurant I've even eaten at. We were seated on the rooftop patio and when the air turned chilly, one of the attendants went down to the car and fetched our jackets. After dinner we moved to the downstairs bar and one of our party accidently left her doggy box on the bar. The bartender didn't know who it belonged to so he threw it away. When we went back to ask about it, the manangement apologized by offering and providing our choice of any item on the menu to go. Outstanding food and even better service.

You absolutely need to spend at least one evening in the Stockyards.
posted by rcavett at 6:15 PM on April 16, 2007

Response by poster: Just wanted to post a quick note of thanks to everyone who answered. No particular favourites (sorry if that breaks a MeFi rule, this was my first AskMe question... :) ), so thanks, everyone...
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 1:04 AM on April 18, 2007

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