Guide to Fort Worth
The common perception of Texas is that of a cowboy culture, where people walk around wearing Wranglers and cowboy hats and Chuck Norris rules law enforcement with an iron boot.
This stereotype is not true of Dallas at all. Gucci handbags are just as common in Dallas as Tony Llama boots, and Stetsons are rare enough that my friend Scoot is known widely as "Cowboy" because he is the only person who wears a hat.
Head west, young man, to Fort Worth, and it is a different story. Not only are there more cowboy types, they even have daily cattle drives in the streets. Yet, the downtown area still manages to have a rather modern flair.
The Cowboy Way
The Fort Worth Stockyards north of downtown are perhaps the biggest attraction in Fort Worth. This National Historical District is home to rodeos, western stores, a museum, twice-daily cattle drives, and the famous Billy Bob's Texas.
I am generally not that much into shopping, but I do think the shops at the Stockyards are worth mentioning. Housed in a sort of livestock-shed mall are shops where you can get just about anything western, from clothing to saddles to art. The Ernest Tubb Record Shop carries old western swing and classic country music that can be found in almost no other bricks-and-mortar store on Earth.
Billy Bob's, the world's largest honky-tonk, is famous for having live bull riding inside the bar. The venue also hosts many concerts. For a 3-acre honky-tonk, though, Billy Bob's has an incredibly small dance floor.
The Stockyards Championship Rodeo is held every Friday and Saturday night at the Cowtown Coliseum. The Coliseum also hosts the modern-day Pawnee Bill's Wild West Show on weekend afternoons during the summer.
If the Stockyards is a place for cowboys, the cowgirls get their own place downtown at the National Cowgirl Museum Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame honors everyone from Sacagawea to Sandra Day O'Connor (somehow, they are each considered to be "cowgirls". Go figure.). The Cowgirl Museum is in the Fort Worth Cultural District, which is where we turn our attention next for the decidedly different other side of Fort Worth.
The Modern Way
For a cow town, Fort Worth has a rather well-respected and modern art scene. Even some of the museum buildings themselves are considered top works of architectural art and design.
One such building is the Kimbell Art Museum, designed by architect Louis Kahn. The barrel-vaulted building houses a relatively small collection, but one of very high quality. The pieces range from ancient Egyptian, Greek, Chinese, and Mayan statues to paintings by Monet and Picasso.
Next door is the Modern Museum of Fort Worth, which has one of the top collections of post-World War II art. The museum, which houses over 2,600 pieces, was designed by a Japanese architect and consists of glass-walled galleries built on a reflecting pond, so that the building almost seems to float on the water.
Also nearby is the Amon Carter Museum, which holds an impressive collection of western art by the likes of Remington, Russell, and Moran. The museum is closed for repairs for the summer of 2007, but will reopen in the fall.
While downtown, also check out the Fort Worth Water Gardens and the Botanical Gardens. The Water Gardens gained notoriety in 2004 due to a multiple drowning, but have since been reopened with new safety measures in place (namely, much shallower water). You can also visit the Museum of Science and History and the Vintage Flying Museum, home to one of the few B-17s in the world that is still able to fly.