Written by Anietra Hamper
Updated May 26, 2022
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Located just 32 miles west of Dallas, Fort Worth is often overshadowed by its bigger sister city, although it is full of major tourist attractions. Nicknamed Cowtown for its deep roots in the cattle ranching industry, Fort Worth also boasts a rich and diverse cultural history.
Not only is it home to the celebrated Stockyards National Historic District, it's also full of Old-West-themed entertainment and shopping. It also has several museums dedicated to the old ranches that give tourists a feel for the authentic cowboy life.
Today, the city welcomes nearly nine million visitors annually who come for work and play, enjoying Fort Worth's wide range of things to do. In addition to historic sites, Fort Worth is home to several art museums; beautiful public spaces, including the oasis-like Water Garden; entertainment venues like Bass Performance Hall; and shopping galore in areas like Sundance Square.
The city is also known for its diversity and dedication to human rights, having been one of the first Texas cities to establish its own non-discrimination laws. To learn more about these and other places to visit in this part of the Southern US, be sure to read through our list of the top tourist attractions in Fort Worth Texas.
See also: Where to Stay in Fort Worth
1. Fort Worth Stockyards
Established in 1866, Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District owes its fame and unique character to the cattle industry. The last big stopover on the Chisholm Trail – and the last remaining historic stockyard in the United States – it once saw millions of cattle pass through.
Today, the area covers nearly 100 acres and has been transformed into one of Fort Worth's biggest tourist attractions. A visit takes visitors back to the days of the great cattle roundups, with all kinds of related entertainment and fun things to see and do, from rodeos to live music shows, museums, and western-themed shopping.
The main event at the stockyards happens at 11:30am and 4pm every day, when spectators line the streets to watch the cattle drive of the Fort Worth Longhorn Herd along the main thoroughfare. This is when two of Texas' most iconic symbols come together – cowboys and longhorns – to reenact an import part of the city's history.
Some of the old cattle driving traditions live on, too. Volunteers can still be seen demonstrating the art, while those wanting to try their hand at being a cowboy or cowgirl can indulge themselves in a number of fun horse treks that are available. To get the most out of your time here, start your adventure at the Stockyards Visitor Center or the Stockyards Museum in the Livestock Exchange Building.
Address: 2501 Rodeo Plaza, Fort Worth, Texas
Official site: www.fortworthstockyards.org
2. Fort Worth Zoo
Established in 1909, Fort Worth Zoo got off to a humble start with just a handful of animals, but over the years, it has grown into a world-class facility.
Today, visitors come from far and wide to view its many hundreds of species from around the world, including 68 endangered and threatened species. It's also famous for being the only zoo in the United States that houses all four species of Great Ape (chimpanzees, gorillas, bonobos, and orangutans).
Fort Worth Zoo is also renowned for having one of the world's most successful flamingo breeding colonies, and is one of only five zoos worldwide to have two of the five rhino species. Other zoo residents include favorites like penguins, cheetahs, African lions, giraffes, meerkats, hippos, and even elephants with their babies.
In addition to its diverse range of animals, the zoo has several attractions, including a giraffe feeding experience and Stingray Cove, where you can get close encounters with the animals; the Country Carousel; Safari Splash waterpark; and the Yellow Rose Express Train.
Address: 1989 Colonial Pkwy, Fort Worth, Texas
Official site: www.fortworthzoo.org
3. Sundance Square
One of Fort Worth's most popular destinations for visitors and locals alike is Sundance Square, a privately owned, 35-block section of the historic downtown core that is full of fun things to do. Consisting of a mix of residential, commercial, retail, and entertainment buildings and named after the infamous outlaw, the Sundance Kid, the area is safe and fun to explore on foot thanks to its many pedestrian zones.
In addition to its numerous restaurants, cafés, and hotels, Sundance Square contains many excellent shopping opportunities, from high-end boutiques and interesting art galleries to large department stores. It's also a vibrant cultural center, home to a number of important museums including the Sid Richardson Museum with its collection of works by one of the country's most revered 'cowboy artists'.
Also found here are a number of major venues such as the Bass Performance Hall and the Circle Theater, which feature regular drama, music, and dance performances. The centerpiece of the district is Sundance Square Plaza, a vast public square boasting fountains and seating, as well as a stage used to host live concerts and other entertainment.
Address: 201 Main Street #700, Fort Worth, Texas
Official site: http://sundancesquare.com/
4. Fort Worth Water Gardens
Located in downtown Fort Worth, adjacent to the Convention Center, the Water Gardens are far more than simply a collection of pretty fountains to gaze at. Designed to allow visitors to cool themselves in the flowing water, the Water Gardens are a refreshing contrast to the hot urban landscape of this southern US city.
Built in 1974, the Water Gardens feature three pools set amid a sprawling 4.3-acre park. The largest of these water features, the "active pool" is a 38-foot-tall terraced area that is used by waders as steps while the water flows across the stone and into a central pool. The "aerating pool" is a collection of fountains that sits beneath the shade of towering oak trees, especially beautiful at night when it is lit up.
The "quiet pool" is a peaceful place that is cordoned off by cypress trees, while water slides down sheer walls into a calm, blue pool. One of the top things to do at night, visiting the attraction after dark is plenty of fun, as the pools are lit up to spectacular effect.
Address: 1502 Commerce Street, Fort Worth, Texas
5. Kimbell Art Museum
The Kimbell Art Museum is an architectural delight. Designed by Louis I Kahn and opened in 1972, the museum's creative use of natural light is particularly interesting, and wandering the grounds is a fine way to spend time, particularly at dusk.
Although small, the museum's collection features a number of important pieces from a variety of periods, ranging from 20th-century art to age-old antiquities. Highlights include paintings, sculpture, and pottery from Europe, Asia, and Africa, and the museum hosts regularly changing and traveling exhibits. The Kimbell also offers a number of educational programs and has a small restaurant.
Address: 3333 Camp Bowie Blvd, Fort Worth, Texas
Official site: www.kimbellart.org
6. Fort Worth Botanic Garden
One of the city's most popular tourist attractions, Fort Worth Botanic Garden is spread over 109 acres and is a great place to visit any time of year. Established in 1934 and the oldest such facility in Texas, it is home to 3,500 species of plants laid out in 23 unique gardens. Highlights include the Fragrance Garden, the Rose Garden, and the Rain Forest Conservatory.
One of the most popular sections is the idyllic Japanese Garden, a peaceful 7.5 acres of magnolias, cherry trees, bamboo, and other traditional flora, with lovely paths that arch over footbridges and past ponds full of koi.
The Botanic Garden has special projects, including the Begonia Collection & Species Bank with the largest collection of begonias in the United States. It is a living collection of begonias designed to help maintain the species. The facility also has several other conservation and sustainability projects underway.
The Botanic Garden also hosts a variety of interesting programs, such as adult educational programs and kids' workshops. There's also on-site dining with garden-view patio seating.
Address: 3220 Botanic Garden Blvd, Fort Worth, Texas
Official site: http://fwbg.org/
7. Bureau of Engraving and Printing
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing is where money is made, and it's a great place to learn about currency and the operations behind creating it. This secure facility is operated by the US Department of the Treasury; it's an interesting place to drive by, even if you do not plan to go inside.
When tours are operating, visitors can see and learn about the people and machines behind the money they use every day. Get insight into the currency designers and how engraving is used to create the fine details and the unique paper and ink that is used.
The facility is a great resource for coin collectors, and you can find unique gifts like small bags of shredded out-of-use money to currency note sheets available for purchase.
Address: 9000 Blue Mound Road, Fort Worth, Texas
Official site: https://www.moneyfactory.gov/uscurrency/howmoneyismade.html
8. John Wayne: An American Experience
One of the newest museums in Fort Worth is John Wayne: An American Experience, located in the Stockyard district. The museum is an intimate look at the life and career of John Wayne, from childhood through his years capturing Hollywood movie fame.
The galleries highlight items that can only be seen here, like original poems written by the Duke and family photos donated and curated by John Wayne's family. The exhibits also spotlight John Wayne's cultural influence beyond the big screen, with things like art, song lyrics, and literature. There is a great gift shop with unique books, souvenirs, and western wear dedicated to John Wayne.
Address: 2501 Rodeo Plaza, Fort Worth, Texas
Official site: https://www.johnwayne.com/experience
9. Amon Carter Museum of American Art
Established in 1961 to host a collection of artwork by Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell, the Amon Carter Museum has expanded considerably over the decades to encompass all facets of American art.
Today, visitors can see numerous paintings, photos, and sculptures, along with excellent temporary exhibits. Highlights include examples by landscape painters of the 1830s to modern artists of the 20th century, featuring such greats as Alexander Calder, Thomas Eakins, and Alfred Stieglitz.
Address: 3501 Camp Bowie Blvd, Fort Worth, Texas
Official site: www.cartermuseum.org
10. Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth focuses on post-WWII art, with a large permanent collection of 2,600 modern and contemporary pieces in a variety of media. Some of the more famous names represented are Anselm Kiefer, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Gerhard Richter, Susan Rothenberg, and Andy Warhol.
Designed by Tadao Ando, this unique complex with its five pavilions of concrete and glass was built in 2002 and overlooks a one-and-a-half-acre reflecting pond around which is a sculpture garden and terrace. The museum is a fine addition to Fort Worth's Cultural District and is close to the Amon Carter Museum of American Art and the Kimbell Art Museum.
Address: 3200 Darnell Street, Fort Worth, Texas
Official site: www.themodern.org
11. Fort Worth Museum of Science and History
Opened in 1945, the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History features many excellent hands-on educational exhibits related to science, technology, and natural history. Really five museum collections under a single (large) roof, it includes highlights like the Fort Worth Children's Museum, a place for kids under eight to play and learn.
Also of interest for families is the DinoLabs and DinoDig exhibit, portraying the story of dinosaurs in the state, complete with a replica of a dig site.
Of particular interest is the Cattle Raisers Museum dedicated to the importance of the cattle industry. Be sure to take in a show at the on-site planetarium and IMAX theater.
Address: 1600 Gendy Street, Fort Worth, Texas
Official site: www.fortworthmuseum.org
12. Texas Motor Speedway
Rev up your adrenaline at the Texas Motor Speedway, the largest sporting venue in the state. While the speedway operates two major NASCAR races in the spring and fall, there are events happening all year.
The speedway has five race tracks and a half-acre projection screen, the biggest in the world, that is used on race days for close-ups and on non race days for community movie nights. Even if you don't come to the Texas Motor Speedway to see a professional race, you can take a Track Tour or test your skills go-kart racing at the Lone Star Kartpark on the speedway campus.
For the ultimate race fan bragging rights, you can sign up for one of the race car driving experiences that are offered to feel what it is like to speed 175 to 200 miles per hour around the track.
Address: 3545 Lone Star Cir., Fort Worth, Texas
Official site: https://www.texasmotorspeedway.com/
13. The Sid Richardson Museum
A must for art lovers, as well as fans of the Wild West, the Sid Richardson Museum displays artwork compiled by collector Sid Richardson between 1942 and 1959. Housed in a replica of an 1880s building, the museum consists primarily of works by American artists Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell, who famously captured the spirit of the west in their late 19th- and early 20th-century paintings.
The collection's pieces show the action, drama, and scenes of daily life in the historical west, including many fine examples by lesser-known artists. Regarded as one of the top things to do for free in Fort Worth, the museum also offers fun educational programs and the opportunity to join one of its themed guided tours.
Address: 309 Main Street, Fort Worth, Texas
Official site: https://sidrichardsonmuseum.org
14. National Cowgirl Museum and the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame
In addition to its rich artistic heritage, Fort Worth isn't shy about celebrating its role as the gateway to the once-Wild West. One of the most important of these establishments is the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame.
The museum is a fitting tribute to the women of the American West who distinguished themselves and exemplified the pioneer spirit, including cowgirls and ranch women, writers, artists, teachers, and entertainers.
Among the best known inductees are sharpshooter Annie Oakley, singer Patsy Cline, and artist Georgia O'Keeffe. Other highlights include biographies of prominent rodeo cowgirls and depictions of everyday life for women who lived and toiled in Texas's early years.
Equally important is the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, which focuses on the men and women of the rodeo circuit, and the National Multicultural Western Heritage Museum. The latter highlights the contributions of other groups to the building of the west, including those of Hispanic, European, African, and Native American descent.
Address: 1720 Gendy Street, Fort Worth, Texas
Official site: www.cowgirl.net
15. Stockyards Museum
The Stockyards Museum is an easy stop if you are already visiting the Fort Worth Stockyards. It is located inside the Live Stock Exchange building, with a small space that is big on history about the Old West. You will see an eclectic collection of items, like an exhibit and saddles used on the Chisholm Trail, stories about outlaws that used to visit Fort Worth, and antiques and other artifacts.
There are small collections of WWI memorabilia and unusual one-of-a-kind items like a "Bad Luck Wedding Dress" and a 107-year-old lightbulb that is still lit. Anyone interested in history will enjoy the mix of heritage and old photos.
Address: 131 East Exchange Avenue, Suite 113, Fort Worth, Texas
Official site: http://www.stockyardsmuseum.org/
16. Log Cabin Village
Fort Worth's Log Cabin Village is a fascinating living history museum featuring a number of original 1800s buildings salvaged and moved to this location from across the state. Furnished with authentic artifacts and each fashioned in a unique theme, these fine old buildings include a water-powered gristmill, a one-room schoolhouse, a blacksmith shop, and several old log homes.
The effect is enhanced by costumed interpreters re-enacting the lifestyle of Texans from this early period, and fun interactive events in which visitors can participate, such as planting, enjoying games and activities, and listening to live entertainment.
Address: 2100 Log Cabin Village Lane, Fort Worth, Texas
Official site: www.logcabinvillage.org
17. Bass Performance Hall
Widely regarded as one of the best theaters in Texas (if not the US), the Bass Performance Hall - usually simply referred to as Bass Hall - opened in 1998 and is well worth a visit. Built in a distinctly European style, this majestic limestone opera house in Fort Worth's Sundance Square district was named after the donors who largely financed its construction and has since become the city's most iconic structure.
In addition to the two 45-foot-tall sculpted angels adorning its exterior, the building is crowned by a dome measuring 80 feet in diameter and has a sumptuous interior adorned with fine artwork. If you can, try to time your visit to coincide with one of the theater's regular performances, whether it be classical, operatic, or pop music, a ballet or drama production.
Address: 525 Commerce Street, Fort Worth, Texas
Official site: www.basshall.com
18. Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge
The Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge is a natural landscape within the city. There are 20 miles of hiking trails through protected areas of prairies, wetlands, and forests. This is a great place to step away for a walk, or learn about the efforts to preserve these natural resources in the Fort Worth area.
Start your visit at the Hardwicke Interpretive Center to learn about the nature and wildlife that are in the reserve, then enjoy one of the trails that range from 0.16 miles to 3.25 miles in length. The trails wind through various landscapes where you will see Lake Worth, Lotus Marsh, and the Bison Range.
Address: 9601 Fossil Ridge Road, Fort Worth, Texas
Official site: https://www.fwnaturecenter.org/
19. Trinity Park
Trinity Park is the best recreational area in Fort Worth. The park has a combination of paved and crushed limestone trails, equestrian trails, and map indicators for paddling routes along the Trinity River. The park is the best place to go for walking and biking, and there are convenient kayak launches directly off the public trails.
The Dream Park children's area has an expansive playground park for children of all ages. For everyone else, there is plenty of green space for sunbathing and picnicking. Rental bikes are available at the park.
Address: 2401 University Drive, Fort Worth, Texas
20. The Vintage Flying Museum
Fans of flying machines have much to get excited about when visiting Fort Worth. First stop should be the Vintage Flying Museum at Meacham International Airport. This superb collection of vintage aircraft offers visitors a chance to fly aboard a historic WWII-era DC3, as well as seeing iconic aircraft such as a B-29 Superfortress up close.
Also worth seeing is the Fort Worth Aviation Museum. This excellent museum is home to a vast collection of US-made aircraft. Also worth a visit, the American Airlines CR Smith Museum features displays and artifacts relating to the history of one of the country's largest airlines.
Address: 505 NW 38th Street # 33S, Fort Worth, Texas
Official site: http://vintageflyingmuseum.org/
Where to Stay in Fort Worth for Sightseeing
The best place to stay in Fort Worth is right downtown, where the city has done a great job of restoring its historical architecture. A lively entertainment scene revolves around the Sundance Square area, while the art galleries, museums, and gardens are two to three miles to the west, near Trinity Park.
The cute Molly the Trolley offers free rides on a set route in the downtown area. Below are some highly rated hotels in convenient locations:
- The AC Hotel Fort Worth is one of the newest hotels in the heart of downtown Fort Worth. It's within walking distance of Sundance Square, the Fort Worth Water Gardens, and all the downtown attractions and restaurants.
- The sleek and modern Omni Fort Worth Hotel, offering first class service and amenities, is in the southern part of downtown, across the street from the Fort Worth Convention Center and the Fort Worth Water Gardens.
- Housed in a building on the National Register of Historic Places, The Ashton Hotel is a boutique establishment, just steps from lively Sundance Square.
- The Hilton Fort Worth is a Fort Worth landmark hotel, built in 1920, and the place where President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy stayed the night before he was assassinated in Dallas.
- At the top-end of the mid-range bracket is the Embassy Suites, with large rooms and a great location in the Sundance Square area. Molly the Trolley stops right outside the hotel's front door.
- Also in a good location and offering a free five-mile shuttle is the TownePlace Suites. The Holiday Inn Express, on the west side of downtown, is just a five-minute drive or pleasant walk through Trinity Park to a number of museums and also offers a free shuttle service.
- The best budget hotels tend to be about a 10-minute drive outside the downtown core. La Quinta Inn & Suites Fort Worth Eastchase is perfect for sports fans, with the AT&T Stadium just over three miles away.
- The Best Western Fort Worth Inn & Suites is west of the city center and is surrounded by a selection of restaurants.
- North of the city, the Comfort Inn offers large rooms and good value. All of these hotels have outdoor pools.