We usually go away for our wedding anniversary. However, with Jocelyn’s school program, the Memorial of Christ Death, the Special Talk, and higher travel prices due to Easter Sunday- we realized that it would just be best to have a “stay-cation” for our wedding anniversary. So what is there to do in Fort Worth, Texas? Here are the highlights of my hometown by districts. Perhaps you can gain some inspiration for your family fun, date nights, or “stay-cation” from a local’s perspective.
(In alphabetical order. I’ve placed an * next to must see areas if you’re on a brief time table.)
1. Camp Bowie District
On historic Camp Bowie Boulevard a few minutes west of downtown, you’ll find some of the finest upscale specialty boutiques, with items ranging from haute couture fashions and furs to fine jewels and housewares. My favorite store on Camp Bowie is Petunias & Pickle Bottoms Maternity Store. I frequented this boutique during my pregnancy with Jocelyn. Pregnant women like to (and need to) eat so, I discovered great places for lunch. Galligaskins is a great place for submarine sandwiches. Tokoyo Cafe has the freshest sushi and Tok fries on the west side of Fort Worth. I really like the atmosphere here. For desert you must get cake at Nothing Bundt Cakes. See, I was really hungry when I was preggo. No wonder I gained 50 pounds with my baby girl! Ridgmar Mall is located just down the road. With Neiman Marcus being relocated to The Shops at Clear Fork the feel and atmosphere of Ridgmar Mall is shifting. It’s main attractions are now the Cinemark Movie Theatre, Ridgmar Kids Club, and outlet stores.
2. Cultural Arts District*
Located just west of downtown Fort Worth are all of the gardens, museums, and The Fort Worth Zoo. If you’re visiting Fort Worth, take a good 2 to 3 hours to explore the Fort Worth Zoo. It has been rated among the top 20 zoos in the United States for good reason. The MOLA exhibit is wonderful, as well as the new Splash Pad for the kids. We frequent the Zoo splash pad during the summer months because there is no standing water for your kids to drown in. There are only places to run, slide, and splash. It’s a mommy’s worry free swim spot for the kids. Tip: Wednesday is half price admission day at the Fort Worth Zoo.
Take a stroll in the oldest garden in Texas, The Fort Botanical Gardens. The 110 acre garden is open daily from dawn to dusk, and admission is free. Bring your camera as you explore the acres of land, discovering butterflies, plants of all kinds, and an interactive nature path. The gardens are a perfect place to picnic, and for family pictures. Located inside of the Botanical Gardens is the serene Japanese Gardens. ($7 for adults; $4.00 for children.) Many events are held each year in the Botanic Gardens. My two favorite events are the Butterfly Festival (spring), and Fort Worth Concerts in the Gardens (summer). Each summer the Fort Worth Symphony invites you to picnic in the gardens as they play a 2 hours live laser light show and fireworks. This is a summer favorite in my household!!!
Venture over to Casa Manana “House of tomorrow to see a live Broadway Show. Take the children to see wonderful productions by the Children’s Theater. You’ll be impressed with the talent seen at Casa Manana. Casa Manana gives back to the community of Fort Worth by inviting the children of Fort Worth to attned one children’s threatre production for fee during school field trips.
If you visit Fort Worth during January, no doubt you’ll hear about The Will Roger’s Memorial Center. Established in Fort Worth, Texas in 1936, the Will Rogers Memorial Center now attracts in excess of 2 million visitors each year to the Cultural District. This 120-acre facility plays host to an extensive variety of cultural, corporate, educational and sporting events including many international-level equestrian and livestock shows. The Cowtown Marathon is loated here each Februry. And Each January is home to the Fort Worth Stock and Rodeo Show, a Fort Worth favorite. Kids love the stock show along with it’s Midway fill of rides. Year after year, the children of Fort Worth are given a free ticket to the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo. It’s great family fun!
Last but not least, be sure to visit the many Fort Worth museums:
Amon G. Carter Museum– View a renowned collection of American art—paintings, sculpture, and photography—housed in an iconic Philip Johnson-designed building in the heart of Fort Worth. On Wednesday mornings, during June and July, visit the museum at 10:00 for free story times followed by arts and crafts.
The Kimbell Art Museum– Fort Worth, Texas museum of international art with collections ranging from antiquities to 20th century contemporary art. Each fall we look forward to the Samurai Festival during October.
The Modern Art Museum– If contemporary, modern, or just plain weird art is your thing, visit the Modern Art Museum. Sundays are free at the Modern! Dine at Cafe Modern on Friday Nights where dinner is festive, romantic, and diverse. See new independent films in held at the Magnolia Theater located inside the Modern Art Museum Fridays-Sundays.
Fort Worth Science & History Museum is the first Children’s Museum in Texas, established in 1941. Let your little ones explore, roam, and create. For both adults and children, check out the Fort Worth Omni Threatre. The Omni Theater was the first IMAX screen in the Southwest and, with an eight-story domed screen and 30-degree stadium seating. The Omni’s 120-foot-wide screen places the audience in the center of the action, producing a sensation much closer to real-life than a conventional movie theater.
What about eating and shopping in the Arts District? Jason and I recommend: The Woodshed off University Drive for yummy Fort Worth BBQ. It’s near the zoo a.nd nestled against the Trinity River for a great view. If you’re looking for shopping drop by the open air University Park Village to shop for great finds at Anthropologie, Shephora, The Apple Store, Michael Kors, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, Vera Bradley and more. Another favorite spot of mine is Fort Worth Central Market. Saw what? Our HEB Central Market offers a playground for the kids, live music on its covered patio, and cooking classes- which makes a wonderful date night in my opinion!!!! Trust me, it’s really cool!!
3. Clear Fork
Located off Fort Worth’s only Tollway in southwest Fort Worth are the new Shops at Clear Fork. With Neiman Marcus as it’s anchor, this will be the prime location for luxury shopping in Fort Worth. Many of the stores will open in Fall 2017. Keep checking their website to see what new shops will open. Just across the traffic circle be sure to have a delicious lunch at the Press Cafe. Their fresh salads and hamburgers are divine! There are 2 outdoor patios where you can dine with friends in the cool spring air. This is also where the Trinity Trail Head is located. Rent a bike on site or walk/jog/run along the 40 mile trail. If you’re in the area on a Saturday morning stop by the Trinity Trail Head to shop fresh produce at The Clear Fork Farmer’s Market. It’s open year round.
4. Downtown*Fort Worth is a big city with a small town feel. This is really apparent as you walk the streets of Downtown Fort Worth. If this is your first time in town, here are some definite places in Downtown Fort Worth to visit.
Sundance Square spans 35 blocks in Downtown Fort Worth. Sundance Square is filled with dozens of options for shopping, dining, and entertainment. The 42 buildings in Sundance Square – both modern and historic – total more than three million square feet of retail and office space. Fashionistas check out Loft, H&M, and Black House White Market for trendy apparel.
If you’re just wanting to stroll and let the kids run, you’ll really enjoy the Sundance Square Plaza. Think of it as a 55,000-square-foot living room: a place to hang out with friends, indulge your senses, and let your everyday worries disappear. On any given day, you might find a band playing, a yoga class in progress, or thousands enjoying an outdoor movie. Sundance Square Plaza is a masterpiece of urban design, complete with a fantastic fountains, four giant umbrellas, and a state-of-the art sound and lighting system. My family and I love going to the Plaza for Summer Movie Nights. They’re free!!!
Grab your popcorn a catch the latest box office hit move at AMC Palace 9 Movie Theatre. Better still, visit the beautiful Fort Worth Bass Performance Hall. This lovely love building is the permanent home to major performing arts organizations including the Fort Worth Opera, the Texas Ballet Theater, the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra and the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition and Concerts. Voted one of the “top 10 opera houses in the world” by Travel + Leisure magazine, Bass Hall’s interior resembles a classic European opera house, while it’s bold exterior boasts two, 48-foot tall hark angels that are cultural icons for the city. It’s truly a sight to see. Bass Performance Hall also doe strives to educate and expose the children of Fort Worth to culture. Each year over 100,000 2nd graders take a field trip to Bass Hall for free. I love going here each year with my students to see “Peter and The Wolf.”
Are you in need of a good laugh? Fort Worth has 2 comedy clubs located in the heart of downtown: Hyena’s Comedy Night and Four Day Weekend. Last but not least, if you visit Fort Worth during the month of April drop by and enjoy the annual Main Street Arts Festival. Purchase one of a kind art pieces, jam to live music, and sample tasty foods while strolling the streets of downtown Fort Worth. It’s the highlight of Spring here in Fort Worth. Park downtown for free for free after 5pm in downtown Fort worth. You can also have your parking validated if you’re visiting one of the stores at the Sundance Plaza. (I love Fort Worth.)
For places to dine in downtown, Jason and I recommend: The Bird Cafe, Del Friscos, Simply, Fondue, The Cheesecake Factory, and the new Salsa Limon!!! And just on the outskirts of downtown, tucked away on Florence Street try the Bon Giorno Coffe for coffee, pastries, games, and above all else- FREE WIFI.
5. The Foundary
The Foundary district, (TFD) is a new community, adjacent to 7th Street and the Museum District, with creative office, retail and restaurant and, future event and market space. It mixes urban, industrial, and art all in one area. It is home to small local shops, live music, and some the best wall murals in all of Fort Worth. Keep your eye on this up new area as more shops are being added.
While in The Foundry be sure to taste the great food at the Fort Worth Food Park, the first and finest park in Fort Worth. Enjoy a variety of gourmet dishes served up by some of the area’s top local chefs all in one serene park-like setting. Families, groups, or anyone just looking to kick back and sample a variety of high-quality food trucks are welcome. The Park features outdoor games, live music and other special events. The Park is also pet-friendly and all food trucks accept credit cards. Enjoy free wireless internet while you eat too.
At the intersection of Hulen & Overton Park you’ll find the only Barnes & Noble Book Store in Fort Worth and one Half Price Book Store. Honestly, this breaks my heart because I love to read. One by one our bookstores are disappearing. The book store is a favorite past time of my family for story times, book signings, and a hot cup of tea on a cold winter morning. It’s cafe place is a great place to have a quick lunch while catching up with an old friend. Just across the street you’ll find Fort Worth’s Hulen Mall, home of my favorite clothing store (EXPRESS). Just behind the mall is the Hulen Street Movie Tavern. Over the years, Hulen has slowly become a place of retail and less for shopping and dinning. However, there still great places for unique brunch and dinner. I suggest Wasabi Sushi for a tasty lunch. The prices are excellent! At the intersection of Hulen and Hartwood, as you near TCU, look for The Locals Food Kitchen for a delicious fusion of cultural cuisines. The price is right and so is it quiet location if you wish to avoid crowds for lunch and date night.
7. Near SouthSide
Near South Side is the place where you sit bsck and chill. Fort Worth’s most eclectic district has really come into its own in the last several years – and there’s no sign of it slowing down. My husband and I affectionately call this neighborhood “hipster side”. You must must visit Brewed!!!! It’s my favortie place to kick back with friends, play board games, and sample the latest coffee. It feels like a little taste of Brooklyn New York to Jason and I. Try the Nachos at Yucatan Taco Stand. If you’re vegan or on a Paleo Diet, you’re in the right spot. Drop by Spiral Diner for your vegan fare. In need of coffee or a tasty treat? We recommend Stir Crazy or Great Harvest Bread Company. If beer is your thing, take your friends to Rahr & Sons Brewing. Mid week they offer beer tasting and pizza. Personally, I detest beer (yuck), but Jason likes it. He says you should definitely check it out if you’re a beer fan. Finally, you must sample Funky Town Donuts! They are huge and delicious!!!
As for events, Near Southside has no shortage of fun events. From March thru October come out and enjy a family friendly month concert, food trucks, arts, crafts, and more during Friday on the Green. Stroll Magnolia Street during ArtsGoggle. This popular arts festival is free to the public, family-friendly event attracts a crowd as diverse as the neighborhood itself with live music, artistic displays of every kind, food, drink, and fun for everyone. And don’t forget Open Streets. Open Streets is a four-hour Sunday event each April that closes Magnolia Avenue to traffic and opens the roadway up to cyclists, food trucks, dog walkers, skateboarders, yoga classes, face painters and much more. The street is open for the neighborhood to come out and play.
8. Panther Island
You must visit Panther Island. Just north of downtown Fort Worth, Panther Island sits on the Trinity River and is home to Fort Worth’s only drive in movie theatre, Coyote Drive In. It feels so retro and fun. While on Panther Island try a few water sports on the Trinity River. We’ve gone kayaking, paddle boarding, and fishing off Panther Island. Don’t worry about having equipment. You can rent it there from Backwoods Paddle Sports. Panther Island Pavilion hub is not only for waterfront activity in Fort Worth. Think concerts, festivals, 5k races, tubing, kayak & SUP rentals, a public beach and so much more! Plus it’s home to the only waterfront stage in Texas. Have a beer (again not my thing) at the Panther Island Brewing Company, and float the Trinity River on a hot summer’s day to stay cool.
Fort Worth is nicknamed, “where the west began” due to it’s stockyards located north of downtown Fort Worth, TX. Okay, time to become a 2nd grade teacher here. The Fort Worth Stockyards are what put Fort Worth on the map in the 1800’s was it’s beef industry. Cowboys of old would drive their cattle and down Chisholm Trail to Fort Worth to shipped all over the United States via train. This is what made Fort Worth so different from it’s sister city Dallas. The original stockyards are still here and well preserved down to the the brick side walks. Twice a day you can witness a real live cattle drive through Main Streets of Fort Worth. If you want to feel like a real cowboy or cowgirl, visit the Fort Worth Stockyards. In my opinion, it’s a tourist trap, but worth seeing if you’re here. While you’re in that neck of the woods check out the famous Joe T Garcia Tex-Mex Restaurant. We don’t go there for the food, we good there for the atmosphere and it’s lovely gardens.
10. WatersideDo you want a nice stroll away from crowds? At Bryant Irving and Arbor Lawn you’ll discover the newly established community of Water Side. It is home to Fort Worth’s only Whole Foods store. Just behind the Whole Foods are residential areas, Trinity Trials, and open air parks. Take a couples cooking class for date night at Sur la Table. Eat pizza at the new Blaze Pizzeria, grab a Popsicle from Steel City Pops, and walk the lovely Trinity Trails. Or stay and play at the new park while listening to music from the hundreds of outdoor speakers. Waterside is serene, clam, and small in size.
11. West 7th Street*
Shop, dine, workout, and play on West 7th Street. This urban district borders the Cultural Arts District, Downtown Fort Worth, and The Foundary District. There are great places to eat all over West 7th Street. Jason and I recommend Times Ten Cellers for wine tasting and pizza, Rodeo Goat for Texas sized hamburgers, Steel City Pops for the gourmet all natural popsicles, Terra Mediterranean Grill for for healthy cusine, Blue Sushi and Kona Grill for their $5.00 Happy Hours, and above all Velvet Taco for the best gourmet tacos. (My favorite items from Velvet are the local tots with scrambled egg. And you must try the Picnic Chicken Taco. Ah man, now I’m hungry.) Do you want to have dinner and a movie? We love the 7th Street Movie Tavern. Just across the way, visit the Montgomery Ward Plaza for fine dinning with Gloria’s and Sushi Axiom. Stuffed after all that eating? Need to work off a few pounds? You’re in the right spot. West 7th is home to the ZYN22 Spin Club, Social Running Club, and Fort Worth Running Club. We really like West 7th Street!Gain easy entrance to the Trinity Park from 7th Street. Trinity Park is home to a duck pond, a miniature train, several playgrounds and Trinity Trails, the best hiking and biking trails around town. Don’t worry about bringing your bike, you can rent one from the multiple kiosk! We like to take a cardboard box and slide down the big hills on a warm sunny day. And in the summer, Trinity Park is home to outdoor productions for Shakespeare in the Park.
Dont want to visit the park? Hang out and play giant Jenga, old school Pac Man, Skee Ball and pool while eating hot wings at Fort Worth’s adult only retro arcade, Barcadia. They even play older music mixed in with today’s hits. Barcadia is a our favorite place to go for date night when we want to pretend that we are teenagers. Monday & Tuesday nights are free play at Barcadia! And just across the way, sip your latte while putting mini golf at yet another Fort Worth Coffee Shop.
12. Just Outside of Fort Worth
Just short 30 minute drive from Fort Worth you’ll find major attractions such as:
Six Flags Over Texas– (Arlington, TX) Dallas/Ft. Worth’s biggest, most popular attraction featuring dozens of thrill rides, shows, and activities (Arlington, Texas). Parents: Don’t be afraid to take your 4 or 5 year old. There are many rides just for the little ones in Bugs Bunny Boom Town. I take Jocelyn once each year and she really enjoys herself. However, I’d avoid the park during the heart of summer. It’s too hot!
The At&T Stadium (Arlington, TX) is the home for the American Football team Dallas Cowboys. It seats over 50,000 enthusiastic fans in this colossal size stadium. Warning! Tickets are pricey. When it’s not football season you can catch large concerts tours and other athletic events here.
The Globe Life Park (Arlington, TX) is home of American baseball team the Texas Rangers. We enjoy going out to the ball game and having a classic hotdog and soda as we watch the game. There is even a children play area located inside of the Globe Life Park! We love letting Jocelyn play here when we make it out for a ball game.
If you like fast cars then visit the Texas Motor Speedway. The racetrack is actually in Fort Worth. However, it at the most Northern point of the city, 30 minutes from it’s center of I-35, that you feel as if you’re no longer in Fort Worth. The Texas Motor Speedway, is the premier motorsports facility in Texas hosting IndyCar, NASCAR Cup, Xfinity and Truck series races. Not too far from the Speedway are great places to eat and shop just down I-35 at the Alliance Town Center. We suggest you get a meal at BJ’s Restaurant. The poozookie is Jason’s favorite dessert. Local tip: Beware of the traffic in this area. I-35 is under constant construction and you’ll often find yourself stuck inching along the I-35 corridor. It’s maddening!So there you have it: Fort Worth, Texas from a local’s view point. I’m thinking mostly of hanging out with family and friends. Each weekend I walk the streets of Fort Worth in my door to door ministry. During the summer months, I spend my free time keeping Jocelyn occupied when we’re not at school. Indeed, there is so much to do here. You can see why we have stayed in my hometown of Fort Worth. It is a big city (800,000 people and growing) with a small town feel. It’s where the west began, constantly changing and thriving, and certainly “worth living” here.