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Fort Worth Is More Than Just Cowboys — With Great Modern Art, Cool Hotels, and a Vegan Dining Scene



Fort Worth is a city of contrasts: Roughly 30 miles west of Dallas, with an international airport named for the two cities, it’s a rare place that proudly channels the spirit of the American West. Visitors can tap into it at the annual Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo, which kicks off each January, or any day at the Stockyards National Historic District, where the late 19th-century cattle and livestock market was born.

But a century and a half later, Cowtown has grown into so much more: Fort Worth was the fastest-growing big city in the country between 2021 and 2022. In the Cultural District, you’ll find new hotels, including the city’s first luxury property, and a cache of world-class museums collectively housing a staggering collection of art and antiquities. (One of the world’s most important photography collections lives here, as does the country’s only Michelangelo painting.) In the Near Southside neighborhood, a vegan scene that took root nearly two decades ago is blooming, with the city’s first plant-based fine dining restaurant and a new ice cream and donut shop. But plenty of barbecue can be found from traditional joints and an innovative new guard. These are just a few reasons Fort Worth is on our list of Best Places to Go in 2024, and its star is still rising.

Top 5 Can’t Miss

  • The new art-filled Bowie House is the city’s first true luxury hotel — a much-needed addition.
  • Maiden Vegan serves vegan tasting menus that will satisfy herbivores and carnivores alike.
  • Tadao Ando’s stunning Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth is home to more than 3,000 world-class works.
  • Get fitted for a custom, hand-made pair of cowboy boots at Lucchese.
  • Billy Bob’s, the world’s largest honky tonk, spans more than three acres — get your feet wet on a mechanical bull or watch top country acts perform.

Best Hotels

Courtesy of Bowie House


The Bowie House

Opened in late 2023, the Bowie House (pronounced ‘BOO-ey’) is touted as Fort Worth’s first luxury hotel, underscored by the plush Ash spa, a cabana-trimmed heated outdoor pool, and a stylish lobby bar that’s drawn a well-heeled local crowd for agave-based cocktails and freshly-shucked oysters. A contemporary Western aesthetic touches every room, from the cowhide-covered club chairs and equine-themed art and antiques in the sprawling lobby to the silver, saddle-shaped napkin rings at the Bricks and Horses steakhouse. Located in the city’s Cultural District, steps away from world-class museums, the property is also filled with art. Pieces are from hotel owner Jo Ellard’s own collection, and guests can learn about them on regularly held tours led by the resident gallery director.

The Crescent Hotel

With its glass facade and bright, art-filled lobby, the Crescent Hotel, which opened in the city’s Cultural District in November 2023, takes cues from its art institution neighbors. The property’s 212 plush rooms and suites are as inviting as the staff, who will help arrange a restaurant reservation, a tour of one of the nearby museums, and a ride there with the house car. The hotel’s all-day restaurant, Emilia’s, is an ode to Fort Worth’s sister city, Emilia-Romagna, with pastas and other Mediterranean fare. For the health-minded, the hotel is also home to a Canyon Ranch Wellness Club, the first stand-alone from the health spa and retreat brand, and guests have access to a slate of cutting-edge fitness equipment.

Hotel Dryce

Housed in a former dry ice warehouse, the 21-room Hotel Dryce is the perfect home base for those wanting to feel immersed in the city. Guest rooms have a minimalist, modern aesthetic and come stocked with thoughtful amenities like mini-fridges and soft robes, and locally-made art is on display throughout the boutique property. At night, Bar Dryce buzzes with hip city-dwellers and, on weekends, DJ sets.

Hotel Drover

Located in the heart of the Stockyards, Hotel Drover, an Autograph Collection hotel, is in prime position for soaking up the city’s Old West spirit in the form of cattle drives, honky tonks, and historic shops peddling all manner of western gear. When you’re ready for a respite, the Drover is a modern oasis, particularly in its enclosed Backyard with an outdoor pool, covered patios, firepits, and outdoor games. For a signature souvenir, visit the on-site Lucchese Boots, an outpost of the longstanding institution. There, you can have a pair custom-made with your pick of leather, design, and stitching.

Best Restaurants

Courtesy of Hatsuyuki Hand Roll


Goldee’s BBQ

To sample some of Texas’s best barbecue, head about 12 miles south of downtown Fort Worth to Goldee’s, where you’ll find housemade sausage, tender brisket, and what Texas Monthly called “the best spare ribs” in the state. Besides stand-out smoked meats, the young group of friends behind Goldee’s also churns out memorable sides like jalapeno cheesy grits and, for dessert, a platonically perfect bread pudding. Plan accordingly because they’re only open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

Taco Heads

Sarah Castillo started Taco Heads in 2008, first as a trailer and then as a food truck. These days, the Fort Worth native has expanded her empire with two brick-and-mortar locations plus Sidesaddle Saloon in the Stockyards and Tinies, serving Mexican fare. At Taco Heads find signature crispy beef and shredded chicken tacos alongside heaping bowls of loaded queso and a menu of agave spirit-based cocktails. Try the Mango Paleta, made with Castillo’s La Pulga tequila, and stay for the dulce de leche-filled churros for dessert.

Maiden Vegan

With a nickname like Cowtown, it might come as a surprise that Fort Worth is home to a small but mighty vegan scene. Thank Amy McNutt, who opened the plant-based haven Spiral Diner more than two decades ago and unveiled Dreamboat Donuts & Scoops in May 2023 and Maiden a month later. Maiden is the city’s first vegan fine dining restaurant, serving a four- or eight-course tasting menu, small plates at the bar, a Sunday roast, and a kid-friendly tea service.

Hatsuyuki Handroll Bar

“A lot of the Fort Worth locals were torn about sharing this social media because we didn’t want it to be hard to get a seat, but the word got out,” says restaurateur Sarah Castillo. The 25-seat sushi bar has indeed gone from hidden gem to hotspot thanks to chef Jun Mo Yeon’s meticulously sourced seafood and ever-changing menu. They don’t take reservations, but Castillo recommends adding your name to the list and waiting for your turn at one of the neighboring bars.

Piola

Housed in a charming 1920s-era cottage with an outdoor patio illuminated by twinkly lights, Piola’s Italian dishes are made from old family recipes. “It’s owned by a local couple who actually are onsite to run the restaurant,” says Gary Kurtz, concierge at the Crescent Hotel. The Cultural District institution is a go-to for date nights.

Best Things to Do

Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure


Fort Worth Stockyards

A visit to the Stockyards is a must for an authentic taste of Fort Worth. On the heels of a multi-million dollar update, the one-time livestock market dating back to the 19th century is now a historic district where you can experience the city’s cowboy culture legacy — and browse shops like Maverick and Lucchese to outfit yourself in western gear from hat to boots. These days, visitors can see the region’s legendary longhorn steers during the twice-daily drives down East Exchange Avenue, which only takes about 10 minutes.

Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

“I’m obsessed with every square foot of The Modern,” says Jonathan Morris, owner of Hotel Dryce. “It makes me so proud that one of the best contemporary art collections on the planet is right in our backyard.” The Tadao Ando-designed building houses a collection of more than 3,000 works by artists like Picasso, Mark Rothko, and Jenny Holzer. And don’t skip the Modern Shop, selling a range of Japanese gifts inspired by the architect. “Inside and out, it’s a stunning environment and my absolute favorite place to spend time solo and or with friends in Fort Worth,” says Morris.

Kimbell Art Museum

The Kimbell is known as much for the iconic structures housing its art than it is for its small-by-mighty gem of a collection. Around 350 thoughtfully curated works are exhibited across two buildings. The first, a series of elegant arches, was designed by architect Louis Kahn to softly illuminate the art with natural light while protecting it from the Texas sun. More recently, the Renzo Piano pavilion was envisioned by the renowned Italian architect. Spend time soaking up the one-of-a-kind collection, and don’t miss Michelangelo’s “The Torment of St. Anthony” — the only painting by the renowned artist in the U.S., made when he was just 12 years old.

Amon Carter Museum of American Art

In 1961, newspaper publisher Amon Carter opened his free-to-enter museum, which, at the time, was dedicated to Western art. More than six decades later, there’s still no charge to see the collection that’s grown to include a trove of American art, with thousands of works on paper, including pieces by Winslow Homer and Georgia O’Keefe, and one of the most comprehensive photography collections in the country. By advanced request, pieces not currently on display can be brought into the museum’s library for a more intimate viewing. The Kimbell, Modern, and Amon Carter museums are all within short walking distance, and Sarah Castillo recommends museum hopping, then breaking to picnic on the museum lawns. “We would go as a kid, and I still go,” she says. “It’s a great view of downtown.”

Billy Bob’s Texas

Sprawled over three full acres, Billy Bob’s is the world’s largest honky tonk. Music legends like Willie Nelson and Travis Tritt have graced its stages, and any time of day or night, you’ll find a mashup of neon signs, bull riding (mechanical or, on weekends, the IRL version), pool tables, barbecue, and bars pouring shots of tequila and slinging bottles of beer. (The record is 16,800 in one night during the Ryan Bingham show.)

Sid Richardson Museum

Given Fort Worth’s bounty of art, it could be easy to overlook the Sid Richardson Museum, says the Crescent’s Gary Kurtz, but that would be a mistake. Located in Sundance Square, the collection is anchored mainly with paintings by Western artists Charles M. Russell and Frederic Remington but includes some of Remington’s famed bronze sculptures. The permanent collection and rotating exhibitions aim to illuminate the American West, both its romantic and realistic legacies — something that adds context to a visit to the city and that you can’t see anywhere else.

Best Shopping

Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure


Lucchese Boots

Founded by Italian brothers who immigrated to Texas in the 19th century, Lucchese has been the go-to shop for cowboy boots since. Nowadays, the brand sells boots in all manner of heights, stitching, and leathers, from ostrich and crocodile to Pirarucu fish. Try on a pair of the 17-inch Priscillas, the most popular women’s boots, still handmade in Texas.

Record Town

“I could spend an entire weekend digging the crates at one of the many record stores around town, but my fave is Record Town for their well-curated collection of rare vinyl finds,” says Jonathan Morris of Hotel Dryce. Part record shop, part cultural landmark, music lovers can find many genres and artists inside the longstanding institution.

Ephemera Plant Shop

What started as a stall at the Brooklyn Flea is now a beloved Fort Worth brick-and-mortar, bursting with leafy greens and plenty of character. Find potted tropical plants and an expertly-curated selection of comic books, cacti, succulents, and all the required gear for making your own terrarium, which you can do at one of their daily classes or DIY.

Morgan Mercantile

Sarah Castillo recommends Morgan Mercantile in the city’s Near Southside neighborhood for its collection of excellent Panther City (one of Fort Worth’s nicknames) branded tees, hats, and hoodies. The friendly shop, run by husband-and-wife creatives, also carries gifts like prints, bags, and bandanas.

Best Time to Visit

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The best times to visit Fort Worth are from March to May and September to November, avoiding the soaring summertime temperatures and the school break crowds. Weather in the spring and fall is more pleasant for outdoor activities and a host of annual festivals and events. In the spring, come for the Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival or the Main St. Fort Worth Arts Festival, and in the fall, there’s Fort Worth Oktoberfest and the Lone Star Film Festival. In January and February, the weather can dip into the 30s or 40s, but there are plenty of inside attractions, like the Cultural District art museums and events like the annual Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo.

How to Get There

Dallas-Fort Worth International (DFW) is one of the world’s busiest airports, with flights connecting to destinations worldwide. From DFW, downtown Fort Worth is only about 20 miles west. You can get there via taxi or a rideshare service like Uber, but getting around the city is easier with a car, so consider renting one at the airport. Another option is the Trinity Railway Express (TRE), a commuter rail service that connects Fort Worth to Dallas, with a stop at DFW in between. The ride from DFW to Fort Worth takes about 30 minutes and costs $2.50.

Neighborhoods to Visit

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Near Southside

Situated about a mile south of the city center, Fort Worth’s vibrant and eclectic Near Southside neighborhood was revitalized in the early 2000s. On Magnolia Avenue, the neighborhood’s main corridor, you’ll find art galleries, vintage shops, cafes, and restaurants, including chef and restaurateur Amy McNutt’s vegan Spiral Diner & Bakery.

Cultural District

Home to a dense concentration of museums, Fort Worth’s Cultural District is a haven for art enthusiasts. In one stretch, find the Kimbell Art Museum, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, and the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. Nearby, see the Cowgirl Hall of Fame & Museum and Will Rogers Memorial Center, which hosts equestrian events and the annual Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo.

Downtown Fort Worth

Downtown Fort Worth centers around Sundance Square, the walkable, 37-block stretch of restaurants, shops, galleries, and venues like Bass Performance Hall. The area is home to well-preserved architecture, and its popular public plaza is called the “living room of Fort Worth.”

How to Get Around

Driving is the transportation of choice in the sprawling city, but ride-share services like Uber have a strong presence if you aren’t planning to rent a car. Fort Worth also has a bus system operated by Trinity Metro, with routes connecting neighborhoods and major attractions.





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