If you’ve never been to Texas, stop momentarily and let the photographs flow through your mind as you imagine it. Before my first visit, I visualized cowboys, rodeos, longhorns, Stetson hats and rhinestone boots. When I arrived in the Stockyards District of Fort Worth, the snapshots I envisioned were brought to life.
Fort Worth, dubbed as “The City of Cowboys and Culture” is shaped by its downtown revitalization and urban renewal, its world-renowned cultural arts district, and rich pride in its Western heritage. A taste of this heritage can be savored in the Stockyards, a national historic district that offers: the Cowtown Coliseum’s rodeo’s and wild west shows; the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame; the world’s only daily cattle drive; and the “World’s Largest Honky-Tonk”, along with a plethora of restaurant choices, shopping, saloons, and accommodations.
The infamous club known as Billy Bob’s Texas is an absolute must on the itinerary. From live bull riding in the indoor arena to live country music by the nation’s top performers, this venue is more than just a boot-scootin’ bar, it’s a family friendly entertainment destination. Inside the expansive facility that can host up to 6,000 people, you will find: a celebrity handprint wall of fame, actual burger buns signed by famous musicians, pool tables and arcade games, along with a barbeque burger restaurant. My favorite of all the attractions was the Photo Bull, which offers a souvenir picture - that now hangs on my wall at home. Note: For out of town visitors with children, make sure to check the age policy before stopping by. The family friendly facility is in fact an alcohol serving bar, therefore parents are required to accompany the little ones.
Located in the heart of this historic district is the Stockyards Hotel – which is notably famous as being a hideout for the legendary outlaws Bonnie & Clyde. Beautifully restored to its original elegance and grandeur, every guestroom is unique in its décor reflecting the era of the Old West and the early 19th century. For over 100 years, cowboys and cattle barons, kings and queens of country music, and even an outlaw or two have found comfort and true southern hospitality at the Stockyards Hotel.
Maverick Fine Western Wear
I experienced a ‘first’while browsing the unique shops that offer Texas attire and tourist gifts. I was able to take a break during my shopping excursion and have myself a ‘cold one’ – all without leaving the store! Prop yourself on a stool at the bar, take a load off – then resume shopping. Two fantastic stores in the Stockyards District are: Fincher's White Front Western Wear and Maverick Fine Western Wear, which both offer big belt buckles, custom hats, and a variety of boots in all styles and colors – for those of you that want to not only feel like a Texan, but look like one too!
My dining experience at the Lonesome Dove Western Bistro was top notch. The service was that of true southern hospitality. Being female, the server took my order before the other guests at the table, and then proceeded to serve my drink and food before the others. Honestly, I was a bit taken back by this, especially since I have spent years arguing that women shouldn’t be treated any differently than men. But this experience left me craving for more chivalry!
With a menu influenced by all of the ingredients and cultures that have been a part of the West, Chef and Owner Tim Love bring to the table an inventive selection of steaks and seafood, along with dishes such as Wagyu Tomahawk, Kangaroo Carpaccio, Rocky Mountain Elk Ribeye, Wild Boar, and Rabbit & Rattlesnake. Of the dozens of restaurants I had the pleasure of enjoying during my visit to Texas, the Lonesome Dove takes first prize.
Top 6 Reasons to Visit:
Horseback Riding/Cattle drives/Rodeos
Saloons and shopping
Minutes from the Dallas Cowboys Stadium
Elk Sliders at Lonesome Dove
Being treated with an honest respect – better known as “southern hospitality”