The Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District (a bit of a mouthful, we know) is often at the top of people’s lists when they book a trip to Texas. Once a major rest stop for cowboy drovers en route to the Red River and Indian Territory, this district champions its cowboy history and offers its visitors one of the most immersive experiences of cowboy culture in the whole of Texas. Home to rodeo arenas, barn dances, authentic saloons and the famous daily cattle drives, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better district to discover what cowboy culture is all about. Here’s a guide to our favorite activities at ye olde Stockyards. We’ll try not to go on for too long, but it’s hard when there’s just.so.much.
Fort Worth Herd Longhorn Cattle Drive
It would be criminal to miss the Stockyard’s famous cattle drives whilst you’re in town, especially since they happen twice a day, every day. A tradition that has seen Fort Worth earn its nickname as ‘Cowtown’, these drives offer you a unique glimpse into the district’s past as genuine cowhands herd cattle through the town. Close your eyes and the sounds alone will have you feeling like you’re in the middle of a Western film. The jingle of spurs, the bawling of the cattle and the click of hoofs – there’s no better welcome to the cowboy state than this one.
The Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame
Located in an old barn (well, where else?) this museum is dedicated to telling the stories of over 70 cowboys and cowgirls that managed to make a name for themselves in the great history of the West. Experts in either rodeo or cutting (or both), each person has their own booth filled with memorabilia detailing their life achievements. Photos, videos and written information will have you clued up on the state’s most revered cowboys and girls in no time. There’s also a wagon collection and a John Justin Trail of Fame. Wondering who John Justin is? This guy, born and bred in Fort Worth, spent his life building up the Justin Boot Company and is now one of the city’s most prominent leaders. It’s a really interesting place, so be sure to put aside a few hours for your cowboy education.
Pearl’s Dancehall & Saloon
As the old saying goes: ‘When in Texas, dance like the Texans do’. Okay, we tweaked that one, but we couldn’t resist heading over to Pearl’s to try out a truly Texan tradition, so we think you should give it a go too. That’s right, it’s time to don those cowboy boots and get in line. Pearl’s Dancehall & Saloon was the brainchild of the famous Buffalo Bill Cody when he decided the Stockyards needed a spot of nightlife all those years ago. The building is historic and you’ll feel as though you’ve stepped back in time as you try your hand (or feet) at the two-step. A venue that hosts live music and raucous Honky-Tonk events every week, Pearl’s is one place you don’t want to miss.
Western Wear Shopping at Fincher’s
Now, if you want to the really look the part, you just have to get your hands on some authentic Texan threads. Set right in the heart of town, Fincher’s is the place to head for everything from boots to hats to belt buckles with your initials on. This place has been in the business of kitting out cowboys for over a century, and there’s nowhere else in town as good as Fincher’s if you want a hand crafted custom fit cowboy hat.
Fort Worth Stockyards Stables
If you’re anything like us, a few hours at the Stockyards will have you itching to get in the saddle and start talking with a distinct Western drawl. Well, maybe not, but riding along the Trinity River, Western style, is a one-of-a-kind experience, and there’s no better place to have a go at it than in Texas itself. You can choose between half an hour and hour long rides on the beautiful and calm horses that call the Stockyards home. It’s the perfect way to see the surrounding landscapes as you follow the river and cross railroad tracks along the way. Do everything on this list and you’ll come back a bona fide cowboy, or thereabouts.