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The Fort Worth stockyards is a historic district located in Fort Worth, Texas and designated on the National Register of Historic Places. The late 1800s were the heydey of the stockyards. Between 1866 and 1890 more than four million head of cattle poured through the stockyards while on the famed Chisholm Trail. Before the railroad arrived in 1876 it was a place to stop, resupply and get some rest before crossing the Red River into Indian Territory. Today there are a lot of fun things to do in the Fort Worth Stockyards and it has become a major tourist attraction. The Fort Worth stockyards have a rich history and a lot of famous and infamous people have passed through the area. You could easily spend the weekend having fun and experiencing all the area has to offer.
- 1. Catch A Championship Rodeo
- 2. Go Two-Stepping At Billy Bob’s Texas
- 3. Watch The Cattle Drive
- 4. Grab A Bite To Eat At Stockyards Station
- 5. Shop For A Classic Lone Star Cowboy Hat or Boots
- 6. Visit The Stockyards Museum
- 7. Visit John Wayne an American Experience Museum
- 8. Take a ghost tour of the Fort Worth Stockyards
- 9. Visit the historic White Elephant Saloon
- 10. Take A Ride on A Horse
- 11. Check Out the Petting Zoo
- 12. Ride A Mechanical Bull
- 13.Spend The Night In A Historic Hotel
- 14. Check out Mule Alley
- 15. Grab a Drink and Check Out the Happenings on Exchange Street
Accomodations near the Fort Worth Stockyards
1. Catch A Championship Rodeo
Located in the heart of the Fort Worth Stockyards, the historic Cowtown Coliseum has hosted Presidents, Kings, Queens, all sorts of entertainers and of course, cowboys. Every Friday and Saturday night you can visit this historic venue, catch a championship rodeo. Unless you plan on riding herd over a bunch of cattle, there is no better way to have a real cowboy experience than getting up close to rodeo. Featuring bull riding, calf roping, barrel racing, bronc riding and more, the rodeo puts on a great exhibition of professional rodeo cowboys and cowgirls. They even have events for kids where they do calf and mutton scrambles. The Cowtown Coliseum, home of the stockyards championship rodeo, is the place to be for some of the best rodeo action around.
2. Go Two-Stepping At Billy Bob’s Texas
While Arkey Blue’s Silver Dollar in Bandera Texas is the oldest honkey-tonk in Texas, Billy Bob’s in Fort Worth is the world’s largest honkey-tonk. With over 127,000 square feet of space, housing thirty bar stations, live music, a restaurant, gift shop, an indoor rodeo arena, wall of fame and autographed guitar room, it is truly an experience. They also offer dance lessons to get you two stepping in no time. Over the years over 50,000 bulls have bucked in the arena as celebrities such as Robert Duvall, Brooke Shields and entertainers have sat and experienced the spectacle. And talk about entertainers, Billy Bob’s has welcomed country music royalty over the years from Willie Nelson, Charlie Daniels, Merle Haggard and just about everyone else. Once, in 1983, while performing on stage Merle Haggard bought a round for the house. A Canadian Club with water back, 5,095 drinks, one for each patron, costing him $12,737.50 and earning him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest round ever purchased.
3. Watch The Cattle Drive
The headline event for the throngs of tourists is the twice daily cattle drive. The Fort Worth Herd of Texas Longhorns are driven from the stockyards down Exchange Street by the cowboys as hundreds line the street to catch a glimpse of these icons of Texas history. As a way to pay tribute to its western heritage when cattle drives were a common sight in the stockyards, the cowboys take out the herd, numbering anywhere from 20 to 50 longhorns and herd them down the street. The drive only takes about 15 minutes, but it is a reminder of the stockyards past and storied history.
4. Grab A Bite To Eat At Stockyards Station
Besides the restaurant in Billy Bob’s there are a lot of options when you get hungry. Coopers Pit BBQ is located across the street from Billy Bob’s, Trail Boss Burgers and Riscky’s BBQ are located on Exchange Street at Stockyards Station, the large shopping area. Love Shack Burgers and Shake Shack are both burger joints on Exchange Street as well as Riscky’s Steakhouse, H3 Ranch Steakhouse and Cattleman’s Steakhouse on Main Street just off of Exchange. There are other places as well and range from casual to more upscale. Whether you are craving Tex-Mex, Chicken fried steak, BBQ or burgers there are a lot of delicious options.
5. Shop For A Classic Lone Star Cowboy Hat or Boots
What better souvenir from Texas is there but a great looking cowboy hat or western boots? There are a lot of shops in the stockyards selling western wear with some iconic brands represented as well. Lucchese Boots has a store on Exchange Street where you can shell out some hard earned cash for some of the best handmade boots around. Since 1883 Lucchese has been making boots in Texas. Actors, singers and Presidents have worn Lucchese boots over the years. Leddy’s handmade boots is on the corner of Main and Exchange Street and they have been making boots since the 1920’s. In addition to boots Leddy’s sells all sorts of western wear including hats, saddlery and other leather products. There are several other clothing stores in the stockyards and you can find just the right combination to let loose your inner cowboy or cowgirl.
6. Visit The Stockyards Museum
The Stockyards Museum is located in the historic Fort Worth Livestock Exchange building. Built in 1902 as an office for cattle traders to do business, it was once known as “The Wall Street of the West”, due to all the money being exchanged. The Stockyards Museum opened in 1989 and welcomes thousands of visitors yearly from around the world. Here you can see exhibits telling the story of the livestock industry, the cowboys that brought the cattle to market, a light bulb from the Texas Palace Theater that has been burning since 1908 along with lots of other western memorabilia. The Stockyards is also a Blue Star Museum, which means from Armed Forces Day in May through Labor Day in September active duty military have free admission along with up to five family members. Otherwise, admission is $2 with kids under 12 free. The museum is open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10am to 5pm.
7. Visit John Wayne an American Experience Museum
John Wayne an American Experience is a 10,000 square foot exhibit that gives you a tour of the life of John Wayne, probably the best known film cowboy of all time. Owned by the Wayne Family, the John Wayne Experience tells the life of the man born Marion Morrison, from childhood to his lasting legacy in American lore. John Wayne’s career in the movies lasted over 50 years and the total number of movies he was in is unknown due to the fact a lot of earlier roles were unaccredited, however he appeared in more western movies than any other actor. What better place to showcase his career and accomplishments than Cowtown? In addition to all the letters, photos, movie props, costumes and personal items, there is also a gift shop where you can pick up something to remember your visit. The John Wayne Experience is next door to the Cowtown Coliseum and is open 7 days a week from 9am to 6pm.
8. Take a ghost tour of the Fort Worth Stockyards
The Fort Worth Stockyards are said to be one of the most active paranormal locations in the United States. What better way to find out for yourself but taking a ghost tour led by knowledgeable guides who know the history of the area? Every Thursday and Saturday at 7pm the tour leaves from the Cowtown Winery on Exchange Street and heads out to all the haunts. The Cowtown Winery itself is said to be haunted and the tour will take you through the stockyards and visit the places where the spirits are said to manifest. Show up early and down a glass of wine so you can face the haunts with a little liquid courage. On Friday nights at 7pm the Winery is the departing location for the Crime Tour that will take you to the scenes of crimes that have occurred in the stockyards. Whether you believe in other worldly spirits or not, at least you can enjoy a glass or two of wine.
9. Visit the historic White Elephant Saloon
There are a lot of bars around the stockyards, but The White Elephant Saloon is probably the most famous. Originally opened in 1884 in what was known as Hells Half Acre, the original White Elephant was one of the most glamorous and upscale gentleman’s saloons and gambling house at the time. The original owner, gambler Luke Short took part in the last Old West gunfight in Fort Worth when he and former Fort Worth Marshall “Longhair Jim” Courtright faced off in the street in 1887 and Short killed him. Witnessing the gunfight was none other than Bat Masterson. After changing hands several times over the years, The White Elephant was reopened on Exchange Street by celebrity Chef Tim Love. Check out the saloon, grab a drink and look over all the hats that have been left by people over the years. You will be in good company The White Elephant has welcomed Doc Holliday, The Earp Brothers, rodeo cowboys, and entertainers through its doors. It was also used in filming of the TV show Walker Texas Ranger.
10. Take A Ride on A Horse
Saddle up and go for a ride at the stockyard stables. Take a 30 minute or one hour trail ride where you will ride through town and on the trails. Ride along the banks of the Trinity River and down some of the area where the cowboys on the Chisholm Trail drove their cattle. Rides are for ages 8 and up with minors accompanied by an adult. Must be at least 4ft tall and weigh no more than 235. Rides cost $50 for a 30 minute ride and $75 for a one hour ride.
11. Check Out the Petting Zoo
Located next to the Cowtown cattlepen maze on Exchange Street, the petting zoo is a great little place to take the kids so they can get up close to…. the kids, lambs and other barn animals. Let your kids walk around and pet the animals as well as feed them. What better way to occupy your young ones and give them a break from walking around than to let them have a little interaction with some baby animals? The petting zoo is open 7 days a week from 10:30am to 5pm and admission is $5.00.
12. Ride A Mechanical Bull
Bust out your inner rodeo cowboy and hop on the mechanical bull, see if you can last 8 seconds. Next to the cattle pen maze you will find the mechanical bull. While it is kid friendly, I am sure they can crank it up a notch or two if you want to see just how you might far. For $8 you can get a brief feeling of what it might be like to be on a bucking bull in a rodeo arena with the crowds cheering you on.
13.Spend The Night In A Historic Hotel
Located on the same site since 1907, The Stockyards Hotel has been welcoming guests for over 100 years. In 1982 the hotel underwent a complete restoration and is part of the Historic Hotels of America. Over the years a lot of celebrities have stayed here including Willie Nelson, Terry Bradshaw, Dan Akroyd and Jim Belushi among others. Who knows you might even encounter a ghost since it is said to have spirits roaming about.
Another place said to have spirits roaming around is Miss Molly’s. A former Bordello, Miss Molly’s was built around 1910 above the Star Café. Said to be one of the most haunted spots in Fort Worth, Miss Molly’s 8 rooms are adorned with turn of the century décor and antiques. Who knows, you might see Jake the Cowboy roaming the halls. I wouldn’t worry though, unless he starts talking to you.
14. Check out Mule Alley
After a fire destroyed the horse and mule barns, new brick ones were built in 1912 to house the world’s largest horse and mule market during WW1 and had a capacity of 3,000 animals. Presently the alley between the brick barns is now a premier destination for shopping and nightlife. Today you can find restaurants, wine bars, brewpubs and retail shops. At the end of the alley is the Hotel Drover with 200 rooms and suites along with meeting rooms a wedding venue and restaurant.
15. Grab a Drink and Check Out the Happenings on Exchange Street
Sometimes you just need a break and a cold beer. When you want to take a break from walking around and seeing the sights, head over to Stockyards Station. Trail Boss Burgers is a great place to get a beer and sit out on the patio facing Exchange Street while you relax and watch everything going on. Check out the scene, relax and enjoy the company while you have a drink and maybe chow down on a really good burger.
You could also just grab a seat on a bench outside the RFD Station building on Exchange and listen to some music while taking in the view. Rural Media Group is a leading media group for rural and western multimedia. Their brands include RFD TV, Rural Radio on Sirius XM, The Cowboy Channel and The Cowgirl Channel. While you are on Exchange Street check out all the plaques on the sidewalk for all the people in the Texas Trail Hall of Fame.
A visit to the Fort Worth Stockyards is a visit to the history of Texas and the people that made that history. There are a lot of fun things to do at the stockyards and these are just some of them. There is also the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame Museum, you can take a ride on the Grapevine Vintage Railroad, a 45 minute ride, and much more. You can get a glimpse into the lives of real cowboys, attend a rodeo or concert, great shopping and dining and spend a couple of days learning about the rich history of Fort Worth. All this makes the Fort Worth Stockyards a must visit for the whole family.
Ivan Kralj says
Thanks for this cowboy ride through Fort Worth, Bob!
Those cattle are something!
I played the video of their promenade, and it feels like some of them can barely balance those gigantic horns!
Bob Bales says
Longhorns are impressive, imagine hundreds of them being driven up a dusty trail at one time.