Arriving outside the Stockyards Hotel in Fort Worth Texas I hesitate to get out of the car. Turning to the driver I breath “Is this place for real?” “Yes, Ma’am” comes the reply. It’s like something from a movie set, cobblestone streets, men walking past with big ‘ole Cowboy hats and what’s that…Texas Longhorns ambling down the street being mustered by real American Cowboys? They don’t call Fort Worth “Cow Town” for nothing!
Fort Worth Texas is like no other city, totally embracing its western heritage and thrilling visitors with twice daily cattle drives, year round rodeos and line dancing to boot at the world’s largest honky-tonk.
I’m staying in Fort Worth’s historic Stockyards District filled with sites from the Old West; Texas-themed shopping, Western saloons and Tex-Mex and BBQ cuisine. My first stop is the iconic M.L. Leddys established in 1922 and still creating custom, handmade boots, saddles, clothing, belts, buckles and more for discerning customers. Leddy’s famed Vaquero boots line the shelves in every conceivable colour and style. The quality and craftsmanship are exceptional and at over $3,000 USD they’d want to be!
But it’s not all cowboy boots and Texas Longhorns. Fort Worth is home to some serious culture too. Fort Worth’s Cultural District is a hip neighbourhood ranked among the nation’s most impressive art-museum hubs including the Kimbell Art Museum and Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Fans of the Wild West will love the guns, boots and other cool Wild West memorabilia at the National Cowgirl Museum, dedicated to honouring the women of the American West and their extraordinary courage and pioneering fortitude. Likewise the Amon Carter Museum of American Art showcases Western paintings, sculptures and photography to round out your cultural experience.
After a day of cowboys and culture head to cocktails at the Stockyards newest ‘Speakeasy’ Niles City Hall Saloon, a true to style pre-prohibition cocktail bar channelling the heights of the good old days. Barman Alex makes a mean Negroni and the friendly locals show their southern hospitality happily chatting to an Aussie at the bar. Ask nicely and you might snag a tour of the original speakeasy downstairs, filled with fascinating history and memorabilia. This is where the who’s who of barons, ranchers and cattle bosses would imbibe in celebrations of a good day in the Stockyards.
Retiring to my ‘Cowboy Corner’ Suite at the Stockyards Hotel there is the distinct sound of scratching coming from the wardrobe. What? After a thorough investigation the source can’t be found and I’m convinced the hotel is haunted, but with too many cocktails under my cowboy belt to care, I chuck in the ‘Cowboy Silencers’ aka earplugs and sleep soundly. The hotel has been welcoming famous (or infamous) faces since 1907 including gangsters Bonnie & Clyde who occupied a nearby suite in 1933. Despite the bumps in the night, I absolutely adored this hotel. You couldn’t ask for a more comfortable and quirky stay in Fort Worth and despite the suspected paranormal behaviour I’d stay again in a heartbeat!
If you think cowboys died out with the Wild West or are only kept alive in Hollywood westerns, think again – it’s alive and well in Dallas-Fort Worth Texas, land of cowboys, culture and cocktails y’all!
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