Grab your Stetson and pull on your boots for a town that’s taking the reins for tourism in Texas
When Qantas launched direct flights to Dallas-Fort Worth last year to provide better connections to the US East Coast, it also opened up direct access to two of the great cities of Texas. While Dallas may take most of the limelight, the neighbouring city of Fort Worth is the real hidden gem in the South West US.
Established in 1849 as an outpost following the Mexican-American War, Fort Worth became a stop on the cattle trail and the centre of the ranching industry. Today it offers a unique getaway combining cowboys, culture and hip bars and restaurants.
See and do
On most weekends you can grab a beer and watch the rodeo at the Fort Worth Stock Yards, a short drive from downtown. The rodeo at the Cowtown Coliseum features bronco riding, calf roping and mutton busting – in which kids in helmets cling to the backs of startled sheep (YouTube it, it’s hilarious). 500 NE 23rd St, Fort Worth. +1 817 624 4741.
Located in the stock yards is Billy Bob's, the world's largest ‘honky tonk’ (country music bar) holding over 4,000 people and featuring a professional bull-riding arena, concert stage (regularly featuring guests like Willie Nelson) and dance floors where the Texas shuffle is always in order. 2520 Rodeo Pl, Fort Worth. +1 817 624 7117.
Still on the Northside, the city’s Cultural District is home to five world-class museums, all adjacent to each other on Camp Bowie Boulevard. The National Cowgirl Museum tells the stories of the pioneer women of the West. Amon Carter Museum of American Art specialises in American photography. The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth has Warhol, Pollock, Rothko and a sublime architectural design by Tadao Ando. Time Out’s pick, the Kimbell Art Museum, is home to Michelangelo’s first work, ‘The Torment of Saint Anthony’ (c1488).
Downtown Fort Worth’s Sundance Square is at the heart of the action in the city and must-dos in and around the Square include the JFK Monument, Sid Richardson Museum, Peters Brothers Hats and the Retro Cowboy store. When they are playing a home game in nearby Arlington, the Dallas Cowboys are the hottest sporting ticket in Texas. Catch a game at the imposing $1.4 billion Jerry Jones Stadium.
At Firestone and Robertson, take a tour of this converted warehouse and sample a the boutique TX Blended Whiskey that's fast become a bartender's favourite in dens across the state. 901 W Vickery Blvd, Fort Worth. +1 817 840 9140. Rahr Brewing create 17 craft beers each year, including Fort Worth favourites the Ugly Pug (dark lager) and Buffalo Butt (amber larger). On a Wednesday night or a Saturday afternoon when you can sample three full beers for under a tenner. 701 Galveston Ave, Fort Worth. +1 817 810 9266.
Eat and drink
The Near Southside district has been undergoing a gentrification in recent years with new bars, cafés and restaurants in converted buildings along Magnolia Avenue. It’s Forth Worth's version of Fitzroy.
Located in a former gas station, Ellerbe Fine Foods offers farm-to-table cuisine in a unique setting. 'Patio' dining is where petrol bowsers once were and the main dining room is in the old shop. 1501 W Magnolia Ave, Fort Worth. +1 817 926 3663 Across the road, you'll find the best Hemingway Daiquiris in town at the Usual. On any given night, there are also a couple of food trucks parked out the back. 1408 W Magnolia Ave, Fort Worth. +1 817 810 0114.
Brewed, a coffee house-restaurant-bar-slash-study den, is where locals in the know head for barista coffee, craft beer, a great lunch menu, an outdoor terrace and free Wi-Fi. Order a White Rascal craft brew or a flat white and a mac and cheese. 801 W Magnolia Ave, Fort Worth. +1 817 945 1545.
Across town at the Woodshed, on the banks of the Trinity River, you'll find great Texan cuisine from chef Tim Love and live music most nights of the week. The wood-smoked burgers here reign supreme. 3201 Riverfront Dr, Fort Worth. +1 817 877 4545.
The best Tex Mex in Fort Worth is found at Joe T Garcia's Mexican Restaurant, served up in the lively patio garden that seats 1,000. 2201 N Commerce St, Fort Worth. +1 817 626 4356.
Where to stay
Located in the heart of downtown, the Omni Hotel Fort Worth offers comfortable and modern guest rooms, as well as several bars and restaurants, including Whiskey & Rye, where the Manhattans and Whiskey Sours are made with a true Texan kick. 1300 Houston St, Fort Worth. +1 817 535 6664.
A two-hour drive from Fort Worth outside the small town of Graham is Wildcatter Ranch, where alongside its famed wood-fired steaks, the property is known for outdoor activities including horseback riding, four-wheel ATV tours, archery and clay target shooting. 6062 Highway 16, Graham. +1 940 549 3500.
Qantas flies daily from Melbourne to Dallas-Fort Worth via Sydney. Time Out flies to over 100 different airports around each year and they don't come better than Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport’s Terminal D. On arrival, expect short lines at immigration. When you're ready to fly home, the terminal offers 30 restaurants and bars, as well as an art tour, walking track and yoga studio. The two-hour wait before a flight has never been so enjoyable.