Exploring Fort Worth’s Urban Side

Earlier this week I wrote about Fort Worth’s deep-rooted cowboy heritage and how the city played a prominent role during the cattle drives in the early 20th century. That heritage still holds strong and is visible throughout the city. But it’s not all cowboys and rodeos in Fort Worth. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised to see the number of cultural institutions throughout the city and how the urban landscape is taking shape through revitalization projects.

Fort Worth is a city of contrasts. Quite literally, as you drive down West Lancaster Street you have all things cowboy at the Will Rogers Memorial Centre on one side of the road, and museum after museum on the other side. But these two contrasting sides weave seamlessly together through the various districts and make for one incredible city.

The Cultural District

The Modern Art Museum in Fort Worth.

You could easily spend an entire week just exploring the many museums in the Cultural District. Located west of downtown Fort Worth, the Cultural District is comprised of botanic gardens and parks, a community art centre, a planetarium, a Cowgirl Hall of Fame, and museums dedicated to science, history, and American and modern art. Architecturally, these buildings are impressive just in and of themselves.

I didn’t have enough time to visit many spots in the Cultural District but I did have a chance to check out the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame and the Kimbell Art Museum.

The Kimbell Art Museum showcases international pieces of art including its claim to fame, The Torment of Saint Anthony, the only painting by Michelangelo in the Americas. The contents of the museum are impressive but it’s the architecture of the museum that really shines. The space is bright and airy, using natural light from recessed skylights to illuminate the artwork, and features wooden floors and polished concrete.

Near Southside

Often referred to as ‘Magnolia’ after the main street of which the area centers around, Near Southside is that neighbourhood in a city that makes looking cool seem effortless. Here you’ll find breweries, artist spaces, restaurants, shops and music venues, most of which are locally owned. There is a strong community feeling to the revitalized area with a slight bohemian undercurrent.

The perfect example of what you’ll find in Near Southside is Brewed, a coffee house/gastro-pub and eatery that prides itself on being the “local’s living room”. Their drink selection is really unique, offering cold coffee and kombucha on tap. They offer over 60 craft beers, 14 of which are on tap and made right in the state of Texas. Their food selection is also impressive (I highly recommend the duck fat fries!) and use only locally sourced ingredients. The space also seems to have been built for the Instagrammer. Housed in a converted warehouse, the interior has been furnished with items found at garage sales and on the sides of streets, a chance to give them a new life. There is also a space for private events and live musical performances.

Downtown/Sundance Square

The entertainment and business district of Fort Worth centers around Sundance Square; 35 blocks of shopping, restaurants, entertainment venues, and outdoor spaces. At the core is Sundance Square Plaza, which features water fountains that children can run through, a large mural dedicated to the Chisholm Trail, and giant leaf-like umbrellas where you can sit and people watch. Walking distance from Sundance Square you can visit the JFK Tribute site, the Fort Worth Water Gardens, and the stunning Bass Performance Hall.

I really enjoyed my time exploring Fort Worth. The Stockyards gave me the chance to experience of bit of the old ‘wild west’ while the rest of the districts pleasantly surprised me with a more urban feel. Fort Worth really is a city of contrasts but it has seamlessly been able to combine these differences together. Add in the fact that the people of Fort Worth are exceptionally welcoming and friendly and you have a destination that’s definitely worth a return visit.

Travel assistance provided by Texas Tourism and Fort Worth CVB. All opinions remain my own.

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