I recently had the chance to experience a long weekend exploring the two cities of Dallas and Fort Worth with Travel Texas to see what they’re all about. There are so many fun things to do in either city, that it was hard to pick what to include in this guide! Major Fort Worth attractions include line dancing at Billy Bob’s and seeing the daily cattle drive at the Stockyards, while Dallas tourist attractions include the Margarita Mile and fun neighborhoods like Deep Ellum. Don’t forget you also have to try some authentic Texas BBQ while in DFW! Whether you’re planning an itinerary for a weekend escapade from Austin like me, or flying in for a business trip from California or NYC, here’s some of the best things to do in Dallas and Fort Worth!
Things to Do in Fort Worth
Go Line Dancing at Billy Bob’s Texas
Billy Bob’s Texas is the “world’s largest honky-tonk” and the perfect place to go country line dancing during your time in Fort Worth. The place is huge - 127,000 square feet! - and features everything from bars and a dance floor to a bull-riding arena. It doesn’t get more Western than this! It’s no wonder why it’s one of the top things to do in Fort Worth. The biggest names in country have all played at Billy Bob’s over the years, like Willie Nelson and George Strait. So make sure to check their event calendar to see what concerts and more they have coming up. And last but not least, stop by for country line-dancing lessons on Wednesday and Thursday nights!
Explore the Fort Worth Stockyards and See the Herd
If you’re looking for the Old West and Texas cowboys, you’ll want to explore the Stockyards National Historic District. Here, you can see the world’s only twice-daily cattle drive, country dance at Billy Bob’s Texas, see the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, and shop for genuine cowboy boots and other gear. The Fort Worth Herd cattle drive happens at 11:30 am and 4:00 pm every day, and is a tribute to the bygone era of the Old West. You’ll see real Texas cowboys driving Texas Longhorns down the streets of the Stockyards, just like they did back in the day. Visiting the Stockyards is quite possibly the top tourist attraction in Fort Worth, and for good reason! It’s also a really fun activity to do with kids.
While you’re there, don’t miss out on the opportunity to show for quality cowboy boots at stores like Maverick Fine Western Wear and M.L. Leddy’s. You can even get custom-made boots, though they’ll cost you a pretty penny. Besides boots, you’ll find everything from Western-influenced clothing to custom cowboy hats to leather goods and jewelry among the shops all along the historic Exchange Avenue.
Hit Up The Fort Worth Ale Trail
You can find everything from a local nano brewery to a large craft brewery producing over 20,000 barrels of beer a year amongst the 10 breweries on the Fort Worth Ale Trail. Make sure to download a passport for the Ale Trail and get each of the 10 breweries stamped off as you go. You can also pick up one of the Brewery Passports at the Fort Worth Visitor Center. You’ll be rewarded for your efforts too… Get 5 brewery stamps and you’ll earn yourself a Fort Worth Ale Trail t-shirt. Claim all 10 and you’ll get a $100 Dickies.com gift card! I only made it to one stop on the Ale Trail during my trip to Fort Worth - Rahr & Sons Brewery! We went for their popular Wednesday night weekly tasting, where for $15 you get a pint glass, tour of the brewery, and beer samples. The place was packed, and even had live music to enjoy! You can visit Rahr & Sons Brewery on Wednesdays from 5-7:30pm or Saturdays from 1-3pm to check it out yourself. And if you’d like to know more about the Fort Worth Ale Trail, you can find everything you need to know here.
Discover the Food and Shops of the Near Southside
The Near Southside is a 1400-acre district slightly south of downtown Fort Worth, full of renowned restaurants, hip local shops, and historic landmarks. Here is where you’ll find Magnolia Avenue, the city’s self-proclaimed “Restaurant Row,” with its great murals, local farm-to-table cuisine, coffee shops, cocktail bars, and more. Some places to check out here include Melt Ice Creams, Avoca Coffee Roasters, Heim Barbecue, Kent & Co Wines, and Saint Sofia. Stop by the shop Fort Worth Locals to pick up cool Fort Worth branded souvenirs like indie t-shirts and mugs, and then head next door to Ephemera Terrariums and Plant Craft to build your own terrarium!
Where to Eat in Fort Worth
One of celebrity Chef Tim Love’s Dallas restaurants alongside Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, Woodshed Smokehouse is the place to get wood-smoked meats, done over mesquite, oak, hickory, or pecan (and it tells you which one on the menu!). They have everything from rattlesnake meat in their giant paella (only get this if you’ve got a big group, as it truly is massive) to brisket or bulgogi salmon tacos.
Joe T. Garcia’s
This Mexican restaurant has been a staple of Fort Worth since 1935, so it’s no wonder lots of locals messaged me about growing up going here when I posted a picture of myself dining here on Instagram. The building is deceptively huge, with gorgeous outdoor patio garden area for warmer days (it seats up to 1000!). Don’t expect a large menu selection here though - their menu is short and sweet, relying on their staples. Their fajitas are served all day, so get those, a margarita, and their cheese nacho appetizer.
Cannon Chinese Kitchen
Cannon Chinese Kitchen serves tradition Chinese cuisine in a unique atmosphere - that of a resorted 1930s house that makes you feel like you’re eating at grandma’s. Their focus here is on quality and freshness - a lot of their dishes are made from scratch! They’re only open for dinner though, so plan accordingly. I started with the hot and sour soup and had the kung pao chicken as my main. Everyone else seemed to love the char siu bao (shredded pork on steamed buns with sweet and sour sauce) and the duck fried rice!
Righteous Foods is all about clean eating and natural, organic foods. We stopped in for breakfast one morning of the trip, and I had the blueberry and banana French toast. This is a great place to grab an açaí bowl or some avocado toast. They’re also all about detox and retox, with a large selection of juices, teas, drinking vinegars, and smoothies, and then original cocktails for later.
Melt Ice Creams
Located on Magnolia Avenue, this ice cream shop is known for its rotation of flavors every six weeks. You can get their Always Flavors, like Beans, Chocolate Chocolate, Salt Lick, Cup of Texas, Velvet Vegan, and Cookie Crack, or see what’s new on their Sometimes Flavors list. I highly recommend the Salt Lick and Cookie Crack! It’s also a great spot if you’re searching for vegan or gluten free ice cream choices.
Other Options: Leaves Book and Tea Shop, Avoca Coffee, BREWED, Heim Barbecue, Lonesome Dove Western Bistro
Things to Do in Dallas
Go Mural Hunting in Deep Ellum
Fact: if I moved to Dallas, I’d probably want to live in Deep Ellum. This trendy neighborhood is lively and colorful… literally. It’s plastered with murals on every corner! You’ll find tons of hip restaurant choices here, bars, music venues, local shops, and more. You could easily spend hours photographing all the Instagrammable murals that Deep Ellum has to offer. Also, don’t forget to find the famous Traveling Man sculpture - he’s a cutie and a great photo op! If you’re looking for fun places to go in Dallas, Deep Ellum is a great way to spend an afternoon or night out.
Get Cultured at the Nasher Sculpture Center
There are a lot of options for museums in the Dallas Arts District, but we chose the Nasher Sculpture Center to spend one morning of our trip at. Here you’ll find one of the best collections of contemporary art sculptures on the planet. There’s a sculpture garden out back, where you’ll find the works of Pablo Picasso, Richard Serra, Mark di Suvero, and more. Or, head inside to see two floors full of pieces by artists like Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Henri Matisse, and Sterling Ruby, just to name a few.
Sip and Savor the Dallas Margarita Mile
Raise a glass to the Dallas Margarita Mile! Dallas claims to be the home of the frozen margarita (the first frozen margarita machine was invented there in 1971), and they take those duties pretty seriously. Download the Margarita Mile app and check into spots on the Mile along your way to win some Dallas swag! Stops on the Dallas Margarita Mile include Beto & Son (with their famous Liquid Nitrogen Margarita that you can read about further down the page), the Revolver Margarita at Revolver Taco Lounge, the Roca Rita at The Tipsy Alchemist, the "Original" El Fenix Margarita at El Fenix, and the CowboyRita at the AT&T Stadium, just to name a few.
Catch a Professional Sports Game
Sports are big in Texas. Between the Dallas Cowboys and the Dallas Mavericks, there’s quite a lot of Dallas pride out there in the sports world. Depending on the time of year you’re in the city, catching a home game for the Cowboys or Mavs can be a super fun way to spend the day. During my trip, we caught a Mavericks game, and even got a special backstage tour of the team’s locker rooms and practice court (I shoot a few hoops myself). And, believe it or not, but the Dallas Mavericks are actually on the Margarita Mile! The American Airlines Center has the special Mavarita, an electric blue margarita made of Patrón Silver, Blue Patrón Citronge Orange, fresh lime juice and simple syrup. So you can cheer on the Mavs AND get your marg on.
Where to Eat in Dallas
Beto & Son
Come for the Mexican food, stay for the liquid nitrogen margaritas. You cannot hit Dallas’ Margarita Mile without a stop here! With their Tableside Nitro Alchemy Bar, you can choose a frozen drink (margarita, frosé, or piña colada), and then watch as they used liquid nitrogen to make the drink frozen right at your table. Possibly the best and smoothest frozen margarita I’ve ever had, and definitely a unique experience!
When we came here for lunch, the line was literally down the block - probably because it’s Dallas' most award-winning BBQ joint! They serve food each day until they run out, so make sure to get there early. Try the beef rib, brisket (their most popular dish), pulled pork, and the “Hot Mess” - a mega-loaded sweet potato jammed with brisket, bacon, green onions, and more that is a local favorite.
Not only is this place Instagram heaven, it’s also heavenly delicious. Try pies like Dr Love (red velvet chess pie), the Smooth Operator (French silk chocolate with a pretzel crust), and Cloud Nine (a creme pie with salted caramel, butterscotch custard, and brown sugar meringue). Their Bishop Arts location (at 314 N. Bishop Avenue) is both their flagship store and cutest location. So stop by for some pie and a ‘gram, and then wander around the fun Bishop Arts area while you’re in the neighborhood!
While you’re in Deep Ellum in Dallas, stop by Vidorra for some Mexican cuisine and cocktails. And by cocktails I mean margaritas. And by margaritas, I mean go with a group and get their Large Vidorrita, which a giant fish bowl style margarita that’s enough for everyone. I also really liked their Flaming Fundido (which is melted Oaxaca cheese served with tortillas, if you didn’t know).
Other Options: Revolver Taco Lounge, Hattie’s, Azucar Ice Cream Company, Lockhart Smokehouse
If you’re coming from Austin like me, I highly recommend checking out the luxury bus service Vonlane for easy transport between Austin and Fort Worth or Dallas. The Vonlane buses go between Dallas or Fort Worth (there are stops in each) to Houston or Austin. The whole coach is designated as first-class seating, so you get plenty of legroom, seat recline, and amenities like drinks, snacks, and wi-fi. I found it much more comfortable and convenient than flying, and overall a faster and cheaper option as well. While driving is another option, if you’re willing to splurge a little, this is a relaxing and luxurious way to travel within Texas and arrive at your destination feeling refreshed. 100% would do it again!
Where to Stay
During my time in Fort Worth, I stayed at the Omni Fort Worth. The Omni is very conveniently located centrally downtown and is the perfect base for exploring Fort Worth from. While in Dallas, I stayed at the Adolphus Hotel. The Adolphus opened in 1912 and is a Dallas icon that has been recently restored. I absolutely loved the design of this boutique hotel, and highly recommend staying there.
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