What’s better than exploring a new city? Exploring it without spending any money!! Here are a few free things to do in Fort Worth, Texas.
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Free Things To Do in Fort Worth
Stockyards National Historic District
Fort Worth has a long history as a cattle city. In the spirit of that, your first stop should be the historic stockyards! Stockyard National Historic District was a major cattle market back in the day, and still hosts rodeo events nearly every weekend in its coliseum across the street.
If you’re coming to see the stockyards, you should plan your visit around their reenactments. Reenactments may be too strong a word: twice a day, they drive 20 head of cattle through the street for the tourists. It feels a little silly, but here’s why you should go: this is the easiest way to get within 10 feet of a longhorn. These animals are massive. They’re way bigger than the horses the cowboys ride, and their horns average a 7 foot wingspan. As they made their way down the street the cattle had to angle their heads in order to not hook the car windshields they passed! Cattle drives happen daily at 11:30am and 4pm: just plan to stand along the main street to watch.
Beyond the cattle themselves, the area has shopping, a maze, a mechanical bull, and the chance to get your picture taken with cowboys. The stores and restaurants are built into the old pens, so it’s a fun area to wander around and imagine what it was like 100 years ago.
Amon Carter Museum of American Art
Started by the daughter of a media mogul, Amon Carter loved western art and left his collection to start a free museum when he died. There’s an extensive collection of Frederic Remington and Charles Russell, probably the most recognized artists who depicted the American west. I loved that the two chose the same setting but their art is so different. Remington focused on horses, and you can seriously see the musculature of the animals in every painting and sculpture. Russell, on the other hand, did a lot of detail with his epic Montana backgrounds and made me officially add Montana to the bucket list.
The Amon Carter Museum also hosts pieces from throughout American art history. My favorites were the Hudson River School paintings. They have a little of everything, from portraiture to modern photography. I loved an exhibit by photographer Raina Matar where she photographed girls in the same place over time, or mother and daughter pairs in their homes. It was fascinating to see the ways these girls grew up, fit into their rooms and homes, and related to their moms. They’re also constantly rotating between temporary exhibits: currently they’re showing a series of 20th century women sculptors.
It’s only a block away from the Kimbrell Art Museum, but that one’s not free, so we’ll save it for another day.
The Water Gardens are unique to Fort Worth: a large park in the middle of the downtown area, but instead of greenery it’s a series of fountain pools. One, called the Active Water Pool, is one big geometric waterfall you can walk down amongst (and still stay dry). It felt like the kind of place you’d see proposals happening, if the couple was brave enough to not worry about dropping the ring into the pool.
Enormous cyprus trees line the Quiet Water Pool, creating an escape from the skyscrapers and traffic. The Aerated Water Pool is dotted with fountains, full of movement and white noise. If I worked downtown, I would bring my lunch here every day. It’s a surprisingly peaceful spot in the midst of the busy city.
Fort Worth Botanic Garden
Late winter is probably not the best time to visit a botanical garden, but we decided to check it out anyway. It’s much bigger than the front gate implies, and the fact that it’s free would draw me here every weekend for a walk to get some sunshine.
From flowers to vegetables to local trees, the Botanic Garden has a little of everything. There’s a nature walk area full of facts and interactive exhibits for kids, along with a field perfect for a picnic or throwing a Frisbee.
One note: the building locks its doors promptly at it’s listed closing time (varies depending on time of year), so plan accordingly if you need to use the bathroom or grab water.
There are tons of free things to do in Fort Worth! I hope this list gets you started. I’ll be sharing a few Ft. Worth restaurant recommendations soon, so if you’re looking for food near these spots stay tuned! And while you’re nearby, it’s worth checking out Dallas’ Bishop Arts District as well.
What do you look for when you’re planning a visit to a new city?? Comment below – I’d love to hear!