Fort Worth is a vibrant city that is often overshadowed by the larger city of Dallas. But Fort Worth is a cultural experience in it’s own right! Fort Worth has a much different feel. It’s been said that if Dallas is the last city of the East, Fort Worth is the first city of the West.
Because of that, Fort Worth is family friendly. The laid back atmosphere lets you take a slower pace to let little legs keep up, while the western cowboy feel has been capturing the imaginations of children for decades.
The Fort Worth Zoo
Even though this is the oldest zoo in Texas, the Fort Worth zoo has had extensive renovations over the past 20 years. At the zoo you and your children will experience all the popular kid animals like lions, tigers and bears. Oh my! But you will also see animals that are not in many zoos, such as flamingos, meerkats, penguins and parrots.One of the most unique exhibits in the Fort Worth Zoo is “Texas Wild!”. Texas Wild! is an eight acre complex which contains seven separate exhibits. The exhibit contains many native Texan animals, such as bison, and has several historical touches to keep your children engaged.
Because the area’s temperature can rise to highs above 100s in the late summer, it is worth mentioning that there are several indoor exhibits – including the very large Primate House in which you can beat the heat.
The Zoo has been ranked the no. 5 zoo in the nation by USA Travel Guide, and a top zoo by Family Life magazine, the Los Angeles Times and USA Today. More about why the Fort Worth Zoo is the best zoo in Texas can be found here.
The Fort Worth Stockyards are the most iconic tourist attraction in the city. However, there is great value in this destination – even for locals. Most of the activities, including parking, are free!The area is rich in history. The Stockyards were on the Chisholm Trail, and over 4 million heads of cattle were moved through what would become known as “Cowtown” from 1866 to 1890. But if you are looking for a stuffy museum, this is far from it.
One of the best experiences Fort Worth has to offer is “The Herd”. The Stockyards have twice daily cattle drives (at 11:30 am and 4:00 pm) where your kids can see first hand the techniques and tools employed by the cowboys of the late 1800’s.
There is also a working train station where the Grapevine Vintage Railroad stops. Standing 5 feet away from a large train as it is coming into station is quite the experience for a child. If you plan ahead and want to spend the money, the ride itself is quite pleasant. It usually only runs on the weekends, so plan ahead.
There are several museums from which to choose. They have a small fee. As does the exciting Cattlepen Maze.
There are many places to eat if you find yourself there at meal time. Riscky’s BBQ offers all you can eat ribs, which may be a dad pleaser.
The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History is an old family standard. It’s hands on exhibits are great for the little kids (and the little kids inside us adults). A complete redesign was finished in November 2009, there are great new features to our favorite old museum. Our beloved Omni Theater (an IMAX dome) was revamped and is even more impressive. With ever changing feature presentations, every visit is different and exciting.
The Noble Planetarium, a favorite of school field trips for decades, is back with 3-D capability and a larger dome. One of the most unique things in the Planetarium is real-time images of the Sun and the Hubble Telescope feed. Great for all our future astronauts!
Through the glass walls of the five new Innovation Studios, you will be able to watch as children, teens and educators as they learn and experiment in workshops and classes. From nanotechnology to telescope building, there will always be something exciting to see.
And in the Fort Worth history area, there will be rotating exhibits on such wide ranging topics as the trolley system, aviation or Native American history to help expand our minds during our visit.
The Amon Carter Museum is a great museum that showcases western art. The museum has extensive galleries of western artists, the most notable of whom are Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell. The western artwork may make this art museum more approachable to children that claim to not like art. The cowboy, horse and Native American themed paintings and sculptures will inspire the imagination of all kids!
The Fort Worth Botanic Gardens is a fantastic place for children. The large spaces allow for family picnics and there are no need for quiet inside voices. The beautiful plants are a bonus for any children interested in nature. But even if your child can’t tell the difference between an oak tree and a tulip, they’ll still recognize how unique some of the plants are.The Japanese Gardens are also a kid pleaser, as they have a large koi pond. Nothing like feeding huge fish to make a child giddy!
Don’t forget your camera! The Gardens are often used as backdrops for wedding and graduation photography. Maybe a picture from your trip will make it into the Christmas cards this year.
The Kimbell Art Museum is a high quality fine arts museum in the heart of Fort Worth that works hard at being family friendly. While there is a charge for special exhibits, the main collection of the museum can always be viewed free. Even the special exhibits are half price on Tuesday. They host several special education events throughout the year, so keep an eye on their calendar. Ask at the Information Desk about their free family gallery guide!
The Fort Worth Nature Center is almost 4,000 acres containing preserved landscape and native Texan plants and wildlife. There are nine miles of paved roads that offer scenic views and access to their extensive trail system. The visitor’s center has a few interactive exhibits. Also, check out their educational calendar for classes and workshops for children and adults!