Your Historical City Guide to Fort Worth, Texas

Fort Worth is one of the most fascinating cities in America. Filled with history, it’s a place where cowboys and cowgirls can play by day and where a couple can enjoy a night on the town.

Fort Worth has a rich history filled with humble beginnings, from an Army outpost on the Trinity River in 1849 to now the fifth largest city in Texas and the 13th largest city in the United States. Known as the place “where the West begins,” Fort Worth received this moniker courtesy of Fort Worth businessman and advocate Amon Carter, who believed it captured the friendly and open spirit of the growing city.

Since its founding, Fort Worth has provided the backdrop for special events, worthwhile attractions, and family-friendly parks. Fort Worth is a great place to live and has a wealth of history to learn from. If you are considering moving to Fort Worth, here are some of the most popular places to explore where the West is truly alive.

                                       An aerial view of downtown Fort Worth. (Photo courtesy of Barbara Smyers)
An aerial view of downtown Fort Worth. (Photo courtesy of Barbara Smyers)

The Panther City

In addition to being "Where the West Begins," Fort Worth has another well-known nickname of "Panther City." You may notice around town that many businesses and organizations have panther in the name. It all started back in the late 1800s, when the city was hit hard economically and the population dwindled. Fueled by a growing rivalry between the two cities, a Dallas lawyer and former resident of Fort Worth wrote a column for the Dallas newspaper that claimed Fort Worth was such a sleepy town that a panther had recently napped in the middle of downtown. Instead of accepting the insult, Fort Worth embraced the nickname and adopted the panther as a symbol of its perseverance and tenacity. Panther statues pay homage to this spirited tale, and a panther can even be spotted across the top of the Fort Worth Police Department badge.

One of many sleeping panthers in Fort Worth.
One of many sleeping panthers in Fort Worth.

Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District

No other place tells the story of Fort Worth better than the Fort Worth Stockyards. The Stockyards are a great place to understand life in the West during Fort Worth’s humble beginnings. You can see a twice-daily cattle drive, visit the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, and shop for western wear and other souvenirs from local vendors. Grab a meal from various restaurants, from fine dining to the city’s best chicken fried steak. Finally, you can visit Billy Bob’s Texas, the world’s largest honky-tonk, where visitors are greeted by a history video narrated by George Strait and can enjoy live music, historic memorabilia, and a hoppin’ dance floor. Billy Bob’s also offers its guests an opportunity to watch Live Pro Bull Riding takes, and is known for hosting some of the biggest stars in country music, rock n’ roll, and pop music. There are a variety of hotels in and near the district for you to choose from if you would like to make it an extended stay. The Fort Worth Stockyards has much to offer, so make sure you have lots of time to explore when you come.

Longhorns walk down the street during the daily cattle drive. (Photo courtesy of the Fort Worth Stockyards).
Longhorns walk down the street during the daily cattle drive. (Photo courtesy of the Fort Worth Stockyards).

Sundance Square

Sundance Square is a vibrant, energetic, pedestrian-friendly 37-block district in downtown Fort Worth that attracts over 10 million visitors annually. Besides offering several cuisine options from local and international restaurants, Sundance Square offers visitors a menu of things to do, from live music, theatre, children’s entertainment, art festivals, yoga, shopping and more. Sundance Square has everything you need to enjoy a good time in this incredible city.

The Annual Christmas Tree is placed in Sundance Square Nov. 2021. Sundance Square is visited by over 10 million people annually. (Photo courtesy of Fort Worth Magazine).

Fort Worth Botanic Garden

Suppose you desire a more peaceful, serene place to visit. In that case, the Fort Worth Botanic Garden is a destination you shouldn't miss. One of the oldest botanical gardens in Texas, it was established in 1934. The Fort Worth Botanic Garden and Botanical Research Institute of Texas is one of the largest centers for botanical exploration and discovery in the United States. The garden is 110 acres and has 23 specialty gardens, which include a Japanese garden, a rose garden, and a conservatory. The garden also plays host to the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra during its summer concerts series where you can bring your family and enjoy music and a picnic under the stars. If you want stunning garden views, agricultural displays, and horticultural exhibits, the botanical gardens are for you.

Visitors enjoying the Rose Ramp and the Lower Rose Garden at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden on March 31, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Ellman Photography)

The Fort Worth Zoo

The Fort Worth Zoo was founded in 1909 and is the oldest continuous zoo site in Texas. Frequently named as one of the best zoos in the country, the Fort Worth Zoo is a fun and affordable attraction for animal and nature lovers with special opportunities to feed animals and experience daily shows. The Zoo’s Museum of Living Art is an award-winning zoological exhibition space for reptiles that brings park-goers eye-to-eye with some of the world’s most exotic and endangered species. In 2023, the newest section of the zoo opened: Predators of Asia & Africa. Visitors journey through tree-line trails along waterfalls and rock structures as they try to spot lions, leopards, cheetahs, and more of the most skilled hunters of the animal kingdom. The Fort Worth Zoo is a must-see for anyone who visits the city.  

                                              Fort Worth Zoo Entrance. (Photo courtesy of Fort Worth Zoo)
Fort Worth Zoo Entrance. (Photo courtesy of Fort Worth Zoo)

Log Cabin Village

Ever wanted to know how things were in the 1800s and how the pioneers lived? Fort Worth’s Log Cabin Village can paint a great picture of the “pioneer way” in Texas, taking visitors back to the 19th Century. The Village features authentic log cabins, artifacts, and other historic buildings preserved in their original condition. While there, visitors can take a walking tour of the grounds and visit with the village's historical interpreters who teach about the culture of the 1800s, architectural techniques, and how food was gathered. Fictional pioneers throughout the town perform tasks from a typical day of a pioneer, like blacksmithing, weaving, and cooking, providing an authentic pioneer experience for visitors. The Log Cabin Village is always a family favorite and your kids will love pretending to be pioneers as they let their imaginations go wild.

Log Cabin Village, a house museum consisting of saved historic structures.(Photo courtesy of Carol M. Highsmith)

The Amon Carter Museum of American Art

The art lover in you will delight in a visit to the Amon Carter Museum of American Art located in the Cultural District. The museum houses a curated selection of American art masterpieces, both from its permanent collection and in presentations of world-class exhibitions. It collects the best examples of artistic creativity from some of the most significant names in American art. Explore works from the eighteenth century to the present day, including sculptures, paintings, photographs, and works on paper.

The Sid Richardson Museum

The Sid Richardson Museum highlights the American West during the 19th Century and features the paintings of Western artists Frederick Remington and Charles Russell. You can view an impressive collection of these two artists who helped shape the image of the West in popular culture and build on the legacy of Fort Worth’s role in the American West. The museum is always free, and is located in Downtown's Sundance Square. When you leave the Sid Richardson Museum, you will be well-educated in the history of the American West, so make sure this treasure is on your list of places to visit when you come to Fort Worth.

                                                The Sid Richardson Museum in Fort Worth, Texas

Fort Worth Has A Lot to Offer - Discover It

As a new resident of Fort Worth, you can explore the city’s many historical sites, popular attractions, and various types of museums, each contributing to the city’s character. From Western history to modern culture, Fort Worth has something for everyone.

Get ready to explore this fascinating city on the Trinity River and make it your own. Fort Worth offers a remarkable blend of experiences that will make you fall in love with it. Welcome to Fort Worth, where the West comes alive and panthers sleep in the streets.