Nothing says Fort Worth  (or Texas) like a district dedicated entirely to cattle. The Stockyards, located two miles north of downtown in a heritage village–type atmosphere, represent the heart of Fort Worth’s cultural history.
Make no mistake, this is genuine cowboy stuff—livestock pens, saloons, a rodeo arena, and dozens of other historic structures tell the stories of the cattle drives and the rugged trail hands that followed their trampled tracks 100-plus years ago. Despite some touristy elements (Western-themed trinket shops, Longhorn cattle photo-ops), the Stockyards offer visitors a true sense of what the Wild West was like back in its heyday.
A good place to start is the Fort Worth Visitor Information Center (130 E. Exchange Ave., 817/625-9715, www.stockyardsstation.com , open daily), a half-mile past the giant Fort Worth Stockyards sign that spans over Exchange Avenue just off Main Street. Friendly and helpful staff will point out buildings and provide information about guided tours of the district. Across the street, the stately 1902 Livestock Exchange Building (131 E. Exchange Ave.) captures the business side of Fort Worth’s  agricultural activity from a historical and modern perspective.
Inside, the small Stockyards Museum (817/625-5087, www.stockyardsmuseum.org , Mon.–Sat. 10 a.m.–5 p.m.) showcases artifacts and documents related to the area’s agricultural heritage. Next door, the 1908 Cowtown Coliseum’s (121 E. Exchange Ave., 817/625-1025, www.cowtowncoliseum.com ) understated grandeur is a perfect backdrop for one of the world’s oldest indoor rodeo arenas.
It’s still home to the Stockyards Championship Rodeo (Fri.–Sat. at 8 p.m.) and occasionally Pawnee Bill’s Wild West Show, featuring trick roping, shooting, and riding as well as cowboy songs and entertainment. Check the Coliseum’s website for dates and times.
Another worthy activity is the Grapevine Vintage Railroad (817/625-7245, www.gvrr.com ), a rustic train ride running most weekends throughout the year between the Stockyard Station and the outlying community of Grapevine.
The Stockyard’s daily cattle drives (11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.) showcase a dozen magnificent Longhorn cattle sauntering down the main drag accompanied by period-costumed drivers. The event offers a nice touch of living history, but don’t feel compelled to plan your day around the five-minute occurrence.
To make the most of your trip to the Stockyards, visit on a weekend evening for a full slate of events: a stroll through Exchange Street’s Western shops, a hearty meal at a steak house, a rodeo at the Coliseum, and top it all off with a whiskey or cold beer at the legendary White Elephant Saloon.