On a recent tour of Texas, I visited Fort Worth, the Wildcatter Ranch in Graham and the city of Dallas where she visits the best of both worlds on an action-packed road trip.
She explores the USA’s largest state’s rich history, tastes the cowboy lifestyle and discovers the best of what modern, sophisticated Texas has to offer.
Here are 10 of the best bits of both worlds:
1. Book in to the cowboy heart of Fort Worth at the historic Stockyards Hotel, where Bonnie and Clyde once stayed, www.stockyardshotel.com It’s a busy and fun area with lots of places to eat and drink. Try your first amazing Texan steak meal at the H3 restaurant adjoining the hotel, washed down with some Bison Butt beer.
2. Watch a cattle drive, buy a cowboy hat and experience everything cowboy in the Stockyards National Historic District, www.fortworthstockyards.org
3. Visit Billy Bob’s Texas, the biggest honky tonk in the state for country music, bull riding, line dancing, arcades and much more, www.billybobstexas.com
4. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were regular Fort Worth visitors. Walk in their footsteps in Sundance Square. It’s a good-looking, modern space in the midst of the city and an ideal place to stop for lunch (the Bird Café is an excellent choice) or just sit and people watch
5. Study the Chisholm Trail Mural in Downtown and imagine Fort Worth during its cattle drive heyday.
6. Enjoy thrills and spills of modern-day cowboys at the spectacular, once-a-year Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, www.fwssr.com It’s a huge, fascinating event. Think UK agricultural show times 100 meets full-on rodeo thrills and spills. I loved the giant spectacle and held my breath at the courage and strength of the bull and bronco riders.
7. Take a short walk from the show arena to learn about legendary Annie Oakley at the National Cowgirl Museum, www.cowgirl.net
8. Sit on a rocking chair on your own porch at the gorgeous Wildcatter Ranch just outside Fort Worth in the small, charming town of Graham, which conversely has America’s largest downtown square. Go horse riding, shoot a shotgun and a bow and arrow, feed longhorn cattle, swim in an infinity pool and eat cowboy-style steak! I did all that and thoroughly enjoyed the luxury relaxation, www.wildcatterranch.co
9. In Dallas take a picture in Pioneer Plaza among the bronze sculptures of cattle to honour those early settlers
10. Visit Old Red Courthouse Museum for the story of Dallas County from prehistoric times to J.R. Ewing and beyond.
1. In Fort Worth: The Kimbell Art Museum is known as America’s best small museum. Established in the 1930s it has a growing collection of definitive pieces from around the world, www.kimbellart.org The city’s Modern Art Museum’s collection includes works by Bacon, Picasso, Pollock and Warhol. Our visit here on a Sunday morning was all too short and very thought provoking. Not only is the building a stunning space in its own right, you can easily stretch your time here with a superb brunch at Café Modern looking out over beautiful views, www.themodern.org
2. In Dallas: stay at The Magnolia Hotel and enjoy its art deco beauty. It’s in an ideal central location with easy and quick access to most of the city’s sights. The city’s first skyscraper, it houses the iconic (but not original) red Pegasus on its roof. Our family’s suite with adjoining rooms, kitchen and lounge also had magnificent views over the city, www.magnoliahotels.com
3. Get your bearings and marvel at the stunning 360 degree views of the city from the GeO-Deck at Reunion Tower, www.reuniontower.com
4. Take an easy walk to see the (original) Pegasus at the Omni Dallas, the John F. Kennedy Memorial, the former warehouse district of West End, Thanksgiving Square, The Eye sculpture and the flagship Neiman Marcus store.
5. The fascinating Sixth Floor Museum housed in the former Texas School Book Depository reveals all about the JFK assassination and provides a fascinating insight into events leading up to, during and after the event in the 1960s. This building, made so familiar over the years is transformed into a not-to-be-missed experience. It’s so well put together and sent a chill down my spine looking out onto that tragic scene that’s hardly changed since November 22, 1963. A replica of Lee Harvey Oswald’s rifle brings the scene chillingly to life. Also standing on the grassy knoll next to the museum, behind which conspiracy theorists say other shots were fired is food for thought and reflection, www.jfk.org
6. The 68-acre Dallas Arts District is a pleasure, www.thedallasartsdistrict.org At the Nasher Sculpture Centre there are more than 300 masterpieces by artists including Matisse, Picasso, Moore and Rodin both inside and outside around the beautiful garden, www.nashersculpturecenter.org
7. Across the road is the equally awesome Dallas Museum of Art. We were privileged to be able to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots, the biggest collection of his black works assembled for more than 50 years. Visit www.dma.org for the latest news on exhibitions and events.
8. Klyde Warren Park is cleverly built above a six-lane motorway. It’s such a great example of the best ways to provide useful public space in an urban setting that we should take note here in the UK! There are free activities on offer and great value food from food trucks nearby. Or you can dine in style at the upscale restaurant Savor and watch the action, www.klydewarrenpark.org
9. Two great areas for dining and nightlife are Trinity Groves, www.trinitygroves.com and Deep Ellum, www.deepellumtexas.com Trinity Groves is a 15-acre restaurant, retail and entertainment hub where we enjoyed some fabulous oysters and is especially known for its support of up-and-coming chefs. Deep Ellum is like a Texas version of Shoreditch, a former warehouse district that has a really hip atmosphere. Formerly a hotbed of blues music, you can now choose your favourite beats at the numerous clubs and eat your fill from the acclaimed BBQ ribs at Pecan Lodge to sushi or traditional burgers.
10. No doubt sad to be going home, you can cheer yourself up with a mega shop for bargains at the Grapevine Mills outlet mall before you fly home, www.simonmalls.com
Ruth’ Texas Cowboys and Culture tour costs from £1,785 per person, including return flights from London to Dallas Fort Worth (on BA), seven days fully inclusive economy car hire, two nights’ room only at the Stockyards Hotel, Fort Worth, three nights full board, including all activities at the Wildcatter Ranch and two nights room only at the Magnolia Hotel, Dallas, www.americaasyoulikeit.com
More information at: www.traveltexas.com, www.fortworth.com and www.visitdallas.com