Need a saddle blanket?
Not to keep warm, to eat. In cowboy parlance, a saddle blanket is a pancake; belly wash is coffee, and Pecos strawberries are beans.
Welcome to Fort Worth, Texas, the City of Cowboys. (You can see cowboys herding longhorn cattle on the streets twice each day in the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District, though today it’s strictly for the tourists.)
But Fort Worth also prides itself on being a city of culture. There are five world-class museums here, including the Modern Art Museum (www.themodern.org), the second-largest museum gallery space for modern art in the country after MoMA New York and the Kimbell Art Museum (www.kimbellart.org), which has in its collection Michelangelo’s first painting and is undergoing a $125 million expansion. There also is the Cattle Raisers Museum (www.cattleraisersmuseum.org), a museum within a museum at the fantastic Fort Worth Museum of Science and History (www.fwmuseum.org), which also includes the Fort Worth Children’s Museum.
It was at the Cattle Raisers Museum that I learned the lingo for chuck wagon eats. By the end of the Civil War, I also learned, millions of heads of cattle were in Texas and the teams that herded them north along the Chisholm Trail stopped here for supplies at what originally was settled as a frontier Army fort. The kids will love the interactive computer games that challenge them to drive the cattle to the ranch.
Got a little cowgirl in the bunch? The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame (www.cowgirl.net) celebrates the resilience and athleticism of the women who helped settle the frontier and entertained at rodeos and Wild West shows. Your little cowgirl can ride the mechanical bronco and then download a video of her effort. Check out their amazing sparkly costumes and elaborate Western boots.
The Amon Carter Museum of American Art (www.cartermuseum.org) and the Sid Richardson Museum (www.sidrichardsonmuseum.org) feature works by Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell, two of the country’s greatest Western artists.
In January, the Fort Worth Stock Show (www.fwssr.com) is in town, bringing nearly a million visitors and more than 22,000 head of livestock. The extravaganza, complete with nightly rodeo, lasts nearly a month.
In the summer kids can attend “Cow Camp” in the Stockyards National Historic District, which I’m told looks the way it did 100 years ago when cowboys were driving huge herds of cattle through here on the three-month trek to the Kansas railheads. Those famous cattle drives revitalized the Texas economy after the Civil War.
For authentic Western flavor, stop in at Billy Bob’s Texas, the World’s Largest Honky-Tonk, where, perhaps, you could convince the kids to dance the two-step. There’s live bull riding in the indoor arena every weekend. Rodeos and Wild West shows go on year-round in the Cowtown Coliseum (www.cowtowncoliseum.com) built in 1918. See if your kids can beat you out of the Cowtown Cattlepen Maze (www.cowtowncattlepenmaze.com) designed to resemble the Old West’s cattle pens.
Eat some Texas barbecue (we went to Riscky’s, www.risckys.com) or traditional Mexican fare at the sprawling Joe T. Garcia’s in a Mexican-style hacienda that has been a fixture here since 1935.
Take a hike at the 3,600-acre Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge (www.fwnaturecenter.org), where there’s the chance to see animals native to this area – cottontail rabbits, prairie dogs, beavers and bison among them.
There’s something about Fort Worth that’s just fun and different than other cities. You and your kids can’t help but leave inspired by that cowboy and cowgirl can-do spirit.
There’s something about Fort Worth that’s fun and different than other cities.