Horseback riding vacation in Fort Worth, Texas
While so many destinations allow you to play cowboy (or cowgirl) for a few days, a visit to Fort Worth gives you a chance to see the “Cowboy Way of Life” up close and personal.
The Fort Worth Stockyards
Visiting the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District is a bit like stepping back in time, when cowboys made the journey from Fort Worth to Kansas City, driving Texas Longhorns to market along the Chisholm Trail.
Twice daily you can see the drovers herd cattle down Exchange Avenue. While these longhorns appear docile it is easy to get an idea of just how dangerous they could be in a wild herd. As the drovers make their way back to the stable you may be able to chat with them for a few minutes and learn about what life may have been like “on the trail”.
You’ll hear plenty of cowboy stories at the Cowboy Hall of Fame and the Stockyards Museum- on opposite sides of Exchange Avenue. Both are filled with history and artifacts from cattle drives and rodeos.
In the mood for a rodeo? The first indoor rodeo was held at historic Cowtown Coliseum and you’ll still find everything from bronc busting to roping every weekend. Or turn this jaunt into a horseback riding vacation with a visit to the Stockyards Station Stables for trail riding or a stagecoach ride.
If you’re looking for authentic Western wear you’ll find everything here from functional to fashionable. A pair of handmade boots from Leddy’s may set you back a few dollars, but you’ll have a wearable work of art. Pair them with a belt or cowboy hat bedecked with rhinestones and you’ll be ready to boot-scoot at Billy Bob’s Texas later in the evening.
The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame
Located in Fort Worth’s Cultural District, this museum is simply charming. You’ll find every aspect of the cowgirl within these walls; from the early Western pioneers to the ladies who wore spangles and entranced the rodeo circuit.
Interactive displays keep the museum fun for both kids and adults. Go “Into the Arena” to view videos of historic rides, hear what it was like on the rodeo circuit and see the sparkling costumes close up. Or try your hand at riding a bronc in a rodeo!
The Hall of Fame includes a surprising array of women. While I hadn’t considered Laura Ingalls Wilder (and her mother, sisters and daughter) to be cowgirls I couldn’t deny that their lives eking a living on the plains would make them cowgirls today. Other inductees include Dale Evans, the most famous cowgirl on television, Sandra Day O’Connor, cowgirl turned Supreme Court Justice and Annie Oakley, possibly the most famous cowgirl to ever draw a pistol.
Continuing through the museum brings you to the image of the cowgirl we think of today, thanks to television and radio. Clips of “The Roy Rodgers Show” play near memorabilia, mini jukeboxes play country-western music by Patsy Cline, Reba McEntire and EmmyLou Harris and dime novels are on display near a sparkling Bohlin saddle. Just around the corner a small theater- complete with seats made of saddles- shares the tale of the Hollywood cowgirl, including the most famous cowgirl of our time, Jessie from Toy Story.
You’ll leave this museum with a new appreciation for the oft overlooked cowgirl and maybe a desire to pick up a sparkling cowgirl hat from the Cowgirl Shop near the rotunda.
If You Go:
Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District 817-624-4741
Exchange Ave, Fort Worth 76016
Stockyards Stables 817-624-3446
128 E. Exchange Ave, Fort Worth
National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame 817-336-4475 or 800-476-FAME(3263)
1720 Gendy Street, Fort Worth
Jody Halsted shares family travel tips and destinations at Family Rambling. Jody was a guest of the Fort Worth CVB who arranged her itinerary and provided entry to the Cowgirl Museum. Photos and video courtesy of Jody Halsted.