City of cowboys and culture. Weird combination, I know. Even more weird, I am not referring to Dallas. Nope, this post is entirely dedicated to my adopted hometown (or however one describes a town that adopts you), Fort Worth. The city sits 35 miles west in the shadow of Dallas and often gets overlooked by random DFW metroplex visitors (no offense Dallas, but nobody comes to see you unless its for business or family). Although Ft. Worth generally looks just as boring as the rest of the metroplex (and for that matter, the entire state), there are little unexpected oases that make you wonder whether you stepped through the looking glass. One of these places, is Sundance Square.
Anyone who has ever visited Texas often comes back with memories consisting mostly of images of barren, flat land occasionally intersected by freeways lined by identical shopping malls. This makes discovering a small plaza smack in the middle of Ft. Worth’s Downtown even more astounding. Described as “a glittering urban oasis” and “one of the most exciting and pedestrian-friendly downtown areas in the nation” by city’s official website, these statements might sound a bit exaggerated (they are) but they are also relatively true. I find Sundance Square refreshingly clean, cozy, and even safe, which is very much opposite of the adjectives I would use to describe Dallas downtown. The drawback is that its really really small, although it does host some nice fountains, a permanent stage for live outdoor music, some non-chainy cafes, bars and restaurants with outdoor patio, and the beautiful Bass Performance Hall where I watched my favorite ballet performances. Of course, there are also some art galleries (where I purchased a ridiculously expensive painting) and pricey shops but that’s less important.
Come to think of it, the small size (and architecture reminiscent of European old towns) is what gives Sundance Square its charm and sense of coziness. As you can imagine, it gets even better around Christmas time (you might even get a nice overview next month!).
Another hidden gem of Ft. Worth lies inside the city’s botanic garden and is most gorgeous around mid-November. Although Texas’s landscape generally looks the same throughout the year as seasons subtly change from summer to yet another summer, the Japanese Garden is by far the best spot to watch autumn at its best. Although there is a small charge for entrance, the pleasure you get out of watching rich autumn hues is absolutely worth it. Come on a sunny morning before it gets busy and let your senses rest in this timeless oasis.
So why city of cowboys and culture? Well for one, Ft. Worth is home to the oldest stock show and rodeo in the country and you can spot ridiculous procession of cows passing through Stockyards twice a day (as you can guess, this didn’t make my list of ‘oases’ to visit). As far as culture goes, City of Ft. Worth claims to have “one of the largest arts districts in the nation” consisting of five museums including the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame (there again, cows + culture). There are also three art museums which I have yet to visit so can’t comment at this time.
So if you ever want to get away from typical Texas, you now know where to go :)
As always, happy traveling!