Exploring Fort Worth, Texas

Our family moved from Raleigh, North Carolina, to Fort Worth, Texas, in January 2020. We've lived here for four and a half years, and I want to share some of our favorite spots for those coming in from out of town or locals looking for something new. Since we live in north Fort Worth, we only visit Dallas occasionally, but I'll also include a few Dallas recommendations..

Our family enjoys spending as much time outdoors as possible, savoring fresh, local food, and exploring farmer's markets. If this resonates with your family, keep reading!

Favorite downtown Fort Worth activities: 

  • Sundance Square—Sundance Square is at the center of downtown Fort Worth, and there's often live music if you go on a weekend night. Wandering the shops around Sundance Square feels very safe, especially during the day but even in the evening. There are tons of great restaurants within walking distance. You could also take a carriage ride around the city and start and stop at Sundance! You can find the event calendar for Sundance Square here.
  • The Stockyards—If you're visiting Fort Worth for the first time, a trip to the Fort Worth Stockyards is a Texas experience you don’t want to miss! Every day of the year, twice a day at 11:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., a cattle herd parades down the cobblestone streets of Fort Worth, accompanied by real cowboys. Before they do, you can watch them grazing in their cattle yard and even learn their names. All around the Stockyards are fun restaurants and shops. I especially love the Spice & Tea Exchange! The Stockyards are where we bring out-of-town guests to experience an authentic taste of Texas.  
  • The Fort Worth Botanic Garden—This is a gorgeous, expansive garden. You can purchase fish food for $1 a bag when you arrive. I buy a bag for each child, and when we arrive at the Japanese gardens (our favorite part), they get to feed the giant koi. It’s also a perfect place to pack a picnic lunch. For locals: If you have a Fort Worth library card, you can access free passes to the botanic garden on the Libby app!
  • The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra—We love the symphony and go to hear them play at Bass Hall as often as we can! One of my favorite things about the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra is that they offer children’s programs that welcome kids multiple times a year. These are typically on Saturday mornings, last about 45 minutes, and are affordable for families! 
  • The Fort Worth Water Gardens is a fun spot for kids to explore, especially on hot days when the mist feels incredibly refreshing!

Favorite playgrounds:

  • Bicentennial Park in Southlake has long been our family's favorite playground. If you visit even once, you'll see why. It has things to climb, places to picnic, a splash pad in the warmer months, a sand pit, and bathrooms nearby. My favorite part? It has a fence all the way around, so it's easier to ensure your kiddos stay inside. 
  • Central Market in Southlake—Funny enough, one of our kids' favorite places to play is technically inside a grocery store. "Everything's bigger in Texas," and this grocery store is pretty spectacular. It’s worth a visit if you’re nearby!
  • "The Bird Park"—The official name for this is Bluestem Park at Alliance Town Center, but there is a large bird-like structure that kids can climb on and jump off of. What makes it especially fun and convenient is that it's in the back of several restaurants (including Mod Pizza and Hopdoddy). It's fun to eat at one of those restaurants and let the kids play out back!

Favorite trails:

  • Bear Creek Trail—This is an extensive trail that runs through Keller. We like to start at the Keller-Smithfield Activity Node and walk on the path behind the playground. There’s an easy 1.5 mile loop that is beautiful in every season.
  • Marion Sansom Park—I will warn you: this is a steep trail (especially if you want to make it down to the water). But it's also really fun! It’s close to downtown Fort Worth.
  • Parr Park in Grapevine—Of all the parks in DFW, this one is our favorite! It has all the best elements: a splash pad, a creek, a gorgeous walking trail, bathrooms, and picnic tables. It is beautiful, especially in spring and fall!
  • Arcadia Trail Park—This neighborhood park has lovely paved trails and a creek that our kids love playing in. We’ve also seen wild bobcats here on multiple occasions! 
  • Trophy Club Park—This is one of the most scenic walks where you can see deer and other wildlife!
  • Eagle Mountain Park—This is one of the most “Texas” hiking spots, with cactus and wildlife.

Favorite local bookstores: 

  • Friends of the Keller Library Bookstore—This bookstore is next to the Keller Library, but you don't need to be a library patron (or even a resident) to enjoy it. It's open on Wednesday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The volunteers are so kind, and you'll find books for $1 and $2, the proceeds of which benefit the Keller Library. Our typical Saturday morning includes a trip to the Keller Farmer's Market and then a stop at this bookstore. 
  • A House with Books—This is the most charming local bookstore, and their children's room is modeled after the Chronicles of Narnia. Hayley, the owner, is a former interior designer—and you can tell. It’s so beautiful and welcoming!

More favorite spots:

  • Keller Farmer’s Market—You can find our family at the Keller Farmer's Market almost every Saturday morning. It's at Bear Creek Park (the information is here) and often has live music, foods to sample and buy, locally grown vegetables and meat, and more. 
  • Perot Museum—This is a 45-minute drive from our house, but we love it so much that we bought a membership one year! Plan to spend 2 to 3 hours (or more) exploring this expansive science museum.
  • The Fort Worth Zoo—We have a fantastic local zoo! On Wednesdays, tickets are half-priced but beware: this often draws significant crowds. Our family’s best experiences have been when we arrived right when the zoo opened (and not on Wednesday). As soon as we make it in, we go all the way to the back of the zoo (to see the otters) and then work our way back to the entrance. We have learned that doing this helps us avoid the big crowds! 
  • Downtown Grapevine is charming, especially during Christmas! We love walking down Main Street, stopping at the shops (there’s a fun vintage candy store!), and looking at the lights and decor. 
  • Downtown Roanoke is also very charming with lots of great restaurant choices! They call themselves the “Unique Dining Capital of Texas.” It feels like a smaller version of Grapevine in some ways. 

Favorite restaurants: 

  • Sushi Dojo in Southlake—​​This was a former food truck that now has multiple small restaurants. It’s casual, creative, and so delicious. Favorite dish: They have a big gluten-free menu, which I appreciate! My favorite menu item is the “Mount Fuji” sushi roll.
  • Toro Toro in downtown Fort Worth—This is our favorite fancy date spot (not a place I'd recommend bringing kids). They have incredible wood-fired steaks and salmon, but everything we’ve tried is good! Favorite dish: Grilled salmon with kimchi marinade and braised bok choy.
  • HG Sply Co. (multiple locations)—This is my favorite healthier restaurant that our family frequents often. Everything on the menu can be gluten- or dairy-free, which is so freeing! Favorite dish: Every time (and I mean every time), I order the same thing: Build-a-bowl with grilled chicken, roasted sweet potatoes, and garlic brussel sprouts, plus garlic aioli dipping sauce. It can’t be beat!
  • Marty B's in Bartonville—This place has a fun Texas vibe and is a great spot to meet up with friends! It’s especially fun to order S’mores and sit around the open campfire. Favorite dish: Brisket tacos. 
  • Hopdoddy—This is our family's favorite burger spot! It has many gluten-free options (you can choose from a gluten-free bun or a lettuce wrap, which I prefer) and many delicious flavors of fries! Favorite dish: Llano Poblano burger in a lettuce wrap with parmesan truffle fries.
  • Nautical Bowls in Keller—We love these incredible acai bowls without gluten, dairy, or refined sugar. If we could afford it, we'd be there every few days! Favorite dish: You really can't go wrong, but my favorite thing to order is the Big Island bases, strawberries, bananas, and cashew cacao butter on top. But whatever you choose, make sure you add the cashew cacao butter. It's like a healthy version of Nutella!
  • Flower Child—This is a chain (you might have one near you!), and the interior design reminds me of Anthropologie. They have many allergy-friendly options, and everything I’ve tasted has been delicious. Favorite dish: Chicken enchiladas.
  • Coco Shrimp (multiple locations) began as a local food truck and has now expanded to multiple brick-and-mortar restaurants. It’s delicious, fresh, and affordable! Favorite dish: Lemon herb shrimp with poppyseed salad dressing and rice.
  • Malai Kitchen in Southlake or downtown Fort Worth—This Malaysian restaurant is just delicious, and I love that they use fresh ingredients and no MSG. Favorite dish: Drunken noodles with mild spice.