Sunday, March 27, 2011

Fort Worth Favorites

Fort Worth and I have spent three long months together - we have been through snow and ice, a Superbowl, thunderstorms with hail, eighty degree days and numerous visitors. Its been my home away from home and I've loved every minute of it. As I prepare to say goodbye to my new friend, I've decided to list, in no particular order, my Fort Worth (and vicinity) favorites. Here goes...

1. Southwestern Expedition Stock Show and Rodeo - 23 days of fun! It may only come to town once a year but with events like Bull's Night Out and family friendly exhibits it is a do not miss. Go ahead and mark your calendars for 2012 (January 13 - February 4.) If you haven't already seen it make sure you watch the Cowboy Poker video for the craziest part of the whole show.

2. Grace, Fort Worth - The amazing Happy Hour deals (1/2 price sparkling wines Mon-Friday) and Women and Wine Wednesdays ($15 for 3 wines paired with 3 light bites) are just two of the reasons that I will miss this early evening hangout.

3. The Fort Worth Zoo - Sure, every city has one, but there really is something special about the Fort Worth Zoo. The mild-temperatures the day we visited had all the animals out and about. The parks layout makes it easy to get around, and if your feet get tired just take a train ride one way. We had the Lions roar as they gazed into the zebra exhibit. I was closer to most of the animals then I have ever been at another zoo. As usual though, it was the great apes that captured most of our attention, (My only complaint is the parking fee - there is free parking all over the city and just down the street in the park - why are you charging at the zoo and paying people to collect the fee. I'd rather you raise the admission fee.)

4. Central Market - I'm going to miss the worlds greatest grocery store! The cooking classes were fantastic - we met amazing people and made enough food to feed a small army. The "meals for two" and ready to eat casseroles were always a crowd pleaser for a quick dinner. I don't even know how to say goodbye to my fresh supply of sushi, gelato and fresh baked breads.

5. Trinity Park - With all the amazing food options here I needed a place for afternoon jogs and evening strolls with the hubbs and this park fit the bill. Ample people watching and benches for a casual afternoon and miles of trails for my more serious running days. The miniature trains that run on the weekend, the duck pond and numerous playgrounds are sure to be kid pleasures too.

6. The Railhead - This is where I learned that 'Life's Too Short to Live in Dallas.' I was not a big BBQ fan until Jeff took me to the Railhead. With a generous military discount and amazing meat selections its no wonder this is one of the guys favorite places to eat. Its never empty but you can always seem to find a seat. I prefer my sandwich chopped with extra sauce!

7. Dinosaur Valley State Park - A short hike takes you to see some of the best preserved dinosaur tracks in the world. (Call before you come though since these tracks are underwater. Any sediment in the water will prohibit you from seeing them at all.) Park your car at the first parking lot and follow the trail to the three separate track sites. The trail does involve a short river crossing, but there is a stones evenly spaced to help you across. (Appropriate footwear is required as the rocks do become slippery.)

8. PUBlic Knowledge - Once a month the Fort Worth museum of Science and History sponsors an adult lecture series at a local pub. Don't be scared off by the idea of a "lecture" - when we attended in March we were harrowed with stories from a particularly interesting forensic scientist. All the events start at 8pm and run about an hour.

9. Fort Worth Museum of Science and History - While many of its exhibits are geared toward children there is plenty for adult visitors to learn as well. The exhibit on Natural Gas in the area is fascinating and a must for anyone who has wondered about all the large drills they see around town. Venture upstairs to see the museums impressive Astronomy collection and visit the Planetarium. You can also learn more about the dinosaurs they have found in the area (and sit in a dinosaur footprint!)

10. The Fort Worth Money Factory - The U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing's only printing facility out side of Washington, DC. They offer daily tours and a fascinating museum. Learn about the amazing journey that turns paper into money and how they prevent others from turning paper into money. (Note that you cannot bring your cell phone, camera or any type of bag into the factory - so pack accordingly.)

11. Taverna - They may have three locations, but this Texas chain's Sundance Square location is still our favorite date night place. Monday - Friday they have half-price Pizza and $3 Bellini's, Draught Beer and Red & White Wine, Saturday and Sunday they offer $1 Bellini's and Mimosas with brunch - so you really can't go wrong here no matter what day of the week it is.

12. Four Day Weekend - Fantastic Improv Comedy on Friday and Saturday nights right in Sundance Square. They tend to sell out so make sure you make reservations online in advance. A real find though is the Thursday night amateur night - for $8 you get to see students from Four Day Weekend's workshops perform. Its sometimes a bit slow - but it is more unpredictable than the Friday or Saturday shows (which follow a similar format every night) and you'll get to meet some great people.

13. Fire Station No. 1 - 150 years of Fort Worth history in a great little exhibit tucked away in Fire Station No. 1 right in Sundance Square. The whole museum will only take thirty-minutes or so but there is a great photo opportunity! (Thanks to Joe for being our photo opportunity model!)

14. Potbelly Sandwich Shop - I know its a chain, but when we were in DC Potbelly's was our go to afternoon picnic location and after finding it in Fort Worth not much has changed. Potbelly's remains our go to sandwich shop, whether your running to the airport or looking for something to take with you to the botanical gardens - we even ventured out in the snow and ice for some potbelly deli goodness.

15. Cowgirl Hall of Fame - Lots of interactive exhibits for kids and adults alike and lots of fun cowgirl clothing to look at.

16. American Airlines Museum - The museum is a bit outdated but there are some real gems hidden here. The IMax theater full of business class seats was the highlight of our visit - the movie is straight out of the early 90's but still filled with impressive views of airliners flying over some of the most beautiful places in the world. There is rotating exhibit space which had a fascinating exhibit on baggage handling a few months ago. The museum will bring you back to the heyday of airline travel and remind you that it was once a luxury.

17. Cattle Drive - Its touristy. Its cheesy. But where else are you going to see Long-Horn cattle being driven down the street by cowboys?

18. Worlds 2nd Longest Continuously Burning Light-bulb - I've blogged about it before but it still makes my list. While your at the Cattle Drive stop into the museum and check it out (before it burns out.)

19. Water Gardens - The perfect place to enjoy a beautiful spring afternoon. Three water structures create totally different environments for you to enjoy.

20. Rahr Brewery - Local brewery with tours every Wednesday and Saturday. You can read our earlier blog entry about this must-do activity here.

21. Botanical Gardens - The oldest botanical gardens in Texas are they are free. ($1 fee for indoor exhibit and $4 for the Japanese Tea Garden) Every season is different here and there is plenty to see. Park in the front and stroll around the park for a while - make sure to bring your camera. The Texas Tree Boardwalk has a wonderful exhibit on native and invasive plants in the area. When its a bit warmer this would be the perfect place to bring your picnic lunch (see # 14) and spend the afternoon reading on the lawn.

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