Day 1: Fort Worth, where Jake Spoon fell in with the Suggs brothers after a good bit of carousing, claims to be “Where the West Begins” for good reason. Start your tour at the historic Fort Worth Stockyards. Thankfully, city leaders withheld the wrecking ball throughout the 1980s and preserved the area’s unique appeal. Grab a cold beverage at Billy Bob’s Texas, a massive honky-tonk that features high-profile Western musicians and live bull riding on the weekends. Then tuck into a slab of beef at Cattleman’s steakhouse. And just about every day of the year, visitors can watch a cattle drive up the red-bricked Exchange Street. Make sure to get a feel for the heart of Texas with a visit to the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame. Across the street, Cowtown Coliseum features weekly weekend rodeos and houses the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame.
Day 2: Cowgirls are front and center at the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, where you’ll find a variety of exhibits on the women—past and present—who shaped the American West. For the artistically inclined, the Amon Carter Museum,Kimbell Art Museum, and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth neighbor each other and make for a rich walking tour. And next door, the Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum hosts plenty of equine and livestock events. Book your trip to coincide with one of three National Cutting Horse Association shows held here annually, each lasting three weeks—the largest of which, the NCHA Futurity (November–December), offers $200,000 to the winner. The biggest extravaganza at the Will Rogers Complex is the 23-day Fort Worth Stock Show, which just celebrated its 118th year in January and February 2014. The PRCA rodeo alone runs 17 days and features 30 performances.
Day 3: At the heart of Fort Worth’s spruced up downtown, Sundance Square displays the Chisholm Trail Mural by artist Richard Haas. Make sure to head over to eastern Fort Worth to see the National Multicultural Western Heritage Museum and Hall of Fame. It’s an eye-opening history lesson on how minorities played an integral part in the settling of the Old West. And don’t leave without opening your wallet for hats, boots, and pearl-snap shirts from an array of Western stores such as Retro Cowboy (downtown) or M.L. Leddy’s, Maverick, Luskey’s/Ryon’s and Fincher’s (the Stockyards).
The historic Stockyards Hotel, a three-story brick building in the heart of the National Historic Stockyards District, has welcomed guests since 1907. Its themed rooms (Western, Victorian, Mountain Man, and Native American) and suites offer a convenient base from which to explore the many restaurants and attractions nearby. 800-423-8471, stockyardshotel.com