Fort Worth, famously known as Cowtown, is the 5th largest city in Texas and one of the fastest-growing cities in the US. With the arrival of the railroad in Fort Worth in 1876, it became a booming stop and shipping point for cattle drives along the Chisolm Trail. The subsequent growth of its meat-packing industry in the famous Stockyards turned Fort Worth into a “Cowtown” and the prosperous city it is today.
While you can still find cowboys and evidence of the Wild West in Fort Worth, it has also grown into a truly metropolitan area and a destination worth visiting. Not to be overshadowed by its bigger neighboring city Dallas, Fort Worth has its own vibe, history, and unique offerings. If you find yourself in North Texas, you’ll want to refer to this list of FREE things to do in Fort Worth.
Table of contents: ()
- Visit the Historic Stockyards
- Fort Worth’s Cultural District
- Downtown Fort Worth
- Fort Worth Outdoors
Visit the Historic Stockyards
A trip to Fort Worth absolutely must include a visit to the historic Fort Worth Stockyards. There are plenty of FREE (and cheap) things to do in the Stockyards, so plan to spend several hours exploring and learning about Fort Worth’s roots in this National Historic District. (While activities are free, there is no free street parking in the Stockyards. Here’s a list of parking options in the stockyards.)
Here is a full map of all that the Stockyards has to offer, including the free activities below:
Fort Worth Herd Cattle Drive
You can experience real Texas cowhands leading a longhorn cattle drive twice each day at 11:30 am & 4:00 pm in the Stockyards. (In case of inclement weather, the Fort Worth herd will update their Facebook page with any closings.) This is the world’s only twice-a-day cattle drive and claims that every detail of the drive, including the western wear and saddles is the real deal.
Before and after each cattle drive you can ask questions to one of the drovers or take advantage of a photo op.
If you want a chance to look at the longhorn before or after the cattle drive you can check them out from the Observation Deck just east of the Livestock Exchange Building on East Exchange Avenue or behind the Livestock Exchange Building in their pens.
This is a fun and memorable experience that will give you a true taste of Fort Worth’s heritage!
11:30 AM and 4:00 PM seven days a week
Along East Exchange Avenue in the Stockyards.
Texas Trail of Fame
Hollywood might have its Walk of Fame, but Fort Worth has its Trail of Fame. Located in the Stockyards up and down East Exchange Avenue, the Trail of Fame was created in 1997 to celebrate those who have contributed to the legacy and way of life celebrated in the Fort Worth Stockyards.
It includes groups of people and organizations, such as the Comanche Code Talkers, historical figures, such as Sacagawea and Geronimo, actors, Texas celebrities, such as Willie Nelson, animals, such as the American buffalo, and Texas businessmen, such as Sid Richardson. You can search for and read about the contribution of its inductees alphabetically or by induction year on the Texas Trail of Fame website.
Stockyards Museum (almost free)
The Stockyards Museum, while not completely free, is so cheap that I didn’t want to leave it out. The admission fee for adults is only $2, and kids 12 years and under are free. It was built in 1902 and is located in the historic Livestock Exchange Building.
If you want to experience and learn more about the history of Fort Worth, the Stockyards museum will provide a step into the past and a better understanding of what makes Fort Worth Cowtown through its exhibits and historical artifacts.
Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday- open 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday- closed
131 East Exchange Avenue Suite 113, Fort Worth, TX 76164
Stroll Down Mule Alley
The latest addition to the Stockyards is Mule Alley. Don’t let its name fool you- it is a beautiful red brick street filled with trendy bars, restaurants, shops, and the acclaimed Drover Hotel.
If you want to spend money, there is plenty of spending to be had on Mule Alley. But you can also enjoy the free aspects, such as walking around or enjoying the beautiful, plush lobby of the Drover Hotel or their upscale outdoor Veranda Bar. It’s my favorite place to relax in the Stockyards.
122 E Exchange Ave, Fort Worth, TX 76164
Rodeo Music Stage at Cowtown Coliseum
If you want a taste of the Texas music scene after your day in the Stockyards, head on over to the Rodeo Music Stage outside of Cowtown Coliseum in the Stockyards. Each Friday & Saturday from 4:30 PM to 7:30 PM right before the rodeo, local artists perform a FREE, live concert. It’s a chance to enjoy some Texas Country and maybe even some southern rock, depending upon who’s in that evening’s line-up.
121 E Exchange Ave, Fort Worth, TX 76164
Fort Worth’s Cultural District
Kimbell Art Museum
The Kimbell Art Museum is a noted treasure in Fort Worth and a favorite free thing to do in Fort Worth. Parking at the Kimbell and admission to their ample permanent collection is always free. (If you choose to visit a special exhibition that is featured, it will require an entrance fee.)
The Kimbell’s permanent exhibition is extensive and awe-inspiring. You can find celebrated works by some of history’s most well-known artists, with Monet, Picasso, Rembrandt, Cezanne, and Michelangelo among its offerings. From ancient to 20th-century art from all over the world, the Kimbell is an international museum of priceless art. It also is famous for its incredible architecture, with its original Kahn building designed by renowned architect Louis I. Kahn (American) and the later added Piano Pavillion designed by the esteemed architect Renzo Piano (Italian).
While I can spend hours taking in the art inside the museum, one of my favorite things to do is to sit outside the Kahn buildings near the Reflecting Pools on a nice day. The large grassy courtyard area is great for picnics and lounging. You could also sit on the benches overlooking the Reflecting Pools or at one of the outdoor bistro tables on the patio of the Piano Pavilion. It is a lovely outdoor spot and an excellent way to spend a morning or afternoon in the Cultural District of Fort Worth.
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday- 10:00 AM- 5:00 PM
Friday- 12:00- 8:00 PM
Sunday- 12:00- 5:00 PM
3333 Camp Bowie Blvd, Fort Worth, TX 76107
Amon Carter Museum of American Art
The Amon Carter Museum of American Art, located in Fort Worth’s Cultural District is another “always free” museum of incredible art. It was founded by its namesake Amon Carter and his 400 western-themed pieces of art. It now features more than 175,000 pieces of American art that are free for the public to enjoy. Parking at the Amon Carter is free, as well.
The Amon Carter Museum also features special events, with many of them being free, such as workshops for children of all ages and families, Drink and Draw on second Thursdays, Collection Highlight Tours, College Nights, and other special events. Many of these require reservations but most are free to attend.
For an incredible view of Downtown Fort Worth, simply step outside the Amon Carter’s entrance. The large grassy area is a great spot to relax and take in the landscape or picnic on the grass while the kids run around and play.
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday- 10:00 AM- 5:00 PM
Thursday- 10:00 AM- 8:00 PM
Sunday- 12:00-5:00 PM
3501 Camp Bowie Blvd, Fort Worth, TX 76107
Free Fridays at the Modern
The Modern Art Museum, known by locals as the Modern, features works of art from the 1940s to today. Its incredibly spacious and light-filled building opened in 2002 and was designed by renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando. The forty-foot-tall glass walls provide incredible lighting and ambiance for an extraordinary museum. The grounds of the museum are also beautiful and feature notable sculptures and reflecting pools, making it another beautiful spot for enjoying the outdoors in Fort Worth.
The Modern is actually the oldest museum in Texas, founded in 1892 when it was the Fort Worth Public Library and Art Gallery. Today it features a variety of artists, from famous, celebrated artists to newer artists at the beginning of their careers. You’ll find renowned works from Pablo Picasso and many other modern artists, such as Anselm Kiefer and Martin Puryear.
Most days do cost to enter, but Fridays at the Modern are always free and have extended hours, providing the public with more opportunities to experience the artistry. Entrance for children under 18 is free every day, as well as parking. The first Friday of each month features a free evening of live music and art, making it a perfect setting for an evening with friends or a date night. (Food and drinks are available to purchase.) Check their program calendar for other free events, such as special workshops and activities for children and Friday evening tours.
And you can always experience the Modern’s intriguing sculpture Vortex, created by artist Richard Serra, outside on the front museum grounds. This 67-foot, rust-colored COR-TEN steel sculpture looks interesting enough from the outside, but when you step inside the magic happens. Even the quietest whispers echos off the walls and are amplified. Adults and kids alike are intrigued by this incredible work of art.
Paid Entry on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday- 10:00 AM- 5:00 PM
FREE Entry on Fridays- 10:00 PM- 8:00 PM
3200 Darnell St, Fort Worth, TX 76107
If you’re looking for some really unique photo ops in Fort Worth or are interested in the local art scene, Fort Worth has some incredible murals. Hands down the best spot for local art is Inspiration Alley in the Foundry District, the most unique section of Fort Worth’s Cultural District. Inspiration Alley is the largest outdoor art gallery in Texas and is absolutely a must-see. Forbes listed it as one of the best outdoor art experiences in the US, and I’d have to agree.
It’s a true hidden gem in Fort Worth and showcases the creativity of some of Fort Worth’s amazing and diverse artists. The wall-sized murals and graffiti art are expressive and inspiring and show a different side of Fort Worth. While you’re in the area, you can explore the local bars, breweries, and restaurants in the Foundry District.
6:30 AM- 7:30 PM
200 Carroll St, Fort Worth, TX 76107
Leonard’s Department Store Museum
You can explore the first department store in Fort Worth at Leonard’s Department Store Museum, located in the Foundry District of Fort Worth, right across the street from Inspiration Alley. In this completely free museum, you can experience the vast offerings of Leonard’s Department Store, a Fort Worth staple from 1918 through the 1970s. Visitors of the original Leonard’s will recognize the iconic red sign out front.
Leonard’s Department Store was unlike department stores nowadays and was a truly one-stop shopping center, with clothing, groceries, and appliances. auto, farm, and other departments. It even had its own subway to shuttle customers to and from the store. It was a shopping mall before shopping malls existed. The Leonard’s Museum allows visitors to step back in time and reminisce or become acquainted with Fort Worth’s first department store.
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday- 10:00 AM- 4:00 PM
Saturday- 10:00 AM- 9:00 PM
Sunday- 11:00 AM- 4:00 PM
200 Carroll St # 100, Fort Worth, TX 76107
Downtown Fort Worth
Named after the famous member of Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch, the Sundance Kid, Sundance Square is the centerpiece of Downtown Fort Worth. It’s been called the “living room” of Fort Worth and has also been heralded as one the very best gathering spots in the United States.
Sundance Square is home to amazing restaurants, art, theater, entertainment, nightlife, and more. There is also plenty of free things to do in Sundance Square. Every Friday and Saturday evening from 7:00-10:00 PM you can listen to free live music on the Sundance Square stage. (Follow their Instagram page for the latest schedule and line-up.)
The fountains in the square are an ideal spot in the warmer months for relaxing on the plaza with friends or family or bringing the little ones to splash in the water. Daily from 11:00 AM- 3:00 PM, the fountains become a splash pad and the coolest place for family fun in Sundance Square. (No diapers, swimsuits, pets, or toys are allowed in the fountains.) We have spent many summer afternoons hanging out at the fountains. There are well-maintained restrooms located in the Sundance Square Plaza, so it’s easy to dry off and change out of wet clothes before heading home.
Also, Sundance Square often hosts other special free events, such as art festivals, holiday celebrations, yoga classes, summer movies, and more so check their calendar for the latest events!
Parking in Sundance Square is free for 2.5 hours during the weekdays in garages 3 and 4 if you get your parking ticket validated from a business or get a business card from them. We have tested this out multiple times and have never had a problem. Of course, you can always park for free on weekends at any metered spot or in the Sundance Square Garages. Here’s a map of the parking in Sundance Square with a list of businesses that will validate your parking ticket.
Sunday- Thursday- 6:00 AM- 11:00 PM
Friday, Saturday- 6:00 AM- 12:00 PM
425 Houston Street, Fort Worth, TX 76102
Sid Richardson Museum
The Sid Richardson Museum is located in Downtown Fort Worth in the famous Sundance Square. Entry to this museum is always free and is open 7 days a week. Its location in Downtown Fort Worth and proximity to Sundance Square make it a wonderful location for visitors to Fort Worth. You can get your parking ticket validated and park for free if you park in one of these parking garages listed on the museum’s visitor page.
This museum features art from the American West. It is named after the philanthropist and wealthy oilman Sid Richardson and was opened in 1982 by the Sid W. Richardson Foundation. Richardson’s personal collection of western American art is featured in the permanent collection. Two of the most notable artists featured in the museum are Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell.
There are many free events scheduled at the Sid for adults and children, including Tea and Talk, Spring Break activities, and Wild West Wits trivia nights. Check their program calendar to register for these events.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday – 10:00 AM- 5:00 PM
Friday- 10:00 AM- 8:00 PM
Sunday- 12:00- 5:00 PM
309 Main St, Fort Worth, TX 76102
John F. Kennedy Tribute
Located in Downtown Fort Worth in General Worth Square at the corner of Main Street and 8th Street is the JFK Tribute. It is adjacent to the Hilton Hotel, formerly known as the Texas Hotel where the president and first lady stayed the night on November 21, 1963, and where JFK gave one of his last speeches the following day on November 22, in what used to be the parking lot of the hotel.
The life-sized bronze statue is the centerpiece of this beautiful memorial. It also features granite walls engraved with excerpts and photos from some of his most notable speeches and visits. On a nice day, you can sit on the benches in front of the memorial or at the bistro tables in the adjoining green space by the Aviation Wall of Honor as you listen to a guided audio tour of the memorial.
Open at all times
916 Main St, Fort Worth, TX 76102
Fort Worth Water Gardens
Located in Downtown Fort Worth about a 5-minute walk from the JFK Tribute and adjacent to the Fort Worth Convention Center are the Fort Worth Water Gardens. These gardens are a unique architectural contribution from the Amon G. Carter Foundation to the city of Fort Worth that attract visitors from all over. They were designed by the famous post-modern architect, Philip Cortelyou Johnson, who also created the design for the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. Johnson’s novel design became famous when it became part of the set for filming the 1976 film Logan’s Run.
If you’re feeling adventurous you can walk down the spiraling stone steps of the Active Pool leading into the middle of the “canyon,” which is definitely a memorable experience. Note, it can be disorienting, and there are no handrails, so proceed with caution if you have trouble with balance or have young children with you. I walked down it several times as a child, and it was honestly easier than as an adult. And walking down it after dark is not something I’m interested in trying again.
One of my favorite spots in the Water Gardens is the Wet Wall and Quiet Pool. The 22-foot-high walls of cascading water surrounding the tranquil pool are a captivating spot year-round for rest and contemplation.
A favorite of kids is the water-less Mountain feature of the gardens. The considerable steps to the top of the Mountain are an exciting climb for kids and a sometimes challenging climb for adults. But they lead to a fabulous lookout point for impressive views of Fort Worth.
If you’re visiting in the heat of the summer, you need to know that while the water features are inviting, swimming is forbidden. I suggest visiting when in mild weather, so you can sit and enjoy the stunningly designed Water Gardens.
Open Daily- 6:00 AM- 10:00 PM
1502 Commerce Street, Fort Worth, TX 76102
Fort Worth Outdoors
Airfield Falls Trailhead and Conservation Park
If you are looking for an opportunity for hiking and nature in Fort Worth, the Airfield Falls Conservation Park is a once-hidden treasure in Fort Worth. Located off the Trinity Trails in Westworth Village near Downtown Fort Worth, it is the largest natural waterfall in Tarrant County. It is open daily from 5 am to 10 pm. It is easily accessible by foot or bike thanks to the development of the trailhead.
Airfield Park gets its name due to the fact it’s located near the Naval Air Station JRB and features McDonnell Douglas C-9 aircraft pieces at its entrance. From there, you follow the trail that leads to Airfield Falls.
The first time we visited was on a cool day, but if you have kids, it is perfect in Texas’s late spring, summer, or early fall when they can splash in the waterfalls. This scenic park is a great place for exploring or relaxing in Fort Worth.
Open Daily- 5:00 AM- 10:00 PM
200 Pumphrey Dr, Westworth Village, TX 76114
If you are visiting Fort Worth with kids, definitely take the time to visit Fort Worth’s Dream Park, open 7 days a week from 5 am to 11 pm. Located in Fort Worth’s Trinity Park off the Trinity Trails, it is an accessible park designed for children of all abilities. It goes above and beyond ADA requirements to create an incredible inclusive space for all kids, with its poured-in rubber ground, making the playground wheel cheer accessible. It is fun for both little kids and big kids, with its zip lines, climbing structures, slides, and different types of swings.
There are plenty of shady spots, as well as picnic tables and benches on location and surrounding Dream Park. Since it’s right off the Trinity Trails, it is easily accessible on foot or bike or you can park on the street or in one of the parking lots at the park. The only major drawback to the park is the lack of permanent restrooms, although there are porta-potties next to the park.
Overall, it is a beautiful park, full of unique experiences, and can provide hours of fun for kids. It is by far our favorite park in Fort Worth!
Open Daily- 8:30 AM- 11:30 AM
You can easily spend a few days enjoying all the free things to do in Fort Worth. This friendly city provides a unique, one-of-a-kind experience for visitors. At times you’ll feel like you’re stepping back in time to the Old West while at other times you’re experiencing post-modern style architecture or larger-than-life art. There is something for everyone in Cowtown and you won’t have to spend a penny to enjoy some of the best things it has to offer.