The Stockyards a lively historical district with rodeos, museums, shopping, and other attractions. Located north of downtown, it’s where Fort Worth received its name “Cowtown”.
In the late 1800s, the Stockyards was a major shipping point for cattle and other livestock. Millions of cattle were bought and sold here, and then shipped by railroad to other parts of the country. The boom of the livestock industry brought shops, hotels, and other businesses to the area. Many of the historic buildings of the Stockyards remain today. Most of the attractions are found on Exchange Avenue, and the entire area can be explored on foot.
The western atmosphere is fun and entertaining. There’s something to do for the entire family. Watch a rodeo or wild west show at the Cowtown Coliseum. Test your navigation skills in the Cowtown Cattlepen Maze. Go shopping for western wear at Stockyards Station. And be sure to catch one of the daily cattle drives!
The Cowtown Coliseum seats over 3,000 people and plays host to weekly rodeos, wild west shows, and sporting events. It was constructed in 1908 and was the first indoor rodeo arena built in the United States. The Coliseum is also home to the Bull Riding Hall of Fame.
Livestock Exchange Building
The Livestock Exchange Building is over 100 years old. The building was used by cattle traders for buying and selling livestock. Most of the rooms here are now leased out by local businesses and used for office space. The Stockyards Museum is located on the 1st floor and contains a huge amount of western artifacts.
The Stockyards Museum aims to preserve the rich history of the Stockyards and the western culture of the surrounding area. The museum is small and somewhat crowded. But it’s full of artifacts and stories from the glory days of the Stockyards.
There are old photos from the 1800s, antique rifles, and saddles used by lawmen and gunslingers, and Indian headdresses and arrowheads. The most unique item might be the Palace Theater Light Bulb, the second longest-lasting bulb in the country. It’s been burning for over 100 years straight.
Longhorn Cattle Drive
Long ago, cattle drives were a common sight in Texas. Cowboys drove cattle hundreds of miles to reach the Stockyards and sell their livestock. That tradition carries on today! Twice a day at 11:30 a.m and 4:00 p.m., a herd of Texas Longhorns are driven down Exchange Avenue by real cowboys on horseback.
The Longhorns are known as the Fort Worth Herd, and the cattle drive is the main attraction of the Stockyards. The cattle drive starts at Stockyards Station and heads west down Exchange Avenue. If you stick around the Stockyards Station after the cattle drive, there’s a reenactment of an old-west gunfight!
Longhorn Holding Pens
In between cattle drives, you can also find the longhorns hanging out in restored holding pens. The pens are located behind the Livestock Exchange Building.
There’s a long, elevated walkway that provides an overhead view of the Longhorns. These types of platforms were used by cattlemen and traders to grade livestock and decide which cattle to buy. Holding pens were used to separate the cattle before they were shipped out by train at the Stockyards Station.
Cowtown Cattlepen Maze
The Cattlepen Maze is a fun thing to do with friends and family. It’s a giant maze for humans that simulates the wooden walls of a cattle pen. The challenge is to navigate the maze and locate different letters. It’s great for older kids and adults, and not too difficult to complete.
Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame
Cowboys and cowgirls from of all walks of life are celebrated at the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame. The museum is located inside the La Plaza Building across from the Livestock Exchange Building. You’ll see exhibits for actors, ranchers, rodeo stars, and country music singers. It’s a small museum but is packed with cowboy memorabilia from notable past inductees like Ty Murray, Red Steagall, and George Strait.
Other Attractions to See
During the day, the cowboys in charge of the cattle drive also hang out on Exchange Avenue on horseback. They love to answer questions about the Longhorns, their horse, and being a cowboy. Feel free to get your picture taken with any of these friendly cowhands.
Bill Pickett Statue
Bill Pickett was a famous cowboy, rodeo star, and wild west show performer. He invented the act of bulldogging, a method of catching wild steers. A statue named “The First Bulldogger” honors Mr. Pickett and is located in front of the Cowtown Coliseum.
Bulldogging involves leaping off a horse, grabbing a steer by its horns, and forcing the animal to the ground. Bill became famous for the dangerous maneuver. He performed his bulldogging act around the country at rodeos and county fairs. Bulldogging later became an official rodeo event known as steer wrestling. In steer wrestling, cowboys compete for the fastest time to bulldog a steer.
Quanah Parker Statue
Quanah Parker was a legendary Comanche Chief and led many Indian raids during the nineteenth century. His mother, Cynthia Ann Parker, was kidnapped as a child and spent more than 20 years living with the Comanches. The statue of Quanah is behind the RFD-TV building, next to the parking lot of the Hyatt Place hotel.
Chief Parker led a band of warriors who refused to take refuge on the Indian reservation in Oklahoma. After evading the U.S Calvary for years, the Comanches were defeated at the Second Battle Adobe Walls in 1874. A year later, Quanah relented and convinced his warriors to join the other Indians on the reservation. He spent his remaining years as a statesman and liaison between the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian tribes in Oklahoma.
Texas Trail of Fame
As you navigate around the Stockyards, you might notice the bronze, circle-shaped markers on the sidewalks. These markers are for the Texas Trail of Fame and represent people who made a strong contribution to our western heritage. Artists, ranchers, outlaws, and other inductees are added to the trail each year. Members are also displayed on the walls of the Livestock Exchange Building, down the hall from the Stockyards Museum.
Shopping & Dining
Where trains once arrived to ship cattle across the country, the Stockyards Station is now home to over 20 shops and restaurants. From cowboy hats to barbeque, it’s a great place to grab some souvenirs and a bite to eat.
La Plaza Craft Mall
The La Plaza Craft Mall is next to the Livestock Exchange Building on Rodeo Plaza. There are many shops inside selling souvenirs, crafts, jewelry, and home decor items.
Exchange Avenue and North Main Street
If you head further down Exchange Avenue, it will eventually cross North Main Street. There are a variety of shops and restaurants on these two blocks. This is the place to shop if you’re looking for authentic western wear, jewelry, or custom-made cowboy boots.
Parking fills up fast on the weekend, so it’s best to get there early if possible. Fees will range from $5.00 to $10.00 for all-day parking.
The larger parking lots are located east of Stockyards Station at the end of Exchange Avenue. On each side of the Livestock Exchange Building, there are smaller parking lots that are more centrally located. You can probably park there on a weekday when it’s less busy.
Free parking is available on Exchange Avenue, in front of the stores located between North Main Street and Rodeo Plaza.
|Address:||140 E Exchange Ave|
Fort Worth, TX 76164