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Great Shopping Areas

Fort Worth can't compare to Dallas as a shopping mecca (nor, I suspect, would it want to), but, especially if you're looking for Western clothing and souvenirs of the city's cow-town history, you're in luck. The top tourist area, the Stockyards National Historic District (and particularly Stockyards Station, a mall of pure Texan shops converted from the old sheep and hog pens) has plenty of authentic Western fashions, antiques, art, and souvenirs, many found in shops inhabiting historic quarters. Sundance Square in the downtown historic district is gushing with art galleries, museum gift shops, and fashionable clothing and furnishing stores, most in turn-of-the-20th-century buildings. Along Camp Bowie Boulevard in the Cultural District, there are a number of art galleries and design-oriented shops. The Downtown Fort Worth Rail Market, a European-style market that bills itself as "Texas's First True Public Market," is located in the historic Santa Fe Warehouse, 1401 Jones St. (tel. 817/335-6758). It has a good farmers' market and a couple dozen permanent merchants.

If you're in town during the end of November through mid-December, don't miss the Western Mercantile show (tel. 817/244-6188; www.nchacutting.com) in the Amon G. Carter Exhibit Hall in the Cultural District. Besides demonstrations of cutting horses, there are booths selling custom saddles, boots, and every kind of Western paraphernalia you can imagine (as well as luxe custom horse trailers).

Western Gear

Two of the best Western shops, for real ropers, urban cowboys, and rodeo queens, are on the Stockyards' classic Exchange Avenue. Family-owned M. L. Leddy's, 2455 N. Main at Exchange (tel. 817/624-3149; www.leddys.com), with the big neon boot sign out front, is one of the city's oldest Western wear shops. Originally a boot maker and saddlery, it has fine cowboy duds such as handmade belts, formalwear, custom-made boots, and saddles, and the best-selling top-of-the-line cowboy hat, the pure Beaver. It has another, slightly slicker and "uptown" shop, called Leddy's Ranch at Sundance, 410 Houston St. (tel. 817/336-0800), with a full range of boots and Western clothing. Across the street from the Stockyards Hotel, Maverick, 100 E. Exchange Ave. (tel. 817/626-1129; www.maverickwesternwear.com), has such high-end Western wear as hand-embroidered shirts, saloon-ready 19th-century-style suits, and other swank cowboy duds. It also has a long bar, so you can grab a longneck while shopping and look the part of the cowboy or cowgirl you are (or hope to become).

Also in the Stockyards, Ponder Boot Company, 2358 N. Main St. (tel. 817/626-3523; www.ponderboot.com), is the place to go for custom boots. Step inside and choose your leather and get your own brand or initial on a boot that will last you a lifetime, for not all that much more than a top-of-the-line factory-made boot (most will run $600-$850). Georgia, the owner, will demonstrate the superior quality of one of her handmade, custom boots using a pair of dissected boots (if you ask nicely).

Peters Brothers Hats, 909 Houston St., at 9th Street (tel. 800/TXS-HATS [897-4287]; www.petersbros.com), has been around since 1911, stocking Stetsons and hats of all kinds, including Western fedoras and custom-made cowboy hats. Also check out Retro Cowboy, 406 Houston St., on Sundance Square (tel. 817/338-1194), for women's Western apparel, sterling silver jewelry, and men's vintage shirts. If the duds at these rather upscale Western stores are a bit too dear for your cowboy wallet, check out Western Wear Exchange, 2809 Alta Mere, 183S at I-30 (tel. 817/738-4048), a rare resale shop dealing exclusively in Western wear. If it's already broken in, you'll be closer to looking and feeling the part of a real roper.

Once you've got the duds, you need the tunes. Ernest Tubb's Record Shop, 140 E. Exchange Ave., in Stockyards Station (tel. 800/229-4288 or 817/624-8449; www.etrecordshop.com), has a great stock of honky-tonk, cowboy, and country-and-western recordings, including old vinyl and hard-to-find stuff.

Antiques & Furnishings

Bum Steer, 2400 N. Main St. (tel. 817/626-4565), just a block from the Stockyards' main drag, sells Western antiques, vintage clothing, chaps and saddles, mounts and hides, and those lovable antler chandeliers. Just up the street is Cross-Eyed Moose, 2340 N. Main St. (tel. 817/624-4311), run by the same folks and stocking slightly more affordable Western goods, some used clothing and antiques, as well as custom furnishings, game mounts, and Western decorative stuff. I picked up a great used pair of $10 boots here for my nephew. The Antique Colony, 7200 Camp Bowie Blvd. (tel. 817/731-7252), has some 120 dealers of antiques and collectibles.

Department Stores & Malls

Stockyards Station, 140 E. Exchange Ave. (tel. 817/625-9715), once the Southwest's largest hog and sheep marketing center, has been converted into a cute center of several dozen restaurants and shops featuring Western apparel, Lone Star wines, country-and-western music, leather goods, Texas products, and arts and crafts. There's even a Stockyards Wedding Chapel (tel. 817/624-1570) for cowboys and girls dying for a true Old West ceremony.

University Park Village, 2 blocks south of I-30 on S. University Drive near Texas Christian University (tel. 817/654-0521), is an upscale shopping center with Talbot's, Williams-Sonoma, Ann Taylor, Voyagers The Travel Store, and Wolf Camera.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.