Fort Worth is loaded with activities for children. The top choice among the options is the Fort Worth Zoo, one of the very finest in the country, with a splendid array of exotic animals in natural habitats. Kids can play and learn at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, which has an Omni (IMAX) theater and hands-on science displays, including Dinodig, where they can play amateur paleontologist. If the kids are restless and just need to get outside, take them to the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, with acres and acres of gardens, exotic plants, and tropical trees.
The Stockyards National Historic District should entertain little cowboys and cowgirls. Twice a day, a herd of longhorn cattle rumbles down brick-paved Exchange Avenue. Texas Town in Stockyards Station is a theme park of sorts: an Old West hotel, bar, outhouse, and jail, as well as a vintage ride park, with an antique merry-go-round. Actors in chaps and vests enact High Noon gun duels. Nearby, kids can try to find their way through the Cowtown Cattlepen Maze, designed to resemble the cattle pens of the Old West. An enjoyable excursion for families is the Grapevine Vintage Train, a steam locomotive (or its diesel substitute) that travels from Stockyards Station to 8th Avenue in Fort Worth and to historic Grapevine. Young cowboys and cowgirls will enjoy horseback trail rides at the Stockyard Station Livery (chuck-wagon dinners available for groups of 10 or more; call tel. 817/624-3446 for more information), and, if you're here in January, the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo. The gals may feel empowered by a visit to the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, which has cool interactive exhibits (such as filming yourself on a bucking bronco). If the kids are hungry for more Old West adventures, trot them over to the Cattle Raisers Museum, scheduled to reopen in the Museum of Science and History in late 2009, which depicts life on the range shown through talking ranchers and cattle and a theater presentation.
The Grapevine Vintage Railroad -- To jump into the turn-of-the-20th-century Old West character of the Stockyards, don your best Western duds and hop aboard the Grapevine Vintage Railroad. The 100-year-old steam train of the Tarantula Railroad (purchased from Walt Disney and affectionately called "Puffy" by locals) -- and its diesel brethren -- makes the Trinity River Run, a 1-hour trip from Stockyards Station to 8th Avenue in Fort Worth, and another route travels along the Chisholm Trail to the Cotton Belt Depot in historic Grapevine, Texas. The trip to Grapevine is more involved and interesting (as well as more expensive) than the one that ends in Forth Worth. The name Tarantula stems from a tale in the late 19th century, when a local newspaperman's plans for rail lines were derided as looking like "the legs of a hairy tarantula."
Call tel. 817/410-3123 or visit www.grapevinesteamrailroad.com for exact schedules and the running status of the steam train. The Trinity River Run round-trip fare is $10 adults, $9 seniors, $6 children ages 3 to 12. The Grapevine round-trip fare is $20 adults, $18 seniors, and $10 children ages 3 to 12.
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.