The Fort Worth Botanic Garden is one of the green jewels found in the Cultural District. Courtesy of Fort Worth Botanic Garden.
By Amy Martin
Jan. 30, 2018
The West Fork of the Trinity River enters the far northwestern fringe of Fort Worth after being dammed for Eagle Mountain Lake and then Lake Worth. As it descends into the city, it merges with the Clear Fork from the south. In the wedge, where the two rivers meet is some of the best nature and culture the city has to offer.
Green Jewels of the Cultural District
The Fort Worth Cultural District stretches north between Montgomery and University from Interstate 30 to Camp Bowie Boulevard. The southern end with park and garden attractions skirts the Clear Fork. In the gentle slope leading to the river sprawls the 109-acre Fort Worth Botanic Garden. It’s big enough to consider doing it on wheels via Segway Fort Worth.
The Botanic Garden’s serene Japanese Garden offers spacious, uncluttered beauty and grace, draped over levels of rock from a reclaimed riverine gravel pit. Much of FWBG features intricately landscaped beds, formal ponds, and wide paved trails for those who like their nature tame and at a distance. But the surrounding woods and meadows are laced with soft-surface trails, especially on the southern end. Don’t miss the Native Texas Forest Boardwalk.
The Japenese Garden at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden is an oasis for nature lovers. Courtesy of FWBG.
Adjoining the garden’s main entrance is the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, with its wondrous eco-building and plant-filled green roof. With a focus on native plants, BRIT is an excellent place to learn of the natural world. Native plant and prairie gardens surround it, including some examples of Fort Worth Prairie. It’s open on first Saturdays for tours and talks and their annual Prairie Day festival is a whole lot of fun.
BRIT is home to a couple of excellent nature-oriented groups. REAL School Gardens operates a series of learning gardens that explore not only edible and non-edible plants but also natural phenomena and engineering that enhances the natural world. The Greater Fort Worth Herb Society teaches propagating, growing and harvesting herbs along with how to make herbal products.
The Botanical Research Institute of Texas is located adjacent to Fort Worth Botanic Garden. Courtesy of BRIT.
Just east of the gardens is Trinity Park, over 20 acres along the west flank of the Clear Fork. While it’s highly developed with lots of paved trails and landscaping, it affords easy access to the river. Launch a kayak or canoe, and in a few places you can wade in. Rent-a-bikes are available (See Fort Worth B-Cycle below). The Trinity Trails can be accessed in Trinity Parkacross from the Botanic Garden.
On the south side of I-30 near the Fort Worth Zoo is the delightful Log Cabin Village. Billed as “Fort Worth’s Living History Museum,” six log houses dating back to the mid-1800s and other structures are set amid gentle, naturalistic green space. The herb garden maintained by Greater Fort Worth Herb Society is impressive, and periodic crafts classes appeal to nature fans.
The Trinity Trails can be accessed in Trinity Park, which has entrances off University and Seventh Street. Courtesy of FWCVB.
High Art and Green Spaces
North of the gardens in the Cultural District is the western part of Fort Worth’s culture, with Will Rogers Memorial Center as home to the annual Stock Show. For nature lovers, while the charming Cowgirl Hall of Fame and Museum with its great outdoor imagery can be fun, this section can feel like a disappointing sprawl of metal, concrete and parking lots.
Take heart that off to the northwest west side is the sleek, sophisticated and modern Fort Worth Museum of Science and History spread over two city blocks. While focused on children’s education, it does host the Noble Planetarium, celebrating the cosmos, and Omni Imax. The 70 mm motion picture film format, which displays super high-resolution images up to ten times larger than conventional film systems, often features nature-themed films.
The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History includes an Omni Imax theater. “Conjoined” is permanent outdoor sculpture at Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Courtesy of Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau.
A trio of art museums with outdoor sculptures dominates the beautifully landscaped triangular block that is the northern tip of the Cultural District where Lancaster and Camp Bowie meet. The Kimbell Art Museum has done a lot to enhance the natural aspects of its grounds with more trees and green space, including the lawn covered roof on the Piano Pavillion. The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth may not be at all natural but is sleekly gorgeous, with stunning architecture and a delightfully progressive social scene. Artworks at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art often feature natural landscapes.
Historic Camp Bowie
Slicing from southwest to northeast is nine miles called Camp Bowie Boulevard, a pedestrian-friendly retail and entertainment corridor dotted with yoga studios, naturopaths and health-oriented businesses. The street was laid in the 1920s and paved with Texas Thurber bricks. As a route to the West Texas oilfields and beyond, echoes of its Route 66-style hotels and motels remain, especially on the southwest end. Adjacent bungalow neighborhoods like Arlington Heights and Monticello are the very definition of charming.
At the southwest tip below I-30 is the Cowtown Farmers Market that emphasizes local growers. Closer to I-30 is the fabulous Sunflower Shoppe, purveyor of natural foods and vitamins since 1970, well before upstart Whole Foods. Locally owned and operated, you can ask their knowledgeable staff anything about health.
A few other standouts: Samson’s Market Bistro sells vegetarian-friendly Ethiopian food at excellent prices. Craftwork Coffee Company blends coworking and coffee with fun evening entertainment. Wag Canine Emporium is adorably set in a retro gas station. Fort Worth Ginger Man, serving craft beer long before the term was hip, is the neighborhood bar for the North Hi Mount neighborhood with live music and best jukebox ever.
Craftwork Coffee Co. also offers coworking space. Courtesy of Craftwork.
West Seventh: From Green to Glamour
Just north of the Cultural District begins the West Seventh Street corridor that links the district to downtown. The avenue soars over the Clear Fork on a bridge with a beautiful low series of arches. East of University, the gloss increases. Ultra hip and upscale, for a few blocks on either side of the thoroughfare it’s crammed with restaurants, entertainment, a wide variety of retail and endless salons and athletic clubs for beautiful people.
The centerpiece of the upscale district is Crockett Row, five pedestrian-friendly blocks with a village feel that concentrate the West Seventh vibe. It’s noted for its massive overhead circular light sculpture at the central intersection. Yet Montgomery Plaza also endures here, an imposing eight stories of brick and old-school windows with a big neon sign.
West Seventh is elbow-to-elbow dining establishments, few of them healthy, except perhaps Terra
Mediterranean’s quick buffet and abundant vegetable sides. Hopdoddy’s Impossible burger has many fans, or enjoy Rodeo Goat’s on a sprawling outdoor lot bedecked with twinkle lights. For a healthy bite, Juice Junkies on Foch offers a juice bar, smoothies and light healthy fare to go.
Juice Junkies is a locally owned juice bar. Courtesy of Juice Junkies. Fort Worth Food Park features a variety of food trucks. Courtesy of Fort Worth Food Park.
Fort Worth Food Park features dining trucks with a wide variety of cuisines. Enjoy your grub in a leafy setting with picnic tables, topped off with beer and wine from the cantina. It’s pet-friendly and offers free Wi-Fi.
Afterwards, visit Steel City Pops for gourmet popsicles with natural ingredients, unrefined sugars and vegan-friendly fruity choices. Or a drink from Avoca Coffee Roasters led by two coffee meister and childhood pals. Serious about their beans, their passion for getting people caffeinated transformed the Cowtown company into a North Texas chain.
Get on the healthy bandwagon with Natural Grocers, selling only organic foods from prepared to produce, plus a tremendous array of health supplements and products. Backwoods is a family-owned store appealing to travelers and explorers of the natural realm. Get your wheels in gear at Colonel’s Bicycles, a locally owned shop that knows how to make bike riding fun for all.
UNTHSC Community Garden
West Seventh west of University has a gentler, more low-key vibe. University of North Texas Health Science Center has the booming UNTHSC Community Garden. Each plot operated by students, staff, and faculty must donate at least 25 percent of their yield to a local food bank. The garden has rain barrels, picnic tables made from old wood pallets, landscaping with native plants, and so many compost bins as part of its commitment to showcasing sustainable lifestyles.
UNTHSC Community Garden is operated by students, staff and faculty. Courtesy of UNTHSC.
Nearby Righteous Foods offers chef-quality organic dining in a funky building. Seriously soul-sustaining food presented for breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus an astounding juice bar and fun prepared foods to go. Created by Lanny Lancarte II, the great-grandson of restauranteur Joe T. Garcia, founder of Fort Worth’s famed Mexican restaurant.
Righteous Foods offers a creative healthy menu. Courtesy of Righteous Foods.
You can’t miss the mega World of Beer where everything is done large, from the ridiculously fun outdoor patio to more 500 bottles and 50 rotating taps. Amid all the West Seventh Street craziness is the deep decency of SoulSpace Yoga Community, stretching beyond the asana to holistic health, energetic healing and a life of meaning.
Traverse West Seventh with ease using Fort Worth B-Cycle, a nonprofit organization that organizes the shared use of leased bicycles. There are 350 bikes at 56 stations all over town, but especially along West Seventh and Trinity Park. Pick your wheels up at one station and leave it at another. Available all day, every day for short or long-term membership. The First Mile program aids those without vehicles to use the B-cycle for low to no cost.
Rent a bike at Fort Worth B-Cycle stations, located throughout the Cultural District. Photo courtesy of FW B-Cycle.
About: In this series, Green Source DFW reporter Amy Martin explores the eco-friendly neighborhoods of North Texas, where green retail, green venues and green folks intersect.
Here are the other neighborhoods she covered:
Eastlake: Laid-back and eco-friendly
Bishop Arts: The hip heart of Oak Cliff
Lakewood: Overflowing green amenties
South Oak Cliff: Green and growing
North Oak Cliff: Urban greenie haven