25 Reasons We Love Fort Worth

The city is mighty cosmopolitan for a "Cowtown." The cattle drives are just for show--but the avant-garde theater, floating museum, and white-water rapids are the genuine article.

18. Rapid transit
While dams were being repaired in 2004, county officials had stone and concrete slabs installed along a 3.5-mile stretch of the Clear Fork of the Trinity River. The result is a free urban white-water course that has Class II and III rapids after a rain. Kayak put-in point near the south entrance of Trinity Park at 1200 S. University Dr.

19. Meat market
Fort Worth's trendiest nightspots are clustered within a few blocks of Sundance Square. The corner patio of restaurant and bar 8.0 is a prime spot for scoping out the crowds—and scouting the local acts that play four nights a week on the outdoor stage. 111 E. Third St., 817/336-0880, eightobar.com.

20. Like something out of Dallas
Built in 1904, the Georgian Revival mansion Thistle Hill recalls the fabulous lives of wealthy Texan cattle barons. As successive owners, the Wharton and Scott families hosted formal dinners, teas, and late-night poker parties in the 11,000-square-foot home. 1509 Pennsylvania Ave., 817/336-1212, thistlehill.org, tour $15.

21. Deep in the art of Texas
Each April, more than 400,000 people descend upon downtown for the four-day Main Street Fort Worth Arts Festival, where the 213 artists who made it through the annual jury selection sell their work. There's also a short-film festival, as well as dance and theater performances on stages between artists' booths and food stands. 817/336-2787, mainstreetartsfest.org, free.

22. Nice and hot
At the Texas White House B&B, guests in three antique-filled rooms (and two suites) can take advantage of the wide porch, gardens, gazebo swing—and tips from hosts Grover and Jamie McMains (1417 Eighth Ave., 817/923-3597, texaswhitehouse.com, from $125). Even the neighbors are great: Pendery's World of Chiles & Spices has been blending its Chiltomaline powder since 1890 (1407 Eighth Ave., 817/924-3434, penderys.com, from $4).

23. Don't mess with breakfast
Customers pack the black vinyl booths of Paris Coffee Shop, a family-run café that has been serving heaping plates of waffles, grits, and biscuits—and slices of homemade coconut pie—for more than 80 years. 704 W. Magnolia Ave., 817/335-2041, waffles $4.

24. Mall of Americas
As Fort Worth grows, it's becoming more diverse: Nearly a third of the population is Hispanic. At La Gran Plaza, more than 350 businesses catering to (and owned by) the Spanish-language community sell everything from imported salsa to quinceañera gowns. 4200 S. Freeway, 817/922-8888, lagranplazamall.com.

25. Ain't it sweet
A.C. "Ace" Cook, a noted collector of pre-1970s Texan art, displays 70 museum-worthy paintings in The Bull Ring, his unassuming Stockyards ice cream parlor. He's often hanging around, ready to give an impromptu lesson on gems such as Douglas Chandor's enigmatic portrait of a gardener—"It's the Mona Lisa of the bunch," he says. 112 E. Exchange Ave., 817/624-2222, ice cream $2.50.

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