By Bob & Sandy Nesoff
Members: North American travel Journalists Association
American Society of Journalists and Authors
To most Easterners the Old West is a wild, backward region populated by Red Neck cowboys and everyone with names like Billy Ben, Henry Sam and an IQ somewhere south of the horses they ride down Main Street.
Others only know what they know from the TV series Dallas or Killer Women and would rather spend a vacation or business trip where they can enjoy luxury, entertainment and the company of people who can hold a conversation using more than two one syllable words.
Stop watching television. Forget what you’ve seen in the movies. Texas ain’t what you think it is. Dallas is as modern as any city in the Northeast and more than some. But Dallas retains precious little of the flavor of the old West having sacrificed it on the altar of commerce.
Most visitors to the Lone Star State, aside from pure business, are looking for that Old West ethos they are so familiar with from watching all the celluloid cowboys. Fortunately much of that atmosphere remains, albeit somewhat updated.
Houston hosts the annual Trail Riders gathering and parade, usually in February, (http://www.zydecoevents.com/trailriders.html) that brings hundreds and hundreds of cowboys, cowgirls, horses, chuck wagons and everything a trail drive of the 1800s would provide. They camp outside of the city and then in a massive parade trek down a main street in an impressive show of history. Many of the participants are actual working cowhands.
The parade usually coincides with the opening of the Houston Rodeo, one of the great society events of the year in Texas.
A glance around the state will show opportunities to immerse the visitor in lore and tradition and enough Western wear stores so that even the most citified tenderfoot can dress like a local. Check out some of the better shops such as the Maverick on the main drag in Fort Worth’s historic Stockyards District.
The variety of clothes and boots available here are hard to match. The only downer for anyone looking for the traditional pointed toe cowboy boots is the fact that many of the shops offer what looks like a work boot with a round tip. One of the few stores with a sufficient variety of boots carrying the traditional is Maverick.
While Fort Worth revels in its history as a “cow town,” there is also a modern side to the city. It has excellent entertainment, restaurants, dining options and cultural activities. Central to much of what Fort Worth has to offer is the Hilton Embassy Suites Hotel, conveniently located in the heart of everything.
Embassy Suites offers so much more than a “hotel room” for the overnight guest or someone planning an extended stay. Cut costs with the hotel’s complementary, cooked-to-order breakfast and the comp evening reception with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. There is also comp wifi and wireless internet, an amenity many hotels still inexplicably charge for.
Embassy Suites is literally steps from the downtown entertainment and dining district, the Bass Performance Hall and the Fort Worth Convention Center. It’s also a short drive to the Historic District via Fort Worth’s excellent roadway system that is currently undergoing major improvements and expansion. Trip Advisor has given the Fort Worth Embassy Suites an almost unanimous five-star rating. The hotel is an easy 25-minute drive from DFW International Airport.
Immerse yourself in the offerings in the Historic District that range from the world’s greatest honky tonk, Billy Bob’s, the daily cattle drive down the main street, the Stockyards Hotel where Bonnie and Clyde spent some time and the old puffer train running from Fort Worth to Grapevine.
Not far off is the Will Rogers Memorial Center, the Amon Carter Museum of Western Art with its fabulous collection of Remingtons, the zoo and the botanical gardens. Motor enthusiasts can entertain themselves at the Texas Motor Speedway, enjoying NASCAR races.
For more information on Fort Worth, check out www.FortWorth.com.