If you like to explore some unique stops while traveling backroads that will take you through some wildflower hot-spots with wineries mixed in, this route is for you. This video will take you through most of the places I'll discuss in this post, so you might want to watch it (and share it with others) before reading below.
It's time to get off the beaten path and take in some scenery and quirky points of interest many people don't know about, and it's all easily done in daytrips from Fort Worth. For an added bonus, travel this route in the spring while the wildflowers are blooming and you'll pass through areas that typically put on a good display. String all of these together and you can spend three or four days away from the hassles and the traffic of the city even though you'll never be that far away.
Get up and head south out of Fort Worth towards our first stop, The Rock Church located just outside Cranfills Gap. St. Olaf Kirke was built in 1886 and is a great example of the influence Norwegian settlers brought to the area, and it serves as our starting point for a day or two of relaxation. Definitely a unique looking church, so make sure to take some photos if you're doin' it for the 'gram.
Head north from the church into Meridian, which you likely passed through on your way down. Many Norwegians settled in this part of the state in the 1800s and you'll note that the architectural style of the Bosque County Courthouse is reminiscent of St. Olaf Kirke. The construction of this courthouse was a source of great controversy, some local politicians felt the $60k price tag was so steep as to ruin the county, result in increased taxes, or both. Texas has a lot of interesting courthouses to view, this stands out as one of the more unique among them.
On your way to Glen Rose from Meridian you'll pass between Seven Knobs, a group of hills separated by the highway as you travel through the scenery this part of the state has to offer.
You've spent some time in the car and you're ready to stretch your legs a bit. In Glen Rose, stop by Big Rocks Park. It's a park, and it's got a bunch of big rocks in it. Walk around among the rock formations along the creek here and enjoy the views, it's really a neat place and another great opportunity to grab some photos.
Head into Cleburne and you might stop by to take a look at The Depot at Cleburne Station, home of the Cleburne Railroaders
On the other side of Cleburne you can drop by Johnson County Distillery and sample their whiskey if you're ready for some spirits.
I recommend avoiding 174 and instead sneak through the back way from Cleburne towards Burleson, you might pass an interesting sight or two along the way and then arrive at Lost Oak Winery (which is pet-friendly) where you can sample wines and also walk the network of trails through the woods on the property. I really enjoy spending time here, if you like to see vines when you're at a winery there are plenty here for you to see. Wind down your day here and indulge in some of their food options, they're open a little later than most wineries so it's a great place to finish the night. You're not far from Fort Worth now so you can head home for the night, find affordable hotels nearby or easily snag an Airbnb.
Today we're going to start out by heading west, if you spent the night somewhere near Lost Oak then tell your nav or Google Maps to route you through Whiskey Flats on your way to Mineral Wells. This will keep you off of busier roads and lead you through prettier scenery on your way to take a look at the historic Baker Hotel, which is finally being restored. There's a very long history to the Baker, I won't go through all of that here but if you're interested in that type of thing you can start with their website.
Head east on US 180 and you'll pass through Cool, Texas on your way to Weatherford. Lake Weatherford has a boardwalk across the upper reaches of the lake that allows you to walk across and absorb a little nature. At less than a mile in length, you can traverse it back and forth pretty quickly or hang around for awhile and enjoy the scenery.
Not far from the lake driving through some hilly terrain on your way to Dove Ridge Winery you can spot Fort Worth's skyline 20 miles to the east when there are breaks in the trees along FM 730. Dove Ridge is another pet friendly winery, and is situated in some of the most underrated/unknown scenery in the area.
You don't have to travel far down the road to make it to the next stop, Casual Friday Winery which offers a wide selection of wines and has some excellent options for food as well. Casual Friday is open later than most wineries so relax and finish out the night here over a glass or two while you enjoy their pizza or try their entree of the month. This stop has brought you back close in to Fort Worth again so you might head home for the night or find a place nearby to get a good start on tomorrow's itinerary.
Start your day by exploring Eagle Mountain Park and take the time to walk a trail down to the lake. There are some nice elevation changes throughout the park, you can get a good workout but nothing extreme. There is no admission fee to enter the park but keep in mind the trails are for walking only (no cycling) and pets are not allowed. If you've got the good puppy dog with you, stop into the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge instead, you can't go wrong with either choice.
A little farther up the road you can stop into TF Vineyard, a winery with a definite family-style charm to it and a selection of wines that should please everyone. Grab a tasting and see what you like, then enjoy a glass as you look out over the vines in this quiet, relaxing setting.
As the journey continues, stop in Bridgeport for a bit. Historic Halsell Street has food, beverages and shopping to offer in a package that any town or city should emulate when planning a downtown area that's walkable, useable for locals and welcoming to tourists all at the same time. Drop by Oak & Eden to sample some whiskey before moving along.
Upon leaving Bridgeport, both Marker Cellars and O G Cellars are wineries that are convenient stops and they both offer great views in relaxing environments to go along with their excellent wines. Traveling any of the roads in this area will provide you with scenic views that most simply don't know can be found this close to Fort Worth.
Heading towards St. Jo there's just so much scenery to explore if you've never been in that area before. 1655 between Alvord and Forestburg is a great drive especially in the spring, there are just too many options for me to provide one single route to take. Make your way up to Blue Ostrich Winery and enjoy the view before hitting up Fischer's Meat Market in Muenster while you wind through gently twirling wind turbines.
To avoid major highways, head south out of Muenster to FM 922 and then head east to get to Edge of the Lake Vineyard nestled on the shores of Lake Ray Roberts. The tasting room is so neat and of course sitting lakeside is a very relaxing environment for sampling their wines. A beautiful place to sit outside and enjoy the breeze off of the lake.
Make your way around the lake driving through the heart of the North Texas Cross Timbers Region and you can visit Western Son Distillery to sample their flavored vodkas or take a quick tour of the distillery. You can finish your night here and close out your exploration of North Texas scenery while celebrating with a cocktail or two.
You can make adjustments to this trip or break it into pieces or go through it however you like. I encourage you to get out and roam through some of these areas if you're not familiar with them, a lot of people just don't know what they're missing. I might clean this up a little, but here's a map to show some adjustments I make to keep the drive more interesting than what your nav might have you do.
(Still working on this to try to get it to embed properly)
I hope you've enjoyed the read, I hope you get out and check out some of the places mentioned and if you get any photos along the way or have any questions, let me know. Happy trails!