WE arrived in the historical Stockyards District of Fort Worth in a giant American 4x4 after an easy and stress-free 45-minute drive from DFW airport.

It felt immediately, however, as if we should really be tying our horses to a post in front of the beautiful Stockyards Hotel, (stockyardshotel.com) our base for an action-packed couple of days.

It was amazing to think that cowboys once herded their cattle along this street - Exchange Avenue - on their way to markets of the north. To commemorate this part of Texas’ history there’s a cattle drive twice a day here when real cowboys guide magnificent Texas longhorn cattle effortlessly on their way.

Even more amazing to think that Bonnie and Clyde stayed at the hotel, in Room 305, overlooking the street so they could watch out for the sheriff!

This area is popular at any time for all types of entertainment – a rodeo, bars, restaurants and shopping. Our first taste of many giant Texan steaks we were to sample was at H3, the restaurant adjoining the hotel, which most diners washed down with the wonderfully named Bison Butt beer.

This area is packed at the weekends and one of the magnets for night time entertainment all through the week is Billy Bob’s Texas the world’s largest honky tonk. It’s an eye-wateringly large venue – 127,000 ft of entertainment including arcades, line dancing, music from top country bands and bull-riding demonstrations.

To get even more in the Texas mood, proper cowboy hats were needed and virtually next door to the hotel every type of hat was on offer at Fincher’s White Front Western Wear, (fincherswhitefront.com) Who knew there were so many to choose from? You can even have them expertly steamed to fit your head shape.

We shopped for some original Fort Worth gifts and antiques at the small shops in Stockyards Station, (stockyardsstation.com) The next morning breakfasting on the very Mexican Huevos Rancheros was hot stuff – served with beans and tortillas at local favourite Esperanza’s Bakery and Café, (joets.com) Then after another stroll around the Stockyards area we were off to sample a different side of Fort Worth – in the city itself.

The 35 blocks of downtown shopping, dining and entertainment surrounds the beautiful, revamped Sundance Square. Here you can enjoy eating at the Bird Café before experiencing museums, galleries, the JFK Tribute, the Chisholm Trail Mural honouring the historic cattle drives of the 19th century, and Fort Worth Water Gardens.

But the big spectacle of the day was in store at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo (fwssr.com) It’s an event that attracts a million people each year. We were really excited to have a ringside seat – close enough to watch the bull rider’s hands shaking before he attempted a seven-second ride on a leaping hulk of a bull weighing over 1,200 Ib. An amazing, eye-popping show.

Eating at Reata at the Rodeo, was THE place to be seen – try charbroiled rib eye with cook's butter (reata.net)  before wandering around the pampered stock animals being preened, brushed and even blow dried by their owners.

But Fort Worth is not all about it’s historic past and cowboys, as we found the museums here, and later in Dallas, to be amazing places. In Fort Worth visit the Kimbell Art Museum, the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame (near the rodeo grounds) and the Modern Art Museum, where Sunday brunch at the Café Modern was superb in a gorgeous setting www.themodern.org After the rodeo we headed back downtown and discovered an amazing, underground music venue - the Scat Jazz Lounge. Just off an alleyway you take a lift down and then queue, but it’s worth the wait. Also try the Thompson Book Store, the city’s newest speakeasy or The Usual, a mixology bar.

As hard as it was to leave Fort Worth we were excited to be driving out just over an hour through hill country to a small town called Graham and the picturesque Wildcatter Ranch,  (wildcatterranch.com) This was a chance to live the Texas dream and to try out some of those cowboy skills such as riding and shooting bows and arrows - before tucking into – you guessed it – more stupendous, mesquite-grilled steak dinners at the ranch restaurant.

Owner Anne Street, whose great grandfather founded the town and set up his oil business which still carries on today, has made it her mission that this should be a truly relaxing resort, and it is. The staff are so friendly and treat you more like friends than guests. “Y’all come back now.”

Our very spacious, western-themed cabins had stone fireplaces and porches with rocking chairs from where you can watch the sun come up or go down. One evening, as if on cue, we heard coyotes howling out in the valley below.

During our 48 hours on the ranch we enjoyed a trail ride on horseback and in a jeep through the 1,500 acres of north Texas hill country, negotiating rugged hill terrain to learn about the wildlife from Nick our Stetson wearing guide. A stop to admire the spectacular view of the Brazos River was a highlight - think Lonesome Dove meets The Sons of Katie Elder - all stories with their roots in this area. We even fed the Longhorn cattle.

There are ultra-modern comforts here too, including an infinity pool and a jacuzzi.

Again, reluctantly, we took to the road again for about an hour and half to the last stop on our action-packed trip – to Dallas.

While this city too has its roots in the past, it is brimming with enthusiasm and pride about its modern culture. On our way to check in to another iconic hotel – The Magnolia, right in the centre of town, www.magnoliahotels.com we stopped off for lunch at Trinity Groves – an area brimming with innovative eateries, (trinitygroves.com) A huge platter of oysters was a highlight.

The art deco Magnolia, the first skyscraper built in the city is a great place to stay to explore the GeO-Deck at Reunion Tower www.reuniontower.com for a 360 degree view of Dallas and downtown including Pioneer Plaza, John F. Kennedy Memorial, Old Red Courthouse Museum, the historic West End former warehouse district, The Eye sculpture, Thanksgiving Square and then on to shop at Neiman Marcus.

That night we enjoyed poring over the inventive and diverse dinner menu by chef Stephan Pyles at Stampede 66 (stampede66.com) a restaurant just a short taxi ride from the hotel. Girls, check out the loo with a great view!

After dinner, drinks couldn’t get more chic than at the Midnight Rambler bar at the Dallas Joule.

The next morning, following a typical Texan breakfast at Ellen’s Southern Kitchen back in the West End, the amazing Dallas Arts District beckoned (thedallasartsdistrict.org) At the Nasher Sculpture Centre there are 300 masterpieces to feast your eyes on by many artists including Hepworth, Matisse, Miró, Moore, Picasso and Rodin both inside and outside the beautiful building.

Then just across the road at the Dallas Museum of Art we spotted former Sex Pistol Glen Matlock taking in the masterpieces too. Cue a celebrity selfie.

On to lunch at the trendy Savor on the edge of Klyde Warren Park, a green oasis built on top of a six-lane motorway in the centre of the city. There are lots of free activities here, ideal for a family day out (klydewarrenpark.org) Our next stop was the iconic Sixth Floor Museum, in the former book depository building where Lee Harvey Oswald set up the ambush of President Kennedy. It is an amazingly well set out depiction of JFK’s assassination and the events leading up to it and following the event. Utterly fascinating and unmissable, (jfk.org) Our last night was no less memorable with a short drive to Deep Ellum. It’s like a US Shoreditch with former warehouses converted into cool shops, restaurants, bars and nightclubs, www.deepellumtexas.com It was a wonderfully vibrant way to finish our packed cowboys and culture trip, but even on the way back to the airport, you can get some last-minute bargains!

Grapevine Mills Mall is an outlet mecca, www.simon.com/mall/grapevine-mills Texas Cowboys and Culture – from £1,785 per person, including return flights from London to Dallas Fort Worth (on BA), seven days fully inclusive economy car hire, two nights room only at the Stockyards Hotel, Fort Worth, three nights full board, including all activities at the Wildcatter Ranch and two nights room only at the Magnolia Hotel, Dallas, (americaasyoulikeit.com) Details: traveltexas.com, fortworth.com, visitdallas.com, Buy a CityPass to save money on Dallas attractions, citypass.com

By Ruth Brindle