Nestled in the heart of downtown Fort Worth, Texas, lies a unique gem that captivates the senses and offers a serene escape from the bustling cityscape. The Fort Worth Water Gardens offers a breathtaking urban oasis that seamlessly combines architectural marvels with tranquil water features.
At this Texas bucket list attraction, the soothing sounds of cascading water creates a haven of serenity and a playground of adventure.
This guide to exploring the Fort Worth Water Gardens in Fort Worth, Texas tells you what to expect during your visit to the urban park and includes information on the cost, parking, and safety of the pools.
About the Fort Worth Water Gardens
Perhaps one of the most unique attractions in the Texas metropolis, the Fort Worth Water Gardens opened to the public in 1974.
Originally designed by architects Philip Johnson and John Burgee, the architectural masterpiece spans four acres and showcases three distinct water features, each offering a unique sensory experience.
But don’t let the term “gardens” deceive you. Unlike the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, which is lush and green, this popular attraction is comprised mainly of concrete and water.
The Different Water Features at the Fort Worth Water Gardens
Whether you seek a moment of reflection, or the excitement of exploration, the Fort Worth Water Gardens offers 3 very different features and areas within the park that will leave an indelible mark on your senses.
There is also a large, open courtyard, and a stone mountain feature that older kids (and adults that still act like kids, occasionally) will love to climb on.
The Active Pool: The Main Attraction at the Fort Worth Water Gardens
The most interesting feature at the Fort Worth Water Gardens, and perhaps the biggest draw to the urban park, is the active pool.
The large bowl-shaped water feature takes you down winding steps surrounded by cascades of rushing water. With multiple levels of water cascading over terraces and steps the engineering marvel creates an enchanting sight and symphony of sound.
Visitors can explore the pool’s various levels, feeling the mist on their skin and immersing themselves in the lively ambiance.
Admittedly and understandably, you might feel a sense of nervousness or exhilaration walking down the steps of the active pool as the sound of rushing water gets louder as you get closer to the bottom.
The active pool will definitely be the highlight of your visit to the Fort Worth Water Gardens though.
I’ve always had a fascination with waterfalls and rushing water, so descending into the active pool and watching the water cascade around me in all directions was both beautiful and captivating.
The tranquility pool is another water feature at the Fort Worth Water Gardens. But unlike the active pool, this water feature gives you a sense of peace rather than excitement.
This area of the park is a calming escape from bustling city life. The water in the shallow reflection pool is completely still. The area is surrounded by large trees and tall walls that do a great job of keeping noise out.
You will almost forget that life in a busy downtown area, complete with freeways, high rise buildings, and thousands of people continues just yards away.
This is a great place to escape the busyness of life, sit quietly, reflect, meditate, or simply pause for a moment to enjoy the silence.
The third water feature at the Fort Worth Water Gardens is the aerating pool. With spraying features that rise out of the water, it’s also a peaceful place to enjoy a picnic lunch.
The spraying water and mist create a mesmerizing spectacle, drawing visitors closer to witness its beauty and feel its refreshing touch.
The area surrounding the aerating pool contains plenty of tiered seating options where you can quietly watch the water and listen to the soft misting noise of the fountain.
Tips for visiting the Fort Worth Water Gardens
When visiting the Fort Worth Water Gardens, here are some tips to enhance your experience.
Go in the morning or at night
Consider visiting during the non-peak hours, early in the morning or at night to avoid crowds and fully immerse yourself in the peaceful atmosphere.
Arriving earlier in the day can also provide a more serene experience. And at night, the gardens are beautifully illuminated creating a very magical ambiance.
Wear walkable shoes
The water gardens involve walking on various terrains, including stairs, pathways, and stone surfaces.
It’s recommended to wear comfortable shoes that provide good traction and support, as you may spend a significant amount of time exploring the gardens, and do not want to slip when descending into the Active Pool.
Bring your camera or smartphone
The Fort Worth Water Gardens offer countless opportunities for capturing stunning photographs. You’ll want to capture the mesmerizing water features, architectural details, and serene landscapes.
Watch younger children carefully
While the water features are stunning, it’s important to exercise caution, especially if you have children. Always keep an eye on young ones and ensure they stay away from the edges of pools and fountains.
The rocks near the water can be slippery, so be mindful of your footing.
Explore Nearby Attractions
While visiting the Fort Worth Water Gardens, you can also explore other attractions in the downtown area, such as Sundance Square, the Kimbell Art Museum or the Amon Carter Museum.
The tragic history of the Fort Worth Water Gardens
As mentioned, it is important to pay close attention to children and always keep them within arms reach.
While this concrete garden is a beautiful and serene place, it was once home to a horrible tragedy. In 2004, four people died in the popular active pool at the Fort Worth Water Gardens.
Three of the victims were children. One of the children had jumped or fallen into the active pool, and the three other people jumped in to save her. All four drowned.
Although the city made safety modifications following the tragic accident, the water garden is definitely a place where you will want to closely supervise curious children.
Cost, Location, and Parking at The Fort Worth Water Gardens
One of the greatest things about Fort Worth is how many great free things there are to do in the city and in Tarrant County. The water gardens are completely free to visit and open any time of day.
It is definitely a must-see for visitors to Cowtown!
The Fort Worth Water Gardens are located on the southeastern edge of downtown, directly across the street from the Fort Worth Convention Center, and about a 10-15 minute walk from Sundance Square, or about a 10 minute drive from the Fort Worth Stockyards.
Finding nearby parking is easiest from the east entrance. There are entrances at all four corners of the gardens.
FAQs about the Fort Worth Water Gardens
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the public attraction.
Are the Fort Worth Water Gardens free?
Yes, the Fort Worth Water Gardens are free to the public. Visitors can enjoy the beauty and serenity of the water gardens without having to pay an admission fee.
It’s a wonderful opportunity for locals and tourists alike to experience this urban oasis without any financial constraints.
However, it’s important to note that while the Fort Worth Water Gardens cost nothing to explore, there may be fees associated with parking or any special events held within the water gardens.
Where to park at the Fort Worth Water Gardens?
There is street parking available on three sides of the water gardens.
Availability can vary depending on the time of day and events taking place in the downtown area, but you can usually find a metered spot within a couple of blocks from the Fort Worth Water Gardens.
The meters are free on weekends, so if visiting the DFW metro area on a weekend, the water garden is one of the best free things to do in Fort Worth.
Additionally, the Fort Worth Convention Center, which is located across Commerce Street has parking facilities that can be used when visiting the water gardens.
Finally, there are several parking garages and lots near Sundance Square. The popular entertainment district in downtown Fort Worth is within walking distance of the water gardens and provides convenient options for visitors.
Where are the Fort Worth Water Gardens?
The water gardens are situated near the intersection of Commerce Street and Houston Street, just a short distance from Sundance Square.
They are easily accessible and centrally located within the city, making them a popular destination for both locals and tourists.
The exact Water Gardens Address is 1502 Commerce Street.
Conclusion: Are the Fort Worth Water Gardens worth visiting?
The Fort Worth Water Gardens are beautiful and centrally located within the city, making them a popular destination for both locals and tourists.
This urban oasis truly embodies the concepts of a tranquil escape, yet stirs the senses at the same time. Here you’ll find a picturesque retreat amidst the striking water features and stunning surroundings.
The next time you find yourself in Fort Worth, take an hour and discover the serene water gardens tucked away between tall buildings and busy freeways.
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This guide to exploring the Fort Worth Water Gardens was first written in March 2018 but was most recently updated in June 2023 for accuracy and current information.