Photo courtesy of Foster Farm & Ranch.

Have you ever wanted to buy a retreat or say you own a slice of Utopia? Now’s your chance – the Utopia River Retreat, a remarkable 12-acre property on the Sabinal River in Utopia, Texas has hit the market for $2.5 million.

The secluded, tree-filled, riverfront estate boasts nine guest cabins and "the Fortress," a historic lodge that can sleep 12 guests.

Each cabin has its own full kitchen, living space, and covered porch. Three cabins have two bedrooms that can host up to six guests, and six cabins are single-bedroom that can sleep up to four guests.

The property has been a sought-after wedding destination since the first wedding ceremony took place there in 1861. The only structure on the land at the time was a stone fort, which has since been converted into the Fortress.

Other features of the Fortress include:

  • Two master suites
  • Three semi-private lofts
  • A full kitchen
  • Fireplace
  • Wrap-around porch
  • Original stonework on display

Another highlighted feature of the property is the renovated hay barn. The previous owners turned it into a bespoke event space with an open floor plan, wood beam ceilings, a stone fireplace, and attached deck. Also around the barn is a large green space and a covered gazebo with a breathtaking view of the Sabinal river.

The Utopia River Retreat sale is facilitated by Chad Foster, the founder and broker of Uvalde-based real estate group Foster Farm and Ranch.

“With its current amenities and space for expansion, Utopia River Retreat provides potential buyers with a lot of entrepreneurial opportunities,” said Foster in a press release. “The event space, cabins, and renovated fort make Utopia River Retreat a great addition to any real estate portfolio.”

As investors are snatching up properties left and right for the next wedding venue or event space, the Utopia River Retreat is touted as the next hidden gem in a booming wedding industry. The Knot estimates a Texas couple’s average wedding budget is between $24,000 and $30,000. Texas couples are also more likely to put 30 percent of their wedding budget towards a perfect venue for their special day.

Even outside of wedding season, the estate can host family vacations, reunions, and corporate retreats, and more.

The town of Utopia is located 90 miles west of San Antonio and 350 miles southwest of Dallas.

More information about the property can be found at the Utopia River Retreat website, and more information about the listing can be found at Foster Farm and Ranch’s website.


Dallas-Fort Worth booms as Texas' biggest market for $10 million homes sold in 2022


As a market for homes for the ultra-rich, Dallas-Fort Worth is strong and growing, according to a new report.

The $10M+ National Luxury Report for 2022 from real estate brokerage Compass cites 11 local sales of over $10 million homes in 2022; the previous year, there had been 10 such big sales.

The report is for all sales in the area and based on MLS data.

Affluent areas in Dallas-Fort Worth have landed in several wealth reports lately, from the richest cities in Texas to the wealthiest cities in America.

In the Compass report, DFW holds the top spot in Texas for the $10 million-plus category of home sales, with $145.79 million in sales volume. Austin posted five sales worth a total of $55.95 million, and in Houston, just one home in this category sold last year.

So, how much did those uber-expensive homes go for? In Dallas-Fort Worth, the top listing-represented Compass Regional Sale was $20 million and the highest buyer-represented sale was $14.65 million. The average price of a sale in this category was $13.25 million in Dallas-Fort Worth and $11.19 million in Austin.

For a nationwide comparison, the top selling price was $56 million in Manhattan, $44.5 million in Greater Los Angeles, and $48.5 million in Palm Beach County, Florida.

Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and Austin were the only areas included from Texas, and DFW easily bests its neighbors down south.

Two current high-profile listings over $10 million include a$20 million estate in Southlake that has gone viral on social media; and a magnificent White Rock Lake mansion next to Dallas' famed "Mount Vernon," on the market for nearly $12 million.

"Despite the weakening global economy, we expect the [Dallas-Fort Worth] luxury market to remain strong in 2023," says a representative of Compass brokers Amy Detwiler & Michelle Wood. "Overall activity will likely normalize after the brisk volume seen during the previous two years, but limited inventory will keep the market in balance."

Is a strong luxury market a good thing for buyers or sellers? Inquiring minds can always consult with the 1 percent for the answer, but it's definitely good news for real estate brokers.

Photo courtesy of Douglas Elliman

Step inside the $20 million Southlake mansion going wild on social media


One of the most expensive homes in Texas is on the market for $20 million in Southlake - and it's drawing more than a little attention on social media.

And, no wonder: The opulent 31,000-square-foot mansion, at 1469 Sunshine Ln., features such over-the-top amenities as a full-size basketball court, bowling alley, batting cage, movie theater, and "indoor glass-enclosed" trampoline.

The transitional Mediterranean estate hit the market in December for a whopping $19.99 million. A January 30 post on the Zillow Gone Wild Facebook page called it "the most Southlake, TX home we’ve ever seen," and made it instantly social media-famous. Thousands of people have chimed in to comment.

Seated on 3.6 acres and boasting 31,234 square feet, the home was built in 2016 and features - at first glance - all the "normal" nice things that a nice mansion has: seven bedrooms, six full bathrooms and four half-baths, an open floor plan, smart home technology, and plenty of natural light to experience Texas sunsets.

A wide-angle view of the transitional Mediterranean mansion at 1469 Sunshine Lane.

Photo courtesy of Douglas Elliman

The mansion at 1469 Sunshine Ln., Southlake, is on the market for $20 million.

Then the listing gets to the part about it being “an entertainer’s paradise,” and that's where things get wild. The home can accommodate multiple athletic activities, has designated yoga and beauty rooms, a spa, wine room, and nine attached garage spaces.

Other features include:

  • Chef’s kitchen
  • Elevator
  • Gym
  • Game room
  • Two guest suites with a private entry
  • Turfed backyard

Elsewhere on the grounds is the perfect solution to enduring the hot Texas summers – two climate-controlled saltwater pools and hot tubs with a hidden waterslide, jumping rock, and diving board. The outdoor space is completed by an enclosed heated terrace, outdoor living area, and kitchen.

Zillow Gone Wild commenters have, predictably, expressed their awe or disdain for the extravagant manse. One commenter said they could imagine fictional mafia boss Tony Soprano “walking down that driveway in his bathrobe to get the paper,” after looking through the listing’s photos.

“This is the first mansion where I’m like, yep. I’d buy this if I was rich,” another admirer said.

A more sarcastic commenter wrote, “I’m sorry, but only one lane for bowling? I’m out.”

Critics were quick to call out the home’s opulence while others in the state struggle with homelessness or financial stability. “This kind of wealth actually makes me sick to my stomach. There’s so much better that could’ve been done with all this money,” one critic commented.

Others focused on guessing who the mansion belonged to. Southlake, after all, is home to plenty of celebrities and professional athletes.

Some guesses landed on a former baseball player’s home. “Serious question, is this A-Rod’s former house? It looks familiar, and he did play for the Rangers,” asked a curious viewer.

Other commenters believed the home belonged to a former Los Angeles Lakers player, after witnessing the signature gold and purple colors decorating the walls of the basketball court.

While Douglas Elliman listing agent Breah Brown said the owners wish to remain private (one might imagine the security concerns when a house goes viral on social media), she revealed they constructed the home themselves and are behind all aspects of the design and customization.

As for the next owners ... they can brag that they live in one of the top 10 most expensive homes in Texas in the richest city in the state.

Photo by Tierra Mallorca on Unsplash

This is how long it takes Fort Worth home buyers to save for a down payment, report says


With home prices rising for most of 2022 in Fort Worth and around the country, thoughts about saving for a down payment have been distressing, to say the least.

A new study says Fort Worth buyers will need to work for 3.65 years, saving 20 percent of their income, for a 20 percent down payment. Compared to Los Angeles where it takes the longest (11.6 years) and New York (10 years), that's somewhat encouraging.

SmartAsset.com, a consumer-focused financial information and advice website, analyzed and ranked the 50 largest U.S. cities on how long it takes the average household to save for a home, with calculations for a 12 percent or 20 percent down payment. The study compared the median household income and median home values for each area to determine the rankings.

Fort Worth came in 27th, right in the middle of the pack, as did most Texas cities.

With a median income of $68,235 and a median home value of $249,000 in Fort Worth, only 2.19 years of work and saving would be needed for a 12 percent down payment.

By comparison, neighboring Dallas came in 24th. Dallas buyers will need to work for 4.61 years, saving 20 percent of their income, for a 20 percent down payment. With a median income of $57,995 and a median home value of $267,600 in Dallas, 2.77 years of work and saving would be needed for a 12 percent down payment.

That's comparable to Houston, where the median income of $55,499 and median home price of $236,700 placed the city 31st out of 50. Houstonians need to work, on average, 2.56 years to save for a 12 percent down payment and 4.26 years for a 20 percent down payment.

Austin was the only Texas city to rank in the top third, tying with Las Vegas for 14th place. The median home value of $482,900 in Austin requires 3.64 or 6.07 years of saving for a 12 or 20 percent down payment at a median income of $79,542.

Elsewhere in North Texas and around the state:

  • Arlington came in at number 32 with 2.55 or 4.25 years of work needed to save for the $254,700 median home price on a $59,889 median income.
  • San Antonio placed 38th with 2.16 or 3.60 years of work needed to save for the $197,600 median home price on a $54,923 median income.
  • El Paso came in 48th with 1.97 or 2.98 years of work needed to save for the $152,800 median home price on a $51,241 median income.

Texans looking to save for a shorter time without moving too far away might look to Oklahoma, where Tulsa ranked 42nd (2.02 or 3.37 years,) and Oklahoma City tied with Memphis, Tennessee for 46th place (1.97 or 3.22 years.)

Photo by Josh Gremillion

Sprawling ranch in Texas bluebonnet haven steps onto market for $7.75M

Luxe listing

Anyone in the market for wide open spaces — where the views go on for days and the hills stretch all the way to the sky — should check out Big Step Ranch.

Located in the bluebonnet haven Chappell Hill in Washington County, the 186-acre property is on the market for $7.75 million, represented by Tonya Currie of Compass Realty.

The ranch offers killer views that span all the way to College Station, a modern farmhouse, a metal pergola wine arbor, and a sense that there are still places in the world where the only development is the wind blowing through the trees and the lonesome cry of a hawk overhead.

Sure to be tranquil setting, an onsite pond reflects the glowing Texas sun.

Set amid a stunning vista, with New Years Creek forming part of its boundary line, Big Step Ranch offers history and modernity in one epic Lone Star package. The farmhouse is a classic design, with killer modern amenities.

Massive, double-hung windows overlook the ranch's rolling grounds. In the kitchen, Thermador appliances will delight contemporary cooks. Wide, wooden floors and planked walls pay homage to Texas ranches past.

Big Step's house home sprawls across nearly 4,000 square feet, with four bedrooms and four-and-a-half bathrooms. A wide porch is not only a natural welcoming space, but also a spot to while away the day under the ceiling fan.

Out back, a covered summer kitchen offers seating along with ample prep space make it the perfect spot for entertaining.

There's plenty of room on this spread to add outbuildings. A guest cottage? Multicar garage? Barn? There's space for all of the above, and more.

Chappell Hill is known for its lush fields of bluebonnets, for which people make pilgrimages each spring. It annually hosts one of the most popular bluebonnet festivals in the state.

Big Step Ranch Chappell Hill

Photo by Josh Gremillion

Big Step Ranch, with views from Chappell Hill to College Station, lists for $7.75 million.


These are the 10 hottest stories that had Fort Worth talking in 2022

This year's hottest headlines

Editor's note: What was Fort Worth reading in 2022? We are so glad you asked. Readers craved news about a new, state-of-the-art McDonald's; Christmas light attractions; and visits from Yellowstone royalty and real British royalty. Here's a look back at the 10 most-read CultureMap stories from the past year. By the way, you can also look back at the top dining , arts, and society stories; and best and worst movies of the year.

1. McDonald's tests out one-of-a-kind new restaurant model in Fort Worth. McDonald’s is trying out a brand new test restaurant concept, and the only place it's happening is in Fort Worth. Located at 8540 West Fwy., the new store is a first-of-its-kind test restaurant that the company says is designed for customers on-the-go.

2. What to expect at 'Lightscape,' Fort Worth's new walk-thru winter wonderland. Fort Worth’s most Instagrammable new holiday lights display is best enjoyed without clinging to a phone. “Lightscape,” which made its North Texas debut at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden on November 18, walks visitors through a winter wonderland experience unlike any other in DFW. It runs until January 8.

3. Favorite 'Yellowstone' cowboy to greet fans at Fort Worth-area whiskey shindig. Yellowstone star sightings are becoming weeklyoccurrences around Fort Worth, and here came a new chance to mingle with a fan favorite: Forrie J. Smith, who plays old-timer ranch hand Lloyd Pierce, came to Oak & Eden Whiskey's flagship nano-distillery in Bridgeport on Saturday, December 3.

4. Best neighborhoods and homes for Christmas lights around Fort Worth in 2022. Loading the family into the car and driving around, looking at Christmas lights, is a cherished holiday tradition. But, where to go? We compiled top local homes and neighborhoods for Christmas lights this season. For a larger list of spectacular Christmas lights around Fort Worth, including drive-thrus and commercial displays (many of which go through New Year's Day), click here.

5. Buzzy Rooftop Cinema Club comes to downtown Fort Worth to offer movies with a view. A new kind of moviegoing experience was headed to Fort Worth in the fall: Rooftop Cinema Club opened on the outdoor terrace of The Worthington Renaissance hotel on November 1. We attended opening night and came up with a list of things to know before you go.

6. Yellowstone stars hit the red carpet for season 5 premiere in Fort Worth Stockyards. On a chilly evening November 13, the cast and crew of Yellowstone descended on Fort Worth for the hit Paramount TV show's long-awaited season 5 premiere. Stars and supporters of both Yellowstone and its Fort Worth-shot prequel 1883 hit the red carpet (okay, technically it was black) at Hotel Drover before sitting down to a screening at the Downtown Cowtown at the Isis theater.

7. Prince Harry attends rodeo at Cowtown Coliseum in Fort Worth Stockyards. Prince Harry traded his family's crown for a cowboy hat on a weekend visit to Cowtown: The Duke of Sussex attended Championship Rodeo in the Fort Worth Stockyards on Saturday, March 5. While there was no official explanation for his visit, the prince was photographed wearing a rugged hat and visiting with people behind the scenes.

8. All the Veterans Day 2022 deals in Dallas-Fort Worth that honor military service members. Ahead of Veterans Day on Friday, November 11, we unearthed some of the best deals around Dallas-Fort Worth to ease the strain on the bank accounts of all military veterans and current service members. Dozens of local restaurants, services, and venues had special deals and discounts.

9. New Crazy German restaurant serves Dallas-Fort Worth the best wursts. There's a very-authentic German restaurant newly opened in North Texas. Called The Crazy German, it opened quietly on February 1 in a little shopping center at 27379 E. University Dr. in Aubrey and comes with the best credentials: The owner was born and raised in Germany.

10. Ultimate party house with indoor pool hits market for $745,000 in Fort Worth. A seemingly inconspicuous home in east Fort Worth shows that you never really know what kind of wild-and-crazy stuff is going on inside a house - and not to judge a building by its exterior. The four-bedroom, five-bathroom house at 1809 Carl St., four miles east of downtown Fort Worth, hit the market for $745,000, and a peek at the interior photos shows why it's attracted lots of attention on the Zillow Gone Wild Facebook page and Twitter account.

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It's the only store of its kind and it's in Fort Worth.
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'Yellowstone' stars to greet fans at Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo

Yellowstone news

Yellowstone fans, get your comfy shoes ready - there'll be a long line for this one. Cole Hauser a.k.a. "Rip Wheeler" on Yellowstone, and Taylor Sheridan, the show's co-creator, executive producer, and director of the series, will meet fans and sign autographs at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo.

The event will take place from 4:30-6:30 pm only on Friday, February 3. Location is the 6666 Ranch booth near the south end of Aisle 700 in the Amon G. Carter, Jr. Exhibits Hall.

According to a February 2 announcement from FWSSR, "fans will have the opportunity to snag an autograph as well as purchase some distinctive Yellowstone and 6666 Ranch merchandise while also enjoying all the features the Stock Show offers."

The event is free to attend (with paid Stock Show admission) and open to the public.

It's the second year in a row for Hauser to appear at FWSSR; in 2022, he and fellow cast mates drew huge crowds.

Sheridan, a Paschal High School graduate, is no stranger to Fort Worth; he lives in a ranch near Weatherford and filmed 1883, the prequel to Yellowstone, in and around Fort Worth. Currently, another spinoff, 1883: The Bass Reeves Story, is filming in North Texas.

The Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo is winding up its 2023 run on Saturday, February 4.

Morgan Wallen's ACMs concert tops this week's 5 hottest Fort Worth headlines

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that list here.

1. Country music bad boy Morgan Wallen headlines ACM Awards benefit show in Dallas-Fort Worth. Dallas-Fort Worth will be the center of the country music universe on May 11, when the 58th Academy of Country Music Awards are broadcast from The Star in Frisco. As with any worldwide, Super Bowl-level event, there'll be many happenings leading up to it. First up: a benefit concert headlined by Morgan Wallen.

2. Fort Worth's buzzy new Koe Wetzel's Riot Room pops open beer-can chicken. Koe has arrived: Koe Wetzel's Riot Room, a new Fort Worth bar and restaurant in which famed country singer-songwriter Koe Wetzel is partnered, has softly opened in the 7th Street district at 1100 Foch St., with live music and a food menu of Southern and Texas classics.

3. Meet the 9 rising star chefs heating up Fort Worth's food scene. While we count down to the big Tastemaker Awards party, we are getting to know the nominees in an editorial series leading up to the event. Up next, the category of Rising Star Chef of the Year. While most of these talented chefs are not new to the industry, many are newer to the local culinary scene or have new ventures. Here are the nominees.

4. Big week for music fans with news of a dozen concerts coming to Dallas-Fort Worth. For summer concert lovers in Dallas-Fort Worth, last week brought a bounty of good news with a big round of tours coming through Texas in 2023. Details have been revealed for tours featuring Drake, TLC, Christopher Cross, Steve Miller Band with Cheap Trick, Willie Nelson, and many more.

5. Where to eat: Best Fort Worth restaurants for Easter 2023 dining. Brunch has become a big trend, but it has always been a thing on Easter Sunday, when it's a tradition to hit up a brunch as a reward for attending Mass. It's such a thing that some restaurants in Fort Worth that are usually closed on Sundays open for special hours on this one holy day. Here's than where to get brunch (and dinner) on Easter Sunday in Fort Worth.

Heart health advocates raise over $800,000 at red-letter Fort Worth luncheon

Go Red for Women

What: Tarrant County Go Red for Women Luncheon benefiting American Heart Association

Where: Worthington Renaissance Hotel

The 411: The American Heart Association's annual Go Red for Women Luncheon is always one of the most anticipated fundraising luncheons of spring in Fort Worth. Nearly 1,200 patrons - decked out in red, of course - filled the Worthington's ballroom on March 3 to join the fight against cardiovascular disease.

Co-chairs leading the charge were Jennifer Chavez (Chief Nursing Officer at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth) and Becky Tucker (Senior Vice President of Channel Integration at Texas Health).

"Her Story is Our Story" was the theme of the 2023 luncheon, which raises awareness of heart disease in women - and guests heard the message repeatedly that it could happen to any woman they know or love.

While patrons dined on a heart-healthy lunch, emcee Morgan Young of WFAA facilitated a number of performances and presentations, including a spoken word performance by local artist Alicia Azahar and a choral rendition of "Stand By Me" by the Word of Truth choir from Texas Christian University.

Featured survivor Sheena Fannin shared her scary but inspirational experience with heart disease, and a memorable keynote address was given was Bean Gill, an entrepreneur and an inclusion and diversity expert. Joni Nash led an "Open Your Heart" moment that allowed patrons to raise their paddles and contribute directly to the cause. Entire tables were challenged to give, for a chance to receive a champagne toast and gift cards to Woodhouse Spa.

There was fun outside the ballroom, too. Fabulous silent auction items filled long tables in the foyer. During a pre-luncheon champagne reception, musicians from the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra serenaded guests, who were greeted by tiara-wearing Texas pageant title-holders, such as Miss Corpus Christi Sharity Brent and Miss Southeast Texas Meaghan Co.

Guests had the chance to take part in free health screenings, lip-print readings, hands-only CPR demonstrations, and more activations.

In total, the luncheon raised more than $800,000 toward the American Heart Association's lifesaving research, education, and health impact initiatives for women.

Who: More than 1,200 participants, survivors, organizers, patrons, and supporters including Brooke Berryman, Lindsey Lyons, Lisa Cobb, Kristin Jaworski, Nicole Maucere, Mary Robinson, Anita Rigues, Hannah Kopriva, Tracy WIlliams, Amanda Stallings,Nancey Murphy, Monika Mathur, Sherry Decker, Abbey Dudek, Jim Austin, and many more.

Tarrant County Go Red for Women luncheon 2023

Photo courtesy of AHA

Lisa Cobb, Kristin Jaworski, Nicole Maucere