Facebook/Watauga Parks and Recreation

If Fort Worth-area residents are looking for the perfect new place to buy a home and raise a family, they should steer their interest toward Watauga. The northeast Fort Worth suburb, impressively, has been named the fifth most family-friendly city in the U.S. by real estate marketplace Opendoor.

Opendoor's second annual "Family-Friendly Cities" list focuses on local communities that offer plenty of recreational outdoor activities that are suitable for families of any age. Watauga was the only city in Dallas-Fort Worth to make the new list and the only Texas city to make the top 10. (Bellaire, near Houston, ranks No. 12.)

Cities were identified using the average number of family-friendly activity tags found on OpenStreetMap that are used for addresses in a city where the marketplace operates. Factors that were considered include cities with community centers, gardens, museums, parks, playgrounds, swimming pools, and more.

Watauga - which is bordered by Fort Worth to the west, Keller to the north, Haltom City to the southwest, and North Richland Hills to the south and east - has plenty of family-friendly attractions. Yet it often gets overshadowed by bigger, busier, more affluent Northeast Tarrant cities like Grapevine and Southlake.

There are seven different parks around Watauga, including the popular 37-acre Capp Smith Park, with its four pavilions, two playgrounds, amphitheater, and several acres dedicated to open space and stunning views.

The City of Watauga calls the park the heart of the city's recreational activities.

"[Capp Smith Park] features a lighted one mile walking trail that surrounds a spring fed one acre pond fully stocked with several species of aquatic wildlife," the city's website says. "In addition, the park is home to several other forms of wildlife which have also taken up residence in the park."

The park is also the host of Watauga Fest, an annual family-friendly festival that brings in carnival rides, food trucks, vendors, and much more for all residents to enjoy.

In addition, Watauga residents can make use of a thriving public library, visit the city's 9/11 Memorial and Veterans Memorial, Foster Village Park, a splash pad, and more. The city is also adjacent to the expansive Arcadia Park, with its many trails, playgrounds, tennis courts, and disc golf course.

According to recent reports, the average home price in Watauga is $283,845 - significantly less than the average home value in Fort Worth proper, $307,939. It's become an attractive place for new restaurants and retailers in recent years.

Opendoor's 15 best family friendly cities in 2023 are:

  • No. 1 – Somerville, Massachusetts
  • No. 2 – Berkeley, California
  • No. 3 – Cliffside Park, New Jersey
  • No. 4 – Arlington, Virginia
  • No. 5 – Watauga, Texas
  • No. 6 – Chandler, Arizona
  • No. 7 – Denver, Colorado
  • No. 8 – Portland, Oregon
  • No. 9 – Valley Stream, New York
  • No. 10 – Garden Grove, California
  • No. 11 – Coral Gables, Florida
  • No. 12 – Bellaire, Texas
  • No. 13 – Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • No. 14 – Mission, Kansas
  • No. 15 – Avondale Estates, Georgia
The full report can be found on opendoor.com.
Photo courtesy of Texas Oncology

9 DFW companies clock in among Forbes' best employers in Texas for 2023

helping hands

Dallas-Fort Worth continues to prove it's home to some of the best businesses in the state. Two local employers in fact - Texas Oncology and Fidelity Investments - have moved into highly coveted top-10 spots on Forbes' 2023 list of "America’s Best Employers By State".

The prestigious list is a collaboration between Forbes and Statista to survey the satisfaction levels of tens of thousands of workers employed by national companies.

Dallas-based Texas Oncology - the largest cancer treatment and research providers in the state - earned a rank of No. 6. Forbes says there are more than 4,700 workers employed by the oncology network.

On its career website, nurse leader Nicole Forkner, BSN, RN, OCN said Texas Oncology has been her "home away from home" for nearly two decades.

"So many of our patients have left a lasting memory with me. Not only are we healing their heart, mind, and soul, but they are healing ours too," Forkner said. "The guidance we have received from our amazing Texas Oncology leadership team has led us through hurricanes, ice storms, new initiatives, software changes, and the COVID-19 pandemic."

Fidelity Investments made major gains in 2023. Though the company might be based in Boston, Massachusetts, its big presence in Westlake (coupled with a great work environment and advancement opportunities) propels it to the top year after year. The financial services corporation climbed to No. 9 in Texas this year, after ranking No. 22 in Forbes' 2022 list. There are about 61,000 people employed by Fidelity, according to the report.

Forbes explains that those on the list "aren’t the best large or midsize employers nationally, but a deeper look at which companies are closer-to-home options for every American worker."

Forbes and Statista determined their rankings by surveying 70,000 Americans working at employers in the U.S. with at least 500 employees each. The final list features 1,392 highly recommended employers in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Nearly 270 employers ranked highly in multiple states.

Here are the 30 best large employers in Texas, as determined by Forbes and Statista:

Dallas-Fort Worth:

  • No. 6 – Texas Oncology, based in Dallas
  • No. 9 – Fidelity Investments (based in Boston; major corporate hub in Westlake)
  • No. 14 – Capital One (based in Richmond, Virginia; major corporate hub in Plano)
  • No. 17 – University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas
  • No. 22 – Southwest Airlines, based in Dallas
  • No. 24 – Texas Health Resources, based in Arlington
  • No. 25 – General Motors (based in Detroit, Michigan; major assembly hub in Arlington)
  • No. 27 – City of Plano
  • No. 28 – Toyota North America, based in Plano


  • No. 3 – Google (based in Mountain View, California; major corporate hub in Austin)
  • No. 13 – Apple (based in Cupertino, California; major corporate hub in Austin)

San Antonio:

  • No. 2 – H-E-B (based in San Antonio; more than 300 stores in Texas)
  • No. 26 – University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

Houston area:

  • No. 1 – NASA (based in Washington, D.C.; Johnson Space Center in Clear Lake)
  • No. 4 – Houston Community College
  • No. 5 – Houston Methodist
  • No. 6 – Texas Children's Hospital
  • No. 18 – National Oilwell Varco
  • No. 19 – Bechtel (based in Reston, Virginia; major corporate hub in Houston)

Throughout Texas:

  • No. 8 – Salesforce (based in San Francisco, California; offices in Austin and Dallas)
  • No. 10 – IKEA (based in Sweden; five stores in Texas)
  • No. 11 – Costco (based in Issaquah, Washington; 38 stores in Texas)
  • No. 15 – Cardinal Health (based in Dublin, Ohio; 23 locations in Texas)
  • No. 16 – Microsoft (based in Redmond, Washington; offices in Austin, Dallas, Friendswood, Frisco, Houston, San Antonio, and The Woodlands)
  • No. 20 – Leidos (based in Reston, Virginia; locations in San Antonio, Houston, and Webster)
  • No. 21 – Cisco Systems (based in San Jose, California; offices in Austin, Dallas, Irving, Richardson, Houston, Laredo, and San Antonio)
  • No. 23 – IBM (based in Armonk, New York; offices in Austin, Houston, Dallas, and Frisco)
  • No. 29 – Nike (based in Beaverton, Oregon; 26 locations in Texas)
  • No. 30 – Charles Schwab (based in San Francisco, California; 25 locations in Texas)
Facebook/Rockwood Park

2 Fort Worth-area golf courses make new list of best public facilities in Texas

who's your caddy

Two Fort Worth-area golf courses score slots on a new 2023 guide of the best municipal golf courses in Texas by Texas Monthly magazine. One's in the city limits, and one's in a popular suburb.

"You don’t need to belong to a country club, or even have especially deep pockets, to enjoy high-quality golf," the guide promises.

The Lone Star state Texas ranks fifth in the U.S. (behind California, Florida, Michigan, and New York) for number of public courses, with about 600 facilities.

The magazine sent out seven staffers and freelancers to come up with list of the 18 greatest public golf courses in Texas. Criteria included uniqueness, reasonable price, and accessibility to a wide range of skill levels.

These two made the cut:

Rockwood Park in Fort Worth is an 18-hole course designed in 1938 by John Bredemus, a former math teacher turned golf course architect.

Since Rockwood's revivification and reopening in 2017, the course has held on to some of its more distinctive features while enticing golfers with modern design elements. And no one can forget those gorgeous views.

"The tee of the lovely, 142-yard par-3 eighth hole takes you to one of the highest points on the property," writes contributor Kevin Robbins. "From there, you see downtown Fort Worth — and a massive green in the shape of an amorphous arrowhead, with a spacious false front just beyond a bunker that looks a lot closer to the green than it really is."

Robbins further ponders if Rockwood Park has visitors wondering whether it's a course in a city, or a course that rescues them from it.

Grapevine Golf Course is a 27-hole course designed by the legendary Byron Nelson in 1979 and rejuvenated by Irving-based design firm Golf Resources two decades later. The Monthly calls it "a gentle test" of a golfer's skills without being overly easy.

"Take the par-4 fifth hole on the Pecan nine: 405 yards from an elevated tee, moving right to left toward a vaguely reverse-redan green," Robbins writes. "It’s scenic, strategic, and, if you fancy, heroic. And, as on a handful of other holes on the Pecan and Mockingbird nines, both of which underwent renovations in the early aughts, you feel that you’re all alone with an allée of oaks."

Two Dallas-area golf courses also made the list:

Stevens Park Golf Course is a 6,285-yard course in Kessler Park that shares trails with locals while offering tricky, unique challenges and stunning views from the 15th fairway. Enthusiast golfers can enjoy a day out at Stevens Park, while more expert players can push themselves to improve.

"What makes [Stevens Park] fun is deciding just how much risk to take in pursuit of a birdie," contributor Shawn Shinneman says. "Take the par-4 number three, which has a fairway that twists right 90 degrees around a clump of trees. If you try to cut the corner with a towering drive but cut too deep, you’ll find bark; fail to cut at all and you’ll barrel into a bunker."

Pecan Hollow Golf Course in Plano earnspraise for its amenities, vast open spaces, and unforgettably fun courses.

"Strategic bunkering and tree placements keep you thinking and engaged, plus five sets of tees guarantee that anyone can enjoy the challenge," says Shinneman. "Most fun of all, though, are Pecan’s MiniVerde greens, which are big, sloped, and filled with nuance — and they’re quick... But you’ll be left wanting to come back again and again to figure them out, and the affordable rates won’t stop you from doing so."

The remaining 14 courses in Texas Monthly's "A Guide to Texas' Best Public Golf Courses" can be found on texasmonthly.com.

Photo courtesy of Discover Denton

Fort Worth neighbor booms as 6th fastest-growing U.S. college town, report says

fly high, eagles

Fort Worth might be one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S., but there's one North Texas city that's outdoing it in a different category of population growth. A new study by university scholarship website BrokeScholar has deemed Denton the No. 6 fastest-growing college town in the country.

Denton's population in 2000 was 84,412; in 2023 the population has nearly doubled to 160,564. For scale, U.S. News and World Report says the University of North Texas alone had an undergraduate enrollment of 32,603 in the fall of 2021. Texas Woman's University's fall 2021 enrollment was 10,283 students.

It's not just a university or its enrollment that attracts newcomers, the study says, but the "cultural oasis" that the college towns maintain.

"These collegiate strongholds benefit from an influx of new residents eager to enjoy a good football game and an existing mix of music, culture, and young energy," the report's author wrote.

Denton is a hub for cultural growth as a natural attraction for local Texas bands, a fun arts scene, and a host of outdoor recreational activities like the weekly Denton Community Market.

BrokeScholar estimates the city's population to expand to over 195,000 people by 2030, and about 342,000 people by 2050.

Richardson came in at No. 47 for the fastest-growing college towns, with a 28 percent growth rate from 2000 to 2023, putting the city's current population at 117,528 residents.

Also in the top 10 is San Marcos, in between Austin and San Antonio, ranking No. 4 with an overall population of 70,372 residents. College Station earned No. 8 with an overall population of 123,238 in 2023, with an estimate growth of 19 percent to 147,126 residents by 2030.

The top 10 fastest-growing college towns in the U.S. are:

  • No. 1 – Bozeman, Montana
  • No. 2 – Oxford, Mississippi
  • No. 3 – Cedar City, Utah
  • No. 4 – San Marcos, Texas
  • No. 5 – Auburn, Alabama
  • No. 6 – Denton, Texas
  • No. 7 – Cullowhee, North Carolina
  • No. 8 – College Station, Texas
  • No. 9 – Fayetteville, Arkansas
  • No. 10 – Raleigh, North Carolina

BrokeScholar pulled data from the U.S. Census Bureau between 2000 and 2023 to determine annual growth rates and make population projections for 2030.

The full report and its methodology can be found on brokescholar.com.

Photo by Chichi Onyekanne on Unsplash

4 DFW universities earn top rankings on new list of best colleges in U.S.

campus pride

Four Dallas-Fort Worth area universities have risen through the ranks in a highly anticipated new list of the country's best universities.

Niche, an education review and ranking website, has deemed Texas Christian University the sixth best college in Texas, for the third consecutive year. The university receives an A+ grade in four of the 12 ranking categories, including athletics, student life, and campus. The school also earned an A for its academics and party scene, a B- value and safety, and a B for the campus food.

Texas Christian University also ranked highly in other categories, including:

  • No. 2 out of 333 Best Christian College in America (behind cross-town rival SMU, which came in at No. 1)
  • No. 12 out of 1,287 Best College Campuses in America
  • No. 21 out of 828 Best Colleges for Accounting and Finance in America

More individual rankings can be found here.

TCU regularly earns ranks on lists of the best colleges and universities in the country, including those published by Niche, Forbes, and U.S. News & World Report.

"Since starting at TCU, I've felt really happy with the quality of education I've received," a student wrote in a Niche review. "Texas Christian University has made me feel safe and confident in my ability to learn and explore different subjects. The instructors are very knowledgeable and care about their students."

Dallas' Southern Methodist Universityranked right above TCU as the fifth best Texas college (down from No. 4 last year), and the best Christian college in the U.S. SMU earned an A+ in five out of 12 categories, including professors, student life, and party scene. It gets an A for the academics and athletics, an A- for diversity and campus food, and a B for value and safety.

The University of North Texas in Denton made waves as the No. 7 best public university in the state, but only ranked No. 12 in the overall list of best Texas colleges. It earned an A+ for the campus food, an A in student life, diversity, and party scene, a B+ in academics, value, and professors, and a C+ for the dorms.

The University of Texas at Dallas fell from No. 9 last year into No. 14 for the best statewide colleges, but maintained its No. 9 spot in the best public universities in Texas. The university earned an A in diversity, A- in safety, B+ in academics, professors, value, and location, and a C for its athletics and party scene.

Topping Niche’s national list is Yale University, followed by Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Princeton University, Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Dartmouth College.

Here are the top 10 Texas schools:

1. Rice University (Houston)
2. University of Texas at Austin
3. Texas A&M University (College Station)
4. Trinity University (San Antonio)
5. Southern Methodist University (University Park)
6. Texas Christian University (Fort Worth)
7. Texas Tech University (Lubbock)
8. University of Houston
9. University of Texas Permian Basin (Odessa)
10. Baylor University (Waco)

“Choosing where to go to college is easily one of the most significant — and expensive — decisions of a person’s life. Niche’s mission is to ensure that every college-bound student has access to easy, transparent and free resources … to help them find their best fit,” Luke Skurman, founder and CEO of Niche, says in a news release.


A version of this article originally ran on our sister site InnovationMap.

Photo by Francesca Tosolini on Unsplash

Dallas-Fort Worth tops the charts for most new apartments built since 2020

high rise dominance

Shiny new apartment complexes are popping up everywhere around the country, but no other metro area can claim quite as many as Dallas-Fort Worth.

The Metroplex, in fact, has had more new apartments constructed since the beginning of the "pandemic building boom" in 2020 than any other U.S. metro area, according to a new study by apartment rental marketplace RentCafe.

Highest construction rate from 2020 to 2022
The construction analysis revealed 76,660 new apartment units opened in DFW between 2020 and 2022. These numbers far outshine one of the biggest renter metros in the country - New York City (No. 2) - by nearly 10,600 units.

"The booming job market in the Metroplex (supported by the industrial and tech sectors) fueled this construction spree," the report's author said.

Broken down by city, Dallas constructed 13,741 new apartment units between 2020 and 2022, while Fort Worth built the second highest number of new apartments: 9,672. McKinney built 2,586 new units within the same time frame, and Farmers Branch made up 3,140 new apartment units.

Dallas-Fort Worth is followed less closely by its Texas neighbors Houston (No. 3) and Austin (No. 4), which only developed 53,741 and 45,051 new apartment units, respectively, within the same period. Miami rounds out the top five with 42,960 new units built between 2020 and 2022.

The remaining top 10 metros that completed the most new apartments between 2020 and 2022 are:

  • No. 6 – Washington, D.C. (42,723 units)
  • No. 7 – Los Angeles, California (39,842 units)
  • No. 8 – Atlanta, Georgia (39,467 units)
  • No. 9 – Seattle, Washington (36,952 units)
  • No. 10 – Twin Cities, Minnesota (31,662 units)

New apartments to meet rising demand in 2023
Dallas-Fort Worth may have topped the charts for new apartments built during the pandemic, but it has fallen slightly in completed units built thus far in 2023. The study found that developers are set to build 23,659 new rental units by the end of December, which is nearly 10,000 fewer than New York, which reclaimed the No. 1 spot in 2023.

Demand for more housing is still at an all-time high in the Metroplex, as the North Texas region gained more residents than any other American metro between 2021 and 2022, the report says. Census data estimates nearly 170,400 new residents arrived in Dallas-Fort Worth at that time, bringing the population total to 7.9 million. That's quite the population boom, which only continues to grow bigger and bigger.

"[Dallas-Fort Worth's construction rate is] still not enough to meet the soaring demand for apartments throughout the metro, especially as America’s new boomtown is facing a severe shortage of housing units," the report says. "And, more and more people are expected to relocate to this thriving area in the coming years as businesses continue to expand."

The top 10 metros predicted to build the most new apartments in 2023 are:

  • No. 1 – New York City, New York (33,001 units)
  • No. 2 – Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas (23,659 units)
  • No. 3 – Austin, Texas (23,434 units)
  • No. 4 – Miami, Florida (20,904 units)
  • No. 5 – Atlanta, Georgia (18,408 units)
  • No. 6 – Phoenix, Arizona (14,629 units)
  • No. 7 – Los Angeles, California (14,087 units)
  • No. 8 – Houston, Texas (13,637 units)
  • No. 9 – Washington, D.C. (13,189 units)
  • No. 10 – Denver, Colorado (12,581 units)
The full report can be found on rentcafe.com.
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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

'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.

Mr Gatti's Pizza returns to home turf Fort Worth with Camp Bowie location

Pizza News

A Fort Worth-based pizzeria concept has opened a location in Fort Worth: Mr Gatti's Pizza has opened a restaurant off Camp Bowie at 2812 Horne St. #100, a space previously occupied by Helen's Hot Chicken, where they're open with pizza, pizza rolls, and their signature ranch dressing.

The location is a franchise owned by Kirk Jefferies, who also owns and operates franchises of Jason’s Deli and Chicken Express. This is his first Mr Gatti’s, but he has more locations planned.

“When people talk about Mr Gatti's Pizza, you can see a spark in their eyes. We love being able to bring that 'excitement' and combine it with our passion for pizza,” Jefferies says in a release. “Mr Gatti's Pizza has been satisfying cravings for over 50 years. It truly is an honor to be a part of this legacy brand that people cherish."

Menu favorites from about a dozen pizza options include The Sampler, The Deluxe with sausage, pepperoni, & smoked provolone, and BBQ chicken. A basic 12-inch cheese pizza with one topping is $12.

There are lunch specials from 10:30 am-3 pm including pepperoni rolls and salad for $10; 8 wings and salad for $13; and a medium pizza with 2 salads for $15.

The chain was first founded in Stephenville, Texas as The Pizza Place, in September 1964. In 1969, founder James Eure moved to Austin and opened the first Mr Gatti’s Pizza, named for his wife's maiden name.

They have a major presence in South Texas but only two in the DFW area: Plano and Allen.

There was a location that opened in Fort Worth in 2016, at 3280 W. Seventh St. in Museum Place, which at the time, was the first to use the Mr. Gatti’s name; the chain had been going by "Gatti's." So many name changes! It closed in 2018. There was also a location in North Richland Hills which opened in 2016 and closed in early 2019; and a location in Richardson that closed in 2018.

Back in the day they had a big buffet as well as a big game room, two features for which many longtime fans are nostalgic. But this location is just about the pizza.

There are now more than 70 locations in states across the Southeast, including Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.

Fort Worth hosts massive arts & crafts expo with cutting-edge techniques

Crafts News

An annual creativity-fest has landed in Fort Worth: The Texas Pinners Conference, celebrating all things DIY, is going down for two days at the Will Rogers Memorial Center, 3401 W Lancaster Ave. on Friday, September 22, from 10 am-8 pm and Saturday, September 23, from 9 am-7 pm.

This one-of-a-kind trade show hosts more than 200 vendors and exhibitors, offering a wide array of classes and shopping opportunities, representing the best of Texas.

Founded in 2013, the Pinners Conference was created to bring together individuals who share a common interest in learning, creativity, hobbies and do-it-yourself projects.

It's held in seven states including Kansas City, Georgia, and Idaho.

Texas was the first state outside of the original location in Salt Lake City, says co-founder Roxanne Bennett.

"Texas is such a creative environment," she says. "People are willing to try new things, they're active on social media, and they stay on top of trends."

She says the conference stays vital because trends in the crafts world change so quickly.

"This year the hot trend is UV resin," she says. "Praviously, this was something you could only do if you had all the tools. Now they have this process where you hold a blue light over the material and it dries in 3 minutes. People are going crazy for it."

More than 110 interactive classes are taught by industry experts, influencers, and professionals in their fields. Workshops and demonstrations introduce new techniques, insights, and innovative crafting ideas.

Vendors are all related to crafts, cooking, self-improvement, photography, party planning, scrapbooking, holiday, beauty, and fashion, featuring local artists and shops.

That's part of the appeal: Nearly all of the presenters are small business owners doing what they love to do.

Also new this year: free tickets for teachers.

"As a former educator, I know that teachers are some of the most inspiring individuals, especially in our children's lives," Bennett says. "So, what better way to encourage their creativity and show appreciation than to give them access to one of the largest creative events offline?"

To secure free tickets, Texas educators and school administrators can reserve by visiting tx.pinnersconference.com/gettickets and using the code TEACH. Educators and school administrators are eligible for two complimentary tickets. Attendees are also encouraged to bring their school ID badges to the event.

Tickets start at $12, which include entrance to the conference, access to exhibitors’ shopping, make-and-takes and more. Children 8 years and under are free. Class passes run from $22 to $39. Many classes will have optional kits to purchase once registered for the class.