The EPIC Swimming Holes Road Trip

Hey folks! We’re celebrating summertime with our partner Austin Area Chevy Dealers and giving you some ideas for awesome road trips around the Austin area. Since the Texas heat is already in full swing, we thought we’d start with a swimming holes road trip to help you stay cool this summer. Time to get wet!

HERE’S THE MAP…

Blue Hole – Georgetown, TX

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Inside the city limits of Georgetown is Blue Hole, where you can take a dip in the San Gabriel River or just layout on the grassy banks and catch some sun, all within walking distance of some amazing Mexican food and a tasty slice of pie.

Barton Springs Pool – Austin, TX

Right in the heart of Texas’s Capital city is Barton Springs Pool with refreshingly cold waters of 68 degrees to keep you cooled off year round. Say “hello” to the rare Barton Springs Salamander hiding beneath the rocks.

 Hamilton Pool – Dripping Springs, TX

Hamilton Pool in Dripping Springs is a Texas oasis. Partially covered by a massive limestone grotto, you’ll find this pool has tons of shade and lots of beautiful cascading waterfalls to splash in.

Zedler Mill – Luling, TX

The dam at this historic 1874 mill in Luling doubles as an EPIC swimming hole in the San Marcos River. Float in the cool waters down below, or if you’re feeling really daring, climb the towering tree hanging over the river and dive in!

Rio Vista Park – San Marcos, TX

Dive into the Comal River at the Rio Vista Park in San Marcos. This park mixes equal parts lazy river and white water-rafting with a pretty intense “chute” formed by a hole in the rocks across the river. Hop in for one wild time!

Blue Hole – Wimberley, TX


Head to Blue Hole in Wimberley, TX, to rope swing into this quaint swimming hole on Cypress Creek or just spend a lazy day floating in the creek.

Krause Springs – Spicewood, TX

Krause Springs in Spicewood is Texas beauty at its best. Underneath a canopy of luscious green trees, you’ll find a refreshing pool fed by 32 natural springs keeping the waters cold and an awesome rope swing to keep you entertained. Look closely for caves and waterfalls worth exploring along the banks.

Devil’s Waterhole – Burnet, TX

Head to Inks Lake State Park in Burnet for a more adventurous swimming hole, the Devil’s Waterhole, that got it’s name from the pink granite cliffs that tower over the lake, inviting those who are brave enough to take the plunge into the cold waters 40 feet below.

The Slab – Kingsland, TX

Picture by Lakes and Hills Publications.

This might just be one of Kingsland’s best kept secrets — where the Llano River runs into this granite slab of rock, you’ll find the perfect swimming hole for wading, fishing or tubing. You can find the Slab where Ranch Road 3403 crosses the river. 

The Tastiest Tacos San Antonio Road Trip

Happy Cinco de Mayo! In cased you missed the memo, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day (that’s on September 16), but rather a day celebrating the bravery of General Ignacio Seguin Zaragoza (a native Texan) and his small army when they defended the city of Puebla from the giant French army on May 5, 1862 even though they were very outnumbered (find the complete history of Cinco de Mayo here).

To honor these brave men and their culture, we’ve created a road trip centered around one of our favorite Mexican dishes: the beautiful and glorious taco! With beginnings in Mexican silver mines around the 19th Century, the taco eventually traveled to Texas through the Chili Queens in San Antonio, and over time has transformed into one of Texas’s favorite foods. The variations are endless and magnificent! So wear your stretchy pants and hop on this Taco Road Trip through the heart of San Antonio where you can enjoy five of the tastiest tacos in town!

HERE’S THE MAP:

Just like each day must start with breakfast, each taco road trip must begin with breakfast tacos, so your first stop is Pete’s Tako House (to all the grammarists out there, this is the correct spelling…so calm down and have a taco.) This family-owned joint has been serving up the most important meal of the day stuffed in fresh tortillas since 1978; each taco is ginormous and the filling combinations are endless and heavenly. Don’t worry if you happen to start your road trip late, they serve breakfast tacos all day — so you’re in luck!

If you wish to declare your taco love to the world, you’re only about 5 minutes from the famous “I Love You Tacos So Much” Mural near Pearl Brewery, which has become a must-see photo stop for taco-eating tourists in town.

Next you’re on to El Milagrito Cafe, a San Antonio mainstay since 1969. Here the locals swear by the chorizo breakfast taco or the authentic barbacoa — which is the perfect amount of moist without being too greasy — served on handmade, sturdy corn tortillas. If you’re looking to add a little fire to your tacos, drench ’em in the mysterious green sauce in the unmarked bottle on the table. Go for the orange, goopy sauce if you’re looking to set your entire mouth on fire. Both sauces are homemade and fresh, and neither will disappoint.

At your next taco destination, you’ll be mixing the best of Texas cuisine (aka barbecue) with the best of Mexican cuisine (the taco.) Garcia’s Mexican Restaurant has been a local favorite since 1962, and the locals rave about the brisket taco, which contains a tender marinated brisket that really shines when covered with the creamy house-made guac and adorned with the pico de gallo.

Okay, by now you’ll be feeling the taco pains, but luckily the next stop is Taquitos West Avenue, where the specialty is mini tacos, so at least you can feel like you’re eating less…This no-frills taco stand serves up some of the best street tacos in Texas and, in accordance with the age-old saying, “less is more,” these authentic tacos come layered five on a Styrofoam plate piled with spit-grilled meat — choices range from the more adventurous “lengua” (beef tongue) or “cabeza” (head) to the less daring bistec (steak) — and the simple toppings of chopped onions, cilantro and a lime wedge on the side. And that’s honestly all you need.

Now on to the big finish…or should I say “puffy” finish? Yep, that’s right…no Taco Road Trip would be complete without visiting the inventor of the “Original Puffy Tacos,” Ray’s Drive Inn. It’s been open since 1956, but it wasn’t until it introduced the puffy taco in 1966 that it became a San Antonio Tex-Mex legend. Order a classic beef puffy taco, and crunch away at this miraculously crispy taco that never falls victim to the greasy meat inside. And by this point, if you’re too stuffed to get out of your car, just flash your lights for car-side service and munch in the comfort of your vehicle!

Alright, now have a margarita, my friends, because you have completed the “Tastiest Taco Road Trip” through the heart of San Antonio!

Can’t get enough tacos? Check out our “Tacos, Tacos, Tacos” podcast with Texas Monthly food editor Pat Sharpe or this homemade tortilla and taco recipe by our office administrator Tosha Galvan. And if you’re still craving tacos, don’t worry, you’re sure to find a dozen more amazing taco shops nearby in the heart of San Antone!

The HISTORIC Route 66 Road Trip!

There is no highway more iconic than Route 66, so we’ve created the Historic Route 66 Road Trip to remind you of the good old days when folks were driving cross country to chase their dreams and the journey was just as fun as the destination.

Route 66 was paved in 1926 to carry travelers, tourists and dreamers, alike, from Santa Monica, CA to Chicago, IL, and since we’d never ask you to leave this great state, our road trip will take you along the historic route from the Texas town farthest west, Glenrio, east to Shamrock, TX. And while Route 66, itself, doesn’t exist anymore, this road trip passes along where it used to be and where nostalgic treasures still remain. So crank up those tunes, roll down your windows and cruise!

HERE’S THE MAP

MAP66

Destination 1: Ghost Town – Glenrio, NM-TX

Photo by Barbara Brannon/ Texas Plains Trail.

Photo by Barbara Brannon/ Texas Plains Trail.

Your first stop is actually in New Mexico…but it’s also in Texas (confused yet…?) The ghost town lies across the New Mexico-Texas border. Settled in 1905, Glenrio had a liquor store in the New Mexico side of town (where alcohol was allowed) and the post office on the Texas side (but no bars — Texas was dry at that time.) It is also one of the only Exit 0’s in the country. Though you’d never be able to tell from the now eerily abandoned buildings, this town was a hot spot in the Route 66 days.

 

Destination 2: Midpoint Cafe – Adrian, TX

Photo by Barbara Brannon/ Texas Plains Trail.

Photo by Barbara Brannon/ Texas Plains Trail.

This little diner is a Route 66 legend. Built in 1928 and located exactly halfway between Santa Monica and Chicago, it provided the perfect place for travelers to relax along the route, and 88 years later, it’s still doing just that. Midpoint Cafe serves up classics like fried bologna and juicy burgers and contains a Route 66 Souvenir and Antique shop. Most important of all are their “ugly” homemade pies that taste heavenly.

TIP: The next town you’ll pass through is Vega, where you’ll find the strange Dot’s Mini Museum, a little room full of quirky artifacts from the historic Route 66 collected by Dot, herself. The Cowboy Boot Tree that sits in front of the museum is both odd and beautiful.

 

Destination 3: Cadillac Ranch – Amarillo, TX

CadillacRanch

This art installation was originally “planted” by the art group “Ant Farm” in 1974 on billionaire Stanley Marsh 3’s property. It’s become a famous must-see attraction in Texas and no road trip would be complete without it. Be sure to bring spray paint so you, too, can leave your mark!

PHOTO OP: About 25 minutes away from Cadillac Ranch, is another art installation paid for by Stanley Marsh 3 and created by Lightnin’ McDuff called “Huge Pair of Legs” that was modeled after an Egyptian statue. These feet may not be along Route 66 (it’s at 4743 W Sundown Ln.), but it’s weird enough that it’s definitely worth visiting.

Destination 4: Jack Sisemore Traveland RV Museum – Amarillo, TX

RV Museum_Edit

There’s nothing better than a long family road trip in an old-timey RV, and while you can no longer travel in such style, you can visit the RV Museum to learn all about these classic trailers. It’s great place to get your mind in that yesteryear-frame-of-mind as you continue traveling down the historic highway.

TIP: Hungry? As you pass along Route 66 through Amarillo, there are plenty of places to eat like the Golden Light Cantina (the oldest restaurant in town, built on Route 66 in 1946)  in the Historic District on 2906 SW 6th Ave. Of course, we’re a fan of the Big Texan Steak House, view our encounter with their giant 72 oz. steak here.

Destination 5: Lile Art Gallery – Amarillo TX

Photo by Lile Art Gallery

Photo by Lile Art Gallery

If you were looking at Cadillac Ranch and thought, “Man I wish I could wear that” then this is the place for you. Bob “Crocodile” Lile takes chips of paint that have fallen off the iconic cars and through a process of buffing and UV lighting, makes them into beautiful jewelry he’s calling “Cadilite.”

Destination 6: US Route 66 Sixth Street Historic District – Amarillo, TX

Photo by Barbara Brannon/Texas Plains Trail

Photo by Barbara Brannon/Texas Plains Trail

While you’re in Amarillo, take a drive down the actual Historic Route 66 which is now SW 6th Ave. It still contains buildings from when this was the central part of town as travelers trekked across the country in the 20s like The Nat which was once an indoor pool and then a ballroom where Duke Ellington performed. It’s now an antique shop. You’ll also find Amarillo’s Route 66 Store and tons of live music venues and restaurants along this road.

Destination 7: VW Slug Bug Ranch – Conway, TX

Barbara Brannon/Texas Plains Trail.

Barbara Brannon/Texas Plains Trail.

This next destination is especially helpful if you’re losing at the “Punch Buggy” car game. Just like Cadillac Ranch, this lesser-known car art installation features five Volkswagens that have been buried nose-down in the ground and left for every tourist with spray paint to leave their name. And unlike Cadillac Ranch, chances are it won’t be packed. Find it next to the Conway Inn and Restaurant (9696 Interstate 40).

 

Destination 8: Giant Cross – Groom, TX

Photo by Tony Hisget

Photo by Tony Hisget

In Groom, you can spot this 190 ft. cross looming over the land from the freeway. This structure which is a part of the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ Ministries, is actually the largest cross in the Western Hemisphere. As you continue through Groom, if you see a leaning water tower, your eyes aren’t tricking you. It’s the “Leaning Tower of Texas” that was built before the cross with a 10-degree lean as a marketing ploy to attract visitors to the small town.

TIP: About 20 minutes after you leave Groom, you’ll come across the I-40 East Rest Area at Mile Marker 129, which is an attraction in itself. It is built to resemble an old building from the 1950s and now has a Route 66 Museum (as well as actual restrooms) inside…what more could you need?

Destination 9: First Phillips 66 Station in Texas – McLean, TX

Phillips Station_Edit

Built in the early 1920s, this little house was the first Phillips 66 Station in Texas. It has since been restored by The Old Route 66 Association of Texas. It is no longer a working gas station, but it is a great place for a photo op! You can find it at 219 Gray Street.

Destination 10: Devil’s Rope Museum and Route 66 Museum- McLean, TX

Photo by Barbara Brannon/ Texas Plains Trail

Photo by Barbara Brannon/ Texas Plains Trail

One side of the museum is dedicated to barbed wire, with everything from barbed wire types to barbed wire sculptures. The other side is the largest Route 66 museum in Texas featuring over 700 artifacts like the original cow from Amarillo’s Big Texan Steak Ranch, road signs, advertisements and more! Find it at 100 Kingsley St. And while you’re in town, check out the Cactus Inn — a motel built in 1956 that’s still hosting travelers 1950’s-style!

TIP: As you drive through Lela on your way to Shamrock look out for the RATTLESNAKES sign that was once an advertisement for the famous Regal Reptiles Ranch, a famed Route 66 attraction until the 80’s. The sign is on the corner of Donley and First Street.

 

Destination 11: U Drop Inn Cafe – Shamrock, TX

Photo by Keith George

Photo by Keith George

This 1920s art-deco style building is one of the coolest sights along Route 66, and possibly the most well-known site along the route in Texas, thanks to the 2006 Disney animated-film Cars, where it was featured as Ramone’s House of Body Art. U Drop-Inn was built in 1936 and was a service station and cafe. It is now a visitor’s center, museum and gift shop.

YOU DID IT! Our attractions stop here, but Route 66 continues all the way to Texola, OK taking you through Benonine, TX. If you aren’t done “getting your kicks,” you can continue riding the highway all the way to the end of Texas (or even to the end of the highway in Chicago…)

Texas Cave Trail Road Trip

Central Texas is well known for its sprawling hills, pristine rivers and all-around breathtaking views — but, what you may not know that its just as mesmerizing down below as it is on top. That’s because it’s home to four of the most incredible caves in Texas: Inner Space Caverns, Natural Bridge Caverns, Cave Without a Name and Caverns of Sonora. And what’s even cooler is that these four caves have teamed up to make one EPIC road trip called the “Texas Cave Trail.

Starting this year, when you visit one of the caves on the trail you’ll receive a passport or you can print one. Your mission should you choose to accept it (and you should cause it’s awesome) is to take that passport and visit the three other caves in any order within a year to get stamps for each one. Not only will you walk away with an experience unlike any other, but you’ll also receive a FREE T-SHIRT at the end of your cave-trippin’ journey! Read on to learn more about your destinations.

Here’s the Map:

Inner Space Caverns – Georgetown, TX

Courtesy of Inner Space Caverns.

The caverns were first discovered when highway crews were checking to see if the ground was sound enough to build Interstate 35 on it in 1963 — it was, but they found the Inner Space Caverns when their drill bit got stuck in the limestone below. Explore the massive cathedral-like rooms in these caves on foot on the Adventures Tour or crawl through undeveloped sections of the cave on the Hidden Passages Tour. Either way, there’s nothing more awe-inspiring than the rumble of cars passing on the highway overhead or the complete darkness you can experience in the caves. One sight you can’t miss is the Lake of the Moon — a sight that seems more fitting for astronauts in a spaceship.

Natural Bridge Caverns – San Antonio, TX

Courtesy  of Natural Bridge Caverns

Natural Bridge is the largest show cave in Texas, with tours leading you down 180 feet beneath the earth! You can explore the depths by taking a walking Discovery Tour where you’ll learn about the ancient stalactites and stalagmites or you can get an up-close and personal look at these giant formations on the Hidden Passages tour as you venture through untouched parts of the cave and experience total darkness. If you’re really up for a challenge you can take the Lantern Tour where your only source of light is a few lanterns; you’ll see what it was like when the cave was first discovered by college students in 1960. When you’re done exploring underground, head back to the surface for ziplining and a giant maze. See our time at Natural Bridge here.

Cave Without a Name – Boerne, TX

Yes, the Cave without a Name is the actual name of this “nameless” cave…confused yet? After it was discovered by three children, the town hosted a contest to decide a name for the cave. One entry said “That cave is too beautiful for a name” — and well, the rest is history. But the name (or rather non-name?) of this cave is not the only cool thing here. You can tour Cave Without a Name and see the many breathtaking formations or attend a musical performance inside the cave where amazing acoustics and wondrous rock formations combine to make one incredibly unique opportunity. See our time in the cave here.

Caverns of Sonora – Sonora, TX

Courtesy of Sonora Caverns.

This beautiful cave halfway between the Hill Country and West Texas was actually discovered when a dog chased a raccoon into the caves in the 1920s. Take in the astounding sights of this cave to find alien rock formations and otherworldly beauty on a Crystal Palace Tour or become Indiana Jones and rappel down into the dark depths of the cave on the Discovery Challenge. If you’d rather, you can capture every rock, water droplet and moment on a Photography Tour.

Get to exploring and find more information about the Texas Cave Trail here!

4 Spring Break Road Trips

Barbecue, Bluebonnets, Swimming Holes and History — these are all the things that make up a Texas-sized Spring Break adventure. Instead of wasting the week away in front of the TV, get out and explore all the awesome things Texas has to offer! Choose one adventure from this list or trip them all for the MOST EPIC Spring Break ever! Happy Trippin’!

 The ULTIMATE Bluebonnet Road Trip

Here in Texas, we sure love a good field sprinkled with hundreds of bluebonnets. On this road trip, you get your blue-flower-fill in the heart of the Hill Country, with stops in Burnet and Llano (both Bluebonnet Co-Capitals of Texas), the famous Willow City Loop (a 13 mile scenic drive through creeks and hills), The Blue Bonnet Cafe for creamy pie in Marble Falls and more! Click here for the route.

The ULTIMATE BBQ Belt Road Trip

If eating your way across Texas sounds like the dream, then this is the trip for you. Be sure to wear your fat pants because you’ve got 6 meaty destinations awaiting you including the hallowed ‘que institiution Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor, three barbecue joints in Lockhart (aka “the Barbecue Capital of Texas”) and so much more. Click here to start eating…

The Historic Route 66 Road Trip

Picture by Keith George.

Pack the family in the car and trip to the “good ol’ days” when folks were driving cross-country to chase their dreams. On this road trip, the journey is just as fun as the destination. Check out Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, a historic ghost town in *gasp* New Mexico, a Texas-sized cross, the iconic U Drop Inn Cafe in Shamrock, TX and so much more. *DISCLAIMER: You must crank up the tunes and roll down the windows on this trip. Click here for the cruisin’ route.

The ULTIMATE Swimmin’ Holes Road Trip

Texas weather changes on the daily — one day you need a little rainy day fun, and the next day you’re sweating in the sun. On those sweltering days, cool off with this splash-worthy road trip that includes Barton Springs in Austin, Blue Hole (in both Wimberley and Georgetown), Hamilton Pool in Dripping Springs and more! Click here for this wet and wild route.

Want even more fun? Click here for tons of Spring Break ideas! 

The ULTIMATE Bluebonnet Road Trip

It’s the time of year when wildflowers are popping up all over the countryside painting Texas in shades of red, blue, yellow and white. Here at “The Daytripper” we respect the beauty of all wildflowers, but because we’re Texan, we must say the bluebonnet is the best (it is our state wildflower after all). So, to make sure you get your fill of bluebonnet beauty, we’ve planned the Ultimate Bluebonnet Road Trip through the heart of the Hill Country.

Here’s the map…

Wildflower Road Route

First, you’re going to start in Burnet, TX as Burnet County is the “Official Bluebonnet Co-Capital of Texas.” Here you’ll drive through rolling hills bursting with bluebonnets along the highways. While you’re in town, don’t miss the photo-op with this awesome giant bluebonnet sculpture.  bluebonnet

Next, take Highway 29 west to your second stop – Llano, TX, the heart of Llano County which is the other “Official Bluebonnet Co-Capital of Texas.” You’ll see more beautiful Hill Country granite and more beautiful shades of blue.

Your third destination is a detour through the Willow City Loop which is a 13-mile scenic drive that will take you through creeks and hills all sprinkled with bluebonnets and wildflowers. The land surrounding the road is private so just enjoy the scenery from your car. To get there from Llano, head south on State Highway 16 and turn left onto the Willow City Loop. Follow this road through twists and turns until you hit Farm Road 1323, then take a right toward Willow City, TX. This road will take you back to State Highway 16.

By this time, you’ll probably be starving for lunch. Just down State Highway 16 is the Knot in the Loop Saloon where you can dine on burgers and sip a cold one while the jukebox plays old tunes.

IMG_0380After lunch, jump back on Highway 16 south into Fredericksburg, TX, where you’re sure to see tons of beautiful flowers and plenty of fun distractions. In Fredericksburg, hop onto US Highway 290 East and ride it through the 290 wine trail all the way to Johnson City, TX. After that, follow US Highway 281 North to Marble Falls, TX and you’ll be just in time for Pie Happy Hour at The Blue Bonnet Cafe where you can get a slice of historic pie and your drink of choice for $4. This will be the happiest happy hour ever.

Finish the trip by traveling up 281 back to Burnet, TX. And you, my friends, have just taken the ULTIMATE BLUEBONNET ROAD TRIP through the Hill Country.

 

The Jolliest Christmas Road Trip

At this point, you’re probably running around trying to find the perfect gift for Aunt Sue, decking the halls with ALL the boughs of holly and prepping for the five-course meals you’ll be making for all those Christmas parties. Yet, before the spirit of Christmas gets lost, here’s one last road trip full of giant trees, the brightest lights, and even an ice rink to bring you and your family together in the midst of the Holiday season craziness. This road trip is as magical during the day as it is at night, and you might even get some Christmas shopping done along the way. MERRY TRIPPIN’!

HERE’S THE MAP

christmas-map

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Destination 1: Grapevine Main Street

Of course your first stop on this merry road trip is the “Christmas Capital of Texas.” Shop along Main Street, with stores as full of Christmas gifts as they are decorated with wreaths, garland and lights. Sip hot chocolate and people-watch at Main Street Bistro’s sidewalk cafe or customize your cocoa with peppermint, cinnamon and more at Dr. Sue’s Hot Chocolate Happy Hour from 3 – 6 p.m. At night, see Main Street aglow with hundreds of lights, and stop by the gazebo where a light show plays continuously from 6-11 p.m.

  • Dreaming of a White Christmas?  To make all your snowy dreams come true, stop into the Great Wolf Lodge nearby where it snows in the lobby during story time and every inch of the rustic “lodge” is decked out for the Holidays. For true Christmas magic, stay at the hotel to splash around the indoor water park and dine in a giant Gingerbread house!

 

christkindl

Picture by Texas Christkindl Market.

Destination 2: Texas Christkindl Market in Arlington, TX

Next you’re on to fill your sleigh with gifts from overseas at this open-air market modeled after the traditional Christmas markets in Germany. Peruse tons of authentic German goods straight from the famous Kathe Wohlfahrt Christmas Village in Rothenburg, Germany. Visit Saint Nicholas to whisper your Christmas wishes in his ear and eat free candy at his Haus. Most importantly, don’t miss the glorious food — get a State Fair weenie from Fletcher’s Corny Dogs, munch potato pancakes at Oma’s German Treats and so much more.

 

sundancesquare_nov13_13810

Picture by Sundance Square.

Destination 3: Sundance Square in Fort Worth

In the heart of downtown at Sundance Square is a live 57-foot tree so decked out in Holiday Cheer, you’d expect the Who Village Choir to be holding hands around it, singing gibberish Christmas songs. Down in front, Santa sits on a candy throne in the Plaza waiting for you to come share your Christmas desires, but he’s got a tight schedule (preparing for that big Christmas Eve flight and all) so check here before arriving. Surrounding the tree and plaza is the beautiful downtown skyline outlined in twinkling lights — quite a sight to see!

  • Christmas Cheer Around The Square: Wander around downtown to see incredible Christmas window displays at Haltom’s Jewelers, Flowers To Go and LOFT. Bring out your inner child at Houston Street Toy Company or just gawk at the giant moving Ferris Wheel in the window. Nearby, wish a season’s greeting to the iconic angels adorning Bass Performance Hall.

 

Picture by Trinity River Vision Authority.

Picture by Trinity River Vision Authority.

Destination 4: Panther Island ICE

Your final stop is to slip…err, um skate around the ice rink at Panther Island. Fort Worth’s favorite summer hot spot has been transformed into the only outdoor rink in Fort Worth (and one of very few outdoor rinks in Texas) so grab a pair of skates, the arm of your favorite family member or friend and hit the ice for a cool time. If you’d rather watch folks slide around the ice than partake in it, sit back and sip hot cocoa from the Coyote Drive-In Canteen.

 

TWO Ultimate Fall Color Road Trips

It’s fall and you’ve been seeing pictures of wondrous places all around the country with fiery orange and candy-apple red leaves blanketing the tops of the trees. You’re probably feeling discouraged as you look at the green leaves or bare trees around you — thinking that your dear ol’ Lone Star State doesn’t have colorful fall foliage. You may even be planning a trip to New England for a little fall beauty.

However, Texas does, in fact, have some of the most picturesque fall foliage in the country if you know where to look. So here’s TWO Ultimate Fall Color Road Trips (one in the Hill Country and one in East Texas) to give you all the brightly colored leaves and fall foliage fun your heart desires!

Here’s a little tip before you get started: Fall is a fickle creature. In Texas, fall foliage usually hits peak around the middle of November to the beginning of December, but even so, when fall color starts showing and how much there is depends on the yearly rainfall, as well as other factors. So to make sure you’ll get peak red and orange beauty, call ahead to the parks you’re interested in or check their website to see what the color is like.

Hill Country Trip

hill-country-tx

Autumn beauty along the Frio River in Concan, TX. (Hill Country River Region/ visituvalde.com)

hill-country-route Route: Vanderpool, TX to Concan, TX 

Destinations: On this trip, you’ll be trippin’ through some of the tallest peaks of the Hill Country.  Your trip starts in the Lost Maples State Natural Area, one of the most beautiful spots to see fall color in the entire state. For the best view of the fall foliage, take the Maple Trail. Surrounded by fiery red and bright orange Uvalde bigtooth maples, you’ll feel like you’re in New England. Next, you’ll drive into Utopia to dine at Lost Maples Cafe, which was featured in the movie “Seven Days in Utopia,” and serves each plate of breakfast with a mason jar of fresh salsa. Be sure to take a slice of freshly baked pie to go.

You’ll take Ranch Road 1050 out of town for a scenic drive over the serene Sabinal River and through the fall-colored trees covering the surrounding hills, until you reach Garner State Park. At the park, you’ll see beautiful red Bald cypress trees tower over the crystal waters of the Frio River. For a peek at Old Baldy without paying to enter the park, head to Magers River Crossing (one of the best kept Hill Country secrets) where the Frio trickles over County Road 350, a canopy of colorful trees provides shade and the majestic mountain is in full view in the distance. Find the full map here and the Lost Maples Foliage Report here.

And here’s a trip tip: If the fall beauty is too breathtaking to enjoy for just a day, make reservations to stay the night at the River Rim Resort in Concan. Just miles away from Garner State Park and Magers River Crossing, this resort provides amazing cabins, cottages and lodges with access to the stunning Frio River.

East Texas Trip

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Fall Color along the trails in Tyler State Park.

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Route: Daingerfield, TX to Jacksonville, TX

Destinations: Take a journey through East Texas for fall color mixed with the deep green towering pines in this area. Starting at Daingerfield State Park, hike the Rustling Leaves Nature Trail to see the oak, maple and sweetgum trees reflecting in Lake Daingerfield like a gold and red watercolor painting. Next, you’re on to Lake Bob Sandlin State Park, which is also an East Texas trove of fall foliage as patches of red and orange pop up in the greenery around the lake.

Take Highway 37 for a scenic drive through part of the Autumn Trails of Winnsboro, TX, where they’ve been hosting a fall foliage festival since 1958. Next you’re on to see trails surrounded by reds, golds and oranges in Tyler State Park and the famous Tyler roses at the Tyler Rose Garden Center.  If your stomach’s growling, stop by Coyote Sam’s Bar and Grille in Tyler for a Kobe burger so mouthwatering, it made Texas Monthly’s Top 50 Burgers List. Your last stop is at Love’s Lookout in Jacksonville, which — though small — provides a stunning bird’s eye view of the East Texas countryside. Find the full map here

Here’s another tip: If you’re yearning to see even more fall beauty, continue on through Rusk, TX and then to Mission Tejas State Park in Grapeland, for just a bit more foliage combined with Texas history.

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The ULTIMATE BBQ Belt Road Trip

Here in Texas, nothing excites us more than the heavenly smell of meat cooking over an open pit and there is no sound more angelic than the crinkle of butcher paper wrapped around a piping hot brisket just waiting to be devoured. To fuel your love for barbecue, we’ve created the ULTIMATE BBQ Belt Road Trip that will take you through some delicious Texas barbecue joints. So wear your stretchy pants and get ready for one epic food coma as you eat your way through this meaty challenge.

Here’s the map

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DESTINATION 1: Louie Mueller Barbecue- Taylor, TX

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The first stop on your trip is a Texas barbecue icon right off Main Street in Taylor that’s been serving perfectly moist pepper-crusted brisket and beef ribs that are melt-in-your-mouth tender (and the size of your head) since 1949, Louie Mueller Barbecue. This barbecue institution is a must-stop for every Texan. Louie Mueller’s is a no frills joint, just smokey barbecue goodness served on butcher paper…which is the way it should be. And if you must use sauce (although you don’t really need it here) they’ve got multiple sauces to choose from.

DESTINATION 2: Southside Market & Barbeque – Elgin, TX

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Picture by Southside Market & Barbeque

After you’ve gotten your fill of moist brisket and dino-sized ribs, follow Highway 95 south to Elgin, where you’ll find one of the oldest barbecue joints in Texas: Southside Market & Barbeque. This local institution began as a meat market in 1882 that delivered its delicious meats all over town.  After owner William J. Moon spent most of his time traveling miles to deliver meat door-to-door, he opened a storefront where his leftovers and specialty “hot guts” spicy sausage links were served to customers at the end of the day. More than a century later, people are still trekking to this joint for a taste of their time-honored ‘cue, which over the years has grown into a full-scale restaurant with a menu that includes classics like the “1882 Sausage” and brisket, as well as unique items like lamb ribs and pork steak.

DESTINATION 3: Black’s Barbecue – Lockhart, TX

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After your feast in Elgin, you’re on to Lockhart, the “Barbecue Capital of Texas,” as named by the Texas Legislature in 1999. Follow Highway 130 south to Highway 183 where you’ll find your next three destinations, the first of which is Black’s Barbecue. Opened in 1932, Black’s was one of the first joints in town to serve brisket; 84 years and four generations later, the family is still carrying on the tradition of providing customers with this meaty perfection today. Combine that tender brisket with an extensive menu of other meats (including a fantastic jalapeno cheese sausage) and good ol’ Southern hospitality, and you’ll feel like you’re a part of the Black family, too.

DESTINATION 4: Kreuz Market – Lockhart, TX

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Feeling stuffed? Don’t worry, your next stop is only a few blocks down the road at Kreuz Market. At Kreuz (pronounced “Krites”), meat has been king since it opened in 1900, as showcased by the restaurant’s rules of “no barbecue sauce” and “no forks.” But just one bite into their juicy salt-and-pepper rubbed brisket or hand-filled and tied sausage links, and you won’t mind those rules (or your greasy hands) one bit. In honoring owner Charles Kreuz Sr.’s German heritage, sides include hot potato salad and sauerkraut.

DESTINATION 5: Smitty’s Market – Lockhart, TX

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Still in Lockhart, your next stop is Smitty’s Market, a barbecue dream for every Texan that all started with a little family feud between the owners of Kreuz Market and their sister, Nina, who owned the building. The brothers eventually moved Kreuz down the street and Nina opened Smitty’s Market in her building in 1999. The thing to get here is the fatty brisket and the sausage which has just the right amount of juiciness. And for a twist on your normal barbecue habits, pair your meat with the fresh avocados served on the side.

DESTINATION 6: Luling City Market – Luling, TX

city3By now, your pants are no doubt feeling tighter and you’re probably almost on your way to a meat-induced slumber, but you’ve only got one more destination. Follow Highway 183 south all the way to Luling, where your final stop is the Luling City Market.  You order your meats in the same room where it’s cooking on the pit — a tradition, along with the rule of “no forks,” that’s been around since it first opened 50 years ago. And to compliment the already fantastic meat is the sauce…oh, the glorious sauce! Served in little bottles on each table, it’s praised by Texans near and far, and is quite addictive. Just remember, you can’t take it with you…but you can buy your own bottle.

FINALLY, give yourself a high-five, and take that much-needed nap. You have completed the ULTIMATE BBQ Belt Road Trip!

Road Trip – Hill Country Trail of Lights!

It’s the most wonderful time of year and one of the most beautiful. The weather is crisp, and the anticipation of Christmas is felt and shown by millions of lights throughout the Texas Hill Country! It’s a sight you won’t want to miss, so gather your friends and family, jump into your car, tune the radio to Christmas Carols and road trip your way through the Texas Hill Country for the best trail of lights experience ever!

Guest Post from Travelin’ Texan Amanda Waltman

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Your first stop is Burnet, TX where the magnificent and historic courthouse shines like a Christmas beacon in the middle of the town square. The impressive display of lights is well worth the visit if that is the only thing you see on your stop in Burnet but if you are traveling through on December 12th, drop by Christmas on the Square where you’ll find Pinterest worthy Christmas gifts, a parade and other free entertainment that is sure to heighten your holiday spirits and get you pumped up for your next stop!  Photo by Burnet Chamber of Commerce.

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Next you’re off to Marble Falls, TX, a winter wonderland that has been visited by people all over the world, 32 different countries to be exact. The world famous, Walkway of Lights! This merry and bright display is decked with around 2 million lights that glisten against Lake Marble Falls, a beautiful sight to see. Snap a picture with Santa, grab a cup of hot cocoa or warm apple cider and take it all in!  Photo by Marble Falls Chamber of Commerce.

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Next stop, Johnson City, TX! The Blanco County Courthouse shines like a star in all its glory. With over 100,000 lights on the Courthouse alone. Johnson City has one of the largest and brightest light displays in Texas! The Courthouse is open Saturday-Sunday from 6-9pm, when road-tripping sojourners can stop in to enjoy the splendorous sight of a Christmas tree and lots of Yuletide treasures available for purchase. Before you leave town, don’t miss the Pedernales Co-op’s holiday tradition of 1 million plus lights illuminating an entire block of big beautiful oak trees.

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Your last stop is Fredericksburg, TX, a place so full of holiday cheer that they have a Holiday Guide available to plan your visit. Lights abound throughout four full weeks of festivities including: the charming German Christmas pyramid standing 26ft tall, a ginormous Christmas tree, a parade, an ice skating rink, Christmas Balls, holiday shows and more!

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