Wharton's Tee Pee Motel (Photo © Lori Moffatt)
Now that most of Texas has seen a cool snap, a visit to the beach might not seem as enticing as it does during the summer. But the ocean in wintertime reveals a different character. In my opinion, there is no better time to visit Texas' coastal destinations than during the off-season, when crowds are light and the sun's rays are gentler. On my list for this year is Palacios, a seaside village known for birding, fishing, and best of all: relaxing. Texas Highways has published stories in the past about Palacios' historic Luther Hotel, which dates to 1903 and faces the bay; I'd love to stay there and kick back with a book on the hotel's broad porches.
Speaking of interesting lodging, I'd love to stay overnight in the restored "teepees" at the Tee Pee Motel & RV Park in Wharton, and since Wharton is just an hour's skip from Palacios, I'm imagining a several-day exploration of the area.
Wharton impressed me on a recent visit: The square was hopping with restaurants and antiques stores (including Blue Moon Antiques, which sells authentic, vintage Japanese kimonos), for one. I also enjoyed an hour or so at the Wharton County Historical Museum, especially the vast collection of items representing 20th-Century technology, which ran the gamut from early incarnations of home air-conditioning systems and washing machines to radios, computers, and video games.
On my way out of town on Business 59, I stopped in to check out the Tee Pee Motel, a refurbished relic of the early days of automobile travel. Built in 1942, the hotel features 10 stucco "teepees" complete with full-size beds, full bathrooms, desks, and even refrigerators and microwaves. They owe their renovation to the Texas Lottery: When Barbara and Bryon Woods picked the lucky numbers a few years ago, they used their winnings to restore the hotel, which reopened for guests in 2006. Rooms go for just $56 per night; RV slots cost just $20.