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Tee Pee Dreaming!

Written by , published October 18, 2013

Wharton's Tee Pee Motel, photo by Lori Moffatt Wharton's Tee Pee Motel, photo by 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 Luther, 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.

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