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Written by Texas Highways

Alamo 036In second grade, I received a beautiful Alamo diorama for Christmas, complete with plastic soldiers and a cardboard backdrop, perfect for replaying the battle over and over with alternate endings. That same year my class visited the “Shrine of Texas Liberty,” where we listened to holograms of William B. Travis and David Crockett recount their experiences in the infamous battle.

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Austin is no stranger to DAY-trippin’. But while travelers in the past may have stopped their explorations west of Interstate 35, over the last few years Austin’s East Side has become a popular destination in its own right. And it’s not hard to see why—the history’s iconic, the culture’s weird, and the vibe is laid-back, making for one funky day trip!

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There are more than 2,000 bands from all over the world performing at SXSW Music in Austin this year, and there’s definitely something for fans of every genre imaginable. A goodly portion of the bands showcasing at the festival hail from Texas. If you’d like to take a road trip through the Lone Star State at this year’s festival, we’ve compiled an itinerary that demonstrates this great state’s musical and cultural diversity.

waxahachie mapGrowing up less than an hour’s drive from Waxahachie, I’ve always been familiar with the historic town just south of Dallas. Because I hadn’t spent time there in years, however, I took pleasure in discovering it again recently. The bonus? My husband had never visited Waxahachie, so I was thrilled to see it through new eyes during our weekend visit.

sanfelipe4During a recent archeological dig at San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site, workers trowelled through a small, rectangular slice of land just north of the community of San Felipe in southeastern Texas. Nearly two centuries ago, a bustling frontier settlement created by the father of Texas, Stephen F. Austin, occupied this patch of prairie.

2012 02 16 dirt fest biking photo near yucca brian frazier

Big Bend Ranch State Park and Lajitas provide some great mountain-biking opportunities, including the park’s Fresno-Sauceda Loop, which was designated an epic ride by the International Mountain Bicycling Association in 2010. With the level of rides available and the generally appealing February climate, it is no surprise that the area is the destination for a mountain biking festival each Presidents’ Day weekend.

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Eighty years ago during the latter years of the Great Depression, Brownsville business leaders—wanting to alleviate the gloomy atmosphere—planned a parade to celebrate what made the city unique: its border location and rich cultural heritage. People donned traditional Mexican outfits and honored the Mexican cowboys who are considered heroes of the borderlands.

Dallas Blooms at the ArboretumEach year Mother Nature sheds winter and puts on a colorful spring season opener with Dallas Blooms. The largest floral festival in the Southwest returns February 25–April 9 with more than 500,000 blooms throughout the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden’s 66 acres. This year’s festival, “Flower Power: Peace, Love and Blooms,” is a salute to the psychedelic ’60s and will feature flower arrangements inspired by the decade throughout the garden. During the six-week exhibit, the space plans to throw a variety of garden parties and concerts in addition to the main attraction—the spring blooming of tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, pansies, violas and other annuals and perennials. The blooms are a result of 11,560 man hours spent planting bulbs in the winter. The grand finale is the garden’s collection of 3,000 azaleas that bloom en masse through April.

austin music signs620The Old Austin crowd loves to reminisce about all-night jam sessions with Stevie Ray Vaughan and the lost progressive-country paradise of the Armadillo World Headquarters. Listening to “Austalgists,” it might sound like all the great clubs closed long ago.

RedRiver122 horse

Though a North Texas native, I somehow never considered the Red River Valley a great getaway option—until recently. Tips from savvy friends piqued my curiosity about the stretch of landscape between Gainesville and Wichita Falls.

SulphurSPrings

Back in the day, folks traveled from near and far to this Northeast Texas town to take a dip in the sulphur springs for their rumored healing powers. While those stinky springs may be dry, I found that this town still flows with culture, art, good eatin’, and the sweet aroma of Texas.

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