Written by Texas Highways
The first thing I notice when I walk in the door at Susie’s South 40 Confections is the unmistakably sweet scent of candy—the rich, buttery aroma of caramel; the sharp, earthy scent of chocolate.
This is the most delicious thing I’ve had to drink at breakfast, or maybe ever,” says my friend Leslie, pointing to her tall glass filled with ice, fresh mint, a pineapple drinking vinegar, and seltzer water. It’s one of the specials on the blackboard at Righteous Foods, where I’m joining her for Friday-morning breakfast.
If you’ve ever visited Grapevine in December, then you know why it’s called the Christmas Capital of Texas.” However, year-round this North Texas town keeps a jolly spirit, even without the tinsel and tiny elves. I set off for a summertime adventure to see what happens when Santa leaves town.
Inside a historic boat barn in Port Aransas, a small group gathered around a newly built wooden skiff to sign their names on the underside of the boat’s last unfastened floorboard.
The waiter gave me a puzzled look when I asked that my chalupas be made with whole beans instead of refried beans, but he dutifully carried out my request. And not with just plain pinto beans. I knew my special order of chalupas at El Chaparral Mexican Restaurant in the town of Helotes—situated northwest of San Antonio and often referred to as the “Gateway to the Hill Country”—would be crafted from the borracho beans that the restaurant serves in small bowls as a complimentary opening treat.
I know the goal of many travelers is to never visit the same place twice. It’s a big world and we all have long bucket lists. But there is something to be said for finding a sweet spot in your travel routine, for creating traditions connected to a place you visit frequently.
On my first visit to the Railean Distillery’s new Buccaneer Bar—which opened the weekend of September 19 last year to coincide with International “Talk Like a Pirate Day”—I ordered the bar’s version of my new favorite summer cocktail, the Dark & Stormy.
Soft recessed lighting and exposed brick walls, smooth jazz on the sound system, and the mouthwatering aroma of butter and grilled fish transport me to the romantic City of Lights. But I’m not in France, or even Paris, Texas. I’m a half-hour from the Gulf of Mexico in Bay City, the county seat of Matagorda County, and I’m enjoying an unexpectedly fine dinner at a restaurant called The Fat Grass.
While nothing matches meeting a wild sea turtle on a beach or in the ocean, coming face-to-face with one in a rehabilitation or educational facility is also a thrill. It’s also easier and drier. Here are several places to see captive sea turtles in Texas: