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Written by Texas Highways

Raileans-Rum13On 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.

FattGrass06Soft 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:


Texans love sea turtles, and sea turtles love Texas. Five species—green, loggerhead, hawksbill, leatherback, and Kemp’s ridley—have nested along our 400-odd miles of coast in recent years.

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Padre Island, the longest barrier island in the world, embodies some of the state’s most pleasurable assets, entertaining Texans with miles of warm Gulf waves and sun-drenched, cinnamon shores. Whether your travel time to Padre is 10 minutes or 12 hours, most Texans have made the pilgrimage at least once, if not annually, negotiating the state’s highways for the quickest route to the island’s sand and surf.


Now that you're at the beach, where do you go to eat in Galveston, Bolivar Peninsula and South Padre Island?


After years of visiting Texas beaches whenever I could, this spring I made the leap and moved my family to Galveston.

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On my last day of a weeklong stay in Port Aransas, I set off to find a souvenir to remind me of the island until my next visit. While I have a soft spot for kitschy beach-town souvenir shops, one can collect only so many key chains, magnets, and seashell frames.

SouthPadreIsland SandSculptureTrail 0016On a spring day, Lucinda Wierenga—better known on South Padre Island as “Sandy Feet”—puts the finishing touches on a multi-turreted sand castle in front of the Taco Factory restaurant, only to watch a storm immediately blow the top off. Back to work goes the sand artist, undertaking yet another repair effort.

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Port Lavaca lies on a stretch of the Texas coast between Galveston and Corpus Christi that often gets overlooked by travelers seeking refuge in the salty sea breezes.

Susan Ashley

Humans have worked with gourds for thousands of years, crafting them into everything from drinking vessels to musical instruments. The bulbous shape is also a beautiful medium for artists, which is evident at the Kerr Arts and Cultural Center’s annual Southwest Gourd Fine Art Show. The juried show and sale, May 21-June 28, 2015, features about 150 pieces from 30 artists. Their artworks, which must be at least 50 percent gourd, range from sculptures to elaborately painted, engraved, and woven gourds. The show’s free awards reception at 1 p.m. May 23 will bestow honors in categories like Southwest theme, fiber works, and mixed media.

George Catlin, courtesy Smithsonian American Art Museum

On five trips to the American frontier in the 1830s, artist and writer George Catlin chronicled American Indians of the Great Plains in hundreds of colorful, detailed paintings. Forty of those works make up the Smithsonian Art Museum Touring Exhibition George Catlin’s American Buffalo, which the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon hosts until August 30, 2015. Depicting bison, American Indian hunters, and tribal culture, Catlin’s paintings capture life on the Great Plains shortly before American settlement and government policy ushered in irrevocable changes.

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