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Written by Texas Highways

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.

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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.

yodelOff a dark winding road about four miles northeast of Georgetown, a lively German-style celebration unfolds most weekends. Or at least that’s the rumor my friend Adam and I are acting on when we head out from Austin toward Walburg on a recent Friday evening.

Oxbow Store MAA 43There is a sweet spot in East Texas where mile-high meringue and heritage are folded into the ultimate dessert experience. Nestled along the banks of Caddo Creek in Old Town Palestine, Oxbow Bakery is a slice of old-timey heaven and a portal to nostalgic memories.

Photo: Courtesy Rodeo Austin

Sorry, Dallas Cowboys football fans: real Cowboys represent the official sport of Texas, and you can find them year-round at rodeos in every corner of the state. But it’s more than just boots, bulls, and bareback riding at Rodeo Austin (March 11-25, 2017). In a city dominated by South by Southwest in March, you’ll find more than just the biggest names in country music. In its 80-year history, the rodeo has attracted performers as diverse as Sublime, Boyz II Men, Dwight Yoakam, and Destiny’s Child (Beyoncé’s only appearance in the Live Music Capital of the World). This year’s all-star lineup includes Elle King, Fitz and the Tantrums, and Patti LaBelle.

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Author Roald Dahl wrote, “the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.” And when it comes to divine grub located in an unlikely shop, his words ring true.

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People pack the wall-to-wall tables in Gruene Hall, and the band has hit full swing when I walk in one summer Sunday morning. Folks clap along to the music as they dig into plates of bacon and eggs, roasted turkey, and mashed potatoes.

rockstacking 1Michael Grab wades into the waist-high water of the Llano River in Central Texas, reaches down to the bottom, and fishes out a platter-size rock. Like most large stones, it’s not perfectly round, and its edges undulate in an irregular pattern.

Tyler DSP 97Housed in a century-old building in downtown Tyler, Discovery Science Place stands out among the historic buildings surrounding it.

ValentinesDay TX12There’s a reason all of George Strait’s exes live in Texas — there’s something ridiculously romantic about the Lone Star state. As the saying goes, everything’s bigger here, and we’re pretty sure that extends to love, too. We’re not sure if it’s the scenery or the people, but sparks fly easily all over the state, and especially during the month of February.

Port Arthur Mardi Gras04On the eve of Lent, Mardi Gras is a moment of indulgence. Food, drink, and family are at the core of Fat Tuesday. Bayou transplants in Texas and anyone else who seeks to take part in the kickoff to a new year.

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You could easily get a crick in your neck from looking up at Tom Friedman’s stainless-steel sculpture Looking Up. The 33-foot figure greets visitors to the grounds of Laguna Gloria, a splendid Italian-style villa built a century ago on the banks of the Colorado River in Austin by Clara Driscoll and her then-husband, Hal Sevier.

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