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Written by Lois Rodriguez

Part of the state's official herd, 90 bison roam the range at Caprock Canyons State Park.

Bison graze just beyond the main road as we enter Caprock Canyons State Park northeast of Lubbock. They loom large, dark, and shaggy against the tawny open range on a late-September afternoon. It looks like a scene out of the Old West.

Grant Giles herds goats through a gate on Hillingdon Ranch.

We both grew up on ranches, separated by time and distance, but bound by common experience. Life on the land teaches you many lessons, including that behind every ranch gate, there’s a story to be told. In Hillingdon Ranch: Four Seasons, Six Generations, we tell the story of the Giles family. It’s a story of history, family, adversity, and triumph; of perseverance, ingenuity, and the ability to change with the times.

In Fort Worth, savvy planners, designers, engineers, and others have stitched together new development, reinvented neighborhoods, and a refurbished city core into an architectural fabric that stretches back more than a century.

The craft-beer craze has officially taken Texas by storm, with more than 70 breweries and brewpubs now adding variety to the landscape. In June 2013, Governor Perry signed legislation that enabled craft breweries to sell their beers on premises, fostering both economic growth and competition in an industry estimated by the Texas Craft Brewers Guild to have contributed more than $600 million to the state’s economy. That’s a lot of barley pop, folks!

Visitors to McAllen have a wide array of activities to choose from—including birding at Quinta Mazatlan, a 1930s adobe home where more than 150 species of birds have been documented; checking out the art scene developing on Main Street; and exploring the city’s 17th Street Entertainment District, where restaurants, nightclubs, and even a restored 1940s theater generate excitement.

Mardi Gras—“Fat Tuesday” in French, celebrates the final day of indulgence before Lent. In the United States, the most famous Mardi Gras fetes occur in New Orleans, but many Texas towns and cities get into the Mardi Gras spirit, as well–especially in Southeast Texas, where influences from Louisiana abound.

One of Texas’ most popular parks, Garner State Park enchants visitors with its dramatic scenery on the southwestern edge of the Edwards Plateau—high mesas, steep canyons, and hilltop vistas.

Lockhart

Named by the 76th Texas Legislature in 1999 as the Barbecue Capital of Texas, the Central Texas town of Lockhart lives up to the honor with some of the best-regarded ’cue joints in the state.

Some 90 miles west of Fort Worth, Possum Kingdom Lake sparkles along the upper reaches of the Brazos River.

If I were to dream up the perfect kingdom, it would be a land of flowing rivers, abundant vineyards, smoky barbecue, and maybe even some gold. I searched for all of this and more on a recent day trip to the Texas Hill Country and the aptly named town of Kingsland.

In the Fort Worth Cultural District, fans of culture, art, and history will find plenty to keep them busy year-round. Here are some upcoming exhibitions to consider on your next trip:

Marsden Hartley Fishermen’s Last Supper, Nova Scotia, 1940-41, Oil on hardboard. Collection Friends of the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, State University of New York, gift from the estate of Roy R. Neuberger

Photo courtesy of McKinney Convention and Visitors BureauWe explore McKinney’s Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Center in our March issue, but there’s a lot more to do in this fast-growing city besides explore nature. Shopping, for one: In McKinney’s historic downtown area, a roughly 10-square-block area surrounding the Collin County Courthouse, dozens of locally owned retailers offer jewelry, cosmetics, gifts, clothing, antiques, hats, and artwork.

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