Written by Lori Moffatt
One of the hottest trends in tourism right now is the idea of experiential travel. Instead of taking a tour of an artist’s studio, for example, you might want to take a painting lesson.
Engineer-turned-wine-maker Raymond Haak and his wife, Gladys, didn’t intend to stir up controversy when they started making Texas Madeira at their winery in Galveston County.
In recent years, the town of San Saba—some 100 miles northwest of Austin—has reinvented itself as a tourist destination, complete with shops, restaurants, a B&B, pastoral scenery, and the award-winning Wedding Oak Winery, which opened in 2012 in a historic building downtown.
As chickens chortle in the background and the raspy buzz of a distant tractor mirrors the clackety-clack-clack of happy cicadas in the surrounding oak trees, I lean in closer to try to comprehend what I’m hearing: That plants can communicate with each other. I’m here at Travaasa, a resort and spa about a half-hour from downtown Austin, and I’m touring the 3 ½-acre farm near the equine stables with Farm Manager Kim Grabosky, who clearly loves her work here.
My horse Annie, a 16-year-old chestnut mare with soulful eyes and long lashes, relaxes her ears and ambles calmly toward me in the round pen, then breaks out in a yawn so wide I think she might be laughing at me. But things aren’t always as they seem. Wrangler Jodie James tips back his hat and looks upon us with a glimmer of pride. “That’s just about the biggest compliment a horse can pay a person,” he tells me in a calm drawl. Say what?
The fun is in the anticipation, say some, in the moments before you take the plunge, eyes wide open. Others praise the adrenaline rush and elements of surprise that make you feel unmistakably alive. I love all of it, but also the euphoric moments afterwards, when I can’t wait to repeat the experience.
The restaurant scene in Texas is as hot as a two-dollar pistol, with new eateries and bars throughout the state upping the ante each time they roll out a fanciful new menu item.
Now that the dust has settled from the 4th annual Austin Food & Wine Festival, which took place at Auditorium Shores and Republic of Texas Park in late April, I’m thinking about all the things I learned and how to apply them to my everyday life.
Around lunchtime on Galveston Island, there are few places I’d rather be than bellied up to the long, communal table at Maceo’s Spice & Import Company, elbow-to-elbow with amiable strangers, waiting for my muffaletta sandwich to come out of the kitchen.
Lori Moffatt speaks with restaurateur Carmelo Mauro, whose Carmelo’s restaurant in the capital city dates to 1985, about his career path, life in Texas, and what inspired him to bring an accordionist into the fold.
For travelers seeking a combination of outdoors fun and big-city attractions, Fort Worth may be the ultimate getaway.