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Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay: Palacios

Whether you like fishing or admiring the spectacular sky, activities abound at the town’s attractive pavilion and pier.

I’ve long been a fan of small-town Fourth of July celebrations. There’s a sense of community and camaraderie, plus plenty of elbow room. Food and music reflect local tastes and customs. Parking is usually plentiful and free—not a small consideration to us big-city dwellers.

Independence Day in Palacios—a laid-back town of 5,000 on Tres Palacios Bay, halfway between Corpus Christi and Galveston—has all these qualities. The day’s events unfold in the morning in East Bay Park, starting with a reenactment of French explorer René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle’s landing nearby in 1685. Costumed townspeople play the roles of La Salle, his crew, French colonists, and Karankawa Indians.

Following the reenactment, mouthwatering aromas fill the air as vendors prepare fajitas, tacos, and barbecue for lunch, and families fire up grills at picnic sites on the grassy verge along the water-front. Children’s squeals ring out from carnival rides, and cyclists pedal leisurely along the bayside sidewalk. Laughing gulls cackle overhead, and an egret cruises low along the shoreline. After lunch, bingo games get underway, and a breeze from the bay takes the edge off the heat. Throughout the day, a helicopter ferries people on short rides. When the time approaches for fireworks, carefree conversations in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese mingle in the dark.

Essentials

Palacios is in southwestern Matagorda County, on Texas 35, 28 miles from Bay City, the county seat, and about halfway between Corpus Christi and Galveston. Write to the Palacios Chamber of Commerce, 420 Main St., 77465; 800/611-4567; www.palacioschamber.com. Chamber hours: Mon-Fri 8-5. For area information, check out www.dayonthebayservices.comThe area code is 361.

Events and activities

The Palacios Lions Club will stage its 56th annual July 4 celebration on Monday, July 4, 2005. Contact the chamber of commerce for details about this and other events.

The Tres Palacios Loop of the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail has 10 sites where you can see huge numbers of waterfowl and shorebirds. The Tres Palacios Loop is on the Central Texas Coast map; pick one up at the chamber, or learn about all 3 birding-trail maps at www.tpwd.state.tx.us/birdingtrails.

Pick up a free guide to Palacios’ murals and historical markers at the Palacios Area Fund office, 458 Commerce; 972-3960. The sea-birds murals are at the Pier Drive Inn, 208 1st; 972-3284.

Palacios has two 400-foot lighted fishing piers that never close. Contact the chamber for information about fishing guides and kayak and canoe rentals.

Lagasse Marine Ways is at Turning Basin #1; 972-6060.

Lodging

Palacios has 22 fully furnished, rentable vacation houses. See a link to all of them, with photos, at the chamber Web site.

Luther Hotel, 408 S. Bay Blvd.; 972-2312.

Main Inn, 208 Main St.; 972-3408 or 888/972-3408; www.matagordalodging.com.

Moonlight Bay B&B, 506 S. Bay Blvd.; 972-2232 or 877/461-7070; www.moonlightbaybb.com.

Dining

Outrigger Restaurant, 515 Commerce; 972-1479; www.outriggerrestaurant.com.

Palacios Mexican Restaurant, 511 Main; 972-2766.

La Salle Odyssey

The Palacios Area Historical Association Museum, at 416 Commerce (972-3960), joins 6 other Texas Gulf Coast museums in telling a different part of the La Salle story. (The other participating museums are in Corpus Christi, Edna, Bay City, Port Lavaca, Rockport, and Victoria.) A 75-minute CD telling La Salle’s story is available for $14 at any of the museums. To order, send an email to the Palacios Area Fund, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

From the July 2005 issue.

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