Written by Texas Highways
I’ve spent much of my adult life in search of the best places in Texas to do little or nothing — getaways, hideaways, well-appointed holes in which to hide — weekend respites from city demands. I’ve found splendid, funky, ridiculous, and sublime reasons to go away, stay away, stretch a weekend beyond all reasonable bounds. Here are a few of my favorites.
Many travelers will spend thousands of dollars for a ticket to the Mediterranean to discover historic architecture, splash in blue waters, dine on amazing food, and gaze upon heart-stopping views. Little do they know that East Texas holds its own Athenian adventure, where travelers can do all of these things and more without the expensive plane ticket.
Bucked off a bronc and knocked unconscious, Florence Hughes Randolph lay on a stretcher at the 1929 San Antonio Rodeo. Suddenly coming to, she jumped back on the horse. “It’s all in the game,” said the four-foot-six athlete after completing her ride on the “hurricane deck,” rodeo lingo for the back of a bucking bronc.
As our ferryboat approach-es the landing, three dolphins suddenly surface just beyond the jetty. I declare it a positive omen, and my wife smiles. Meanwhile, cormorants and seagulls gawk from their perches atop nearby pilings. Passengers return to parked vehicles from sightseeing on deck, and the crew prepares for mooring. Behind us, where we boarded approximately three miles and 30 minutes ago, lies our home away from home, Galveston Island; ahead, a place we haven’t visited in over a decade, Bolivar Peninsula.
I grew up on homemade chicken pot pie and made it regularly for my three kids, so when I heard how folks rave about the dish at Trailblazer Grille restaurant in Burnet, I had to go taste one for myself.
It’s a typical Saturday in Fort Worth, a weekly day of celebration among craft beer fans. The popular small breweries in town are open for tastings and tours, complete with music, games, food, and frivolity.
Horse racing was “the NFL of colonial times,” we’re told at the start of our visit to the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum in Amarillo, therein commencing the story of a horse breed that’s intertwined with Texas history and culture. The sleek two-story museum celebrates the quarter horse and chronicles its history with exhibits that straddle the worlds of equine enthusiasts and the rest of us.
A few years ago, I took a canoe trip on the Rio Grande through Big Bend National Park’s Santa Elena Canyon. Our group camped overnight at the mouth of the canyon, and in the morning, one of the guides called everyone over to see a tarantula as big as my hand.
It’s safe to say that an elegant, 19th-Century mansion was not what I was expecting to see as I drove down a breezy bay-front road in Rockport. But there it was, on the same street as low-slung souvenir shops, seafood restaurants, and coastal cottage homes: a four-story, Victorian structure with sand-colored walls, dark mocha trim, and a steep mansard roof. The grand edifice looked a bit out of place among the swaying palm trees and coastal live oaks along Fulton Beach Road.
On the two-hour drive from Austin to the Barefoot Ski Ranch in Waco, I’ve been chattering away about my teenage summer-camp waterskiing skills. I’m looking forward to seeing if I’ve still got the chops all these years later.