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Where to go, what to see in TX


caitlinsmom

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If you'll be here in March, the Houston Rodeo is a must see. You can still get tickets to the less famous acts although the biggest stars are sold out.

 

You'll also want to visit NASA. Interesting, but not once in a lifetime, activities include the zoo, art, science, health and children's museums. There's also a thriving performing arts scene so you might be able to go to the opera, ballet or a musical while you're here. The Dynamo's season has started if you like soccer. The Rockets will still be playing.

 

If you're looking for a beach, Galveston Island has a lot of decent shoreline. Just avoid the beaches on the Seawall, they're not very nice. Drive out to East Beach or past Jamaica Beach heading west for better spots. The town of Galveston has the Strand, Pleasure Pier, Moody Gardens and Schlitterbahn.

 

We'll be going to Port Aransas but this is our first trip there so I don't have a review yet.

 

 

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How long do you have? Plan on driving to take longer than you might expect due to distances. The northwest/north is basically flat and brown; but, there is the Balcones area south of Amarillo.

 

I'd head to Central Texas, to be honest. Loads of different things to do - get out in nature, museums, neat small towns, etc.; but, I'm not sure if you would have time to drive here, explore, and drive back home.

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Texas is quite the road trip from Idaho. I think San Antonio is the nicest area. It has a lovely Hispanic vibe with great food and history. Once you've driven all the way from Idaho, you might as well check out Houston and Austin. All three have very different feels.

 

If you wait until May, you could go to Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels. I just checked and half the park will be open on two weekends in March. I like the half that won't be open yet but it would still be a nice treat.

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Yes, Texas is large (link shows how large compared to other parts of the USA). http://www.texasmonthly.com/the-daily-post/how-big-is-texas-compared-to-other-land-masses/

 

So, I'd suggest picking an area that you think would interest your family members.

 

Dallas has nice shopping, zoos, museums, art, Bush Presidential library - stuff like that. 

 

San Antonio has nice museums, the Alamo (does anyone outside of TX care about that though?), the Riverwalk, unique shopping.

 

Houston has shopping, a lovely zoo, nice museums (probably not as many art museums as Dallas though), science museums, Holocaust museum, NASA, a top rated Children's Museum, and is still close enough to Galveston for a day trip down there (the beaches aren't what you are expecting though!).  

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Yes, Texas is large (link shows how large compared to other parts of the USA). http://www.texasmonthly.com/the-daily-post/how-big-is-texas-compared-to-other-land-masses/

 

So, I'd suggest picking an area that you think would interest your family members.

 

Dallas has nice shopping, zoos, museums, art, Bush Presidential library - stuff like that.

 

San Antonio has nice museums, the Alamo (does anyone outside of TX care about that though?), the Riverwalk, unique shopping.

 

Houston has shopping, a lovely zoo, nice museums (probably not as many art museums as Dallas though), science museums, Holocaust museum, NASA, a top rated Children's Museum, and is still close enough to Galveston for a day trip down there (the beaches aren't what you are expecting though!).

Hey,that link is pretty neat! :D

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Realize that Texas is about the size of France, with L-O-N-G stretches of nothingness.

YES! It is HUGE.

 

We in Texas, planning on visiting friends in OK, who called to cancel due to illness. We decided to go to the Alamo - until we found out that it was just as far away as Chicago!

 

So you need to figure out a region...

 

Emily

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Perot museum in Dallas

foodie trucks, painted murals, and hipster kitsch stores in Austin

San Antonio: missions (do all of them, not just the Alamo which is rather over-hyped), Riverwalk (it's a spring filled concrete ditch with some expensive restaurants and a few shops around it, but the boat tour is fun), Japanese Tea Garden, and Natural Caverns.  El Mercado and eating at La Tierra is an obligatory tourist trap--but it's safe and clean and fun taste of the Mexican influence in San Antonio

Malaquite Beach in the Padre National Park--over a bridge from Corpus Christi if you want to do a beach

 

It's still rather cold and windy to hang out long at the beach. We were in Port Aransas over Christmas when it was in the high 60s---we had a bonfire going & blankets for the kids--and it was still cold enough that we came away with red drippy noses. The wind coming off the ocean is STRONG and cold.  It's definitely fun for kites or shelling but not for being in the water.  The gulf coast beaches in TX are not pristine. When we went shelling, we found 4 pieces of plastic trash (ballpoint pins, nitrile gloves from the oil workers, etc.) for every decent shell.  

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One last point...if you are driving in from Idaho, assuming you are coming in through I-15....watch your gas stations in between Albuquerque and Midland...there aren't a lot of places to fill up on gas. If you get caught on the road behind an accident, it's super easy to run out of gas. Happened to a friend over Christmas.

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the Alamo (does anyone outside of TX care about that though?),

 

Yes.  The Alamo, along with the other Missions, has World Heritage status now.  Many, many people from in and out of the US come to San Antonio to visit the Alamo.

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Um, just to throw this out there, but if you are just looking for sun, Southern CA is most likely a shorter drive than TX. Just saying.... :laugh:

 

ETA: Yep, just checked from several cities in ID and it's about 900 miles to disneyland area (the OC, tons to do, you don't have to do disney) and 1600 miles to Houston!

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Okay...I am FROM Idaho and now live in central Texas. If you are driving there are a million things better to see along the way. Unless you are specifically looking for something in Texas, I have to ask why?!

There are specific things we love and would recommend, but they are all in opposite directions. When you hit Texas it is like 10 hours of slow boring driving with no real bathroom, food, or gas stops. Seriously. We are always planning on vacations and rarely go without flying just because it takes so.stinking.long to get out of Texas!

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My dd just moved to ft worth (seriously - she's arriving for residency as opposed to visits regarding the move - today.  they get keys to their apartment next week.)

I got them unexpected texas . .  it has all sorts of off-the-beaten-track things in the greater dallas-ft worth area.  loved the stock drive through ft worth  . . .

if you follow the "if you liked this you might like . . . ." links, you might find some good ideas.  I was limiting myself to what I was buying, but they had all kinds of information for all over texas.

 

eta: they were going to do some very short hikes (very limited time) at arches yesterday

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If it were me and I wanted to visit Texas, I'd work my way down the I-35 corridor. There are things to do and see in other parts of Texas, but the distances are just too far in between the interesting bits. 

 

If you stay on I-35 to San Antonio, I think you'd have a great trip. If you really wanted to go all out, turn east in San Antonio and add Houston. 

 

But with I-35, you can stop in Dallas/Ft Worth (the Stockyards, maybe, and the Amon Carter Museum. If there are Cowboy fans in the family, visit the Stadium

 

Hmmm, I can't think of much else. I mean there's lots -- DFW is a very family-friendly area -- but I can't think of a lot that's vacation-worthy. Oh wait -- what's the name of that FOSSIL RIM drive-through zoo west of Ft Worth with zebras and such? That's really cool but kind of out of the way.

 

Then to Waco. Waco is a gem of a small city. Visit the Texas Rangers museum (lots of guns if you have folks into that) and the Cameron Park Zoo (SUCH a nice small zoo). And then Baylor, and especially the Natural History museum which is now a National Monument because of the mammoths. And the Discovery Center. With the ages of your kids, the Discovery Center and the Zoo would be hits! (I haven't been able to visit in years, but I love Ninfa's downtown for eating out. I hope it's still good -- I plan to find out when we visit in June!)

 

Oh, the Dr. Pepper museum is in Waco too and it's interesting.

 

ETA: Oh, Homestead Heritage also! And picnic outside the zoo at Cameron Park along the river.

 

Then down to Austin. TBH, I don't know much about Austin. :-) But it's supposed to be a foodie's delight and also of course famous for its indie music scene. I'm sure there are other great things to do there too!

 

Then down to SA. Sea World is open Thursday to Sunday in March and April, plus everyday during spring break, whenever that is. Alamo, Riverwalk, great city.

 

(I'd probably detour off 35 in Oklahoma to go to Woolaroc in Bartlesville, and depending on your interest in museums, visit the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa or the Cowboy Museum in OKC. OKC also has a really great science museum.)

 

Have fun!

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Um, just to throw this out there, but if you are just looking for sun, Southern CA is most likely a shorter drive than TX. Just saying.... :laugh:

 

ETA: Yep, just checked from several cities in ID and it's about 900 miles to disneyland area (the OC, tons to do, you don't have to do disney) and 1600 miles to Houston!

 

dd is driving through west texas today.  dh has made a few . . . . comments. . . . about what there is (not) to see.  a pilot friend made comments about flying over west texas ... and about there is (not) to see.

 

I liked the guy in NYC who was asked how he grew such nice cacti.  "I subscribe to a west texas newspaper.  when it rains, I water them."

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Um, just to throw this out there, but if you are just looking for sun, Southern CA is most likely a shorter drive than TX. Just saying.... :laugh:

 

ETA: Yep, just checked from several cities in ID and it's about 900 miles to disneyland area (the OC, tons to do, you don't have to do disney) and 1600 miles to Houston!

 

go a little further south - san diego is really nice - especially this time of year.

you have the zoo, the wild animal park, sea world, beaches, balboa park.  really nice.

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One last point...if you are driving in from Idaho, assuming you are coming in through I-15....watch your gas stations in between Albuquerque and Midland...there aren't a lot of places to fill up on gas. If you get caught on the road behind an accident, it's super easy to run out of gas. Happened to a friend over Christmas.

Yes to this.  I tried to never get lower than a third of a tank when we lived out there.  I was really paranoid and carried water and a fire extinguisher as well.  Everything is just so far apart.  

 

My friends just did the Perot Museum in Dallas and they loved it.  Its on our list for this summer sometime. My kids are wanting to go to Dinosaur Valley State Park to see the tracks.  Depending on how late in the month and how early spring is, you might check out the Bluebonnet Trails.  Also, you could go to Waco and visit "Chip and Joanna".  We're big Fixer-Upper fans at our house and going to Magnolia is on my bucket list for the year.  

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Dallas has the Book Depository, which is the site from which Lee Harvey Oswald shot and killed President Kennedy.  I found that to be a fascinating place.

 

And if you are a Christian, the Biblical Arts Museum in Dallas is also an enjoyable stop.

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Yes to this.  I tried to never get lower than a third of a tank when we lived out there.  I was really paranoid and carried water and a fire extinguisher as well.  Everything is just so far apart.  

 

My friends just did the Perot Museum in Dallas and they loved it.  Its on our list for this summer sometime. My kids are wanting to go to Dinosaur Valley State Park to see the tracks.  Depending on how late in the month and how early spring is, you might check out the Bluebonnet Trails.  Also, you could go to Waco and visit "Chip and Joanna".  We're big Fixer-Upper fans at our house and going to Magnolia is on my bucket list for the year.  

 

and in ft worth area - there are the texas flip and flops. they move the scheduled-for-demolition-houses (structures) they flip, then sell them at auction (land not included).  I watched it only because it's in fw - but dudeling really likes the two sisters.  definitley has some entertainment value.

 

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Honestly, unless you have oodles of time, I'd plan on staying in the north or (depending on your route) west part of TX. I wouldn't try for Houston, Austin, S.A., etc and the DFW area is probably a stretch. Believe us when we say that there is a lot of driving with a whole lot of nothing to get from the panhandle to DFW, to say nothing of Austin, etc.

 

Maybe El Paso and that area of New Mexico might not be bad to explore.

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Thank you for the recommendations! We are lifelong West Coasters. We've done CA, OR, WA, UT, CO, AZ, and NM enough that it's more like home than a vacation. I have friends and family in TX that we've never visited (Spring, New Braunfels, Houston, and Dallas areas). Of course they all want us to visit and make their place sound the very best :). I drive to West Texas one time when dh was stationed at Ft Bliss. The drive was gorgeous but El Paso was a major let down.

I'm not sure our route yet but we will avoid that entire area!

 

I'll check out all the places mentioned but I'm thinking well head toward New Braunfels that way we can access San Antonio and Austin.

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I was born in Rockport, which is near Corpus Christi.  Almost as far away from Idaho as you can get in Texas but I'm still partial :)  when I lived there the USS Lexington (an aircraft carrier) was parked in Corpus, which was really cool.  

 

Also Austin used to be really wonderful; I think it has grown rather a lot and is kind of full of highways and people now, though.

 

If you make the drive and take some of the smaller highways (not the interstates) be sure to stop at some of the historical markers; I loved those as a kid.

 

I lived in Houston too but can't recommend anything except NASA.

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when do the texas blue bonnets start blooming? and do they have prefered areas for where they grow? better places to see them than others? dd is in FW.

They're already blooming here. They will probably start up north soon, if they haven't already.

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Instead of traveling down the I-35 corridor (which is very congested, all the way from DFW to SA), I'd travel down US-281.

 

Johnson City has the President Johnson homestead national historic site. You can tour the Texas White House.

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In the hill country, San Antonio area, we enjoyed

Limestone caverns. We visited Natural Bridge, but there are others. Spectacular.

Bat caves, you visit at dusk and see tens of millions of bats

If you have time and $$$, dude ranch. There are a number of smaller rodeos there if you miss the Houston one.

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I was born in Rockport, which is near Corpus Christi.  Almost as far away from Idaho as you can get in Texas but I'm still partial :)  when I lived there the USS Lexington (an aircraft carrier) was parked in Corpus, which was really cool.  

 

Also Austin used to be really wonderful; I think it has grown rather a lot and is kind of full of highways and people now, though.

 

If you make the drive and take some of the smaller highways (not the interstates) be sure to stop at some of the historical markers; I loved those as a kid.

 

I lived in Houston too but can't recommend anything except NASA.

We live in Portland TX and I LOVE LOVE LOVE Rockport. Coolest little town with awesome beach. We love watching the dolphins and fishing and bike riding there. 

 

Quick shout out to south Texas- So many beaches and cool towns to visit if you want to take a REALLY long drive. The national seashore, Padre Island, Rockport, Port Aransas, Corpus Christi...... ferry rides, cool restaurants, USS Lexington, Schlitterbahn waterpark, tons of beaches, dolphins, aquariums, fishing.......

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Thank you for the recommendations! We are lifelong West Coasters. We've done CA, OR, WA, UT, CO, AZ, and NM enough that it's more like home than a vacation. I have friends and family in TX that we've never visited (Spring, New Braunfels, Houston, and Dallas areas). Of course they all want us to visit and make their place sound the very best :). I drive to West Texas one time when dh was stationed at Ft Bliss. The drive was gorgeous but El Paso was a major let down.

I'm not sure our route yet but we will avoid that entire area!

 

I'll check out all the places mentioned but I'm thinking well head toward New Braunfels that way we can access San Antonio and Austin.

 

Kinsa's right. 281 is a prettier and easier drive than IH-35. There is construction on IH-35 from Hillsborough to south of Temple and probably some more construction south of Austin. The Gruene/New Braunfels area is very nice and a good staging point for various day trips. Just plan on being in the car longer than you think, especially as you make your way south from the panhandle. Pay attention to gas stations - top up your tank even if you don't think you need to.

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