Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Enchanted Rock is a mystical part of Texas Hill Country

Enchanted Rock is a mystical part of Texas Hill Country blog cover image

The hidden Hill Country in Texas is full of places that look as if they are straight out of a storybook. You might have seen other hidden gems such as the Hamilton Pool which a natural watering hole in a box-like depression. There is a large waterfall that plunges into the beautiful limestone patterns and bioluminescent algae. Among gorgeous places like the Hamilton Pool, there is a place that sits on top of a rock - while the only water that is nearby are some ponds - this rock is just as mystical. Enchanted Rock located in Gillespie County is considered by locals to be one of the most mystical and beautiful landmarks. Enchanted Rock made a name for itself because of its tall pink-granite dome that overlooks a serene valley. Enchanted Rock is a great place to hike, stargaze, rock climb, geocache, study nature, and bird-watch. There is no swimming or riding bikes allowed. The park only costs $7 per person ages 13 and older. Make this landmark a stopping point, even if you are just passing through.

the reflection of Enchanted Rock in nearby waters on an overcast day


For hundreds of years, Enchanted Rock has been thought of as a place of spiritual connection. Popular among the Apache and Comanche tribes, this spot has served as a spiritual place to host a person’s innermost thoughts, emotions, and wisdom.

The steep climb up to the summit of the rock is not the easiest. There is no definitive trail up to the summit once you get to the dome rocks edge, but there are a ton of spots to stop and be at peace with yourself. Be mindful as you will probably see a lot of other people trying to find inner peace.

swirling stars of a time-lapse photo looking towards Enchanted Rock from below

Getting to the Park

Enchanted Rock is located within Enchanted Rock State Park and is very popular amongst tourists and locals. If you get to the Park through the town of Llano, you will be overwhelmed with an old-time atmosphere that will set the mood for an enchanting adventure.

Even though Enchanted Rock is within a State Park, it can reach full capacity due to limited parking. If this happens, you will be given a pass to come back later in the day. The pass will serve as a guarantee for admittance.

There are signs everywhere warning about rattlesnakes. Be vigilant! If you happen to encounter a rattlesnake, don’t panic. Rattlesnakes pick up on vibrations so back away slowly - keeping several feet of distance - and go around the snake. If there are other hikers around you, be sure to let them know of the snake’s location.

a group of hikers moving towards the summit of Enchanted Rock

Climbing the Rock

At the base of Enchanted Rock, there are many picnic tables, trees, a creek, and photo-op spots. There are also a few trails to choose from - all of which seem family-friendly. The summit trail takes around 30 minutes one way if you are physically fit and do not stop to take pictures. The trails are steep and will get your heart pumping. Once you reach the top of Enchanted Rock though, it will all be worth it. Words really can’t capture the true beauty of the summit.

slabs of granite sliding off Enchanted Rock's west face

What is at the top of Enchanted Rock?

The top of Enchanted Rock lives up to its name. The pink granite rock is mystical in itself. Add on the beautiful view, and smell of fresh, crisp air - this place is the definition of serene. The top of Enchanted Rock also has small water ecosystems that tiny shrimp live in. Please be mindful of their ecosystems and only take pictures. The summit has a lot of area so you can ensure you will be able to have a little privacy while taking in the 360-degree view.

Looking down you will see the various trails that loop around the Rock and there is also a cave down one side. Be sure to check it out. On the West Face of Enchanted Rock are slabs of granite that have broken away from the summit. This happens when the base layers of the rock push the outer layers up and they crack and slide down the face of the Rock. They look frozen in place and are truly stunning.

a trio of hikers walking down the path away from Enchanted Rock

The Descent

Locals and other tourists recommend that you stay at least to watch the sunset over the valley. If you can’t stay to watch the sunset, come in the morning to watch the sunrise. The park closes at 10:00 pm so you have the option to stay late too. It is just as steep descending as it is going up. Hiking in the dark is especially dangerous because you can’t see your surroundings. You would really need to count on your other senses like hearing. More nocturnal animals are out and other animals like coyotes use this time of day to hunt. There is a campground around Enchanted Rock, but you can’t stay on the summit itself. Any time you go hiking, you should have an emergency bag packed that includes a flashlight.

With so many places to see in the Hill Country of Texas, Enchanted Rock should be on the list. With Fredericksburg, Llano, and Luckenbach as neighboring towns, there is a lot to see and do in this area. Fredericksburg is a great destination to stay the night and head over to Enchanted Rock as soon as you awaken. It is home to German pioneer settlers and has a rich history. Fredericksburg is a real treat. The park opens at 8 am, get there early and you can avoid having to come back due to full capacity.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

15 Activities Hidden in Texas Hill Country

15 Activities Hidden in Texas Hill Country blog cover image

Hill Country, located in the Edwards Plateau on the Central to South part of Texas, is considered the most beautiful part of Texas by locals. There is endless adventure, from beautiful resorts to winding rivers and German-style cottages, this list of 15 Activities Hidden in Texas Hill Country is sure to impress you. Buckle up and be ready to engage in all the aspects that the Hill Country has to offer.

Southside BBQ sign welcoming hunters and bikers

1. Barbeque Pit-Stop

Living up to one of the stereotypes in Texas, barbeque pits are a common necessity you will see driving through this great State. When you are ready to grab a bite to eat, stop at places like Southside BBQ in Cherokee, TX. The pitmaster here smokes up high-quality cuts of meat right off the highway. Everyone recommends ending with a bite of the banana pudding!

circular herb gardens as the sun rises

2. Fredericksburg Herb Farm

The town of Fredericksburg is filled with German culture. The Fredericksburg Herb Farm is a great place to visit because not only do you get to experience a wonderful part of this town, but it also doubles as a lodge. Kick-off your shoes and stay in the German-styled cottages. This herb farm is located only a few blocks from shops and activities located in Fredericksburg. After a fun-filled day experiencing early German settlers’ culture, the herb farm has a spa for its guests to relax in.

classic Beatles records displayed on the wall

3. Visit in Comfort

Pun intended. After you leave Fredericksburg, Comfort is what you seek. The town of Comfort is quaint and offers many vineyards and distilleries. With only 2,363 people this town is truly a small-town with a slew of cozy shopping experiences. One tavern named Comfort Meet Market is operated by a husband and wife who love to engage and sit with their patrons. This tavern offers good food, live music, and an atmosphere that is described as “oldie but goodie”. Tourists enjoy all this town has to offer and really gives a feel for how it would be to live in such a comfortable place.

4. Swimming Holes

With many different swimming holes to choose from, one of the most popular options is Blue Hole Regional Park. Located in Wimberley, TX this natural swimming hole is surrounded by 126 acres of untouched forest and grass fields. This swimming hole grew its name when the Dobie family opened it to the public in the 1920’s. Since then, the Blue Hole was sold to a private Austin partnership group that limited its access. The village of Wimberley entered into an option agreement that allowed for public use. Today many individuals and families flock to this swimming hole to enjoy a day filled with sight-seeing, swimming, and outdoor fun.

swimmers preparing to jump into the deep blue well

5. Jacob’s Well

Another “cool-off” spot in the Hill Country is Jacob’s Well. Admittedly, this sounded eerie and the feeling was justified. The 30-foot deep artesian spring is located north of Wimberley and has claimed many divers’ lives. This local spot is still a hot commodity amongst tourists because of its natural wonders. Jump off the cliff into the well and walk up the natural stone path while you take in the beauty of the bioluminescent algae and limestone patterns.

looking up through the trees at the stars

6. Sharpen your Astronomy Skills

Being able to take in the vast night sky is truly a gift. If you live in a place that has a lot of light pollution, then you are going to want to stop at this Hill Country gem: the Tres Lunas Resort offers 112 acres of beautiful star-gazing opportunities. Once you have mapped the Big and Little Dippers, this resort offers a vanishing edge pool, gourmet cuisine, and Texas Zen ranch hospitality. The resort is friendly and will accommodate your needs for a spa weekend or to fill that void in you that wants to experience the Texas nights.

golden leaves behind the Lost Maples entrance

7. Lost Maples State Natural Area

Fall is arguably one of the most gorgeous times of the year. With the Bigtooth Maple trees in Lost Maples State Park, you will never see more beautiful foliage than this. Accompanied by the large Uvalde trees are rare birds that live here like the Green Kingfisher and the Black Phoebe. Be sure to acquire or bring your Texas State Park Pass. This will gain you unlimited entrances into the park.

8. Tube the Medina River

The Medina River is a wonderful place you can escape to and relax. The Medina River Company in Bandera, TX offers tube and kayak rentals as well as a shuttle service. Depending on how long you want to float, the shuttle service offers multiple drop-off zones. When you’re done, enjoy some barbeque at their on-site BBQ truck “Chicken Charlies”. The company just asks that you respect the natural surrounding and not bring styrofoam chests or glass bottles.

a multi-level waterfall surrounded by trees

9. Gorman Falls

During the wet season in Texas, the Gorman Falls must be on your list of places to see. The falls are located within Colorado Bend State Park in Bend, TX. The towering 60-foot waterfall is complimented with limestone rock just like Jacob’s Well. It is a hike up to see the falls so be sure to pack your hiking shoes and dress accordingly.

hikers on the trail below Enchanted Rock

10. Enchanted Rock

One way to end the day is to sit atop the pink granite Enchanted Rock and watch the sunset. This gorgeous and serene experience is in Enchanted Rock State Natural Area just outside of Fredericksburg. A truly magical place like this deserves to be on the list. Here, you can hike, rock climb, picnic, geocache, and study nature but no biking or swimming is allowed.

water falling quickly between tall, wet rocks

11. Hamilton Pool

The Hamilton Pool Preserve is located on a 232-acreage park in Dripping Springs, TX. This preserve is a natural swimming hole like the Blue Hole and Jacob’s Well. It also is characterized by having a waterfall that drops into the box-like pool complimented with the same limestone patterns as previously mentioned watering holes. This pool is very photogenic because it looks as though it is part of an underground cavern. Due to its popularity in between March and October, you must obtain a reservation prior to your outing.

12. Peach Pickin’

There is nothing quite like biting into a ripe, freshly-picked peach. The way the juice flows down from your hand and onto your arm as you quickly try to wipe it off your chin. In Texas, the peaches are bigger and better. Take your friends and family over to the peach capital in Stonewall, TX. Businesses like Burg’s Corner offers a variety of different peaches ranging in sweetness and sizes. Get a basket and start picking to enjoy the full experience of Texas peaches.

a geared-up visitor shaking dirt through a sifter

13. Topaz Digging

The official gemstone of Texas is Topaz and it can only be harvested from the granite hills and creek beds of Mason County. In earlier days the Topaz was easier to find but with its growing popularity, farmers need to dig deeper and understand what they’re looking for. Topaz will look like frozen water or broken glass and come in a variety of colors including blue, orange, brown, green, beige, and red. Even if you don’t find topaz, the experience of digging and collecting is enough to enjoy yourself.

14. Hideaway Horseback Riding

Another bonafide Texas resort experience is The Hideaway Ranch & Retreat located in Bluff Dale, TX. This ranch spans over 155-acres in the Hill Country and has 10 cabins scattered through the woods along with endless amenities. Enjoy a true cowboy experience and see the land on horseback. The Hideaway offers a limited amount of horseback rides every weekend at just $50 per guest. Each guest must be at least 10 years of age and there is a 240-pound limit. If you are under 18, you must have a guardian accompany you. The Hideaway will ensure your safety by guiding you on horseback and most importantly they want you to have fun!

15. Bluebonnet Browsing

To find the best places to stop and take in the beauty of Bluebonnets, it is best to ask a local. Have a bite to eat at one of the many cafes in Hill Country and put bluebonnet fields on the list. Bluebonnets start to bloom mid-March and continue through late spring. Try to find a field that hosts other native flowers to capture the true essence of a Bluebonnet field.

Adventure awaits in the Lonestar State. Don’t let its formidable reputation scare you away. There is so much beauty in this State and with different hidden gems, there is something for everyone in your family. From plunging swimming holes to the fruits of the hills and gems in the dirt, Texas Hill Country is a place serenity and absolute beauty.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

The 5 Best Horseback Riding Trails in the Texas Hill Country

The 5 Best Horseback Riding Trails in the Texas Hill Country blog cover image

Horseback riding can be both beneficial and exciting at the same time. There is an unmistakable, historical equine and human connection. People have always seemed to enjoy the child-like, long-time, on-going love affair with horses. The beautiful Texas Hill Country might be one of the best places to test the thought that somewhere buried deep in the adult subconscious is the still-longing child, looking for the chance to climb on the back of a horse and just ride.

Five stellar opportunities come to mind when exploring the possibilities for trail riding in Texas Hill Country. So, if you think a trail ride might just be your cup of tea, let’s head out to Texas and explore some of the following options:

visitors gather at the creekbed

1. Dinosaur Valley State Park

Traveling through this park, you can’t help but wonder what it was like millions of years ago when dinosaurs roamed the world. As its name implies, Dinosaur Valley is the locale of some amazing dinosaur relics. In addition, riding in this beautiful park you will find a variety of wildlife, trekking opportunities and miles and miles of unmarked trails. The Paluxy River wanders through the park carving out an incredible topography. This makes navigating the woodsy and sometimes rocky terrain well worth the trip. The park is day-use only with plenty of water available to horses. Adventures for both beginning and experienced riders are available from nearby tour suppliers who provide all the necessary equipment, including horses.

entrance to a camping area at Hill Country State Natural Area

2. Hill Country State Natural Area

Twelve miles from Bandera, this pristine area is a premier equestrian destination. It is home of 5,400 acres and 40 miles of multi-use trails and boasts of outstanding natural beauty and a variety of wildlife. Additional support for exploring on horseback, like barns, covered stalls, corrals, and water troughs are available for horses but prepare for a truly natural experience without flush toilets for riders. Accommodations, however, are available near the park for folks who want to spend the night with plenty of resources for both weary rider and horse. There is an abundance of opportunities to participate in year-round events that include family-oriented trail rides and riding competitions. If you are looking for a rustic horseback adventure, the Hill Country State Natural Area might be your choice.

green foliage on red rock landscape

3. Caprock Canyons State Park & Trailway

Wandering a little further north, along the eastern edge of the Llano Estacado, you will come upon an area that will provide a bit more challenging terrain along with a possible buffalo sighting. If you are an experienced rider looking for that sort of thing, there are plenty of prospects in this park. The vistas are breathtaking and the trails stimulating. On the trails, riders can find cliffs and sudden drops coupled with occasional steep climbs and descents. There are campsites with corrals available for horses and water for animals but, bring your own drinking water. Along with the promise of the possibility of spotting an occasional bison, explorers can participate in geocaching. Caches are hidden all over by fellow travelers who put together trinkets, surprises, and whatnots. You can choose to enjoy this treasure hunt diversion with a logbook to sign and writing tools included.

two horseback riders gallop toward the sunset

4. Dana Peak Park Trail

Looking for an uncomplicated ride? The Dana Peak Trail is a 6.8-mile trek located near Harker Heights, Texas. If you live in the area, this venue is close at hand, offering lovely views of Stillhouse Hollow Lake and a variety of terrains. Ride choices include differing trail lengths, formations, and low altitudes to accommodate both the experienced and inexperienced rider. For non-riders, there are other trail options, so be prepared to share the park with mountain bikers, hikers and runners. Visitors report that this is a popular park, especially on weekends.

a lone horseback rider kicking up dust on the trail

5. Guadalupe River State Park

Guadalupe River State Park, located within easy driving distance of both San Antonio and Austin, also offers a varied venue. There is some form of recreation for just about everyone. The cool-running Guadalupe River is a busy water-related activity area. Away from the river, however, stretches of peace and quiet provide an opportunity for serene, reflective rides. For something fun and novel, visitors can also try geocaching in this area. Riding in Guadalupe River State Park is a popular, fun and enjoyable activity for singles, couples or families.

a couple of riders making their way through a leafy green forest

Nothing feels as freeing and empowering as a romp on horseback. It’s time to make the dream come true by bringing or borrowing a horse for a day. Even the briefest encounter can be beneficial. Horses are beautiful, powerful animals somehow connected to our psyche. They are pleasing and calming in the same instant. It is no wonder folks have discovered that horseback riding is actually therapeutic. When you ride, everything seems to slow down and stress fades away. Riding is the perfect way to slip into another world in order to reflect on and improve your inner self.

Trail rides in the beautiful Texas Hill Country can be one of the most rewarding experiences of a lifetime and could possibly become a traditional event worthy of splendid memories for any individual, couple, or an entire family.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Top 5 Popular Caves to Explore in the Texas Hill Country

Top 5 Popular Caves to Explore in the Texas Hill Country blog cover image

Underground exploration looks thrilling when watching stars like Indiana Jones travel through different caverns in movies, but did you know you can explore various caves yourself?

There are several different caves waiting to be explored in the Texas Hill Country. You can undergo many different adventures to learn more about how these caves were formed and experience firsthand what life is like underground. Check out the top 5 caves in Texas Hill Country that you can see for yourself:

cave paintings lit up along a path

1. Inner Space Cavern - Georgetown, Texas

Breakdown of the Caves- These exciting caves were found back in 1963 when workers of the Texas Highway Department started building the infamous I-35 highway. After the cave was discovered, a spelunking team dove down to explore the caverns. Upon careful examination, it was decided that these caves had a lot to offer. People knew they could interest and entertain the public, so they officially opened it for public viewing in 1966.

The History Behind the Caves- Scientists later discovered that in the Ice Age era, many animals would explore around the cavern only to eventually find themselves trapped inside. There were over 40 different species’ fossils found inside of this cave. Over 10 of the species found have currently gone extinct.

Tours Offered- When visiting the caves, you have your choice between three tours. If you explore the Adventure Tour, you can safely walk down a lit cave with a clear path as the tour guide explains everything you are looking at or are about to see. If you’re searching for a tour that offers more adventure and excitement, you can head down the Hidden Passages Tour. On this tour, you can visit a trail and pathway that aren’t developed very well or lit on their own. It’s advised you carry a flashlight along this tour due to low lighting.

If neither of those tours sounds daring enough, then the Wild Cave Tour may be perfect for you. Explore the dark, deep caves as you walk through a path that is completely off the usual trail. Be sure to bring a buddy on this tour with you, as it does get a little intimidating to go through alone.

a shaded pathway leading through natural arches

2. Longhorn Cavern State Park - Burnet, Texas

Breakdown of the Caves- If you are ready to experience all the beauty that a cave and the surrounding area in the Texas Hill Country may hold, the Longhorn Cavern State Park is an excellent choice. If you’re also searching for an adventure, these caverns are perfect for that, as well. Not only is this area home to an official National Natural Landmark, but there are different tales of treasure hidden in the cave’s walls, as well as legends of lost children.

The History Behind the Caves- The cave opened up in 1938. It was once housed by the Confederates during the Civil War. This was the best place for them to live as it held the secret ingredient they needed for their gunpowder: bat droppings. Later on, these taverns were transformed into secret speakeasies during the Prohibition era.

Tours Offered- There are even more crazy tales and stories told every day during their walkable tours. Grab a flashlight and join in the fun as you listen to your guide talk about the many events that took place inside the caves.

glowing stalactites hanging down over a pool of water

3. Cascade Caverns - Boerne, Texas

Breakdown of the Caves- These caves opened to the public in the 1930s. You can roam about these wondrous caves to learn more about their stories and histories. Sometimes though, you have to experience it to believe it. This is why these caverns also offer campsites on the land.

Come visit for a day then camp out for the night as you and your family learn more about the ground the caverns were found beneath. You’ll have a blast experiencing the gorgeous Texas Hill Country in the nighttime.

Tours Offered- These caverns were temporarily closed in World War II when it was a different type of attraction called “Peep in the Deep.” The way people could view and explore the caves was a little different than what we’re used to today. Visitors would climb in buckets and ride them down to the bottom. Luckily, the cave tours offered today aren’t as risky or dangerous. They’re offered almost every day as guided flashlight tours.

various cave features lit from below

4. Cave Without a Name - Boerne, Texas

Breakdown of the Caves- These caves are just as mysterious as the name implies. There are several different rooms available known as ‘formation rooms”. Specifically, there is one room located inside called the Queen’s Throne Room. In this room, you may have the chance to celebrate the different events hosted in the room.

The History Behind the Caves- This cave was opened in 1939. The story behind its name is incredibly fascinating. The owner decided to let others take a crack at giving these caves a name. A boy took a look at the cave himself and told the owner that it was beautiful and much too exotic to even have a name. The owner loved this idea so much that he awarded the boy with a prize and declared it the Cave Without a Name.

It was discovered when people were trying to catch a goat that ended up falling into the opening of this cave. Later on, it eventually became utilized as a distillery that sold moonshine and operated as a speakeasy during the Prohibition.

Tours Offered- Explore different guided tours that will walk you through different underground passages inside the cave. These exciting tours are approximately an hour long.

5. Natural Bridge Caverns - San Antonio, Texas

Breakdown of the Caves- These caverns are incredibly exotic and gorgeous. After a giant sinkhole had caved in years ago, a giant slab of limestone fell that stretched around 60 ft wide. This can now be found hanging across the entrance of the cave.

Touring the cave isn’t the only way you can have tons of fun here. There are other rides and attractions around the caverns that you and your family can enjoy. You’ll experience entertaining games, zip lines, fossil and gem mining, or explore the maze. There are also candy stores along the way as well as a restaurant called the Cavern Cafe inside the Visitor Center.

The History Behind the Caves- It was found by a team of spelunkers from St. Mary University in 1960. These caverns are incredibly large and very popular among people all around the Texas Hill Country area.

Tours Offered- There are several different tours available to visitors. They offer tours such as the Discovery Tour, Hidden Passages Tour, and the Lantern Tour. There are different shapes formed inside of these caves that you can learn more about while on the tour as they have a deep history about them.

By taking a trip to the caves in the Texas Hill Country area, you’ll experience a wide variety of adventures with friends and family. Discover all that these caverns and caves have to offer by going on thrill-seeking tours or exploring the historic land around the caves. You’re bound to have all kinds of fun no matter which cave you choose.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

The 5 Best Texas Tourist Attractions You've Got to Visit Now

The 5 Best Texas Tourist Attractions You've Got to Visit Now blog cover image

Thinking of going on vacation either alone or with the family but aren’t quite sure where you want to visit? One destination that’s bustling with different activities for tourists to explore is located in the southern region of the United States. That’s right, the state of Texas. This is where tons of exciting adventures await you. Here are the 5 best tourist attractions you’ve got to visit now:

front door of the Alamo in the sunset

1. The Alamo - near San Antonio

If you’re a self-declared history buff, then the Alamo should be at the top of your Texas destination list. It’s an incredibly crucial historical monument that contains lots of different sites to teach you more about the significance of what took place here.

Millions of people gather around this historical area to pay tribute to the people who fought in this battle and lost their lives to the Mexican army. You’ll see buildings that have been restored. Different sections of the landmark will tell you more about the memories of the fallen soldiers and what happened there. There are different displays inside the museum with different artifacts from the battle and the weapons that were used against the Mexican army.

Several Americans, including the father of the legendary Davy Crockett, met their defeat and ultimate death while battling in this iconic fight. It was established in 1718 as a mission station, then was built more and more as the years went on to become a fort during the Texas Revolution.

Visit this attraction to learn more about this small force of people who used this landmark to build a wall in an attempt to barricade themselves in during their battle with the Mexican army.

While visiting this landmark, you’ll hear the phrase “Remember the Alamo” as this was what was cried out to the Mexicans during the fight.

aerial view of the South Padre Islands and its surrounding waters

2. South Padre Islands - south of Corpus Christi

These islands are approximately 70 miles long and are part of a conservation area inside of the state of Texas. When you visit these 130,000 acres, you’ll find all sorts of land types like beach homes, grasslands, dunes and more as you continue to venture along the beach.

If you or someone you’re traveling with think there isn’t any way you’d be able to visit the sandy beaches due to a physical disability, you, fortunately, may need to think again. These beaches are remarkably wheelchair accessible. The Malaquite Visitor Center has beach-specific wheelchairs for you to travel around in with the rest of your family or friends.

This is considered one of the most beautiful and exotic shorelines, as it provides warm waters you can swim in or instead layout on their beaches to get a nice tan. Whatever you do on the beach, be sure to take your time as you experience all the Gulf of Mexico and South Padre has to offer you.

looking down into Big Bend National Park from the canyon

3. Big Bend National Park - along the Mexico border in southwest Texas

If the wilderness and great outdoors are things you’re ready to explore, input this destination into your Maps. This incredibly gorgeous and popular vacation spot includes a giant park with a wide variety of different animals, trees and other living species. You’ll find 1,000 different plants and over 400 different types of birds flying around this beautiful area.

Wander around the park and find different trails available for hiking as well as the opportunity to boat along the water to see more of the wilderness while on land or water. This area is located in the Chihuahuan Desert and on the Rio Grande. Not only will you get to explore the wondrous park, but you’ll get to see canyons, hills, mountains and more.

If you end up loving it as much as we think you will, you'll stay a little longer. There are campsites and campgrounds available for you and your family to enjoy a night of camping out and stargazing.

4. The Houston Space Center - Houston, Texas

Do you have a child who is a huge space lover? Or maybe you’ve even claimed yourself to be a NASA nerd. No matter who is the space lover of the family, they’re sure to enjoy the Houston Space Center. This is where you can learn more about different explorations throughout space, and you can get the inside scoop on what’s happening in NASA as well as what future projects they have planned for the future.

The Johnson Space Center and Mission Control are also located here. They offer tours of both of these locations for you to learn more. Exploring the whole event takes almost a whole day. Be prepared to walk inside of replica shuttles and replica space stations as you explore more about space, the planets, and the moon.

5. Fort Worth Stockyards - Fort Worth, Texas

Get into the mind - and boots - of a cowboy by visiting the Stockyards in Fort Worth, Texas. This town began in 1866, where they began sorting, storing, and shipping out their cows to different areas around the state of Texas. This is how Fort Worth became known for its giant cattle industry.

These facilities no longer operate in many areas in the United States, so these stockyards have officially become one of a kind attraction that many line up in excitement to visit. It isn’t just cattle that gather here anymore. Instead, everyone is invited to these stockyards to watch different theatre shows, concerts, rodeos, and more. There are also various shops along the area, so you can stop and buy your very own Texan cowboy hat or boots.

Whether you’re spending your day inside or outside, you can bet you’ll have a blast on your vacation if it’s spent anywhere in Texas. You can experience a day full of learning and adventure, or a weekend to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle of life. No matter what you decide, you’re guaranteed to have a blast with family or friends in these exciting Texan hot spots.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Pedernales Falls: A Guide for Adventurers

Pedernales Falls: A Guide for Adventurers blog cover image

Pedernales Falls State Park is no secret among locals of the Texas Hill Country. The beautiful scenery of a river, rocks, and some falls make for the perfect spot. It is a 5,212-acre State Park located right in the middle of Texas, about 1 hour west of Austin. The park offers everything under the sun for nature freaks: hiking, fishing, swimming, and more. Pedernales Falls’ rich history paired with its uniqueness and versatility in what it offers continues to draw visitors from all over the country every year. There’s something for everyone at Pedernales Falls, whether you’re looking to relax or get your heart rate up. Pay a visit soon before summer vacation is over!

water running off the falls into a calm pool

Brief History

Due to mineral deposits and fossils, researchers have concluded that settlers have been moving through Pedernales, Texas ever since the prehistoric era. Massive deposits of limestone rock are scattered everywhere throughout the park and along the rapids, and this rock is believed to be prehistoric as well. Many believe that the name “Pedernales” was penned in the 16th century when the Spanish first arrived in Texas. Pedernales means flint rock in Spanish, and it refers to the flint rock that lies on top of the riverbed.

In the 19th century, American Indians often had quarrels over this part of Texas and went through a pattern of pushing each other out for most of the century. Towards the end of the 19th century, German immigrants settled down in the area and established farms and ranches. The actual land that is the State Park, however, was known as the Circle Bar Ranch for most of the 1900s. The state of Texas bought the land off of the ranch owner, Harriet Wheatley. Harriet and her husband bought the ranch after they made a fortune in the Western oil fields. The ranch was their investment of sorts. In 1970, the purchase of the land was finalized, and Pedernales Falls was officially a state park.

large rocks extending out into the river

The Park

Pedernales Falls State Park is essentially a natural playground. There are swimming holes, rocks to climb on, rapids, and even a beach. When you first arrive at the park, the entrance and parking lot is pretty straightforward, but then you’re going to be faced with a problem. But don't worry, this is a really good problem to have - there are so many options that you won’t know what to do first! You can swim in the river or bring a tube to hitch a ride on the rapids. Just be sure to check on the water safety levels on the State Park website beforehand. You can lounge on the beach, bring a picnic, read, or hammock. There is also a horse-riding trail. Unfortunately, the state park does not provide horses, so you’ll have to bring your own. Bird-watching is also a popular activity at this park since it boasts numerous species. Of course, what is a State Park without camping? Bring all your gear and enjoy camping in one of the most beautiful sites in Texas.

If you’re looking to do something a little more action-packed, you should definitely check out the rapids. Plenty of nearby trails make for great hikes, too. These trails range from beginner to advanced. The ½ mile Twin Falls Trail is more of an easy, scenic hike while the 6-mile Wolf Mountain trail is not for the faint of heart. This trail goes through the canyons of the hill country and leads to another creek where you can cool off. If you are a mountain biker, you will also have plenty to do at Pedernales Falls! You can either bike along the previously mentioned trails or try the 10-mile Juniper Ridge Trail. This trail is definitely for advanced bikers. Bring your canoes and kayaks for the river. Or, try your hand at the rapids, depending on how rough they are.

visitors on the rocks observing the white water

Safety at the Falls

Before you plan your trip, it is important that you know a few things about safety at the Falls. The rapids have been known to go from completely calm to turbulent in a matter of minutes. Check the Pedernales Falls State Park website or Twitter to double-check the conditions for the day. You can also call the ranger’s office in advance. If the waters are too rough, the park will close down for the day. Make sure you keep an eye on kids and weaker swimmers. Only let the strong swimmers in your family swim near the falls.

Safety is also relevant for the trails. Some of the hiking and biking trails feature some dangerous spots. Make sure you have a small, travel size first aid kit and be aware of what wild animals inhabit the area. Do your research and be prepared for the unexpected. This is especially important because you may not have a cell phone signal out where you’re adventuring.

water rushing over the falls on a sunny day

Getting There

Pedernales Falls is located in the middle of a three-highway triangle. You can use either Highway 281 in Johnson City, or highway 290 if you’re coming from Austin. The only way to get to the Park entrance, however, is to find your way to road 2766 or Robinson Rd. This road eventually turns into Pedernales Falls Rd. and signs will direct you to where you want to go from there.

The entrance fee or anyone 13 years and older is $6 and for children 12 years and under, it is free. If you plan on visiting the Texas State Parks often, you might want to consider purchasing an annual pass. This pass is $70 a year and can be purchased either at the ranger station or by phone.

Pedernales Falls definitely isn’t a secret among the locals. When the parking lot is full, the park rangers close the park. Save yourself the trouble and call ahead before you leave to make sure the park hasn’t reached maximum capacity. This is especially common on holidays and weekends.

Pedernales Falls is one of the most versatile state parks in Texas and the U.S. With so many things to do in one area, there is something for everyone in your family to do. Whether it is low-key and laid-back or action-packed, it is impossible to be bored at Pedernales Falls. Make sure you check the website or call ahead before you go to make sure that the conditions are safe. Other than that, enjoy this beautiful and historically rich state park.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The 5 Best Summer Festivals in Texas Hill Country

The 5 Best Summer Festivals in Texas Hill Country blog cover image

Every summer, the Texas Hill Country hosts multiple festivals that are great for the whole family. These festivals range from art to food to music, all the way to the classic style fair complete with a Ferris Wheel and games. Summer in Texas is extremely hot and can feel unbearable at times. When temperatures are at their highest, the desire to go out can feel out of the question. Although these events are outdoors, you’ll be so distracted by how exciting and fun they are that you won’t even notice the extremely hot temperatures. If you live near Austin, beat the heat this summer by taking part in the numerous summer festivals happening in the Hill Country!

Kingsland Aquaboom

At the tail end of June, you’ll want to make your way to Kingsland, TX for the annual Aquaboom festival. On June 28th, this festival kicks off with an honorary dinner for military veterans and a steak cook-off. The rest of the weekend is filled with fun activities for children, live music, an exhibition for local artists, and a beauty pageant. Admission to all events is free.

The most exciting part of the festival, however, is what takes place on the water. The Kingsland Aquaboom festival is situated right on the Colorado River, where there will be boat races and rubber duckie races.

The festival goes out with a bang on July 4th with a major firework show over the Colorado River. You won’t want to miss this exciting weekend!

On July 4th, there are over 25 events in the Texas Hill Country, and every single one of them involves a firework show. These events span from parades to pageants, from hot dog eating contests to bull rides. There will be carnivals, horseshoe contests, and music festivals. Some of the most popular ones for Hill Country locals are in detail below.

red and white billowy fireworks at night

Independence Day Celebration

The classic Independence Day Celebration upholds true Americana traditions with pride. This festival on July 4th will take place in downtown Comfort, Texas. This festival pays special homage to our brave troops fighting for our freedom at home and overseas. They celebrate our freedom with a fly-over, a historical exhibition of authentic WWII aircraft, and a parade honoring our veterans. The day ends with an authentic Texas cookout, and of course a stellar firework show.

You won’t have a problem finding something to do on July 4th in the Hill Country. It might even be fun to go from town to town and check out every event.

jockeys with colorful uniforms racing horses

Pari-Mutuel Horse Races

After all the craze of July 4th, make your way to Gillespie County Fairgrounds for the Pari-Mutuel Horse Races! From July 6-7, you can take part in this exciting annual event that is complete with horse races of all kinds, live music, and food trucks. There is also an air-conditioned restaurant and bar on the premises if you’d like to take a break from the heat.

New Braunfels Texas River Fest

This music festival takes place over the weekend of July 9th and 10th. The festival will host bands and singer-songwriters of all genres like R&B, rock, folk, and indie. Over 45 artists fill the lineup, including a few DJ’s. While the music is still pumping, you can explore a hoard of food and craft beer trucks.

What makes this festival unique is you can rent a tube and float on the Guadalupe River while you listen to your favorite bands. You can feel free to grab a drink, make sure you wear your swimsuit and float along the river for a while.

Because this festival is primarily focused on alcoholic beverages and music, mostly only adults enjoy, only patrons who are 21 and older will be admitted. Before you arrive, make sure you have your license and $25 to purchase your festival wristband.

Shark Week

If you have members of the family who look forward to the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week every year, then you definitely want to bring them to the Science Mill in Johnson City. From July 31st through August 4th, the Science Mill will have an adventurous and exciting shark exhibit in honor of Shark Week.

There will be plenty of opportunities to learn more about sharks through a 3-D film screening, a dig for baby shark teeth, and see a Megalodon jaw up close. While the kids enjoy fun lectures about all the different kind of sharks in the ocean, the adults can go relax in the Lady Bird Lane Café. This would be a great choice to get the kids out of the house and stay out of that Texas summer heat!

carnival-goers enjoying the swing ride

Gillespie County Fair

The Gillespie County Fair is the oldest continuing county fair in the state of Texas. This summer will be the 131st time this festival has opened its doors. It takes place in Fredericksburg, Texas at the end of summer, on the weekend of August 22nd-25th. This festival is a local tradition, and many people look forward to going every year before saying goodbye to summer.

Like any other Texas festival, this event features a beauty pageant, a classic carnival, food trucks, races, livestock shows, and food trucks. Multiple live music performances take the stage over the weekend. This festival definitely embraces the “old-fashioned” vibe, and you won’t be disappointed.

General admission is $10 per person, and $5 for children ages 6-12. Don’t miss out on this historical landmark of an event in Texas this summer!

Lyndon B. Johnson Birthday Celebration

One of the most unique festivals in Texas takes place on August 27th at the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park in Stonewall. The LBJ Birthday Celebration celebrates the life of President Lyndon B. Johnson. Exhibits honoring his work and accomplishments while he served in office will be on display as well as a free tour through his vacation home.

In addition to historically-themed events, there will be small activities for small children like jacks, tops, and stick horses. Families are encouraged to pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the park when you’re not touring the grounds. Admission is free.

With all the events going on in the Hill Country of Texas this summer, it’s going to be really hard to get bored. Don’t let the Texas heat stop you from bringing the whole family along to these fun and affordable summer festivals.