Thursday, May 30, 2019

Nine Top Steakhouses in Texas Hill Country

Nine Top Steakhouses in Texas Hill Country blog cover image

Texas and steak. Steak and Texas. They are as synonymous as Boston and lobster. Or Cajun and etouffee.

The Texas Hill Country encompasses the Edwards Plateau region where South Texas, Central Texas and West Texas intersect. The region includes cities such as San Antonio, Austin, New Braunfels, Fredericksburg, and Blanco, to name a few. The region is highly diverse, with influences from Germany, Spain, Mexico, and the cattle drivers of the Old West.

Texas is the top cattle-producing state in the U.S., going back to the mid to late nineteenth and early twentieth century cattle-driving days. Those wranglers rode all day and then sat down for a plate of what had been standing right there in front of them. The tradition continues with “steak night” in Texas served up any night of the week.

Steakhouses abound in Texas Hill Country, but let’s dare to list the top nine.

steak topped with butter, veggies, and bourbon on the rocks

1. Myron’s Prime Steakhouse in New Braunfels and San Antonio

Myron’s is a family enterprise that consistently wins culinary awards. In recent years, Myron’s has been recognized as “Best Steakhouse” by San Antonio Magazine, “Diners’ Choice” Winner by Open Table, and Wine Spectators' "Award of Excellence". As guests step into the New Braunfels location, they find themselves in a remodeled 1924 movie theater in the downtown area, with the restaurant office located in the old projection booth. The décor is intimate and ornate, complete with stamped tin ceilings. The San Antonio location is newer with modern Texas flair, a bar with outdoor seating, and a dedicated wine bar.

And then there are the steaks: Chicago prime corn-fed USDA beef. The steaks are hand-picked and dry-aged for 14 days and then wet-aged for 28 days. This process tenderizes the beef naturally and improves the natural flavor. Smaller appetites can focus on the 8oz filet or couples can share the 24oz Chateaubriand for two. Other entrees include seafood dishes, pork chops, and chicken.

salted steak sliced

2. Bohanan's Prime Steaks and Seafood in San Antonio

Located near the Riverwalk in a historic building, Chef/Owner Bohanan grills large cuts of Akaushi beef over fragrant mesquite wood. The restaurant is designated with the AAA Four Diamond rating as well as Wine Spectator’s "Best of" Award of Excellence. Guests overwhelmingly rate Bohanan’s “Excellent” with the highest stars given for atmosphere, service, and food.

peppered steak with a baked potato wrapped in foil

3. Jeffrey’s of Austin

Named one of the "Top 10 Best New Restaurants” by Bon Appétit Magazine, Jeffrey’s features a seasonal menu complete with a wide array of wines. Jeffrey’s grills their steaks over local live oak and then finishes them off under a broiler. There is a size for every appetite, from the 6oz petit filet to the 42oz Porterhouse. Diners can then choose from an eclectic assortment of sauces and toppings, such as traditional béarnaise to chimichurri.

tomahawk steak with asparagus

4. Humphrey Pete’s Restaurant in Early

This is a locally-owned restaurant operated by the Humphrey family. The focus is on the food, and they do a great job of it. Steaks are hand-rubbed with the Humphrey-family special spice and then cooked over a mesquite wood fire. Diners consistently rate the steak as top notch.

juicy steak with a loaded baked potato and sour cream

5. Branding Iron Restaurant in Kerrville

You will think you’ve been transported back to the Old West, but this rustic steakhouse has been awarded four consecutive TripAdvisor awards for "Top American Cuisine" and "Top Steakhouse" in Kerrville for 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018. Located inside the Y.O. Ranch Hotel, it is best known for its 10oz or 14oz New Orleans Ribeye steak, which is marinated in Cajun spices for 36 hours.

tower, silo, and lit up sign of the Boiler House

6. Boiler House Texas Grill & Wine Garden in San Antonio

It isn’t often guests can dine in a 130-year old boiler room but this grill and wine garden, located in the historic Pearl Brewery, is aptly named. Most of the original building and fixtures are intact, and the restaurant encompasses 6,200 square feet spread out over two levels, ready to accommodate both casual and formal affairs. Outdoor seating is also available. The beef entrees run the gamut from an 8oz Filet Mignon to a 32oz Tomahawk Ribeye for two (or one very hearty appetite).

smothered steak topped with shrimp

7. Doc’s Fish Camp & Grill in Marble Falls

So, what’s a fish camp doing on a list of the top steakhouses? It must be because they do it so well, including a large selection of steak dishes as well as combinations of seafood right beside that great steak. Doc’s is a family-friendly, casual spot, with steaks marinated in a special sauce, ready for the grill. Come for the steak and stay for the live music in the Ice Chest Bar.

a juicy steak with sauteed mushroom slices

8. Diggs Restaurant and Club in San Saba

Texans will tell you that a worthy night out involves great food, live music, and ice cold beer. Diggs will tell you they have all three and they do them all well. The ambiance may be quaint and country, but the food is top notch. Their regulars come back for the juicy mesquite-grilled steaks, as well as country, blues, or 80s music live in the bar. Service is efficient and friendly and often the subject of rave reviews.

9. 18 Oaks in San Antonio

Located in the JW Marriott Resort and Spa, 18 Oaks features locally sourced meat and produce. Local cattle ranches provide the Black Angus beef used in the restaurant. It also maintains its own 5000 square foot organic garden, producing an array of herbs and vegetables right on the hotel property. All of these fresh products form the basis of the restaurant’s exceptional meals.

Steak choices range from the 7 or 10oz Filet Mignon to the 20oz T-Bone. Or diners can feast on a 16oz classic K.C. Strip, Bone-in or Boneless Ribeye, or Coulotte steak.

When you're in Texas Hill Country, do not miss out on these excellent steaks to experience a bit of the Old West.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

7 Great Texas Hill Country Festivals

7 Great Texas Hill Country Festivals blog cover image

The Texas Hill Country, stretching from Austin to San Antonio, is rich in geological features, artistic, and musical culture. Wander down one of the timeless winding dirt roads through the Hill Country and you might just stumble onto one of the many unique and authentic festivals in the area. There are many, and these are just seven that you don’t want to miss.

country guitarists playing in a small bar

Musically, Texas has a heritage that goes back for decades and includes some very talented native singers and musicians. Traditionally, the music has been country and Western. Nowadays, the music scene has become much more progressive, especially in the Austin area. Austin has recently been deemed the live music capital of the world, and its diverse sounds have spawned music festivals with a wide variety of styles and genres:

1. If you’re looking for a wide selection of quality American-made music, then the KNBT Americana Music Jam is the festival for you. It takes place in May at Gruene Hall in New Braunfels, TX. It’s a little bit of everything - you can expect folk, rock, country, blues, and R&B.  The crowd is always lively, and the featured musicians are top notch.

2. The Kerrville Folk Festival is a songwriter’s festival with a long and storied tradition. Held at the Quiet Valley Ranch in Kerrville, TX, it lasts from May 23-June 9. It’s been happening annually since 1972 and the songwriting community at this festival is open and warm as they celebrate artistic expression and talent. There is overnight camping available, and the venue is family-friendly.

female musicians playing on stage in front of a crowd

latino artists playing for a crowd at night

The arts scene is also alive and thriving in the Texas Hill Country. Here are a couple art festivals worth checking out:

3. The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center Tejano Conjunto Festival takes place at Rosedale Park and surrounding areas in San Antonio, TX. There are several May dates at different locations. It primarily celebrates Latin heritage, with plenty of music, dancing, food, and art-related exhibits. There will be both national and international Conjunto performers.

4. The Texas Folklife Festival also takes place in San Antonio and it’s a fun one. It’s held at the UTSA HemisFair Park Campus. This festival brings people from different backgrounds together to celebrate and appreciate the many ethnicities and traditions that abound throughout the Hill Country. It’s a great educational opportunity to learn about other cultures and their backgrounds and heritages, as Texas is truly a melting pot.

dancers dressed in traditional folk clothing

Besides music and art, Texas has festivals that celebrate a little bit of everything and everyone. Here are a few more that you definitely want to check out if you get a chance to tour the Lonestar State:

5. Being in Texas, no festival tour would be complete without going back to the real Texas roots - ranching and rodeo. Travel to Bandera, the cowboy capital of the state, to experience the Bandera PRCA Pro Rodeo in May. It’s held at the Mansfield Park Arena and it’s always exciting. You’ll experience the traditional rodeo - bucking bulls, broncos, barrel racing, and calf roping, but that’s not all. There’s also a BBQ cook-off featuring some of the best in the business. Sink your teeth into something tangy and tasty as you enjoy the excitement and action of the rodeo.

6. If you’re health conscious and into wellness and awareness, there’s a festival for you too. The Wholistic Festival is held monthly in San Antonio and it’s a progressive event with people of many ideas and backgrounds focusing on healing, mindfulness, and mind and body alignment. Some of the areas of study that are offered are in tarot, astrology, reflexology, and various yoga exercises and principles. There are over 70 exhibitors who promote healthy living. You can even learn about the different healing powers of crystals, as well as various massage techniques. This festival is held at The Holiday Inn San Antonio International Airport. Best of all, you can attend any third Sunday of the month from May through December.

7. What festival tour would be complete without great food and adult beverages? Luckily, you can get these in abundance from the Tequila, Taco, and Cerveza Festival. This is actually a traveling festival that makes various stops throughout the country, but the Texas leg is surely a favorite. Bring your appetite, because as the name implies, the festival is loaded with all kinds of delicious tacos. You can buy from the many food trucks that will be on-site, and the recipes that are made from scratch feature beef, chicken, shrimp, veggies, and more. Wash it down with your choice of tequila, and there are indeed many to choose from. There an average of forty different brands that you can sample. Follow all of that with ice-cold cerveza and you’re sure to have a great time.

The Texas Hill Country is a lush and beautiful place, and it’s been attracting both visitors and locals for a long time. With its natural springs and inviting waterways, intriguing geography, and magnificent sunsets, this is certainly attractive and soothing country. It was first occupied by American Indians, then came German settlers in the 1800s, and as Texas continued to grow in both ethnic diversity and population, it became a gathering of artistic and hardworking people from all over. It embodies the Texas country and Western culture and fuses nicely with the more progressive styles that are growing out of places like Austin. Come and visit the Hill Country, and take in some of the many festivals to join in the life celebration of a unique and inspiring place.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

12 Best Swimming Holes in Texas Hill Country

Come June, the summer temperatures become almost unbearable unless you have lined up fun activities to beat the heat. One such activity is a dip in the local swimming holes. Here are the 12 best swimming holes for you to explore in the Texas Hill Country:

swimmers floating in front of the waterfall

1. Hamilton Pool – Austin

Located about 23 miles west of Austin, off Highway 71, the Hamilton Pool is the ideal summer swimming spot both for Austin residents and visitors. Adding to the esteemed view is a jade green pool with a 50-foot waterfall.

The pool was formed thousands of years ago when the dome of an underground river collapsed due to massive erosion. So besides an ideal swimming experience, you can be sure of some pretty breathtaking views.

crowds of people in the water and along the riverbank

2. Barton Springs – Zilker Park, Austin

The actual pool measures about 3.5 miles and gets its waters from underground springs. With water temperatures averaging 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit, Barton Springs is a great spot for swimming all year round.

With a record-setting up to 800,000 visitors a year, it is not much of a surprise that it has been called the crown jewel of Austin. Admission to the pool is free from November through mid-March. However, Austin residents may be required to pay a small fee of $1-$8, from March to October for entry after 8:00 a.m.

kayakers floating in the calm water

3. Guadalupe State Park – Bulverde 

Guadalupe State Park offers plenty of recreational activities, especially around the water. In addition to fishing, tubing, and canoeing, a dip into the swimming hole is what makes the experience complete.

The river is lined up with cliffs towering over 40 feet if you want to try diving. Bring your loved ones along and make some memories together.

colorful foliage mirrored in the water

4. Garner State Park – Garner

Besides the beautiful scenery at Garner State Park, it's also fun activities like swimming, dancing, and hiking that bring people back to the park. 2.9 miles of the Frio River wind through the 1,774 acres of Hill Country terrain, providing tons of things to see and do.

To take a break from the rigorous activities, rely on the Frio waters to keep you cool.

glass-like water surrounded by a rocky shore

5. Devils Waterhole – Burnet

This is a small extension of Inks Lake, which although it's surrounded by rock, provides a serene environment to make a dip – especially in the summer. The main attraction here is cliff diving. It's common to see daredevils taking the plunge into the cool waters.

6. Landa Park at Comal Springs - New Braunfels

Comal Springs in New Braunfels feels like the largest group of aquifer-fed springs in the state. Being a kid-friendly place, it is common sighting kids zooming across the zip line and dropping into the pool.

So bring the kids along for lazy tubing, climbing, and sliding experiences in the massive lagoon!

7. Colorado Bend State Park – Bend

After a day of hiking the Gorman Falls at the Colorado Bend State Park, take the Spicewood Springs trail leading to the multiple pools along the Colorado River and immerse yourself into the cool waters.

The most notable thing is that instead of one massive lagoon, there are small pools every 30 to 40 feet making congestion less of an issue.

8. Hancock Springs – Lampasas

Since this is a free-flowing pool, Hancock Springs' waters come straight from the cold artesian spring, fills the pool, and keeps flowing out the other side – right into Sulfur Creek. This keeps the waters in the pool chilly and ideal for a hot summers day.

The cool waters combined with the slight smell (usually as a result of the naturally occurring sulfur in the water) feels amazing. It is no surprise that for centuries, the pool has been believed to possess natural healing properties which are attributed to the high mineral content waters.

After a swim, you can take a walk along the grassy riverbanks to dry off.

9. Schumacher Crossing – Hunt

Located about half an hour drive from San Antonio, Schumacher Crossing is among the most popular spots in the area mainly because of its swimming hole. On weekends, it might be a bit crowded with people trying to enjoy the popular swimming spot.

The most notable thing is how this portion of the Guadalupe River remains typically clean because there are no large cities or urban areas upstream. The availability of excellent parking space explains why Schumacher Crossing has been ranked among the top ten swimming spots in the Texas Hill Country.

10. McKinney Falls – Austin

Located at the confluence of Onion Creek and Williamson, McKinney Falls offers several fun activities including hiking and swimming. Its rushing waters pour over a limestone ridge and form a lively waterfall – a spectacular view, so don't miss it.

11. Jacob’s Well – Wimberley

Northwest of Wimberley, Jacob’s Well is known to satisfy its visitors with captivating discoveries and relaxing moments. Its most notable feature is the aquifer which is actually located 140 feet below the water’s surface. Below the well is the Hill Country’s biggest underwater cave system.

12. Hippie Hollow – Austin

The fact that it is the only clothing-optional public park in Texas explains the high number of visitors throughout the year. It goes without saying that entry to the park is restricted only to those aged 18 and above. The rocky shoreline provides a spectacular view of Lake Travis.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

9 Things You Need To Do This Summer In Texas Hill Country

9 things you need to do this summer in texas hill country blog cover

The geographic setting and the historical culture embedded in the Texas Hill Country makes it one of the top tourist destinations in the entire nation. So it does not come as a surprise that over 5 million visitors are seen heading to Texas annually to enjoy some of the wonders it shares.

Come summer, the warm temperatures create an ideal setting opening up for even more fun activities. Here are 9 things you have to do this summer in the Texas Hill Country:

woman standup paddling on a kayak

1. Kayaking

The Texas Hill Country is dotted with a good number of waterways, reservoirs, and lakes perfect for paddling. Come summer, these spots become flooded with activities as visitors try to get their share of fun. After all, what’s more fun than a dip during summer’s scorching heat?

From beginner to pro, Texas Hill Country is characterized by ideal kayaking spots for everybody. Below are 4 favorite kayaking spots to hit this summer:
Acquaint yourself with the immediate surroundings of the respective kayaking spots you intend to explore so as to know the best rental companies, guides, and nearby accommodations.

youth group in inner tubes floating down a river

2. Tubing

Even with the rather unbearable summer’s heat, Texas Hill Country gives you its best vibe with multiple slow-flowing rivers for you to just float and relax in. The best part? No experience required at all… all you have to do is get in your bathing suit, grab a colorful rubber inner tube and let nature take its course by floating you around.

Well, that explains why the Texas Hill Country is one of the most recommended water recreation spots. Here are 5 favorite spots:
There’s no doubt a ton of fun activities to be enjoyed. It is, however, important you keep in mind that the Texas Hill Country expects you to adhere to the measures it has put in place to protect nature. For instance, glass and styrofoam are not allowed in waterways.

3. Historic Dance Halls

There’s a reason as to why the Texas Hill Country is described as home to some of the best jazz, rock, and rockabilly music of all time. With its legendary historic dance halls, you are bound to get a memorable experience from the music instilled atmosphere.

If you are a music fan, make sure to explore these top spots:
However, most of these spots can sometimes be crowded, especially in the peak season. Visit their respective sites to familiarize yourself with their lined up events, and book your tickets in advance.

a family enjoying a sandbar at the swimming hole

4. Swimming Holes

We all know how hot Texas can be in the summer. So, beating the heat is no arguable topic and dipping yourself in swimming holes is a great way to do that. Come summer, the temperatures add to the general warmth of these holes, but it is a cool and thus ideal experience altogether.

Some of the local favorites include:

backpackers hiking down a forested trail

5. Hiking

It is no secret that the Texas Hill Country is home to some of the best hiking trails. In summer, hiking is best done early in the morning to evade the scorching sun. If you are lucky enough, you will come across a river or swimming pool to cool off after a challenging hike. But it is always advisable that you carry with you enough water to keep you hydrated along the way.

If you are looking for a great hiking experience, we would recommend these spots:

6. Wine Tours

Ready for a romantic escapade in summer? Well, if you are in a romantic mood, the wine tours tend to provide the perfect setting. But who said it was restricted only to the couples? Whether you are single, or a couple… the stunning Texas Hill Country Wineries trail offers numerous wineries for you to explore.

Scattered all the way from Austin to Fredericksburg, and Lampasas to New Braunfels, there’s someplace new for you to explore at every turn!

7. Go Fishing

With its vast array of natural features, Texas Hill Country no doubt offers some of the best fishing spots with accompanying breathtaking views. It has numerous rivers, creeks, streams, and lakes ideal for fishing adventures.

If you love fishing, these are some of the favorite local spots:

8. Take a Wild Ride at a Theme Park

To add to the never-ending recreational activities are the numerous theme parks distributed all over the state. Challenge yourself and feel the thrill as giant coasters whisk you through the sky. In addition to the unmistakable fun, some of its parks offer lots of music and shows making the experience uniquely different altogether.

Bring your little ones along and make some memorable moments together. If you are in for a wild experience, these are some of our favorite parks:

9. BBQ

Ask any Texan and they will tell you that nothing beats barbecue in the summer. That explains the numerous barbeque joints spread throughout the Hill Country. After all, after a day full of activities, you'll have worked up a serious Texas-sized appetite.

BBQ applies to a whole lot of different kinds of slow-cooked meats spiced up with different rubs and sauces. It's an experience you should not miss. Here are some of the iconic BBQ spots worth exploring:

The Texas Hill Country is full of endless activities in the summer. This list just scratches the surface with some of our favorites.

Being a peak season, most of the recreation and fun spots might be a bit crowded. So plan ahead to ensure that you get the best out of your intended activities.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

7 Spring Activities In The Texas Hill Country

7 spring activities in Texas Hill Country blog cover image

If you think you have seen it all in the Texas Hill Country, wait till spring and experience the magical transition. With springs and rivers gurgling afresh full of life, and the alluring landscapes stroked in a variety of natural colors, there’s no better place you could wish to spend your time this spring.

The good news? There’s practically something for everyone in spring, so make sure to tag your loved ones along. Below are the 7 best spring activities to explore in the Texas Hill Country:

a yellow and black bird perched on a wooden fence post

1. Birding at Galveston FeatherFest

Over the past few years, the Texas Hill Country has been recording a gradual increase in tourist numbers who come to enjoy birding each year. This has been made possible by the fact that you can enjoy the experience all year round. But in spring, the place to get your fill is at the Galveston’s annual FeatherFest.

The Fest coincides with the spring immigration, giving you an opportunity to explore over 300 bird species as they make their way over the island. Thus birding festival includes events from all levels, ranging from beginner to pro.

Bring along your camera and join the 600+ birders and photographers who gather to capture the moment. You can also choose to attend classes such as Coastal Birding Workshop, Butterfly Study Workshop, and Raptors Uncorked! The fun is simply limitless.

the shadow of a cyclist on a dirt path cutting through the hills

2. Biking the Willow City Loop

March through May, roadways throughout Texas are usually lined up with a variety of blooming wildflowers. During this period, biking on its trails is not only breathtaking but equally exhilarating as well.

Willow City is the starting line of a 20-mile ride from where riders get to roll through hills on two wheels, as they enjoy the view of wide open bluebonnet fields. Get to explore the experience on your two wheels and enjoy the view as cows lollygag on the roadside, and cotton candy clouds drift by.

Riders are, however, advised to be on the lookout for cattle guards and low water crossings as they pedal through this picturesque landscape. Riders can stop at Harry’s at the Loop or Knot in the Loop Saloon to refuel, have refreshments, and enjoy the locally-flavored eats. If you are in for an ultimate riding experience through the alluring landscapes, make sure to explore this venue.

a large crowd gathered in the city square for a night festival

3. Attend a Festival

The onset of warm weather leaves people eager to make merry and party outdoors – and the Texas Hill Country makes sure that you get the feel of it all. Furthermore, Texas is known for its celebrations and festivities, so joining the mood only makes sense.

Bloomin’ Temple Festival is one of the most popular events in Central Texas with over 13k people reported to attend annually. Attendees get to enjoy the two-day festival (held last weekend of every April) full of musical acts, arts & craft, children activities, carnival, and family fun in historic Temple.

If you are a music fan, make sure to check in at the Old Settlers Music Festival. Located in Tilmon Texas, the festival is referred to as Central Texas’ signature of music events and features acoustic jazz, blues, local favorites, bluegrass, and award-winning artists from around the world.

Well, that is just a mention a few must-participate events. Make sure to check out the festivals and celebrations in your immediate vicinity.

4. Explore the Texas Wine and Wildflower Journey

Well, you’ve probably heard that a spring trip to the Texas Hill Country is not complete until you’ve had a taste of its rich wines. Yeah, each year, Texas Hill Country wineries welcome folks to the Texas Wine and Wildflower Journey to sip and sample their wines.

For as little as $40 (for singles) and $75 (for couples), you get to enjoy the exclusive sights and tastes offered to you by the Texas Hill Country. Your Wine and Wildflower ticket includes a full complimentary tasting at all the 44 participating wineries (with a limit of 4 per day), and a 15% discounted purchase on 3 bottle purchases at each winery.

You’ve got 17 days to explore the 44 wineries (if you take this challenge). Surely, what would be more fun this spring? Make sure to check their official webpage for more details regarding this event.

5. Take an Austin Foodie Tour on Electric Bikes

Treat yourself with a tireless tour on an e-bike with speeds up to 20 miles an hour, and get to enjoy the thrill and eats as you cruise through the city. Once you get tired of pedaling, all you have to do is twist your wrist lightly to activate the throttle – setting you back to an uninterrupted motion. Sounds fun, right?

The trips include super knowledgeable and friendly guides and advance reservations, so you don’t have to worry about waiting for food and drinks.

white and blue flowers blooming in a large field

6. Visit Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Traditionally, March is the month when flowers begin to bloom in the Texas Hill Country. So, come spring, you have all the time to explore the beauty of Texas nature and become part of it too.

Visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and get to explore over 600 species of Texas native plants. In addition to the fascinating view, guests get to enjoy other numerous outdoor activities, including a tour at the Wildflower Cave – which offers families a chance to explore all things ‘creepy and crawly’. So make sure to tag your little loved ones along for this memorable experience.

7. Go for a Horse Riding Adventure at Hill Country Equestrian Lodge

It is no secret that the Texas Country is well known for its cowboy culture. But being part of it is an insanely satisfying adventure altogether. With over 6,000 acres of Natural Area, the Hill Country Equestrian Lodge (Bandera) makes sure that your horse riding adventure remains one-of-a-life-time.

Guests can choose to bring their own horses or choose a ride from horses available at the lodge. Don’t worry, your horse will be well taken care of. All you’ve to do is feed, groom, and ride into Texas Hill Country’s sunset.

Texas Hill Country is no doubt home to limitless fun and activities. Just a reminder though, loads of visitors are bound to visit the country each spring. So to evade the challenges that come with the last minute rush, make sure that you are well prepared prior to your planned visit. Visit the official websites of the venues you want to explore and familiarize yourself with the upcoming events and book yourself a ticket early.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

5 Top-Rated Tourist Destinations In The Texas Hill Country

5 top-rated Texas Hill Country tourist destinations blog cover image

With its stunning natural scenes and unique culture, Texas Hill Country has been recognized as a major visitor destination for those seeking an adventurous escapade. Being the second largest state in the entire country, its diversity both culturally and geographically is simply impressive.

From its historical stories, natural parks, and coastal scenery, to its culture-embedded towns and cities, Texas State is by every means an all-around destination. If you are looking forward to exploring the Texas Hill Country, make sure to check out these 5 best-rated tourist destinations.

lit shops and diners along the river

1. San Antonio River Walk

The San Antonio River Walk, also known as Paseo del Rio is a city park with networked walkways along the banks of the San Antonio River. With its lined up bars, restaurants, nature, shops, public artwork, and historic missions, it is no surprise as to why it has repeatedly been top ranked as a must-visit destination in Texas Hill Country.

Explore by foot along the river’s walkway, or take a guided ride along the 15-mile urban waterway and get to enjoy the all-in-one treasure-packed San Antonio experience. Once in Downtown, you can choose to explore nearby attractions such as the King William Historic District, or shop at some of the local favorites along the river.

Just to give you a clear view of what to expect: the River Walk winds and loops below bridges in two parallel sidewalks lined with shops and restaurants, connects a series of tourist attractions such as the HemisFair Park, San Antonio Museum of Art, the Pearl, Tower Life Building, Alamo – just a mention of a few, yet with a uniquely different experience.

Admission to the San Antonio River Walk is free – which means that you have the option to spend your cash at the spots within.

the still-standing front of The Alamo

2. The Alamo

Located in San Antonio, The Alamo receives over four million visitors annually who come to see where Texas liberty began.

Most Americans are familiar with the phrase ‘Remember the Alamo’ which is used to refer to the few defenders who were slaughtered by Mexican troops in the 1836 Battle of the Alamo.

Today, the battlefield tour is taught by history interpreters who will guide you through the battle of 1836. You can still see where the original fort lied, and where Colonel Travis and Davy Crockett fought and heroically spent their last moments.

To get an in-depth tour, you can choose to attend the ‘After Hours Tour’ which allows you to see Alamo without any crowds. It is more personalized, quieter, and has a 45 minutes audio tour that will take you around to enjoy the sights of Alamo.

The guided tour is $15 per person and free for children below the age of eight. Military personnel (active/veteran) pay $10 per person.

a giraffe reaching down to eat food from a driver's hand

3. Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch

Located just north of San Antonio, the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch is designed to give you a typical African safari experience. The sanctuary has zebras, elk, and ostrich roaming through the 400 acres of land. If you are lucky enough, they may sometimes poke their heads through your open car window looking for some food.

The walk-a-bout area has a giraffe barn, Lemur Island, and other numerous opportunities for a close-up interaction with animals. In this area, some animals such as peacocks, parrots, and lemurs roam freely. You can, therefore, be guaranteed a fantastic experience even when not in the car. There’s also a designated zone for kids, the ‘Petting Barnyard’ where they can chase, feed, and cuddle baby goats and other docile furry friends.

You will need to hire a car and pay a day-long entrance fee so as to explore the Ranch. But once you are set, you can take your time through the parkland while animals such as emu, zebra, buffalo, and ostrich graze around your car – with a few of them heading to your car window for a bite. You can choose to book a one-hour guided tour with an experienced animal specialist who will point you to various animals while sharing facts about them.

calm waves on the beach

4. Padre Island National Seashore

Located just a quick drive south of Corpus Christi, Padre Island National Seashore is made up of sand dunes, grassland, beach habitats, and is home to a variety of migratory birds as well as rare sea turtles.

Because of the warm weather present all year round, its beaches are very popular with typical activities such as swimming, sunbathing, windsurfing, and fishing.

Besides a weekly entrance fee of $10 per vehicle, camping on the beach is absolutely free. In addition to normal beach activities, you can also go fishing – either in the sea or the western lagoon (but with a Texas State license). However, activities in the dunes and grassland are to some extent limited so as to protect wildlife and prevent erosion.

Padre Island is home to varied bird life such as laughing gulls, geese, sandpipers, herons, and over 300 other species. The island is also home to other wildlife such as coyotes, diamond rattlesnakes, deer and rabbits living in the ruins. The endangered sea turtles are now a common sighting, and during the egg-laying season, park rangers are seen patrolling the beaches searching for any signs of activity.

5. Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Paulo Duro Canyon State Park is the second largest canyon in The United States and is located in the Texas Panhandle near the cities of Amarillo and Canyon. Besides the geological aspect of the location, the canyons are also home to numerous fun recreational activities.

With over 30 miles of varying trails, you can explore the canyons on foot, mountain bike, horse or cars. Other activities include camping, nature study, and birdwatching. In summer, you get to enjoy performances of the Texas outdoor musical drama in the Pioneer Amphitheater present in the park. Also, make sure to mark your trip with one of the souvenirs sold at the Visitor Center.

Although they are just a glimpse into the wonders of Texas Hill Country, these destinations guarantee any individual a memorable experience. A visit to the local visitor centers will provide with even more detailed information of your preferred destination to ensure you get the best out of your trip.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

7 Best Off-Roading Spots in Texas Hill Country

7 best off-roading spots in Texas Hill Country blog cover image

Texas Hill Country might hold many adventure titles, but when it comes to off-roading, you can as well say that it has some of the best spots in the entire country.

We took our time to craft you some of the 7 best off-roading locations in Texas. Regardless of your driving experience or your vehicle, there’s always a perfect spot for you to blend in the Texas Hill Country.

ATV rider moving through shallow muddy water

1. Hidden Falls Adventure Park

Located in Central Texas, Hidden Falls has an array of exciting trails and rock formations that will make your experience a memorable one. This spot is relatively friendly to most vehicles – but of course, that cannot be compared with an experience of an ATV or a 4×4.

With about 240 miles of terrain with varying difficulty, you can be assured of a great time, regardless of your skill level. It is, however, advisable that you fuel up before your arrival as there is no fuel service in the immediate vicinity.

If it is your first time here, I would recommend that you follow a group of drivers familiar with the terrain. By so doing, you will be able to spot the tracks that match your driving skill.

Hidden Falls also provides you with ample camping area and improved RV and cabin sites - thus accommodation should not be an issue. Should you choose the RV or Cabins, purpose to reserve one on their website before you make your trip.

heavily modified XJ Jeep crawling up a steep pile of rocks

2. Katemcy Rocks

Located in Mason, Texas, Katemcy Rocks provides over 400 acres of granite with diverse terrains for all levels of four wheelers. This spot is operated by the Kruse family and Shain Chapman and has numerous trails with many obstacles – ranging from easy to extreme.

Each year, they host several open and closed events where you get a chance to challenge yourself through the hot rocks. In addition to wheeling, you get to enjoy yourself with extra fun activities such as fantastic BBQ, great food, live music, and much more.

You can always check their official website for the lined up events and contact them if interested.

modified TJ Jeep crawling up a rocky trail

3. Wolf Caves LLC

Its history dates ages ago when wolves would dwell on these lands and den in the granite caves – thus the name ‘Wolf Caves’. Like the Katemcy Rocks stated above, Wolf Caves is also a family-run operation based in Mason, Texas.

Visit this spot and get to enjoy the thrilling firsthand experience of your wheels against its famous terrain. Its 430 acres are covered with miles of trails suitable for both stock Jeeps and heavily modified vehicles. Unfortunately, they were not allowing ATV’s, UTV, or motorcycles the last time I checked.

When it comes to accommodations, Wolf Caves has primitive campsites for you to camp in. That is further supplemented by the restrooms, showers, and air-up station to make your stay an eventful one.
If you are a pro driver looking for some challenging tracks, Wolf Caves is absolutely your place.

4. Barnwell Mountain Recreation Area

Barnwell Mountain Recreation Area is located in Gilmer, Texas and has been in operation since the year 2000. With over 1,800 acres of terrain, this a perfect spot for ATV, OHV, and motorcycle enthusiasts.

Its facilities and trails were specifically constructed to cater for motorized off-road purposes. Its trail system which was developed by the volunteer TMTC membership has been mapped and rated with appropriate signage – giving you the best experience.

There’s a challenging 27+ mile long single trail specifically for dirt bike drivers. For the ATV and OTV owners, there are miles long of scenic trails and challenging trails waiting for you to explore.
The site offers both primitive campsites, cabin rentals, and RV hookups for accommodations. You are welcome to enjoy the park’s shower facilities, remote pavilions, and the dump station.

Barnwell Mountain recreation area is open from Friday to Sunday, 8 a.m. to dusk (all in exception to bad weather).

JK Jeeps moving through a mild trail

5. Trees Ranch Off-Road

Tree Ranch offers about 5,500 acres of off-road paradise loaded with some of the most scenic and challenging trails. The ranch is located in Leaky, Texas, and is primarily an exotic game ranch.
With the ranch offering everything from extreme buggy obstacles to mild creek bed trails – there’s a spot for everyone.

Over the last few years, the ranch has been busy cutting in the more than 40+ trails and grooming them. Trees Ranch is gradually transforming itself into a family-oriented ORV park with trails that meets expectations of all levels, regardless of their skill level.

They open up for drivers on Friday and on Saturday morning, all drivers assemble before promptly setting off at 9:00 a.m. Visitors are, therefore, advised to be punctual as it would be hard to find them a group past 9:00 a.m.

6. Canyons Off Road Park

Canyons Off Road Park is nestled in a small tourist town in Texas called Fredericksburg. The park offers great trails fit for almost every truck with a roll cage and has been home to popular race events including the ‘King of the Canyons’ and the ‘WERock’. The trails are, however, considered too dangerous for four-wheelers.

The park offers around 300 acres with over 25 miles trails from which you can enjoy climbing rocks, jumping hills, and splashing through creeks and waterways.

They are open from Friday 3 P.M to Sunday same time.

7. Rocky Ridge Ranch

Located in North Texas, Rocky Ridge ranch has around 650 acres of land offering wooded trails, stream crossings, steep hill climbs, and open fields.

Its varying trails are quite accommodating and can be accessed by ATVs, UTVs, motorcycles, four wheelers, and Jeeps. Camping is allowed and you can bring along any size-trailer as there’s plenty of room available.

When not off-roading, you can also decide to go fishing in the 50-acre lake in the vicinity. Rocky Ridge ranch is open from Friday to Sunday.

They also offer weekday driving, but visitors are requested to make a call at least a day before their arrival.

Texas Hill Country is extremely popular for its numerous outdoor activities, off-roading adventures included. Besides being a major tourist attraction site, the rather rugged terrain molds Texas perfectly for off-roading. If you are an off-road enthusiast, make sure to check out these spots on your next stay in the Texas Hill Country.