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.