I’ve been all over the world but I had never been to Texas (changing planes in the airport doesn’t really count). Earlier this year we decided that Texas was too big of a state to be ignored and we took the family on vacation. We were ready for an adventure – to visit some of my husband’s family and to see some of the many sites that make Texas famous.
I’ve gathered up some of our favorite memories from our trip and want to share my list of 10+ things to see and do in Texas. Maybe, like us, you’ve never been and you’ll see what you’ve been missing. Or maybe these photos will bring back memories of your own travels through the lone star state. It was sure worth the trip from Virginia!
1. Good ole American nostalgia – The Dr. Pepper Museum.
I thought I’d throw an unexpected one out first. We had no idea we’d be stopping in to visit the home of America’s oldest soft drink brand. I was drawn in by the 100+ year old building in the old manufacturing district of Waco. We learned about how a young pharmacist invented this drink and served it at the old corner drug store.
Now and then – over a century ago.
Speaking of days gone by, I stopped to take a picture of this 1960’s era sign in Waco. Kim’s Hamburgers continues the tradition of old Texas diners.
2. San Antonio River Walk
Paseo del Rio, also known as the River Walk, is a beautiful destination I heard about many times. The cypress tree-lined walkways follow along the San Antonio River. You’ll find many shops and restaurants along the way through downtown San Antonio. It happened to be SO cold the evening we were there, but I can imagine how beautiful it would be in the spring and summer!
3. San Fernando Cathedral
The San Fernando Cathedral played a role in the 1836 siege of the Alamo (it is 800 yards away). The cathedral was founded in 1731, and is the oldest continuous religious community in the state of Texas. The impressive stained glass windows were added in 1920. Pope John Paul II visited the cathedral in 1987.
We stopped to notice the cool air plants in the trees – so amazing how they grow without soil. Not something we see back home in the cooler state of VA.
Definitely a fun day outdoors – although when we were visiting there happened to be a rare “arctic blast” passing through Texas! The kids enjoyed the roller coasters and we all enjoyed the dolphin and killer whale shows.
We were taken in by two fantastic sea-life sculptures on exhibit at the the park – both made from plastic marine debris! The Washed Ashore Project is a non-profit organization that teaches environmental issues through art. 90% of the debris collected from the beaches by staff and volunteers are petroleum-based plastic. 98% of this trash is then used to create marine-life sculptures. Over the past 4 years, over 12 tons of debris has been collected and more than 45 sculptures have been created.
5. The Alamo
The Alamo was originally known as Mission San Antonio de Valero and founded in 1718. The Battle of the Alamo (1836) played a pivotal role in the Texas Revolution – the fight for Texas’ independence from Mexico. The popular battle cry, “Remember the Alamo!” was used by Sam Houston when he defeated Gen. Santa Anna a few weeks later at San Jancinto, winning independence for Texas.
5. The Five Spanish Missions of San Antonio
Visiting the individual missions brought back memories of our time living in the Monterey Bay, CA area. The Old Spanish Missions of San Antonio date back to the 18th century, and were established as an outreach of the Spanish government and the Catholic church. Four of five are still active Catholic parishes.
Mission Concepcion (1731)
Mission San Jose (1720)
Living quarters for the Native American Indians – with kiln.
Mission Espada (1731)
6. South Congress (SoCo), Austin
South Congress Ave. in Austin is a happening, eclectic strip of restaurants and shops. Diane Cook, a mixed media jewelry artist (who loves vintage finds and who is a contributor to my book), had mentioned the shop Uncommon Objects many times over the years and I knew that if I ever made it to TX, I’d have to find this shop! Uncommon Objects is even listed as a source in The Missing Link, as Diane found the gorgeous art deco brooch focal for her “Green with Infinity” necklace in this shop. I could have stayed in the shop for hours – it was packed with all sorts of treasures – more than I could have imagined. I really liked how the items in the shop were grouped by color – so there were whole sections of blue, pink, red….
We stopped in the landmark shop – Allen’s Boots. I felt like I just couldn’t leave TX without stopping by this massive boot-lovers shop. I can’t believe I made it out without splurging on a pair!
7. Space Center Houston
We traveled on to Houston to visit my husband’s sister and her family. Space Center Houston was a must-see while in TX. We’re not the only ones – the center recently reached it’s 17th millionth visitor milestone.
8. Kemah Boardwalk
The Kemah Boardwalk, along the shores of Galveston Bay and Clear Lake, is just about 30 miles from Houston. Even though it was chilly, the 60-acre boardwalk was a great destination for the 6 cousins to get out and about and have fun. They rode the wooden roller coaster, double decker carousel and battled the fierce winds of the hurricane simulator.
Have you ever seen a 28-foot double decker carousel?
My husband with Melanie, one of his six sisters.
9. Fredericksburg, The Texas Hill Country
We were advised to take the scenic drive to “Texas hill country” by several people. We were glad we stopped by Fredericksburg, a town founded in 1846 by German immigrants. It was the warmest afternoon we had during our TX trip – perfect for a stroll along main street. Our 36th president, Lyndon B. Johnson and naval Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz are both originally from Fredericksburg.
Once my husband discovered the National Museum of the Pacific War, it was the last I saw of him for the afternoon. As a fellow graduate of the Naval Academy, he is incredibly interested in Admiral Nimitz and his museum, recognizing him as Commander in Chief, United States Pacific Fleet during World War II.
I know there is so much more to see and do in Texas. We’ll have to save the rest for another adventure in the lone star state! Thank you for coming along this sight-seeing journey with me.
Here’s to more adventures in 2015!
– Cindy xoxo
Cindy Wimmer is a jewelry designer with a passion for combining vintage elements with modern wire design. She is the co-founder of artBLISS, hosting jewelry and mixed media workshops in the DC area. Her best-selling jewelry design book, The Missing Link, was released in the Fall, 2013.