Photo from Tower of the America's Facebook page.
Go and see a "Texafied" performance:
Texas Christmas Eats
Deck Them Halls, Y'all!
Wishing Y'all a Very Merry Texas Christmas!
All photos above from the Royalty Pecan Farms' Facebook page.
Photo credits: MarkScottAustinTX via Flickr
Galveston is a beautiful city situated on an island on the upper coast of Texas on the Gulf of Mexico. With its warm waters and long stretches of soft sand, it's one of the state’s most popular destinations. But the fun, beachy vacation atmosphere of the city masks a dark history and chilling reputation as one of the most haunted cities in the U.S.
Galveston's past holds some incredible stories, with death, destruction and horror all part of the landscape. Tales of pirates, Captains of industry (Galveston’s location and climate attracted many of the formidable "old money" families of the Northeast) and Civil War soldiers haunting the area abound. The greatest legend revolves around one of the worst natural disasters ever to strike the United States: the Hurricane of 1900. Most of the city was completely destroyed, with a death toll between 6,000 and 12,000 individuals. With so many dead, it was impossible to bury them all. Legend has it that many of the drowned victims still restlessly wander the streets, especially in the area known as The Strand where many of the buildings are original to the city and date back to the late 1800s. This historical district of downtown Galveston is known for its architecture, museums, shops, art galleries, restaurants and…its disembodied spirits! Visitors to the area report images of ghostly children playing in the local shops, a frantic nun slamming doors up and down the hall of the Galvez Hotel searching for a lost child, wandering soldiers, pirates. Others don't see haunted visions but describe feelings of heaviness in the air, a blanket of sadness that overcomes you.
While many visitors to Galveston Island come for the sun and sand, many others come in search of spirits. That’s where the "Ghostman of Galveston" comes in! Dash "Ghostman" Beardsley, a paranormal investigator, runs a company called Ghost Tours of Galveston. Always interested in the mysterious, Dash investigated Galveston’s rich history and discovered many fascinating facts from his research and interviews with local residents. His "Original Ghost Tour on the Strand" is the most popular of the tours, although there are other excursions including a Restless Spirits Tour, and a Cemetery tour. Each one provides the chance to visit many fascinating locations in The Strand, while hearing haunting stories from the past and learning about the historical events that have shaped this interesting city.
Even if the only ghosts you see are trick-or-treaters, a visit to Galveston is never disappointing. Besides the lovely town, you'll be surrounded by beaches and marshes, a wide variety of birds (the Island is one of the country's largest bird migratory flyways) and a part of Texas you definitely won’t want to miss!
There's never a shortage of fun things to do in Texas during October. Kids are pumpkin picking, carving jack-o'lanterns and making those all-important decisions about what costume to wear. It's a fun time, if not a bit predictable.
Want to break the mold, even just a little bit? Consider trying one or more of these activities to put a little spin on the season this year.
1. Get to Know the REAL Dracula
(Houston) In case a museum dedicated to death and funerals isn't already macabre enough, the National Museum of Funeral History amps up the creep factor with a few special events in October - November. The Dracula Cemetery Exhibit details the life and death of the real Count Dracula, infamous for his insatiable cruelty and blood-drinking. Visitors can put on a cape and fangs and have their photo taken in a coffin. Other events include a Haunted House, Halloween Car Show and Day of the Dead Celebration.
National Museum of Funeral History website
2. Stumble and Groan and Search for Brains
(San Antonio) What's trending in the world of horror these days? Zombies! The walking undead are all around us in movies, TV shows and....in San Antonio during the city's annual Zombie Walk. On October 27, the city will be host to hundreds of shuffling zombie-wannabes, in tattered, bloodied clothing, in search of brains and other good eats. Why is this fun? It just is! Think of a flash mob, but with a lot less rehearsal. How can you get in on it? Just show up in your finest zombie attire at Hemisfair Tower in downtown San Antonio between 5 - 6 pm, after which, the evil hordes will be unleashed and make their way towards the Alamo. Other than the cost of a ripped old t-shirt, the event is free.
More info on the Zombie Walk
Similar events in Wichita Falls, Spring and Paris.
(Dallas and Ft. Worth) I suppose it all depends upon what kind of magic you need. Choose from the "One Night Stand Potion", "Break-Up Potion", "Dr. Strangelove Potion" or "Plum Sexy Potion". Conjured up by Dude, Sweet Chocolate, these potions are made with chocolate, liquors like tequila or bourbon and other delicious ingredients that are sure to cast a spell. Bewitch the object of your desire with a Dr. Strangelove Martini. Slip some Plum Sexy potion over ice cream. They are to die for!
Did I leave any off the list? What non-typical things do you like to do for Halloween?
Please let me know by leaving a comment
TICKET GIVEAWAY - 36 WINNERS - ENTER NOW!
Ready for another big giveaway from TourTexas.com?
36 lucky winners will get a free pair of tickets to Main Street America!
Addresses will only be used to mail tickets to winners and will be deleted when our contest ends.
- Each ticket admits one guest.
- Tickets are valid through 3/22/2014.
- Main Street America is open most days of the year, 7 days per week. On the day you plan to go, please check the Main Street America website to ensure they do not have any private events or unforeseen circumstances that require closure to the public.
In the town of Spring, TX, there's neighborhood that seems to have it all - beautiful houses, manicured lawns, all the trimmings of an upscale suburban community. So why, then, does no one live here?
This is Main Street America. Some call it a theme park, though you won't find any roller coasters or carnival games here. Instead, the park is based around 12 model homes, all built with the latest materials, up-to-the-minute design inspirations, cutting-edge technological installations and some very cool and unique options. Visitors can explore every aspect of each home and get information on a broad range of products, from interior finishes to structural components to home services. And not just the basics like kitchens and baths, but the fun stuff too: man caves, game rooms, family dens, a backyard putt-putt course. One house has a secret room hidden behind a bookshelf. It really is a grown-up playground for anyone looking to design or remodel a home or even just interested in seeing what's new.
At the core of the Main Street America experience is the variety of products on display throughout the showcase homes. Visitors are given use of an innovative hand-held gadget called TED (Technological Education Device), used to gain instant access to information on selected products and services featured in each showcase home. Interested in a specific lamp, a brick exterior, swimming pool accessory, surround sound system component or kitchen appliance? TED will access its brand name, list of features, provide buying information and create a virtual shopping list. Order it on the spot or save it to a wishlist which you can later access online.
Main Street America begins with the showhouse shopping experience but it doesn't end there: The park provides many educational opportunities, entertaining events, seasonal festivies and fun stuff for kids:
- Learn something new - Classes and demos are offered on topics like creating a sports court, outdoor grilling or how to build the ultimate garage.
- Make a gourmet meal - Take a cooking class at the on-site culinary school, The Main Course.
- Or just make reservations - MAIN Restaurant is a world-class dining experience, located in the Guest Center of Main Street America.
- Attend a Special Event - Check the calendar for special celebrations like Family Day, Women's Day, the upcoming Fall Festival and "Christmas on Main Street".
Main Street America is open year-round, 7 days a week.
Admission is $15.00 for Adults (16 & over), $5.00 for kids (4-15) and free for kids 3 and under.
Whether you're planning a new house or just like to see what's trending in home decor and technology, your whole family will enjoy a stroll down Main Street.
Ennis, located just 20 miles south of downtown Dallas, is a perfect weekend getaway for you or your family. The town offers a unique and eclectic historic shopping district, recreational activities at Lake Bardwell, stock car races, family-oriented events at 85 Speedway, and 40 miles of bluebonnets on the “Official Bluebonnet Trail of Texas” in April. But the most notable event in Ennis that you don’t want to miss is their annual National Polka Festival.
The festival began 47 years ago as a means of celebrating the area's Czech heritage, and has grown to attract as many as 50,000 visitors! Ennis’ National Polka Festival allows you to fully experience all that Czech heritage has to offer, including Czech traditions, religious customs, dancing, authentic Czech food, and14 sensational live polka bands including the “Texas Dutchmen” and the Grammy Award-winning “Brave Combo”.
Continuing its tradition of being held on Memorial Day weekend, this year’s festival is scheduled for Friday, May 24 through Sunday, May 26, throughout downtown Ennis, including The KJT, KC, and Sokol Halls. The festival kicks off Friday with a Czech dance at 7:00 p.m., featuring polka music and a King and Queen Dance contest. All are encouraged to come decked out in full Czech “Kroi” costumes. Saturday at 10:00 a.m. is a Czech parade, featuring elaborate floats, polka bands, clowns, costumes, and an appearance by the Shriners. Throughout the weekend, traditional Klobase sandwiches, face painting, rock climbing, bounce houses, and a kolache-eating contest add to the fun.
Whatever your cultural heritage, Ennis invites you to come “Czech out” the National Polka Festival for a weekend of fun for the whole family.
After 40 consecutive years of successful festivals, including a 2012 turnout of 50,000 attendees, you know the creators of the Pasadena Strawberry Festival are doing something right! But really, where else can you find some of country music’s biggest stars, an epic mud volleyball tournament, an authentic Texan BBQ cook off, and the world’s largest strawberry shortcake all in one place? Only in Pasadena, Texas!
It all began 40 years ago when Pasadena earned itself the proud title of “Strawberry Capitol of the South”. To celebrate San Jacinto Day – the 1836 battle against Mexico which secured Texas’ independence – the city of Pasadena decided to host its first annual Pasadena Strawberry Festival. Today, the festival has grown to fill the 106-acre Pasadena Convention Center and fairgrounds, with over 500 volunteers and 50,000 attendees!
If you haven’t attended before, this year’s 40th annual celebration is the year to join in the fun! The excitement kicks off on Friday, May 11th at 10 a.m. with the Pasadena Strawberry Festival Parade, and fun for the whole family. The following weekend brings in the country music, featuring performances by Brian Evans, Casey Donahew Band, Keith McCoy, Pat Green Band, and numerous others. For those of you with little ones, the Buzzberry Kids Adventure Zone provides endless entertainment with arts and crafts, a strawberry-eating contest, pony rides, a petting zoo, inflatable games, a live puppet show, and much more! For those of a competitive nature who don’t mind getting down-and-dirty, the annual mud volleyball tournament is a competition of seriously messy proportions. After you’ve exhausted your energy diving into the mud, dive into world-record holding deliciousness with a plate of Pasadena’s Strawberry Shortcake –the 2005 Guinness book of World-Record largest cake at 1905 square feet!
The best part of the Pasadena Strawberry Festival is the cause behind it all: proceeds from the Pasadena Strawberry Festival benefit The San Jacinto Day Foundation. This foundation funds various projects including scholarships for area high school and college students, books for college libraries, preservation and promotion of Texas History, and fundraising efforts for local civic, youth and non-profit groups.
Bring out the family and join in the Texas-sized fun that keeps on giving at this year’s 40th annual Pasadena Strawberry Festival!
While most Texans are familiar with SXSW and ACL - located in Austin, the “music capital of the world,”- many are unaware of the other music festivals available around the state. Your music festival opportunities aren’t limited to two a year, nor are they limited to Austin! One such festival, “Wildflower!,” is an award-winning, multi-day eclectic arts and music festival located just north of Dallas and features six performance stages, a Taste of Texas Food Garden, a family-friendly Kidz Korner, and a whole lot more!
Wildflower! arts and music festival began in 1993 as a small community event held in a local park in northeast Richardson. It was designed as an event to celebrate the blooming of the wildflowers in the area as well as bring people together to ‘celebrate the impact of music… by creating access to a broad array of musical experiences and to encourage the education, development, and appreciation of diverse musical genres.’ Over the years, the festival has seen performances from some of the biggest names in the industry, including Lisa Loeb, Bowling For Soup, Peter Frampton, The Dixie Chicks, Blues Traveler, Ryan Cabrera, Smash Mouth, Sister Hazel, Miranda Lambert, Tanya Tucker, and numerous others. In two decades, the festival has grown to become the area’s most recognized and anticipated musical event, spanning over 30 acres and featuring multiple stages, arts, music, exhibits, and family activities.
The best part about learning of this festival now is: you still have an opportunity to get in for free! More than just free admission to the festival, entering the contest (detailed out below) is an opportunity to win access to complimentary food and drinks in the VIP Hospitality Area, A souvenir festival poster, special seating at main stages, and free hotel accommodations – an ultimate fun-filled weekend package!
To enter the contest, visit TourTexas.com and click the “contest” tab at the top of the page. At the bottom of the contest page, you will have an opportunity to fill out a brief amount of information. Be sure to make note: You can enter once a day leading up to the drawing to increase your chances of winning! GOOD LUCK!
To say that football is a big deal in Texas might be the understatement of the year. From “America’s Team” - The Dallas Cowboys - having planted their roots in the DFW area decades ago, to $60 million dollar stadiums for high school teams, to intense training at the peewee level, the roots of football in Texas run deep. But what if I were to tell you that there was a new kind of “football” on the rise in Texas?
FC Dallas Major League Soccer was established in 1995 as one of Major League Soccer’s charter members. FC Dallas supporters are more than just fans, they are part of the team. They chant, cheer, jump, and wave banners in order to intimidate the opponent and will the home team to victory. Supporters don't just watch the game, they change the game. The FC Dallas experience is designed to engage with the fans, especially the kids. Unlike the Cowboys where a dream to meet the players may never be fulfilled, FC Dallas provides numerous opportunities to obtain autographs from players, behind-the-scenes access, or even the opportunity to walk on the field with the players at the start of the game, an exciting opportunity rarely found in other sports.
But FC Dallas’ investment in kids doesn’t stop at the stadium walls. The FC Dallas Foundation was established to find ways to give back to the community, especially disadvantaged youth. From building high-end soccer fields in underprivileged neighborhoods, to hosting soccer clinics and promoting healthy lifestyles, the FC Dallas team has been dedicated to helping kids succeed on and off the field.
The games definitely have an advantage from a financial perspective as well. Where you can pay up to $120 just to park at a Dallas Cowboys football game, you can gain admittance for a family of four to an FC Dallas game at the same price, and parking is free. For families who like to stick to a schedule, soccer provides another bonus: games are 90 minutes long, with 20 minutes for half time. And for dads with road rage, you can relax at FC Dallas: with the toll way just a soccer ball kick away from the parking lot, post-game traffic jams are something you won’t have to worry about.
2013 has been an especially exciting year for FC Dallas, with an undefeated home game record including an intense 3-2 home game win against their in-state rival, the Houston Dynamo. But the most-anticipated game of the season is still to come: the April 13 game against FC Dallas’ long-standing rival team, the Los Angeles Galaxy. With FC Dallas currently in first place in the Western Conference, and LA Galaxy the two-time defending MLS Cup champions, this game is guaranteed to bring fans to the edge of their seat – if they can even get one! The FC Dallas/LA Galaxy game has been standing room only for three years in a row, and set the all-time single-game attendance record last season with 21,867 fans in attendance!
For more information or to buy tickets, contact inside sales associate Richard German at (469) 365-0046 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Alright all you competitive contest-lovers, it's that time again for you to win free stuff! Right now we are offering 11 pairs of tickets for the combo of The Ultimate Mirror Maze Challenge and The Vault Laser Challenge in San Antonio, TX!
The Ultimate Mirror Maze Challenge is a winding maze of fun for all ages, with surprising corners, dead ends, and continuous circles! For an extra challenge, the maze offers 3D prism glasses. With these passes that last all day, challenge yourself to see how fast you can make it through!
The Vault laser challenge is equally intense. Test out your stealthy skills in a real-life James Bond kind of way with this laser beam challenge! As laser beams illuminate and the timer starts, it is your job to see how fast you can make it across the room without coming into contact with one of the beams of light. Make it a contest between family members! Varying difficulty levels allow for a challenge for all ages.
Here’s how to enter:
1. Leave a comment here on the blog and answer this question: What is your favorite thing to do in San Antonio, TX?
2. Send an e-mail to tickets@TourTexas.com with your name and mailing address. We will need this to mail your tickets to you if you win.
The first 11 people to complete both steps will receive two free tickets to The Mirror Maze Challenge and The Vault Challenge combo tickets!
Don’t forget to complete both steps! Good luck!!
Everyone knows that when March rolls around, thousands of college students from across the nation will flock to the coasts for a week of the three b’s: beaches, bikinis, and beer. But while college students have a week off from their studies, so do the kiddos, and families begin an attempt to plan a fun vacation without the chaos of college kids. Here at TourTexas.com, we are happy to help you plan a memorable Texas vacation that won’t land your family in the middle of a keg stand contest. Here are some great family-friendly spring break ideas in Texas!
1. Dixie Dude Ranch. Located in the hill country of Bandera, Texas (an hour to the northwest of San Antonio), the ranch is a perfect venue for families looking for a one-of-a-kind experience in the Old West. With horseback riding through the hill country, an outdoor pool, eclectic cottages and cabins, and real cowboys, Dixie Dude Ranch provides an authentic outdoor adventure for the whole family. By the end of the week when all the fun has taken its toll, masseuses are available on site to relax and restore you before your return to the real world.
2. Great Wolf Lodge. If your family hasn’t experienced the entertainment and thrill in store at Great Wolf Lodge, spring break 2013 is the time to take advantage of all the resort has to offer. Located in Grapevine, Texas (nestled between Dallas and Fort Worth), the resort has more options for family fun in one spot than any other resort you can find. With a full indoor waterpark, hot springs, MagiQuest® enchanted kingdom adventure, Northern Lights™ Arcade, Howly Wood XD Theater, a full kids-spa for manicures with mom, and an adult spa when mom needs a massage break from the kids, the possibilities for regalement or relaxation are endless. Also check out the Cub Club® learning adventure to keep the kiddos’ minds sharp even while they’re away from school!
3. SeaWorld San Antonio. Even if you’re not looking to hit up the beach, your family can still enjoy the excitement of the ocean all in one spot: SeaWorld! Experience the classic One Ocean show featuring Shamu, make a splash on the Journey to Atlantis water coaster ride, and feed the Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions. If you’re attending with young kids, be sure to check out the Sesame Street® Bay of Play®, a water park oasis designed just for the little ones. After you’ve successfully explored all that SeaWorld has to offer, check out other San Antonio attractions, such as the historic Alamo or the river walk.
4. Natural Bridge Caverns. Another attraction near San Antonio, Natural Bridge Caverns are the largest commercial caverns in the state of Texas. The Discovery Tour, the caverns’ most popular expedition, takes your family 180 feet below ground on a guided tour full of stalactites, stalagmites, flowstones, chandeliers and soda straws. For those of you with older kids, check out the Canopy Challenge – a 60-foot, four-tiered adventure course testing agility, balance, and strength facing 47 different obstacles, and ending with a 1,400 foot zip line through the Texas hill country. After you’ve explored the caves and tackled the canopy challenge, get your safari hat on and your binoculars ready and head next door to The Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch – 400 acres of rolling hills riddled with over 500 animals from 40 exotic, native, and endangered animal species worldwide.
5. Schlitterbahn Galveston. With numerous indoor water slides, pools, lazy rivers and other water adventures, Schlitterbahn in Galveston offers a full array of water fun. Check the schedule before you go, however, as Schlitterbahn is mostly only open on the weekends in March. Throughout the week, however, you can check out numerous other family-oriented venues that Galveston has to offer, including Moody Gardens, Texas Seaport Museum, and the Port Bolivar Ferry.
Okay, so maybe Valentine’s Day crept up on you a little faster than you expected… again. You had every intention of making big plans, but your work schedule interfered with the execution. Plus, as it turns out, that fancy restaurant where you two had your first date actually books up way in advance. So what will it be this year, red roses and the same Hallmark card you gave her last year? Gentlemen, here are five ideas to help you think outside the box of chocolates:
1. Get creative – together! For thousands of years, art has been used as a primary medium of expressions of love. Why not try out a museum? For example, The Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, TX is hosting a gallery talk on images of love in the Blanton collection, and the best part is: it’s free! After reveling in the beauty of artwork throughout the ages, why not try making some artwork of your own? For example, if you’re a Houstonian, check out Pinot’s Palette in downtown Houston for a creative night full of canvasses and cocktails.
2. We thoroughly encourage you to monkey around... with a trip to the zoo! This Valentine’s Day at the Dallas Zoo you can commemorate the experience by adopting an extra furry bundle of joy: Koalas are available for adoption, and as new parents you receive a photo, adoption certificate, andtwo admission tickets to visit the newest addition to your family. For animal lovers looking for a simpler agenda, visit a local animal shelter! But we can’t guarantee you won’t end up with a furry bundle of joy there as well.
3.. Instead of buying her the standard dozen red roses, why not give her thousands of flowers in every shape, size, and color? I promise you, it’s not a pricey arrangement! The Fort Worth Botanic Garden is the oldest botanic garden in Texas, with over 2,500 species of native and exotic plants in 23 different specialty gardens. With tours at $5 a person, this SCENTsational experience is less than the cost of those cliché red roses.
4. Nothing says “I love you to the moon and back” like a trip to the planetarium. The planetarium at The University of Texas at Arlington is the largest planetarium in Texas, and is currently doing a showing of what it takes to become an astronaut and the effects of space on the human body. Talk about an experience that is out of this world! The Cook Planetarium in Corsicana, Texas, is the second largest planetarium in the state, and only 50 miles south of Dallas. If you’re a small-town Texan and the nearest planetarium seems light years away, you may actually have an advantage: grab some wine for two and spend an evening under a blanket of stars.
5. Prove to her that love really is in the air this Valentine’s Day: take a hot air balloon ride! For those in the DFW area, Rohr Balloons offers an unforgettable Valentine’s Day package full of champagne, souvenirs, and a trip that will take your breath away. Not ready to take your love to such heights? Check out the Houston Downtown Aquarium Ferris Wheel for a round trip that’s a bit more grounded.
It’s that time of year again when the oh-so-joyous holiday season gives way to two scrooges fighting over the one available parking space a mile from the mall. Wouldn’t it be nice if this season of giving wasn’t quite so stressful? Wouldn’t it be nice if holiday shopping was something you looked forward to instead of giving you an anxiety attack over the parking lot traffic jam? I think it’s time you chose a new ‘track’ to holiday shopping: The Grapevine Vintage Railroad.
The railroad, built in 1896 and complete with 1920s-era coaches, is a unique and historic experience. The main steam engine, “Puffy,” is one of oldest continuously operated steam engines of the South. Passengers board in Grapevine and are taken on a 21-mile adventure to the heart of the Fort Worth Stockyards. Passengers are then given two hours to shop in the stockyards, which are festively decorated and complete with seasonal shops such as The North Pole Express General Store.
Not 'onboard' just yet? What if I told you the vintage railroad is transformed each holiday season into The Polar Express, full of seasonal surprises? That’s right, just in case you accidentally leave your cup of cheer at home, the Grapevine Vintage Railroad team will be happy to fill you up with some of theirs. A ride on The Polar Express comes complete with caroling, a journey through a Christmas tree maze, complimentary hot chocolate, early presents for the kids, and a visit from jolly Old Saint Nick himself.
Arrive early to the train station for the full experience of the holiday décor as well as ornament-decorating prior to boarding! This one-of-a-kind experience provides fun for the whole family, and will undoubtedly become your family’s new favorite holiday tradition. I think it’s time you come onboard this season and let “Puffy” let off the steam so that you don’t have to.
Can you believe that with all of the traveling I’ve done, I’ve never seen “Texas”? I’m not talking about Texas, the state. I’m talking about “Texas”, which has been hailed as the most spectacular outdoor musical drama in the world.
Performed at the Pioneer Amphitheater in the majestic Palo Duro Canyon, "Texas" depicts the trials, tribulations and triumphs of our forefathers in the Panhandle region during the 1800s. Besides learning about the history of this fascinating time and place, you’ll also be treated to singing, dancing, some of our unique brand of Texas humor, amazing special effects and the Dancing Waters of Texas! Fireworks, always a favorite of mine, provide a thrilling ending to a dazzling show. This family-friendly extravaganza, with a cast of over 60 talented actors, singers and dancers, has been performed since 1965 and returns every summer, bigger and better each year.
Enjoy the show!
My brother and his wife are expecting their first baby soon, so when he told me he wanted to take her on a short getaway before the baby arrives, I thought it was a great idea. “Do you have any good recommendations for a babymoon?”, he asked me. “A baby – what?”, I replied. Turns out he was asking me about a fairly new travel trend for expectant parents and, as the family travel expert, I was a bit embarrassed to tell him I hadn’t heard about it.
- A late-night "cravings" room service menu
- Lymphatic massage designed to relieve swelling and discomfort
- Golf cart service around the hotel grounds to minimize walking
- A mini-bar filled with non-alcoholic healthy drinks and snacks