Addison, TX Hosts One of America's Most Spectacular Fireworks Shows

Monday, June 30, 2014 by The Texas Travelin' Man

Kaboomtown, Addison TX, fireworks, July 4

Who would expect that a small Texas town would have one of the biggest and highest-rated July 4th celebrations in the U.S.?

Independence Day is an important holiday to me. I may talk of my Texas pride, but first and foremost, I'm an American and proud of it. I always enjoy the patriotism, the picnics and parties, the fireworks, the day off from work... but amidst the revelry, I always take a moment to remember where we came from and what the "rockets' red glare" really represents. 
 
Addison TX, kaboomtown, fourth of july, fireworks, DallasIf you enjoy fireworks like I do and want to see one of the country’s top fireworks shows, then you must make plans to visit Addison Circle Park for Kaboom Town! This nationally recognized pyrotechnic display is the largest fireworks show in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, and it has been rated by USA Today, Travel + Leisure, The Wall Street Journal, and the American Pyrotechnics Association as one of the top ten "must see" Fourth of July events in the nation.

The Addison skies will not only be alive with dazzling fireworks, but also an amazing air show…another event that I love, and therefore, another reason for this travelin’ man to make Kaboom Town the place to be this year to celebrate our hard won independence. The show will feature formation flights, aerobatic acts, and historic planes doing flyovers over the park. There will also be musical performances (including military bands to set the mood), a Family Fun Zone which has activities for children of all ages, places where you can get food and drink...everything to make this the most explosive event of the year! Admission is free but guests must have a ticket to enter the event site. But even if tickets are sold out, I’m told it’s still worth the trip because this nationally-recognized fireworks show can be seen from anywhere in Addison. In fact, many restaurants and bars in the area have "watching parties", with special menus, events and great vantage points to see the fireworks.  > "Watching Party" list

Please note that the festivities take place on July 3, not the 4th, and are held at Addison Circle Park, 4970 Addison Circle Drive. The park opens at noon and the event runs from at 5 p.m. to midnight; fireworks begin at 9:30. Attendance will be limited, and guests are encouraged to leave bags and coolers at home, as all will be searched. Check this site for more information. 

As you can imagine, this event draws huge crowds, but if you’re like me and you want to avoid the traffic delays after the show, they've got you covered! You can wait it out while listening to some live post-fireworks music at the Dos Equis Main Stage. 

Images on this page from www.addisontexas.net 

A Berry Fun Event: The Pasadena Strawberry Festival

Wednesday, May 7, 2014 by The Texas Travelin' Man

Pasadena Strawberry Festival, Pasadena TX

Pasadena was once known as the "Strawberry Capital of the South." The strawberries grown here were known for their size and sweetness and were shipped all over the country. Pasadena may have since relinquished its title, but since 1974 residents here have been paying tribute to their beloved fruit with a Texas-sized event that’s sure to satisfy the entire family: it's the Pasadena Strawberry Festival, an annual 3 day event (this year it’s May 16-18) that draws over 45,000 people from all walks of life to the midway. 

This year’s festivities will include live entertainment, rides, strolling performers, a Wild West show, specialty acts, beauty pageants and…strawberries! If you can make it here for the opening ceremony on May 16th you will get to see the unveiling of the world’s largest strawberry shortcake. It really is a sight to behold…and to taste!  And if you are not a big fan of our nation’s favorite fruit, or if you simply want to give your taste buds something else to savor, no problem because the festival is also host to a BBQ cook-off, featuring 70 teams, along with a wide variety of other festival fare.

The Pasadena Strawberry Festival is also the place to get down and dirty in the Texas State Mud Volleyball Tournament. The grounds are equipped with 16 mud-filled courts and the event is always a crowd pleaser.  If that’s not enough mud for you, make sure you come out on Sunday, May 18th because that’s when the mud pit hosts the Warrior Games, which include a tug-of-war…always a blast when there’s mud involved!  >> More info on the Warrior Game events.

The Festival also has an area called the Kids Zone with plenty of fun activities, including arts and crafts, games, pony rides, a petting zoo, shows and much more.

And if shopping is your thing then you are in luck because this year there will be over 300 vendors indoors and out for you to check out.

So why not make plans to stop by The Pasadena Strawberry Festival this year for 3 fun-filled days of everything strawberry...and then some! Come join the fine folks of Pasadena, Texas, for 106 acres of family fun!
 

Kick Off 2014 San Antonio Style!

Monday, December 30, 2013 by The Texas Travelin' Man
 
visit San Antonio vacation
 
December is almost over and another hectic Christmas season is behind us. There's still one more thing to think about though - the answer to that annual question "What are we doing New Year's Eve?"
 
If you're at all within striking distance of San Antonio, that's your answer. 
 
On New Year’s Eve, the City of San Antonio hosts Celebrate San Antonio. Thousands of local and visiting revelers take to the streets of downtown San Antonio where there will be stages set up for bands, entertainment areas for the whole family, great food and drink, all in one of the most exciting and beautiful areas of Texas! The party is held on South Alamo Street between Market and Durango and includes the historical arts village, La Villita, with its wonderful shops and galleries, HemisFair Park, and the world renowned River Walk. If you've never been, I can’t think of a better time to experience this iconic area! With so many wonderful bars, restaurants and hotels to choose from, you’re bound to find a party or two that perfectly suits your needs. Or just go for a stroll and take it all in with some "auld acquaintances" or some of the new friends you're bound to meet along the way. But make sure you make your way to the Tower of America for the spectacular fireworks display at midnight, the perfect way to ring in the New Year! Don’t worry, you can’t miss it.  At 750 feet tall, it’s the city’s most prominent landmark!
 
And, one of the most important things: the event itself is FREE! According to the San Antonio Parks Foundation, there is no other New Year’s Eve event of this size, with fireworks, that is offered FREE to the public in the state of Texas. 
 
It's still not too late to book yourself a room and make a mini vacation out of it.  With so many things to do in San Antonio, you can start off your new year having a great time in one of the best vacation spots in Texas! > More info about what to do in San Antonio
 
Whatever you end up doing, please have a safe and happy New Year's Eve and a wonderful year to come!
 
Happy 2014!
 
 

Photo from Tower of the America's Facebook page.

"Uniquely Texas" Christmas Fun

Thursday, December 19, 2013 by The Texas Travelin' Man
 
The countdown to Christmas is now in the single digits. There's one more weekend left before the big day.  For many people, that means frantically trying to finish shopping, decorating the house or baking cookies.  But for some of us, it's the last weekend to enjoy the many Christmas festivities that are happening all around us.  
 
I wanted to take a look at the how people across our state make this holiday our own, how we put our Texas spin on the activities, stories and celebrations that make Christmas in Texas a little different than anywhere else. Here are a few "uniquely Texas" things I've found.
 

Go and see a "Texafied" performance:

The Paramount Theater | Abilene
Fri. - Sun., Dec. 20-22
Set during the Great Depression of the 1930s, this Texas-themed take on the traditional Dickens story is billed as "a Christmas tale of greed, ghosts, and really spicy chili." > For tickets and more info.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
House of Blues | Dallas
Thur., Dec. 19, 7 pm
Sometimes, a Texas Christmas looks a little different than the "perfect" ones depicted in the old movies. Country legend Robert Earl Keen wrote a holiday song a few years back called "Merry Christmas From the Family". It was about a less-than-perfect holiday with a somewhat dysfunctional family and it must have resonated with a lot of folks because it became a hit and spawned a tradition: Keen, his guitar, a stage, and all the holiday hits you could ever want. > More info and tickets.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Celebrate cowboy-style

Longhorn Saloon | Bandera
Sat., Dec. 21, 12 noon
You know you're in Texas when Christmas caroling directions start with "Bring your horse..."
The annual Christmas Caroling by horseback event, “Singing in the Saddle” provides guitar players and sheet music. You provide the horse - if you don't have one, rentals are available, or just ride in the wagon. Santa Claus will be joining too. Meet at the Longhorn Saloon at 12 noon for a 1:00 ride out, then just sing from the saddle, stopping along Main Street. Afterward, enjoy cookies and hot chocolate at the chuck wagon. > More info.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Enchanted Springs Ranch | Boerne
Sat. - Sun., Dec. 21- 22, 10 am - 5 pm
Experience an Old West Christmas, with Cowboy Santa, "Texas' Night Before Christmas" Puppet Show, Pistol Packin' Paula, lots of live music, cowboy skits, and an Interactive Living Nativity. > More info and tickets.
 
 
 
 
Pioneer Hall | Anson
Sat., Dec. 21, 8 pm - midnight
This ball has a special place in history as it's a reenactment of a party that was originally held in 1885 at the Star Hotel in Anson. The historic Pioneer Hall is hosting the 79th Annual Texas Cowboy's Christmas Ball and the rules are the same as in 1885: Ladies must wear dresses on the dance floor (no split skirts!) and gentlemen must check their hats and spurs.
Come take a step back in history and enjoy a "fancy", fun night out. > More info
 
 
 
 
 
 

Texas Christmas Eats

 
Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew | Austin
Now through Dec. 22
"On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me, Brisket Tamales and a perfectly-paired craft beer."
Over a dozen carnivorous days, Stiles Switch’s pitmaster, Lance Kirkpatrick, prepares and smokes one-of-a-kind, off-the-menu specials. This event started on Dec. 10 and sadly, I didn't catch it until now when there are only 4 more days left, but I thought it was still worth a mention in this uniquely Texas list. > For updated info, see their Facebook page.
 
 
 
Hands-on Tamale Workshops
Sat, Dec. 21, 6:30 PM
 
Mon., Dec. 23, 6:30 PM
Step aside, fruitcake and eggnog.  In Texas, tamales are one of the stars of the Christmas table. Classes like these in Fort Worth and Dallas can be found across the state teaching adventurous cooks how to make them. If you can't find a class in your area, or you're not feeling that adventurous, be sure to place your order with your favorite tamale restaurant by this weekend if you haven't already.
 
 

Deck Them Halls, Y'all!

 
Finally, I'll leave you with a few "uniquely Texas" ornaments and decorations I've come across:
 
 
 
 

Wishing Y'all a Very Merry Texas Christmas!

Go Nuts at Royalty Pecan Farms in Caldwell, TX.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013 by The Texas Travelin' Man
visit caldwell texas
 
 
 
 
It's the day before Thanksgiving and in my house, the cooking and baking has already begun in preparation for the big feast. Many of my family's favorite holiday recipes will be requiring the services of that versatile and tasty nut - the pecan! From the pies on the Thanksgiving table to the cookies and pralines around Christmastime, plenty of folks will be heading out to their local supermarkets to pick up a bag or two of pecans. Nothing wrong with that, although such an outing is not usually up there on the fun meter. But buying pecans can actually be fun, if you pay a visit to Royalty Pecan Farms in Caldwell, Texas.    
 
texas travel pecan farmsTexas is one the country's largest producers of pecans and this is the time of year that the nuts are harvested. During November and December, Royalty Pecan Farms features their Harvest Saturday Tour so visitors can learn the journey of the pecan. Some people may think that doesn't sound all that interesting but they would be mistaken.  It's quite an interesting tour.  For example, do you know how pecans are harvested? A big truck with a "claw" drives alongside the tree, grasps its trunk and shakes it, really hard.  When the pecans are ripe, thousands of them drop from the tree at once in a dark curtain, covering the ground.  Another truck follows to sweep them all up and take them in for processing. The tour includes a ride around the farm in a covered wagon during which you'll view some spectacular scenery of the serene countryside. The tours commence at 11:30 am, 1:00 pm, 2:30 pm, and 4:00 pm, and cost only $3 per person. (Kids under 4 are free.) 
 
But let’s not forget that we're here on a mission: securing fresh pecans! And for that, you just head over to their wonderful gift shop where you'll be able to sample some of their pecans and other treats. And besides buying what you’ll be needing for your cooking and baking, why not treat yourself to a slice of their own pecan pie. I must admit I am not usually a fan of pecan pie, but I did enjoy theirs; it was by far the best I've ever had. It wasn't cloyingly sweet like most of the others I've tried, and the crust was fantastic too! You can also purchase a glass of wine, beer or soda and relax while admiring the lovely orchard views. Now what supermarket offers that?
 
Royalty Pecan Farms is family owned and operated, using sustainable farming practices that protect the environment. Besides growing, harvesting and processing the Texas pecan, they also sponsor special events, weddings, concerts, and host orchard tours.
 
It's definitely worth a visit to this nut farm!
 

All photos above from the Royalty Pecan Farms' Facebook page.

 
 
Try this amazing, authentic recipe for Texas Pecan Pralines at TourTexas.com.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Get Thee to the Texas Renaissance Fest!

Thursday, November 14, 2013 by The Texas Travelin' Man
             Texas Renaissance Festival
 
I really didn't want to go.
 
I put if off last year and the year before that, but sometimes, when you write a travel blog, you have to go places and do things you'd really rather skip.  This year, I decided I was going to suck it up and just go already! And that's how I ended up wearing a fluffy white shirt and leather sash at the Texas Renaissance Festival.
 
Texas Ren FestOnce I resigned myself to going, I called my good friend, Jax, who's been to many Ren Fests around the country and asked him to be my guide.  He was glad to do it. Jax told me if we were going together, I had to, absolutely HAD TO wear a costume. It was hard to refuse when I picked him up at his house and he answered his door fully decked out in some sort of manly swashbuckler costume and thrusted the billowy, lace-up collar shirt and sash into my hands. I begrudgingly changed into the clothes, then we hopped in the car and headed toward the town of Todd Mission, about an hour northwest of Houston.
 
Almost every state has a Ren Fest or Faire on some scale, but the Texas Renaissance Festival is the nation’s largest, comprised of over 55 acres of interactive theme park, hosting half a million visitors every year.  It begins in mid-October and runs through the end of November; this year, until December 1st. The festival features over 200 daily performances, 300 arts and crafts shops, 60 food and beverage shops, nightly fireworks and more than 3,000 costumed characters strolling the grounds. There is entertainment at every turn: crafters demonstrating their trade, musicians playing period instruments, actors and dancers, comedians (medieval-style), jousting, games and rides.  It is virtually impossible not to have a good time here and the more you get into the atmosphere, the better time you'll have. 
 
Every weekend of the faire, there's a different theme.  Some themes from previous weekends included "Oktoberfest" and "All Hallows Eve." Still to come are "Barbarian Invasion," "Highland Fling" and "Celtic Christmas."  Jax and I were there during "Pirate Adventure" weekend.
 
And now it's confession time: I'm really glad my friend made me wear the costume.  I decided somewhere along the car ride that I had to drop my curmudgeonly resistance and just give in to the lace-up white shirt. And, after a few cups of honey meade, I was really embracing my inner-16th century buccaneer, even using words like "prithee," "scurvy wench" and "Huzzah!" I realized that it really is just more fun to become a part of the action.
 
If you come - and you really should try to make one of the upcoming weekends -  try to get here early, not only for better parking, but to catch the gate opening ceremony at 9AM. Basic admission at the door is $26  Adult/ $13 Child, but it's a bit less if you order online. There are also family packs and group discounts available. Check their website to buy tickets and to check for discounts.  You could also try doing a quick online search for other coupons and promo codes.
 
Why was I so resistant to come? I can't remember anymore.  The Texas Renaissance Festival is good fun, great entertainment in a perfect setting, lots of enthusiastic, happy people.  I'm sure I will be back again. 
 
Huzzah, ya'll!
 
 
 

Photo credits: MarkScottAustinTX via Flickr 

A Celebration of Life on "Day of the Dead"

Friday, November 1, 2013 by The Texas Travelin' Man
 
 
So, Halloween is now officially over for another year. But don't pack up your decorations just yet.
 
Today is Día de Los Muertos -- the Day of the Dead.
 
With its roots in Mexico, Día de Los Muertos celebrates the memories of those we've loved and lost. All over Mexico, families and friends get together to pray for the souls of their loved ones and to reminisce about their lives. Outside of Mexico, the holiday is most prominent in areas with large Hispanic populations. No surprise, then, that some of the biggest festivals in the U.S. take place here in Texas.
 
For those not familiar with the customs, it may seem Día de Los Muertos is very similar to Halloween.  While it's true that some of the common icons (skeletons, for example) are shared by both holidays, Halloween focuses more on fear, evil and the "dark side" of death. On the contrary, Day of the Dead is a happy celebration: on November 1st and 2nd ("All Saints Day" and "All Souls Day" in the Catholic religion) it is believed that the dead return to the living so friends and family can make contact with their spirit and let them know they are still remembered and loved. It's a day of joy and happiness as people are rejoined in life with those loved ones who have passed on.  
 
One of the most common tributes are the "altares" (altars) that are created and decorated to honor the soul of a friend or family member. People lay gifts on the altar called "ofrendas" (offerings) which may include candles, incense, photos, flowers (marigolds are considered symbols of the dead and are very common on the altars), skeletons and sugar skulls. Food and beverages that the person enjoyed in life are often included as ofrendas too. Gravesites are also visited and decorated while stories and memories of the dead are shared.
 
Many people who have not grown up within this culture are intrigued by Día de Los Muertos, but don't exactly know how to celebrate. But the best way to learn is to immerse yourself in the celebration and just soak it in -- all are welcome! There are many Día de Los Muertos celebrations across Texas; however, they often coincide with Halloween parties. Still, it's not too late: here are a few that are occuring today and tomorrow (Nov. 1st and 2nd) and even beyond.  If you've never been to a Day of the Dead festival before, why not join the celebration!
 
 
Austin Days of the Dead - began Oct. 19 and continues through Nov. 2nd.
 
Fort Worth Día de los Muertos -  November 2; drum and puppet procession from Marine Park to the Rose Marine Theater Plaza. Complete with music, dancing, face painting and pan de muerto. 
 
Houston's Día De Los Muertos Festival - Nov. 1-3; includes altar exhibits, traditional arts and crafts sale, themed performances, foods from Latin American countries, live music and more. 
 
San Antonio Muertos Fest- Nov. 1 and 2; live music, art "living altar" display contest
 
El Paso Día de Los Muertos - Nov. 2; held in Concordia Cemetery, featuring face painters, live music, ghost tours and story telling surround the cemetery with marigolds in the style of this Latin holiday. 
 
Corpus Christi Día de Los Muertos Street Festival - Nov. 2; features live entertainment, art vendors, altar exhibits.

 

Galveston: Beyond the Sunshine and Sand Lies A Dark Side...

Monday, October 28, 2013 by The Texas Travelin' Man



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 1800sThis 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.

Visit TourTexas.com for more information on Galveston Island

haunted Galveston TXWhile 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!

Happy Haunting!

 

Plan your trip to Galveston, TX with Free Brochures

 
 

6 Cool and Unusual Things to Do For Halloween in Texas

Wednesday, October 23, 2013 by The Texas Travelin' Man

 

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 travel

 
3. Summon a Dark Spirit with a Magical Potion
(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!
 
 
Dia De Los Muertes in Port Isabel Texas4. Celebrate the Dead, Tejano Style
(Port Isabel) For the biggest Dia De Los Muertos party this side of the Mexican border, you've got to hit Port Isabel on October 26. You might not think that a holiday called Day of the Dead would be a good time, but you'd be wrong.  I think that's actually the whole point of it - it's meant as celebration of the lives of friends and family who have departed this earth but live on in prayers and memories. One of the hallmarks of this event is the altars that are built for loved ones, embellished with photos, flowers, sweets, even special foods that the person enjoyed in their lifetime. The Port Isabel festivities will include an altar contest, music and entertainment, a costume party, and more.
 
 
Texas Renaissance Fest5. Get Thee to the Ren Faire
(Todd Mission) The Texas Renaissance Festival is the biggest fair of its kind in the U.S. It runs from Oct. 12 through Dec. 1 and although most people dress up in costume to attend the event, it's not generally considered a Halloween event.  That is, until, the weekend of Oct. 26 and 27th when the theme is "All Hallows Eve" and the typical renaissance attire takes a darker, spookier turn.  The weekend features carved Jack-o’-lanterns illuminating the night, a "Tricks or Treats Outing" and a costume contest with great prizes.
 

6. Kick back and have a few special brews
Drink a few beers?? How is this any different than any other night, you ask?  Why is this on a Halloween in Texas list, you wonder?  Because in celebration of the season, you're going to try some seasonal beers with cool names, made right here in Texas.  Start with a a "Krunkin Pumpkin" from Karbach Brewery in Houston. Follow that with a "Devil's Backbone" made by Real Ale Brewing in Blanco. TX.  Finish with a "Black Wit-O" from No Label Brewing Company in Katy. Better yet, bring a few six-packs of each to a Halloween party and make everyone else wonder why they aren't as cool and imaginative as you are.

 

 

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

Win Tickets to "Main Street America" Park

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 by The Texas Travelin' Man

 

 

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!

 
Main Street America, located in Spring, TX, is a new concept in theme parks. 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 home-remodeling options. Visitors to the park can explore the homes and get detailed information on every element from the exterior siding to the audio system to the furniture. >> Read more about Main Street America here.
 
We're giving away 36 pairs of tickets for free admission to Main Street America.  Tickets can be used any time that the park is open to the public.
 
Coming up on Saturday, October 19, Main Street America will host their annual Fall Festival, a family-friendly celebration with trick-or-treating, face painting and more!  The entire park town will be decorated for Fall and children are encouraged to wear costumes. Winners can use their tickets for the Fall Festival, or any time at all.  Tickets are good any day the park is open and are valid through March 22, 2014!

 

Here's How to Enter:

1. Go to TourTexas.com and click on the Facebook "Like" button to become a fan of our Facebook page.
 
2. Send an email to Tickets@TourTexas.com with your name and mailing address.  
Addresses will only be used to mail tickets to winners and will be deleted when our contest ends.
 
 
The first 36 people to complete both steps will receive two (2) free tickets to Main Street America!  
 
 
 
 
 
 
**Don't forget, this is a two-parter!  In order to get your free tickets, you have to click the Like button on the TourTexas.com home page AND send your name and mailing address to Tickets@TourTexas.com!
 
Notes:
  • 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.
 

Main Street America: A Theme Park of a Different Kind

Monday, September 23, 2013 by The Texas Travelin' Man

houston travel

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 festivities 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. 

Czech Out Ennis' National Polka Festival!

Monday, May 13, 2013 by Anna Woita

 

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. 

The Pasadena Strawberry Festival: A Texas-sized festival of fun!

Monday, May 6, 2013 by Anna Woita

 

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! 

Enter to Win FREE Tickets to "Wildflower!" Music Festival!

Monday, April 22, 2013 by Anna Woita

 

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! 

Another Kind Of Football In Town

Thursday, April 4, 2013 by Anna Woita

 

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 rgerman@fcdallas.net

Free Ticket Giveaway to The Ultimate Mirror Maze and The Vault Laser Challenge: Enter Now to Win!!

Monday, March 11, 2013 by Anna Woita

 

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!! 

 

For those of you perpetual contest lovers, also check out our monthly giveaways on TourTexas.com! Right now we're giving away an exciting trip for the whole family in New Braunfels, TX!! 

Family-Friendly Spring Break Ideas in Texas

Monday, February 18, 2013 by Anna Woita

 

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. 

 

Valentine’s Day Procrastinators: It’s Not Too Late to Create the Perfect Day!

Monday, February 11, 2013 by Anna Woita

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. 

 

Grapevine Vintage Railroad makes holiday shopping an adventure

Friday, December 7, 2012 by Anna Woita

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. 

"Texas" - a dramatic theater experience under the stars!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012 by The Texas Travelin' Man

 

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.

Buy tickets in advance on the show's website. Prices range from $9.95 to $29.95 (plus fees), varying with the seat location and date of the show. Show begins at 8:30 P.M. and last about two hours.  Discounts can be found online, including this one for 20% off.
 
For a more immersive experience, come early for the old-fashioned Chuck Wagon BBQ.  You'll enjoy a hearty meal from Big Texan Steak Ranch, which includes a fresh-from-the-grill ribeye steak, several delicious sides and fantastic desserts. 
 
You can find more information on their website and on their Facebook page

Enjoy the show!