Summer is coming and now is the perfect time to start planning how you'll spend it. Here are 10 ideas for classic Texas fun while supporting areas in need visitors.
Wildseed Farms Flower Fields
The most well-known Texas Flower Fields are at Wildseed Farms in Fredericksburg, Texas. They have over 200 acres of flower fields that they happily open to visitors and Instagram aficionados. When I visited, it was primarily poppies and daisies, but as the seasons change, so do the plants, so you could return many times to see different flowers.
There is no charge for admission and they are open seven days a week, year-round. The flower trails close at about 5:30 p.m.
Find it at 100 Legacy Drive - Fredericksburg, TX 78624.
Texas rodeo is happening near San Antonio every Saturday night keeping Western heritage rodeo alive and kickin'. It is authentic old-time fun at its finest featuring bull riding, calf wrangling, and plenty of cowboy glitz and events.
Find the fun Tejas Rodeo at 401 Obst Road, Bulverde, TX 78163
Guadalupe River State Park
Hiking, swimming and floating the Guadalupe River State Park in San Antonio are a must do.
With four miles of river accessible in the park, it’s popular for swimming, fishing, tubing and canoes. Along the Guadalupe River, there are beautiful limestone outcroppings, carved by the millennia, framed by cypress, craggy oak, and mesquite trees. On the far side of the river, the limestone wall reaches up 50 feet tall or more.
Entry into the park only cost $7 for a day pass and that was worth it for the sight of the river alone.
Find it at 3350 Park Rd 31, Spring Branch, TX 78070.
San Antonio’s Historic Mexican Market
Nearly every weekend, San Antonio's Historic Market Square comes to life with authentic Mexican heritage, shopping, and delicious tex-mex food. With over 100 vendors, they say Historic Market Square is the largest "El Mercado" remaining in the United States.
Aside from the stores and restaurants lining the street, dozens of vendors make their crafts from carts and stalls while you watch. Another large building is set up like a flea market with even more Mexican imports and handiwork, clothing, jewelry and art.
Historic Market Square is open on weekends, 10 am - 4 pm. Find it at 514 W Commerce, San Antonio, TX 78207.
Big Bend National Park
Just 80 miles south of Alpine or Marathon on Highway 118 is the Big Bend National Park and 1100 square miles of desert mountain wonderland. Big Bend stands alone in a nation of parks. Its remote desolation makes it one of the least visited parks in the United States. There, along the border with Mexico, you can hike, bike and kayak the river amid ancient landscapes.
Terlingua Ghost Town
Miners populated the town in the mid-1880s, but like all mining towns, once the mineral was exhausted, the economy died and people left. I found the remains of those who stayed in the town cemetery. The town of Terlingua now is small with only a few lightly paved roads, a cemetery, a trading post and a couple of roadside diners. There are several ruins, of the remaining adobe and brick structures and a lot of history to learn.
Find it near the Rio Grande and the villages of Lajitas and Study Butte, Texas.
Marfa is a little hipster enclave near the more populated towns of Alpine and Marathon in west Texas. It’s not very big, but it has the basic requirements to be called a town: a small grocery store, gas station, a few restaurants and a few churches. Here you can see mysterious orbs known as the “Marfa Lights” floating through the night and Prada Marfa, a full-scale roadside art installation on Highway 90. Even Beyonce has been to Prada Marfa, so you’ve got to go.
Natural Bridge Caverns
The Natural Bridge Caverns are a commercial cave system, with only guided tours and a series of touristy amenities. The caves are huge – hundreds of feet deep and wide. Entire worlds lay underground, wholly hidden from the surface. There are massive stalactites and stalagmites – that grow down from the ceiling and up from the floor. There were “soda straws,” which were hollow and “drapery,” which were thin transparent drapes and there were “flowstones” that looked like coral.
It'll cost you $35 to take two different cave tours, but it’s money well spent. Find them at 26495 Natural Bridge Caverns Rd, San Antonio, TX 78266.
Cave Without a Name
The cave is in a remote area of Boerne, Texas. There you'll find a small shack set up to take the $20 admission at the cave. It is the most beautiful of all Texas caves complete with an underground river. It’s a National Historic Landmark you must see.
Find it 40 miles from downtown San Antonio, and 10 miles northeast of Boerne off FM 474 and Kreutzberg Road.
Alamo and Missions National Park
San Antonio Missions National Historical Park is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site preserving the San Antonio Missions in Texas. For the most part, the San Antonio Missions were small, self-sustaining communities where people would conduct the entirety of their lives. They’ve been preserved and or restored and still hold church services. You can tour them learn and learn a lot about this part of our nation’s history. They say you can ride a bike between each of the missions, and I suppose you can, though you'd better be prepared for a long day.
They are free to visit and hours of operation vary, so check before you go.
Padre Island is just a thin barrier island in the gulf. There's not much to it. It encompasses about 70 miles of coastline, prairies and dunes that are only 1.5 miles wide. There are only a few bridges onto the island and then you can turn either left or right. There is an entire large swath of beachfront on Padre Island that you can drive on. Here, with a pass ($14), you are free to park and, in some areas, set up camp overnight.
For miles, there is nothing but sand and gulf waters. People, not many, park along the shore, frolic in the water, search for beach shells and play games.
Enjoy your summer.