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Summer Guide

1. Dallas

Dallas inspires big ideas. This big and bold approach has resulted in world-class arts, culture, architecture, business and more. As the fourth-largest metro area in the United States with more than $12 billion in urban development underway, the nation’s largest urban arts district, a battalion of celebrity chefs, the Southwest’s best shopping and a national sports spotlight year-round…Let’s just say we’ve definitely moved beyond 10-gallon hats and cattle.

Visit the Dallas World Aquarium and be amazed by the sights. If you’re intrigued by the sea and marine life, 85,000 gallons of salt-water tanks and creatures from Fiji, Sri Lanka and more will astound you. Walking through a 22,000-gallon tunnel provides intimate views of rays, sharks and other sea creatures from every angle. The aquarium offers more than marine life. Free-range exotic birds, primates, reptiles and manatees give visitors a sense of hiking through a South American rain forest and along the Yucatan coast. Each exhibit reflects the Aquarium’s philosophy of conservation.

Check out Six Flags Over Texas Hurricane Harbor for fun in the sun! You can experience the thrill of the chase on Sea Wolf™, the fastest and tallest water slide of its kind. Then head over to Boogie Beach, or the family-friendly Hook’s Lagoon, before floating your cares away along the Lazy River. No matter what you’re into, you’ll find what you’re looking for at Hurricane Harbor.

Visit Fair Park while in Dallas. A Fair Park Passport ($13.99 – $23.99) provides admission to seven on-site cultural attractions for one price. You can visit the Music Hall, which is home to the Dallas Opera, the Texas Ballet Theatre, and Dallas Summer Musicals. Also, renowned for its many Art Deco buildings designed in the late 1930s, Fair Park provides free maps and information on its website so visitors can take a self-guided walking tour. www.fairpark.org

Arts lovers already have 13 attractions to explore  in the 19-block Arts District in downtown Dallas. Guided walking tours of the entire arts district are given free of charge on the first Saturday of every month. www.artsdistrict.org

Also, learn about the 19th century life in North Texas at the Dallas Heritage Village. This living-history museum’s historic structures (including a school, a farmhouse, and several Victorian homes) display a selection of more than 28,000 artifacts. Go at your own pace on a self-guided walking tour included in your admission.

Explore the Dallas Zoo! With 95 acres to explore, thousands of animals to visit, and a huge variety of family activities, the Dallas Zoo is enormously entertaining! The Children’s petting zoo gives hands-on feeding experiences with tropical birds. The zoo’s nature exchange lets kids discuss their nature finds with a scientist and barter them for upgrades. www.dallaszoo.com

http://www.visitdallas.com/

2. San Antonio

Explore the River Walk at San Antonio. San Antonio opened a new 1.3 mile extension of the River Walk in May. Now the famous linear park goes north from downtown all the way to the San Antonio Museum of Art and The Pearl, an old brewery reshaped into a progressive urban village. Take a river taxi up the new River Walk at night, travel through the new lock and dam system, and be dazzled by a dozen new lighted public art installations along the banks.

Summer temperatures make it an ideal time to visit Six Flags Fiesta Texas and SeaWorld San Antonio. Experience the best in thrilling rides, exciting live entertainment and a free waterpark all at Six Flags Fiesta Texas. Six Flags Fiesta Texas has won Amusement Today’s Golden Ticket Award for The Best Theme Park Shows in the Country for an astounding 10 consecutive years!

SeaWorld San Antonio, the world’s largest marine life adventure park and family entertainment showplace, presents a splashy lineup of more than 26 sensational shows, thrilling rides, animal attractions and educational experiences for all ages. It’s actually four parks in one on 250 acres: a show park, a rides and slides park, a water park, and an amazing animals park.

Check out Ripley’s Believe It or Not & Louis Tussaud’s Wax Works. You won’t believe your eyes! Visit two of San Antonio’s premier attractions! See 250 life-like wax figures and 500 unique and unusual exhibits. An adventure for the whole family! Group rates available for 12 or more people. Call for details. Open daily.

Whether you want to stroll through the annals of time at the Alamo or escape to the banks of the River Walk, San Antonio provides the richest of experiences at no cost! Along the banks of the River Walk, you’ll find La Villita “the little village.” Originally established by Spanish soldiers stationed at the Alamo, La Villita has been reincarnated as a historic arts village where beautifully restored residences house galleries and shops full of interesting sights. You might even catch a performance at La Villita’s outdoor Arneson River Theatre.

San Antonio’s culture thrives in a variety of arts districts. One burgeoning art scene is Southtown. Here you can stop into Garcia Art Glass and watch celebrated glass blower Gini Garcia and her talented staff create one-of-a-kind keepsakes. Not far away, Market Square (the largest Mexican market in the nation) is a haven for working artists. From painters and musicians to wood-workers and a blacksmith, this sanctuary of culture is a San Antonio must-see.

San Antonio began as a community of five Spanish colonial missions built along the spring-fed San Antonio River. Today, all five missions are open to the public, including the Alamo. Also stop by the Espada Acequia at Mission Espada—this irrigation system is one of the oldest of its kind and was originally constructed to irrigate the mission’s surrounding farmlands. For easy access from mission to mission, San Antonio’s 12-mile Mission Trail is perfect and welcomes hiking and biking.

The Japanese Tea Garden is one of San Antonio’s best-kept secrets. The exotic oasis is in Brackenridge Park, about a 10 minute drive from downtown. Bring a picnic and relax under the palm-thatched pagoda that overlooks the terraced garden and koi ponds. Admission is free.

http://www.visitsanantonio.com/index.aspx

3. Austin

In the past decade the capital of Texas has grown steadily, attracting everyone from young urban professionals to artists and students. This rapid evolution is noticeable everywhere from the busy downtown area to trendy and pricey neighborhoods. Despite the growth, Austin has managed to maintain its mellow, small-town appeal. A perennial “Best Place to Live” winner, it’s also a great place to visit, offering a range of attractions and activities. The State Capitol, the largest in the United States, and the Governor’s Mansion, which is open for tours, will appeal to those interested in the political side of Austin. History buffs can head to the Lyndon Johnson Presidential Library and Museum. LBJ was one of the city’s most famous residents. In 1982, his wife “Lady Bird” created a Wildflower Center dedicated to preserving the native plants of North America. Austin also offers recreational activities from golf to walking trails in beautiful parks. The shopping, restaurants, and nightlife offer world-class appeal with a down-home Texas feel.

Sixth Street is a must-visit evening activity for anyone who comes to Austin. Lined with bars and restaurants and more bars (almost all offering free live music on weekends), this is a great place to have a couple drinks, people watch, and enjoy an evening in Austin. 6th Street tends to pull a younger crowd, If you’re looking for a slightly more “mature crowd”, 4th Street and the Warehouse District might be more your speed.

The Warehouse district, just west of the central business district, is the upscale cousin to 6th Street. A bit trendier and certainly more pricey, it caters to a slightly older crowd than the other downtown entertainment areas. True to its name, the restaurants and clubs in this district have been renovated from former warehouses into trendy restaurants, top-notch concert halls, and distinctive bars. Live music is everywhere in the Warehouse District and great restaurants are easy to find.

Check out Zilker Metropolitan Park. Home to Barton Springs, the Zilker Eagle, a large playscape, Zilker Park is a popular weekend destination. This 351- acre park is home to a variety of recreation opportunities and special events for the individual or the whole family. The park is home to the Zilker Botanical Gardens, which includes the Taniguchi Oriental Garden and the Austin Area Garden Center. The Austin Nature and Science Center, which offers a wide variety of programs for children and adults, as well as, the opportunity to explore the environment with hands-on exhibits, interactive nature and science trails and live Texas wildlife. In addition, the Center hosts the “Splash” Environmental Exhibit, which is an educational display about the Edwards Aquafier. The Zilker Hillside Theatre hosts concerts ranging from Jazz to Country. Additionally, the theatre is the sit of the Zilker Summer Musical and Shakespeare in the Park. Bring a blanket to site on the hillside and enjoy these events. The Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum is on the south end of the park, home of the collection of work by sculptor Charles Umlauf.

Barton Springs Pool is one of Austin’s famous landmarks and easily the most popular swimming hole in the city. Spring fed and over 900 feet long, the pool was formed when Barton Creek was dammed up, so it has a natural rock and gravel bottom. There are varying depths, diving boards, and stairs and ladders for entry. The water temperature averages 68 degrees F’ throughout the year, so enter the pool gingerly. As you swim across, feel how some spots are colder than others. A more refreshing swim is hard to find, but the pool is often crowded, especially on summer weekends. In recent years, the city has closed the pool when the fecal coliform count was high and posed a threat to swimmers, often the case after a heavy rain. To find out if the pool is open, call the hotline number 512-867-3080 which operates 24 hours per day.

http://www.austintexas.org/

4. South Padre

Beautiful beaches, warm Gulf waters, fishing, boating, bird watching, shopping, and a diversity of year-round activities make South Padre Island one of the fantastic vacation destinations in the world.

Check out Schlitterbahn Beach Waterpark! Texas’ most innovative water park is nestled between the dunes and wetlands on beautiful South Padre Island. Splash into more than a dozen family attractions, including slides, tubes chutes, and up hill water coasters.

At the Pirate’s Landing in Port Isabelle, they have bay fishing, deep-sea fishing, and dolphin-watching excursions. They furnish the fishing rods and the bait, and take you out into the bay either from 8am – 12pm or from 7pm – 11pm. They move around to different spots several times. Pirates Landing has plenty of free parking and the area’s best location.  Enjoy a great lunch or dinner. Then visit museums; a sea life center; walk the town square; climb atop the historical lighthouse; fish from the longest pier in Texas; cruise aboard a full size pirate ship replica and much more.

The beaches of South Padre Island are the number one attraction for many Island visitors. There are no privately owned beaches in Texas, so everyone is welcome to enjoy every inch of the entire coast line. There are beach access points every few blocks along Gulf Blvd, or you can go to one of the county park beaches where you’ll find pavilions with picnic tables, playgrounds, restrooms, and showers. Travel Channel names South Padre Island as one of America’s best beaches for family beach travel. South Padre Island is the finest coastal resort in Texas with beautiful beaches, tall sand dunes, and clear, clean Gulf waters.

Sea Turtle, Inc. offers sea turtle education, research, rescue and rehabilitation center. Hatchling releases are open to the public all summer, and highly recommended! The hatch dates are estimations. As June approaches they will update their telephone message at Sea Turtle, Inc each night at 10:00 pm and again at 5:30 am. The releases begin at 7:00 am. The location will be County Access # 4 on South Padre Island (This is located one mile north of Sea Turtle, Inc). The telephone number to call is (956)761-4511.

http://www.sopadre.com/

5. San Marcos

San Marcos welcomes visitors to their beautiful community. Located at the gateway to the Texas Hill Country, San Marcos has wonderful places to visit, great places to stay, and the best shopping in Texas! San Marcos’ spring fed San Marcos River provides a refreshing playground for swimming, canoeing, tubing—and even riding a glass bottom boat at Aquarena Center. The San Marcos River is one of the most loved family recreation areas for several reasons. The constant 72 degree water comes from the beautiful, natural Aquarena Springs and helps create the relaxing atmosphere and gorgeous scenery. The river creates an environment harmonizing nature and families. The river chute at Rio Vista Dam has been revitalized to repair the dam naturally by creating new rapids that blend environment with refreshing fun!

San Marcos is the largest outlet shopping destination in Texas and the third-largest in the world. This spectacular shopping mecca is also one of the top most visited tourist attractions in Texas, with 140 luxury and brand-name outlet stores.

Visit Wonder World Park, a one-of-a-kind Theme Park, known as the 1st show cave in Texas. Visitors have enjoyed touring the Balcones Fault Line Cave for over 105 years, and now, the park has many other attractions for family fun and entertainment. Enjoy a guided tour and discover the nation’s only true example of an earthquake-formed cave. Go deep underground and see up close the devastation of a major quake. Exit by the “Stratavator” and ride high into the sky to the Tejas Observation Tower. Be amazed by the Topsy-Turvy World of the Anti-gravity House where everything is backwards, even water flows up hill! Board the train and splash through the waterfalls of Mystery Mountain on your way to the Texas Wildlife Petting Park.

Skydive in San Marcos! Check out www.skydivesanmarcos.com for rates.  Whether your goal is to skydive once in your life or to become an experienced jumper, Skydive San Marcos is the place to start.

http://www.ci.san-marcos.tx.us/

6. Corpus Christi

In Corpus Christi you will find smooth sea breezes and endless blue skies year-round. A Corpus Christi vacation features a bay front promenade, an arts and museum district, waterfront restaurants, and an entertaining nightlife all within walking distance from first-rate hotels. There are miles of beaches for fishing, boating, and floating. Attractions are waiting to be explored and our conveniently located hotels and condos are just minutes from everything. Be sure to visit our art festivals and sporting events that continue year round. With special savings and value pricing, Corpus Christi is an attractive location for the whole family!

The Corpus Christi Municipal Marina is the center for all of the wonderful amenities and services Corpus Christi Bay has to offer. The marina is protected from the Gulf of Mexico by scenic barrier islands off the Texas Coast. Come enjoy the waterfront and see the sailboats!

Come and see Victorian charm in South Texas! Heritage Park and Cultural Center hosts eleven different historic homes, including the 100 year old Galván House, an award winning center that hosts artistic cultural programs showcasing the diverse culture of Corpus Christi and South Texas.

All hands on deck for excitement! Step aboard the U.S.S. Lexington, a famous naval aircraft carrier from World War II, featuring amazing rides in a flight simulator, a chance to climb behind the controls of a jet fighter, or preview a movie on board in the mega theatre. The museum is open seven days a week.

Travel on an ocean adventure deep into the Gulf of Mexico without ever leaving the shore at the Texas State Aquarium. Observe aquatic life from dolphins to jelly fish, and learn about environmental conservation and wildlife rehabilitation.

Visit the largest remaining natural barrier island in the world. The Padre Island National Seashore covers 130,000 acres of pristine barrier island, which is home to sea turtles and spectacular bird watching.

Enjoy an entertaining evening of music, comedy, or drama at Corpus Christi’s outstanding non-profit Harbor Playhouse community theatre. Productions are friendly for the entire family, so come and see what local Corpus Christi talent has to offer.

Explore a coastal highway dedicated to bird and wildlife watching on the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail. The trail surrounding Corpus Christi has observation platforms and kiosks with helpful information about the environment and all of its natural inhabitants.

Looking for a peaceful place to relax? Escape to beauty in the Corpus Christi Botanical Garden. The garden features walking trails surrounded by roses, desert and tropical flowers, and 2,500 varieties of orchids. Tours are available.

http://www.cctexas.com/

7. Galveston

Seaside towns have always exuded a potent allure, a chance to flee the hectic and confined spaces of city life. Galveston has sung her siren song for generations of holiday visitors, whether day tripping from Houston, or on holiday from far away. Besides its entrancing sea, Galveston has more fun and attractions than one can fit into an entire summer. From inviting pockets of interesting shops and cafes, to towering glass pyramids and its sparkling waterpark, the island offers something for everyone. If you’ve never vacationed in Galveston before, you’re in for a distinctive treat; and if you’re a longtime visitor, you’ll find that this enchanting and ever-changing island still has many wonderful surprises in store.

More than 30 miles of beaches plus a wealth of cultural and historic institutions make this island a Gulf of Mexico vacation hot spot. If you go, don’t forget your walking shoes: With 14 museums and 20 art galleries, plus several historic homes and mansions, there’s a lot of ground to cover. Armchair pilots will love the Lone Star Flight Museum and those with more of a nautical interest can check out the Texas Seaport Museum. Families will enjoy the many child-friendly attractions, including Moody Gardens, with its replica of a tropical rain forest. It’s easy to get caught up in all the activities, but don’t forget to spend some downtime in the sun and on the beach.

Moody Gardens is one of the many sights that attracts visitors year round. Delve into the oceans depths at the Aquarium Pyramid to see penguins, sharks and thousands of tropical fish. Explore the mysteries of science at the Discovery Museum or experience the action of the IMAX 3D, 4D or Ridefilm theaters. Cruise aboard the Colonel Paddlewheel Boat or enjoy beautiful white sand beaches and blue lagoons at Palm Beach. Explore the Moody Gardens 10-story, glass Rainforest Pyramid, where over 1,000 species of exotic plants from the rainforests of Africa, Asia and the Americas all flourish across an acre. Check out the extraordinary world of science at the Discovery Pyramid at Moody Gardens. Spectacular traveling exhibits from around the country await your arrival. Satisfy your insatiable hunger for knowledge with live interactive demonstrations of remarkable science experiments.

Experience Schlitterbahn on Galveston Island. Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark is a family-owned, family-friendly park offering FREE parking, FREE tubes, FREE lifejackets, and allows guests to bring their own picnic lunches. Experience daring speed slides, endless rivers, uphill water coasters, waves for surfing, splashing and relaxing, plus kid-friendly water playgrounds.

http://www.cityofgalveston.org/

8. Shiner

Visit the Spoetzl Brewery. The Spoetzl Brewery, founded in 1909, is Texas’ oldest independent brewery. They still practice the art of brewing, hand-crafting each brew one at a time, and then aging each Shiner Beer naturally for no less than thirty days to guarantee its exceptionally smooth taste. In the tradition of Bavarian Brewmaster Kosmos Spoetzl, Shiner’s little brewery proudly produces Shiner Blonde, Shiner Bock, Shiner Honey Wheat Ale and two seasonal brews, Shiner Summer Stock and Shiner Winter Ale. Brewery tours are available Monday thru Friday at 11:00am and 1:30pm. The Hospitality Room is open after tours. Gift Shop hours are Monday thru Friday, 9:00am to 5:00pm and Saturday, 11:00am to 3:00pm. Go to www.shiner.com to confirm hours or for more information.

Visit Saints Cyril & Methodius Catholic Church in Shiner. One of Shiner’s real jewels is the Catholic Church. Blessed under the names of Saints Cyril and Methodius, two missionaries who first brought Christianity to Bohemia and Moravia, the church is truly an awe-inspiring sight. Dedicated in 1921, the red brick Romanesque Revival style architecture features a majestic altar, painted murals, beautiful statues, and astonishing stained glass windows imported from Bavaria.

Check out the Gaslight Theatre. Shiner’s first Opera House lives again. Originally the setting for plays, balls, political debates, church socials, town meetings and “social hops”, the opera House claimed a center of Shiner’s social life from 1895 until 1927. Inactive for many years, The Gaslight Theatre was born again in 1975 thanks to a local nun and her drama class. Today, the ornate proscenium arch and vaudeville-style stage are all original from the building’s 1895 construction. The Gaslight Theatre is known for its outstanding amateur productions usually held four times a year.

Tour the Wolters Memorial Museum. The Edwin Wolters Memorial Museum is an outstanding legacy of Shiner’s history. Its displays include an antique gun collection, old-time country store, dinosaur bones, embroidery and hand stitchery collections, a delightful doll display, musical instruments, an implement shed, and many other interesting antiques. Open Monday through Friday, 8:00am to 5:00pm and every second and fourth Sunday, from 2:00 to 5:00pm.

http://www.shinertx.com/

9. New Brunfels

With German names on the street signs, summer bier gartens and the annual Wurstfest, New Braunfels blends the character of its German namesake with the charm and beauty of Texas Hill Country. Old World heritage is abundant in the Historic District of Gruene, featuring the ruins of the original Gristmill and live music at the Gruene Hall. Those in search of more modern fun can check out the Schlitterbahn waterpark, spelunk in the Natural Bridge Caverns or test the waters at Canyon Lake.

Spend the day at Landa Park. Landa Park offers picnic facilities under the shade of giant, ancient oak trees. Walk or jog on the parks special trails, or ride a miniature train that chugs around the 51 acre park. An excursion on a paddle boat is one of the best ways to see the Comal Springs and Landa Lake. Why not take in a round of miniature golf, relax at the playground or enjoy the flora and fauna on the Panther Canyon Nature Trail?

Cool off at Schlitterbahn Waterpark in the Hill Country. Bring the whole family and see why Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort has been voted the best waterpark anywhere! Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort in New Braunfels has over 3 miles of tubing adventures, 7 children’s water playgrounds,17 water slides, the world’s first surfing machine, and 3 uphill water coasters spread over 65 acres of fun! Miles of tube chutes, endless rivers, uphill water coasters, waves for surfing, splashing, and relaxing, and kid-friendly water playgrounds — no wonder Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort is the best waterpark on planet Earth!

Float the Guadalupe or Comal River! With the Comal and Guadulupe Rivers running through the city, visitors and the local folk enjoy a variety of water recreational activities. These activities take center stage during the summer months with the nationally known Schlitterbaun leading the way. Recreational tubing and rafting is at its best when the river is running 200 – 500 cfs. The water level changes every day, so travelers should call any outfitter of their choice on the Guadalupe to ask what the water level is. If it is anything below 100 cfs, travelers should go on a Comal trip- that is, floating on the Comal River. The Comal stays at a constant good floating level, and isn’t affected by droughts enough to be noticeable to the naked eye. It is also the shortest river in the world-able to be floated in about an hour to an hour and a half. Shuttles are available, and many toobers do the trip many times. The Comal has more restrictions on alcohol, and is regulated by many city ordinances. Therefore, it is generally a more family friendly environment than the Guadalupe. There are also no rapids besides the Tube Chute, and is much cleaner. Toobers can see to the bottom of the sometimes 9 ft deep river. There are hardly any currents, and there are fewer snakes. The Comal is recommended for novice floaters and children.

Go wine tasting at Dry Comal Creek Vineyards and Winery. Whether you consider yourself a wine novice or an expert, their Tasting Room is non-pretentious and even a bit raucous at times. They even allow you to decorate their floor with wine! Open 7 days a week –  noon – 5 p.m. Just like the Tasting Room, their winery tours are designed to educate and give you a feel for the labor of love in making wine. Public tours are held each Saturday and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

http://www.ci.new-braunfels.tx.us/

10. Fredericksburg

Fredericksburg is a city of beauty and charm.  Its founding includes a rich history of people making a good life in a new place with the help of friends and neighbors.  Working together, they created a city where all could live up to their potential, participate in activities and benefit from services to enhance the quality of their lives. The spirit of working together to create a beautiful, livable place is still alive today in Fredericksburg.  That spirit is responsible for the ambiance of the city today.

Fredericksburg, in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, is the perfect vacation destination, with something for all ages and interests. Shoppers will find over 150 boutiques, art galleries and antique emporiums, not to mention an herb farm and wildflower farm. The men in the crowd will stay busy with the National Museum of the Pacific War to golf to wineries and a brew pub. Kids will love Enchanted Rock, the Butterfly Haus or the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm. Visitors who need to rejuvenate will find pampering at one of several day spas. Much more awaits you, so plan to stay several days!

Escape to Enchanted Rock. Enchanted rock is a stupendous 500′ rock dome North of Fredericksburg, estimated to be over 1 billion years old. It is a fun and not particularly difficult climb to the top for someone in reasonably good condition. Once on the rock there is no actual trail and the truly hardy can just go straight up. Tonkawa Indians believed ghost fires flickered at the top, and they heard weird creaking and groaning, which geologists now say resulted from the rock’s heating by day and contracting in the cool night. Designated a National Natural Landmark, Enchanted Rock is an impressive geological feature with an estimated age of one billion years, making it among the oldest exposed rock in North America. Visitors to Enchanted Rock enjoy numerous activities, including hiking, backpacking, technical and rock climbing, primitive camping, picnicking, birding, geological study, stargazing, and nature study. Facilities include a group picnic area and pavilion. The park offers 7 miles of hiking trails, including the popular 6/10 mile Summit Trail which involves a 425-foot elevation gain hike to the top of Enchanted Rock. The 4-mile Loop Trail, a favorite among hikers and backpackers, winds around the base of Enchanted Rock. Bicycling is permitted on paved roads only. For experienced rock climbers, the park’s 1,000 foot long Enchanted Rock Fissure — one of the largest known granite caves — promises a challenge on its steep and slippery surfaces.

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