Having many little ones and quite a few animals makes taking long trips challenging. Day Trips are a great solution!
Day Trips in Virginia
While living in Virginia, we would pop up and see Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello, in Charlottesville or visit his retreat home, Poplar Forest. We could drive to the Natural Bridge in Rockbridge County, then navigate up the highway and see the gorgeous Luray Caverns. We could drive to the Appomattox Courthouse where General Lee surrendered to General Grant, thus ending the Civil War. We so enjoyed visiting the many historical sites in Virginia!
Day Trips in Texas: Large Cities
After moving to Texas, we wanted to continue our explorations through day trips. Fort Worth has the Log Cabin Village, a fantastic zoo, the Botanical Gardens, the IMAX and Science Museum and a little hidden gem which is a Bible Museum, but called the Christian Art Museum of Fort Worth.
The Christian Art Museum of Fort Worth has one of only five wax presentations of the Lord’s Supper made by the Stuberghs. Only three still exist: one in Santa Cruz, CA; one in Lourdes, France; and this one in Fort Worth. It is an amazing experience to see a full wax display of the Lord’s Supper! The Christian Art Museum also has world renowned artist, Kenneth Wyatt’s, paintings of the Apostles. Their model of the Ark of the Covenant is interesting too.
San Antonio has the Alamo, The Witte Museum, and a great zoo. Austin has our beautiful Capitol building, the Bullock Texas State History Museum, the LBJ Presidential Library, the Governor’s Mansion, Zilker Park, along with many caves and walking trails to explore.
Waco has The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame & Museum, the Dr. Pepper Museum, the Cameron Park Zoo, the Mayborn Museum, Homestead Heritage Craft Village, and Magnolia Market at the Silos.
Day Trips in Texas: Small Towns
Besides the big city destinations, there are many small town regional museums and gardens. Athens with a population of approximately 12k hosts the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center and the beautiful East Texas Arboretum. Mineral Wells has a population of 15k, yet the beautiful Clark Gardens Botanical Park is located nearby.
Albany has a population of 2k, but hosts the oldest outdoor musical in the state of Texas. Called the Fort Griffin Fandangle, it has been hosted yearly in June since 1938. Albany also has the Old Jail Art Center, and the Flying A Classic Car Club Museum.
Brenham has a population of 18k, but has Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site where the Texas Declaration of Independence was signed in 1836. Brenham and Independence have the beautiful Antique Rose Emporium, the Blue Bell Creamery, a Fire Museum which also has one of eight remaining C.W. Parker’s carousels still in existence in its Fireman’s Park. The Giddings Stone Mansion is always beautiful, but is spectacular when decorated at Christmas time.
Types of Day Trips
There are many wonderful things to see in Texas! We look for large popular places and hidden gems. We look for well-trodden paths and the secluded walkways that have been forgotten by the present-day thrill seekers. Some are expensive, while others are free. Some places are crowded, still others are quiet and peaceful. Some are popular, while others are tucked away in a corner. Some places are shiny, and others are waiting for discovery.
Researching Day Trips
In the past, I would use books to research trips. AAA annually produces a book for its members which lists sites to visit, hotels and restaurants. Ray Miller’s Eyes of Texas books cover each of the five regions of Texas. The Texas Almanac has great historical listings. Touring Texas Gardens by Jessie Gunn Stephens lists large and small gardens throughout Texas. This is how I discovered the East Texas Arboretum. I still look at these books to find lesser known places of interest.
Now that we have the internet, I mainly use TripAdvisor to plan my trips. After planning the main destination site, I use TripAdvisor’s map to explore potential hidden gems along our intended route.
Using TripAdvisor’s map is how I discovered the longest foot bridge in Texas, which is also the second longest foot bridge in the United States, happens to be in Rusk.
After adding other sites along our route, I will search google for any additional information on the chosen sites and I will look for additional sites nearby. Sometimes, I’ll consult my older travel books or garden book to find little advertised sites.
It’s always an adventure to plan and to execute the family day trip, but it is well worth the time invested as we experience all kinds of awesome museums and behold beautiful Texas scenery. When I am short on planning time, I will just use TripAdvisor.
Day Trips can Refuel and Feed our Soul
Whether our home situation is little ones, care-giving for elderly parents or taking care of needy animals, a family day trip is a great way to make lasting memories while refueling and feeding our soul.
Lord, I ask for safe day trips with many wonderful memory-making moments for each traveler. Whether traveling solo or with others, may each one experience Your sweet Presence in the midst of their journey. I ask for You to refresh their souls as they behold Your beautiful creation and the handiwork of others. Amen.
Ray Miller’s Eyes of Texas Travel Guides by Ray Miller; Print editions.
Touring Texas Gardens by Jessie Gunn Stephens; print and kindle editions.
Google Search: https://www.google.com/