Coinciding with the hummingbirds’ southward migration, the festival features birding lectures, tours, banding demonstrations, workshops, and photography clinics—as well as the opportunity to visit the yards of Rockport-Fulton homes where the owners hang feeders to attract the birds.
From the local Tomato Bowl football stadium to the countless painted concrete tomatoes that adorn businesses and parks all over town, Jacksonville is bursting with tomato pride. But what one might not expect is that a day trip here is as ripe and flavorful as the town’s signature crop.
A leader of the renaissance is the new, $125 million Austin Public Library’s Central Library, completed in 2017. This LEED Platinum-certified building—meaning it’s “green”—is outfitted with a bicycle corral for 200, a “tech petting zoo” for visitors to interact with new technology like 3-D printers, an art gallery, a native-plants rooftop garden, and a farm-to-table café. In 2018, Time magazine included the library on its list of the World’s Greatest Places. Austin’s showpiece is representative of a golden age of library innovation across the state. Here are three more libraries boasting smart, beautiful changes.
At Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge south of Alamo, the Spanish moss dripping from the trees invokes a sense of tranquility—and a touch of otherworldliness—in a park created to protect migratory birds. While wandering the refuge’s 14 miles of trails, keep an eye and ear out for resident birds like green jays, chachalacas, and great kiskadees, which are joined by migratory species in the fall and spring.
Texas has always served as a cultural crossroads. Before it was the longest stretch of the United States’ southern border with Mexico, it was a boundary between Spain and French Louisiana. Long before that, it was home to a number of diverse indigenous tribes. Our name, even, derives from a Spanish interpretation of a Caddo greeting meaning “friend.” And the value of the state’s most prolific commodities—cattle, cotton, and oil—has been dependent on links to the world at large.
The Texas Longhorns had lost 10 straight games when they welcomed the Texas A&M Aggies to Memorial Stadium in Austin for the 1938 edition of the annual Thanksgiving rivalry.
There was a time when most Texans lived over yonder. But over the past century, the percentage of Texans living in rural areas versus urban areas flipped: Today, 85 percent of us live in cities, while only 15 percent live in the country, according to the Texas Demographic Center.
Texas is perhaps the most self-contained state in the union, with the mindset of an island continent: Anything you need, you can get right here. That includes the itinerary of a world traveler. To visit Paris, London, Palestine, Athens, and Dublin, your gas card is the only passport needed. Borders crossed: zero.
Our aim was not to present a definitive ranking of best small towns (that would take us years to agree on) but a collection of under-the-radar places that are forging new identities through revitalization, reinvention, or recovery from big setbacks. We wanted our list to inspire discovery, so we skipped the small towns that already have well-established claims to fame—Lockhart for barbecue, Round Top for antiques, Fredericksburg for wine and peaches, Bandera for cowboy culture.
In a state where the stars at night are known for being big and bright, summer is the optimal time for viewing the Milky Way, when it is high in the southern sky and viewable through much of the night. State parks—such as Pedernales Falls State Park near Johnson City, where the night sky reflects in the still waters of the Pedernales River—are often far enough from light pollution for decent observation. Some of the best state parks for nighttime viewing are Big Bend Ranch, Enchanted Rock, Copper Breaks, and South Llano River, which are all designated International Dark Sky Parks by the International Dark-Sky Association.
As the season winds down, you may feel like you’ve hit a wall on summertime travel. But maybe a “wall” is just what you need…
a Rockwall. With its vast lake, tasty food, and even a Texas-size mystery, this Dallas suburb is one wall you won’t mind running into.
If you love Texas outdoors, how could you not know the Frio?
Well, maybe you’re one of the millions of newcomers who just got to Texas. Or perhaps you’ve lived in Texas your entire life and, unlike all those people whose families have been vacationing on the Frio for generations, you have no clue what or where they are talking about. Never stepped foot in Garner State Park? Think Concan is in Mexico? Well, pull up a chair and scoot closer.
Each evening between late February and late October, as the sun hits the horizon line, experts estimate that somewhere between 750,000 and 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats leave the nooks and crannies of this downtown bridge’s interior to go a-hunting. And each evening over that same eight-month span, hundreds of people line the bridge’s walkway, as well as any open spaces nearby, to take it all in. Most locals suggest claiming space hours before sunset in order to get a good view. But a few hours in the hot sun with nothing to do but wait? That seemed like a situation that would violate all three of our family getaway hopes fairly quickly.
A lot of lore surrounds the naming of Devil’s Waterhole along a northeast branch of Inks Lake State Park near Burnet: One legend says the land’s previous owner was known to curse loudly whenever his wagon got stuck crossing it, while others believe Native Americans originally named it for its warmer waters. While the source of the name is unconfirmed, there’s no question that it’s a popular natural swimming area for daredevils. It can only be reached from inside the park by either hiking the quarter-mile Devil’s Waterhole Trail or by paddling along Inks Lake. Upon arrival, hikers and paddlers are greeted by the park’s metamorphic rock, Valley Spring Gneiss, with ledges rising up to 40 feet above the water.