Now that spring has arrived, a day trip is just what the doctor ordered. Lucky for Texans, the state is filled with eccentric and unique locations worth visiting.
Whether you want to visit places that will make you feel like you've traveled across the world or quirky locations where you can find good food, company and people, here are 11 places worth the day trip.
Berdoll Pecan Candy & Gift Company, 30 minutes away
Address: 2626 TX-71, Cedar Creek
If you find yourself craving delicious pecan pies in the middle of the night, take a short 30 minute drive to Cedar Creek where you will find not only the world's largest squirrel statue holding a pecan, but a fully-operated pecan pie vending machine.
The vending machine was made possible by the family-operated venture of Berdoll Pecan farm, whose pecan pies are so good and in such high demand, they had to make it more accessible for all 24 hours of the day. Located right outside of the Berdoll Pecan Candy & Gift Company shop, pecan pie lovers can buy not only sweet pecan treats but full-sized pecan pies.
The squirrel, also known as Ms. Pearl, stands tall at 14 feet and has hundreds of visitors from all around the country every week. With her sassy attitude and large size, it's hard to miss Ms. Pearl and the amazing smell of pecan pies at this Cedar Creek treasure.
The Gas Station, 40 minutes away
Address: 1073 SH 304, Bastrop
Fans of the horror classic "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" have a must visit location less than an hour away from Austin.
The Gas Station, located in Bastrop, is home to the living tribute of the 1974 horror classic. Owner Roy Rose turned the location into a horror barbecue resort, where fans of the film can enjoy barbecue and a stay at the formerly known Last Chance gas station where in the film, customers were turned into smoked meats and chili by the cannibal Sawyer family.
Lucky for us, the new and improved gas station will be serving delicious brisket sandwiches instead of, as the film goes, people. And if eating barbecue isn't enough for all the horror film fanatics, the location offers four rustic cabins and a campsite for the full Texas Chainsaw overnight experience. Although, if you are planning on staying overnight, the cabins are in high demand so book in advance.
5 Soul Wine Co., 40 minutes away
Address: 4514 Bob Wire Road, Spicewood
With sunny and warm weather ahead of us, some days a relaxing location is all we need to enjoy our days. Whether that means sipping on glasses—or bottles—of wine or playing Pickleball in the Hill Country, 5 Soul Wine Co. hase you covered for a wonderful Austin-style good time.
Located in Spicewood, 5 Soul Wine Co. is operated as an adult playland for wine lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Longtime friends Shannon Grant and Chris Carson, along with their wives Danielle and Kellie, wanted to create a place where people could drink wine and surround themselves with other great souls. The winery offers five different wines: rosé, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon.
If you're in need of some food and snacks, light appetizers are offered in the tasting room as well as a food truck onsite. Bringing your kids? The 5 Souls Wine Co. courtyard, shared with Frontyard Brewing, has a playground area for kids of all ages. Wanting to play a game? The courtyard also has Pickleball Courts available to rent per hour.
Gruene Hall, 1 hour away
Address: 1281 Gruene Road, New Braunfels
Put on your dancing boots and head out to Gruene where all things are green, friendly and in the full Texas spirit.
Gruene Hall, located in the historic district of Gruene, is the oldest continually operating and most famous dance hall in Texas. Built in 1878 in the former German town, Gruene Hall has hosted some of the biggest music names such as George Strait, Willie Nelson, Garth Brooks, The Dixie Chicks, now known as The Chicks, Miranda Lambert and many more since 1975.
During sunny weekends in Gruene, the town is crowded with hundreds of tourists who can explore boutiques, different restaurants and enjoy the outdoors before attending a concert at Gruene Hall.
The Painted Churches, 1 hour and 21 minutes away
Saints Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church Dubina, TexasPosted by Susan Paddock Hickey on Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Address: St Mary's Catholic Church, Schulenburg
Dating all the way back to the late 1800s and early 1900s, The Painted Churches of Texas were built by Czech and German immigrants throughout Schulenburg and as they searched to begin their new lives in Texas.
Over a dozen active churches, filled with breathtaking works of art and historical sentiment, still stand strong as a reminder of the important meaning it had to all the settlers who made Texas their home. With detailed hand-painted ceilings and decorative paintings, the churches can be visited in a tour or individually throughout Central Texas.
Although the churches look ordinary from the outside, the amount of detail and art inside is worth any day trip. From the well-known queen of painted churches, St. Mary's Church High Hill, to the pink St. John the Baptist Church, the Central Texas historical churches are a sight to be seen in person, so make sure to plan ahead your painted churches tour.
Fischer & Wieser's Das Peach Haus, 1 hour and 40 minutes away
Address: 1406 S. US Hwy 87, Fredericksburg
If the smell and beautiful sight of peaches isn't enough to entice a visit to Fredericksburg, Das Peach Haus has everything you need for a perfect trip: wine, food, jam and a beautiful outdoor venue to help you enjoy the sunny spring weather.
The specialty food company was founded by Case Fischer and Mark Wieser as a culinary exploration in the Texas Hill Country. Born on a peach orchard in 1928, the historic place has over 170 sauces, jams and jellies along with a vegetable garden and delicious unique wines. If you are a food and wine amateur connoisseur, this Fredericksburg gem is a perfect culinary playland for all adults.
Dr. Pepper Museum, less than 2 hours away
Address: 300 S. 5th St., Waco
Texans are prideful of all things Texas, and Dr. Pepper is no exception. Invented in 1885, the beloved soft drink has made a name for itself throughout the nation and it all started in Waco.
The Dr. Pepper museum is run by a nonprofit organization telling the story of Dr. Pepper and how it became a hit in the soft drink industry. The museum is located in the original Dr. Pepper bottling plant building from 1906, and sees hundreds of visitors wanting to know more about their favorite fizzy drink.
Museum admission is $10 for adults and no reservation is needed, so pack up the car and learn about Texas' most popular soft drink, while sipping on a handcrafted Dr. Pepper from the museum's Soda Foundation.
Antique Rose Emporium, 1 hour and 40 minutes away
Address: 10000 FM 50, Brenham
With the arrival of spring comes blooming and thriving flowers across the state. Whether you've driven past some bluebonnets or are in search of beautiful fields of bright colors, Antique Rose Emporium has all the beautiful springtime colors ready to welcome you for a breathtaking view.
Located in Brenham, The Display Gardens were created in 1984 by owner Mike Shoup as a way to showcase roses in a new, different way.
While visiting the Antique Rose Emporium, you can enjoy the fresh air and sunshine while touring the eight acres of award-winning gardens and the old church on the property. If you're interested in purchasing plants and flowers or having a picnic, the Antique Rose Emporium, with tranquil music playing in the background, is a perfect day trip for all.
Newman's Castle: 2 hours away
Address: 504 E. Main Street, Belville
Filled with surprises and unique places, it should be no surprise to any Texan exploring the state to find a medieval castle in the middle of Bellville.
Newman's Castle, built and owned by local bakery owner Mike Newman, is another gem in the Lone Star State worth visiting. Newman, who explored Europe in his early 20s and had the idea to build his own castle, broke ground in 1998 to build his fortress and now lives in the home. The project was completed in 2006 and has been visited by hundreds of people from around the country, along with his bakery, Newman's Bakery.
If you are interested in a castle tour, make a reservation and visit Newman's Bakery where for $20 per person, King Mike Newman will give you the eccentric grand tour himself.
Dinosaur tracks at Government Canyon State Natural Area
Address: 12861 Galm Road, San Antonio
If you took Texas History in school, you might remember learning about The Alamo, but over 100 million years ago, prehistoric creatures, roamed what once was a beach in the San Antonio area.
Government Canyon State Natural Area is the only place in Texas where you can stroll along where dinosaurs once wandered. The dinosaur tracks were encountered in 2014 by park officials and after being explored by local paleontologists, hundreds of tracks were found throughout the area. Previously buried beneath layers of sediment and water, the tracks were found to match two different dinosaurs: Acrocanthosaurus and Sauroposeidon.
The historic finding is another treasure found along the Texas borders where hundreds of visitors every year can discover amazing tracks and learn about what once roamed the Lone Star state.
Stonehenge II, 2.5 hours away
Address: 120 Point Theatre Road S., Ingram
Most people around the world are familiar with the prehistoric monument of Stonehenge in England, but lucky for us Texans, we don't have to travel too far to see a replica of the world-renown exhibit.
Originally located in the city of Hunt, Stonehenge II was created as an art project by the late and retired oilman Al Shepperd with help from his friend and neighbor Doug Hill. The replica, which took nine months to build, is 90% the height and 60% the width of the original but is still a sight to be seen. And if Stonehenge II is not enough for you to make the trip out, Shepperd also added two 13 foot Easter Island monolithic human figures of moai to make visiting Hunt seem like a trip around the world.
In order to preserve the beloved Texas landmark and monument, the sculptures were relocated in 2010 on the campus of the Hill Country Arts Foundation beside the Guadalupe River in the city of Ingram, where Shepperd was a patron. Nowadays, thousands of tourists from all over the world travel to see the replica of prehistoric times in the small town.
Community First! Village, Austin's 'most talked about neighborhood,' will add 1,400 homes for chronically homeless
Local nonprofit Mobile Loaves & Fishes announced plans to vastly expand Community First! Village, a 51-acre master-planned development that is home to more than 220 formerly chronically homeless residents, on Wednesday.
The two-phase expansion will add 1,400 micro homes and 127 acres between two pieces of land—one across the street from Community First! Village on Hog Eye Road in far East Austin and the other on Burleson Road in Southeast Austin—with development starting in summer 2022. The land purchases were made possible thanks to a donation commitment from Love, Tito's, the philanthropic arm of Tito's Handmade Vodka. (Disclosure: Tito's is an Austonia sponsor.)
Mobile Loaves & Fishes has operated Community First! Village, which Austin Mayor Steve Adler has coined as "Austin's most talked about neighborhood," for more than five years. During that time, the social outreach ministry has paid out more than $3 million to residents, who make and sell art and maintain the village.
The expansion consists of Community First! Villages third and fourth phases and will more than triple its size and sextuple its current number of homes, from 240 to 1,900 total. In addition to the coming micro-homes, the village also includes RVs and canvas-sided cottages.
Amber Fogarty, president of Mobile Loaves & Fishes, said the expansion announcement is proof that there is hope despite the city's ongoing homelessness crisis. "We realize there's an intensifying conversation happening in our city right now as it relates to homelessness, and for some it may seem like a dismal situation," she said in a statement. "It brings us great joy to think that today's expansion news means we will bring home many more of our friends who are currently suffering on the streets of Austin."
As residents prepare to vote on a controversial proposition that would reinstate a ban on camping and other activities in parts of the city, Adler said Community First! Village is "a vital and important piece of the puzzle" when it comes to addressing homelessness in Austin and praised Mobile Loaves & Fishes founder and CEO Alan Graham for his vision.
To be eligible to live at Community First! Village, applicants must be chronically homeless, meaning they have lived in a place unsuitable for habitation for at least one year and have at least one qualifying disability; have lived in Travis County for at least one year; and have the ability to pay rent, through social security income, disability benefits or on- and off-site work.
Tim Shea has lived at Community First! Village for five years. (Emma Freer)
Tim Shea has lived at Community First! Village for five years, after three decades of intermittent homelessness, heroin addiction and incarceration. After living in an RV, he became the first person in the country to move into a 3D-printed home, furnished by the Austin-based construction technology company ICON. "I am loving it," he said, citing its high ceilings, big windows and solidity as his favorite features.
The expansion plans are welcome news to Shea. "I'm not surprised," he said. "I just know that more people need to know about it."
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Austin FC's first season will officially be underway, but their inaugural match will be nearly 1,500 miles away from their home city.
The match, which will see No. 21 ATXFC face No. 2 LAFC, will be broadcast nationally on FOX and FOX Deportes at 5 p.m. on Saturday, but for some, simply watching from home isn't quite enough.
Luckily, Austin FC, fan clubs and bars across the city are looking to keep the soccer spirit alive in Austin through several Saturday watch parties. So, put on your Verde gear and head to one of these watch parties this weekend.
1. Circle Brewing Co., 2340 W Braker Ln
This 12-hour party (from 11 a.m.-11 p.m.) claims to be the biggest watch party in Austin. Formed by Austin Anthem, ATXFC's original supporters' group, the outdoor party will hold over 1,000 people in the lot in front of Circle Brewing near Q2 Stadium. Entry is free, and the immersive experience will feature a 23' x 13' screen viewable from 500 feet away, an immersive audio experience and a special guest DJ at 7:30 p.m. RSVP here.
The event is entirely outdoors. All attendees must wear face masks when not eating or drinking.
2. Hopsquad Brewing, 2307 Kramer Lane
Hopsquad Brewing, the official headquarters of Austin FC supporters group Los Verdes, is launching an immersive watch party to kick off the team's first season. Free to enter, the Brewery will feature indoor and outdoor taps and screens, live music, art and food trucks. Rideshare or take a ride on Cap Metro for $1 off your first beer. The party begins at noon and is set to end at 7 p.m. RSVP here.
Indoor and outdoor space is available, and masks are required when not eating or drinking.
3. Black Sheep Lodge, 2108 South Lamar Blvd.
For those who want Los Verdes action on the south side, head to Black Sheep Lodge. Starting at 3:30 p.m., the watch party will include La Murga's signature chants, stickers and plenty to drink through 8:30 p.m. RSVP here.
A mask is required when not eating or drinking.
4. Rustic Tap, 613 W. 6th St.
For those looking for a downtown locale, this watch party will be going from noon to close. This pet-friendly location will feature a 7 by 12 foot LED wall, live music and over 60 Texas-based spirits.
5. Mean Eyed Cat, 1621 W 5th St.
6. Star Bar, 600 W 6th St.
7. Lavaca Street Bar, 405 Lavaca St.
Gibson Street Bar, 1109 S Lamar Blvd
For those south of downtown, Gibson Street Bar will have a low-key watch party ready for the club's first match. RSVP here.
6. Over 30 pub partners
If none of these watch parties are quite the right fit for you, 31 bars will be streaming the match in the Austin metro as part of the Austin FC Pub Club.
- Austin Eastciders- Barton Springs, 1530 Barton Springs Rd.
- Austin Eastciders- Collaboratory 979 Springdale Rd. Suite 130
- B.D. Riley's Mueller, 1905 Aldrich St. Unit 130
- The Bon Aire, 9070 Research Blvd
- Bouldin Acres, 2027 S Lamar Blvd
- Casa Chapala, 9041 Research Blvd Suite 100
- The Cavalier, 2400 Webberville Rd Unit A
- Cover 2,13701 N Highway 183
- Cover 3 Anderson Lane, 2700 W Anderson Ln Unit 202
- Happy Chicks, 214 E 6th St.
- Haymaker, 2310 Manor Rd.
- High Five- Anderson Ln, 2700 W Anderson Ln Unit 101
- Local Post Pub, 7113 Burnet Rd
- Pelons, 802 Red River St
- Play on 6th, 620 W 6th St
- Pluckers, various locations
- Revelry On The Boulevard, 6215 N Lamar Blvd
- Revelry- East 6th, 1410 E 6th St
- Rusty Cannon Pub, 730 W Stassney Ln Unit 120
- San Jac Saloon, 300 E 6th Street
- Shiner's Saloon, 422 Congress Ave Unit D
- Shooters Billiards 620, 11416 N FM 620
- Taco Flats, mulitple locations
- Twin Peaks, 701 E Stassney Ln
- Cover 3- Round Rock, 2800 N Interstate Highway 35 Unit 200, Round Rock
- Crafthouse, 242 N LBJ Dr. Suite 101, San Marcos
- High Five- Lakeway1502 RM-620 N Lakeway, Lakeway
- Red Rooster's, 109 E Pecan St., Pflugervile
- Sean Patrick's, 202 E San Antonio St., San Marcos
- Shooter's Billiards Cedar Park, 601 E Whitestone Blvd, Cedar Park
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As Austin navigates its homelessness crisis, city voters will decide starting Monday whether to reinstate a ban on sitting, lying and camping in certain areas of the city. Proposition B has drawn impassioned support and opposition and is perhaps the most contentious item on the May 1 ballot.
Austonia sought out clear and brief editorials from either side of the debate. Arguing in favor of Prop B is Cleo Petricek, a Democrat and co-founder, along with Travis County GOP Chairperson Matt Mackowiak, of the Save Austin Now political action committee, which has led the charge to reinstate the camping ban. Opponent Emily Seales is a licensed clinical social worker and advocate with over 20 years of experience working and volunteering in homeless services in Austin and around the country. She is currently on staff at the Sunrise Homeless Navigation Center and is board co-chair of Open Door.
Editor's note: These submissions are the unedited views of their authors. Claims made have not been fact-checked to give the proponent and opponent a chance to speak their minds freely.
Homeless residents have also set up tents along Cesar Chavez Street near Buford Tower, which recently caught fire after a blaze spread from the camp. (Emma Freer)
Pro: Voting yes on Prop B sends a message to council that voters' voices and real solutions are paramount
In June 2019, the Austin City Council rescinded regulations on camping in public spaces. They did so without any serious public discussion and in fact appeared to actively avoid serious scrutiny. The resulting chaos is clear for all to see. Parks and playgrounds impacted by illicit behavior, lewd activities in public, trash strewn in waterways and public spaces, and most critically, assaults on the public and on other homeless individuals.
It is obvious that the homeless are not helped by this misadventure. Vulnerable women and youth in these camps are abused, mentally ill individuals are not served and there is no incentive for substance abusers to seek help.
Proponents of this mess have put forward no credible plan for any short term housing that restores safety—instead they talk about abstract housing concepts that even they acknowledge will take years to develop. This is the mark of narrowly focused activism, not what citizens should expect from elected leaders who promise to serve their communities. At every turn, the proponents of this chaos have demonstrated that they are not capable of fully considering the needs of diverse communities and proposing workable solutions. Instead they simply double down on trying to tell Austin that anything other than their chaos is heartless and inhumane. This is intellectually lazy, and Austin should demand better.
The chaos created by the City Council has resulted in a public outcry culminating in the citizens demanding to be heard by direct ballot. This demand is across the political and economic spectrum. As a co-founder of the Save Austin Now PAC and a lifelong Democrat, I have seen the diversity of people raising their voices in concern for our city.
It's time we turn this situation around and vote yes on Prop B. It sends a clear message to the council that the citizens of Austin must be heard as we work toward real solutions. There are successful models to learn from and some in our own state. But it all starts with voting yes on Prop B starting April 19.
A homeless residents sleeps in the middle of a bike scavenging operation based at a camp under the South Austin overpass. (Jordan Vonderhaar)
Con: Prop B blames homeless individuals rather than providing solutions to societal problems
Austin's homeless population needs help, but Prop B doesn't do anything to solve our city's problems. It simply tells people who are experiencing homelessness that they cannot exist, visibly, in public space. I, too, am worried about the encampments. They are evidence that our strategies to help people return to housing aren't sufficient. But telling people "You can't stay here" without giving them alternatives isn't a solution.
The reason so many people are experiencing homelessness is that it takes a long time to get into housing, even when you do everything right. Shelters are at capacity, we lack deeply affordable housing, landlords can refuse housing vouchers, and housing programs are full.
As a case study, I want to tell you about "Bill," whom I met two years ago. Bill was a veteran, father, former truck driver and person of faith. He was also homeless and unsheltered. Bill had recently suffered a series of strokes and was desperate for both disability income and housing.
Bill and I worked together every single week for 17 months. He eventually was awarded disability and moved into his own apartment.
Bill's situation is typical of hundreds of people who are stymied by our complicated processes and lack of housing. Prop B would not add resources for people like Bill. Read the ballot language. Because Prop B bans "camping," people would have to move around constantly to avoid being cited. All that moving around takes time and energy. People like Bill would have a harder time keeping their appointments with case managers. Unpaid fines from citations build a criminal record—and landlords can choose not to rent to someone with a record. So punishing people for not having housing makes it even harder to get housing. Prop B hurts, not helps.
In this election, Austinites have a choice to criminalize people like Bill or to work toward solutions. Prop B places the blame on individuals rather than recognizing homelessness as a failure of society.Prop B is an inhumane and wrong response. Oppose Prop B, and let's focus on solutions. Learn more here.
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