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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.
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With more research done on the COVID-19 Delta variant, Austin Public Health is upping its goal of 70% vaccinated to at least 80% due to the extreme virality of the strain.
As more Delta cases are identified—up to 29 cases are confirmed in Travis County—health officials are urging the unvaccinated to get their shots to contain the spread and relieve hospitals from reaching full capacity.
Austin-Travis County surpassed the Stage 5 threshold on Friday and has reached a seven-day average of 61 hospital admissions. However, Austin health leaders have yet to make an official shift as the Delta variant calls for new guidance, APH Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes said at a joint Travis County Commissioners Court meeting on Tuesday morning.
The new guidance has yet to be released, but Walkes said it will take into account the viral load of Delta on both unvaccinated and vaccinated people.
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed the Delta variant was as contagious as chickenpox, which has a herd immunity threshold of at least 90% vaccinated.
Although 63.42% of those eligible in Travis County are fully vaccinated, breakthrough cases—where vaccinated people are contracting COVID-19—are being identified. APH has identified 1,496 breakthrough cases of the roughly 800,000 vaccinated. Most breakthrough cases are showing less severe symptoms or are asymptomatic, according to APH.
Health officials are still asking residents to wear masks, although the city cannot mandate any masking orders due to an executive order by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
"Our challenge is going to be whether we're going to stand as a community and everyone who can get vaccinated, get vaccinated, and everyone wear a mask—that's what it's going to take," Walkes said.
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Save Austin Now police petition will reach November ballot after county clerk certifies 25,000 signatures
Save Austin Now is now 2-0 over Austin City Council after its petition to add more staffed police officers to the Austin Police Department was certified, garnering over the 20,000 votes needed to make it on an election ballot.
The petition calls for more police staffing per city resident, quicker response times and more training for city police officers in the wake of increasing violent crime rates nationwide and a year of limited APD staffing. The City Council will now decide whether to implement the ordinance outright or add it to the November election ballot; it will likely do the latter.
Over 25,000 of the 27,778 signatures racked up by the public safety petition were certified as valid, well over the 20,000-vote threshold required to be certified with the City Clerk. City Clerk Jannette Goodall placed the city's seal of approval on the petition on Tuesday morning.
The petition, by the same political group that got the camping ban reinstated through a petition in May, seeks to:
- Require minimum staffing of two officers per 1,000 residents
- Require a minimum standard of 35% community response time
- Add 40 hours of training
- Require city council members, Mayor Steve Adler and other city staff to enroll in the Citizens Police Academy
- Facilitate minority officer hiring through foreign language proficiency metrics
Austin's 160 patrol vacancies have dropped its staffing rate to 1.2 officers per 1,000 residents, according to the department. APD's response time has increased by about one minute and 50 seconds in a year.
The petition comes nearly a year after APD's budgets were slashed by city council following the summer's Black Lives Matter protests, which saw several demonstrators severely injured as millions called for justice in the police-related deaths of George Floyd and locally Mike Ramos, an unarmed Black man killed by APD officer Christopher Taylor, in April 2020.
Austin and the U.S. have experienced a widespread uptick in violent crime rates in 2021. The city has reached 49 homicides in 2021, higher than the total number of murders in all of 2020 and the 38 homicides in the city in 2019. Austin police officers have seen response times rise as the department suffers increased vacancies and fewer newcomers while cadet classes are being readjusted.
Opponents argue the ordinance would ramp up a policing budget while taking away from other departments including Fire, EMS, violence prevention, and mental health care. City Council Member Greg Casar, the Travis County Democratic Party and the Austin Justice Coalition have spoken out against the organization's latest public safety move, calling out the campaign as a "right-wing petition" that misleads those who sign.
🔥 PANTS ON FIRE: Republican-front group Save Austin Now is lying about their petition!
They say their measure is about police reform, when it's really about devastating our city budget - all for the benefit of the police union. Watch the video here ⬇️ #ATX pic.twitter.com/Z6QQSfhHfH
— Gregorio Casar (@GregCasar) August 2, 2021
The latest battle between city council and Save Austin Now will be decided by Austin residents in the Nov. 2 election.
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Austin City Limits fest and iHeartRadio Fest are the latest festivals to announce the removal of rapper DaBaby, who has come under fire for homophobic comments made during a recent festival.
The 29-year-old rapper, whose real name is Jonathan Lyndale Kirk, was dropped by Lollapalooza just hours before his set on Sunday, followed by the Governor's Ball in New York and Nevada's Day N Vegas after making unsolicited comments about men with HIV/AIDS at the Rolling Loud Festival in Miami. Rolling Stone Magazine confirmed with iHeartRadio organizers that DaBaby will no longer perform.
DaBaby will no longer be performing at Austin City Limits Music Festival — lineup update coming soon. pic.twitter.com/jAYfdJFxJf
— ACL Festival (@aclfestival) August 3, 2021
There is no word on who he will be replaced with yet, though rumors on ACL's subreddit, r/aclfestival, are saying they expect Tyler, The Creator, who performed at Lollapalooza. Kirk will be replaced at Day N Vegas by rapper Roddy Ricch.
Kirk later backtracked his offensive statements on his Instagram story, but again faced criticism for not exactly apologizing.
After facing a second round of backlash for his Instagram statements, the rapper posted on Instagram, saying:
In addition to being dropped from the festivals, DaBaby has been denounced by fellow celebrities like Dua Lipa, Madonna and Elton John.
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