Complete with good food, great places to stay and the wonder of your next adventure, a road trip through Texas will bring back the nostalgia of your youth.
Nothing quite screams vacation like a summer road trip, which often takes us back to our youth when long family car rides were a rite of passage. This summer, bring back some of that nostalgia with a road trip through three cities where Americana meets Southern charm: Irving, College Station and Austin. Texas is a big state, it can be overwhelming to pick an itinerary, but these three cities have enough to see, do and amazing places to stay to make your journey one to remember.
Many consider Irving to be just a suburb of Dallas, but did you know it has the most Fortune 1,000 headquarters per capita in the country? Located only 12 miles from downtown Dallas, Irving was transformed in the 1960s from oil fields into a thriving community full of Texas charm.
Irving is the only place in Texas where you can get an authentic Venetian gondola ride in Mandalay Canals located in the Las Colinas Urban Center. The miles of canals wind through residential, restaurant and shopping districts, perfect for a gondola ride, stand up paddle boarding or just taking in the scenery. While you are there check out the largest equestrian sculpture in the world and take a stroll through history at the Ruth Paine Museum, where Lee Harvey Oswald slept and stowed his gun the night before he shot President John F. Kennedy. Yes, only in Irving.
Where to Stay
Keep the road trip vibe going with a stay at the Texican Court. Inspired by the movie “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” Texican Court has a retro feel to it, much like the roadside hotels of the 1950s and 1960s. Don’t let the vintage vibe fool you, because this hotel is full of modern luxury. With combination interior and exterior rooms, complimentary breakfast, fitness center and a full-service restaurant and bar – this hotel has everything you need, and then some.
Irving isn’t where the fun stops. Head about three hours south to College Station, home to one of Texas’ largest universities, Texas A&M. College Station has more state pride than just about anywhere. Take a behind the scenes tour of Kyle Field, learn about the famous 12th Man, and get access to places usually only reserved for athletes and coaches. While you’re on campus, head over to the somber yet beautiful Bonfire Memorial and take a tour of the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library – no matter your politics, this museum is an interesting walk through history.
Getting a little hungry? Stop in at the famous Dixie Chicken for Southern fare and then step outside to check out Bottlecap Alley. Generations of students have lined the alleyway with bottlecaps from both beer and sodas – it is a great place to snap a photo. If you are looking for something a little more sophisticated, but still want a good Texas burger, stop in at the headquarters of Grub Burger Bar; their burgers and handspun spiked shakes never disappoint.
Where to Stay
Keep the Texas pride going with a stay at the boutique luxury hotel, Cavalry Court. Located in Century Square, the hotel pays homage to Aggie history with its décor and barracks style. Guests will enjoy outdoor fire pits, vintage Smeg refrigerators in each room, as well as large and beautifully appointed rooms. Don’t forget to stop in at Canteen Bar & Grill where Texas food and beer is their specialty.
From College Station, “head west young man,” and you’ll hit the state capital, Austin. There is so much Texas charm in this city you’ll want to spend time exploring. Just a few notable things include the Blanton Museum, home of the intriguing Ellsworth Kelly exhibit. With nearly 18,000 works in the collection, the Blanton showcases art from across the ages, from ancient greek pottery to abstract expressionism, plus offers a wide variety of events and tours. Located on the edge of the University of Texas at Austin’s campus and steps from the dome of the Capitol, the Blanton has something for everyone in the family.
Take a stroll down South Congress Avenue where you’ll have Texas-sized shopping opportunities and more Tex-Mex food than you can possibly eat. You might also want to make a stop at the second largest bat colony in Texas at the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue bridge. Catching a glimpse of 1.5 million Mexican freetail bats making their sunset expedition is worth the trip alone.
Where to Stay
A road trip to Austin wouldn’t be complete without a stay at the Lone Star Court, another throwback to vintage culture with its retro vibe. Guests definitely won’t feel boxed in at the Lone Star Court. Enjoy a drink outside or roast some marshmallows after dinner. The hotel’s perfect location next to The Domain makes it very walkable to eat, drink or enjoy north Austin entertainment.
Cover: Visit the largest equestrian sculpture in the world in Irving. Courtesy photo
Gabi De la Rosa lives in Houston with her husband and three children. You can usually find her at a great local restaurant or out exploring HTX with her family. Visit her on Instagram @gabioftheroses_htx