By Merle Rosenstein
In Texas the living is large. Hell, everything’s bigger in Texas – big money, big cars, big boots, big hair, big hats and big family fun. The largest state in the continental US, Texas has something for everyone to enjoy. And families visiting Texas will be happy as a hog in slops, and that’s no bull!
Big Surf: Galveston
Deep in the heart of south Texas, romantic Galveston is a Gulf Coast paradise. Cajun and French influences abound thanks to neighbouring New Orleans, the revival of the Galveston Mardi Gras and early Island inhabitant pirate Jean LaFitte, whose buried treasure has yet to be found.
With 51 KILOMETRES OF BEACHES RANGING FROM FAMILY-FRIENDLY TO PARTY HARDY, it’s clear why Galveston is one of the most popular vacation spots in Texas. Families looking for water action can head for the beach or ride a wave on the Boogie Bahn surf ride at Schlitterbahn Waterpark.
There are many great ways to tour the island and the Treasure Isle Tour Train or the Galveston Duck Tour will take families along Seawall Boulevard, across Offats Bayou, the Strand Historic District, and the Silk Stocking District. And ‘rolling on the river’ is even more fun aboard a triple deck sternwheeler.
A day at the beach wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Moody Gardens where kids can explore the four oceans of the world, marvel at the mysteries of science or strap on a seatbelt and travel at warp speed at the Ridefilm Theatre.
And Seawolf Park is perfect for family picnics with a playground area, fishing pier and a view of Galveston harbour, where families can tour the Second World War submarine (the USS Cavalla) and a destroyer escort (the USS Stewart).
For more information on this wet and wonderful destination, contact the Galveston Convention and Visitors Bureau at www.galveston.com
Texas TourismBig Chill: South Padre Island
With a strict “no tie” rule and a mandatory dress code of flip flops and Hawaiian shirts, South Padre Island, 48 kilometres north of Mexico on the tropical tip of Texas, screams relaxation. Originally named “Isla Blanca” or “White Sand” this 55 kilometre-long barrier island boasts a subtropical climate that is perfect for year-round outdoor fun. Families can chill by the pool or choose from many active pursuits such as windsurfing, kiteboarding, dolphin watching, parasailing, jet skiing, horseback riding, shopping, tennis or golf.
For something a bit different, TRY A FAMILY CASTLE-BUILDING LESSON, ride horses on the beach or set sail on a 17th-century Spanish Galleon for a pirate-themed excursion on the Laguna Madre with sword fighting, water gun battles, and a treasure hunt. For older kids, visit Gravity Adventure Park to check out the world’s largest reverse bungee.
For more information on this laid back destination contact the South Padre Island Convention and Visitors Bureau at www.sopadre.com
Texas TourismBig Crater: Odessa
Situated halfway between El Paso and Forth Worth, Odessa is a “city of contrasts” with a rich cowboy history and modern cultural attractions. Visitors to Odessa can take in a Shakespearean play, CLIMB INTO THE COCKPIT OF A SECOND WORLD WAR FIGHTER or visit the Odessa Meteor Crater.
Created 20,000 years ago by a shower of nickel-iron meteorites, the second largest meteor crater in the US, the Odessa Meteor Crater, is 167.64 meters in diameter and was originally more than 30 metres deep. A museum and visitors centre houses exhibits on meteorites, tektites, meteorite impact products and outer space.
Odessa is also home to the largest jack rabbit in the world. Kids will love Jack Ben, a 2.4 metre fiberglass statue that acknowledges the large jack rabbit population. A plaque beside Jack Ben Rabbit includes a recipe for Jackrabbit and Dumplings.
For more information on Odessa, contact the Odessa Convention and Visitors Bureau at www.odessacvb.com
Texas TourismBig Ranch: Kingsville
Historic Kingsville embodies the rough and tumble cowboy image of Texas legends.
This south Texas town, located between Corpus Christie and Brownsville is home to the legendary King Ranch, the birthplace of the American ranching industry.
Bigger than the state of Rhode Island, King Ranch spans 3,340 kilometres with over 60,000 cattle and 300 quarter horses. A day at the King Ranch offers a close up and personal view of daily operations such as the Plomo Pens, where cattle are vaccinated, branded and tagged, an auction arena and horse cemetery. Visitors will also see the Colony the living quarters of the ranch hands, Los Kineños or King’s men, originally from Mexico, and the grand home built Captain King’s widow, Henrietta.
The KING RANCH MUSEUM IS A MUST SEE with award-winning photos of life on King Ranch in the 1940s by photographer Toni Frissell, a collection of saddles from around the world and historic Texas flags.
For more information on historic Kingsville, contact the Kingsville Convention and Visitors Bureau at www.kingsvilletexas.com or the King Ranch at www.king-ranch.com
Dallas CVBDallas Does Green
“Dallas is embracing green,” declares Phillip Jones, president and CEO of the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau. In Vancouver for a media lunch, Mr. Jones sat down with CT to update us on all the new initiatives, green and otherwise that are changing the city’s skyline.
But it was the greening of the city that had him most excited. First up is the AT&T Center for Performing Arts, the latest jewel in the largest urban Arts District in the US, and a multi-venue complex and urban park.
Then there is The Park, a two-hectare green space that will be built on top of a deck covering the Woodall Rodgers Freeway and connect Uptown, Downtown and the Arts District and expected to open in 2012.
A little further into the future, the first phase of the Trinity River Corridor project is planned to open in 2014. This massive wetlands recovery and rehabilitation project will add a multitude of parks and recreation (land and water) areas to the city, as well as providing flood control. Included in all this is the Trinity River Audubon Center, the first LEED-certified Dallas Park and Recreation Department project.
Also enjoying LEED certification is the Dallas Convention Center, which is developing a client incentive program to reward clients that choose green meeting options. As will the Omni Dallas Hotel, currently under construction next to the Convention Center and scheduled to open 2012.
For more information on all the latest developments in Dallas, visit www.visitdallas.com