1st time to Texas

Jan 6th, 2013, 11:18 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2013
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1st time to Texas

Hi, we are currently looking to visiting Texas July/August this year for 2 weeks and would like some help in planning.

We are a family of 3 that will be travelling from England (flying into Houston) and so far we have looked at Arlington, San Antonio and Austin.

As we will have been travelling for more than 15 hours we don't want to drive too far from the airport upon arrival but want somewhere that we can get food, perhaps just a burger and not a full meal and obviously somewhere to stay.

Husband and son want to have a tour of the Cowboy Stadium hence the desire to go to Arlington. We also want to go to the Texas Rangers baseball game so will schedule that in either at the start or end of the vacation depending on their schedule.

Our son is quite a keen golfer and wouldn't mind playing whilst out there too.

How long do you recommend staying at each city and do you have any hotel/restaurant recommendations?

Do you also have any advice on driving in Texas? Are there toll roads or roads to avoid?

Many apologies for lots of questions
Pottermouse is offline  
Jan 6th, 2013, 11:48 AM
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Go to The Schlitterbahn in New Bransfel. Just north of San Antonio.

I would just eat at the airport at one of the Pappa locations.
Pappadeux, Pappasito's, Pappa's Burgers, etc
spirobulldog is offline  
Jan 6th, 2013, 02:42 PM
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We had decent food in the Houston airport, which might be the easiest solution after a 15 hour flight. San Antonio and the missions south of it are worth a visit. But if I were you, I would start reading guidebooks.

Michael is offline  
Jan 7th, 2013, 02:39 AM
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If you aren't planning on seeing Houston, can you fly into DFW instead? The airport is just north of Arlington, putting you within easy reach of hotels, restaurants and well-positioned to start off your stadium tours and the Rangers game. (the stadiums are right next to each other.) Arlington is also a good place to be based to visit both Dallas and Forth Worth.

Austin is a 3-4 hr drive south from DFW, depending on time of day/ traffic. There is plenty in that area to see and do, esp the New Braunfels/Gruene (say 'green') areas. San Antonio is further along the same highway. You can do all of those areas without hitting any toll roads, although sometimes the toll roads provide you with a quicker drive.

The only real issue is that this is a one way itinerary, leaving you with a several-hour drive back to the airport. (Might be worth looking at dropping the car in SA and catching a commuter flight back to DFW.)

You are aware that this is the absolute hottest time to be visiting Texas, and you're likely in for temps in the high 90's-100 degrees?
txgirlinbda is offline  
Jan 7th, 2013, 02:47 AM
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Forgot to mention that your son should be able to find plenty of golf options, esp between Austin and San Antonio. Early or late evening tee times would be recommended! ( and a hat, sunscreen and plenty of water...)

Timing-wise, I think you could easily spend several days in the DFW area, then work your way south - DH and I did an entire week last summer based in New Braunfels, doing day trips to Austin, Gruene, the Hill Country, etc. and that was with a then-2yr old.

I am sure we can make better hotel and restaurant recommendations once you've got your itinerary more set. A budget per night would be helpful, too.
txgirlinbda is offline  
Jan 7th, 2013, 03:51 AM
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Thanks txgirlinbda. Unfortunately July/August is the only time we can travel due to school/work commitments. We were in Arizona at the same time last year so we know what to expect temperature wise

Flying into Houston would save us approximately 900GBP as a family of 3 going on current flight prices.

We would like to see Houston, again taking in the baseball, schedule depending.

We were hoping to stay about 1 hours drive from Houston the first night heading towards San Antonio and stay in a hotel that doesn't need to be plush, just somewhere comfortable, clean and near to somewhere for a bite to eat when we get there and breakfast the next morning.

Our first "draft" itinerary would be;

1st night somewhere en-route to San Antonio
4 nights San Antonio
4 nights Austin
3 nights Arlington
2 nights Houston

Please advise if you think that we are staying too long or too short at these places.

We do like to go to outlet malls, so if there are any you recommend that would be of interest.

Thanks again
Pottermouse is offline  
Jan 7th, 2013, 04:27 AM
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I'm in the UK right now and from TX, so I know all about those flight prices! Totally understand that!

I'd be inclined to maybe drop a night from SA and add it to Austin, but that's just because I have so much love for the Austin and surrounding areas.

There is a huge outlet mall between Austin and SA, the name and exact location is escaping me right now, but it'll come to me. Regardless, it's situated right on the highway you'll be taking from SA to Arlington (I-35), so you'd have to be asleep to miss it. There's also an indoor one north of the DFW airport/Arlington area called Grapevine Mills.

You'll be taking I-10 towards SA, and depending on what time you land, you should be able to get near the town of Katy in a reasonable amount of time (1-1.5 hr). There's a decent selection of chain hotels in Katy, any of which should suit you fine. Katy puts you about 2.5 hr drive from SA. If you land late, though, I would eat as soon as you leave the airport - if I recall from our last trip in Oct, we landed about 6:45pm and it was almost 9 before we got to a restaurant just north of the airport. And I had someone waiting for me, no car to rent.
txgirlinbda is offline  
Jan 7th, 2013, 06:42 AM
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The outlet mall between San Antonio and Austin is in San Marcos.

In San Antonio, you might check out the Hyatt Hill Country Resort. Your son would be able to golf there.
AustinTraveler is offline  
Jan 7th, 2013, 06:39 PM
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For the first night, try the Best Western in Schulenberg, TX. It might be more than an hour towards San Antonio, though. It's clean, it's reasonably priced, and the ladies there make an extra effort to make your free breakfast more than packaged junk.

When you go to San Antonio, be sure to have breakfast at Guenther House (www.guentherhouse.com/). It's awesome! I wouldn't spend as much time IN San Antonio, but move an hour or so west and go to Boerne and Fredricksburg.

Then head north on Hwy. 281, instead of Interstate 35. Much more scenic and interesting. You can check out Granbury, Fossil Rim on the north end of your journey.

In the DFW area, if you're interested in a really great little town, go north about an hour from Arlington and visit McKinney. Beautiful town square with interesting shops and great food (my recommendation is Rick's for lunch!)

From there, you can get on US 75 and head straight south to Houston (it becomes I-45 in downtown Dallas). Along the way, stop for lunch at Woody's BBQ in Centerville -- it's really good, and you can purchase "to go" jerkey, sausage, etc.
Mollie_McCune is offline  
Jan 8th, 2013, 06:56 AM
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Check out Enchanted Rock close to Fredericksburg. Awesome place for a few hours of hiking.
AustinTraveler is offline  
Jan 8th, 2013, 09:03 AM
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Thanks guys, you are all very helpful and giving us lots to think about.

It seems that we need to cut our stay down in San Antonio and go to some other towns.

Are the roads nice and quiet or busy like LA?

Is there anything else that we need to plan into our travels?

Thanks again
Pottermouse is offline  
Jan 8th, 2013, 09:34 AM
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Depends. I-35 from Austin to San Antonio is busy. Austin and its surrounds is like California - heavy traffic, flaky people (the city slogan is "Keep Austin Weird"). The Interstates are busy near the cities and so are the other highways - Houston is the fourth most populous in the US, San Antonio seventh and Dallas ninth and the DFW Metroplex is the fourth most populous metro area in the country (behind only NY, Chicago and LA). US 281 in the Hill Country won't be as bad, nor will US 67 near Cleburne/Fossil Rim area. (There's also a great wildlife park between SA and Austin).

What do you want to do? Austinphiles like its atmosphere and nightlife, but as tourists will there be enough for you to see and do for four nights?

How old is the boy?

Dallas has its Arts District and Dealey Plaza (ugh) and the Sixth Floor Museum (double ugh - this is the 50th year since JFK's assassination and Dallas still has a bit of a complex about being the site) and the Perot Science Center (thumbs up); Fort Worth has its Cultural District, the Stockyards (see a rodeo!), TCU and Sundance Square.

Dallas is hotter than SA or Austin, which have navigable waterways or Houston (on the coast), although the 90%+ humidity in Houston is always a suck factor. And yeah, if you've been to Arizona in the summer, it will be hot like that, but perhaps not as bad - Phoenix routinely hits 105+ (40+C), Dallas does so less regularly.
BigRuss is offline  
Jan 8th, 2013, 09:59 AM
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I would hate to miss Fort Worth if I were coming to Texas. It is a lot more western than Dallas and not far from Arlington.
Ackislander is offline  
Jan 8th, 2013, 11:02 AM
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If only we could get 3 weeks?? There seems so much to do!

We (ok, me) like to shop
We like history (son will be studying American history next school year)
Love to speak to the locals and get to know more about the area
Perhaps go to Seaworld
Like to be out and about during the evening to soak up the atmosphere, to have a drink (need hotels near so that hubby can have a drink if he wishes) and have quality family time
We all enjoy watching sport (especially baseball after going to our 1st game in Anaheim).
Son who will be 16 enjoys playing golf.
Perhaps go to a rodeo too!

So do you think we need to cut down both San Antonio and Austin stays and now include Forth Worth and Dallas?

Thanks again
Pottermouse is offline  
Jan 8th, 2013, 11:48 AM
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No, you need to find three weeks!

Shopping - the outlet malls in San Marcos

History - San Antonio for Texas Independence, Fredericksburg (day trip from Austin) is an amazing little town, well worth a day and lots of history, Fort Worth for the cowboy side of life - both downtown (Sundance Square and the museum areas) and the touristy but ever-popular Stockyards.

There was a good suggestion upthread re: golf in San Antonio

Rodeo - easiest option is to catch the Saturday night rodeo in the Stockyards in Ft Worth. There is also a fairly new and very well-located chain hotel called the Hyatt Place in the Stockyards, perfect for positioning yourselves for exploring/shopping/eating/rodeo - all without using the car. www.fortworthstockyards.org

Seaworld - if you're trying to fit things in, probably would be one thing I'd cut. There is a Six Flags and a huge waterpark in Arlington - if you're already in Arlington and want to hit a theme park, those are options. Six Flags is open late and we always timed our visits for very late afternoon, so we weren't in the heat of the day. (These are right down the road from the stadiums, too).

Fort Worth would be my pick over Dallas, but you can base yourselves in Arlington for access to the Rangers and Cowboys stadiums and have both Dallas and Fort Worth within easy reach. Dallas is much more cosmopolitan, Ft Worth is more laid-back.

We still haven't touched on Houston - are you still trying to fit that in?

Driving - I'd avoid I-35 through Austin like the plague at evening rush hour. It also gets congested on Friday and Sunday evenings in stretches, as people flee the cities for the weekends and then head home, so I would try to not be on that road at those times. The smaller roads that take you through the country are wonderful, but do watch your speed. Those small town cops just love to pounce on speeders!
txgirlinbda is offline  
Jan 8th, 2013, 02:25 PM
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Hi txgirlinbda

Well we certainly have lots to look into now. Thanks for your help and suggestions. I'm sure we will have lots more questions once we have started to research these places.

As for driving, we will more than likely take the scenic routes rather than the busy interstates so will invest in a new sat nav to take with us, this will keep us in check with the speed limits ha ha ha
Pottermouse is offline  
Jan 8th, 2013, 03:38 PM
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That's the standard line and is turning into arrant nonsense. Fort Worth is working feverishly to neutralize its cowtown image and project cosmopolitanism, thus it's becoming more "cosmo" by the day -- just look at the area near the Cultural District from 7th to Lancaster near University, whereas Dallas is working toward providing more family friendly sites and open green spaces (Perot Museum, Klyde Warren Park, Fair Park). Don't know what "laid back" means in that context other than the payscale in FW is still lower.

Arlington hotels are going to be of the La Quinta/Courtyard by Marriott type of vintage, not much more. Clean, comfortable, but hotel bars aren't really the thing - that's uptown Dallas and Victory Park area stuff. Arlington is not atmospheric - it's a bedroom community whose city council lured two big stadiums with tax breaks and sweetheart deals. Much like the other "mid-cities," it's a suburb where people who work in Dallas or FW live.

Sea World is in San Antonio, it's not a water park (that's a park with slides and pools and fat rednecks in skimpy bathing costumes). It has all the trained dolphins and orcas you'd ever want to see.

One other thing - have you tried to plot airfares for open jaw flights? They may be less for going into DFW and out of IAH (or vice versa) than for round trip to DFW and it's more convenient not to have to return to Houston or Dallas after starting the trip there.
BigRuss is offline  
Jan 8th, 2013, 03:41 PM
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Thank you for your interest in Texas, I just love it when people come to visit. I live in Austin and I would like to suggest a few things here. Do not miss the State Capitol Building. It's free to get in and I think tours are still free.

I suggest going to a show on 6th Street called Esther's Follies. It is a lot of political satire and you will laugh your butt off for two hours. Sixth Street in Austin is sort of comparable to Bourbon Street in New Orleans, with dozens of restaurants and many bars with live music. You could have an evening of dinner, Esther's Folllies, then head to a bar and listen to live music.

If you want a cool dip in a natural spring I recommend Barton Springs pool. The water is very cool as it is a natural spring but it's very refreshing on a hot summer day.

I am sorry to tell you this but the heat in TX might be worse than Arizona because in TX it's very humid, unlike the dry heat in AZ.

If you would like to share your budget I will try to make a suggestion for a hotel.

There is so much great info on this thread but if you have any specific questions about Austin I will be happy to help if I can.
P_M is online now  
Jan 9th, 2013, 09:19 AM
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What are the rules with children and bars in Texas?

We are not heavy drinkers by any means (a couple of glasses of wine or beer maximum) but of an evening we quite like to have our evening meal, take a walk and then perhaps stop at a bar to end the day.

Last summer in Scottsdale there were bars but we didn't feel comfortable going in there with our son as we didn't know if it was acceptable or not, so usually we went back to the hotel as they didn't mind kids being in there.

Obviously he's not old enough to drink ha ha ha
Pottermouse is offline  
Jan 9th, 2013, 09:55 AM
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With regards to hotels we are looking for somewhere that provides breakfast and has a pool.

As we haven't finalized our plans yet, we've only been browsing so nothing is set in stone but the type of thing we have been looking at is the Habitat Suites in Austin and the Admiral Hotel in Arlington, both working out about $100 per night.

We don't mind spending more, first and foremost it's cleanliness then location. Saying that we don't want to waste money on somewhere that we will be just using as a base and not staying there for a complete day to use the facilities.

We've stayed in various chain hotels before like Sheraton, Marriott etc and never had a problem, but we were looking for something smaller and not so business like.

Any websites that you can suggest we can look at or recommendations would be great.

Thanks again
Pottermouse is offline  

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