A week in Texas?

Old Feb 18th, 2010, 03:42 PM
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A week in Texas?

We're English and thinking of spending a week in Texas as part of our holiday this year. Probably September. We thought of flying to Dallas/Fort Worth (spend 2 nights there), hire a car and drive to Austin (1 night), San Antonio (1 night), Corpus Christi or anywhere on the coast (1 night) and Houston (2 nights). Is that 'doable' do you think and what shouldn't we miss, apart from the Kennedy museum, the Alamo, NASA and maybe the San Antonio riverwalk ? Maybe I've left out one or two gems and would you miss any of those places altogether? Any advice would be nice!
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Old Feb 18th, 2010, 03:56 PM
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Your itinerary calls for a LOT of driving: Dallas - Austin (4 hours), Austin - San Antonio (1.5 hours), San Antonio - Corpus (2.5 hours) and Corpus - Houston (5 hours). That's really a full day of your vacation just driving!
I'd recommend paring down what you really want to see and do. If it were me, I'd fly into Austin and spend most of my time in the Hill Country (Austin/San Antonio). There's also lots of neat little towns in the area, like Fredericksburg, which are worth a day trip. Then drive from San Antonio to Houston (3.5 hours) and spend your last 2 days there and fly out of Houston. If you absolutely have to go to a beach, Galveston is only an hour away and Moody Gardens is nice.
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Old Feb 18th, 2010, 04:02 PM
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That's an awful lot of driving for only one day in most of the cities. I'm not sure you can do justice to all of them in only a week.

Dallas and Fort Worth are far enough apart that getting from one to the other takes a little doing. You easily could spend 2 days in each of them.

Austin is at least 3 hours from the DFW area (depending on from where/to where you are driving and time of day), so you lose about half a day to driving there. San Antonio is at least an hour from Austin, and I always allowed at least 90 minutes.

I would skip Corpus Christi. The Texas coast is just not that pretty compared to other parts of the US. If you really want to see the water, make a trip to Galveston while you are in Houston.

And San Antonio to Houston is at least 3 hours. Traffic around Houston can be horrific, so it easily could take 4 hours or more when you factor inexactly where you are going.

Otherwise, I would say all four of the four specific things you mentioned above are worth visiting.
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Old Feb 18th, 2010, 04:11 PM
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That should be "factor in exactly" - if you "factory inexactly" you are likely to get lost!

Take seriously the advice longhorn55 and I gave about distances and driving - I'm sure many others will echo it. I don't think I would enjoy the itinerary you are proposing, even without jet lag!

The Hill Country is indeed pretty, and different from the countryside in England, but I am not sure it outranks Dallas and Fort Worth for first-time international visitors. If you were coming when the wildflowers are blooming in spring, on the other hand, I would say by all means visit the Hill Country. Of course, if you want to see more than just cities, a small town like Fredericksburg (founded by German immigrants) might be a welcome change.
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Old Feb 18th, 2010, 04:30 PM
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I completely agree that is too much driving. And one night in San Antonio is just not enough time! I'd suggest picking a couple of main areas. With only one week, I'd recommend the Dallas-Fort Worth area followed by San Antonio. Maybe one day in Austin if you really want. But I wouldn't suggest squeezing Corpus Christi and Houston in such a short trip.
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Old Feb 19th, 2010, 12:13 AM
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I would skip Houston and the coast and spend more time in San Antonio and Texas Hill country.

Here my personal recommendations:

- An evening in Fort Worth at the Stockyards is an excellent introduction into Texan lifestyle. Enjoy the hubbub of beer & BBQ places, bars, western stores, arriving and departing trains, Harley Davidsons, middle-aged long-haired bearded men in black leather and their matching brides and colourful street life. I would strongly recommend to stay in a hotel in the Stockyards area (or to come and go by taxi).

Besides, Fort Worth has several art museums. However, I am not sure, if those are so special for a European.

- Austin is a beautiful city with its lake and park, the Capitol building and nice museums. The main reason to visit Austin is, however, the music scene. Walk through the blues clubs on 6th Street or into those famous venues like Antone's Club (actually on 5th Street).

- When you are driving from Austin to San Antonio, take the scenic backroads through Texas Hill country. There are wineries and charming small towns and villages. Fredericksburg has been mentioned. I would add Luckenbach, a tiny hamlet (pop. 3) with lots of ambiance, all-day live music and pulled pork sandwiches, and Gruene, another tiny village with a primordial dance hall where celebrities like Jerry Lee Lewis, Bo Diddley, Taj Mahal, Arlo Guthrie and even Englishman John Mayall performed. I wished we would have stayed overnight in Gruene in order to experience a nightly performance in Gruene Hall.

- San Antonio deserves much more than one night. It easily wins the "Most beautiful City of Texas"-contest. The riverwalk is just one attraction. There are others: The five (!) missions, all different and easy to visit, the King William Historic District, the Spanish Governor's Palace, the colourful Mexican market, the Buckhorn Saloon, the Institute of Texan Cultures and, again, several other museums.

Visiting Texas is really an experience, and the heart of Texas is not in the big cities but in the small villages. What can you expect from a State, whose capital city's motto is "Keep Austin weird!"? - Really weird people. You will see them in the Stockyards, in Luckenbach, in Gruene Hall, in the Buckhorn Saloon and at many other places. These people, their music, excellent (German style) beer, pulled pork, barbecued steaks and the mixture of cultures make Texas a unique experience.
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Old Feb 19th, 2010, 03:58 AM
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Wow, such good replies already - thanks! OK, so far I think we can cut out Corpus Christi and maybe see Galveston when we're in Houston. That gives us an extra night for San Antonio and a visit to Frederickburg on the way. I don't mind driving (in fact I quite enjoy the experience of driving in the States). Keep the ideas coming!
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Old Feb 19th, 2010, 07:15 AM
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If you can time your trip to have you in San Antonio for a Saturday night/Sunday morning, I really enjoyed the Mariachi Mass at one of the local missions. Enjoy dinner and nightlife on the Riverwalk then visit the church/mission the next morning. It was about 1/2 locals and about 1/2 tourists when I was there but it was a memorable service.

What interests you in Houston?
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Old Feb 19th, 2010, 08:22 AM
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Not sure if you're traveling w/ children, your ages or if this is even your thing but there are also two fabulous parks in SA - Seaworld and Fiesta Texas. In September Seaworld is open on weekends only so you'd need to take that into consideration. If you're into amusement rides, Fiesta Texas is open on Sept. 4, 5, 6, 11 & 12th. My husband and I have 2 kids - ages 4 and 8 - and we go at least once - if not more - every summer. The dates are limited as it's the end of the season but if you're "riders" you may want to try and work them into your plans.

Here are the websites:
http://www.seaworld.com/sanantonio/
http://www.sixflags.com/fiestaTexas/index.aspx

Ya'll have a great time...lol!
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Old Feb 20th, 2010, 09:56 AM
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We won't be looking for theme parks this time (too old!). I thought about visiting Houston because of NASA and because we tend to like visiting cities for a couple of nights. Thanks for the tip about the Mariachi Mass. I just 'googled' it and like the sound of it.
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Old Feb 20th, 2010, 10:33 AM
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Have you been to Texas previously? Much of the driving between cities is incredibly boring and far from scenic. You will also want to check out the added cost of picking up a hired car in one location and returning it to another, as it can be quite dear.
Are you locked into arriving into Dallas? What will be your departure in England? You could fly into Houston, spend two days there, pick up a car and drive to Austin (3 - 3.5 hours) for a night or two, then drive through the Hill Country to San Antonio (allow 2 hours, more if stopping along the way) for two or three days, continue back to Houston/Galveston (3.5-4 hours), return the car and depart from Houston.
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Old Feb 20th, 2010, 05:43 PM
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jaguar7777777-
I'm a native Texan and happy to welcome you to the Lone Star State! There is so much to see and do here that, since you only have a week, I'd suggest you concentrate your visit on the central area of Texas: Austin, San Antonio and the surrounding Hill Country. Your original itinerary is way too much time driving on the interstate and not enough time enjoying what Texas has to offer. Echnaton gave you some great recommendations here! If you will post again with a little more detail about your interests and taste in food and entertainment, we can give you lots of excellent tips and trip ideas.
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Old Feb 20th, 2010, 06:53 PM
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I second Saige's sentiments and also advice. I am also a native Texan and live very near Houston. Austin, though, is my first love. There is so much to do there and in the surrounding Hill Country area. I would fly into DFW and see Ft. Worth if you are interested in the "cowboy" side of Texas. I would drive to Austin and make that your "day trip" location. You can see Austin, New Braunfels/Gruene, Fredricksburg, some really good wineries, and San Antonio. If you must drive to see NASA, then the drive from Austin to Houston is just about 2.5 hours. NASA is another 45 minutes with traffic. Galveston is nice but would not be on my list if I only had a week. Rental car rates as a rule are fairly inexpensive in Texas, compared to other parts of the US, even with a one way charge tacked on. Use Priceline to book your hotels. The four and three star downtown choices in Austin are all good options and will save you a lot of money that you can spend on the great food in Austin and beyond. If you let us know the types of things you are interested in, we all can probably help you out a bit more.
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Old Feb 20th, 2010, 07:09 PM
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May I also add a question about your including a visit to the coast? I'm not sure what your expectations are of the Texas coast, so it would be good to know what you are expecting. You aren't really going to find a beautiful coastline at Galveston either. Galveston itself is very interesting, just want to check on what you are looking for in the coastal visit.
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Old Feb 21st, 2010, 01:52 PM
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Thanks for your kind replies and offers to help. We've visited 23 States on our holidays over the years and Texas would be No.24! We keep coming back because, as well as the great scenery and cities, almost invariably the people are very kind and helpful. Having read your replies so far, maybe we'll look into flying into San Antonio (hopefully from Manchester although we accept we may have to fly from London), stay in SA for 3 nights, then take in the Hill Country and Austin (2 nights?) and then choose between Houston or Dalles/FW (2 nights). We'll forget about the coast I think. Our second week will be a cruise from Fort Lauderdale, so we'll need to fly there from our last Texan city. The one-way charge for a rental car is a good point, but I'll shop around to get a good deal. Our interests are varied. It seems a shame to travel all that way and not see The Alamo and the Dallas Sixth Floor Book Depository Museum but equally we'd like to get a taste of what the real Texas is all about. Cheers!
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Old Feb 21st, 2010, 02:28 PM
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There is a lot of good information in other posts by city on this forum that you might look at as you decide where to spend your time in Texas.

When you visit the Riverwalk in San Antonio, the Alamo is just a short walk from that area. There are many good hotels and dining options on the Riverwalk.

Unless you plan to take advantage of the cultural opportunities in Houston, I would not make that a destination on this trip. NASA is not actually in Houston but about an hour away.

A recent post on Fort Worth has some good suggestions for museums.
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Old Feb 21st, 2010, 03:01 PM
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Continental has two flights daily from Manchester to their hub in Newark from which you can fly direct (or via Houston) to San Antonio. In fact, CO also serves Fort Lauderdale so you might check whether you can book a multiple destinations itinerary on my favorite airline. Do check out booking the international and domestic US portions separately, as it sometimes works out to be less expensive.
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Old Feb 21st, 2010, 05:23 PM
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The Alamo is very much a part of the real Texas, so your are right that it would be a shame to miss seeing it! Must visitors, however, are surprised to discover that it is squarely in the middle of San Antonio, so you have the iconic façade surrounded by the concrete of the city.
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Old Feb 21st, 2010, 06:23 PM
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The Alamo is right in the heart of SA, as Cranachin said, across the street from Ripley's Believe it or Not (why, oh why?). It's pretty small, so don't expect it to take you much more than an hour to view. On your way from SA to Austin you might enjoy Natural Bridge Caverns - we thought they were pretty spectacular.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2010, 02:47 AM
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Thanks again. I've just asked three travel agents for a price. The first one suggests flying to Dallas/Fort Worth from Manchester via Chicago. Rental car for 7 nights. Staying Dallas (or FW) 3 nights, San Antonio (3 nights), Austin (2 nights). He says no drop-off fee for car. He suggests visiting Austin last because there's a direct Jet Blue flight to Fort Lauderdale (for the second week of our holiday). I suppose the down side is the lng trip from Dallas to SA. Never heard of Jet Blue.
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