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Dallas in April amended to Dallas and San Antonio in April...thoughts?

Dallas in April amended to Dallas and San Antonio in April...thoughts?

Old Jan 13th, 2015, 10:44 AM
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Dallas in April amended to Dallas and San Antonio in April...thoughts?

So my husband wasn't overly excited about Dallas...he's been having to go every year for work. Here are the new plans:

Me, hubby, 2 young boys (5&6), brother in law. Flying in from NH for 5 nights in TX. We arrive DFW at 930am on Saturday. After getting the rental car, we will head to Klyde Warren Park for fun and food trucks. We have a free pass for the Perot Museum so we may kill an hour or so there as well. No hotel picked yet....looking to stay on the Fort Worth side since we will spend Sunday morning at the Stockyards. Plan to do the maze and see the cattle. The boys will enjoy walking around for a bit, but no shopping. After lunch we will head to San Antonio. I'm thinking Sunday afternoon shouldn't be too bad, at least there won't be any road construction going on.

Sun/Mon/Tues nights will be at the TownePlace Suites San Antonio. It's located right near the Alamo and Riverwalk. I scored an awesome deal ($65/night plus parking). We plan to spend one day at Natural Bridges Cave and then the wildlife park. We will visit the Alamo, Riverwalk, maybe a mission or two (not sure the kids will be interested), and Brackenridge Park. We enjoy letterboxing and geocaching, so those will likely determine which mission we visit.

Wednesday we have all day to drive back to Dallas and see sights along the way. I'm trying to decide if we take I35 or 281. If we take I35, we can stop in Austin to see the state house (although we could do that on the way down), maybe stop in Waco for the mammoth site, Czech Stop in West. If we do 281, it'll be more scenic, but the kids don't really care about that. We could stop in Glen Rose for the Dinosaur Park, but I'll have to check beforehand and make sure the tracks are visible. Thoughts on which route and where to stop along the way?

We will spend Wednesday night near DFW and visit with family for dinner. Then we have an 830am flight out.

Thanks for all your advice!
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Old Jan 13th, 2015, 11:06 AM
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It sounds like a great trip. I would love to be there when the bluebonnets are blooming.

I know you will probably say the kids won't be interested, but consider a stop at the wildflower center, especially since you'll be there at a great time for wildflowers -
https://www.wildflower.org/whatsinse...ate=2014-04-23

There is a family garden -
https://www.wildflower.org/familygarden_about/

Maybe the locals can advise re especially pretty routes -
http://www.highlandlakes.com/wildflowers/
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Old Jan 13th, 2015, 11:10 AM
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Starrs - that's great! I thought we would be a couple weeks too late for the wildflowers. Maybe we should take 281 on our way back to Dallas then so we can drive thru Hill Country. My husband and brother in law both enjoy photography.
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Old Jan 13th, 2015, 11:16 AM
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Oh, and thanks for the info on the children's garden. I knew the Wildlife Center existed, but didn't realize they had an entire section for kids.
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Old Jan 13th, 2015, 11:22 AM
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" My husband and brother in law both enjoy photography."

Even better.

One of my favorite paintings is of the bluebonnets - to remind me of my time in Texas. The sad thing is, I never hit it during really good bluebonnet time. Post some pictures for me.
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Old Jan 14th, 2015, 03:45 AM
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I will....once I can figure out how to post pics to Fodor's. I'm not the most tech savvy.
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Old Jan 14th, 2015, 05:44 AM
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I'm pondering the I-35/ 281 question...not sure which way I'd recommend. 281 is going to be a slower route, adding on to your drive time, and if there is a wreck on it, as there was once with our Dallas son coming down to visit us, you can be delayed badly. BUT I-35 is never a picnic between San Antonio and Dallas. It will be quicker than 281, but there is ALWAYS construction on it, and if they aren't actively working because it's Sunday, the lanes still narrow down with those concrete barriers on either side with sections of no shoulders or breakdown lanes. I hate that highway more than any other, made even worse by the streams of big rigs courtesy of NAFTA! I wish I could remember how much time 281 added to our drive, but it was enough that we've only done it once, despite hating I-35 as we do. Traffic going through Austin is hellacious, and we now use the toll road 130 to get around Austin. I think we pay around $6 in tolls, but it's $6 well spent! There are few trucks, little traffic of any sort, and the speed limit is 80. It's about 40-50 miles of smooth sailing.

Not knowing your April dates it's hard to judge if there will be any bluebonnets when you are there, but if they are spent, other windflowers will still be blooming. Even if I did know your dates it'd be hard to judge as a cold print of course will delay bloom.

Have an appointment so have to run. Will come back later and give a few more ideas on San Antonio with kids.
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Old Jan 14th, 2015, 06:04 AM
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There's usually a bluebonnet watch website. I think it's only monitored closer to blooming. The Ladybird's "what's in bloom" (link above) is a good backup.

Enjoy a great trip
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Old Jan 14th, 2015, 06:12 AM
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Just thought of something else. I was trying to figure out the cave adventure we went on in the Hill country and saw this via a google search -
http://www.dallasnews.com/lifestyles...-cave-bats.ece
Which reminded me of the bats at the bridge in Austin -
http://austin.about.com/od/austinatt..._in_Austin.htm

Summer is the best time to see them fly out at dusk but the article said -
"The Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue bridge in downtown Austin is the spring and summer home to some 750,000 bats with up to 1.5 million bats at the peak of the bat-watching season. It's the largest urban bat colony in North America."

and "Although the Congress Avenue bats are in residence as early as March, the best bat views are in August when the young pups join their mothers in the nightly flights. It can take as long as 45 minutes for all the bats to exit the bridge."

Locals can weigh in re April (or call the # given in the article) but I think your kids would love seeing it.
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Old Jan 14th, 2015, 06:17 AM
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We will be there from the 25th thru 30th.

I have a friend in Austin who said the bats won't be there yet....I really wanted to see them.
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Old Jan 14th, 2015, 07:28 AM
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Closer to the trip, I'd call the # and check on status. I'm sure April's flights won't be as dramatic as August's, but I'd still love to see it.
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Old Jan 14th, 2015, 08:27 AM
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http://tpr.org/post/return-bracken-b...-texas-farmers

The bats will be back full force, 10 million strong, in Bracken Cave by the end of April as per above website. Largest bat colony in the world, allegedly. The drive leading to the bat cave is just yards down the road from Natural Bridge Caverns, but private land, no signs of course, just a dirt road with a gate across it. Our subdivision is on the same road as the bat cave and Natural Bridge Caverns, a couple miles south, so we get fly overs in the evening near sunset. There are so many it takes hours for them all to leave the cave. Viewings are offered on select days in the summer months.

I'm glad you are doing the caverns! They are terrific and you all will really enjoy the experience. We had some friends visit from England who felt it was the highlight of their visit.

The Riverwalk has been extended north to the Pearl Brewery complex. Some of the water taxis go all the way up and have to go through a lock to do so. That would be fun for all of you, but especially the kids. Not sure where to catch the taxi as I always walk the route. They've done a terrific job with the landscaping on the northern extension, and when you reach the end there are some restaurants and shops in the brewery complex.

I wanted to mention too that there is a children's museum in downtown San Antonio if the kids are needing more to do.

At the end of April bluebonnets will be finished pretty much...no more masses of them, but other wild flowers will still be blooming along roadsides, so drives will still be pretty. Enjoy your trip. You've chosen the best time of year for south central Texas!
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Old Jan 14th, 2015, 08:36 AM
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The drive to the bat cave.....just sounds funny.

Thanks for the info on the water taxi. I had planned a boat ride and now I'll make sure to find out which one goes thru the locks. I've never been thru locks, so screw the kids, I want to see it!
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Old Jan 14th, 2015, 08:55 AM
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Can we go to Bracken Cave when its not officially open? The website says dates and hours will be announced in June.
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Old Jan 14th, 2015, 10:24 AM
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Oh, OO! How magical to see that every night!

Natural Bridge Caverns! That's it. That was a great weekend trip (from Dallas).

How about this? Do you know of a little city or county (I don't think it was state) park outside of New Braunfels. There was a waterfall on a spillway and a rope swing out into the "swimming hole". Very clear - and cold! - water.

We were down at Padre Island and a hurricane was planted out in the gulf so we drove inland to escape the rain. We stopped at a friend's house and they took us out to this park and we sunbathed on the rocks and loved the little hidden treasure. I've looked on the map but can't find a town name that rings a bell.
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Old Jan 14th, 2015, 12:52 PM
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My wife and I just returned from a 3-week Texas road trip and did the 281 drive from Fort Worth to Johnson City.

We enjoyed driving these back roads way more than being on any interstate. Funky towns you pass through like Hico and Lampasas where you can stop for some food or a slice of homemade pecan pie. Not your normal tourist destinations, but the photographers in the group will find these towns interesting.

In Johnson City the LBJ ranch was an enjoyable afternoon for us. For kids of any age the Sauer-Beckmann Farm, part of the ranch now, should be a lot of fun.
http://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/lyndon-b-johnson
http://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/ly...k_history#farm

The interpreters told us they let the kids pitch in with some chores when the weather is nice. Also a small herd of buffalo is on the site.

No need to do the Texas White House tour if you don't have the time, but the rest of it would be a worthwhile stop in my book.
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Old Jan 14th, 2015, 01:00 PM
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No I don't know it starrs...Landa Park is in New Braunfels but I don't know about a spillway there. Max Starcke Park in Seguin has a spillway, but I dunno about a rope swing.

The bats come out of the cave in a corkscrew pattern, almost straight up. By the time they get to us they are pretty high, so it's not like standing on the Congress Ave Bridge where you are quite close. I wasn't even aware of the cave for our first year there, then one morning saw a bat on the side of our house, got the binocs to get a better look and saw this long tail, like a mouse...googled it, found it was a Mexican Freetail and that the largest colony of bats was this variety in Bracken Cave. The name Bracken is all around us here, but the cave location was hush hush until recently. Still, I knew we were close. Then we began to look for them at dusk, and voila. Only the people who belonged to BCI could go for an emergence at that time, and an employee of DH's, knowing our interest, gave him a membership one Christmas so we went the next summer. Now others know of the location and the emergence is open to the public (for a fee, and limited number of people). You can't go onto Bracken Cave's property without them, and the cave itself is probably a mile off Natural Bridge Caverns Rd. The mouth is mammoth but I wouldn't want to clammer down there even if I could. It's prime snake territory, and we have both rattlers and coral snakes. The emergences are all guided by a BCI employee. They come out for so long you actually get bored watching them after a while. LOL Google "Bracken Cave emergence" and you'll find any number of youtube videos with footage from where tours stand to view the emergence.
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Old Jan 14th, 2015, 01:27 PM
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Here's a good video for you rizzo, as it gives you a little peek at Natural Bridge Caverns interior as well as an emergence. It sounds as if they are now in partnership with BCI for emergence tours, which is a natural as the entrances to each are practically side by side.

http://thekidshouldseethis.com/post/...s-hill-country
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