Open Road

Take A Weekend Trip To One Of The Fun Spots In Texas

Here's your chance to leave Houston for the holidays.

By Catherine Wendlandt and Rebekah Kibodeaux November 25, 2021 Published in the Fall 2021 issue of Houstonia Magazine

The activity: Apple Picking

Apple Valley Orchard in Llano

John and Susan Caballero wanted a retirement project. So, in 2005, they started Apple Valley Orchard (, south of Llano in the Hill Country. The orchard has around 500 trees now. Pick Gala apples or pick up some Fuji, Pink Lady, Granny Smith, and more varieties in store. Don’t leave without grabbing a jar of apple butter or sweet jalapeños as well. 12340 S. State Highway 16, Llano.

Eat/drink: At the original Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que ( in Llano, “it’s all about the meat.” Go wild on Central Texas ‘cue, like brisket and sausage, and order apple cobbler for dessert.

Stay: Live like outlaws at the Dabbs Railroad Hotel and B&B (, a favorite of Bonnie and Clyde. The historic hotel, built in 1907 on the Llano River, features concerts every other Thursday.

Also try: From the top of the orchard’s hill you can spot Enchanted Rock (, so take an afternoon to hike Texas’s pink granite mountain, about 24 miles south of Llano.


The Activity: Fall Festival

New Braunfels Wurstfest

Sprechen sie “fun”? It’s sausage season in New Braunfels, and that means 10 whole days of the city’s proudest and loudest festival: Wurstfest. Party with locals during this annual celebration of German culture in a town that regularly marries the modern way of life with the history of Comal County. 5–10 p.m. Mon–Wed, 5–11 p.m. Thurs–Fri, 11 a.m. to midnight Sat, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sun, Nov. 5–14. 120 Landa St., New Braunfels.

Eat/Drink: Any Wurstfest virtuoso will tell you to come to the festival hungry. With “dusseldogs,” potato skins, and various offerings of strudel on the menu, the Marktplatz is the place to go for all things schnitzel.

Stay: The Schlitterbahn Resort ( offers entrance to the New Braunfels branch of the notorious waterpark many Houstonians already know and love, but with the added bonus of being the closest lodging to Wurstfest activities.

Also try: Be sure to sign yourself, or your frenemy, up for the Masskrugstemmen competition. Challengers must hold a stein full of beer in the air for longer than their adversaries to be crowned the victor. Watch that you don’t spill a single drop!


The activity: Haunted Hotel

The Menger Hotel in San Antonio

The city of San Antonio attracts tourists like a moth to a flame. Some guests are so attached to the area that they simply refuse to leave—so what if their check-in date was in the 1890s? The oldest continuously operating hotel west of the Mississippi, the Menger Hotel houses a rumored 32 ghostly entities, ranging from President Teddy Roosevelt to Captain Richard King, founder of the one and only King Ranch. From $149. 204 Alamo Plaza, San Antonio.

Eat/Drink: With temperatures dropping and spirits stirring, there’s no better time to grab a seat and test your ghost-hunting know-how at the Menger Bar. Voted one of the Top 10 Most Historic Bars in the United States, the space was constructed in 1887 as an exact replica of London’s House of Lords Pub.

Stay: You’re going to want to request a room on the third floor, where poor, sweet Sallie White, a deceased chambermaid from 1876, is said to regularly make her appearance.

Also try: If that’s not enough ghoulish yesteryear for you, hop onto the Sisters Grimm Ghost Bus ( for a truly wild ride through the old Bexar County jail and San Antonio’s most historic cemetery.


The activity: Día de los Muertos

Día de los Muertos Street Festival in Corpus Christi

Watch the streets of Corpus Christi come to life as the city joins together for its massive, colorful Day of the Dead fest, which honors the Mexican holiday with plenty of dancing, crafts, face painting, food, games, and more. Buy a calavera (sugar skull) at the juried Hecho-A-Mano Art Expo, admire the ofrendas (altars to guide spirits home) downtown, and pick your favorite piñatas in the kids’ competition.

3 p.m. to midnight Oct 30. Free. 619 N. Chaparral St., Corpus Christi.

Eat/drink: You know the seafood’s fresh when the restaurant’s right on the water. Former bait stand and burger joint Snoopy’s Pier ( offers deliciously cheap seafood baskets and breathtaking sunset views. 

Stay: They say “when in Rome,” so when in Corpus, stay by the water. The beachfront Emerald Beach Hotel ( is right on Corpus Christi Bay, but if it’s too chilly to relax by the shore, try the heated indoor swimming pool.

Also try: Have an otterly amazing time right on the water at Texas State Aquarium ( See a show at Dolphin Bay, feed a stingray in the lagoon, and even learn about raptors in Eagle Pass.


The activity: Leaf Peeping

Lost Maple State Natural Area

This fall, go leaf peeping at Lost Maple State Natural Area out in Vanderpool. From mid-October to mid-November, the park’s Uvalde bigtooth maples explode in spectacular red, orange, and yellow leaves, the closest impression of New England we’ll get this far south of Vermont. 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. $6, free for kids 12 & under. Lost Maple State Natural Area, 37221 F.M. 187, Vanderpool.

Eat/drink: After a long day of hiking, you’ll want to kick back with some home cooking. Head to Lost Maples Cafe ( in Utopia for a burger, or maybe enchiladas, and a slice of pie.

Stay: The Lodges at Lost Maples are nestled 2,100 feet above sea level in the “Swiss Alps of Texas.” We recommend booking the Villa at Polvadeau Vineyards. Wine and mountains? Maybe this is Vermont (

Also try: Speed through more than 100 years of motorcycle cycle history at the Lone Star Motorcycle Museum ( in Vanderpool. Be sure to ask owners Allen and Debbie Johncock about their racing days.


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