Austin, Texas has many claims to fame. It’s the liberal hotbed of conservative Texas, the live music capitol of the world (or at least the country), and it’s proudly “weird”. It’s also been criticized for skyrocketing costs of living in recent years and an LA-like obsession with status and trendiness. Both the criticism and the most well-known characteristics, however, fail to touch on one of the things that makes Austin so attractive to residents and visitors alike: its natural beauty and the ample opportunities to enjoy it for little or no money.
McKinney Falls State Park sits on the southeast corner of the city and can be enjoyed every day for just $5 per person. The park offers shaded campgrounds for tents and RVs, as well as plenty of outdoor recreation for the day visitor. Biking and bouldering are among the most popular – and will burn the health conscious the most calories – but long walks and fishing can keep the laid back crowd in touch with Mother Nature.
As the name suggests, McKinney Falls State Park is also home to some photogenic scenery, including the upper and lower waterfalls. While small, the falls are beautiful and give kids a chance to get up close and personal with the rushing water as the rocks that form the falls can actually be traversed by foot.
Austin’s weather makes McKinney and other local parks enjoyable all year long, but the extreme heat of the summer does call for safety precautions like ample water and shade breaks. The mild winters are perfect for throwing out a sweatshirt and getting out into the sunshine.
Photos: Britt Reints
Wondering what to do this weekend? Need to get a little more art in your life? How about camping out with artists? Then check out the 6th Annual Art Outside festival in Rockdale, Texas!
The small city of Rockdale, about an hour Northeast of Austin, is the unlikely site for the 6th Annual Art Outside festival, a three-day extravaganza featuring everything that makes Central Texas such a unique center for art. Happening the weekend of October 22 – 24, this festival celebrates creative art in all its forms, bringing it out of the galleries and into a forest setting where its different manifestations can intermingle and be enjoyed by all.
Interactive art installations!
Texas likes to do things in a big way, and its state history museum is no exception. The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum (see, even its name is big) in Austin, just a few blocks away from the state capitol, tells the story of Texas in a big way.
From the big Texas star out front to the IMAX theatre inside that tells Texas’ story on the big screen, this museum is full of information and icons of Texas history and culture. Walk in time from the first settlers of the state, through its periods of independence, and to its role in the space program. See how agriculture, oil, and technology fit into the state’s picture. You don’t have to be from Texas to appreciate this museum, as this Minnesotan can attest. Read More »
Things start to heat up during the Texas Summers, both literally and figuratively. June festivals are a great opportunity to get out and have some fun before the bone-melting heat of late summer.
Texas State Flag
1. The 62nd Annual Shrimporee in Arkansas Pass, Texas – They claim to have the largest shrimp festival in Texas. Do they have the largest shrimp in Texas or just the largest festival? I wonder.
2. The 16th Annual Republic of Texas Biker Rally in Austin, Texas – I bet this gathering is loud and fun. They have Xtreme fighting, midget wrestling and Bag Lady Sue comedy. What a combination!
3. Boerne Berges Festival in Boerne, Texas – I have no idea what a Berges festival is, but they have lawn mower races and a washer pitching contest and Dachshund races. Sounds like fun to me.
4. Texas Texas Scottish Festival & Highland Games in Arlington, Texas – All I can say is, MEN IN KILTS.
5. Texas Reds Festival in Bryan, Texas – Steak and Grape (wine?) festival. They’re both red. They’re both featured. Sounds PERFECT to me.
6. Alley Fest in Longview, Texas – Music, food and arts. Can’t go wrong with that combination.
7. Texas Folklife Festival in San Antonio, Texas – Celebrating over 40 different cultures and heritages in Texas. Yeehaw!!
8. The 57th annual Watermelon Thump in Luling, Texas – I just love the name. Nothing says summer better than watermelon. They have a speed spitting contest and a melon eating contest.
9. Summer Balloon Classic in Waxahachie, Texas – Me, my camera & my kids will be there. A sky filled with balloons is something I can’t miss. Not to mention I currently really want to go on a balloon ride…
10. Dr. Pepper Birthday Celebration in Dublin, Texas – Did you know Dr Pepper was made in Texas and will be 118 years old this June? If you don’t love Dr Pepper, you’re crazy!