Did you know that Texas’ most famous Mission, the Mission San Antonio de Valero–the Alamo–is only one of a chain of missions strung along the San Antonio River? There are four other San Antonio River missions–Concepción, San José, San Juan, and Espada (going from North to South. Established between 1718 and 1731, these missions were built only to spread the Catholic faith, and also to serve multiple foreign policy objectives for the Spanish government. Today, all four mission churches still have active Catholic parishes that hold regular services.
Mission San Jose
The missions and surrounding land, make up San Antonio Missions National Historical Park which opened in 1983. The park’s visitor’s Center is in Mission San José (6701 San Jose Dr., San Antonio, TX 78214), where you can view a quick movie, Gente de Razon, which tells the story of life in the missions during the 1700s. If you love architecture, history, and nature the Mission Trail is well worth a visit. You can walk, bike or use your car to go up the trail. Count on spending between two to four hours to visit all the missions. Admission and guided tours are free but donations are welcome. Continue reading →
I’m never really going to afford a private jet and am far to cheap to fly first class (heck I usually fly Southwest Airlines and there ain’t any first class seats). To make flying easier I look for nonstop flights from Austin–makes the flight quicker (often cheaper) and certainly lessens the chance of delays as well as lost luggage. You can fly to a surprising number of cities nonstop from Austin—London, Boston, Orlando, Washington, and my favorite during ski season Salt Lake City. ABIA’s website has been kind enough to list all the cities and airlines that offer Nonstop service from Austin at http://www.austintexas.gov/department/nonstop-flights-out-abiaContinue reading →
The Capitol Complex is in the heart of downtown Austin and one of the most visited attractions in the state. The Capitol building dominates the Austin skyline and is visible for miles, especially approaching from the south. Free tours, which last about 45 minutes, begin in the South Foyer every 45 minutes and are available seven days a week, excluding major holidays.
Texas Capitol Facts
The Capitol :
Was built in 1886 in the Italian Renaissance Revival style with pink granite mined about 50 miles from the Capitol
Is the largest state Capitol in the U.S. in square footage. Standing at 308 ft tall the Texas State Capitol is 19 feet taller than the United States Captiol which is only 289 ft tall.
Is the fourth building to house the state government of Texas.
Is surrounded by 22 acres of grounds and monuments
Beautifully carved wooden doors are hinged with custom bronze hinges. The eight inch by eight inch hinges are inscribed with the words “Texas Capitol” and weigh over seven pounds each.
Texas Capitol Visitor’s Center
As you enter the Capital grounds, the Visitor’s Center is the large castle-like building to the right. The Visitor’s Center is located in the restored General Land Office Building. Built in 1856-57, it is the oldest state office building in Texas. The building opened in 1994 as the Capitol Visitors Center with the goal of educating visitors about the history of Texas. There are several exhibits, as well as travel counselors from the State Department of Transportation to help you plan the rest of your visit.
Austin became the capital of Texas Jan. 19, 1840, and this hill was platted as Capitol Square. A modest statehouse built here in the 1850s soon developed structural flaws. The Constitutional Convention of 1876 set aside about 3,000,000 acres of public land to finance another building. This was authorized after the 1850s Capitol burned on Nov. 9, 1881.
Architect E.E. Myers of Detroit won a national competition with his plans for this Capitol. The contractor was Mattheas Schnell of Rock Island, Ill. Basement excavation began early in 1882. Railroads built especially for this project hauled limestone from the Oatmanville quarries in Travis County as well as stone donated by the owners of the Granite Mountain in Burnet County. The 900 workmen on the project included 86 granite cutters brought from Scotland. Charles B. and John V. Farwell, Chicago bankers, funded the construction and were repaid in land in ten panhandle counties, on which they founded the famous XIT Ranch. At dedication ceremonies on May 18, 1888, the Capitol was accepted on behalf of the People by State Senator Temple Houston, son of Texas hero Sam Houston. He called it “a Structure that shall stand as a Sentinel of Eternity”. (1976)
Historical markers commemorate diverse topics, including: the history and architecture of houses, commercial and public buildings, religious congregations, and military sites; events that changed the course of local and state history; and individuals who have made lasting contributions to our state, community organizations, and businesses.
There are over 15,828 Official Texas Historical Markers placed throughout the state as of January 2013. Texas has the most prolific state historical marker program in the United States. Historical markers can be found in all 254 Texas counties. Travis County has approximately 451 markers, more than any other county in the state, with 415 of them being in Austin. Williamson County has 257, Hays 136 and Bastrop 124, according to the commission.
Tired of hanging around the house? Need to explore our great state? The State of Texas provides a free 272 page full color guide to help you plan your vacation. The guide offers information on 400 texas cities and attractions. It also has a special section on lakes and state parks. You can get the guide at http://www.traveltex.com/travelguide/
I had to go down to San Antonio for a business trip and had some extra time. What to do? Seen the Alamo, seen the missions, the River Walk….aha what’s this…something I haven’t visited–the San Antonio Botanical Gardens.
The San Antonio Botanical Gardens has 33 acres of gorgeous botanical gardens and indoor displays. Their are many different gardens including: Rose Garden, Kumamoto En Japanese Garden, Garden for the Blind, and a Herb garden.
It has been a stressful few months so we decided to take a trip to the beach. In these times, flying just adds to the stress level so we decided to drive down to Corpus Christi. The quickest way to Corpus is I-35 and then I-37 after San Antonio…crowded and again stressful. So we got on Mapquest and told it to avoid highways and found a . cool route from Austin, TX to Corpus Christi, TX that used Hwy 183 and then Hwy 77. I only knew Hwy 183 in Austin–crowded and dangerous. I learned it actually starts in South Dakota and ends in Refugio, Texas (and was the last US Highway to be paved). South of Austin it goes through beautiful rolling country, some of the best barbecue in Texas, and then Highway 77 takes you to the missions at Goliad.
The San Antonio Missions National Historical Park is a quick day trip from Austin that encompasses four historical Spanish churches and a long period of Texas History.
The Alamo is the most famous of San Antonio’s missions and unfortunately the only one most people take the time to see. The San Antonio Mission trail stretches south for 9 miles from The Alamo along the San Antonio river and has four beautiful 18th century Spanish churches–San José, Concepción , San Juan and Espada. The missions were built by Franciscan friars to help convert the Indians. The Coahuiltecans helped the friars build the missions because Apache and other enemies were threatening them and they could find safety behind the thick walls. One of the neat things about the Missions is that the four mission churches within San Antonio Missions National Historical Park are active catholic parishes, and hold regular services.
Got to fly Jet Blue for the first time out of Austin to Boston for a recent East Coast swing. I’ve always liked Southwest Airlines for domestic flights but I might have a new favorite airline. Plenty of legroom, efficient check-in, assigned seats, DirectTV and satellite radio at every seat (it truly helps pass the time). Heck even the snacks were decent (choice of 3-4 snacks instead of just peanuts). If you have a chance to try them–Highly Recommended.
The highlight of this trip was getting to go to the 2006 US Open (Ticketcity got me hooked up). The US Open is a quick subway trip from Midtown Manhattan (thanks to AMEX we got to stay 2 blocks from Broadway). The Open is a blast. Compared to going to a UT football game it is an intimate stage–only 23,000 in Arthur Ashe stadium, and the outside courts are like watching a match at a neigborhood tennis court (well OK the guys and gals playing there make the average club player look like they’re playing 1/2 speed). You do run into major tennis stars on the grounds of the tennis center–Jimmy Connors was signing autographs and having his picture taken the day we went. Cool trip and highly recommended if you’re a tennis fan.
This was also the first trip that we used Priceline. We sure lucked out. Got 2 hotels that were $200 on Expedia/Travelocity for $99. If you’re a geek and in Boston/Cambridge you need to try out Hotel MIT. It basically is a Radisson hotel with geeky decorations like Robots in the lobby, circuit boards for lamps, pictures of famous scientists in the rooms. The throw on the bed was filled with equations–been too long since engineering school I could only identify about half of them.
Security checks, dragging heavy bags, early morning flights … all contribute to the stress of airport travel these days. Airport Fast Park makes it just a bit easier. Park in a covered parking lot, behind a fence and the shuttle drive picks you up from the car (no dragging bags to a bus stop), helps you with the bags and delivers you to the airport. The little touches truly help, such as writing your car’s location on your ticket for you, and free bottles of water (both coming and going) and a free newspaper. I’m a fan. They usually have a coupon on their internet site so check before you go.
Airport Fast Park, 2300 Spirit of Texas Dr, Del Valle, 78617 – (512) 385-8877