Weekend Texas Shopping and Historical Road Trip from Houston

Road Trip from Houston

Texas Road Trip

Are you new to Houston and thinking about taking a road trip for a weekend? Living in a state that is so large, bigger than some countries, is kind of like living in a state within a state. When traveling on a plane from Houston to LA, almost half of the journey is over Texas. Houston to El Paso is 741.4 miles, and El Paso to LA is 804.9 miles.

If you haven’t lived in Houston long and are interested in seeing more of Texas, mini vacations are wonderful. Plan a weekend road trip. Go for a historical road trip, see museums, and stop to view historical markers (my husband likes to call them hysterical markers). There are also plenty of nearby day trips you can enjoy that are close to Houston.

I grew up in towns on the east side of Texas and am still learning about Texas history (my favorite subject in school back in the day incidentally). My dad was the pastor of a church in the small town of Center, Texas. He traveled a lot to churches all over Texas, especially on the eastern side. Often, we went to church meetings in different towns.

Many of the towns we went to were small like Center. Back then it was common for the town drugstores to have a soda fountain. I remember walking to a store that had a soda fountain a block or so away from the elementary school I attended. We could eat off campus if we brought a signed note from our parents giving us permission. Every time I ate lunch at the soda fountain, I ordered a grilled cheese sandwich and a coke. Then I walked over to an auto supply store where my brother worked because I knew he would give me a big dill pickle. The store kept a huge jar of dill pickles on the counter. Going to lunch at the soda fountain with a dill pickle for dessert was the highlight of my elementary school days.

That all changed when I was eleven. Dad accepted the pastorate of a church in Port Arthur, three hours away and on the Gulf Coast. Center’s population was about 4,000 people at that time. The population of Port Arthur was approximately 60,000. The city is part of the Golden Triangle which includes Beaumont and Orange.

Moving to a different city is challenging for every member of a family. I was not happy at first about the move we made to Port Arthur. My mother told me that one day I told her I wasn’t going to move, that I was running away. She said I got on my bike (back then we rode our bikes everywhere – and without helmets) and took off. Watching, she said I got down the road a short distance and turned around and came back.

After I had lived in Port Arthur a year, I went back to Center to see my friends. They teased me about the way I talked and being a city girl. Life had changed. Until then I didn’t realize my dialect was any different than before.

Years later when I moved to Houston and worked downtown, I was asked on the phone one day if I was from the Midwest. It’s interesting how a person’s dialect can change by moving from one region to another even in one state.

Once you feel like exploring outside of the Houston area, visit San Antonio. Houston is only a three-hour journey to San Antonio, a city full of history and sites for the whole family to enjoy. It’s definitely worth taking more than just a weekend trip there.

East Texas is green and hilly with red clay. South Texas spans the area from its largest city, San Antonio, to the Rio Grande Valley to the eastern side by the Gulf of Mexico.

The Grand Canyon is the largest canyon in the United States, but Texas has the second largest in the northern part of the state, Palo Duro Canyon, in the Panhandle near Amarillo although Amarillo is considered West Texas.  I saw the Grand Canyon before I ever knew there was a canyon almost as large in Texas.

West Texas is arid with very little rain, different than the rest of the state. People often are surprised that there are mountains in Texas. Yes, the western part of Texas has several – Guadalupe, Davis, Chisos, and Christmas Mountains among a few others. Guadalupe Peak is the tallest at 8,751 ft.

Traveling north of Houston on Interstate 45, you’ll drive through Spring that’s known for its antique and gift boutiques in Old Town Spring (save it for a special shopping and day trip).

History buffs may want to consider stopping at the Confederate Reunion Grounds near Mexia (pronounced “Me-Hay-a”). The town has a state school that was converted in 1947 from a prisoner of war camp established in 1942.

Take the TX-171 from Mexia to Cleburne. Antique shoppers, don’t miss the big Antique Alley Texas held during the third Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of April (coming up soon on April 17-19, 2015) and September (September 18-20, 2015).

Be sure to visit Cleburne’s Wright Plaza to shop and eat at the fabulous Heroes Cafe. You won’t go away hungry.

Heroes Cafe, Cleburne, TX

Barbecue Burger
Heroes Cafe

Fried Pickles

Fried Pickles
Heroes Cafe

If you want to experience eating at a nostalgic soda fountain on your way back to Houston, go through Corsicana to the Across the Street Diner that houses a soda fountain. The town also has the Pioneer Village Historical Museum which is a re-creation of pioneer days.

Another option when you tour these small Texas towns is to drive further up to Fort Worth, less than an hour from Cleburne. However, a Fort Worth/Dallas trip is worth planning a separate roadtrip.


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