18 -RV Trip, 2023-24

Planning Where to Go

Our first RV trip went to the desert Southwest, mostly Arizona and New Mexico. Our second trip went to the Southeast, from New Orleans to Florida to South Carolina. So we wanted to find something new to see, and as it happens between the areas we visited before is the somewhat strange country known as Texas. So we thought that might be a good place to go. Another reason for visiting Texas is that our last trip took us to Huntsville, Alabama for the US Space and Rocket Center, and then to Florida for a week at the Kennedy Space Center. Next on the list of NASA sites would be the Johnson Space Center, and as everyone knows, that is located in Houston, Texas. (As in “Houston, we have a problem.”) Texas was of course President Johnson’s home state, and he was very closely associated with NASA. first as Vice-President, then as President. So that was our first pin in the map.

Another thing we would like to do is visit San Antonio for the Riverwalk, which is a 15 mile long series of pedestrian walkways that lies along the river and goes through the city. Along with that, the Alamo is nearby, there are old Spanish missions, some natural caverns, and so on. Austin is always worth a visit as well. And we know that we want to get outdoors more, to do more hiking, nature visits, and so on. We did a lot of that on our first trip, but less on our second, we missed it. So we have some goals to achieve here. Another consideration from our last trip is that we had a series of one week stays, and if possible we would like to stay 2-3 weeks in a few of the places, as long as we can find enough to do when we stay there. So we have some parameters for planning.

The next step is to research the things we want to do. I started with a video from a YouTube channel called Touropia, where I found the 10 Best Places to Visit in Texas. They recommended:

  1. San Antonio
  2. Houston
  3. Austin
  4. Hill Country
  5. Galveston
  6. Dallas
  7. Big Bend
  8. El Paso
  9. Fort Worth
  10. Palo Duro Canyon

The top three of their list were already on our list as well, but Hill Country, Fort Worth, and Palo Duro Canyon looked like they might be worth a second look. We visited El Paso once and have no desire to return, and we visited Big Bend and did what we wanted to do there, and the other places held no interest. I found a video on Texas Hill Country that looked good and I learned that making reservations in advance is advised for many of the parks, or you can be turned away. That is good to know. There are a number of good parks with hiking, and in Fredericksburg there is the National Museum of the Pacific War which is located here because it is the birthplace of Chester Nimitz.

Bearing in mind that we want to stay longer at some stops, and that we don’t want to do too much driving in any day, locating everything on a map helps for planning purposes. So I started a Google Map and put in pins for the proposed stops I had at this point. I covered how to do this previously in our RV Trip 2021-22 write-up, so I won’t repeat everything here. You open Google Maps, then Saved (under the hamburger icon), and then Maps. At the very bottom you can click on Create Map, and start placing pins. Google is pretty good about letting you enter the name of a place and knowing where it is. For instance, I typed in Johnson Space Center, it showed up. Then I just added it to the map. I went on to add San Antonio, Austin, Fredericksburg, Fort Worth, And Palo Duro Canyon. Then I looked at my map, and noticed that Galveston is pretty near to Houston, so I added that as well.

Then it was time to do some more research. I have a map of US National Parks, and there are two in Texas: Big Bend, and Guadalupe. Big Bend we have already visited, and Guadalupe is almost as far west as El Paso. But I put Guadalupe on the map anyway. The next step was to look at State parks and such. I found an article online from Travel and Leisure Magazine called 16 Best State Parks in Texas for Beautiful Desert, Mountain, Waterfall, and River Views. I then placed all of these parks on a separate layer of the map, and gave my pins there a different color. I then found an article called 25 Must-do hikes in Texas and added them on their own layer.

With all of these desirable locations added on the map, we then looked for clusters of spots. The idea was that we might be able to stay in one park for 2-3 weeks and still have plenty of things to do and see. And we had 4 good candidates:

  • Houston/Galveston
  • San Antonio
  • Austin
  • Hill Country

There were other places in Texas worth visiting, to be sure, but these spots had good clusters, and were all relatively close to each other as well, meaning that an easy day’s drive would take us from one place to the next.

  • Houston –> San Antonio = 197 miles, or 3-4 hours
  • San Antonio –> Austin = 80 miles, or 1.5 hours
  • Austin –> Fredericksburg (Hill Country) =78 miles, or 1.75 hours

With this information, it was all starting to come into focus. The next step would be to research each of these areas in more depth. A Google search for “Top things to do in…” has always worked for us. So, starting with Houston/Galveston, we found several web sites useful:

Houston/Galveston Attractions

As we pulled items from these sites, we of course edited the list to things we might want to do. If you did this, you would probably make some different choices. But we came up with these things to do:

San Antonio Attractions

Then it was on to San Antonio. We used these sites for our research:

And from these web sites we pulled out these attractions to check out:

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