Texas is sprawling, wild, sophisticated and very proud. Rightly so. Texas has a lot to offer. Recently I spent some time in Brenham, Texas, (www.visitbrenhamtexas.com) and discovered a side of Texas I’d never seen before. I’ve seen the bustle of Houston, the ocean at Galveston, the river running through San Antonio and now the homey, slowed-down, ranch-life feel of Brenham. And it’s perfect for families. Here’s your quick guide to experiencing the wild side of Texas with the family.
Where to Stay:
Texas Ranch Life – (www.texasranchlife.com) – This working ranch out in the country side gives people from all over the world a chance to experience Texas Ranch Life, thus the name. Owners John and Taunia Elick and their staff provide guests the opportunity to learn how to horseback ride, rope cattle, throw a tomahawk, shoot skeet, fish or just relax in the one of the historic, renovated guest homes on the property. We stayed in the Creekside House, a three bedroom ideal for a large family. There’s one large master bedroom/bath, a smaller queen-size room with bath and then an upstairs area with multiple beds the kids will love. A spacious living and dining room is just off the large kitchen, ready for cooking up come grub! Two patios with rocking chairs and beautiful views await. Even the drive out to Texas Ranch Life is a pleasure with long stretches of road with pasture, trees and bridges along the way letting you know you are definitely leaving city life behind.
The Ant Street Inn – (www.antstreetinn.com) – When you want to be part of the easy-going bustle of town, The Ant Street Inn offers boutique-style luxury lodging just steps away from shopping, dining and strolling pleasures. There’s great attention to detail in every room with unique furnishings and individuality. One room even has the shell of the freight elevator right in the middle of it that was part of the former life of the building. It’s so cool!
What to Do:
Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site (www.birthplaceoftexas.com) – This is an awesome place for families to explore and learn more about Texas’ fascinating history. You can still see much of the historic township and a reconstruction of Independence Hall where the Texas Declaration of Independence was signed in 1836; the interactive Star of the Republic Museum (the building is shaped like a star); and Barrington Living History Museum. Guides at each site tell riveting stories and really make history come alive.
The Antique Rose Emporium (www.antiqueroseemporium.com) – Sprawling and beautiful, discover one charming view after another at every turn of this garden. There’s a children’s garden, several cottages, gorgeous plants (almost year-round) and many shady spots to sit, relax and ponder – and to stop and smell the roses, of course.
Blue Bell® Creameries (www.bluebell.com) – Even if you don’t get Blue Bell in your neck of the woods (you probably will soon), who wouldn’t enjoy touring an ice cream factory? From the homey exterior, you’d never imagine the polished, professional factory operation going on behind those brick walls. The tours are very interesting and show the quality and care that goes into every delicious product. At the end of your tour, you get to linger in the tasting room and sample to your stomach’s and heart’s content.
Where to Eat:
Nathan’s BBQ (www.nathansbbq.com) – One of the best things about travelling is finding out where the locals go. Unless you were a local, you probably wouldn’t know of the reputation or even location of Nathan’s BBQ. Located at the back of the gas station/convenience store Nathan owns, it can be tricky to find Nathan’s but find it you must. Nathan’s does true pit smoke barbequing in which the meat is slow cooked several feet above smoking woods, imparting tenderness and delicious flavor. The place is casual and comforting.
Must Be Heaven (www.mustbeheaven.com) – This charming restaurant has multiple identities. When you first walk in, you see the ice cream parlour side with a long counter on one side and booths to slide into on the other. Walk around to the other side and you see the main restaurant. With a homey atmosphere, diners line up to order sandwiches, salad and soup but are greeted first by the beautiful pie selection. The star is the famous Sawdust Pie with pecans and coconut. As you go down the line, watch the staff work furiously like a well-oiled machine making earnest, delicious food. Sit in the main dining room, or if you’re in tea party mode, there’s a separate, sweet-as-can-be room devoted to all things girly. The place as a whole, is as great for eye-spy as it is for good eating.
Experience the true Texas experience! Big sky, big land, big fun. It makes for a great family vacation.
* Courtney attended an all expense-paid trip by Brenham County CVB.