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Deep in the Heart of Texas

by Jerry W. Bird

When I think of Texas, I think of the legendary Bob Wills and San Antonio Rose," one of my all time favorite songs. I think of ten-gallon Stetsons, cattle drives, rodeos, barbecue parties and all of the friendly people I've met during decades working in the communications side of the petroleum industry. In preparing this introduction, I have borrowed from my first text book in the Spanish language, "De Todo un Poco (a little bit of everything," because that's what I think is a good way to start. Sample the short capsule items below. If you want to get the full story on Texas as a place to live or for the vacation of a lifetime, there are excellent links at the bottom of the page. Here's a capsule of what those in the know say about their destination. "Horseback riding, city tours in historic trolleys, roller coaster rides, beach-combing, resort family getaways or an adventurous road trip are just some of the activities that families can enjoy on a summer vacation to Texas. With plenty to see and do for family visitors of all ages, area attractions and special packages help parents provide their young ones with days of fun-filled summer adventures throughout the Lone Star State."

Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum,
the Smithsonian of Texas
Two wheels or four, 2003 includes several unique anniversaries that represent events that led to an unprecedented century of progress in U.S. transportation, from Henry Ford's first mass-produced automobile to the production of the first Harley-Davidson motorcycle in a shed in Milwaukee, WI.

One hundred years later it's time to celebrate! The Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum agrees and it is planning a summer-long museum exhibit and party celebrating American's love of transportation called "Let The Good Times Roll." This exhibit will run from May 24 through September 2, 2003.

The centerpiece of this exhibit is a major artifact of the museum's collection- an extremely rare 1903 Ford Model A. This car bears the serial number 28, making it one of the oldest surviving models of this rare automobile. In addition the visitor will see-

-a car dealership featuring Amarillo street scenes (circa 1953) highlighting the 50th anniversary of the Chevrolet Corvette.

-a 1950's era drive-in movie theater.

-a picnic scene from Palo Duro Canyon featuring a Ford Model A (complete with rumble seat).

-a 1940s tourist court with vintage vehicles parked outside.

-a 1940s to 50s diner, with appropriate cars parked outside.

-several classic Harley-Davison motorcycles from the early 1900s.

-and various Route 66 scenes.

Volunteer interpreters, dressed in period costume, will help visitors understand and appreciate this golden age of transportation.

Special events, such as car and motorcycle shows, will be planned on the weekends through the summer, helping to emphasize the popularity of transportation in this country.

"We anticipate this exhibit will be a must see for all kinds of groups, from car and motorcycle clubs to Route 66 fans. In all, we expect about 15,000 visitors to the exhibit and summer series of special transportation events," Dr. Walt Davis, director of the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, says.

Better yet, the core of "Let The Good Times Roll" will live on for several more years as part of the museum's permanent exhibit by helping the museum restore and renovate its entire transportation collection and exhibit.

The Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum is the largest history museum in Texas, with over 200,000 square feet and more than 2 million artifacts in its collection. It's like being at the Smithsonian, but with a Texas accent.

So let the good times roll, y'all.

The Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum is located on 4th Avenue in Canyon, TX, about 15 miles south of Amarillo. Phone 806-651-2244. Open seven days a week. Closed New Year's Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Admission fee applies.

Eric W. Miller, Director of Communications
Amarillo Convention & Visitor Council
800-692-1338, 806-373-3909 (FAX)


Western Experience: When travelers think about Texas, the first things that come to mind are cowboys, cattle drives and ranches. For families wishing to take in the full western experience, there are a number of working ranches located throughout Texas that offer tours. For instance, the LH7 Ranch is a 1,000-acre working longhorn ranch located in Bandera. It offers Longhorn Ranch Tours for individuals and groups, birding tours, as well as a 50-acre fishing lake. In addition to a lodge, the LH7 Ranch offers 14 RV hookups and natural camp sites. For more information, call (830) 796-4314. Also, Prude Guest Ranch, located in Fort Davis offers horseback riding, hay rides, special chuckwagon cookouts and campfires complete with fiddle players and more. Overnight accommodations are available in bunkhouses, as are RV hookups. For more information, call (800) 458-6232.

Trolley Car City Tours: What better way to take in a new city than aboard a fixed rail trolley car? In Galveston, visitors can take the grand tour aboard turn-of-the-century style trolleys, similar to those used in the city from the late 1800s to 1938. Offering transportation from Galveston's Seawall to the Strand Landmark Historic District and Pier 21, riders can take in the beautiful historic homes and other points of interest, including Moody Gardens, one of the largest entertainment complexes in Texas. Featuring a ten-story Rain forest Pyramid, Moody Gardens is home to the largest bat exhibit in the Southwest. It also has an interactive children's exhibit designed in collaboration with NASA, as well as an Aquarium Pyramid. For more information about Moody Gardens, call (800) 582-4673. For more information about the Galveston Island Trolley, call (409) 797-3900.

Texas Thrills & Chills: Texas offers 600 miles of some of the most tranquil coastline in the nation, making Texas beaches perfect for families seeking the ultimate location for beachcombing, snorkeling, dolphin watching or building a sandcastle. For families seeking the excitement of wet and wild water rides or the exhilaration of a traditional roller coaster, Texas has just the ticket. There are theme parks such as Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington, Six Flags Astroworld in Houston and Fiesta Texas in San Antonio, as well as Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels and Schlitterbahn Beach Water Park in South Padre Island. Each park offers exciting rides and other entertainment suitable for the entire family.

Fun-Filled Family Resorts: For families seeking special packages and the resort experience, Texas comes up big. From children's programs to golfing, a variety of dining options, pools, tennis courts and spas, resorts offer something for everyone. In San Antonio, The Radisson Resort Hill Country and The Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort offer a variety of family packages. For example, the Radisson has teamed up with SeaWorld of San Antonio to offer a family of four the 'Ultimate SeaWorld Adventure' package. For details, call (210) 509-9800. In addition, The Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort is offering 'Sunshine on Sale,î with free golf for children under 17 and a fourth night at the resort for free. For further details, call (210) 647-1234

Uniquely Texas Road Trips: Families considering a road trip will find that when it comes to driving tours in Texas, getting there is half the fun. The Lone Star State offers exciting day or multi-day trips, like the Texas Melting Pot itinerary, that includes traversing cattle country in the Panhandle Plains, taking a leisurely drive through the South Texas Plains to colorful Laredo, experiencing German heritage in New Braunfels; and ending in San Antonio, where a visit of the Spanish missions is truly a must. The Movies, Music and Markets itinerary begins in Fort Worth and ends in Port Arthur. Stops range from historical to cultural to natural attractions and includes the cosmopolitan city of Dallas, the American rose capital of Tyler-located in our Piney Woods Region, and a swamp full of gators! For more information on these itineraries or a Two Nation Vacation Mexico experience, click on the driving tours section of Parents using suggested driving tour itineraries on the site may even find that common car phrase, 'Are we there yet?î will be a road trip phrase of the past.

In addition to these family travel suggestions, here are just a few packages currently being offered to families traveling to Texas this summer:

Houston: This energetic, cosmopolitan city, offers an array of professional sports teams and sporting events, and attracts visitors with its lively nightlife and performing arts.

Lion King Houston Travel Package: This summer the hit Broadway musical, The Lion King, roars into Houston for a limited run from July 5-August 25. A 3-day/2night package is available starting at $167 per person for two nights including tickets to Disney's Lion King, hotel accommodations and valuable discount coupons like free admission to the Houston Museum of Natural Science and the Cockrell Butterfly Center. In addition, a VIP coupon book for use at the Katy Mills Mall and other 2-for-1 admission to local attractions are included. For more information, including rates and restrictions, call (800) 433-5335 or visit

Austin: In addition to being the state capital, Austin bills itself as the ìLive Music Capital of the World,î with live entertainment seven days a week in a vast array of venues. Outdoor enthusiasts enjoy Austin's year-round mild weather, lovely landscapes and hike-and-bike trails.

Barton Creek Country Club: Perfect for families who golf together, the Family getaway package includes luxury accommodations, the choice of either 18 holes of championship golf on one of two courses with cart and range balls, or two 25-minute spa services per night's stay for each adult; use of fitness facilities and breakfast. In addition, children up to the age of 12 play golf free when playing with an adult and enjoy free access to a basketball court, nature trail, indoor and outdoor pools, Kid's Club and special camps. Rates begin at $485 per family (2 adults and up to 2 children). For more information, call (800) 336-6158.

Corpus Christi: A paradise of sun, sea and surf, Corpus Christi has a history steeped in life on the high seas, complete with Spanish explorers, pirates and buccaneers. Today, Corpus is one of the nation's 10 largest ports.

Villa del Sol is offering family-friendly beachfront condominium accommodations, which sleep up to six people, with efficiency kitchens, two swimming pools, a hot tub and cabana area and golf, tennis and fishing close by. In addition, guests receive discounts on tickets to area attractions. Packages start at $174 per night, based on a two night stay, dinner for two at a nearby restaurant, and a Villa Del Sol T-shirt. For more information, call (800) 242-3291.

San Antonio: A multicultural city that truly reflects the soul of Texas, San Antonio is the home of the famed Alamo, Spanish missions and the River Walk, featuring restaurants, boutiques, museums and other attractions on a picturesque waterfront setting.

The Ultimate SeaWorld Adventure Package: The Radisson Resort Hill Country and SeaWorld of San Antonio have teamed up to offer a special family package. For a family of four, the package starts at $429 per night and includes a one-bedroom Shamu suite, breakfast for four, four one-day passes to SeaWorld, four 'behind-the-scenes' tour tickets at SeaWorld, transportation to and from the park and evening turndown service with Shamu Goodies. For reservations and more information, call (210) 509-9800.

Fort Worth: A city dedicated to both culture and cowboys, Ft. Worth enthusiastically celebrates these aspects of its identity. In addition to its wealth of world-class museums, Ft. Worth continues to embrace the traditions and customs of the Old West, including a daily downtown cattle drive.

Fort Worth Family Getaway Packages: Starting at just $79 per night, these convenient, affordable family packages include admission to Ft. Worth's top attractions and events. Packages include accommodations, admission to attractions such as the Ft. Worth Zoo, Museum of Science & History, Noble Planetarium, OMNI Theater, Billy Bob's Texas (weeknights only), the Stockyards Championship Rodeo and Pawnee Bill's Wild West Show, as well as discounts and deals on other attractions. For more information, call (800) 433-5335.

For more information on family travel, suggested driving tours, or other general travel events information and vacation destinations, visit or call 1-800-8888-TEX, ext. 2493 for a free Texas State Travel Guide. For travel discounts to Texas, click on the "Trip Savers" banner. Texas Economic Development (TxED) - Market Texas Tourism Division promotes Texas as a premier travel destination and supports tourism statewide

Contact Info : Neilia Stephens/Christine Hinz/212-725-0707/, Lindsey Kirn/214-252-0900/

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