Category Archives: In Your Community

7 Top Texas Museums to Visit over Spring Break

With spring break quickly approaching, many parents are trying to make plans to fill the week up with activities, road trips, or other events to keep kids entertained. As it turns out, Texas is home to some fantastic museums located all around this great state. If you are looking for ideas on what to do, keep the learning going this spring break with these seven top Texas museums to visit.

Bullock Museum

Photo from thestoryoftexas.com

Bullock Texas State History Museum
1800 Congress Ave.
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 936-8746

Located in Austin, Texas’s capital, it’s no wonder why this Texas History Museum is one of the best. The museum is named after the state’s 38th Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock, who played an essential role to the establishment of this museum. The museum tells the story and history of Texas with three levels of interactive exhibits, an IMAX theater and Texas Spirit Theater.
Tickets:
Adults – $12

Seniors/Military – $10
College Student – $10
Youth (ages 4-17) – $8

Photo from about.com

Children’s Museum of Houston
1500 Binz
Houston, TX 77004
(713) 522-1138

Voted the #1 Children’s Museum in America by Parents Magazine, this museum is a must for those in and around the Houston area. With 90,000 square feet of interactive exhibits and 14 hands-on galleries, there is plenty of fun and learning to be had. For families with little ones, there is a Tot Spot area for those tots 35 months and younger that is filled with age appropriate activities and toys to experiment and play with.
Tickets:
Adult – $10

Seniors – $9
Kids – $10
Children 1 and under – FREE

Photo from menil.org

Photo from menil.org

Menil Collection
1533 Sul Ross St.
Houston, TX 77006
(713) 525-9400

A local treasure within Houston, the Menil Collection is one of the greatest private collections in the world (Frommers). The museum was opened in 1987 to preserve and exhibit the art collection of Dominique and John de Menil. With about 17,000 works of art such as paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings and photographs there is truly something for everyone to see. If time permits, be sure to stop by for a quick bite or beverage at the new Bistro Menil that will top off your museum experience.
Tickets:
FREE to the public

Photo from fortworth.com

Photo from fortworth.com

Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
3200 Darnell Street
Fort Worth, Texas 76107
(817) 738-9215

Also known as The Modern, this museum is the oldest art museum in Texas and is the nation’s second largest museum dedicated to contemporary and modern art (fodders).  The Modern’s collection is made up of almost 3,000 art pieces including paintings, sculptures, photographs and prints. Take in art pieces from artists such as Picasso, Warhol and Pollock. Also, if there’s time in your schedule, be sure to check out Cafe’ Modern for a savory bite or cool beverage.
Tickets:
General (13 years and up) – $10

Students/Seniors – $4
Children 12 and under – FREE

Photo from nashersculpturecenter.org

Photo from nashersculpturecenter.org

Nasher Sculpture Garden
2001 Flora Street
Dallas, Texas 75201
(214) 242-5100

Located in the heart of the Dallas Arts District, the Nasher Sculpture Garden is considered to have one of the finest collections of modern and contemporary sculptures in the world. The Nasher Sculpture Garden features rotating exhibits all from the private Raymond and Patsy Nasher Collection. Their collection consists of over 300 pieces of art from artists like Matisse, Picasso, Serra and more.
Tickets:
Adult – $10

Seniors/Military – $7
Students – $5
Children 12 and under – FREE

Photo from officialmuseumdirectory.com

Photo from officialmuseumdirectory.com

Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum
2503 4th Avenue
Canyon, Texas 79015
(806) 651-2244

Head to Canyon, a few miles from Amarillo, to visit Texas’ largest history museum filled with 14,000 years worth of history from dinosaurs to a life-size Pioneer Town. Best of all, many of the exhibits are hands-on like trying on a saddle or sitting in a Ford Mustang.  With beautiful floor to ceiling windows and a giant oil derrick at the entrance, this is truly a captivating museum.
Tickets:
Adults – $10

Seniors 65+ – $9
Children (4-12) – $5
Children under 4 – FREE

Photo from visitsanantonio.com

Photo from visitsanantonio.com

San Antonio Museum of Art
200 West Jones Avenue
San Antonio, Texas 78215
(210) 978-8100

If you’re in or near San Antonio for spring break then you should definitely check out the San Antonio Museum of Art. This museum has the largest and most comprehensive collection of ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman, as well as Asian, art in the southern United States. Plus it has an extensive collection of Latin American Art from Pre-Columbian times to now. Once visitors are done with inside the museum, they can stroll around the beautiful riverside grounds outside.
Tickets:
Adults – $10

Seniors (65+) – $7
Students and Military (with ID) – $5
Children Under 12 – FREE

Resources:
Frommers.com
HoustonMuseumDistrict.org

Powering the Lone Star State: the Energy Outlook for Texas in 2015

Powering the Lone Star State: the Energy Outlook for Texas in 2015Now that it’s midway through Winter 2015, many people wonder what the coming summer will be like. In particular, “How hot it will get, and what does this mean for electricity in my Texas community.” Well, back in December 2014, the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) released its energy usage forcast for this coming year (and beyond).

The good news is that the report states that there is plenty of capacity to meet demand during Summer 2015. However, there are still a few problems that could complicate service in parts of some cities. And if you’re living in one of those areas, you’ll want to know what those problems are and how they might affect you and your family.

Crunching the Numbers

ERCOT expects a possible peak demand of 69,057 megawatts (MW). For scale, 1 MW = the use of about 200 houses during peak summer demand (that’s 5 kw per house). In order to ensure there’s enough electricity, there needs to be extra capacity just in case generators are unavailable (due to scheduled maintenance or sudden technical problems) and demand is rising. That’s when so-called “peaker” generation can fire up to meet demand. That reserve margin for this summer is 15.7%, bringing the total generation capacity up to 77,000 MW. Part of that generation includes new 2,109 MW of capacity fueled by natural gas, 710 MW of wind and 38 MW of solar (both maximum rated or “nameplate” capacity) that has been installed since last May.

However, if reserves are not available, customers will be asked to reduce consumption to reduce the load. This can include demand-response programs that allow the local utilities to control home air conditioning, pool pumps, and industrial usage. High demand and low supply can lead to rolling blackouts in order to prevent damage to the entire grid network.

The Influence of Renewable Energy

This year, contributions from renewable energy are being estimated differently: partly because there’s enough historical performance data and also because the new CREZ transmission lines have reduced congestion, allowing more power to flow.

Wind power is estimated to be at 12% nameplate capacity from non-coastal wind areas and 56% from coastal facilities during the summer, with those capacities changing to 19% and 36% respectively in the winter. The state’s only offshore wind farm was in its planning stage and lost its lease this past July.

Utility scale solar, meanwhile, is counted at nameplate capacity with the plan being that, once that capacity increases to over 200 MW of “commercial-scale,” there will enough historical data behind it to provide a more accurate estimation of performance. Current installed wind capacity is 11,000 MW while solar is 189 MW (about 0.2% of total capacity).

Powering the Lone Star State: the Energy Outlook for Texas in 2015

Future Demand Chart courtesy of ERCOT.

Some Complications Ahead

The ERCOT report lays out two problems that could lead to complications in the coming years. One is growing demand from reviving economy and increasing population. By 2020, Texas’s population is predicted to rise by about 2 million people with summer peak electric demand rising 1.5 % from 69,057 MW to about 74,000 MW. While not much of an increase, this ratio leaves less reserve power available. In the long term, growth is expected to continue while total capacity will likely remained pinned at 80,000 MW. Options include building more generation and opening up transmission access to other US grid systems (which would open up a reluctant ERCOT to more Federal oversight).

While the CREZ transmission project has been attracting more wind farm developers in the north and west, the second problem looms for southern part of Texas: the need for additional transmission capacity to the growing Houston metropolitan area. During 2014, the south side of Houston had the most frequent —and expensive— congestion problems in all of ERCOT. While Houston’s electrical demand has increased, there has been little generation development or transmission built to support it.

During the last few years, only 1,800 MW of new generation replaced 3,800 MW of old capacity that was retired. Add to this the anticipated 690 MW of load from a proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, and the growing concern over Houston energy prices as well as who’s going to pay for the line becomes palpable.

Powering the Lone Star State: the Energy Outlook for Texas in 2015

Unites States Map Image courtesy of NOAA.

Whither the Weather?

With all that in mind as we experience the rest of winter (predicted to be colder than the beginning) and head into summer, NOAA’s long term prediction is for “equal chance” (33.33% ) for above, normal, or below average temperatures for all of Texas from June through August 2015. Statistical equivocating aside, given that the West and East Coasts are likely to be warmer than average with a mostly neutral El Niño, Texas might simply be content with only normal-ish heat during the summer.

Thus, while it’s still mid-winter, perhaps it’s best to expect one sure thing about this summer’s Texas weather: change. At least it looks like ERCOT will be able to supply your Texas community with enough electricity to get you through it.

Happy New Year from First Choice Power!

Happy New Year from First Choice Power! Hooray for 2015! Celebrating the arrival of the New Year is always a grand occasion for gazing into the crystal ball to see what life holds in the 365 days that stand before us. It’s also a great chance to remember the events of 2014, wipe the slate clean, and start a new calendar with fresh perspective and plenty of hope.

Here at First Choice Power, we spent 2014 making strides to take care of you. This specifically included revamping our website to be more user-friendly and to present information about our services with more effective language. We also ramped up our activity on Facebook and Twitter so you can get in touch with us in formats that make sense to your life in the 21st century. Furthermore, we turned increased attention to our Refer-A-Friend program so that you and all the friends you bring to First Choice Power can be rewarded for making smart energy decisions! Finally, we restructured our MyAccount platform, which brings you the access you deserve to your electricity account information so you can make the right choices about your electricity for you, your family, and your home.

At The Current, our blog posts in 2014 focused on several key themes: Exploring Texas, Enjoying Texas Living, and Home Improvement. Let’s take a look at some of our most popular posts for each of those topics:

Happy New Year from First Choice Power! Exploring Texas

Enjoying Texas Living

Happy New Year from First Choice Power! Home Improvement

Whew! 2014 really WAS a busy year for First Choice Power. Luckily for you, dear customer, we have all sorts of great developments on the horizon in 2015 – and they’re all designed with you in mind. Here’s to a fantastic new year in the best state in the world!

Happy New Year from First Choice Power!

Enjoying Winter in Texas: 3 Fun Road Trips

Enjoying Winter in Texas: 3 Fun Road Trips People living in colder climates may not truly appreciate the winter road trip – no one really likes driving through snow and ice. Although the climate varies in Texas by region (parts of North and West Texas actually experience 4 real seasons), overall it tends to be fairly pleasant. Sure, the occasional storm might bring sleet, ice, and below-freezing weather to the Lone Star State, but in between these storms, we have long periods of mild, sunny, comfortable weather. Thus, when you factor in the weather with the general joy of the holiday season, the winter is a particularly good time to pack up the car and head out for a Texas road trip.

Enjoying Winter in Texas:  3 Fun Road Trips

Aerial View of Marktplatz in Fredericksburg, TX image courtesy of fbgtx.org.

1) Fredericksburg

Time to head for the hills! The Texas Hill Country, that is. Located approximately 258 miles from the Dallas area and approximately 240 miles from Houston, the small historic town of Fredericksburg features old-world German flavor and is filled with many activities. Tops on our list is the great combination of shopping, food, museums, wine, and the outdoors.

Start your visit by exploring Main Street and pop into the Fredericksburg Bakery, the oldest continuously running business on Main Street for a sweet German Pretzel. History aficionados will enjoy the National Museum of the Pacific War, formerly known as the Admiral Nimitz Museum, which has Japanese airplanes, tanks, guns, and a Veterans’ Walk of Honor. Those with a taste for wine will enjoy touring the many wineries in the area.

Enjoying Winter in Texas:  3 Fun Road Trips

Aerial View of San Antonio River Walk image courtesy of VisitSanAntonio.com

2) San Antonio

Only 274 miles from Dallas and a mere 197 miles from Houston, San Antonio is heavily influenced by Mexican culture. It’s also home to the Alamo, the best Tex-Mex (I might be biased, since I was raised there), the River Walk, and Six Flags Fiesta Texas.  My favorite time to stroll the River Walk is in the morning before it gets too crowded, followed by a lunch including Pollo A La Maria at Rosario’s in Southtown.

Visit the newly restored Pearl Brewery, which is now filled with restaurants, shops, apartments and a farmers market on Saturday. Those looking for a little Mexican flair will enjoy Market Square, the largest Mexican Market in the states which sells everything from hand-embroidered Mexican dresses to piñatas. Lastly, thrill seekers looking for an adrenaline pumping experience should head up to Fiesta Texas to ride the roller coasters.

Enjoying Winter in Texas:  3 Fun Road Trips

Bob Bullock Museum image courtesy of TripAdvisor.com

3) Austin 

Home to the second largest University in the nation, some would argue Austin is the artistic and musical hub of the state. The state capital of Texas is only 195 miles from Dallas and 165 miles from Houston.

Begin your day by walking or biking Town Lake, earning you a delicious lunch at one of the various Maudie’s Restaurants in the city. Then brush up on Texas history by visiting the Bob Bullock Museum. If you have kids with you, venture to North Austin to visit The Thinkery, a “hybrid science and technology center/children’s museum.”  Lastly, representing the “Keep Austin Weird” vibe that Austin is known for, South Congress has numerous independent retailers, food trucks, restaurants, galleries and fabulous people watching that you MUST visit.

Winter is a wonderful time to visit different Texas cities.  Are you thinking of planning a family road trip soon? If so, where are you heading?

Celebrate Texas with the 2014 Christmas Wish Lists of First Choice Power Employees

Celebrate Texas with the 2014 Christmas Wish Lists of First Choice Power EmployeesHooray for Christmas! We really enjoy this wonderful holiday here at the First Choice Power offices, so we wanted to spread the holiday cheer by sharing the Christmas wish lists created by a few of our wonderful employees. Hopefully, you can use these ideas to kick-start your own lists!

Monica

My Wish List to Santa contains lots of great items from Texas-based artists and companies.

Brooke

Dear Santa,

Christmas is almost here – which means parties have been attended and the shopping for others is almost complete. Now it’s finally time to think about what I want for Christmas!

  • A new Smartphone. My contract is up, so it’s time for a new phone – yay! But which one do I choose? Do I join the masses and opt for a super-sized iPhone 6 or go for a Samsung product with Android?
  • Workout clothes from Lululemon and Athleta. Hopefully if I wear them, it will subconsciously make me actually work out.
  • Wine. Just in case you aren’t aware of my preferences, might I suggest Kim Crawford, Nickel & Nickel, A. Rafanelli, or a nice Sauvignon Blanc from Merry Edwards?
  • Instacart gift card. There’s not one ounce of me that enjoys grocery shopping, so this would be a wonderful gift!
  • Personal Chef. In addition to my dislike for grocery shopping, you can imagine my level of enthusiasm for cooking. So, someone to take care of dinners every night for the whole family would be THE most wonderful thing!

And, last but not least, world peace.

Adam

I want to spend 2015 exploring the great state that is Texas, so my wish list embraces that challenge (along with my desire to spend money in some of my favorite stores in the Lone Star State).

Celebrate Texas with the 2014 Christmas Wish Lists of First Choice Power Employees

Texas State Parks image courtesy of Texas Parks & Wildlife Department

Wow! It looks to be a really great Christmas for those three! What do you have on your wish lists this year? Share with us in the comments!

3 Destinations for Fall Foliage in Texas

3 Destinations for Fall Foliage in Texas

McKittrick Canyon Fall Foliage image courtesy of Celebration of Our Mountains (http://www.celebmtns.org).

Having been brought up in the Northeast United States, fall foliage means stunning vistas of rolling hills filled with a breathtaking array of colors – for several weeks and months. Moving to Texas was a bit of a shift with regard to the seasons, and I honestly thought the beauty of autumn would be lost for me. Much to my surprise, Texas possesses some of the post-pumpkin color spectacles that signal the gradual approach to Christmas – if you know where to look. To help with your search for the yellows, reds, and oranges of the season, we’ve collected 3 places you can find autumn in the Lone Star State.

1) Looking out west, one favorite location is Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and more specifically McKittrick Canyon.  Deceiving though it may be, this desert area comes alive in late autumn with astonishing vibrance due to the concentration of ash, maple, juniper, oak, and walnut trees. For any outdoors enthusiast, this is not only a fall destination, but an opportunity to really connect with nature as there is little more than open country in this rugged but beautiful area.

3 Destinations for Fall Foliage in Texas

Tyler, TX Fall Foliage image courtesy of Tyler Texas Online (http://www.tylertexasonline.com).

2) On a drive from Fort Worth to Florida, I was shocked to find such lush woods throughout East Texas. It just so happens that this gorgeous region is also host to many pockets of fall colors. Pick your favorite search engine and search for destinations like Tyler, Athens, Winnsboro, and Palestine. You should be able to locate some amazing routes and stops in this forested part of the state. Don’t forget to sample local food and drink as you go!

3 Destinations for Fall Foliage in Texas

Lost Maples Fall Foliage image courtesy of Texas Parks & Wildlife (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/).

3) Of course no Texas fall foliage list would be complete without a mention of Texas Hill Country. Points south of the Austin and Fredericksburg regions are famous for many things, fall colors being just one of them, so it’s easy to say that a visit to the area will give you a lot of bang for your autumn buck. Venture a little south and west of these iconic Texas destinations and you’ll find yourself in the quintessential fall foliage center of Texas, Lost Maples State Natural Area. Here you’ll find a myriad of colors indicative of that time of year also known for hot apple cider and hoodies. A road trip around these parts is a must!

I’m happy to say that Texas has a lot to offer the autumn lover, and the fall colors aren’t far from any corner of our proud state.  Get in your cars and go find those leaves changing color!

Energy News in Your Texas Community

This month, our Texas Energy News is all up in the air with mining pollutants from the sky, the future of solar farms and if panels will be painted out, and why ERCOT and a pair of Houston generator companies are getting all strung-out over a transmission line to power Houston.

shutterstock_79940851Texas Company To Mine the Sky…?
On October 21, Skyonic Corporation opened the Capitol SkyMine. The world’s first “commercial-scale carbon capture and utilization facility”, the SkyMine captures CO2, SOX, NO2, and mercury and other heavy metals from generator flue gases and turns them into hydrochloric acid, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), and other byproducts. Designed to capture around 75,000 tonnes (82,673 US tons) of CO2, the $125 million installation scrubs flue gases from Capitol Aggregates cement mill in San Antonio and is expected to make $48 million in revenue and $28 million in annual earnings from greenhouse gases that otherwise would be released into the air. Skyonic’s mineralization technology is scaleable, allowing power plants to adjust the amount of CO2 scrubbing from 10% to 99% (depending on plant capability) and can be used to replace existing scrubbing systems and virtually eliminate their associated costs.

energy postTax Deadline Driving Texas’ Sunny Solar Future?
There’s been lots of recent talk about building more solar photovoltaic farms in Texas. Texas may be the US wind generation leader but has only about 75 megawatts of utility-sized capacity. Yet, financial services firm Ernst & Young recently ranked Texas 6th for solar energy potential, saying:

“Texas…has the most untapped solar potential in the country…That could change soon as ground was just broken on a project that will generate 400 MW of solar power by 2016 making it the largest municipal solar project in the US to date.”

Now, that 400 MW project (the Alamo project) AND the report has set a lot of chins wagging about the sunny side of Texas solar, including the Motley Fool and the City of San Antonio which intends on becoming a national leader in solar technology. Even Xcel Energy recently invited bids for its own 200 MW installation. But before you start thinking even flint-hearted investors have succumbed to the sunny charms of renewable energy, remember that the solar investment tax credit slams the door shut at the end of 2016.

IMG_2139Will Paint Make Panels Passé?
Lucelo Technologies, a Texas company based in Austin, has been busy developing solar paint. Instead of pigment floating in a solvent solution, Lucelo puts nano-crystals that absorb sunlight. While the actual process of collecting the electricity from a coated surface still needs to be worked out (the efficiency is only around 3%, panels run between 15%- 20%), it’s fun to think about the small current applications. House or car paints that power LED lights, clothing dyes that power personal electronics, and even new distractions on packaging.
Image IMG_2139.JPG By pedrojperez courtesy of Morguefile

shutterstock_64741621Texas Power Companies Wired Over Wires
Two Texas electric generation companies, NRG and Calpine, have been battling ERCOT and Centerpoint to stop the $590 million “Houston Import Project” since July. The 130 mile Limestone–Gibbons Creek–Zenith 345-kV transmission line project is designed to bring more electricity to the Houston metro area. Some have estimated that the area’s population will soon begin adding 100,000 new residents a year and all that new electrical demand will overload current capacity. ERCOT believes the project needs to be in place by 2018 to maintain reliability and prevent blackouts. NRG and Calpine, meanwhile are criticizing the methodology legitimizing the project and are arguing the added capacity isn’t needed. They maintain that more generators will be built in the Houston area once wholesale electricity prices rise. Lawyers for both sides debated the project before the Public Utilities Commission of Texas (PUCT) on October 17.

All ERCOT customer will pay a share of the project’s cost. CenterPoint estimates an extra 35 to 40 cents will be added to residential customers’ monthly bills. Meanwhile, the PUCT is expected to rule on the project November 14.

3 Must-See Fall Festivals across Texas

FallFoliageFestival2014Americans from all corners of our country can relate to a great fall festival. No matter how we experience the change in weather, there’s a universally understood sense of transition from the endless summer days into the excitement of the holiday season. Fall festivals are a great way to take part in time-honored traditions filled with live music, amusements, and the best food you’ll come across all year! Texans knows how to have fun, and autumn is no exception!  So, let’s have a quick look at a few of the big fall festivals taking place across Texas this October.

1) Perhaps the best place to start is the annual Fall Foliage Festival of Canadian, Texas, held this year on October 18th-19th. Few things are as quintessentially autumn as fall foliage, making this gathering in the Texas Panhandle particularly appealing for those of us in northern and western Texas who aren’t graced with a stunning autumn display. This two-day festival is full of activities including a fall foliage tour, nature activities, brisket lunch, art activities, and much more!

2) Hill Country in Texas has a proud and vibrant German-American community, and at the heart of the area sits Fredericksburg. It should be no surprise, then, that this picturesque town hosts an unbeatable annual 3-day Oktoberfest. Packed with German music, meats, and beers, this annual event is not to be missed, and don’t worry, it’s a great event for the entire family!

TMAF-logoThis picturesque town also holds two other fantastic fall-oriented events in October: the Texas Mesquite Arts Festival (October 10-13, 2014) and the Fredericksburg Food & Wine Festival (October 25th, 2014).  Whether you’re a resident of the Hill Country or looking for a great weekend getaway for the family (or just you and your significant other), there’s lots for you to enjoy!

WacoWineFestival3) In recent years, the Texas wine scene has really taken off. Similar to such notable American wine regions like Upstate New York, Texas likes to show off the fruits of its wine-making during the traditional harvest season.  If you are lucky enough to make your way to Central Texas during October, plan on visiting Waco, TX for Waco Wine Festival. Held this year on October 25th, this one-day event features live entertainment, food from more than thirty restaurants, and more than two hundred amazing wines from around the Lone Star State.

The holiday season is right around the corner and what better way to ease into the season than with some good old fashioned fall festival fun!

Are there any fall festivals around Texas that we missed here? Please share with us in the comments!

3 Must-See Pumpkin Patches in Texas

3 Must-See Pumpkin Patches in Texas

Barton Hill Farms Pumpkin Patch, Bastrop, TX

I love Autumn! It is probably my favorite season in Texas. The leaves begin to change colors, the weather finally cools down, and there are pumpkins everywhere! After a hot, Texas summer, our family welcomes the cooler temperatures and spends as much time outdoors as we can. I always look forward to visiting the pumpkin patches & corn mazes every fall – enjoying a hot cup of  apple cider while my son searches for the perfect pumpkin. Fortunately, pumpkin patches are plentiful in Texas!  However, there are a few pumpkin patches that stand out above the rest, and I am hopeful our fall travels will lead us to them!

3 Must-See Pumpkin Patches in Texas

Pumpkin Village in the Pecan Grove during Autumn at the Arboretum, Dallas, TX

1) Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, Dallas TX

I was immediately taken with the Pumpkin Village and knew that this pumpkin patch was definitely a Must-See! There are over 65,000 pumpkins, gourds, and squash, thousands of blooming fall flowers, storybook houses, & even Cinderella’s carriage! They have a  variety of fall activities including harvest tea, trick or treating, petting zoo, & live music. If you are hungry, try the “Oktoberfest Garten, “a traditional German lunch at  Café on the Green.

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens
Autumn at the Arboretum
8525 Garland Rd
Dallas, TX 75218
(214) 515-6615

HOURS
: Daily 9am-5pm 

PRICES: Check website for admission, discounts, and parking information.

3 Must-See Pumpkin Patches in Texas

Texas Hayfield Maze at Sweetberry Farms, Marble Falls, TX

2) Sweetberry Farms, Marble Falls, TX

Sweetberry Farms is home to a 4-acre hayfield maze in the shape of Texas. Each year, visitors search through the maze for various cities of Texas on their game cards. If you succeed in finding all of the cities, you can win a prize! After tromping through the maze, you can make your own scarecrow to take home with you! Take a break and enjoy some delicious homemade ice cream or check out their other homegrown products.

Sweetberry Farms
Harvest of Fall Fun
1801 FM 1980
Marble Falls, Texas 78654
(830) 798-1462

HOURS:

  • Last weekend in September through the first weekend in November
  • 8:30am-5:30pm – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday
  • 11am-5pm – Sunday (Fall Season only)
  • Closed all Wednesdays
  • Open all Holidays throughout the season

PRICES:

  • FREE entrance & parking
  • Activities & food range from about $1.50-$7, except for the Scarecrow Stuffing at $16.50
  • Cash or check only

Be sure to follow the directions on the Sweetberry Farms website as your GPS may get you lost.

3 Must-See Pumpkin Patches in Texas

Barton Hill Farms, Bastrop, TX

3) Barton Hill Farms, Bastrop, TX

The Fall Festival & Corn Maze at Barton Hill Farms has 118 acres alongside the Colorado River. In addition to their pumpkin patch and huge “Go Horns” corn maze, your family can also enjoy live music, a flashlight maze, farm animals, dummy steer roping, yard games, and more! Barton Hill Farms celebrate Texas heritage with a 50 foot maritime schooner replica (aka a Pirate ship!!!) and Fort Wilbarger, an 1800′s era Texas fort.

Barton Hill Farms
The Fall Festival & Corn Maze
1115 Farm to Market 969
Bastrop, TX 78602
(855) 969-1115

HOURS:

  • Saturdays and Sundays from Sept. 27 – Nov.9.
  • The hours are Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. and Sundays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

PRICES:

General Admission includes entry to corn maze and pumpkin patch.
Under 3 – FREE with a paying adult
Ages 3-10 – $8
Ages 11+ – $11

Adventure Pass – $5 upgrade – includes access to the jumping pillow, barrel train, pony hops, and trike track.
Additional costs for a few other activities.

Discounts available for online purchases.

Honorable Mentions 

These pumpkin patches also came across as a fun, unique place to visit this fall with your family!

Looking for more pumpkin patches in your area?

Where is your favorite pumpkin patch? Do you have a “Must-See” pumpkin patch that needs to be added to our list? Leave a comment below!

3 Great Texas Weekend Trips to Take in the Fall

While New England is known to most people as “the place” to go to see fall foliage, it turns out that Texans don’t have to travel that far to see the leaves change. We can stay right here in the Lone Star State to take in some beautiful fall sights. In fact, there are a number of weekend trips Texans can take to really embrace the fall season. So, here are just a few of the great Texas weekend trips to take in the fall.

3 Great Texas Weekend Trips to Take in the Fall

The front entrance at Lost Maples State Park.

1) Lost Maples State Natural Area
For those who are into watching the leaves change, then visiting the Lost Maples State Natural Area. Located in the Texas Hill Country, this state park should be at the top of the list of places to visit this fall. During the months of October and November, the park puts out a Foliage Color Change Report.  The report is updated weekly and puts current pictures and information about where the leaves are in the changing process.

3 Great Texas Weekend Trips to Take in the Fall

The Wyler Aerial Tramway at Franklin Mountains State Park.

2) Big Bend Area
While getting here is quite a bit of a drive, it is worth it! Located way out west, Big Bend is one of the most beautiful areas of Texas, and the fall is one of the best times to visit. With more than 150 miles of breathtaking trails, a variety of geologic backgrounds like fossils and hot springs, and over 450 bird species, there is much to do and see (nps.gov).

Also don’t miss out on one of the best views in Texas by riding on the Wyler Aerial Tramway at Franklin Mountains State Park. It’s a gondola that takes visitors to the top of Ranger Peak, which is 5,632 feet above sea level. In addition to the Franklin Mountains, be sure to visit Big Bend National Park and/or Davis Mountains State Park for a diverse Big Bend experience.

3 Great Texas Weekend Trips to Take in the Fall

The Tyler Municipal Rose Garden.

3) Tyler, TX
If the west isn’t for you, then head the opposite direction…to the east, more specifically Tyler. While driving though East Texas, visitors can enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Piney Woods that surrounds Tyler. The peak season for the changing foliage in the area is late October to early November.

For a little more entertainment during September 19-28, head to Tyler to enjoy the East Texas State Fair. There is plenty to do for everyone with live concerts, the carnival, live shows, contests, livestock and so much more! For those taking in the fall foliage in October, don’t miss out on “Texas’ most beautiful event,” the Rose Festival in Tyler. Held October 16-19, visitors can enjoy charming events like the Queen’s Coronation, the Rose Show, the Queen’s Tea, the Rose Parade, and more. Here, everything really is coming up roses.

Where are your favorite places to visit for a fantastic Texas weekend trip? Share them in the comments!