The Best Places in Central Texas to See Fall Foliage


Texas isn’t exactly New England when it comes to turning trees. Even so, there are still some absolutely breathtaking places for experiencing the fall colors of Central Texas – just a day or weekend trip away from Kyle.

One such area is the Lost Maples State Natural Area in Fredericksburg, about 86 miles northwest of San Antonio. Lost Maples is one of the most popular places for seeing the changing trees in the whole state, with over 200,000 visitors to the park a year. The natural area covers 2,000 acres and includes 11 miles of hiking trails, camping sites, and fishing in the Sabinal River.

Plum Creek, Kyle TX

Photo courtesy of the Lost Maples Facebook Page

The area predominately features big tooth maples, and in the past week or so, the trees have changed to display some bright colors along the main road. The drought of the past few years has been challenging for the trees in Central Texas, but the last cold front and the recent rain in the area has made a difference in the color show. The next color change this season will be the Red Oaks, which will turn in late November and early December. So bundle up and hop in the car this week for a beautiful day amid the trees, for a hike, or a picnic to catch the colors in their prime. Weekends, of course, are the most popular time for witnessing the colors so make the journey on a weekday to get the most out of the experience.

The Devils Backbone, Ranch Road 32 from Wimberley and Blanco, is another great place for a beautiful drive to see fall colors in Central Texas. The Devils Backbone is a winding journey through the hills and canyons of the Hill Country, and both sides of the road are riddled with trees, which seem to go on for miles and miles in either direction. And this time of year they are even more breathtaking than usual. Further west, the scenic drive from Camp Wood to Leakey is another excellent spot for witnessing fall colors. The route has been named one of the most scenic drives in Texas, with roads climbing some of the highest elevations in the Hill Country at over 2,300 feet, and numerous roadside lookouts that offer great views of reds, greens and golds.

Plum Creek, Kyle TX

The Devil’s Backbone, courtesy of Active Rain

So, this week before or after the Thanksgiving celebrations begin, pile the family into the car for a day trip out to the Hill Country to catch Central Texas trees in one of their most beautiful states.

 

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Austin Arts Event: The East Austin Studio Tour


There’s something about Central Texas that invites creativity. Maybe it’s the beauty of the Hill Country, the innovative, entrepreneurial spirit of Austin or merely the history of creativity that’s been present in the area for decades; either way, there’s a lot of creative minds living, working and creating in Austin, and, this November, these creatives are celebrated at Austin’s annual East Austin Studio Tour (E.A.S.T.) – a two-weekend event that showcases the best of local art and craftsmanship in the city.

EastAustinStudioTour

Photo courtesy of The Austin Chronicle

The East Austin Studio Tour – taking place this year the weekends of November 16th and 17th and November 23rd and 24th – is a free, self-guided tour of the artist studios, galleries and event spaces on Austin’s east side. Hundreds of art spaces open their doors these two weekends, and for many of them, EAST is the only time of the year they are open and available to everyday folk to see. This year, more than 400 artists are participating in EAST, and there are a number of cool events and activities happening both weekends of the event, including out-of-the-box events, projects, art competitions, traveling performances, art parties, site-specific projects and more.

East Austin Studio Tour

Photo courtesy of The Austin Chronicle

EAST comes with its own catalog, which is a free, full color tour guide that comes with a tour map. They’re out and available on the east side the two weekends of the tour, or can be picked up at all 22 Austin Public Library branches beginning November 6, as well as select other locations around town.

Wurstfest: Sausages, Beer and Texas-German Fun


The first ten days of November, New Braunfels will host the city’s largest and most popular event – Wurstfest: an annual celebration of the German heritage and culture that remains in the city from the influx of German immigrants to Central Texas in the 1850s. The ten-day celebration is rich in Alpine and Bavarian culture, with great food, German, Texan and domestic beer, live music, dancing, carnival rides, games and more.

Plum Creek Kyle TX

Photo courtesy of The Huffington Post

The event runs daily from November 1st to November 10th. On weekdays, Wurstfest opens at 5 p.m., and 11 a.m. on the weekends. Tickets to the event are $8 before Halloween, and $10 after.  In addition to the Wurstfest event itself, there are a number of other local events happening in New Braunfels and beyond, including “Frankenwurst,” at the Circle Arts Theater, the ARToberfest art show at the New Braunfels Art League, and the 45th annual Wurstfest Regatta in Canyon Lake.

Plum Creek Kyle TX

Photo courtesy of USA Today

Wurstfest has been a staple in New Braunfels since 1961 when the event began as a promotional event for the city’s sausage-making industry. Since then, Wurstfest has exploded into one of the largest cultural events in the state. Recently it was rated the #3 event in the state of Texas, behind San Antonio’s annual Fiesta celebration and the Texas State Fair.

For more information about Wurstfest and to purchase tickets, visit www.wurstfest.com

Pumpkin Patches, Haunted Houses and More Halloween Fun Around Central Texas


Halloween is less than a week away, and we’re sure that by now, your house is decorated, you’ve watched The Nightmare Before Christmas at least once or twice, and you’ve mastered your costume, or at least have an idea of what to do. If not, you can always scrape together something from Goodwill or your closet, right?  If you’ve done all of the above (or even if you haven’t) and you’re looking for some fall and Halloween-related activities, there are a TON of things to do in Central Texas to help get you outside and into the spirit of the fall.

Plum Creek, Kyle TX

Photo courtesy of the Kyle United Methodist Church Facebook page

One great way to do so is to visit a pumpkin patch. Kyle has its own at the Kyle United Methodist Church, which is open for your pumpkin pleasure until Halloween day. The patch’s hours are 2:30 p.m. to dusk, Monday – Friday; 9 a.m. to dusk, Saturday; and noon to dusk on Sunday. When the season started, KUMC had over 1,300 pumpkins to choose from, and, with such a starting collection, there are still plenty of pumpkins for you and your family to carve or paint. If you’re up for more of an adventure, or just want to get out-of-town for some fun, Sweetberry Farm in Marble Falls and the Barton Hill Farms in Bastrop both offer more fall fun than just pumpkin patches. Sweetberry Farms’ festivities take place 6 days a week (save for Wednesday) and includes scarecrow hayrides, corn mazes for all ages, a petting zoo, ice cream, picnics and more. Parking and entrance to the farm is free, but there are some small charges for the activities. More information about Sweetberry Farm is available here. And info about Barton Hill Farms’ fall festivities, here.

Plum Creek, Kyle TX

Barton Hills Farm Corn Maze via Hilltop Views

Haunted Houses are also fun ways to get in the spirit, and the area around Kyle is known for having some scary ones. Up in Austin, the House of Torment was recently voted one of the scariest haunted houses in the NATION by Haunt World. Three different haunted houses make up the House of Torment, and general admission to all three of them is just $24.99. House of Torment is open nightly until Halloween, and after Halloween they’re open on Fridays and Saturdays until November 16th. You probably want to keep the kids at home for this one though, as it’s a pretty rough ride – but maybe you’ve got a trooper with nerves of steel who can handle the spookiness Other area haunted houses include the Shivers Haunted House and the 13th Floor Haunted House, both a little further away in San Antonio.

For a little tamer Halloween fun, the Kyle public library is hosting a Halloween movie night and a Halloween story time  the Tuesday and Wednesday before the big day. And the “R We There Yet Mom” blog has a robust list of family-friendly events taking place throughout the month across Central Texas, including the Halloween Children’s Concert from the Austin Symphony on October 27th, Goblins in the Garden at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in South Austin and the Umlauf’s Pumpkin Sculpting Competition.

So here’s to fall fun, being scared and eating lots of candy. Hope you and yours have a very Happy Halloween!

Kyle Parks & Rec’s Outdoor Family Workshop and Geocaching in Central Texas


The cooler weather of the fall is here, which means it’s time to get out of the house and enjoy the time of year that’s meant for Central Texas. Rake some leaves, relax on a front porch in the crisp, autumn mornings, host a neighborhood block party, or coordinate a spontaneous flag football game in your neighborhood. Or better yet spend some time discovering some of the outdoor hidden gems sprinkled across Central Texas, just minutes away from home!

Plum Creek, TX

Photo courtesy of Kyle Daily Photo

To start you off, the City of Kyle Parks & Recreation Department is hosting an Outdoor Family Workshop & Campout at Lake Kyle this weekend to celebrate the return of fall. The workshop is designed to get families outside to appreciate nature – and to introduce them to some fun, outdoor activities in the process. The stay-the-night workshop takes place this Saturday and Sunday, with instructional sessions scheduled throughout the day on Saturday. Families can choose to participate in the sessions, or, if you’d prefer, you can use the allotted session time to explore the Lake Kyle facility on your own.

Some really fun instructional sessions are planned for the day though, including geocaching, kayaking, air rifle shooting, archery, fishing, basic outdoor survival, camping 101, rock climbing and slacklining! And where else can you shoot a bow and arrow or go rock climbing so conveniently in Kyle? More information about the workshop, including registration information (just $10 a tent!) can be found on the Kyle Parks and Recreation Department’s website.

One of the Workshop & Campout’s session topics – geocaching – is a great way to organically discover some new and interesting outdoor marvels in Central Texas.  Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game that takes participants to special outdoor areas to discover beautiful views, breath-taking trees and scenery, and many other hidden gems. There are over 2 million geocaches all over the world, and all you need to take the journey is a GPS device or a GPS-enabled cell phone to help you navigate to the secret spots. Central Texas is replete with geocache spots, and there are multiple websites available to help with the process, including Central Texas Geocachers and Austin Explorer. There are tons of geocaching smartphone apps out there too – some free, others not – to make your exploration as simple and convenient as possible.

Plum Creek TX

Photo courtesy of Central Texas Geocachers

It’s a fun way to explore old haunts, and to discover new ones – so, some weekend this fall, put on some comfortable shoes, grab some sunscreen and load the family up for a day of outdoor exploration. Who knows what you might find?

 

Labor Day Festivals and Events in Central Texas


Monday is Labor Day – meaning the end of the summer, the beginning of fall, and a three day weekend to help ease you into the season. For Central Texans, Labor Day is usually still a scorcher, but there are many things you can do to celebrate in Central Texas, either for the day or for the weekend.

About an hour and a half west of Kyle, the Kerrville Fall Music Fundraiser celebrates the spirit of songwriting and drink-making at the Quiet Valley Ranch, Friday August 30th, to Sunday September 1st. The three-day event features tastings and seminars from some of Central Texas’ premiere wineries and breweries, along with performances from a number of local and regional songwriters. Performances will take place during the days and at night; but the wine and beer booths will only be set up during the night performances, from wineries and breweries hailing from all over the state – including Fredericksburg’s Pedernales Brewing Company, Austin‘s Independence Brewing Company, Messina Hof Winery, and Becker Vineyards, among others.

Plum Creek, Kyle TX

Photo by Susan Roads, courtesy of KerrvilleMusic.com

East of Kyle, the Fayette County Fair takes place in La Grange Thursday through Sunday on the Fayette County Fairgrounds. In its 86th year, the annual festival is an iconic Central Texas event, featuring agriculture and livestock shows, live music, a beauty pageant, a BBQ cook off, carnival rides and more. Tickets to the fair are $15 and include access to everything but the carnival rides. The carnival is open every evening from 6:00 to close, and all-you-can-ride wristbands are $35. On Sunday, bring 4 canned goods for the AMEN food pantry and get $5 off the carnival wristband, too. The perfect family-friendly Labor Day activity, just a little over an hour away from Kyle.

Plum Creek, Kyle TX

Photo courtesy of The Katy News

For those who wish to stay in town this Labor Day, there are countless ways to celebrate at home, with the family and the neighbors. The Kyle Pool is open from 11-5 until Labor Day, after which it closes for the season, and, for Plum Creek residents, there is always Fergus and McNaughton Pools. Or you can have one final summer grill out with the neighbors.

 

 

Microbreweries and Brewpubs in Central Texas – For Those Hot Summer Days


Central Texas is fast becoming known for its craft and local beer scenes, and in the past decade many have cropped up in Austin and throughout the Hill Country. This summer, a nice cold locally-crafted beer offers the perfect way to cool off when the temperatures rise. And now that the Texas legislature has signed the Texas Craft Beer Bills into law, microbreweries can now sell beer on their premises to customers, as well as to wholesalers and beer distributors. This means that many microbreweries will start extending their hours, and there will be more opportunities to tour and taste craft beers from the source!

There are multiple resources for finding the best local and microbreweries around Central Texas including the Texas Craft Brewers Guild, which lists the names and locations of its members on its website, and the annual Texas Craft Brewers Festival, taking place September 28, 2013. The Austin event is the perfect opportunity to sample and try some of the best craft beers in Texas, but, until then, here are some local breweries, micropubs and other craft beer supporters in Central Texas in close proximity to Kyle.

Plum Creek, TX

Photo courtesy of Thrillist

Just outside of Wimberley, Middleton Brewing sells their own homebrewed Belgium and American style ales on Ranch Road 12. The brewpub is open seven days a week, and you can sample 5 beers in a beer flight there for only $6! They regularly host beer tasting groups, beer classes and other special events; and they’re huge supporters of the home brewing scene. In fact, they run a homebrew shop upstairs above the pub.

In San Marcos, Darkside Fermentation is a one-man nanobrewery located in the basement of the Root Cellar Café. It’s the only brewery / brewpub in San Marcos, and they specialize in Belgian-style, bottle-conditioned ales. Four beers are available there, including a gluten-free beer! The Root Cellar Café itself has robust lunch and dinner menus, and a rotating gallery of local art is featured on the walls of the restaurant!

Plum Creek, TX

Photo courtesy of Do512

A little further south, three microbreweries call New Braunfels home, the Faust Hotel & Brewing Company, the Guadalupe Brewing Company and the New Braunfels Brewing Company, while Austin and the area immediately north of Kyle is replete with places to grab a local beer. In South Austin, Jester King, Thirsty Planet, the South Austin Brewing Company and Independence Brewing Company are good options for Kyle-ites looking to trek north (but not too north) for a craft beer. Some of the breweries even have special events and tastings planned, like Groovy Sundays pictured above at the South Austin Brewing Company!

For more information about local and microbreweries in Central Texas, there are many articles and round-ups on the topic, and the aforementioned Texas Craft Brewers Festival in Austin is a great place to start as well. Tickets to the festival are now on sale online and General Admission is only $20! But remember, be safe when trekking around Central Texas in search for a good local beer. Responsible drinking is paramount. So once you’ve got your DD – cheers and happy drinking!

Plum Creek, TX

Photo courtesy of Texas Craft Brewers Festival