History • Central Texas
Adults: $4 • Seniors and children 6-18: $3 • Children 5 and under are free
A 48-foot-tall rectangular shellstone tower stands atop Monument Hill, the final resting place of 52 Texas men who died during the Dawson and Mier raiding expeditions of 1842 (part of the year’s Mexican invasions). Completed in 1937, the monument depicts scenes from the Black Bean Episode of March 1843, where 17 Texians — 10 percent of 176 captured soldiers — were chosen by lottery and executed after a failed escape attempt. At the monument’s base, a winged angel stands guard over the tomb, sword drawn, with an expression of mourning and reverence, and a fixed resolution to protect the tomb and the memory of the men buried there.
Snap a selfie in front of the tomb’s angel sculpture.
Splash • Central Texas
For river tubing, paddling, fly fishing or just plain splashing around, it’s hard to beat the Guadalupe River. From its headwaters near Kerrville, the river winds 230 miles to San Antonio Bay in the Gulf of Mexico. But the epicenter for relaxing tubing fun is in New Braunfels, where “the Guad” offers scenic nature views and plenty of time to soak it all in.
Snap a selfie over the Guadalupe from the 640-foot Faust Street Bridge, one of only six remaining multiple-span Whipple truss bridges in the country.
Wild • Central Texas
37221 FM 187 | Vanderpool
10600 Bandera Creek Rd | Bandera
$6 for either location • Kids 12 and under are free
Far from the end of any sidewalk, the pristine nature trails at Lost Maples or Hill Country state natural areas will allow you to escape the hustle and bustle of modern life. While most famous for its fall color, Lost Maples is beautiful year-round, with abundant wildflowers, steep canyon walls and scenic views of the Sabinal River. Hill Country State Natural Area has over 5,000 acres of rugged canyons, scenic plateaus and tranquil creek bottoms. Both locations offer trails ranging from easy one-mile strolls to miles-long rambles.
Snap a selfie while hiking along any trail within Lost Maples or Hill Country state natural areas. (If you'd like to explore a different kind of wild after your hike, visit downtown Bandera — it's the Cowboy Capital of the World.)
PHOTO © Faina Gurevich | Dreamstime.com
Quirky • Central Texas
Cavern tours $17-$39 • Wildlife Ranch $29 adults • $20 children 3–11
Far beneath the Earth’s surface, huge otherworldly formations formed over millions of years, one drop of water at a time, creating an underground landscape of flowstones, stalactites and cave ribbons that rivals any sci-fi blockbuster. Prefer to stay above ground? You can also explore a conservation-focused African safari, Texas-style, where more than 40 species from all over the world roam across a 450-acre Hill Country ranch.
Snap a selfie in front of the entrance to either park. Bonus points if your selfie is underground or includes an animal.
Regional sponsors: Texas historical commission; Bandera; Natural Bridge Caverns & Natural Bridge Wildlife ranch; New Braunfels
Grand Adventures in State Parks
As summer temperatures climb into the triple digits, Texans flock to the water. Whether you’re into swimming, tubing or just splashing around, you’ll find lots of places to cool off in the water at a Texas state park. Be warned, though: most of Texas has the same idea, so you’ll want to make reservations early to ensure you’re not left high and dry.
Central Texas is blessed with an abundance of lakes, creeks and rivers — here are a few places where you can wade in:
MCKINNEY FALLS: Located 13 miles from the state Capitol, McKinney Falls is a great place to cool off on a summer day. Onion Creek meanders through the park, flowing over limestone ledges and splashing into pools. Swimming just downstream from a waterfall is a completely different experience from your neighborhood pool. Be aware that Onion Creek can slow during a drought or flood after heavy rains — it’s always a good idea to call ahead and check the water levels before you visit.
INKS LAKE: Go jump in the lake! You’ll find heavenly swimming at the 831-acre Inks Lake, particularly at the ironically named Devil’s Waterhole. When Valley Spring Creek is running, you can also explore scenic waterfalls upstream of the lake. Note: There are no lifeguards on duty, so practice safe swimming and keep an eye on your littles.
Take a selfie splashing, soaking or tubing in the waters in a state park. Be sure to tag the park in the comments of your post.