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Subject: Somewhat OT: Things to do in Texas rss

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Rick Bynaker
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This will be my first BGG.CON and essentially my first trip to Texas (not counting the night spent in Amarillo or a couple hours spent between planes at the DFW airport.)

As such I decided to take the opportunity to schedule a Texas vacation around the convention (which isn't the best time of year for sightseeing but beggars can't be choosers!) Any Texas locals have tips on must-sees? At this point I have RT air tickets to/from DAL for 11/18 to 12/1/09, a rental car reserved and hotel reservations for the first 4 nights in Dallas. My girlfriend and my mother are also coming. Beyond Dallas we're generally thinking 4 nights in Austin and 4 nights in San Antonio but we can bump things a little if we need to.

In general, I like nature/outdoor stuff but history type museums might also be of interest. Not into art museums. Anything else I'd be happy to evaluate on a case-by-case basis.

My girlfriend is a gamer mostly by osmosis and this will be her first gaming convention although she's certainly attended day-long game sessions here in the DC area. I expect she'll spend most of the Dallas time at the con. I'm guessing she could even be happy playing Tichu for 4 days straight although I'm sure we can talk her into something else for at least a couple hours!

My mom is not a gamer so here comes the first question.

1) What sights are there to see in the Dallas area for non-gamers?

I expect she'll visit the Kennedy site but at best that will only take up 1 day. I'm wondering if there's anyone with non-gaming SOs who have attended BGG.CONs 1-4 and might have some tips. Otherwise she'll probably end up in the hotel room with 2 or 3 jigsaw puzzles for the long weekend (not sure of the hotel room layout but anyone have a card table she can borrow?)

2) If you could only visit one sight in the Dallas area, what would it be?

As things wind down on Sunday and we check out of the hotel room I figured there might be some must-see things that we can all do before heading south. And if we end up with 2 or 3 must-sees there's always the day/night before we fly home to work something into.

3) What sightseeing opportunities are there in the Austin area (or what detours might we make along the way from Dallas to Austin)?

I've done a little poking around but haven't found too much stuff to see and do in Austin. My girlfriend has relatives in Austin so I think we'll be spending Thanksgiving with them but that still leaves Mon-Wed for sightseeing.

4) What sightseeing opportunities are there in the San Antonio area?

Obviously there's the Alamo. And the Riverwalk is also popular and touristy. This will be the post-Thanksgiving weekend so I have no idea what to expect. Likewise, if there's anything that would make a good detour on the drive from San Antonio back to Dallas that would be good info as well.

Thanks a bunch!

Rick
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A Derk appears from the mists...
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1. I'm assuming your mother's older, and if so she'll wanna see the JFK museum. It's a cultural touchstone for many old folks. Sixth Floor museum's quite good too. There's a train museum in Fair Park too, that's not bad.

I will say that Fort Worth is actually got a bit better 'culture' scene than Dallas. I love tooling around downtown Fort Worth, great bars, great ambiance. And the Stockyards are a great way to spend an afternoon. It's what people 'expect' Dallas to be, often times.

Food is a big part of Dallas. What kinda food do you like? And we'll find a great place for you to get yer food on...

2. For me? I love art museums. The Nasher Sculpture Garden downtown is da bomb. The Modern in Fort Worth is very nice. The Sixth Floor is quite good, and I also really enjoyed the Seventh Floor museum as well.

3. I don't know Austin well enough to comment. But it's a great town...

4. San Antonio is the Alamo. I'll be honest with you, I made the trip down there and I wasn't terribly impressed. Perhaps your more historical bend will help with that, but I was kinda .. eh?

I'm told that Eastern Texas is a bit more scenic, but I never made it out there.

But most of the time, gamers never leave the room ('cept to sleep and maybe eat). It's the best boardgame convention you'll ever find. And I'm not the least bit prejudiced.

ninja
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Lynette
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There are so many wonderful things to do in and around Dallas your GF and mother will have a wonderful time. The grassy knoll is less than a day but it is in downtown so there are other things to do.

Fort Worth also has some great sites.

I fully endorse the River Walk in San Antonio. Nov is a wonderful time to be in TX because the weather is so much nicer than the summer.

I have never been to Austin but I hear it is great.

There is an awesome Renfaire running near Houston every weekend at that time of year, which also is worth a visit if you ever get a chance.

I suggest requesting tourist info from AAA or some other travel source and picking the things your family will like.

I have "vacationed" in Texas about a dozen times over the years seeing people I love. I started going to BGG because I went to TX a few times a year anyway. I have still never seen all the things that looked interesting to me. I should note I have very diverse and eclectic interests, still there is just so much to see I think there are things to interest most people.

Make sure they check out http://www.mustangsoflascolinas.com/ in Irving and the Pioneer Plaza in Downtown http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/North_America/United_St...

Again not whole day kind of things but worth seeing as part of the weekend.

 
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Nikki Ebright
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Meerkat wrote:
There is an awesome Renfaire running near Houston every weekend at that time of year, which also is worth a visit if you ever get a chance.


If you do go to the Texas Renaissance Festival (TRF, http://www.texrenfest.com/) be sure to check out Ded Bob. He's SO funny. There's also Christoph the Insulter, and I hear he's pretty good (I knew him when he was just starting out, so I haven't seen his act in years).

Depending on how things go, I may try and get over there on Sunday, after the gaming has slowed down.
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Jeff Jones
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Others will have to pitch in on the far inferior Dallas area as I have not lived there in 23 years. However, I can help a little in and San Antonio.

Austin:
Suggested activities:

The Texas State Capitol Building (and by default, downtown Austin)

The World Famous 6th Street

The Bob Bullock Texas State Museum (http://www.thestoryoftexas.com/)

A day at Barton Springs Pool
(http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/parks/bartonsprings.htm)

The Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Museum
http://www.lbjlib.utexas.edu/

The Austin Duck Car/Boat/Tour
http://www.austinducks.com/

The University of Texas
http://www.utexas.edu/

Bats! Bats! Bats!
http://austin.about.com/od/austinattractions/p/Bats_in_Austi...

Dinner and the best sunsets in Texas at the Oasis
http://www.oasis-austin.com/

Wednesday Night Games at my house
Geek Mail me.

If you are really lucky(?) you will have a Leslie sighting.

Leslie is Austin's local homeless transvestite celebrity. A few years ago Leslie ran for Mayor and came in third out of six candidates. Here is a photo I took of him at one of our local festivals. If you see him say hi. I dare you.



San Antonio:

The Alamo
http://www.thealamo.org/main.html

The Riverwalk:
http://www.thesanantonioriverwalk.com/

La Villita
http://lavillita.com/

The San Antonio Missions
http://www.nps.gov/saan/

Sea World
http://www.seaworld.com/sanantonio/default.aspx

A pretty good zoo:
http://www.sazoo-aq.org/

It's too bad you don't like art museums as San Antonio has a couple of very good ones. Especially this one:
http://www.samuseum.org/main/

Hope this helps. There are plenty of us from Austin on the Geek so feel free to call on us for advice.



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Yehuda Berlinger
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Half Priced Books was my favorite spot in Dallas.
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Steve Duff
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Last year we did, and highly recommend:

d10-1 Dealey Plaza, and the 6th floor museum
d10-2 Self guided walking tour around downtown including Neiman Marcus, Cattle Drive sculptures, Founders Plaza, John Neely Bryan cabin
d10-3 Dallas Stars hockey game

d10-4 Self guided walking tour around San Antonio, lots of churches, plazas etc, the Riverwalk (walk the Riverwalk during the day once, and take the boat ride at night)
d10-5 Hemisfair Park and Tower of the Americas (great views from the observatory)
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Richard S
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Here is the geeklist I made about things to do in Fort Worth:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/31271
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Quinn Munnerlyn
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I like the Dallas Arboretum. Even in the Fall/Winter they have nice displays.

http://www.dallasarboretum.org/
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John Mellby
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First, on your girlfriend, every year there is some game that isn't
a traditional game, that she might enjoy. Like puzzle games:
Ubongo / Space Dealer / Space Alert.
There are also dexterity games setup in the games lobby.
Late at night there is Werewolf (I never found the game
last year, but I heard it), and some Rock Band.

I know you didn't prefer Art, but the Ft. Worth Museum's
are great: Kimball for classic art, Amon Carter for Western,
and the Modern.
The Houston Natural Science Museum has good exhibits, but I
don't know what's showing in November.

West of Austin (30-70 miles) is the Texas Hill Country.
Lots of beautiful state parks and scenery there, like
Enchanted Rock (http://www.hillcountrymagazine.com/issues/20044/34.php).
And small towns like Fredericksburg, New Braunfel's.

I recommend going to the Tx Parks site at:
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/publications/parkguide/download/
You can download state park publications. Look closely at the
Hill Country pdf file. Or the "Prairies and Lakes" map that includes
Dallas.
John
 
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Neal Carter

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Trying not to duplicate Austin suggestions:

On your way to Austin:
Grab a Kolache at the Czech Stop in West.
Stop by the Dr. Pepper Museum in Waco.
See the Suspension Bridge in Waco.

Austin area:
Barbeque at the Salt Lick, in Elgin, Blacks in Lockhart, or just someplace good!
The Bob Bullock museum really is a good historical museum, plus it's right next to the University of Texas Campus.
Jog in the Turkey Trot Thanksgiving morning (or just come out to see the costumes).
The Trail of Lights if it's up.
Watch a movie at the Alamo Drafthouse.
If you like country music and home cooking, have dinner and go dancing at the Broken Spoke.
Go see a Texas Rollergirls roller derby bout.
Hope this helps!
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Jeremy H
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Seems like you already have allot of suggestion from others from this list but i would like to add a few.

Dallas/Fort worth:

The Fort worth zoo (not the Dallas one).
Bass performance hall in Down town Fort Worth is awesome.


Austin:
The Lady bird Wild flower garden. Im not sure how it is during the time you will be down but it is great.

Rent some kayaks and paddle around Town lake (same as Lady Bird lake).

Near San Antonio in New Braunfels is the schlitterbahn water park that is great fun. Not for the time you will be down sorry.

You could also spend a day and tube the Beautiful Comal river. Tubing is how we beat the heat in summer and its great fun to kick back have a few drinks and enjoy the sights of the river. Never mind this is not a good idea for the time you will be in TX

I would like to second the idea of stopping in West at the Czech bakery is is wonderful and if you like Dr. pepper the museum near Waco is fun.


Hope you have a fun trip let us know what you do.


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Having been to San Antonio several times I can give two wholehearted recommendations:

The River Walk - walk it, dine along it, just enjoy it in general.

Shiner beer (although I'm guessing you'll find this elsewhere in TX, San Antonio is the only part of TX I've ever visited).

I was across the street from the Alamo several times, but was never really tempted to actually go in.

I can also tell you that you don't want to spend any time in the Bexar County Jail. It sucks - even if you're innocent.
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John Mellby
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derk wrote:

2. For me? I love art museums. The Nasher Sculpture Garden downtown is da bomb.

I went to the Nasher recently and was, well, underwhelmed.
Safe to say its not my kind of sculpture.

OTOH, across the street is the Crow Asian Art Collection.
I was absolutely blown away by it (and 1/2 the art was
packed up for another show)!
Plus the Crow is free!
http://www.crowcollection.org/
John
 
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In DFW:

http://www.dwazoo.com/d/ - The Dallas World Aquarium is a neat little aquarium/zoo where you walk among the wildlife (monkeys and birds), plants, and other exhibits.

While you are in that area, you can check out the Dallas West End
http://www.dallaswestend.org/ - Neat little area with shopping, dining, and some nightlife.

If you or your girls are into shopping, then I recommend Southlake Town Square. Its not far from the con (they even have a 5-guys Burgers).

http://www.southlaketownsquare.com/

Across from Southlake Town Square, you should visit Central Market. Its a foodie paradise!

http://www.centralmarket.com/Stores/Southlake.aspx

If you are into horticulture, you can check out the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens

http://www.fwbg.org/ - I am personally a big fan of the Japanese Gardens and their millions of spoiled koi.

There is always Six Flags!
http://www.sixflags.com/overTexas/index.aspx

Outside of DFW

http://www.fossilrim.com/ - Fossil Rim is an african wildlife park a couple hours SW of the DFW area. The weather will be nice in November for a drive in the park while being accosted by hungry ostrich and zebra.

http://www.naturalbridgecaverns.com/ - Natural Bridge Caverns are some natural caves just slightly off the path from DFW to San Antonio. Pretty cool if you are into exploring caves.

http://www.lockhart-tx.org/web98/visitors/bbqcapitaloftexas.... - Lockhart is officially the BBQ capitol of Texas. Here you will find the absolute best BBQ offerings in the Lone Star State. Do some research on the "Big 3" in Lockhart (Kreuz, Blacks, and Smittys) and try one or all of them out! Lockhart is about 20 minutes south of Austin. What's a trip to Texas without sampling Texas BBQ?



 
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Tom Thingamagummy
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Austin:

1.) DO NOT MISS THE BATS. Hopefully they'll be there. It is amazing. I loved the thrilling feeling it gave me.

2.) I went into the Capital Building slightly after 5pm on a Friday night with one of my colleagues. We went to the top and looked over the edge. I wanted to go higher, and since nobody was there I just unhooked the velvet rope and dragged her up. She needed a safety arm from me to feel comfortable looking over the edge. It'll give you vertigo. I've heard they've roped it off because someone committed suicide and the floor tiles are irreplaceable.

Those were my two experiences in Austin. Unless you count Coyote Ugly and gay bars.
 
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Shade_Jon wrote:
Half Priced Books was my favorite spot in Dallas.

While there is a lot of awesome in Dallas, it's pretty hard to argue with this.
 
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Quinn Munnerlyn
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Thesp wrote:
Shade_Jon wrote:
Half Priced Books was my favorite spot in Dallas.

While there is a lot of awesome in Dallas, it's pretty hard to argue with this.


There are several in the area but I'm pretty sure they are talking about the big one on Northwest Highway. They sometimes have a decent selection of games there too. On one visit I ran across about a dozen 3M bookshelf games.
 
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Brad Andrews
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Lothartvni wrote:
They sometimes have a decent selection of games there too. On one visit I ran across about a dozen 3M bookshelf games.


I hadn't found many games recently and gave up spending a bunch of money there. Why did you have to tell me this?

Brad
 
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I'd say go to Fort Worth to the Kimball. It is my favorite museum in the world, the light is so nice there and it is never crowded. Has good food too. Then go over to the stock yards, a lot of times there is some sort of horse event going on. I took so many pictures one year of gorgeous people in long coats & cowboy hats & boots.

On the way down to Austin, stop in Waco at the Texas Rangers museum to see the Bonnie & Clyde exhibit and the pillowcase of the last Emperor of Mexico with his tear stains still on it. Plus the world's Largest Buffalo Hairball (and your life will be complete when you see this). Cool museum, lots of other wacko exhibits.

Got nothing for Austin, sorry.

The half price books in Dallas is great. Really. We always walked out of there with a ton of stuff, even when we had toddlers.
 
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Jonathan Grabert
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Not sure how much I can offer...

Dallas:

Well, don't forget that there's a Medieval Times castle in Dallas. I love that place!

The Dallas Zoo is also good. They have an awesome gorilla enclosure.

Dallas also has two new LEGO retail stores, and those are fun if you don't have one near by.

Austin:

I've lived in Austin for 12 years, and I'm having trouble naming things that are good and tourist-y. You said you liked history museums, and the Bob Bullock state history museum fits that (as mentioned earlier in the thread). They also have a huge 3D IMAX screen, but that's not too special.

I guess you could try to see the bats come from under the bridge.

But I'd recommend trying to catch a Master Pancake show. It's 3 guys and they make fun of a movie like Mystery Science Theater, but it's live (and they can cuss if they want). They have shows almost every weekend, and rotate out movies each month. Here's the show schedule: http://www.originalalamo.com/Signature.aspx?id=15. They usually take place at the Alamo Drafthouse's 6th Street location, so you can even make an evening of it and go on 6th (or the superior 5th or 7th streets) for dining and drinking. The Drafthouse itself is a unique movie-watching experience, and Pancake is a great show.

I can't offer you any barbecue recommendations, but the places mentioned here are generally well-received. But most other foods I'm good with. There's a great little cupcake shop called Sugar Mama's Bake Shop http://www.sugarmamasbakeshop.com down in south Austin that's easily worth the trip. There are a bunch of good places to eat within a few minutes drive of them. (Torchy's Tacos, Polvo's, Habanero's) Of course, it's an experience in and of itself going to the Whole Foods headquarters. They have some really good in-store dining, and it's pretty neat to see all the cool stuff they have. (You just have to wade through a few hippies when you're there.)

San Antonio:

I don't have much to offer for SA, either...

The SA zoo is pretty good, especially since, from the outside, it looks like it would be very small. It's not. But the Dallas Zoo is much nicer.

Of course, there's Sea World, which I think is totally awesome. I could go there several days and see shows multiple times. Just note that while you can generally feed the sea lions all the time, the feeding for dolphins fills up fast. But it's worth it to wait a bit to do it. You get a lot closer during dolphin feedings.

And for food, I love the Liberty Bar http://www.liberty-bar.com in SA. It's really a restaurant, not a bar, and they have some good food there.

You didn't mention it, but you also have an option of going to Houston, and then you have some stuff you can do. Like they say, "Ewston's a beg beg citeh."
 
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Jeff Jones
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infallible wrote:

Austin:

I guess you could try to see the bats come from under the bridge.



Alas, the bats will be long gone by November.
 
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I'm relatively new to San Antonio, but I can add a few things:
If you're in San Antonio on a Saturday, which it doesn't look to be the case, check out the Farmer's Market at the Pearl Brewery area. It's also near the Riverwalk, so you can take a promenade on a less busy part of the Riverwalk. But the farmer's market is great for purchasing some unique items. Locals sell some unique cheeses, meats, bakery, veggie and bath and body items (My favorite is the lavendar farm folks, tons of soaps, oils, culinary lavender products!).

Otherwise, it seems you're not hip to museums, but the SA Museum has a great exhibit on art from the Missions (assorted southwestern missions). Religious art is so morbid, it's fascinating! I love looking at paintings of devout friars riddled with arrows or bullets casting a sassy look up to the heavens that says, "Yes, Lord, I've died a hideous, painful death but it's all good 'cause I'm down with Jesus." But that's just me.

Also, if you walk through the ancient Greek and Rome section, tell me if you see proof that Papa Smurf existed back in @700 B.C. in Phrygia.

If your Mother likes used bookstores, check out 9 Lives Books, they have a handful of cute, friendly store cats, as well as some kittens up for adoption (they do some cat rescue). Oh, and plenty of fun books.

If you want to have a nice afternoon stroll among shops, La Cantera is a good place up by 1604 and I-10.

If you are hungry:
Taco-Taco (they close at 2pm): has great breakfasts and lunches and very affordable. It's a local favorite that has received national attention, so it can be crowded. Still, worth it if you like mexican food!
Magnolia's: If you love breakfasts, this is a great spot. Also popular. Their apple pancake is delicious!
Biga on the Banks: If you want to splurge on a fancy dinner, I highly recommend this place. Excellent service and unique and tasty food offerings. It's on the Riverwalk, so you get a pleasant view, too.
 
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Sean Brown
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Surprised no one has mentioned the outlet mall in San Marcos, on the way to San Antonio from Austin. The epitome of shopping overload: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Marcos_Outlet_Malls.
 
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Jake Hermance
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Just a Note on any of the Kennedy stuff... Dealey Plaza and the Musuems will be crowded the weekend of the Con as that Sunday is the Anniversary.
 
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