11 Day Texas & Big Bend National Park
We leave Knoxville this morning traveling south through Chattanooga and into the “Heart of Dixie” . . . Alabama. After lunch in the Birmingham area, we continue through Jackson, Mississippi to Vicksburg, Mississippi for the night.
This morning we depart Vicksburg and cross the mighty Mississippi River on our way through Louisiana and Kilgore, Texas to Ennis, Texas, thehome of the “Official Texas Bluebonnet Trail”. Ennis has been designated the “Official Bluebonnet City of Texas”. Our destination for the night is Waco, Texas situated along the Brazos River. Waco is quickly becoming a destination unto itself due mainly to Chip & Joanna Gaines, creators and stars of the popular HGTV Fixer Upper show.
Before departing Waco we will visit Magnolia Market at the Silos made famous by Chip & Joanna Gaines of the HGTV show “Fixer Upper”. There’s a little something for everyone at the Market. Shopping, games, the garden and even a bite to eat. The Market itself is staged and set up with one goal in mind: to inspire you to own the space you’re in. It is a short drive to Austin— the state capital of Texas. Austin is an inland citybordering the Hill Country region. Home to the University of Texas flag- ship campus, Austin is known for its eclectic live-music scene centered around country, blues and rock. After lunch in Austin we will visit LadyBird Johnson Wildflower Center, a 284-acre native plant botanic gardenand research center. We spend two nights in the Austin area. In the early evening we enjoy an excursion on Lady Bird Lake and Lake Austin for sunset and bat watching.
We begin the day with a tour of the Texas State Capitol. The massive three- story Sunset Red Texas Granite structure is the largest capitol building in the United States, standing 14 feet higher than the U.S. Capitol building. The Capitol grounds are 22-acres in the heart of downtown Austin, so there’s plenty more to see! Featuring 17 monuments, historic buildings and trees and beautifully landscaped lawns. Get lost in the fascinating stories of Texas as you learn the state’s rich history, and immerse yourselfin unique media and film experiences at the Bullock Texas State HistoryMuseum. Distinctive shopping and dining will enhance your visit to this iconic building in the heart of Austin’s cultural district, just north of the Texas State Capitol. After lunch we will enjoy a sightseeing tour of Austin and Texas Hill County with a local guide.
In the heart of Texas Hill Country, Fredericksburg is a small city with a unique German heritage. We will visit Wild Seed Farms, the nation’slargest working wildflower farm with over 200 acres in Fredericksburg,Texas alone. Time to explore Fredericksburg on your own. The gentlemenmay wish to visit the National Museum of the Pacific War while the ladiesshop. After lunch on your own, we continue to Alpine, Texas for a two night stay. West Texas is majestic and Alpine is right in the middle of everything. The town has an elevation of 4,475 feet, and the surrounding mountain peaks are over a mile high. The town sits on a high plateau, the Chihuahuan Desert, with the Davis Mountains to the north and the Chisos Mountains to the south.
This morning after breakfast our local guide will take us on a tour of this vast area —monumental landscapes, huge overwhelming cliffs, far distant vistas, a feeling of power and majesty—is Big Bend! Visitors can travel from the Rio Grande with its spectacular canyons and jungle-like flood plain up through Chihuahuan Desert,which constitutes the majorityof the park, to Chisos Mountains with cool woodlands. Lunch is included at the Park Lodge. We return to Alpine for our last night.
We depart Alpine this morning traveling east through the Permian Basin, an oil-and-gas-producing area located in West Texas and the adjoining area of southeastern New Mexico. The cities of Midland, Texas, Odessa, Texas and San Angelo, Texas serve as the headquarters. The Permian Basin is now the world’s top oil producer now producing four million barrels a day. The Permian generates more oil than any of the 14 members of OPEC except Saudi Arabia and Iraq. We continue to Fort Worth,Texas for a two night stay arriving in the early afternoon with time to enjoy the Stockyards area. It’s apparent that the Old West is thriving in the Stockyards National Historic District! Genuine Texas cowhands drive a herd of Texas longhorns down Exchange Avenue in the Stockyards National Historic District ev- ery day at 11:30 AM and 4:00 PM. Dinner included this evening in the Stockyards area.
Fort Worth started from a lonely outpost on the western frontier, to the days of cattle drives, to its importance in aviation over the last century, to the major cosmopolitan city of today. The Texas Longhorn and the American cowboy are two of the most enduring symbols of the Old West. They’re a big reason why Fort Worth earned the nickname “Cowtown”. It’s a short drive to Dallas where a local guide will show us all that Dallas has to offer—Dealy Plaza and the Sixth Floor Museum, Reunion Tower, Founders Plaza, Pioneer Plaza, Dallas City Hall, Fountain Plaza, Deep Ellum, Wilson Block, The Art District, Kylde Warren Park, West End and more as time permits. We will tour the AT&T Stadium, formerly Cowboys Stadium, a retractable roof stadium in Arlington, Texas. It serves as home to the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League and was completed on May 27, 2009. It is also home to the Cotton Bowl Classic and the Big 12 Championship Game. We will tour the stadium before returning to Fort Worth for our last night.
Today, we travel though Texas and Arkansas before arriving in Memphis for a two night stay at The Guest House at Graceland. Dinner is included one evening at the hotel and lunch at Graceland. We will explore Elvis Presley’s home, Graceland Mansion. Fully immerse yourself in Elvis’ life and career like never before at Elvis Presley’s Memphis as youexperience Elvis’ roots, his influences and his artistry. Walk amongsome of Elvis’ favorite automobiles, including his iconic Pink Cadillac, Stutz Blackhawk, 1956 Cadillac Eldorado, Dino Ferrari, Mercedes Benz limousine, Rolls Royce sedans and more. Step aboard Elvis’ customized airplanes to see how he traveled in luxury. The Lisa Marie includes a living room, conference room, private bedroom and features gold-plated seatbelts, leather-covered tables and 24-karat gold-flecked sinks. Plus, you can take a glimpse at Elvis’ smaller Lockheed Jetstar, the Hound Dog II. You will be free to enjoy lunch on your own at either Vernon’s Smokehouse Barbeque Restaurant or Gladys’ Diner. Be sure to also visit the Shake and Ice Cream station featuring hand-dipped icecream, Root Beer floats and more! We’re off to downtown Memphis to Sun Studio—the most famous recording studio in the world. “If Music Was A Religion, then Memphis would be Jerusalem and Sun Studio, It’s Most Holy Shrine.” Hear Some of Elvis’ greatest hits.
We depart Memphis this morning for our return home stopping in the Nashville area for lunch. We must say this has been a memorable tripto see the Best of Texas—magnificent fields of Bluebonnets and Indian Paint Bush adorned the fields along the Bluebonnet Trail, Herds ofLonghorn Cattle and the beauty of Big Bend.