Saturday, September 26, 2015

Brazos Bend State Park - Needville, Texas

Description: Brazos Bend State Park is less than an hour away from busy downtown Houston, Texas, but it feels like it's a whole different world.   The park's 5000 acres are home to wildlife such as many species of deer and birds as well as alligators who roam free through some areas of the park. In addition to the animals, the park is full of large Live Oak Trees practically dripping with Spanish Moss.  Water is abundant in the park with six lakes and numerous wetland areas.  Hiking trails cover the park and allow visitors the chance to see nature up close.  There is a camping area with sites for tents and RVs as well as an area with shelters. A Nature Center allows visitors to learn more about all the plants and animals in the area.  As if all that wasn't enough there is also an observatory in the park.

Location:  21901 FM 762 Needville, Texas.  Needville is 45 miles southwest of downtown Houston

Cost: $7 per adult.  Children 12 and under are free.  Admission is included in the Annual Texas State Parks Pass that is $70.  Camping starts at $12 for primitive sites and is $20 for sites with water and electricity.  There are also screened sleeping shelters for $25 per night.

Operating Seasons and Hours: Open daily throughout the year though the park does close to the general public during certain days during hunting seasons.. Park gates lock at 10:00 p.m.  Visitor Center  Hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m Sunday through Thursday and 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m Friday and Saturday.

Official Website:

Date of Visit: Tuesday, November 4, 2014 and Wednesday, November 5, 2015.

This was the first stop on the fourth day of the Texas Coastline Road Trip that my husband and I took our kids on in November of 2014. We drove away from Goose Island State Park and headed toward Brazos Bend State Park which was southwest of Houston, Texas.  The trip would take us over two and a half hours.  We ended up taking a little longer because we planned to stop in the town of Angleton for lunch and grocery shopping.  Once we'd replenished our food supply we backtracked  west to the park entrance.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum - Calera, Alabama

Description: The Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum has something for just about every train enthusiast.  There are historic train engines, box cars, and signals on display outside the museum. Inside the museum there are actual pieces of train equipment from years gone by.  The gift shop has train books, movies, and toys to buy - as well as a toy train table for kids to play with.  Inside a historic train depot you can purchase tickets to go on an hour long train ride.  This is also a stop for special trains such as Thomas the Train and the North Pole Express.  There is even a train library that is open by appointment.

Location: 1919 9th Street in Calera, Alabama.  Calera is just 35 miles south of downtown Birmingham.

Cost: The museum is free.  However, riding the trains costs money.  Ticket start at $14 for an adult and $10 for a child.  The cost increases for different seating options and special events.

Operating Seasons and Hours: All the trains are outside so you can visit them anytime.  The gift shop is open from 9:00 am to 2:00 Tuesday through Friday and from 9:00 am to 4:00 on Saturdays.  The museum opens at 10:00.  There are train rides every Saturday at 11:00 and 2:00.  Special event trains have different hours.

Official Website:

Date of Visit: Saturday, September 12, 2015

Friday, September 11, 2015

Arches National Park - Highlights

Description:  As it's name suggests, Arches National Park is home to many stone arches.  There are over 2000 sand stone arches in the park.  World famous arches such as Delicate Arch, Landscape Arch, and Double Arch are found in the park.  There are many hiking trails that range from easy to strenuous that will take you up close to the arches.    

Location: The park is located in the Southeastern part of Utah.  The park is north of Moab, Utah.  The park entrance is located just off of US Highway 191.  The main features of the park are located within 10-20 miles from the entrance.  This park's close proximity to the highway makes it an easy place to stop and visit - even if you are just passing through the area.

Cost: $25 per car during peak times.  The park will only charge $10 during off peak times. (I don't have info on when those are.)
Entrance to the park is included in the $80 National Parks Annual Pass or the $50 Southeast Utah Parks Annual Pass.
Camping is $25 per night at the Devil's Canyon Campground.
There are also fees if you choose to go on the Fiery Furnace guided walk.  The fees are $16 for an adult and $8 for a child.  (Children under 5 are not allowed.)

Operating Seasons and Hours:  The park is open 24 hours a day all year long.  The Visitor Center is generally open from 9:00 to 4:00 with longer hours in the summer.

Official Website:

Date of Visit:  Wednesday May 19, 2010 - Friday May 21, 2010.  And Thursday, December 19, 2013.

This was the fourth and final stop of the sixth day of the Southern Utah Road Trip that my husband and I went on for our third anniversary in May of 2010. We left Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park and drove about 30 miles to the entrance of Arches National Park.  We camped in the park the next two nights, and spent the days exploring the many trails inside the park.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Eglin Beach Park - Destin, Florida

Description: The Destin Area of Florida is known as the Emerald Coast.  The water has a beautiful greenish tint that contrasts with the pure white sand on the beach.  Visitors come from all over to enjoy the many beaches on the Emerald Coast.  Eglin Beach Park in Destin, Florida is a private beach for all Department of Defense Personnel and their guests.  Military members of all ranks and all branches of service are welcome at the beach.  Retirees, Civilian Personnel, and Federal Facility Contractors are also allowed access to the beach.  Proper ID must be shown upon arrival.

Location:  Eglin Beach Park is located on Okaloosa Island just off of US 98.  It is west of the main part of Destin and just west of the Destin Bridge.

Cost: $3 per car on weekdays and $5 per car on weekends and holidays.  You can purchase a season pass for $75 if purchased in April or May. The cost for a pass decreases as the season progresses.  A pass purchased in June is $65, in July the cost is $55, and in August the cost is $45.

Operating Seasons and Hours: The beach is open from April to October. During the early and late part of the season the beach is only open Thursdays-Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.  During the summer the beach is open every day of the week from 9:00 to 8:00.  Check the website for exact hours and days.

Official Website:

Date of Visit: Saturday, September 6, 2015

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Goose Island State Park - Rockport, Texas

Description:  Unlike the most of the other beaches in Texas, the beaches around Rockport, Texas have rocky shores.  Goose Island State Park is situated on one of these rocky shores.  It doesn't have a swimming beach, but instead has a very long fishing pier.  Away from the shore there are many coastal live oak trees that provide ample shade.  The most famous live oak, The Big Tree, grows about a mile from the main part of the state park.  The Big Tree has been growing for over 1000 years.

Location:  202 Palmetto Street, Rockport, Texas. The park is actually located 10 miles north of the town of Rockport, Texas.  You have to cross over the channel between Copano Bay and Aransas Bay to reach the peninsula of land where the forested part of the park is located.  Goose Island itself is just off the shore of the mainland in Aransas Bay.

Cost:  $5 for adults.  Children under 12 are free.  Camp sites costs $10 for a walk in tent only site, $18 for a wooded campsite with water and electricity, and $22 for a bay side campsite with water and electricity.

Operating Seasons and Hours: The park is open daily.  The gates are open from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm the office is open from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Official Website:

Date of Visit: Monday November 3, 2014 and Tuesday November 4, 2014

This was the fifth and last stop on the third day of the Texas Coastline Road Trip that my husband and I took our kids on in November of 2014. We drove away from the Port Aransas Ferry, and headed toward Rockport Texas.  Then we drove 10 more miles to reach Goose Island State Park.


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