Thursday, March 31, 2016

Texas Hill Country Day Trip Ideas


A few weeks ago I finished writing about all the locations my family visited during our Texas Coastline Roadtrip back in November of 2014. Even through I'm done with that huge writing project I'm not done writing about Texas.

I want to share all the interesting places that my family discovered during the two years we lived in the Texas Hill Country.  We lived in the Killeen/Fort Hood area. The area had it's charms, but was rather lacking in interesting things to do.  As often as possible we'd go for little day trips to explore the surrounding areas. Our adventures took us to waterfalls, caves, large hills that pretended to be mountains, zoos, reservoirs that pretended to be lakes, and a few historical buildings - just to name a few.

So here you have a list of all the places we discovered. - I should add that in no way is this a comprehensive list of everything there is to do in the Texas Hill Country.  These are things that fit our small budget, and were child friendly enough for our young children.

I've listed each location by city starting with the southern most and then travelling north and then west.  As I write about each place I'll add a short description and a picture.  Click on the name of the place to be taken to the full post.

San Antonio

The Alamo
San Antonio Riverwalk and boat tour
Sea World

New Braunfels

Landa Park

San Marcos

Aquarena Springs

The water from the Edwards Aquifer is perfectly clear as it flows out of over 1000 springs into Spring Lake. Since 1945 people have been able to see into the depths of the water by taking tours on glass bottomed boats. You can see all sorts of fish, turtles, and even flowering plants under the water.








Austin

Mt Bonnell
Mount Bonnell rises 770 feet above sea level.  That make it the highest point within the Austin City limits.  Most of the height is already achieved as you dive up to the trail head.  The most climbing you will have to do is to walk up 202 steps built into the side of the mountain.  Once you reach the top you'll have an impressive view of Austin and the surrounding area.


McKinney Falls State Park
Austin Aquarium
Texas State Capitol

Georgetown

Inner Space Caverns
Inner Space Cavern lay undiscovered by the modern world until 1963 when unsuspecting engineers drilled through 40 feet of rock and into one of the large chambers of the cave. The cave was open to the public in 1966 and since that time thousands of people have been able to see the fascinating world created from limestone. A tour of the cave is like a trip into another world.


Lake Georgetown

Temple

Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum
The Old Santa Fe Depot in Temple, Texas was built in 1911. Part of the depot has been converted into a museum. The grounds around the museum have a beautiful plaza with well maintained walkways and gardens. There are historic train cars and an engine on display in front of the building. The rail lines next to the building are very busy. A smaller building near the depot has model trains on display. The Whistle Stop Park is also near the depot. Several free activities are held at the depot throughout the year. This is a great place for families to spend the day.

Mother Neff State Park
Mother Neff State Park is a small state park in Central Texas. There are tall trees which provide shade on even the hottest days. Many of the structures in the park were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression. This is a great place to camp, hike, and just unwind from life.


Belton

Yettie Polk Park
Downtown Belton
Miller Springs Nature Center
Stillhouse Hollow Lake

Fort Hood

BLORA

Mounted Weapons Demonstration
Modern Calvary is made up of tanks and other machines, but Fort Hood has a way to remind people of what the cavalry used to be like. Every Thursday they put on a free demonstration of how horses were used in warfare.  This is a fun show for any horse lover.  And for people who love explosions there are gun shots and cannon blasts throughout the show.



Last Drive in Picture Show (in Gatesville)
Gatesville, Texas, north of Fort Hood, has a drive in movie theater that is an amazing deal. You can see two new release movies for only $10 per car. Let me repeat that. Two movies for only $10. You can't beat a deal like that. So load up the family and head to Gatesville tonight.



Copperas Cove

The Topsey Exotic Ranch and Drive Through Safari is located in the heart of the Texas Hill Country just a few miles north of Copperas Cove, Texas. You can drive your own car along a loop road and feed the hundreds of animals living on the ranch. You will see many zebras, goats, emus, ostriches, buffalo, deer, elk, llamas, and many more animals including a camel. When you are done with the drive through part of the ranch you can walk through a small zoo which includes some animals that you can pet.

Waco

Cameron Park Zoo
The slogan for the Cameron Park Zoo is that it's the Happiest Surprise in Texas.  And that is certainly true.  This zoo is the perfect size. It's big enough that it has all the animals you expect to see in a zoo, but it's small enough that you can walk around it in just a few hours. It's also shady which means that even on hot summer days this is an enjoyable place to visit. Go see it for yourself - you won't be sorry.


Marble Falls

Sweet Berry Farm

Burnet 

Main Street Bethlehem

Longhorn Caverns State Park
Longhorn Cavern State Park has wonders above and below ground. The cave contains many fascinating features that were carved by an underground river. The surface of the park has medieval looking buildings built from stone by Civilian Conservation Corps workers. Everything makes you feel like you stumbled into a fantasy realm.


Johnson City

Pedernales Falls State Park is a great location for many types of recreation. You can view the waterfall, hike on the many trails, swim or tube in the river, and camp at one of the many campsites.



Fredricksburg

Enchanted Rock
Enchanted Rock is a large hill made of solid granite rock. The rock rises 425 feet above the surrounding landscape of the Texas Hill Country. It is a total of 1,825 feet above sea level. A hike to the top of the rock is only seven tenths of a mile one way, and provides excellent views. There are many other trails around the rock that allow you to really get a feel for this 640 acre natural wonder.



And here is a map that will help orient you to some of these locations.



You may notice that one prominent city is missing from this list.  Dallas.  It's sad, but during the two years that we lived in Fort Hood we never made the two and a half hour drive up to Dallas.  That's because my sister lived three hours away in Houston.  Whenever we had time to make a long drive to a large city we choose to drive south to Houston.  Sorry Dallas.

In case you are met with the same situation, here are some things you can do in the Houston Area.

Houston

Houston Zoo
Oil Ranch
Oil Ranch is located in the farm country on the outskirts of Houston, Texas. The ranch provides a chance to enjoy farm life as well as participate in many fun activities. There are many opportunities to see and pet farm animals. You can even learn how to milk a cow, and children can go on pony rides. In addition to all the standard farm activities you can also go on a small train ride or play miniature golf. There are enough activities here to keep you and your family busy all day.

Washington on the Brazos
Washington on the Brazos State Historic Site is a large park along the Brazos River in Washington, Texas. This is the location of Independence Hall - the rough frame building where early leaders of Texas declared their independence from Mexico in 1836. The Barrington Living History Farm is another part of the park. This farm shows how families in Texas lived during the 1800's. There are plenty of picnic areas and other recreation areas throughout the park.

Brazos Bend State Park
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.


NASA Rocket Park at the Johnson Space Center
Rocket Park is a stop on the Johnson Space Center Tour in Houston, Texas, but it is also available to the public for free. The park contains a Mercury-Redstone rocket, the Little Joe II rocket, as well as some other large equipment from the 1960's space program. The most amazing thing on display is an actual Saturn V Rocket which is housed inside a giant climate controlled building.



Battleship Texas State Historic Site
The USS Texas is a very rare battleship. She is the only surviving ship that served in both World War I and World War II. She is also the only Dreadnought style battleship that has been preserved. When she was commissioned in 1914 she was the most advanced weapon in the world. Now she serves as a reminder of the technology and the people who used it to help defend our country.



San Jacinto Battlefield
Texas declared independence from Mexico in March of 1836. In April of that year the decisive Battle of San Jacinto was fought on what is now the outskirts of Houston. The Texans won the battle and secured freedom. 100 years later the State of Texas built a monument and a museum on the battleground as a memorial to the battle. A visit to this site will help anyone gain a greater understanding of Texas history.


Fred Hartman (Baytown) Bridge
This double suspension bridge spans the Houston Shipping Channel to connect Highway 146 between LaPorte and Baytown. The diamond shaped towers rise to a height of 440 feet, and support the six lanes of traffic 178 feet above the water.






Houston Port Authority Boat Tour
This free boat ride takes you on an hour long tour of the Houston Port Authority.   The tour will take you past large shipping vessels, and give you an understanding of how important shipping is when it comes to imports and exports.




I'm hoping this list will help you enjoy your time in the Texas Hill Country.  Check back often to see all the updates that I make over the next few weeks.  You can also follow me on Facebook and Pinterest to receive updates.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

25 Stay-cation Attractions near Fort Rucker, Alabama

Spring break was supposed to be our chance to get away from Fort Rucker for a little bit. I had planned a little road trip to the Lookout Mountain Area of Northern Alabama/Southern Tennessee. We were going to camp at Desoto State Park. We were going to see Ruby Falls which sounds amazing because it's a waterfall inside a cave. We were planning to take our children on unlimited train rides at Noccalula Falls Park in Gadsden. We were even going to see visit the US Rocket Center in Huntsville.

Everything seemed to be lining up perfectly.  Not only would the kids be out of school, but my husband had a break in his training too. There was nothing that could stop us from taking at least four days off and heading out on an adventure. Nothing. Until the Army said that my husband had to stay. Good thing I know enough about this Army life to not have made any reservations that couldn't be undone.

So now what? My kids are still out of school.  My husband is still done with training.  We need something to do with all this free time or else we will drive each other crazy.

I've been scouring my guidebook, and checking my list of things that interest me in the area. I've even asked the members of the local Facebook page for help.  And I've come up with a pretty good list of things that we can do to stay busy.

I know I can't be the only one who needs ideas of what to do when they have free time, but are stuck in the Fort Rucker Area.  So I've decided to publish my list.  I've also included some of the places that my family has already discovered during the 10 months that we've lived here.  So here you have a list of 25 fun and inexpensive things to do for a Stay-cation in the Fort Rucker Area.

There are a few limits to this list.  I've focused on things that are mostly within 90 minutes of the Fort Rucker area. I've left off things to do in Montgomery because there are other blogs with lists about that city. I've also left beaches off of this list. I'm saving all the "beachy" things for the summer when it is so hot that going to the beach is the only option for what we can do.

I've also left off things that I consider to be expensive. That's generally something that costs more than $15 a ticket. My family has six people in it, and we are working toward getting out of debt in the next four years. We focus on doing things that are less expensive.  That's why this list doesn't include popular attractions like the Montgomery Zoo ($20 for an adult ticket to the zoo and museum) or the Fort Walton Gulfarium ($21.95 for an adult ticket).

I've organized this list by distance from Fort Rucker.  So lets start with the things you can do on Fort Rucker itself.  I've included pictures of a few of the places that we've already visited.

1. US Army Aviation Museum
6000 Novosel St
Fort Rucker
Cost: Free
Hours: Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm Saturday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm
Phone Number: 334-598-2508
Website: http://www.armyaviationmuseum.org/

Fort Rucker is the home of Army Aviation, and so its fitting that the on post museum is filled with actual helicopters.  Anyone with even a passing interest in aviation will in intrigued by the displays that depict aviation history all the way back to the bi-plane days.  One of the coolest parts of the exhibit is the Chinook that you can climb inside. 
*Special instructions: Anyone over the age of 16, who does not have a DOD issue ID card, will need to obtain a visitor pass outside the Fort Rucker gates before they can come on post.  You will need a copy of your drivers license and provide your social security number.  The process to get the pass can take 45 minutes.  But don't let that discourage you from seeing this museum.

2. Fort Rucker Pool
4605 Andrews Ave
Fort RuckerCost: Free
Hours: 5:30 am to 7:00 pm on week days, 11:00 am to 5:00 pm on weekends.  (Call to find out about free-swim times.)
Phone Number: (334) 255-9162
Website: http://rucker.armymwr.com/us/rucker/programs/aquatics

This indoor pool is used for classes, but it is also available to all DOD personal and their dependents.  Just call ahead of time to make sure it is available for free swimming.

3. Rucker Lanes Bowling Center
Bldg. 9227 on Ruf Ave (same parking lot as the Exchange)
Fort Rucker
Cost: The best deal is on Mondays from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm. At that time games are $0.50 and shoe rental is also $0.50
Hours: Monday through Thursday 10:00 am to 10:00 pm.  Friday and Saturday 10:00 am to midnight.  Sunday 10:00 am to 8:00 pm.
Phone Number: (334)255-9503
Website: http://rucker.armymwr.com/us/rucker/programs/rucker-lanes-bowling-center

What better way to entertain kids than to let them knock things over with a heavy ball?  The Bowling Center even provides bumpers and light-weight bowling balls for children under the age of 10.

4. Lake Tholocco
West Beach is located on Johnson Road
Fort Rucker
Cost: Camping is $18 a night.  Cabins are $80 for a two room cabin (this is an amazing deal)
Hours: Generally sunrise to sunset unless you are staying overnight.
Phone Number: (334)255-4234 Website: http://rucker.armymwr.com/us/rucker/programs/outdoor-recreation

Sometimes Lake Tholocco seems like Fort Rucker's best kept secret. Many people don't know about this beautiful lake that is located on the northern area of post. During the summer swimming is available on West Beach. There are even water slides in place. There are picnic areas that you can use all year long. If you are interested in a night away from home you can stay at the campground or you can book one of the cabins. These cabins are fully furnished and even come with pots and pans. You can also rent outdoor equipment from the Outdoor Recreation Service Center.

* * * 

Now that we've talked about things to do on Fort Rucker lets move on to things to do in the surrounding areas.  I've organised these by distance from Fort Rucker.

5. Country Best Farm
1711 Moates Rd
Enterprise, Alabama
(Highway 84 West (toward New Brockton) about 1/2 mile from Boll Weevil Circle on left.)
10 miles west of Fort Rucker
Hours: Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Saturday from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm
Phone Number: (334) 393-7224
Website: https://www.facebook.com/Country-Best-Farm-1442800725961995/info/?tab=page_info

During the spring Country Best Farm lets people pick their own strawberries.  Fresh produce is available during most of the year.

6. Two by Two Petting Zoo
231 County Road 540
Enterprise, Alabama
10 miles west of Fort Rucker
Cost: There are a wide variety of price packages, but for just a family visit I was quoted $5 for adult and $3 per child. Children under 3 are free.
Hours: Visit by appointment after 10:30
Phone Number: (334) 464-0543
Website: ttp://www.twobytwofarms.com

This petting zoo has many animals for your children to see and touch. The website describes it as "a walk through indoor exhibit."

7. Milky Moos
113 E College St

Enterprise, Alabama 
or
158 E Broad Street
Ozark, Alabama
10 miles north of Fort Rucker
Cost: Prices start at $1.38 for a child size ice cream scoop. Full menus available here http://milkymooicecream.com/menu
Hours: Generally 9:00 am to 9:00 pm
Phone Number: Ozark (334) 443-0222 Enterprise(334) 348-2202
Website: http://milkymooicecream.com/

Sometimes you just need some great ice cream. Milky Moos is the local favorite for homemade ice cream in special flavors. Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner options are also available.

8. Continental Drive In
14200 U.S. Hwy. 84 West
Wicksburg, Alabama
10 miles southeast of Fort Rucker
Cost: $8.00 for an adult ticket, $7.00 for active military, and $5 for a child
Hours: Friday through Sunday Evenings
Phone Number: (334) 692-3890
Website: http://www.continentalcinemas.com/locations/drivein4.htm

Drive in movies have a nostalgic quality to them.  They are also a great way to take young children to a movie without worrying about disturbing the people around you.

9. Wiregrass Museum of Art
126 Museum Avenue
Dothan, Alabama
25 miles southeast of Fort Rucker
Cost: Free
Hours: Wednesday - Friday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm Saturday from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm
Phone Number: (334)-794-3871
Website: http://www.wiregrassmuseum.org/

This museum has several permanent as well as rotating exhibits. I haven't been there yet, but I hear there is a children's area in the basement.

10. Murals and Peanut Statues 
Downtown
Dothan, Alabama
25 miles southeast of Fort Rucker
Cost: Free
Hours: Best viewed during daylight hours
Phone Number: (334) 794-6622 (Visitor Center number)
Website: http://dothanalcvb.com/murals/

Many buildings in Dothan have become outdoor canvasses for over 15 murals depicting different aspects of the area's history. There are also over 60 large fiberglass statues of peanuts scattered around the city. The Dothan Visitor Center located at 3311 Ross Clark Cir has information about where to find each piece of art.


11. Adventureland Miniature Golf

3738 West Main Street (Hwy. 84 West)
Dothan, Alabama
25 miles southeast of Fort Rucker
Cost: Mini golf is $7 for 18 holes (kids 5 and under are free).  Other prices are available on the website.
Hours: Generally 10:00 am to 9:00 pm, but open later on weekends.
Phone Number: 334-793-9100
Website: http://www.adventurelandthemepark.com/

Why drive all the way to Panama City Beach when there is a great family activity place right in Dothan?  Adventureland has Go-Karts, Bumper Boats, Batting Cages, and an Arcade. My favorite thing is the Miniature Golf Course that has large statues of animals scattered throughout.

12. Carousel at Wiregrass Mall
900 Commons Drive (Near where Montgomery Highway meets the Ross Clark Circle)
Dothan, Alabama
25 miles southeast of Fort Rucker
Cost: $1.50 per rider
Hours: The mall is open from 10:00 to 9:00.
Phone Number: 334.792.5999
Website: http://shopwiregrasscommonsmall.com/

This classic style carousel is located by the food court inside the mall.






13. Landmark Park

430 Landmark Dr (Just off of the 431 on the north side of town)
Dothan, Alabama
25 miles southeast of Fort Rucker
Cost: $4 for anyone over the age of 13.  $3 for children from age 3 to 12.  Free for children two and under.
Hours: Monday through Saturday from 9:00 to 5:00. On Sunday the hours are noon to 5:00. The planetarium is only open on Saturdays and Sundays.
Phone Number: 334-794-3452
Website: http://www.landmarkparkdothan.com/

There is so much to love about Landmark Park.  There are walking trails, historic buildings, an observatory, and a fun playground.  The trails take you through a wooded wetland.  There is a boardwalk with displays about the area.  This is a great place for children.
Click here to read about my family's visit.
*Special Instructions: This is a Blue Star Museum so it will provide free admission to military families during the summer from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

14. Blue Springs State Park
2595 AL-10
Clio, Alabama
30 miles north of Fort Rucker
Cost: $4 for anyone over 12, $1 for children from 6-11, and free for children age 5 and under. Camping starts at $14.20 for a primitive tent site
Hours: 8:00 am to 7:00 pm
Phone Number: (334) 397-4875
Website: http://www.alapark.com/blue-springs-state-park

The main attraction in this state park are the duel swimming holes.  These holes are fed by springs with a water temperature of 68 degrees.  That's a bit chilly for springtime, but is wonderful in the summer.  If the water is too cold you can enjoy the trails around the area.

15. McCelland's Zoo
753 Co. Rd. 6618
Banks, Alabama
40 miles north of Fort Rucker
Cost: $12 for adult $10 for children
Hours: Thursday through Sunday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Phone Number: (334)243-4039
Website: http://www.mikeszoocritters.com

This zoo is the most expensive destination on this list. I honestly don't know if we will ever go here.  I'm including it because it does sound interesting.  The website boasts many exotic animals - some of whom even do tricks.

16. Pioneer Museum of Alabama
248 Highway 231 N
Troy, Alabama
45 miles north of Fort Rucker
Cost: $6 for Adults, $4 for children age 4-college, and free for children age 5 and under.  There are military discounts available.  
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Phone Number: (334) 566-3597
Website: http://www.pioneer-museum.org/

This pioneer museum looks interesting.  There are many historic buildings on this property.  There are also demonstrations of what life was like for early settlers of Alabama. The boardwalk boarders the Conecuh River so there is plenty of nature around as well. Of all the places on this list this is one place we will definitely visit during our stay-cation.

17. Three Notch Depot
Historic Central St. (Just off of Three Notch Road)
Andalusia, Alabama
55 miles from Fort Rucker
Hours: Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm.  Sunday from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm.
Cost: Not sure
Phone Number: 334-222-0674
Website: http://www.3nmsm.com

We discovered this museum almost by accident during a drive on a Saturday.  The museum was closed so we didn't see the indoor exhibits, but the outdoor exhibits were pretty interesting.  There are historic trains as well as old buildings and homes.

18. Florala City Park
439 Victoria Lane
Florala, Alabama
55 miles southwest Fort Rucker
Cost: Suggested donation of $0.25 per person
Hours: 8:00 am to sunset
Phone Number: (334) 858-3612
Website: http://www.alapark.com/florala-city-park

This beautiful lake is the largest natural lake in Alabama and boasts the clearest water in the state.  There are picnic areas and playground.  There is a pier over the water, and swimming is available. A walking trail winds around most of the lake.





19. Falling Waters State Park
1130 State Park Road
Chipley, Florida
55 miles south of Fort Rucker
Cost: $5 per car.  Camping is $18 per night
Hours: 8:00 am to sundown
Phone Number: (850) 638-6130
Website: https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/Falling-Waters

This 73 foot waterfall cascades over a cliff and down into a sink hole.  Viewing platforms help you get a good look at the water as it disappears.  There are boardwalks that lead to other sink holes.  The park also has the pretty little lake with a small beach of pure white sand.
Click here to read about my family's visit.



20. Florida Caverns State Park
3345 Caverns Road
Marianna, Florida
60 miles southeast of Fort Rucker 
Cost: Admission to park is $5 per car and then cave tours are $8 for adults and $5 for children.  (This an amazing deal as most cave tours cost about $18 for an adult.)
Hours: 8:00 am to sundown. The cave isn't open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays
Phone Number: (850) 482-1228
Website: https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/Florida-Caverns

Florida has many caves, but most of them are underwater.  The cave at Florida Caverns State Park is the only one that provides tours where you don't need underwater equipment.  Tours of the cave last 45 minutes and take you near many interesting features. But they aren't the only interesting things in the park.  There are also hiking trails, fishing holes, a campground, and a swimming hole fed by springs.
Read about my family's visit by clicking here.

21. Kolomoki Mounds State Park
205 Indian Mounds Road
Blakely, Georgia
65 miles east of Fort Rucker
Hours: The park is open from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm.  The Museum is open from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Cost: $5 for parking and then Historic Site Admission is $5 for an adult, $3 for children from 6-17, and free for children under 6.
Phone Number: 229-724-2150
Website: http://gastateparks.org/KolomokiMounds

This area was occupied by Native Americans from 350 to 750 AD.  The park contains a 57 foot high temple mound as well as two smaller burial mounds.  The museum is built over an excavation site.  There are also hiking trails around the park.

22. Providence Canyon State Park
8930 Canyon Road
Lumpkin, Georgia
85 miles northeast of Fort Rucker
Cost: $5 for parking
Hours: Generally from 7:00 am until sunset
Phone Number: 229-838-6870
Website: http://gastateparks.org/ProvidenceCanyon

Providence Canyon State Park started out as a ditch in a farmer's field.  Over time that ditch and others eroded into steep-cliffed canyons with red and white walls.  It all looks like something you'd expect to see out west in Utah or Arizona, but instead it's just over the boarder in Georgia. You can enjoy the view from the canyon rim or get up close on one of the many trails through the canyons. There are picnic areas as well.
Read about my family's visit by clicking here.

23. Old Courthouse Museum
31 North Alabama Ave
Monroeville, Alabama
110 miles west of Fort Rucker
Cost: not sure
Hours: Tuesday – Friday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m
Phone Number: 251-575-7433
Website: http://www.monroecountymuseum.org/#!old-courthouse-museum/c1me

This is a must see attraction for any fan of the book To Kill a Mockingbird.  Monroeville was the home of the book's author Harper Lee until her passing a few weeks ago.  The fictional town of Maycomb was based on Monroeville.  Harper Lee's childhood home is no longer standing, but the courthouse is still there.  This courthouse was recreated in painstaking detail for the movie adaptation of the book.


24. Chehaw Park and Zoo
105 Chehaw Park Road
Albany, Georgia
110 miles east of Fort Rucker
Cost: The park is $3 for adults $2 for children and $2 for military.
The Wildlife Refuge is $7.85 for adults, $5.10 for military, and $5.10 for children over 4. Children 3 and under are free. (These prices are slightly lower than usual because parts of the Zoo are under construction and so are inaccessible.)
Hours: Park hours are 8:00 am to 6:00 pm. Zoo hours are 9:30 am to 5:00 pm.
Phone Number: 229.430.5275
Website: http://chehaw.org/

This place is wonderful.  There is a spectacular playground, a train ride for $3 a ticket, plenty of picnic places, and a nature center.
And if all that wasn't enough there was is Zoo with many exotic animals and plenty of shaded boardwalks. The zoo is much more affordable than the Montgomery or Atlanta Zoos, so this is a great place to go if you want to see animals, but you don't want to pay an arm and a leg.

Read about my family's visit by clicking here.

25. Coca Cola Space Science Center
701 Front AveColumbus, Georgia
110 miles north of Fort Rucker
Cost: $6 for adults, $5 for military, $4 for children age 4-12, and free for children 3 and under
Hours: Monday through Friday 10:00 to 4:00. Saturday from 10:30 to 6:00
Phone Number: (706) 649-1470
Website: http://www.ccssc.org/main.html

This Space Center has exhibits about space exploration as well as a theater with different star shows available.
Note: There are several inexpensive and interesting things to do in Columbus Georgia, so don't think that this is the only one.  I'm including the Coca Cola Space Science Center on this list because it seems like it would be worth the 110 mile drive.

* * *

Well there you have it.  25 things to do when you are stuck in the Fort Rucker Area. Hopefully this will keep you busy for a while.

Want more ideas?  Be sure to check out my new post: 100 Things to do within 100 miles of Fort Rucker: The Ultimate Day Trip List

Friday, March 11, 2016

San Jacinto Battleground Monument - LaPorte, Texas


Description: Texas declared independence from Mexico in March of 1836.  In April of that year the decisive Battle of San Jacinto was fought on what is now the outskirts of Houston.  The Texans won the battle and secured freedom.  100 years later the State of Texas built a monument and a museum on the battleground as a memorial to the battle.  A visit to this site will help anyone gain a greater understanding of Texas history.

Location: One Monument Circle La Porte, Texas.  La Porte is east of Houston, Texas.

Cost: The monument, most of the museum, and the battleground are all free.
There are some extra things to do inside the monument that cost money.  They are:
  • An elevator ride to the top of the monument which costs $4 for adults and $3 for children. 
  • A movie called Texas Forever which costs $4.50 for adults and $3.50 for children. 
  • An additional exhibit which costs $5 for adults and $3 for children.  
  • You can purchase a combination ticket for the elevator, the movie, and the extra exhibit for $12 for adults and $8 for children.
Operating Seasons and Hours: The monument, museum, and battleground are open from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Official Websites: http://www.sanjacinto-museum.org/ and
http://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/san-jacinto-battleground

Date of Visit: Friday, November 7, 2014

This was the third and final stop of the seventh day of the Texas Coastline Road Trip that my husband and I took our kids on in November of 2014. We finished our tour of the Battleship Texas State Historic Site.  Then we drove the mile from the parking lot of the battleship to the parking lot of the monument.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Battleship Texas State Historic Site - LaPorte Texas


Description: The USS Texas is a very rare battleship.  She is the only surviving ship that served in both World War I and World War II.  She is also the only Dreadnought style battleship that has been preserved. When she was commissioned in 1914 she was the most advanced weapon in the world.  Now she serves as a reminder of the technology and the people who used it to help defend our country.

Location: 3523 Independence Parkway South LaPorte Texas.  LaPorte is east of Houston.

Cost: $12 per person per day.  Children 6 and under are free.  Tours of the ship are included in the Texas State Park Annual Pass.

Operating Seasons and Hours: Open daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.  Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Official Website: http://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/battleship-texas

Date of Visit: Friday, November 7, 2014

This was the second stop of the seventh day of the Texas Coastline Road Trip that my husband and I took our kids on in November of 2014. We'd driven across the Fred Hartman Bridge on Highway 146 from Baytown into LaPorte. Then we drove 12 miles north to reach Battleship Texas State Historic Site.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Fred Hartman Bridge - Baytown, Texas


Description: This double suspension bridge spans the Houston Shipping Channel to connect Highway 146 between La Porte and Baytown.  The diamond shaped towers rise to a height of 440 feet, and support the six lanes of traffic 178 feet above the water.

Location: The bridge is east of Houston, Texas on Highway 146 between La Porte and Baytown

Cost: Free (though construction did cost the tax payers quite a bit)

Operating Seasons and Hours: Open all day all year

Date of Visit: Friday, November 7, 2014

This was the first stop of the seventh day of the Texas Coastline Road Trip that my husband and I took our kids on in November of 2014. After driving around Fort Travis Seashore Park and the Bolivar Peninsula we had turned north and traveled to out stop for the night in Baytown Texas.  We spent the night in a motel which was akin to heaven after five nights of camping. In the morning we stopped at a grocery store and had doughnuts for breakfast.  Now we were on our way to the outskirts of Houston to visit the Battleship Texas and the San Jacinto Monument.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Fort Travis Seashore Park - Bolivar Peninsula in Texas


Description: These days Fort Travis Seashore Park is a nice place for a picnic. But years ago this was the site of military fortifications that insured our country was ready to defend against attacks.  These gun batteries are still intact, and are on display alongside the picnic tables and barbecue grills.

Location: The park is located on the southern side of the Bolivar Peninsula which is across the harbor from Galveston Island.

Cost: Free

Operating Seasons and Hours: 8:00 am to 8:00 pm.  Open all year long.

Helpful Websites: http://www.crystalbeach.com/travis.htm
http://www.galvestoncountytx.gov/PS/Pages/BolivarPeninsula.aspx

Date of Visit: Thursday, November 6, 2014

This was the fourth stop of the sixth day of the Texas Coastline Road Trip that my husband and I took our kids on in November of 2014. We spent the morning sightseeing in Galveston before driving our car onto the Galveston Ferry which took us across the channel to the Bolivar Peninsula.  We then drove about a mile on Highway 87 to the Fort Travis Seashore Park.

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