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Photo courtesy of Visit Marble Falls

With the end of this brutal summer finally (hopefully?!) in sight, it is time to start planning for fall. Call it second summer, as in still plenty warm for enjoying the outdoors but no longer hot enough to melt pavement. Here are six places perfect for a much-needed autumn getaway. Take one (or more) as your just reward for surviving another scorching Texas summer.

Lake Bastrop North Shore Park
This LCRA park in Bastrop hugs the shore of a constant temperature lake for swimming, paddling (canoe, kayak, SUP, and Corcl rentals available), or fishing (with a boat ramp and pier). The park features almost 10 miles of hiking and biking trails, including one connecting to Lake Bastrop South Shore Park, and a sand volleyball court, too. Stay in one of 5 Airstream campers, 2 cabins, or 6 safari style tents. All have grills for cooking and decks for enjoying views of the lake and the stars while sipping a cold one. Other dining and entertainment options in nearby Bastrop, including a distillery and several breweries and taprooms. Neighbor's Kitchen & Yard and Iron Bridge Icehouse, both on the banks of the Colorado River, serve food, craft beer and cocktails, and live music.

Lake Georgetown
At this Corps of Engineers reservoir, choose from four campgrounds with RV and tent camping options. Enjoy swimming, fishing, kayaking (rentals available at Russell Park), and hiking. The crown jewel is the Good Water Trail, a 26-mile loop around the entire lake through a variety of terrain, with multiple trailheads offering the opportunity for shorter hikes. Dining options, wine bars, breweries, and other lodging options are nearby in Georgetown. Check out Barking Armadillo Brewing and, on the courthouse square, three wine tasting rooms and multiple dining options.

Matagorda Bay Nature Park
Located where the Colorado River meets the Gulf of Mexico, Matagorda Bay offers miles of uncrowded beaches for combing and wetlands for paddling. Rent beach chairs, wagons, and kayaks (guided tours available), play miniature golf, fish on the beach or pier, or birdwatch. In addition to Airstream rentals and camping and RV sites, visitors now can rent one of 10 new bungalows that sleep from six to eight people, with fully equipped kitchens, outdoor decks, gas grills, and fantastic views.

Port Aransas
Miles of beach, without summer crowds: What else do you need? Well, perhaps a place to stay, and you’ll find every option from fancy condos to kitschy cottages in this seaside town. Plenty of dining and entertainment options, too. Try the local seafood at places like La Playa Mexican Grill, Fins Grill & Icehouse, and Seafood and Spaghetti Works. Have a cold one at Bernie’s Beach House, the Port A Beer Hut, or Moby Dick’s. Rent bicycles, golf carts, surfboards, and kayaks at Island Surf Rentals (check out the Lighthouse Lakes Paddling Trail). Or just sit on the beach.

Painted Sky Inn
Located on a tranquil inlet of Lake Buchanan, this waterfront property offers rooms for two to ten people with kitchens and lake views, as well as a tiny home and a vintage Airstream. Amenities include fire pits, BBQ grills, a fishing pier, and canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards. Find miles of hiking trails at Canyon of the Eagles and Inks Lake State Park (day pass reservations recommended), or tour several nearby wineries (Torr Na Lochs and Fall Creek, to name two) and breweries (Save the World Brewing and Double Horn Brewing), plus dining options in Burnet and Marble Falls.

Frio River
The aptly-named Frio River is famous for swimming and tubing in the summer. The most popular way to enjoy the river is Garner State Park, but getting weekend reservations can be tough. Another option is Neal’s Lodges, a sprawling family-owned complex that includes 81 cabins, 10 lodges, 17 condos, 45 RV hook-ups, and 16 tent sites, plus a country store and dining room. See a bat emergence at nearby Frio Cave or a bit farther away in Kickapoo Cavern State Park. Saturdays are for fine dining at The Laurel Tree and diner fare at Lost Maples Café, both in Utopia, and Concan has several eateries as well (some close after the summer season, so check websites).

Find miles of hiking trails at Canyon of the Eagles and Inks Lake State Park near Marble Falls.

Photo courtesy of Visit Marble Falls
Find miles of hiking trails at Canyon of the Eagles and Inks Lake State Park near Marble Falls.
Photo courtesy of Explore Jacksonville

Explore your wild side in Jacksonville, a nature lover's dream getaway

On the Road

From the woods to the water — and even a safari-inspired adventure — Jacksonville has all your outdoor adventures handled.

Here are some ways to use your outside voice in this small-town East Texas gem.

Get on lake time
The crystal-clear waters of Lake Jacksonville make it an East Texas treasure — and a prime spot for splashing around. There are two public swimming areas, one of which is adjacent to covered campsites with picnic tables, a pier, and a sand beach.

And there’s plenty more to do across the 1,325 acres of liquid playground, including boating and fishing. It’s also where the city’s annual Fourth of July fireworks light up the sky.

Go on a safari
When you venture 12 miles east of Jacksonville, you’ll get up close and personal with a world of wildlife that’s anything but common to the area.

Cherokee Trace Drive-Thru Safari is home to exotic and endangered species that thrive in open habitats that are similar to their native lands. When you take a self-guided drive through the hills and savannas of the 300-acre preserve, you’ll spy animals at every turn: at watering holes, lazing under the canopy of a native tree, or striding across an open field. And, yes, some of the creatures will come say "hi."

Embrace the view
About four miles from downtown, Love’s Lookout is just the place to pack a picnic and soak in the scenery. Rising 240 feet above the surrounding terrain, the vaulted ridge boasts a panoramic view of the eastern horizon.

And although this place is lovely, the historic park was actually named after Wesley Love, who purchased the surrounding 600 acres at the turn of the 20th century.

Hug a tree
The Neches River National Wildlife Refuge features 7,000 acres and 25 miles of trail, ranging from a quarter-mile to seven miles each, where you’ll journey through beautiful native hardwood forests and the pine uplands while seeing and hearing lots of birds.

Hop a train
If you want to see outside, but not be outside, the Texas State Railroad takes you through the best views of the Piney Woods from the passenger car of an authentic steam or diesel locomotive.

No matter the season, the 50-mile roundtrip trek features rolling hills, 24 bridges, and unique railroad structures along the way. Also, while there may not be snow at Christmas, the Polar Express trip is still a holiday fave. All aboard!

Find more things to do — indoors and out — at Explore Jacksonville.

Photo courtesy of Crosbyton Chamber of Commerce

Stop along the Texas Plains Trail Region for stunning vistas and fascinating history

On the Road

Covering nearly 50,000 square miles, the 52-county region of the Texas Plains Trail features acres of prairie mixed with the spectacular canyon vistas of the Panhandle.

The rugged beauty and shimmering sunsets of the area make it prime road-trip territory, with plenty of scenic spots to stop for a picnic and a bit of local history, as documented by the Texas Historical Commission.

Hamblen Drive Roadside Park Picnic Area
This scenic park in Claude — about 30 miles east of Amarillo — boasts incredible, 360-degree views of Palo Duro Canyon.

The park gets its name from Will H. Hamblen, who pioneered a crude road into the canyon along old Native American trails in the 1890s. It shortened settlers’ trips by 120 miles but was steep and dangerous. In 1928, a graded road was built.

While you’re in Claude, swing by the Armstrong County Museum, which has an impressive collection of artistic, cultural, and historical objects that recount the arrival of cowboys and trains, along with the establishment of the legendary JA Ranch. The items also document the time of the native people who once lived and hunted on the land.

Part of the museum includes the 1915 Gem Theatre, where you can see movie memorabilia as well as live performances by local and touring drama and musical troupes.

Silver Falls Park
With status as the largest roadside park in Texas, this Crosbyton destination features a backdrop of mesas and mesquites — and its namesake falls — that make it a great spot for hiking, backpacking, and picnicking.

Located 30 minutes east of Lubbock, the park been a stopping point for travelers since the 1800s. In 1935, the National Youth Association, which was part of President Roosevelt’s Work Project Administration, built the park’s stone facilities, the remains of which you can still see today.

Also in Crosbyton, history comes alive at the Crosby County Pioneer Memorial Museum, which includes an expansive collection of 45,000 artifacts including 23,000 pieces from Native Americans, a Plains Indian teepee, a dugout recreation, and a furnished replica of an 1877 rock house of the county’s first permanent settlers.

Dickens County Springs Park
Off the beaten path is this little oasis of a park, located at the head of a ravine near the edge of the Llano Estacado.

About two hours shy of Palo Duro Canyon, it's a great place to take a break on your way to the canyon and beyond. There's also plenty to explore across its 72 acres of diverse terrain, with a few dedicated picnic zones enclosed by a teepee and the shell of a chuckwagon replica, too.

The ancient cold-water springs have been a favored place since the earliest human occupation in the region, with many nomadic tribes having used the site and leaving an abundance of archeological evidence in their wake.

Dickens is also home to one of the 22-foot-tall steel arrows by artist Charles A. Smith that form the Quanah Parker Trail. This network of more than 70 arrows commemorate the sites where the Comanches, and their last chief Quanah Parker, hunted, traded, lived, traveled, and fought.

Discover more picnic-ready and history-laden spots in the fascinating Texas Plains Trail region here.

Silver Falls Park in Crosbyton is the largest roadside park in Texas — and a great spot for hiking, backpacking, and picnicking.

Photo courtesy of Crosbyton Chamber of Commerce
Silver Falls Park in Crosbyton is the largest roadside park in Texas — and a great spot for hiking, backpacking, and picnicking.
Sean Pavone Getty Images

Houston steps to top of list of U.S. cities with lowest carbon footprints

By the Footprint

People looking to travel to a sustainable city probably don’t have Texas spots at the top of their lists. Images of oil, cars, and blasting air conditioners spring up. The Texas power grid, no one need remind us, is barely hanging on.

But Texas blew other states away for lowest carbon footprint per capita, landing Houston at the top of the list compiled by travel blog Park Sleep Fly. Austin followed (No. 3), then San Antonio (No. 4) and Dallas (No. 9). Only Florida appeared twice in the top 10, and none matched Texas with four cities.

Among the 50 most visited in the U.S., those with the lowest carbon footprint are:

1. Houston
2. Los Angeles
3. Austin
4. San Antonio
5. Tampa, Florida
6. Salt Lake City
7. Phoenix
8. Miami
9. Dallas
10. Portland, Oregon

Houston is not exactly a green place, with less-than-ideal utilization of public transportation. It and Dallas tied for third place among least sustainable cities in the same report.

“Public transit isn’t the most popular mode of transportation in Houston, but it does exist,” an online publication called TripSavvy drably admits. The city takes credit for employing “nearly one third” of the nation’s oil and gas extraction workers.

On the renewable side, however, Houston claims more than 100 solar energy companies, and at least half of its corporate research and development centers pursue “energy technology and innovation.” And its huge population spreads the load, leaving only 14.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per resident — the same as Los Angeles. Big cities seem to have an advantage in this rating system.

Austin is just behind Houston at 15 metric tons per capita, neck-and-neck with San Antonio at 15.2. These two cities have smaller populations to distribute their total footprint, but are generally seen as eco-friendly. Austin got a big head start in 1991 with the introduction of the Austin Energy Green Building program — the first of its kind in the whole country — which created an evaluation system for individual building sustainability that’s still in use. Dallas' carbon footprint is the largest of the Texas cities in the ranking, at 16.5 metric tons per capita.

As such a multifaceted issue (especially tied up in economic concerns), sustainability is hard to pin down from city to city. The multiplicity of this list is yet another indicator that Texas as a whole is a much more nuanced place than many people think.

Photo courtesy of Brendan van Son

San Antonio steps to top of list of U.S. cities with lowest carbon footprints

By the Footprint

People looking to travel to a sustainable city probably don’t have Texas spots at the top of their lists. Images of oil, cars, and blasting air conditioners spring up. The Texas power grid, no one need remind us, is barely hanging on.

But Texas blew other states away for lowest carbon footprint per capita, landing Houston at the top of the list compiled by travel blog Park Sleep Fly. Austin followed (No. 3), then San Antonio (No. 4) and Dallas (No. 9). Only Florida appeared twice in the top 10, and none matched Texas with four cities.

Among the 50 most visited in the U.S., those with the lowest carbon footprint are:

1. Houston
2. Los Angeles
3. Austin
4. San Antonio
5. Tampa, Florida
6. Salt Lake City
7. Phoenix
8. Miami
9. Dallas
10. Portland, Oregon

Houston is not exactly a green place, with less-than-ideal utilization of public transportation. It and Dallas tied for third place among least sustainable cities in the same report.

“Public transit isn’t the most popular mode of transportation in Houston, but it does exist,” an online publication called TripSavvy drably admits. The city takes credit for employing “nearly one third” of the nation’s oil and gas extraction workers.

On the renewable side, however, Houston claims more than 100 solar energy companies, and at least half of its corporate research and development centers pursue “energy technology and innovation.” And its huge population spreads the load, leaving only 14.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per resident — the same as Los Angeles. Big cities seem to have an advantage in this rating system.

Austin is just behind Houston at 15 metric tons per capita, neck-and-neck with San Antonio at 15.2. These two cities have smaller populations to distribute their total footprint, but are generally seen as eco-friendly. Austin got a big head start in 1991 with the introduction of the Austin Energy Green Building program — the first of its kind in the whole country — which created an evaluation system for individual building sustainability that’s still in use. Dallas' carbon footprint is the largest of the Texas cities in the ranking, at 16.5 metric tons per capita.

As such a multifaceted issue (especially tied up in economic concerns), sustainability is hard to pin down from city to city. The multiplicity of this list is yet another indicator that Texas as a whole is a much more nuanced place than many people think.

Photo courtesy of Visit Mineral Wells

Outdoor enthusiasts can get their fill of nature in Mineral Wells

On the Road

A dream for active outdoorsy types and rest-and-rechargers alike, Mineral Wells is the perfect place to reconnect with nature.

With three state parks, four lakes, and the Brazos River all close at hand, there’s no shortage of ways to get outdoors. From hiking and biking to horseback riding, paddle boarding, kayaking, fishing, and rock climbing, you can choose your own adventure.

Here are a few ways to fully explore Mineral Wells’ naturescapes.

Hit the trails
From easy, crushed-rock trails to challenging, gravity-defying climbs and everything in between, there are lots of options for hiking and biking.

The Texas Frontier Trails Heritage Park not only hosts outdoor concerts and events, it’s also a great place for rugged biking and some basic hiking with several trails forged into the hills — plus a few history lessons along the way via informational panels.

For a little hidden gem, look for the Bridal Pathway Bridge that extends just beyond the trail and crosses over Pollard Creek.

More hiking and biking can be found at Lake Mineral Wells State Park. Trails clock in at a half-mile to just over two miles and boast both waterfront and backcountry views and wildlife-spotting.

The Lake Mineral Wells Trailway runs along the old historic tracks of the Weatherford, Mineral Wells, and Northwestern Railroad, and has 20 miles of hike, bike, and equestrian trails that venture through the sites of the Western Cross Timbers from Mineral Wells to Weatherford.

Insider tip: Don’t miss the West City Park Hiking Trails in the city’s largest park: West City Park. The humble little trailhead is tucked away on the west side and leads to hilltop hiking trails with incredible views at the top.

About 15 minutes outside of Mineral Wells in Graford, Possum Kingdom Lake has more than 15 miles of trails winding through the surrounding hills. Close by, Possum Kingdom Lake State Park has easy access to 2.5 miles of trails, from scenic woodland and prairie hikes to ones that lead to lake overlooks.

Set up camp
For a more immersive day-to-night experience, pack up the tent, bring the marshmallows, and make camp. Lake Mineral Wells State Park has a number of fully equipped campsites, including equestrian sites. Over at Possum Kingdom Lake State Park, you have options, from primitive camping to sites with water and electricity. The park also hosts glamping cabins with air conditioning.

Rock on
There are very few natural places for rock-climbing in North Texas — and Mineral Wells is one of them! Penitentiary Hollow at Lake Mineral Wells State Park has 20-to-40-foot sandstone walls for climbing and rappelling.

Head for the H2O
For the water lovers, you can have it all — canoeing, kayaking, fishing, paddle boarding, and more— in and around Mineral Wells. At Lake Mineral Wells State Park, these are all on offer and Trailway Trading Post has the rental craft and gear for it. Over in nearby Graford and the Brazos River, Rochelle’s Canoe Rentals has you covered for a day of rowing about.

For the most water-powered options, Possum Kingdom Lake State Park has more than 300 miles of shoreline and many scenic coves that make it perfect for swimming, boating, fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling, jet-skiing, and more, with plenty of rental options available.

Stop and smell the flowers
For a more relaxed pace in nature, head to Clark Gardens with its 35-acres of beautiful gardens, soothing water features, and serene walkways.

Get crazy!
After a day (or days) of being outside, recharge at Crazy Water and see why health-seekers have been coming to the area from across the globe since 1881. The historic property has incredible all-natural mineral water where you can fill up your owns bottles with the good stuff, and even custom-blend your own water. Then, head over to the Crazy Water Bath House for a massage and a soak in the mineral baths.

Learn more about what to do — indoors and out — at Visit Mineral Wells and start planning your weekend of adventure here.

Mineral Wells is an outdoor adventure lover's dream.

Photo courtesy of Visit Mineral Wells
Mineral Wells is an outdoor adventure lover's dream.
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Legendary Red Hot Chili Peppers heat up San Antonio with 2023 tour stop

one hot minute

One of alternative rock's most legendary acts is headed to San Antonio on their highly anticipated North American tour next year. Red Hot Chili Peppers will play the Alamodome on Wednesday, May 17, 2023.

Kicking off in Vancouver, British Columbia on March 29, RHCP will also stop in Houston's Minute Maid Park on Thursday, May 25 to close out the North American leg of the tour before heading to Europe. Effortlessly hip modern rock band The Strokes will support the Chili Peppers on both Texas stops, along with talented bassist-vocalist Thundercat.

Tickets go on sale at 10 am Friday, December 9 online. Other supporting acts along the way include Iggy Pop, The Roots, The Mars Volta, St. Vincent, City and Colour, and King Princess.

Touring in support of their two No. 1 studio albums released in 2022, Unlimited Love and Return of the Dream Canteen, the Chili Peppers have played sold-out shows in London, Paris, Los Angeles, and more with notable artists such as A$AP Rocky, Anderson.Paak, Beck, and HAIM.

The first rock band in 17 years to score two No. 1 albums in one year, the band has been red-hot on the Billboard charts and at the MTV Video Music Awards, where they received the Global Icon Award and brought the house down with a performance of the No. 1 single “Black Summer,'' which also won the award for Best Rock Video.

Fronted by the impossibly chiseled and ageless (he's 60!) Anthony Kiedis, the Chili Peppers formed in 1983. Unabashedly proud of their LA roots, the band burst onto the scene with early singles such as "Higher Ground" and "Give It Away," both showcases of bassist Flea's slappin', funk-fueled basslines.

Throughout the peak of alternative music in the '90s, the band saw tragedy, personnel changes at guitar, and reinventions — Kiedes' rap-singing, Flea's bass grooves, and singalong choruses all constants over the decades.

While many '90s alt-rock acts fizzled, the Chili Peppers stayed relevant; the band boasts two anthemic singles with more than 1 billion streams — "Californication" and "Under the Bridge" — and more than 25 million followers on Spotify.

Expect this show to be packed with Gen Xers and new fans for what promises to be one hot minute.

Red Hot Chili Peppers 2023 tour dates:

  • Wednesday, March 29 – Vancouver – BC Place
  • Saturday, April 1 – Las Vegas – Allegiant Stadium
  • Thursday, April 6 – Fargo, North Dakota – FargoDome
  • Saturday, April 8 – Minneapolis – US Bank Stadium
  • Friday, April 14 – Syracuse, New York – JMA Wireless Dome
  • Friday, May 12 – San Diego – Snap Dragon Stadium
  • Sunday, May 14 – Phoenix – State Farm Stadium
  • Wednesday, May 17 – San Antonio – Alamodome
  • Friday, May 19 – Gulf Shores, Alabama – Hangout Music Festival
  • Thursday, May 25 – Houston – Minute Maid Park

Texas-based 3D printing company tapped by NASA to build on the moon

To infinity and beyond

An Austin-based builder of 3D-printed homes, ICON, is making one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind by signing a $57 million contract with NASA to build on the moon.

According to a release from ICON, the Texas company will soon venture into a new frontier of space dimensions. The contract, announced on November 29, was awarded to the company under NASA's Phase III Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. This program allows ICON to use the $57 million award to build their Olympus system, which adds to previous construction done by both NASA and the Department of Defense for exploration of the moon and beyond.

"ICON’s Olympus system is intended to be a multi-purpose construction system primarily using local lunar and Martian resources as building materials to further the efforts of NASA as well as commercial organizations to establish a sustained lunar presence," the release stated.

The project will work in conjunction with NASA's Artemis program, which launched its first rocket in 50 years on November 15. ICON will work with the program to:

  • Use lunar regolith samples brought back from Apollo missions, in addition to other regolith simulants, to see their mechanical behavior in lunar gravity.
  • Bring advanced hardware and software into space through a lunar gravity simulation flight.
  • Create results to inform future lunar construction approaches for the space community.
  • Establish critical infrastructure necessary for a sustainable lunar economy and habitation.

“The final deliverable of this contract will be humanity’s first construction on another world, and that is going to be a pretty special achievement," said Jason Ballard, ICON co-founder and CEO.

"It's a construction system we call Olympus system that will allow us to use the local materials of the moon to build all the elements of infrastructure necessary for a lunar outpost and ultimately a moon base ... launch and landing pads, roadways, habitats, you name it, all the things on the moon," said Ballard.

He added that they hope to start building on the moon by 2026, starting with a launch and landing pad.

In addition to the grant, ICON was awarded a subcontract in 2021 to support NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate to create the world's first and only simulated 3D-printed Mars surface habitat. Called Mars Dune Alpha, it is located at NASA's Johnson Space Center and is assisting in long-duration science missions.

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Read the full story and watch the video at KVUE.com.

6 things to know in San Antonio food right now: New beer garden quietly opens

New You Can Eat

Editor's note: We get it. It can be difficult to keep up with the fast pace of San Antonio's restaurant and bar scene. We have you covered with our regular roundup of essential food news.

Openings

The owners of Gold Feather have unofficially untapped a new venture, LadyBird Beer Garden. Although official channels are keeping details mum, a Facebook page run by landlords VLA Real Estate spilled the beans on the November 25 opening. In addition to serving craft beer, the concept at 447 W. Hildebrand Ave has a full kitchen, bar, and a small patio for enjoying the mild December weather.

Months after coyly announcing a second location, Elotitos Corn Bar sprouted a new Government Hill location on December 3. The snack shop is well known for its aguas frescas and elotes flights, offering the street food staple in various flavors. The new outpost is open Monday through Saturday, 3-9 pm.

Following the recent San Antonio expansion of Oregon-based Dutch Bros Coffee, another out-of-towner is gaining some local buzz. According to Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation records, Arkansas franchise 7 Brew Coffee is brewing its first Alamo City location at 4825 Walzem Rd. Barring delays, the project will be completed in May 2023.

Pop-up concept Rose Hip Coffee has found a permanent home at 116 W. Olmos Dr. in Olmos Park. The broadened Rose Hip Market combines caffeine with boutique retail, offering everything from kid's clothes to ready-to-eat sandwiches and salads. The playful equestrian wallpaper might make it a can't-miss selfie spot.

Other news and notes

A new cocktail conference will lift San Antonio's spirits in January. The Culinaria-hosted Third Coast Cocktail Summit will feature seminars, tastings, dinners, and tipsy soirées during its five-day run from January 10-14. All-access passes are now available for $250 for industry and $500 for general admission at the nonprofit's website.

In other booze news, Kinsman's Brandy Alexander Tour is back in full swing for the holiday season. Dorćol Distilling's annual celebration of the famous desert cocktail has drafted 14 spots to offer the renowned desert cocktail this year, including several newcomers like Allora, Bar Loretta, Double Standard, Ladino, and Sojourn Trading Co. A full list of participants can be found here.