Day Trips

Barry's Coffee Shop in Lampasas stands out in this village of antique shops, essential rural services, and authentic western buildings.

In most respects, Lampasas is a typical small Texas town. Established in 1856 on the strength of the cattle and cotton trade south of Waco, the town became the county seat and railroad terminus on the Western frontier. At one time Lampasas ranked among the largest Texas towns with over 30,000 residents; today, its the population is less than half that.

The white-sulphured and chalybeate waters of Hancock Springs were enjoyed by Indians long before settlers came to the countryside. When they did, the Sante Fe Railroad built a hotel with a boardwalk to the springs, but apparently they did not have the power to sustain the hotel, because it had become a school before it burned down at the turn of the century.

Sheltered under a stand of oak trees today, the curative waters of Hancock Springs mainly heal the heat of a summer day. The cold waters are open every day except Monday in Hancock Park, southwest of downtown at the intersection of US190 and US281. Construction is under way to renovate the bathhouse at the pool. The park also has a playground and an
18-hole golf course.

After a refreshing dip, head downtown to Lampasas' other jewel. Barry's Coffee Shop is not what you would expect in this town, which seems more like a chicken-fried steak sort of place. Even its location at 406 E. Third Street, freshly painted green and red, stands out among the sandstone-colored buildings.

"Lampasas is a happening place, and besides, it's not the city," owner Barry Williams said, explaining why he opened his gourmet coffeehouse here. The fact that approximately 200,000 people live in the Fort Hood area east of town is not lost on him, either.

Besides selling the best - possibly the only - cappuccino in town, Barry's has a full menu of other coffee and tea drinks, both hot and cold. They also offer pastries, soups, salads, and sandwiches.

Not only is Barry's a coffee shop, but it is an oasis of hard-to-find coffee paraphernalia in a desert of Wal-Marts. Shelved along the works of local artists on the walls is an assortment of coffee beans, espresso machines, tea pots, and teas.

Next to the front door is a small stage with the front window as a backdrop. It is here that Williams has had some of his proudest moments. In the last three years, Barry's Coffee Shop has hosted 23 concerts. Acts like Erik Hokkanen, the Jazz Pharoahs, and Ray Wylie Hubbard have played to sit-down crowds of around 100 enthusiastic folks sipping coffee, lemonade, and Coca-Cola from thick green bottles.

"We try to have a show twice a month but there are no set dates," Williams said. Both the audience and musicians seem to enjoy the relaxed and intimate atmosphere.

Barry's Coffee Shop has become Lampasas' cultural center, with theatre presentations, art shows, and poetry readings, in addition to the music. Except on nights of special events, Barry's is open from 8am-5:30pm, Monday-Saturday. For more information, call Barry's Coffee Shop at 512/556-5704. For information on Lampasas, call the Chamber of Commerce at 512/556-5172.

Coming up this weekend...

Kolache Festival in Caldwell (by the courthouse) sets the scene for the kolache state champion, Sept. 9. 409/567-3218.

Grapefest in Grapevine is the largest festival dedicated to the Texas wine and is highlighted with the People's Choice Wine Tasting Awards, Sept. 8-10. 817/481-0454.

Grandparents Day is Sept. 10. Load up the folks and take them for a day trip!

Coming up...

Austin Zoo has added a miniature train to their repertoire of fun things to do on an afternoon with the kids. The colorful locomotive and cars chug along a ridge overlooking the Hill Country surrounding the animal park off US290 west on Rawhide Trail, 10am-6pm. 288-1490.

Ste. Genevieve Earthquake Red shook up the Texas wine industry with its success. On April 13, 1995, an earthquake of magnitude 5.6 jarred the West Texas winery. Seeking to take advantage of this unusual event, the winery produced a label showing a crack in the vineyard and mixed Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon for the special bottling of only 200 cases. Because the wine was priced under $10, the Great Texas Champagne & Wine Co. in Johnson City's Feed Mill had only nine cases left on Sept. 1, but promise to distill another 200 bottles by the end of the month. 210/868-0385. - Gerald E. McLeod

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