Day Trips & Beyond: May Events Roundup

Get ready for baby sea turtles, balloon launches, and more

The days are getting longer and the roads are calling with fun activities around the state.

Turtle hatchlings can be released as early as May and as late as August from Padre Island National Seashore outside of Corpus Christi. (Photo by Gerald E. McLeod)

One of the most amazing natural events in Texas is when the baby sea turtles make their first mad dash into the crashing waves. April through July is the prime nesting season along the Gulf Coast from Galveston to Tamaulipas, Mexico. The Kemp’s ridley, the smallest and most critically endangered sea turtle, makes its nest on Texas beaches. If you see a sea turtle or what might be a nest or tracks, call the Texas Sea Turtle Hotline at 866/887-8535. Then get ready to see the baby sea turtles make a dash for life at an early morning hatchling release at Padre Island National Seashore.
May-August, Turtle Hatchling Release, Padre Island National Seashore, 361/949-7183,

Off Highway 287 west of Palestine, the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility will conduct three launches in the coming months. (Photo by Gerald E. McLeod)

The silver balloons launched from the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Palestine tower over multistory buildings. Sometime during May and June, the research facility will send three of the giant helium-filled balloons into the upper atmosphere to collect scientific data about the universe, atmosphere, and weather. Opened in 1963, the Palestine base is one of only a handful of sites in the world where balloons as large as 400 feet in diameter are launched. After the experiments are completed the balloons land in the West Texas or New Mexico deserts. Weather dictates when the balloons can be turned loose. The public is invited to watch the inflation and release of the balloons and payload at the base west of Palestine. To find out when the launches will occur call the base or visit their website beginning in mid-May.
May-June, Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility, Palestine, 903/729-0271,

Travel Notes:

Your state-issued fake ID will have to be replaced with a REAL ID if you want to use your driver’s license to board a commercial airplane after Oct. 1, 2020. REAL ID compliant identification cards generally are marked with a star in the upper right corner of the card. According the Transportation Security Administration website, the new cards must meet minimum tamper-resistant security standards. If you have renewed your Texas driver’s license or ID card since October 2016, you probably have a compliant card.

The Buddy Holly Center in Lubbock hosts free Summer Showcase Concertsevery Thursday evening from May 23 to August 22 from 5:30 to 7:30pm. This year’s series covers everything from Italian music to Spanish guitar with a little bit of funk, country, and soul thrown in. The family-friendly shows also include children’s craft areas, food trucks, cash bar, and admission to the Center’s museum.

It is just about that time of year when the waters of the Texas Coast begin calling. The Texas General Land Office monitors water quality on recreational beaches from the Sabine River to the southern tip of South Padre Island. You can find the latest data on water quality at

Other May Events:

SystemsGo Rockets
May 2-4, Stonewall,

CineMarfa Film Festival
May 2-5, Marfa,

Live Thoroughbred Racing
May 2-July 21, Grand Prairie,

West Texas Heritage Days
May 3-4, Fort McKavett State Historic Site,

Richard III performed by Shakespeare at Winedale's Spring Class
May 3-4, Winedale Historical Center,

Friday Afternoon Club at Gruene Hall
May 3, 10, 17, 24, 31, Gruene,

West Texas Taco Championship
May 3-4, Big Spring,

Texas Longest Yard Sale
May 3-5, Brownsville to Johnson City,

Medina River Cleanup
May 4, Bandera,

Mostly Native Plant Sale
May 4, Boerne,

Heritage Day Festival
May 4, Bonham,

Eighter from Decatur Food Truck Challenge
May 4, Decatur,

Honey/Bee Jubilee
May 4, New Ulm,

Blackland Prairie Days
May 4, Taylor,

Cinco de Mayo Celebration
May 4-5, Goliad,

Cottonwood Art Festival
May 4-5, Richardson,

Lavender Festival
May 4-5, Stonewall,

Scarborough Renaissance Festival
May 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 25-27. Waxahachie,

Wein and Saengerfest
May 5, New Braunfels,

State Historic Sites Free Day
May 5, Various Locations,

May 8-11, Marble Falls,

Western Heritage Classic
May 9-12, Abilene,

Canadian River Music Festival
May 11, Canadian,

May 11, Corsicana,

Historic School Open House
May, 11, Fredericksburg,

AsiaFest 2019
May 11, Houston,

Squeeze Me on the Square: Squeeze-Box Music Festival
May 11, Kyle,

Migratory Bird Fest
May 11, San Antonio,

Shreveport Stuffed Shrimp Festival
May 11, Shreveport, La.,

National Train Day
May 11, Temple,

Wimberley Garden Tour
May 11, Wimberley,

Gospel Brunch With a Texas Twist
May 12, Gruene,

Songwriters’ Showcase
May 13, Port Aransas,

Tejano Conjunto Festival
May 15-19, San Antonio,

Thirst for Nature
May 16, Boerne,

Funtier Days featuring World Championship Bison Cook-off
May 17-18, Santa Anna,

Western Frontier Days
May 17-18, Sheffield,

General Sam Houston Folk Festival
May 17-19, Huntsville,

Wildflower! Arts & Music Festival
May 17-19, Richardson,

Dennis Hopper Day
May 17-19, Taos, N.M.,

Testicle Festival
May 18, Castel,

Texas Steak Cook-Off and Wine Festival
May 18, Hico,

Old Town Street Festival
May 18, Leander,

Liberty Air & Space Show
May 18-19, Shreveport-Bossier, La.,

Emile Pandolfi in Concert
May 19, Fredericksburg,

Americana Music Jam
May 19, Gruene,

Eckert James River Bat Cave
May 23-26, 30-31, Mason,

Kerrville Folk Festival
May 23-June 9, Kerrville,

Crawfish Festival
May 24-26, Fredericksburg,

National Polka Festival
May 24-26, Ennis,

USO-Style Memorial Day Hangar Dance
May 25, Fredericksburg,

Art Walk
May 25, Johnson City,

May 25-26, Port Aransas,

Festival of Wine and Food
May 25-26, Rockport,

Concert in the Cave – Axiom String Quartet
May 26, Boerne,

The World of Bob Dylan Symposium
May 30-June 2, Tulsa, Okla.,

Gerald E. McLeod has been traveling around Texas and beyond for his "Day Trips" column for more than 25 years. Keep up to date with his journeys on his archive page.

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Day Trips, Texas travel, sea turtles, Kemp's ridley, Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility, REAL ID, Buddy Holly Center, Summer Showcase Concerts, Texas coast, Gulf Coast

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