Day Trips & Beyond: Daytripping in the Age of a Pandemic

Houston Art Car Parade goes virtual, and more travel news

The zaniest tribute to the automobile, the annual Houston Art Car Parade, lives on this year with a special weekend of virtual tours and streaming events that you won’t have to leave home to see.

Photo by Gerald E. McLeod

The venerable Houston Art Car Weekend is on — virtually. Like most of the state and the country, Houston is all but shut down because of the COVID-19 crisis. That doesn’t stop the creative folks at the Orange Show Center for Visionary Arts from planning some pretty exciting things for all you stay-at-home daytrippers. The 33rd Houston Art Car Parade will be a series of Facebook Live tours, a re-broadcast of the 2019 parade, and a movie. All of this exciting content will be available at and streamed live at Mark your calendar now for next year’s Houston Art Car Parade on Saturday, April 17, 2021.

Easter was a sad weekend this year. No Easter egg hunts, no sunrise services, no pictures of the kids in fields of bluebonnets, no yellow marshmallow Peeps under the Easter tree. Right before the weekend began, Texas State Parks and Texas Historic Sites were closed until a date to be determined.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department announced that all state parks are closed to the public at least through the end of April. If you had a camping or day pass reservation in April, it will automatically be refunded the full amount. Some boat ramps in state parks remain open. The term of Texas State Parks Passes has been extended by two months. This extension will happen automatically for any Texas State Parks Pass holder whose pass was active on April 7, 2020. TPWD is not taking new reservations for any state park. This includes both day pass and overnight reservations. Existing reservations for May and beyond are still valid, but could be cancelled, depending on the situation. You may cancel your May reservation without cancellation fees. Contact the customer service center at 512/389-8900 or by email.

Restaurants in Gonzales, home of the original “Come and Take it” slogan, have modified the catch phrase to “Come and Take It Out.”

Looking for a Texas-themed care package for a favorite shut-in? The Galveston Historical Foundation has put three levels of COVID Collection Packages that highlight different aspects of the island’s history. Sales of the packages help the nonprofit organization maintain its mission and will brighten someone’s day.

Some people go to the New Orleans Jazz Fest for the food, others go for the music. The springtime tradition has tentatively been moved to this fall. (Photo by Gerald E. McLeod)

It seems the folks in New Orleans have learned a valuable lesson from the coronavirus catastrophe that was Mardi Gras this year. At the direction of the City of New Orleans, the 2020 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival will not occur this April and May as scheduled. Instead Jazz Fest will take place sometime in the fall. An exact date has not been determined. All tickets purchased for the original dates will be honored for the fall dates.

Michael Hearne has delayed the release of tickets to his 18th Big Barn Dance scheduled for Taos, N.M., on Sept. 10-12. Ordinarily the festival tickets go on sale on April 1, but as conditions continually change due to the coronavirus, ticket sales have been delayed until this summer to give organizers and attendees a better view of the future. Check out Michael Hearne’s first solo livestream concert for a little feel of the mountains.

Take a trip around the world from your kitchen with The Naya Traveler Recipe Book, from the specialty travel company Naya Traveler. The recipes are from exotic lands such as Argentina, Morocco, and Spain. The recipe for guacamole comes from Guatemala, the land where the smooth avocado dip originated, and is beautiful in its simplicity.

On April 15, 1912, the RMS Titanic tragically dropped to the bottom of the ocean. Now, 108 years later you can walk through an exhibit of nearly 400 artifacts brought up from the Titanic’s wreck site, dramatic recreations, and to-scale replicas of the ship’s cabins and common areas, never-before-seen video content of the ship today and artifact recovery processes, and more. From permanent installations in Las Vegas and Orlando comes TITANIC: The Virtual Experience a virtual tour that is accessible on computers, tablets, and mobile devices. The virtual experience is available at two price levels; the Light Version for $5 and the Full Version for $15.

Gerald 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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