Day Trips & Beyond: August Events Roundup

Adventures abound all the way up to Albuquerque

There’s still plenty of time to make summer road trip memories.

It took three years to construct the San Jacinto Monument on the coastal plains east of Houston for the incredibly low price of $1.5 million (approximately $25 million in 2021 dollars). (Photo by Gerald E. McLeod)

On April 21, 1939, the San Jacinto Monument opened to the public to commemorate the 18-minute battle that secured the Republic of Texas’ independence from Mexico. It’s the tallest masonry column in the world. Almost 13 feet higher than the Washington Monument.

The octagonal shaft rises 567 feet above the coastal marshes outside of La Porte east of Houston. A 34-foot, 220-ton stone star caps the column.

The first floor of the tower houses the Museum of History with an array of unique artifacts from the period of the Texas Revolt. The museum’s theater presents a 35-minute film on the history of the 1836 battle that is entertaining. Currently, the museum includes a special exhibit on the construction of the monument.

Unfortunately, the observation deck is closed because of a malfunctioning elevator. While it is down for repairs the museum is offering discounted flat rate admission which covers the museum’s theater and the special exhibition. Admission to the battleground and the hiking trails is always free.

A fun way to get to the monument from I-10 to the north is by the free Lynchburg Ferry. Through the month of August, the ferry has extended the hours of operation from 4:30am to 8pm on weekdays and 11am to 9pm on weekends. Drivers may experience longer wait times due to only one ferry boat operating and increased traffic.
Wed.-Sun., 9am-6pm, La Porte, 281/479-2421,

Photo by Gerald E. McLeod

It’s hard to tell if the Breaking Bad Store in Albuquerque, N.M., is a gift shop for the Breaking Bad Museum, or the museum is just a kitschy come-on for the store. Either way the combination of the two in a small storefront just off the Old Town Plaza is a fun way to spend a few minutes.

If you just can’t get enough of Walter, Jesse, and the rest of the drug-dealing gang, then the souvenir shop has something for you. Added to the usual assortment of souvenir shop glassware, t-shirts, postcards, and games are Walter White Bobbleheads, Heisenberg hats, and locally produced Breaking Bad-themed artwork.

The museum in a room off the sales floor is fun, but kind of shallow. The closest the artifacts delve into revealing any secrets about the TV show that ended in 2013 after five seasons are a few costumes and lots of pictures. Selfies taken behind the counter of Los Pollos Hermanos or standing next to a cardboard cutout of Jesse seem to be a rite of passage for visiting Albuquerque for fans of the show.

The desert city where the series was filmed during its run from 2008 to 2013 has certainly taken advantage of the show’s notoriety. The Candy Lady sells a blue meth candy in her crowded confectionery shop off the north corner of the Old Town Plaza.

There are several ways to see the filming locations around town. A local tour company has introduced the Breaking Bad RV Tours in buses decked to look like the RV that Walter and Jesse used as a meth lab. Or you can ride bicycles to some of the locations with Routes Bicycle Tours, which leaves from Old Town. The cheapest way would be to go online and download a list of locations from one of the many sites that provide the information for free.
2047 South Plaza St. NW, Albuquerque, N.M., 505/242-6944,

Travel Notes:

Vaxx Up. Due to the summer surge in COVID-19 infections some festivals and events have decided to cancel on short notice. It is always recommended that you check with the event organizers before making a long drive or large investment of time. If you go, get vaccinated, mask up, use the free hand sanitizer, and maintain a social distance whenever possible. Stay safe out there folks, we want you back for more daytrippin’ fun.

Down by the riverside. Throughout the month of August, tent campsites at the Kerrville-Schreiner Park are half price. The 517-acre park is on the south bank of the Guadalupe River across from downtown Kerrville. The former state park has swimming in the river along with 10-plus miles of hike and bike trails, fishing, and day-use areas. Overnight options include RV sites with full hookups, cabins, and the 3-bedroom Ranch House. A local outfitter provides kayak and canoe rentals.

Blue-green warning. You might want to think twice about taking your dog swimming in the Highland Lakes this summer. The Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) has issued a warning about toxic blue-green algae or cyanobacteria in the lakes. The naturally occurring algae especially thrives during the hot summer months. Recent rains may help to reduce some of the stagnant areas that the algae prefers, but its best to avoid all of the slimy stuff. Most algae, even blue-green algae, is harmless and part of a healthy ecosystem. There is no way of knowing if the algae is toxic without scientific testing. For humans it is generally an irritant, for dogs who swim in it or drink water contaminated with the toxic blue-green algae it can cause serious symptoms including death. LCRA is monitoring the water quality on the lakes, but recommends that families and their pets avoid swimming in all areas with algae.

Visiting the beer works. If you haven’t visited the beer garden and restaurant at Saint Arnold Brewery in Houston you’re missing a great place to drink some great fresh beer in the fresh air. After a long hiatus due to the pandemic, public tours are finally back. The educational excursions through the brewing process leave from the beer garden at 1, 3, 5, and 7pm daily. Spanish-speaking tours begin at 2 and 4pm on the last Saturday of the month. No reservation required, but closed-toed shoes are.

Other August Events:

Peach and Melon Festival
Aug. 4-7, De Leon,

National Lifeguard Championships
Aug. 4-7, South Padre Island,

Panel discussion on artist Lee Ethel and his contributions to Fredericksburg
Aug. 6, Fredericksburg,

Black History River Cruise
Aug. 6, San Antonio,

Aug. 6-7, Hutto,

Wild & Free on US84
Aug. 6-8, Childress, Wellington, Shamrock and Wheeler,

Shakespeare at Winedale
Aug. 6-8, 13-15, Winedale,

Texas Ranger Day and History Symposium
Aug. 7, Fredericksburg,

Old Jail Tours
Aug. 7, Fredericksburg,

Bird Watching at the Battleground
Aug. 7, La Porte,

Dogwood Jamboree
Aug. 7, Palestine,

Bee to Bottle Tours
Aug. 7, Rogers,

Wimberley Market Days
Aug. 7, Wimberley,

Saturday Night Rodeo
Aug. 7, 14, 21, 28, Bulverde,

Crider’s Rodeo and Dancehall
Aug. 7, 14, 21, 28, Hunt,

Canyon Lake Gorge Tours
Aug. 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22, 28, Canyon Lake,

Swing Dance Lessons
Aug. 10, 17 Gruene,

Perseid meteor shower peaks
Aug. 11-13, Everywhere,

Elvis Week
Aug. 11-17, Memphis, Tenn.,

Join the Texian Army
Aug. 13, La Porte,

Aug. 13-15, Grand Prairie,

By The Bay Music Festival
Aug. 13-14, Horseshoe Bay,

Museum Market, San Antonio Museum of Art
Aug. 14, San Antonio,

Art Squared Arts Market
Aug. 14, San Marcos,

Pari-Mutuel Horse Racing
Aug. 14-15, 28-29, Fredericksburg,

Hill Country Comicon
Aug. 14-15, New Braunfels,

St. Mary’s Catholic Church Picnic: Prazska Pout
Aug. 15, Praha,

Come and Taste It
Aug. 19, Gruene,

AIA Sandcastle Competition
Aug. 21, Galveston,

Santa Fe Indian Market
Aug. 21-22, Santa Fe, N.M.,

Old Gruene Market Days
Aug. 21-22, Gruene,

NPS 105th Birthday
Aug. 25, National Parks,

Gillespie County Fair
Aug. 26-29, Fredericksburg,

Birthday Celebration for President Lyndon B. Johnson
Aug. 27, Stonewall,

River Roadster Show
Aug. 28, Kerrville,

Women’s Suffrage Victory Train
Aug. 28-29, Grapevine,

Frontier Times Jamboree
Aug. 29, Bandera,

In search of more virtual or IRL travel ideas? Visit our Out of Town listings.
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 and follow him on Facebook.

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Day Trips, Albuquerque, Breaking Bad, San Jacinto Monument, Houston, Pollos Hermanos, COVID-19, coronavirus, vaccines, blue-green algae, St. Arnold Brewery

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