Day Trips & Beyond: April Events Roundup

Visit historic Presidio La Bahia, take a scenic drive, and more

Spring has finally sprung and it’s time to head out for a weekend drive to these authentically Texas places.

Construction on Presidio La Bahia south of the San Antonio River at Goliad began around 1749. The chapel was restored in 1935 and the walled compound reconstructed in 1967. The fort is believed to be the only restored Spanish presidio west of the Mississippi River. (Photo by Gerald E. McLeod)

Remember Goliad. The gray stone walls of Nuestra Señora de Loreto Presidio, popularly called Presidio La Bahia, still rise above the river crossing on the road between San Antonio and the coast in silent tribute to the Spanish colonization efforts in Texas as they have since the 1750s. After Mexico gained independence in 1821, the old fort became a pawn in the struggle for control of Texas.

On Palm Sunday, March 27, 1836, the Mexican army marched 407 prisoners out of the fort and shot them at close range. At least 342 of Texian rebels died in the Goliad Massacre securing the Presidio’s place alongside with the Alamo as an important site in Texas history.

The Presidio’s grounds now include a museum, the General Zaragoza Birthplace State Historic Site, the Fannin Memorial Monument, The Quarters guest lodging, and Our Lady of Loreto Chapel, one of the oldest churches in America. The title to the Presidio has been held by the Catholic Diocese since 1855. The Texas Historical Commission is negotiating an operational agreement that would make the Presidio the 35th state historic site.

The Presidio hosts living history programs throughout the year that display period clothing, weapons, and accoutrements. The grounds are open for self-guided tours daily from 10am to 5pm. Mass is held in the chapel on Sundays at 5pm.
April 9, 10am-4pm, Fire on the Border, Presidio La Bahia, Goliad, 361/645-3752,

The roadside along FM 2748 outside of Rio Frio is too rocky to support many wildflowers during the spring, but the views are awesome. (Photo by Gerald E. McLeod)

What did I see? Miles and miles of Texas and fields and fields of colorful wildflowers. While we can’t guarantee exactly when and where the bluebonnets and other flowers will be at their blooming best, here are four scenic drives from Austin that won’t disappoint no matter what the roadside offers.

Brenham is a little less than two hours east of Austin on U.S. Highway 290. The Washington County seat offers several food options like the Funky Art Café and Brazos Valley Brewery. It is also at the center of a spider web of scenic country roads. Take the backroads to or from Independence, Chappell Hill, Industry, or Burton and you’ll be awestruck.

Llano is a little more than an hour and a half northwest of Austin on TX-71 and home to some great barbecue. From here all roads lead to wildflowers. FM 152 west is a great drive along the river through Castell and to the Hilltop Café on U.S. 87 near Cherry Springs. From Llano, TX-16 north or south, TX-29 east, and FM 1431 are nice drives. The much-photographed Bluebonnet House is on the north side of Marble Falls on U.S. 281.

Boerne, with its many restaurants and shops, is at the far end of a serpentine network of country roads two hours southwest of Austin. These backroads have confounded me many times reminding me of the old mantra, “All who wander are not lost.” Try to find your way to Luckenbach, Sisterdale, Bankersmith, Kendalia, Waring, or Welfare on the backroads. Po Po Family Restaurant on FM 289 south of Comfort has been feeding travelers since 1929.

Utopia is at the heart of the most beautiful part of the Texas Hill Country and three hours southwest of Austin. FM 337 is arguably the most beautiful road in Texas. It’s worth the drive for the scenery and to eat at Laurel Tree, Lost Maples Café, or Mac and Ernie’s. I can’t drive through this area without stopping at the Apple Store in Medina for a hamburger or a jar of jalapeño mustard.

Travel Notes:

Take me back to Tilmon. After suffering through two years of the pandemic, the Old Settler’s Music Festival is back with a vengeance. The Old Settlers Homestead about 20 minutes outside of Lockhart has added electricity to the campground and improved other on-site amenities. But the important part is that this year’s lineup is as stellar as you would expect. The list of musicians to hit the stage April 21-24 include, but is not limited to, legendary accordionist Flaco Jimenez, Del McCoury Band, the California Honeydrops, Maggie Belle from New Orleans, and if you haven’t seen Shinyribs, this is your chance.

RGB in HTX. The late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been called one of the greatest legal minds of her generation. A new exhibition, “Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” brings an intimate look at her life and work to the Holocaust Museum Houston through July 31. Based upon the New York Times bestselling book of the same name, the unique exhibition was created by Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles in conjunction with the book's authors. A highlight of the presentation is a robe and jabot from RBG’s wardrobe and the desk from her chambers. Timed tickets purchased in advance are required.

Fiesta San Antonio (Courtesy Betsy Newman Photography,

Fiesta returns. After two years of uncertainty, the biggest annual party in San Antonio that has been going on since 1891 is back with some changes. The first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, Fiesta San Antonio was delayed and then all but canceled. The next year the street party was severely curtailed. This year’s event, April 1-10, pulls out all the stops. The Battle of Flowers (April 8) and Flambeau (April 9) parades have been rerouted to wind through downtown and many of the past Night in Old San Antonio events at La Villita have moved across Alamo Street to Hemisfair Park. From carnivals, food, sporting events, and music to the cascarón-busting finale, there’s lots of fun scattered all over the city over the nearly two weeks.

Texas flood of support. Thanks to the support of music fans, the Wittliff Collections at Texas State University in San Marcos has acquired the Stevie Ray Vaughan archive from a private collector. The SRV collection joins the archives of Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker, Marcia Ball, Cindy Walker, and Asleep at the Wheel. The legendary blues guitarist was killed in a helicopter crash in 1990. Items included in the acquisition are his signature black hat, suede boots, and guitar strap. Notebooks obtained in the archives offer insights into his thoughts at his time of death at age 35. Parts of the new material will go on display this spring at the Albert B. Alkek Library.

Other April Events:

Roughneck Barbecue and Chili Cook-off
April 1-2, Luling,

Deep Ellum Arts Festival
April 1-3, Dallas,

Texas Vintage Motorcycle Fandango
April 1-3, Fredericksburg,

Fiddle Fest
April 1-3, Llano,

Fiesta San Antonio
April 1-10, San Antonio,

Texas Hill Country Wineries’ Wine and Wildflower Journey
April 1-22, Fredericksburg,

Sherwood Forest Faire
April 1-24, McDade,

Peacock Alley Spring Series
April 1-30, San Antonio,

Big Bloom Plant Sale and Garden Festival
April 2, Corpus Christi,

Cajun Heritage Festival
April 2-3, Port Arthur,

Wildflower Celebration
April 2-17, Fredericksburg,

John Fairey Garden Open Days
April 2, 9, 23, 30, Hempstead,

Behind the Scenes Tours
April 2, 30, Houston,

Houston Barbecue Festival
April 3, Houston,

BBQ Fundraiser
April 3, Fredericksburg,

A Day In Old Mexico Charreada
April 3, San Antonio,

Obama Portraits Tour
April 3-May 30, Houston,

Rodeo Giddings
April 7-9, Giddings,

Art Car Parade Weekend
April 7-10, Houston,

Las Cruces Space Festival
April 7-10, Las Cruces, N.M.,

Concerts by the River
April 8, Kerrville,

Fiesta Family Blues Festival
April 8, San Antonio,

Viva Utopia Music Festival
April 8-9, Utopia,

Bluebonnet Festival
April 8-10, Burnet,

Texas SandFest
April 8-10, Port Aransas,

Wine & Yoga Retreat
April 8-10, Fredericksburg,

Cello Alone Concert
April 9, Boerne,

Beach Cleanup
April 9, Coastwide,

Second Saturday Open House
April 9, Magnolia,

Crawfish and Cannons
April 9, Newcastle,

Easter Egg Hunt
April 9, San Antonio,

Museum Market
April 9, San Antonio,

Texas Ladies State Chili Championship Cook-off
April 9, Seguin,

April 9-10, New Braunfels,

Model Train Show
April 9-10, New Braunfels,

Waterway Arts Festival
April 9-10, The Woodlands,

Scarborough Renaissance Festival
April 9-May 30, Waxahachie,

River City Ringers
April 10, Fredericksburg,

Elissa Day Sails
April 14-17, 20-22, Galveston,

Gem and Mineral Show
April 15-17, Alpine,

Old Gruene Market Days
April 16-17, Gruene,

Free Entrance to National Parks Day
April 16, Various locations,

Easter at the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm
April 17, Stonewall,

Luckenbach’s Big Easter Egg Hunt
April 17, Luckenbach,

Birdiest Festival in America
April 20-24, Corpus Christi,

Third Thursday
April 21, Corpus Christi,

Come and Taste It
April 21, Gruene,

Lyrid Meteor Shower
April 21-22, Night Sky,

FeatherFest and Nature Photo Festival
April 21-24, Galveston,

Old Settler’s Music Festival
April 21-24, Tilmon,

Rosenwald Earth Day Festival
April 22, Huntsville,

Fort Collins Music Experiment
April 22-23, Fort Collins, Colo.,

Llano Crawfish Open
April 22-23, Llano,

Great Western Trail Days
April 22-24, Coleman,

Red Poppy Festival
April 22-24, Georgetown,

April 22-24, Muenster,

1836 Chuckwagon Races at the Diamond B Ranch
April 22-24, Palestine,

“Fred Darge Paints the Big Bend and Beyond”
April 22-June 4, Alpine,

Cotton Gin Festival
April 23, Burton,

Town-Wide Garage Sale, Plant Sale, Bake Sale
April 23, Comfort,

Footloose Festival
April 23, Elmore City, Okla.,

Spring Fish Fry
April 23, Fredericksburg,

Texas Wine, Hops, and Shops Wine and Beer Festival
April 23, Lubbock,

San Jacinto Day Festival
April 23, LaPorte,

Luckenbach Bluegrass Festival
April 23, Luckenbach,

Nac Music and Arts Festival
April 23, Nacogdoches,

Japanese Festival
April 23-24, Fort Worth,

Sugar Land Arts Fest
April 23-24, Sugar Land,

Fly Fishing Film Tour
April 26, Gruene,

Frontier Day
April 28-30, Alvin,

Crossroads of Texas Film and Music Festival
April 28-30, Waxahachie,

April 28-May 1, Wilkesboro, N.C.,

Dark Skies Festival
April 29-30, Fort Davis,

Buffalo Gap Wine and Food Summit
April 30, Buffalo Gap,

Do Dat Barbecue Cook-off
April 30, Nacogdoches,

Earth Day Festival and Trade Days
April 30, Seguin,

International Plastic Modelers’ Society ModelMania
April 30, Stafford,

Lavender Festival
April 30, Stonewall,

Old Guy Surf Reunion
April 30, Surfside Beach,

Independent Bookstore Day
April 30, Various,

In search of more travel ideas and info? 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, Presidio La Bahia, scenic drives, Brenham, Llano, Boerne, Utopia, Old Settler's Music Festival, Fiesta San Antonio, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Wittliff Collections

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