Day Trips & Beyond: March Events Roundup

Texas travel news and events for spring

Wildflowers are popping, making March a great time to go daytrippin’. The state added two new historic sites to its inventory, lost a state park to developers, and wished an enchanted park a happy 45th birthday.

Operation of Presidio La Bahía is being transferred from the Catholic Church to the Texas Historical Commission. (Photo by Gerald E. McLeod)

Old is new. The Texas Historical Commission has begun transitioning Presidio La Bahía in Goliad to officially become the 35th state historic site. The Spanish fort built in 1749 and restored in the 1960s from original plans is one of the finest examples of colonial Spanish architecture in the U.S.

If the agreement is completed in September as expected, the property will continue to be owned by the Catholic Diocese of Victoria, but operated by THC. The Diocese will continue to run the lodging and the Our Lady of Loreto Chapel, one of the oldest churches in America. Look for the museum at the Presidio to get a much-needed facelift like the adjacent General Zaragoza Birthplace State Historic Site recently did. The many historic sites around the nearby Goliad State Park on the north bank of the San Antonio River are worth exploring.

Presidio La Bahía became famous during the Texas Revolution as the rallying cry “Remember Goliad” after Colonel James Fannin and nearly 400 men were massacred in the early days of the war. The Goliad Massacre Living History Program on March 25-26 reenacts much of the 1836 battle for the fort.
March 25-26, Goliad Massacre Living History Program, Goliad, 361/645-3752, presidiolabahia.org

The 1,460-acre Fairfield Lake State Park closed permanently on February 28. (Photo by Gerald E. McLeod)

Goodbye to a lake. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department delivered a heartbreaking Valentine on February 14: “Fairfield Lake State Park to Close Permanently Feb. 28.”

Opened as a state park in 1976, the state had leased the property since 1971 from Texas Utilities. The lake was built in 1969 as a cooling pond for the Big Brown Power Plant which was retired in 2018. Vistra Energy Corporation, the current owner of the 2,400-acre lake, the largest privately owned lake in Texas, terminated the state’s lease due to the impending sale to luxury development firm Todd Interests. The former state park could become the site of mansions for millionaires.

The 1,460-acre Fairfield Lake State Park is a scenic property encompassing the southern shoreline where three creeks empty into the lake. The rolling hills are covered in old-growth hardwood and evergreen trees shading more than 26 miles of hiking and biking trails and three campgrounds. The lake has long been a popular fishing hole.

With somewhere around 5% of land in Texas open to the public, losing even a small parcel is heartbreaking. Especially such a lovely spot. The state has 120 days to vacate the property in Freestone County about 75 miles east of Waco.

Travel Notes:

Battleship Texas in dry dock in Galveston. (Photo by Gerald E. McLeod)

Ship ahoy. The Battleship Texas will be in dry dock at Galveston at least through the summer. Through April 30, hardhat tours of the last dreadnaught to have fought in World War I and II happen every Sunday. The once-in-a-lifetime hourlong tours are $150, and you may never get another chance to get this close to a legend. Tickets must be purchased online, and participants must be at least 16 years old.

Library of the ancients. Southwest Texas has one of the greatest collections of ancient rock art in the U.S. More than 5,000 years ago the inhabitants of the Lower Pecos Canyonlands created murals on the rock walls that modern archeologists struggle to interpret. Since 1998, Shumla Archaeological Research and Education Center in Comstock has been on the forefront of research and preservation of this vast depository of rock art. This year for their 25th anniversary the organization has added public tours to some of the rarest sites and lowered the price. Space is limited on the archaeologist-led treks that happen between March and November.

The Llano River offers an unlimited supply of rock stacking materials for amateurs and professionals. (Photo by Gerald E. McLeod)

Hard rock. If you only go to one festival this year, go to the Llano Earth Arts Festival, March 24-26, on the banks and in the riverbed of the Llano River. Besides the usual local bands, festival food, and craft vendors, there is the Rock Stacking Championship. Artists from around the world come to Llano to take advantage of the unlimited supply of river rocks to showcase their many talents. This is an artistic endeavor anyone can be inspired by and participate in.

Enchanted birthday. Where were you in 1978? Forty-five years ago the Nature Conservancy purchased the pink granite mountain 18 miles north of Fredericksburg and then turned around and sold it to become Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. The talking rocks of the mountain as the granite cools after a hot day are considered sacred by Native American people. The 4.25-mile hike to the top of the dome is a rite of passage for many Texans. In fact, it is one of the most visited state parks for rock climbing, camping, hiking, and day use. Make your reservations early, because the park often reaches capacity especially on weekends and holidays.

The former Bush Family Home in Midland is now a Texas Historical Site. (Photo by Gerald E. McLeod)

Bush’s shrubs. Texas has a direct connection to four U.S. presidents. In early February the Texas Historical Commission announced that it has added the Bush Family Home at 1412 W. Ohio St. in Midland to its list of historic sites. This will be the third presidential boyhood home, joining the Eisenhower Birthplace and the Lyndon Johnson homes, preserved in the state. The Bush family lived in the modest house from 1951 to 1955. It was opened as a museum in 2006.

Can you dig it? A different kind of amusement park reached its first birthday this month. Dig World in Katy lets kids of all ages try their hand at operating real construction equipment. That’s right, plop your pre-teen on a full-size Caterpillar mini-excavator, skid steers, and UTV. Kids must be at least 32” tall to ride on the professional-size equipment, and at least 48” to operate the machinery alone. The park is open on Saturday and Sunday.

Climb the stairway to the top of the Cape May Lighthouse in the day or night for spectacular views of the New Jersey coast.

Stairway to the stars. This summer the Cape May (NJ) Lighthouse will open for nighttime tours. Guests can climb the 199 steps of the 164-year-old brick lighthouse on select nights. During the full moon climbs visitors get a unique view of Delaware Bay off the southernmost point of New Jersey. During the new moon hikes the constellations fill the night sky. The 156-foot lighthouse is a state historic site in Cape May Point State Park. The Cape May Museum+Arts+Culture maintains the lighthouse and hosts day and night climbs. Still an active aid to navigation on the Delaware River, the U.S. Coast Guard maintains the light.

Other March Events:

Icehouse Week
March 1-5, San Antonio, www.saicehouseweek.com

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
March 1-21, Houston, www.rodeohouston.com

Pick Your Own Strawberries and Tulips
March 1-30, Marble Falls, www.sweetberryfarm.com

Dallas Blooms
March 1-April 16, Dallas, www.dallasarboretum.org

Enchanted Rock 45th Birthday Celebration
March 2, Fredericksburg, tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/enchanted-rock

Fiesta Edinburg Music Festival
March 2-5, Edinburg, edinburg.com/fiesta-edinburg

Oysterfest
March 2-5, Fulton, www.fultonoysterfest.org

Texas State Championship 42 Domino Tournament
March 3-4, Hallettsville, www.hallettsville.com

First Saturday Market
March 4, Bellville, www.discoverbellville.com

Sherwood Forest Faire
March 4-April 23, McDade, www.sherwoodforestfaire.com

Texas Storytelling Festival
March 9-12, Denton, www.tejasstorytelling.com

Fiber and Arts Festival
March 10-11, Bandera, www.banderafiberandarts.com

Texas Ranger Day
March 11, Burton, www.burtonheritagesociety.org/celebrate

FlyFest
March 11, Fort Worth, www.trwdflyfest.com

Buffalo Bayou Regatta
March 11, Houston, buffalobayou.org/event/51st-annual-regatta-presented-by-gillman-subaru

St. Patrick’s Day Parade
March 11, Surfside Beach, www.beachblarney.com

Train-A-Palooza Model Train Show
March 11-12, Grapevine, www.lonestarhirailers.com

Robot Mania
March 11-19, Johnson City, www.sciencemill.org

NestFest
March 14, Galveston Island, www.splashtx.org/nestfest

Come and Taste It
March 16, Gruene, www.grapevineingruene.com

Van Zandt County Bluegrass Festival
March 16-18, Canton, www.krlivemusic.com

Spring Antiques Show
March 16-April 2, Round Top, www.exploreroundtop.com/antiques

Crawfish Cookoff and Tasting
March 17-18, Rockport, www.rockport-fulton.org

Tulipalooza
March 17-26, Waxahachie, tulipalooza.org

Dogwood Trails Celebration
March 17-April 2, Palestine, www.visitpalestine.com

White Bass Run at the Bend
March 18, Bend, tpwd.texas.gov/calendar/colorado-bend/white-bass-run-at-the-bend

Music in the Cave
March 18, Boerne, www.cavewithoutaname.com

Towers & Trees Downtown Walking Tour
March 18, Houston, aiahouston.org/v/event-detail/Towers-Trees-Downtown-Walking-Tour-March-18/257/

Hill Country Indian Artifact Show
March 18, Fredericksburg, www.hillcountryindianartifacts.com

Mud Dauber Festival and Chili Cookoff
March 18, Luckenbach, www.luckenbachtexas.com

Old Gruene Market Days
March 18-19, Gruene, www.gruenemarketdays.com

Northbound & Down Festival
March 18-19, Salado, barrowbrewing.com/events

Starry Skies of Balmorhea
March 23, Toyahvale, www.tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/balmorhea

Thunder in the Hill Country
March 23-26, Bandera, www.bikerralliesoftexas.com

Texas Country Music Festival
March 23-April 1, Brady, www.heartoftexascountry.com

Alvin Music Festival and Cookoff
March 24-25, Alvin, www.alvinmusicfestival.com

South Texas Polka & Sausage Fest
March 24-26, Hallettsville, hallettsville.com/view-event/351/event-info

Llano Earth, Art Festival
March 24-26, Llano, www.llanoearthartfest.org

Matagorda Bay Birdfest
March 24-26, Palacios, matagordabaybirdfest.org

La Bahia Antiques Show
March 24-April 1, Burton, www.labahiaantiques.com

Ranching Heritage Day
March 25, Bandera, tpwd.texas.gov/calendar/hill-country/ranching-heritage-day

Buda Crawfest
March 25, Buda, www.budacrawfest.com

Spring Festival
March 25, Cameron, www.cameron-tx.com

Buffalo Bayou Walking Tour
March 25, Houston, aiahouston.org/v/event-detail/Buffalo-Bayou-Walking-Tour-March-25/258/

Brewers Festival
March 25, Dripping Springs, www.destinationdrippingsprings.com

Texas Onion Fest
March 25, Weslaco, www.weslaco.com

Brew on the Bayou
March 25, Lake Jackson, www.gcbo.org

Nature Day and Public Youth Fishing
March 25, Lake Jackson, tpwd.texas.gov/calendar/sea-center/sea-center-texas-nature-day

Texas Forever Fest
March 25, Plano, www.plano.gov/2060/Texas-Forever-Fest

International Art and Kite Festival
March 25, Sugar Land, www.sugarlandtx.gov/1719/International-Art-Kite-Festival

Goliad Massacre Living History Program
March 25-26, Goliad, www.presidiolabahia.org

Wild Hog Festival and Craft Fair
March 25-26, Sabinal, www.sabinalwildhogfestival.com

Wildflower Arts and Crafts Festival
March 25-26, Salado, www.salado.com

Celtic Festival and Highland Games
March 25-26, Sherman, www.shermancelticfest.com

Independence Historical Society Open Houses
March 25-26, April 1, 2, 8, Independence, www.ihstexas1836.com

Wine & Wildflower Journey
March 27-April 21, Hill Country, texaswinetrail.com

Taste of Rockport-Fulton
March 30, Fulton, www.tasteofrockport-fulton.com

Texas Packard Meet
March 30-April 2, Salado, www.texaspackardmeet.org

Llano River Chuckwagon Cookoff
March 31-April 1, Llano, www.llanochuckwagoncookoff.com

Texas Vintage Motorcycle Fandango
March 31-April 2, Fredericksburg, www.thetexasfandango.com


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.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Day Trips, Presidio La Bahia, Texas Historical Commission, Bush Family Home, Fairfield Lake State Park, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Llano Earth Arts Festival, Rock Stacking Championship, Enchanted Rock, Shumla Archaeological Research and Education Center, Battleship Texas, Dig World, Katy, Cape May Lighthouse

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