Central California, often called the Big Sur Coast, stretches between beautiful Monterey and San Luis Obispo. Wave-battered cliffs, shady forests, sandy beaches, and rich history make up this portion of the Pacific Coast Highway.

How long? 158 miles, about 5 or more hours without traffic or stopping for much. Roundtrip? It is around 313 miles, or 7 hours without traffic (coming back up 101 rather than Rte 1). Traffic is key—this stretch can get CROWDED during the summer months.

When to go? Optimal all year long. Be sure to watch out during the rainy season of mudslides. Summers are also really foggy going down the coast, and hotel and flight costs are also highest during this season. Offseason is considered December to March, although April and September can also offer great prices. Be sure to bring a sweater or jacket as the weather can be changeable and windy along the shore.

This itinerary will start in Monterey. The closest airport is Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC), but flights from Oakland (OAK) or San Francisco International (SJC) may be slightly cheaper. This Pacific Coast Highway Central California style starts up north and heads south along the highway so that you are driving closer to the ocean. Either way, have fun!


Cannery Row. [Image by <a href="">David Mark</a> from <a href="">Pixabay</a>]
Cannery Row at Night

Cannery Row / Monterey Bay Aquarium

886 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA 93940

Start this section of the Pacific Coast Highway in Monterey, a beautiful seaside community south of San Francisco. Festivals can be found year-round, and most of the city can be tracked by foot. Cannery Row is a picturesque street that offers restaurants, shops, waterfront hotels, a wax museum, and the top-notch Monterey Bay Aquarium. The seaside marine park is full of over 35,000 animals in 2.3 million gallons of water. Parking can be tricky, so the afternoon is a good time as there are usually more spaces than first thing in the morning.

Pacific Grove

Asilomar State Beach

Sunset Dr, Pacific Grove, CA 93950

Follow Ocean View Boulevard along the shores of Monterey Beach, where you’ll see Lovers Point Park and Point Pinos Lighthouse in what has been called Butterfly Town USA, Pacific Grove. Next, go to Asilomar State Beach, a narrow, one-mile strip where you can go for scenic walks along the beach and through the Asilomar Dunes Natural Preserve. The preserve has several boardwalks that provide panoramic views of the beach and the Pacific Ocean.

17-Mile Drive

Pebble Beach and 17-Mile Drive Image by <a href="">skeeze</a> from <a href="">Pixabay</a> []
Pebble Beach and 17-Mile Drive

Pebble Beach

17 Mile Dr, Pacific Grove, CA 93950

After Asilomar State Beach, Sunset drive intersections with 17-Mile Drive, a scenic road which hugs the Pacific coastline. Going down this short road, you can see 1920s mansions, rocky headlines, and the Pacific Ocean. There is an admission fee of $10.50 per vehicle, and the drive is open to the public from sunset to sunrise. You can find tour maps online or at the entrance tollgates. This route helps you avoid some of the traffic that occurs on the Pacific Coast Highway as you head into Carmel-by-the-Sea.


Point Lobos [Image by <a href="">Jana Last</a> from <a href="">Pixabay</a>]
Point Lobos State Park

Carmel River State Park

26478 Carmelo St, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923

Once in Carmel-by-the-Sea, follow Scenic Road down to Carmel River State Beach, one of the less crowded sandy beaches. The beach features a 1-mile-long protected beach with a lagoon. Monastery Beach is popular with scuba divers. History lovers should also stop at the Mission San Carlos Borromeo del río Carmelo or Misión de San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo, first built in 1797.

Point Lobos State Reserve

62 CA-1, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923

Continue down the Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1) toward Point Lobos State Reserve, a scenic coastal area with trails that wind around steep paths to land’s end. You can see down to the inlets and watch the surging waves crash onto the inlet and sea lines on the small island that fringe the mainland. Walk down to Whalers Cove, a small cabin from the turn of the century.

Garrapata State Park,  Soberanes Point

Whale Peak Trail, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923

In the southern portion of Carmel-By-The-Sea lies Garrapata State Park, a 2,939-acre park with rocky headlands in the north and sandier beaches to the south. Highway 1 passes for four miles through the borders of the park. If you’re interested in pulling over, gates 13, 15, and 16 offer some of the best scenery in the park and cross Soberanes Point. This is a 1.8-mile loop trail with wildflowers and a rocky shoreline. You can pull over into any of the other trailheads (such as Soberanes Canyon Trailhead) in the

Point Sur State Historic Park

CA-1, Monterey, CA 93940

The Pacific Coast Highway continues down the coast across the famed Bixby Bridge, and you’ll find turnouts for dramatic overlooks. Five miles to the south of the bridge, the drive nears the 92-acre Point Sur State Historic Park, with an 1889 Point Sur lighthouse (which is currently closed for tours).

Big Sur

Big Sur [Image by <a href="">D Thory</a> from <a href="">Pixabay</a>]
Big Sur

Andrew Molera State Park

45500 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920

Heading down Highway 1, the road then navigates through Andrew Molera State Park, with wind-sheltered beaches, stark cliffs, meadows and rivers, and a 3,450-foot mountain. This park is officially in Big Sur and is still relatively undeveloped. Pull over and go hiking on the Andrew Molera Loop (ridge/coast loop) and beachcombing in this beautiful park. You do have to pay $10 to park, but you can use the receipt at the next stop, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

Pfeiffer Big Sur Rd, Big Sur, CA 93920

The Pacific Coast Highway then curves inland a little and passes through the town of Big Sur and along the valley of the Big Sur River. On this river lies Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, which covers approximately 1,006 acres of land on the western slope of the Santa Lucia Mountains. Trails lead through a redwood grove to waterfalls and up to pools edge with smooth boulders. The trails are fantastic, with lots of wildflowers and trees. Just be sure to check the trails as they have seasonal hours and may be closed. About a mile south of the entrance, you can also take Canyon Road for Pfeiffer Beach. It’s a small privately-owned beach, which charges a separate entrance fee, where small batches of the beach can be found among caved rocks. While heading through the parking area down Route 1, you’ll also find a couple of gas stations on the side of the highway to buy gas and snacks.

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

52801 California State Route 1, Big Sur, CA 93920

After leaving the Big Sur State Park, you’ll follow Pacific Coast Highway as it descends nearly 1,000 feet above the sea into the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. Due to severe storm damage, the park has been closed during the week but is still open on the weekends. Otherwise, I’d highly recommend taking the Overlook Trail that navigates cliffs high above the ocean. These ragged cliffs here are incredibly high and hazardous; there is also no beach access. Redwood trees grace the park’s interior. You can still see the McWay Cove Waterfall near mile marker 36, which is an 80-foot waterfall.

Quick TipYour cell service will be spotty in this area. You’ll lose your access to directions on your smartphone. Be sure to print out your directions or take an Atlas just in case.

Limekiln State Park

63025 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920

Heading further south on Highway 1, you’ll pass through Limekiln State Park, a 711-park with a sandy beach, redwood forest, and 100-foot Limekiln Falls. Four historic kilns, used in the making of mortar and cement in the late 1880s, can be reached by an easy 0.5-mile trail through the redwoods and footbridges. None of the trails are too long or difficult. After finishing the inland trails, take the road that goes under Highway 1 and out to the beach.

Sand Dollar Beach (plus Jade Cove)

CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920

Continuing on the Pacific Coast Highway south, you’ll meander past Sand Dollar Beach in San Padres National Forest. It’s a great stopping point if you want picnics, viewing the ocean, or looking for Jade-filled rocks along the beach. Look for the Jade Cove Parking Lot signs and park there and follow the trail down to Jade Cove. The beaches themselves are hemmed in by cliffs, with semiprecious bits of jade rocks. Here’s the trick. The beach itself is down a steep escarpment (and you’ll need to take the bottom half via rope), so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for a day trip. If you decide to walk down the side, be sure to wear hiking boots and sturdy footwear as the worn paths can get slippery. However, the views from the top of the bluff are stunning. (I’m afraid of heights so I stay “upstairs.” LOL) Here is a great blog from Monterey Farmgirl called Sand Dollar Beach & Jade Cove in Big Sur with a lot of extremely useful information from someone more local (it was extremely helpful for the trip).

San Simeon

Hearst Castle [Image by <a href="">Bishnu Sarangi</a> from <a href="">Pixabay</a>]
Hearst Castle

Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument

750 Hearst Castle Rd, San Simeon, CA 93452

Built between 1919 and 1947, Hearst Castle San Simeon State Historical Monument is a palatial estate holding a treasure trove of paintings, mosaics, tapestries, and statues. The 250,000-acre spread was conceived by William Randolph Hearst and architect Julia Morgan as La Cuesta Encantada—Spanish for “Enchanted Hill.” The estate, which includes the gardens, terraces, pools, and walkways encompass 123 acres. Choose from one of the different types of tours at the Hearst Castle Visitor Center, where you can also grab a bite to eat. Prices start at $25 for adults, $12 for children ages five through twelve, and free for children five and under. Nearby, take a tour of San Simeon’s 70-foot, 1874-era Piedras Blancas Light Station or visit one of the area beaches, including the William R. Hearst Memorial Beach or Hearst San Simeon State Park.

Morro Bay State Park

60 State Park Rd, Morro Bay, CA 93442

Morro Bay, California

Morro Bay State Park on the Morro Bay lagoon features a marina, natural bay habitat, lagoon, and the Morro Rock landmark. A saltwater marsh can be found on the northeast edge of the park. You’ll find ample opportunity for hiking, sailing, fishing and bird watching. A museum features the ecological and cultural history of the area. While in Morro Bay, feel free to take the time to visit Morro Rock, the Museum of Natural History, and the Morro Bay National Estuary. Interested in visiting the beach? The Morro Strand State Beach is a protected beach that is not as busy as many of the other state beaches.

Pismo Beach

Pismo Beach [Image by <a href="">Ciarán Ó Muirgheasa</a> from <a href="">Pixabay</a>]
Pismo Beach

Dinosaur Caves Park

2701 Price St, Pismo Beach, CA 93449

Perched atop oceanfront bluffs sits Dinosaur Caves Park in Pismo Beach. This 11-acre park includes a grassy area for picnics, an amphitheater, and a large play area with a dinosaur-based theme. You can also see the caves in the cliff-faces once you move beyond the playground and start walking through the gardens. It sits at the end of Shell Beach and is just a little fun distraction just right off the freeway. Nearby are Pismo State Beach (399 S Dolliver St, Pismo Beach, CA 93449), Margo Dodd Park (Shell Beach), Eldwayen Ocean Park,  and the Monarch Butterfly Grove (400 S Dolliver St, Pismo Beach, CA 93449).

Pismo Beach Pier at Sunset
Pismo Beach Pier at Sunset

That’s it for this stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway Itinerary!

Ready to go back to Monterey? Once you’re finished, take Highway 101 back up through San Luis Obispo, San Miguel, and it will take you up to outside of Salinas, CA. Highway 68 will take you back east into Monterey or you can continue north into San Francisco and go up the coast for the Northern portion of the Pacific Coast Highway.

Keep going south? If you want to continue on with the Southern California portion of the highway, follow Highway 1 down through Santa Maria and down into Santa Barbara.

Finally, What to Pack?

Disclosure: The links below contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Ready to hit the road? Be sure to pack along some must needed items for your trip.

Road Trip Essentials - Cooler Weather

Road Atlas



Light Jackets

First Aid Kits

Roadside Assistance Kits


Travel Camera




Backup Battery Chargers

Looking for national and state parks in California? Click here

Going hiking (or during the rainy season)? Check out some ideas for rain gear


Southern California is one of the best places to travel in the United States as far as attractions, weather, and scenic views. Walking trails, surfing spots, and dramatic views of the Pacific coastline can be found all along the Pacific Coast Highway. Step back in time at a 200-year-old Spanish mission or even further at a Roman-style villa. Whereas central and northern California offers the dramatic, rocky coastlines, this Southern California Itinerary is all about surf and sun. The Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip along California State Route 1, runs north to south along the Pacific coast. This Southern California Itinerary starts in Santa Barbara and glides down the Pacific Coast Highway towards Dana Point, California.

How long? The length of the trip can vary, depending on traffic and the time of year. Traffic along the Pacific Coast Highway in the summer can be stop and go, mainly stopping. It’s best to pre-plan precisely what you wish to see and plan to see it in segments. A solid seven days wouldn’t be out of the question to visit even the significant towns, much less all of the attractions.

When to go? Spring and Fall are your best bets when visiting Southern California. Winter, especially December, is the rainy season and you may run into mudslides, especially near Malibu. (That said, nothing beats standing on a misty Malibu beach with no-one else around in December). Summer brings the crowds, hotter weather, and higher risks for wildfires. Prices are also lower in the Spring and Fall months.

This itinerary will start in Santa Barbara. Although flying into LAX is the cheapest way to get into Southern California, you can also fly directly into Santa Barbara and then rent a car. This Pacific Coast Highway Southern California style starts up north and heads south along the highway so that you are driving closer to the ocean.

Coming from the Bay Area? Take Rte 1 down from Monterey for the Big Sur part of the Pacific Coast Highway.

Either way, have fun!

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara, California [Image by <a href="">David Mark</a> from <a href="">Pixabay</a>]
Overview of Santa Barbara, California
Rose Garden at Old Santa Barbara Mission [By Niranjan Arminius - SB_MissionParkACPostelRose_20150916, CC BY-SA 2.0,]
Old Mission Santa Barbara

Old Mission Santa Barbara

2201 Laguna St, Santa Barbara, CA 93105

A great place to start exploring Santa Barbara’s Spanish roots, the Mission Santa Barbara was founded in 1786. Founded by the Spanish Franciscans, the Mission is the only California mission continually occupied and used since its founding. To learn more about the Spanish history of Southern California, visit the El Presidio Historic Park, which was founded in 1782. The town of Santa Barbara is often called the jewel of the American Rivera. Slightly different in tone than greater Los Angeles County, Santa Barbara’s Spanish style architecture, indie boutiques, and beaches make the town a must-stop. Feeling sunburned from all of the sun-drenched beaches?

Here are a few other Santa Barbara stops:

  • Santa Barbara Harbor (132-A Harbor Way, Santa Barbara, CA 93109) allows you to walk from beach to beach and experience many of Santa Barbara’s sites such as shoreline park and Stearns Wharf.
  • Head down Historic State Street, which is lined with a variety of big-name shopped and boutiques. Think of it like a mini-Rodeo Drive, just much less expensive.
  • Ready to visit one of the local beaches? Try East Beach (1400 E Cabrillo Blvd, Santa Barbara, CA 93108-2880), West Beach (State St and W Cabrillo Blvd, Santa Barbara, CA 93103), Leadbetter Beach (Shoreline Dr, Santa Barbara, CA 93101)
  • Shoreline Park (Shoreline Dr & Santa Rosa Place, Santa Barbara, CA 93109), is a popular 14.6-acre that offers sweeping views of the coastline, the city, and the Santa Ynez mountains.
  • Stearns Wharf (217 Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara, CA 93101) is California’s oldest working wharf and is a great place to go for a walk or a ride on the water taxi.
  • Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center (211 Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara, CA 93101) is an interactive marine education facility located on Stearns Wharf.
  • To finalize your first stop, go to the Santa Barbara Courthouse (1100 Anacapa St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101), and take in the views from their clock tower.

Malibu & Pacific Palisades

Zuma Beach along the Pacific Coast Highway
Zuma Beach, Malibu, California
View from Getty Villa, California
View from Getty Villa
Exhibition inside of Getty Vila
An exhibition inside of Getty Villa

Getty Villa

17985 Pacific Coast Hwy, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272

I know that Malibu is most commonly known for its beautiful beaches, but they also have one of the state’s best museums on Grecian and Roman history and art. Visit the ancient world by seeing beautiful gardens, architecture, historic statues, and a killer view of the Pacific Ocean from the authentically re-created first-century Roman gardens.  One cool tour that they have is an audio tour from the World of Pearcy Jackson as you walk through the different exhibits. Located at the easterly end of the Malibu Coast, the Villa, one of the two J. Paul Getty Museums. The museum itself is free, but parking is $20 and is well worth it.

  • Point Mugu State Park (9000 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265) is a bit of a ride off the Pacific Coast Highway into the mountains. The stunning ride offers five miles of ocean shoreline with rocky bluffs, sandy beaches, sand dunes, and over 70 miles of a hiking trail.
  • El Matador State Beach (32215 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265-2529). Not your average sandy beach—this one offers cliffs, boulders, rock formations, and a taste of the beaches Central California.
  • Zuma Beach (30000 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265-3601). A more traditional beach, Zuma is the quintessential beach with long vast sands, clean water, and perfect surf.
  • Malibu Lagoon State Beach (Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265-4937). Walk around the lagoon for a great view and an entrance into the Pacific Ocean Beach. It’s also not as crowded as some of the other beaches in the area.
  • Adamson House and Malibu Lagoon Museum (23200 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265) is a historic house and gardens within Malibu Lagoon State Park.
  • Malibu Pier (23000 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265-4936). Malibu Pier is a lot quieter than many of the other piers in Southern California, but it’s a great place to grab a bite to eat while watching the sea and the surfers.
  • Charmlee Wilderness Park (2577 Encinal Canyon Rd, Malibu, CA 90265). It’s currently closed due to the Woolsey Fire. Once it opens, 532-acre park and nature center is a great place to explore the canyon and wilderness of Western Malibu.
  • Will Rogers State Beach (17000 CA-1, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272) is near the intersection with Temescal Canyon Road and is one of the most popular swimming and skin-diving beaches. It is one of the filming locations for the original Baywatch and is excellent to walk and job on during the early morning hours. (Parking also isn’t heinous).
  • Tuna Canyon Park (2802 Tuna Canyon Rd, Topanga, CA 90290) gives you a great view of the ocean, Malibu, San Fernando Valley and of the mountains.

Santa Monica

"David Mark</a> from <a href="">Pixabay</a>] Aerial view of Venice Beach[/caption]

Butterflies on Venice Beach [Image by <a href="">dazman</a> from <a href="">Pixabay</a>]
Butterflies on Venice Beach

Venice Beach Boardwalk

1800 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA 90291

Founded in 1905, Venice Beach has humanmade canals, gondolas straight from Italy, and is a place to see everything from an amusement pier, boutiques, art galleries, and a miniature steam railroad. The Venice Canals and walkways are beautiful in the morning or the evening, and you’ll avoid the largest of the crowds. Walk along the boardwalk to see a variety of restaurants, spas, and places to shop. You’ll also find plenty of street entertainers and skateboarders along the pier.

  • Venice Oceanarium (330 Market St, Venice, CA 90291) is an outdoor museum that hosts various educational about wildlife along the boardwalk. It’s often called a “museum without walls.”
  • Mosaic Tile House (1116 Palms Blvd, Venice, CA 90291) is a 1940s home that has been covered inside and out with colored tile and splintered-glass mosaics.
  • Muscle Beach (1800 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA 90291). Once the home of bodybuilders, Muscle Beach is steps from the Venice Beach boardwalk. It’s a piece of living history and has an outdoor weight room.
  • Abbot Kinney Boulevard (Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291) is a mile-long stretch of fashionable shops, fashion houses, art, and food just minutes from the beach.

Quick TipTip. After Venice Beach, go off route for a bit. You’ll exit the Pacific Coast Highway but you’ll also avoid going through LAX and the majority of its traffic. You’ll also stay closer to the beach.

One route is to

  • From Venice Beach or Abbot Kinney Boulevard, take Venice Way down to Ocean Avenue, and down to Admiralty Way. This will take you around Marina del Mar and down to Fiji Way. Head east on Fiji Way to Lincoln Boulevard.
  • Lincoln Boulevard turns into Highway 1, take it down to W. Jefferson Boulevard and then turn right (west) towards W Jefferson Blvd.
  • As you head west, Jefferson Blvd turns into Culver Blvd. Culver will take you south down to onto Vista Del Mar.

You’ll then pass on to the Playa Del Rey Beach (7313-7351 S Marine Ave, Playa Del Rey, CA 90293). This gets you back near the ocean and helps you avoid LAX traffic (yes, I’m double stressing it).  Vista Del Mar turns into Highland Ave and heads down towards Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach.

Redondo Beach

Seagull at Redondo Beach [Image by <a href="">Erika Klish</a> from <a href="">Pixabay</a>]
Seagull at Redondo Beach at Sunset
Redondo Beach King Harbor [By Funhistory at English Wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., Public Domain,]
Redondo Beach King Harbor

Redondo Beach Pier & King Harbor

121 W Torrance Blvd #103, Redondo Beach, CA 90277

With over 150 acres of land and water area, the Redondo Beach Pier and King Harbor is a great place to walk along the waterfront. You can swim, fish, boat, or visit any of the shopping and restaurants along the pier. It’s one of the oldest piers in Southern California and retains some of the quirky shops. The arcade is also fun, and you can still take a ride on the Tilt-a-Whirl. Nearby you can find:

  • Torrance State Beach (201 Paseo De La Playa, Torrance, CA 90277) is a small beach tucked at the south end of the strand that is often quieter and allows you to sit and enjoy the views.
  • Seaside Lagoon (200 Portofino Way, Redondo Beach, CA 90277) is a large saltwater lagoon open for public use starting in May through September.
  • SEA Lab (1021 N Harbor Dr, Redondo Beach, CA 90277) is a public aquarium and marine-life rehabilitation center with a native plant nursery and environmental outreach program.
  • Hopkins Wilderness Park (1102 Camino Real, Redondo Beach, CA 90277). With a forest, meadows, pond, an amphitheater, the Wilderness Park offers a little bit different view of Orange County.

Once you start going south on Pacific Coast Highway, you’ll veer into city territory again through Long Beach and a few internal towns. (You’re not lost, there’s just no water view for a while). It will start curving down south towards the beach.

It’s off the beaten path a little, but if you have a short time, stop in Long Beach to visit the Queen Mary (1126 Queens Hwy, Long Beach, CA 90802) or the Korean Friendship Bell (3601 S Gaffey St, San Pedro, CA 90731) near the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium (3720 Stephen M White Dr, San Pedro, CA 90731).

Huntington Beach

Surf’s Up [Image by <a href="">Free-Photos</a> from <a href="">Pixabay</a>]
Visit the International Surfing Museum…take a lesson or two.
Huntington Beach Lifeguard Station [Image by <a href="">skeeze</a> from <a href="">Pixabay</a>]
Huntington Beach Lifeguard Station

Huntington Beach at Sunset
Huntington Beach at Sunset

International Surfing Museum

411 Olive Ave, Huntington Beach, CA 92648

Just down the street from Huntington Beach and the Huntington Dog Beach is the International Surfing Museum, which captures the town’s love for surfing by offering exhibits on longboards and other surf memorabilia. On Sundays, stop by to listen to surfing music in town while strolling along the beach.

  • Just down the street is the Huntington Beach Pier (Main St. and Pacific Coast Highway; Huntington Beach, California). The Pier was first built in 1904 and then rebuilt over time with much of the current pier using the 1914 design.
  • Huntington Beach State Park (21601 Pacific Coast Hwy, Huntington Beach, CA 92646-7600) is a 121-acre clean beach with soft sand (no burning your feet on rocks…), swimmable water, built-in fire pits, and a variety of restaurants.
  • Huntington Dog Beach (100 Goldenwest St F, Huntington Beach, CA 92648). Forget people watching, this is the perfect beach to dog watch and take your pup for off-leash exploring.
  • Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve (18000 CA-1, Huntington Beach, CA 92648) is a great place to see wildlife, take long walks, and view many marine animals. Be sure to wear shoes due to snakes; leave the flipflops for the beach.

Laguna Beach

Sandy beach at Crystal Cove
Sandy beach at Crystal Cove State Park
Steps leading from Crystal Cove State Beach up to parking lot.
Steps leading from Crystal Cove State Park to the parking lot.
Breaking waves
Breaking waves

Crystal Cove State Park

8471 Pacific Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Not your typical Southern California beach, Crystal Cove State Park is a quiet beach where you can reconnect with nature. It is a little bit of a walk from the car park (walk down a path), but it is worth it once you start walking along the beach, hidden by the rock walls. The parking spot also has a tunnel to help you access the historic district in Laguna Beach. Other beaches in Laguna Beach:

  • 1,000 Steps Beach (31972 Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651) is famous for surfing, sunbathing and volleyball. Like with Crystal Cove, it also has steep stairs down to the beach.
  • Main Beach (107 S Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651). A 1929 lifeguard tower rests over this historic, centrally-located sandy city beach. This beach is one of the most well-known beaches on the planet due to its popularity in television shows and movies.
  • Table Rock Beach (31681 Sea Bluff Ln, Laguna Beach, CA 92651). Tucked away in South Laguna Beach, this sandy beach is one of the most beautiful as the north and south ends are capped with cliffs. Like most of the beaches in the area, it’s a steep climb with over multiple steps (195 on one side) to get there.
  • Treasure Island Beach (Wesley Dr, Laguna Beach, CA 92651). Treasure Island is a sandy beach with high cliffs surrounding it where you can walk to Middle Man Cove and Goff Cove. Scuba diving, swimming, tide pooling, and sunbathing are favorite activities.
  • Heisler Park (375 Cliff Dr, Laguna Beach, CA 92651) is also a great outdoor place with access to a marine refuge with tide pools, tide pools, walking trails, and gardens. Beautiful Picnic Beach is located at the northern branch of the Park.

Dana Point

Dana Point Coastline [Image by <a href="">Steven Crain</a> from <a href="">Pixabay</a>]
Dana Point Coastline
Dana Point at Sunset [Image by <a href="">jsattem</a> from <a href="">Pixabay</a>]
Dana Point at Sunset

Doheny State Park

25300 Dana Point Harbor Dr, Dana Point, CA 92629

Doheny State Park is a smaller beach surrounded by a multitude of beautiful sandy beaches, including Salt Creek Beach and Baby Beach. It’s a smaller beach that is used a lot for concerts and events. The nearby pier has places to eat and view the sunset. Take a moment also to visit:

  • Dana Point Bluff Top Trail (34342 Street of the Amber Lantern, Dana Point, CA 92629) is a short and easy walk that offers beautiful views of Dana Point Harbor along with a commemorative plate.
  • Dana Strands Beach (34001-34099 Selva Rd, Dana Point, CA 92629) is a sandy beach that is popular with surfers. There’s a boardwalk that allows you to walk north or south to other spots in town. For example, walking north will take you to the main part of Salt Creek Beach.
  • Dana Point Headlands Conservation Area (34558 Scenic Dr, Dana Point, CA 92629) is part of a public trail system that links the conservation parks, the Nature Interpretive Center, and public areas.
  • Dana Point Hilltop Park (34392 Street of the Green Lantern, Dana Point, CA 92629) is a short trail that leads to panoramic views of Dana Point from the top of the hill.
  • The Catalina Express (34675 Golden Lantern, Dana Point, CA 92629) departs from this area to Catalina Island.

Finally, What to Pack?

Disclosure: The links below contain affiliate links. This means that at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Ready to hit the road? Be sure to pack along some must needed items for your road trip.

Road Trip Essentials

Road Atlas




First Aid Kits

Roadside Assistance Kits


Travel Camera




Backup Battery Chargers

Looking for national and state parks in California? Click here

Going hiking (or during the rainy season)? Check out some ideas for rain gear

Pacific Coast Highway Tour

The Big Country, also known as the Texas Midwest, is in the central part of the state, where the more Western frontier towns with mesquite and junipers meet the live oak and cedar elms of East Texas. Located two-to-three hours West of Dallas and Fort Worth, most people think of it as just a place to drive by on I-20 as you make your way towards roads that take you to New Mexico, Colorado, and places beyond. It’s also the same distance from the Midland and Odessa region, so it’s centrally located whether you head east or west. Rolling hills of the northernmost part of the Texas Hill Country lead into deep valleys with bountiful lakes and wide-open spaces. Looking for things to do near Abilene and the surrounding area? Here are 17 places to see in the Texas Big Country.

Here’s a map to show the boundaries of what is considered the Texas Hill Country.
Map of the Texas Big Country

How long? A lot of it depends on where you start. The drive to Abilene is around 2 1/2 hours, depending on traffic in Dallas/Fort Worth. It’s almost equal distance between Dallas/Fort Worth and Midland/Odessa, so the timing should be similar. To truly look everything in the area, at least two days would be needed. Make it a weekend trip and book a hotel to stay overnight.

Time of year? Texas is fairly open year-round, except the Panhandle region. The Big Country area does get winter weather, however, and occasional flash floors. Your best time of years would be late Spring into early summer. Mid- to late Summer can get very hot, but it’s doable in a car with great air conditioning. Fall is also a beautiful time to visit, but the weather does start to get more finicky.

Abilene, Texas

Abilene, Texas Flofor15 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (]

Frontier Texas!

625 N 1st St, Abilene, TX 79601

Abilene, Texas, is known as the hub of what is called “The Big Country” or “The Texas Midwest.” It is also known as the furthermost eastern point of West Texas, where the trees start changing from the East Texas foliage into Mesquite trees and more of a desert-type ecosystem.  The city manages to have one foot in a more traditional western lifestyle with farming and cattle ranching with the other in more of a traditional, modern city. You can find a mix of locally-owned shops mixed in with larger retail, historical downtown with sprinklings of modern diversions, and three universities with beautiful campuses. Frontier Texas is a multimedia museum highlighting the central Texas area from 1780 to 1880.

Grace Museum

102 Cypress St, Abilene, TX 79601

If you are a Texas History enthusiast, the Grace Museum has exhibits and art inspired by the Lone Star State.

Antique Station

703 N. 3rd St., Abilene, Texas 79601

People into antiques furniture, glass or collectibles will enjoy this multi-vendor mall.

Sweetwater, Texas

WASP Airforce Museum Barbara Brannon [CC BY 2.0 (]

National WASP WWII Museum

210 Avenger Field Rd, Sweetwater, TX 79556

Sweetwater, Texas, is west of Abilene and a little bit more into West Texas. You’ll notice the change into cotton farmlands, mesquite trees, and wind towers. Lots of wind towers. However, the town has a great museum celebrating Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs), who were the first ever female pilots in America trained during World War II. The hangars have museum exhibits with a research library, video presentations, and special events. A Memorial Plaza is in the works, which will offer views of the taxiway and runways where the WASP trained from 1943-44.

Pioneer Museum

610 E 3rd St, Sweetwater, TX 79556

Built in 1906, the historic Ragland House hosts the Pioneer City County Museum and period-style home. The house is decorated in the turn of the century. A funeral chapel also houses museum exhibits and an art gallery.

If you are interested in old buildings, you can explore the downtown district that has more than 50 structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Buffalo Gap, Texas

Old Taylor Courthouse. By Renelibrary - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Buffalo Gap Historic Village

133 William St, Buffalo Gap, TX 79508

Just south of Abilene lays Buffalo Gap Historic Village, a large museum of fifteen outdoor buildings and West Texas artifacts going back to 1870s. The centerpiece is the former courthouse and jail for Taylor County, build in 1879. You can also find buildings such as a doctor’s office, railroad depot, a two-room school, bank, post office, print shop, barbershop, an air-conditioned chapel, and private homes. The annual Bluegrass Festival is hosted there as well. Fees for the museum are $7 for adults, $6 for military and seniors, and students is $4. It is also less than ten miles away from the new Frontier Texas! Museum in Abilene.

Brownwood, TX

Lake Brownwood. Larry D. Moore [CC BY-SA 4.0 (]

Lake Brownwood State Park

200 State Highway Park Road 15, Lake Brownwood, TX 76801

Your journey into Brownwood takes you back into the mixture of the Texas Hill Country and East Texas forests. The town of Brownwood is a college town with a combination of historic sites and outdoor adventures. It’s also surrounded by a variety of small towns with unique names and historical buildings and homes. Near Brownwood, Lake Brown State Park is a peaceful park surrounding the 7,300-surface-acre Lake Brownwood that has been used for decades by families, college students, and nearby church camps. You can swim at this lake, fish, and water ski, jet ski, and paddle. There are also six miles of trails around the lake along with some beautiful hilltop scenery. The lake isn’t developed around like a lot of lakes, which makes it feel like more of a step into the past.

Brown County Museum of History

209 N Broadway St, Brownwood, TX 76801

As you drive through Brownwood, you might see a beautiful old brick building in downtown. The Brown County Museum is located in the old four-story Brown County Jail, built in 1902 and the Educational Center. Both buildings are located on North Broadway, at 212 and 209 respectively.

Lyric Theater

318 Center Ave, Brownwood, TX 76801

Brownwood’s Lyric Theater was built in the 1920s and is a brick, two and a half-story structure that is still in use. It was designed as a performance stage and is used for theater productions.

Comanche, Texas

Old Cora Comanche County Courthouse 25or6to4 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (]

Brennan Vineyards and Historic McCrary House

802 S Austin St, Comanche, TX 76442-3018

The McCrary house was built in the 1870s and now serves as the tasting room for Brennan Vineyards. A Hill Country favorite, visitors are invited to learn local history while savoring a selection of wines among several old oak trees. Locals recommend the Super Nero blend.

Old Cora Comanche County Courthouse

101 W. Central, Comanche, Texas

Cora, Texas, once served as the first county seat and this 1856 building is considered the only log courthouse remaining in the state. The twelve-foot by twelve-foot structure was indicative of many of the buildings in Texas at that time. It was disassembled in 1983 and rebuilt on the current Comanche courthouse square.

Comanche County Historical Museum

402 Moorman Rd, Comanche, TX 76442

The Comanche County Historical Museum has exhibits that explore everything from pre-historic time to the frontier history. Exhibits include a saloon, blacksmith shop, filling station, and a doctor’s office. It has fourteen rooms of historical exhibits and artifacts.

​Breckenridge, TX

Breckenridge Murals Kairos14 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (]

Boomtown Breckenridge Murals

Start at 104 N. Breckenridge Avenue, Breckenridge, TX

When visiting the small town of Breckenridge, you’ll quickly discover why the city is called the “Mural Capital of Texas.” A dozen murals depict the early history of the oil industry, from early photographs of oil boom photographer Basil Clemmons. The murals can be found off Walker Street; download a map at the Breckenridge Chamber of Commerce website.

Swenson Memorial Museum

116 W. Walker Street, Breckenridge, Texas  76424

A short walk from the 1926 Classical Revival-style Stephens County Courthouse, the Swenson Memorial Museum features exhibits and artifacts from early Texas history. The museum is housed in the 1920-era First National Bank era. The J.D. Sandefer Oil Annex Museum is right next door.

Throckmorton, TX

Throckmorton County Courthouse. Photo By Larry D. Moore, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Throckmorton County Courthouse

105 N Minter Ave, Throckmorton, TX 76483

Throckmorton is a tiny town at the north-east portion of the Texas Big Country. The downtown area has buildings reminiscent of frontier days. At the cornerstone of it all is the Throckmorton County Courthouse, with its sandstone frame, square cupola, and red roof. The Italianate-style structure was erected in 1890 with an annex built in 1938. It was restored and eventually rededicated on March 12, 2015.

Old Throckmorton County Jail

S Eagle & W. Chestnut St., Throckmorton, TX, USA

Continuing the frontier-era sandstone architecture is the Old Throckmorton County Jail. The construction of the old jail began in 1893. It is located southwest of the County Courthouse.

Albany, TX

Old Courthouse Art Center in Albany, Texas

Old Courthouse Art Center

201 S 2nd St, Albany, TX 76430

Set inside a historic old stone jail, the Old Courthouse Art Center in Albany hosts an excellent collection of over 2,100 pieces of oil paintings, sculptures, and historical artifacts. The limestone courthouse was the first jail built in Shackelford County in 1877. It was used until 1929 and then was replaced by a new jail one block away. The art center has been used as a cultural institution for the region since 1980.

Fort Griffin State Historic Site

1701 N. U.S. Hwy. 283, Albany, TX 76430

Fort Griffin served as one in a line of western defensive forts from 1867 to 1881. Among the ruins are a barracks, bakery, first sergeant’s quarter, mess hall, powder magazine, and a hand-dug well. You can also camp along the Brazos River and relax under the large shade trees.

Have any other suggestions for where to go around the Texas Big Country? A favorite hole-in-the-wall in Haskell or a hike in Cisco?

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Winter’s finally over in the Kansas City area, and it’s time to plan for outdoor summer fun. Nothing is better on a summer day than spending time at the pool, whether it’s relaxing, taking in a great workout, or playing with the kids in a water wonderland. It doesn’t look like Schlitterbahn will reopen for the 2019 season, but there are still plenty of great options. Here are 12 water parks in Kansas City and the surrounding area. I’ve also included parks that open for public use, rather than limited to residents of a particular community. 

Seasonal note. With the exception of the indoor water parks, the vast majority of these share seasonal hours. You can find parks open from around Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.

Oceans of Fun

4545 Worlds of Fun Ave, Kansas City, MO 64161

When? The season starts on May 24th and ends after Labor Day weekend on September 2nd.

What? Oceans of Fun is a tropically-themed water park that was once the largest in the world. Adjacent to the World of Fun amusement park, it covers 64 acres. Walk between the Worlds of Fun theme park and the Oceans of Fun. The park contains everything from a calming lazy river to extreme water slides. Kids can find a variety of slides, geysers, and fountains at Crocodile Isle or Paradise Falls. A wave pool has high tide every 10 minutes.


  • A daily admission ticket will provide access to Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun for $39.99.
  • You can save money by buying a season pass and sometimes ordering online.

Springs Aquatic Center

9400 N Congress Ave, Kansas City, MO 64153

When? Opens May 25, 2019, through the end of the summer.

What? Part of Tiffany Hills Park, Springs Aquatic Center offers a lap pool for intense swimmers and a leisure pool. Two winding water slides plunge into the 700-square foot leisure pool. Kiddies will enjoy the zero-entry pool or the spray ground with a tipping bucket, silly shower, mist sprayers, pop jets, and a moppet puppet. The center also has a bathhouse with showers, lifeguard stations, and concessions.


  • Regular price for those 48″ in height and taller $9
  • Youth (less than 48″) $6
  • Senior pricing $6.

Fun in the Sun. Image by <a href="">Jan Haerer</a> from <a href="">Pixabay</a>

Adventure Oasis Water Park

2100 Hub Dr, Independence, MO 64055

When? Opens May 25, 2019, through Labor Day.

What? Adventure Oasis Water Park includes over 6,000 square feet of wet and wild activities at Buckaroo Beach. Surrounding the beach is a 900-foot lazy river, a climbing wall, and three different water slides. Those wanting a deeper swim will enjoy the separate 25-yard lap pool and diving area. Kids will enjoy Halfpint Paradise, which is part of Buckaroo Beach. A full concession and dining area are available as well.


  • Residents $9
  • Nonresidents $10
  • Ages 3-12— Residents $6 and Nonresidents $7
  • Ages 65 and over — Residents $6 and Nonresidents $7
  • You can also buy a family pass, 5-visit pass, 20-visit pass, or a season pass.

Bay Water Park

7101 Longview Rd, Kansas City, MO 64134

When? Opens May 25th through Labor Day weekend.

What? Bay Water Park is a city-owned aquatic center located in Kansas City, MO, at the intersection of Blue Ridge Blvd and Longview Road. The facility has the only surf simulator in the area at a public facility that allows the rider to do stand-up like surfacing or kneel like boogie boarding. It also has a large lazy river, two giant tube slides, and a large plunge pool. A family play pool includes kid-controlled sprays and fountains, several slides, and a dumping bucket.


  • Over 48″ tall $9
  • Youth (less than 48″) $6 per day
  • Seniors 65+ $6
  • Children one year and under are free.

Great Wolf Lodge

10401 Cabela Dr, Kansas City, KS 66111

When? The indoor pool is open year-round although dates do vary. Check online as there are a limited number of day passes each day and there may be seasonal closures. The outdoor pool is seasonal.

What? Looking for a huge indoor waterpark just perfect for a special occasion? The Great Wolf Lodge is a hotel with a 38,000 square feet indoor water park that includes a large variety of activities from hot springs for the adults to a 4-story tree house water fort for the kids. Use one of the 8 water slides to glide into one of the five splash-and-play pools. Kids will also love the giant tipping bucket, cub paw pool, and the whopping hollow playground. Additional activities include an arcade, character appearances, lunchtime activities for the pool and story time.  While the majority of their waterpark is indoors only, they also have outdoor water activities.

Price? Day passes are available online and must be purchased at least 24 hours in advance. The passes do get pricey at $50 and up per person (depending on the day); children two and under get in free.

Black Bob Bay, Olathe, KS

14570 151st St, Olathe, KS 66062

When? Seasonal hours start in Late May (around Memorial Day) through Labor Day.

What? Black Bob Bay is a great place that is larger than your regular public pool but quite not the size of Oceans of Fun. It offers a lazy river, aft water slides, and a 50-meter pool. The dive well includes two 1-meter diving boards and two 3-meter boards with a 50-meter pool. For kids, there are shallow water play structures, a splash park, and a baby pool.

Price? Purchase an Outdoor Pool Season Pass at the Olathe Community Center, 1205 E. Kansas City Rd

Summit Waves

120 SW Blue Pkwy, Lee’s Summit, MO 64063

When? Opens May 25 through August 13, 2019

What? Summit Waves is an outdoor water park that features a six-lane lap pool with diving pools, one tube slide, and one body slide. A water playground area includes dump buckets, mini slides, and other activities for the kiddoes. A concession stand is available.


  • Lee Summit residents $7
  • Nonresidents $10.

Splash Cove or Jim Allen Aquatic Center Water Park in Missouri. Photo by Chris Murphy on Flickr —

Splash Cove (Jim Allen Aquatic Center)

5800 King Ave, Shawnee, KS 66203

When? The season begins May 25th and ends on August 11, 2019.

What? Splash Cove is an excellent summer-time location for families with small children. It includes a mini wave pool, 125-foot full body slide, and a party cabana. The zero entry pool is great for kids; all of the pools are 3 feet deep and under. It doesn’t have a full Olympic-sized pool or deep pool so if you want to do laps, look elsewhere.  Kids can enjoy the splash pool, a completely interactive playground. The full concession is available as well.


  • Shawnee residents $6
  • Non-residents $8
  • From 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., admission is half-price on Monday through Friday.

Coco Key Water Resort in Missouri. Photo by Britt Reints on Flickr —

CoCo Key Water Resort

9103 E 39th St, Kansas City, MO 64133

When? Open year-round on weekends and open on Thursday and Fridays during the summer.

What? Looking or another indoor water park that is available all year long? CoCo Key Water Resort is part of the Adam’s Mark Hotel and Conference Center. The indoor water park is over 55,000 square feet of swimming activities, dining options, and a state-of-the-art arcade. They have three big slides for adults and three intermediate slides for kids and a few little ones for younger children along with lily pads.

Price? General admission $9.99; be sure to make reservations ahead of time.

Mission Family Aquatic Center

5930 W 61st St, Mission, KS 66202

When? The season starts on May 25th and lasts through the summer

What? The Mission Family Aquatic Center is a small facility with a lap pool that is large enough for practice. It also offers a lap pool and a kiddie pool with a splash pad.


  • Residents $6
  • Nonresident $8.00
  • If you attend during twilight hours between 6:00 and 8:00 p.m., there’s a $2 discount.

Jolly Mon Indoor Water Park

456 Tan Tara Estate, Osage Beach, MO 65065

When? Open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day Weekend

What? Part of the Margaritaville Lake Resort, the Jolly Mon Indoor Water Park is a 20,000 square foot indoor waterpark with over 600 feet of water slides, an activity pool, and a lazy river for tubing and floating. The kids will enjoy a three-story wilderness tree house with slides, water blaster, tunnels, bridges, and a 600-gallon tipping bucket. There is also a 21-seat whirlpool available for relaxation along with a snack bar. It’s also just outside of the Lake of the Ozarks State Park for more summer activities.


  • Hotel guests $17
  • Non-hotel guests $22
  • Children ages 2 and under are free.

Kenwood Cove Water Park in Kansas RachelH7 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (]

Kenwood Cove Aquatic Park in Salina

701 Kenwood Park Dr, Salina, KS 67401

When? Seasonal hours start May 25

What? Sure, it’s a little bit of a distance from Kansas City, but the Kenwood Cove Aquatic Park in Salina is still worth the trip. The facility has 1,400 feet of slides, a lazy river for kids of all ages, a raging river, inner tubing, wave pool, and body slides for the more adventurous types. A lap pool is available for swimming every morning except Sundays and during the park’s regular hours. Kids will enjoy the soggy bottoms water playground, lily pads, family fun slide,  and splash pool


  • Adult day passes $6
  • Seniors (62 and up) $3
  • Children (3-17) $4
  • Ages 2 and under are free


Bonus  — White Water in Branson

3505 West, MO-76, Branson, MO 65616

When? Opens May 25th through Labor Day

What? White Water Branson isn’t in the KCMO metro but it’s close enough for a weekend road trip. The waterpark has 13-acres of pools, water slides, and other attractions. Explore the lazy Aloha River or the more thrilling speed slides of Kalani Towers or KaPau Plummet. Surrounded by cascading waterfalls, White Water Waikiki Wave is an interactive double speed speed-slide. Kids of all ages will enjoy the  500,000-gallon wave pool, the playground area of Coconut Cove, and the water slides, geysers, and other activities of Splashaway Cay. Private poolside cabanas are available for rent and the park offers both dining and shopping.


  • One-day tickets (ages 12-64) $45
  • One-day tickets (ages 4-11) $25
  • One-day tickets (65+) $33

Other Adventures

Still looking for summer-time ideas in Kansas City?  Here are some ideas.

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Between starting a new year at work and the crazy North Texas weather, taking short road trips can be a  little tricky. Downtown might look great, if not cold, but when you hit I-20 and start heading either west or east, you run into the fog (or worse). Now that the sun’s out and the weather is a little more predictable, it’s time to start taking some road trips out of the ever-growing Dallas traffic. Here are 9-plus ideas for short and somewhat quirky day trips from Dallas / Fort Worth area that won’t break the bank.

Take a Walk in Dinosaur Valley

1629 Park Rd 59, Glen Rose, TX 76043
, Courtesy Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. Valley State Park is a state park near Glen Rose, southwest of the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. Situated on 1,500 scenic acres, you can view fossilized dinosaur footprints in the bed of the Paluxy River. You can also see two life-size models. Current entrance fees are $7 per adult, while children 12 and under get in free. Camping is also available along with 20 miles of trails. Note that the trails may be closed due to wet conditions, so be careful not to go a few days after a heavy Texas rainstorm. Check their website for current status or go to view the beautiful scenery of the park. Granbury is nearby and is also a cute town to go and explore. Also, near Glen Rose is the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, an endangered species research and conservation center.

Step Back in Time at Buffalo Gap Historic Village

133 William St, Buffalo Gap, TX 79508

Old Taylor Courthouse. By Renelibrary - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Just south of Abilene lays Buffalo Gap Historic Village, a large museum of fifteen outdoor buildings and West Texas artifacts going back to 1870s. The centerpiece is the former courthouse and jail for Taylor County, build in 1879. You can also find buildings such as a doctor’s office, railroad depot, a two-room school, bank, post office, print shop, barbershop, an air-conditioned chapel, and private homes. The annual Bluegrass Festival is hosted there as well. Fees for the museum are $7 for adults, $6 for military and seniors, and students is $4. It is also less than ten miles away from the new Frontier Texas! Museum in Abilene.

Like Spooky Stories and Meals on the Bayou? Visit The Grove in Jefferson

405 Moseley St, Jefferson, TX 75657

The Grove. Renelibrary [CC BY-SA 4.0 (

Also known as the Stilley–Young House, The Grove is an 1861 historic home that has been called the most haunted place in Texas. Chosen as one of the eight scariest places in Texas by Texas Monthly, the structure has a mix of Greek Revival and Creole Architecture as well.  Also known as the B&B Capital of Texas, Jefferson is also a beautiful town near Caddo Lake. If you want to experience some creole food, visit the RiverBend Restaurant on Caddo Lake. Other things to see in Jefferson include the Jefferson General Store, the Jefferson Historical Museum, and Jay Gould’s Private Rail Car. Caddo State Park will also take you through a bayou and swamp with gray Spanish moss and towering cypress trees.

Northern Hill Country Meets Central Texas in Eastland’s Historic Hotel and Downtown

112 N Lamar Street, Eastland, Texas 76448

Majestic Theater in Eastland. Billy Hathorn [CC BY-SA 3.0 (

About two hours west of Dallas are the northernmost rolling hills outside of Eastland, Texas. The drive from DFW to Eastland is stunning at any time of year, with steep rolling vistas that are beautiful going uphill (into Eastland) or going downhill (back to Fort Worth). The Eastland Historic Hotel was built as a rooming house in 1918 and still maintains its vintage doors and restored tin ceilings. Next to the hotel is the restored Majestic Theater, built in 1919 as the Connellee Theater, which still shows movies. Nearby is the Eastland County Museum at 114 South Seaman Street that is open Thursday through Saturday. If you have the time, go off I-20 and explore some of the nearby smaller towns, with their dirt ranch roads, old houses, and horses. It’s like stepping back in time.

Unleash Your Inner Super Hero by Visiting the Toy and Action Figure Museum in Paul’s Valley, OK

111 S Chickasaw St, Pauls Valley, OK 73075


Located in a small downtown building Paul’s Valley, the Toy and Action Figure Museum has plenty of action figures and toys from the 80s and 90s along with some awesome dioramas. Some of the memorabilia include multiple generations of X-Men, Superman, Transformers, and Batman. Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for kids ages 12 and under, military personnel and seniors. Also in Pauls Valley is the Pauls Valley Water Park and the Santa Fe Depot Museum, a 1905 Santa Fe Depot. On your way back, you can stop in Thackerville at the WinStar World Casino and Resort, just to see the unique external architecture if anything.

Zipline through the Piney Woods in New York, Texas

7290 Co Rd 4328, Larue, TX 75770


A great day trip from Dallas or Tyler, Athens is a charming little town with an abundance of Victorian houses, lakes, and other outdoor activities. Located near Athens, the New York Texas Zipline Adventures is located in East Texas’ version of Hill Country. Learn about the local ecology and wildlife or relax and enjoy the view. While near Athens, stop in and visit the Henderson County Historical Museum or the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center. Some of the best pizza in the area can be found at Rounder’s Pizza, and you can also find delicious hamburgers at Railway Café.

Go Scuba Diving at the Valhalla Nuclear Missile Silo

Abilene, Texas


Near Abilene, there is a decommissioned Atlas-F nuclear mission solo that is a freshwater dive site. The Family Scuba Center in Midland, Texas, owns the former silo base and has conducted scuba dives there for over 20 years. It’s like exploring a shipwreck; only it’s an abandoned Cold War missile base. The bottom of the silo is littered with twisted metal and duck work, and there are also some control panels and plaques. It’s an advanced dive that is about 20 to 25 minutes along. You also have to make an appointment to view the structure and set up a time for a dive.

Can’t get an appointment? You can also go scuba diving at Athens Scuba Park, in a lake full of boats, sunken planes, and other obstacles.

Visit the Eiffel Tower in Paris…No, Really

2025 S Collegiate Dr, Paris, TX 75460

Eiffel Tower in Paris, Texas. By Adavyd - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Bonjour Y’all! Paris, Texas is another great city to visit and well worth the road trip. The city also has a great sense of humor about its name and built its own 65-foot Eiffel Tower capped with a 3 ½-foot tall red Stetson cowboy hat. At night, the lights are on, and the tower is illuminated with the colors of the Texas flag. It is also next to the Red River Valley Veterans Memorial. The Trail de Paris is another great outdoor trail with a Yoga Park, kiosk locations (such as the little library), a butterfly garden, and Art on the Trail.

Find the Last Remaining Boundary Marker for the Republic of Texas

8149 FM 31S, Carthage, TX, USA

One day trip from Dallas is the last remaining boundary marker for the Republic of Texas. Renelibrary [CC BY-SA 4.0 (

The Republic of Texas Granite Marker, also known as the International Boundary Marker, is the last remaining boundary marker for the Republic of Texas located on the Louisiana-Texas border. It can be found southeast of Carthage, Texas, and 10 miles southeast of Deadwood, near the junction of FM 31 and Louisiana Highway 765. The survey that established this border lasted from May 1840 to June 1841. The marker is located on the west side of the Sabine River, marking the separation between Texas and Louisiana. Is believed to be the only international boundary marker within the United States today.

Feel like exploring more of East Texas? Visit the Piney Woods!

Where’s your favorite day trip from Dallas/Fort Worth?

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Winter’s (almost) over. Although there’s a small chance of a stray snowstorm or two in the Colorado Rockies, now’s the perfect time to plan your summer getaway to the myriad of music festivals held throughout the summer. Denver’s City Jazz Park produces 10 free jazz concerts each summer in the City Park, Boulder hosts the annual Colorado Music Festival, and Grand Junction hosts Country Jam. Take a look at this list of over 20 music festivals in Colorado, many of which are free or low cost. From contemporary to bluegrass, find a music festival that’s right for you.

Denver Summertime Traditions

City Park Jazz Festival Logo, Denver, Colorado


City Park Jazz Festival
Ten jazz concerts are free to the public and thousands of fans flock each year to the City Park to take in music, food trucks, and other park activities.
When: Sunday’s from first of June until August. Emma Mayes & The Hip leads off the event on June 2nd.
Where: City Park, 1600 CITY PARK ESPLANADE, DENVER, CO 80206

Spread the Word Colorado Music Festival
When: May 17-19, 2019
Where: Denver Coliseum, 4600 Humboldt St, Denver, CO 80216

Juneteenth Music Festival
When: June 15-16, 2019
Where: 2720 Welton St, Denver, CO 80205

Westword Music Showcase
When: June 29, 2019
Where: Golden Triangle, 1080-1098 Acoma St, Denver, CO 80204

Global Dance Festival
When: July 19-20, 2019
Where: Broncos (Mile-High) Stadium, 1701 Bryant St, Denver, CO 80204

Underground Music Showcase
Last year’s lineup included over 100 national and local bands who performed at over the 20 indoor venues and four outdoor stages.
When: July 26-28, 2019
Where: Held on Broadway Street in Denver, the main stage is between W. Ellsworth Ave and W. Bayaud Ave.

A Taste of Colorado is a free, three-day outdoor festival
When: Labor Day Weekend, August 31-September 2, 2019
Where: Denver’s Civic Center Park, Colfax and, Bannock St, Denver, CO 80202

Looking for a picturesque outdoor venue in Denver? Check these out.

Fiddler’s Green Amphitheater in Greenwood Village. Address: 6350 Greenwood Plaza Blvd, Greenwood Village, CO 80111

Levitt Pavilion in Denver. Address: 1380 W Florida Ave, Denver, CO 80223

Jeep Summer Concert Seasons at the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison. Address: 18300 W Alameda Pkwy, Morrison, CO 80465

Additional 2019 Music Festivals in Colorado by Genre


RIDE Festival
Around since 2012, the festival has a variety of talent including Pearl Jam, Sheryl Crow, Grace Potter, and others.
When: July 12-14, 2019
Where: Town Park, 500 E Colorado Ave, Telluride, CO 81435

Electronic or Alternative Music

Sonic Bloom Festival
Colorado’s premier electronic music festival at Hummingbird Ranch
When: June 20-23, 2019
Where: Hummingbird Ranch in Spanish Peaks Country — 732 Co Rd 653, Rye, CO 81069

Bohemian Nights Music Festival
Free, three-day music festival held each August in historic downtown Fort Collins
When: August 9-11, 2019
Where: Downtown Fort Collins, 19 Old Town Square, Fort Collins, CO 80524

Celtic Music Festivals

Pikes Peak Celtic Festival
The festival has world-renowned Celtic rock groups in addition to the sound of bagpipes and Irish dancers.
When: June 14-16, 2019
Where: 250 S Union Blvd, Colorado Springs, CO 80910

Spanish Peaks International Celtic Music Festival
Annual Celtic Music Festival and four-day retreat in Huerfano County in Colorado led by international artists and teachers.
When: 19-22, 2019
Where: 300 S Main St, La Veta, CO 81055

Bluegrass / Country / Folk Festivals

Folk N’Bluegrass Festival
When: June 7-9, 2019
Where: 320 Hot Springs Blvd, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147

Country Jam Music Festival
When: June 13-16, 2019
Where: 1065 Old US Hwy 6 & 50, Loma, CO 81524

Palisade Bluegrass & Roots Music Festival
When: June 14-16, 2019
Where: 451 Pendleton St., Palisade, CO 81526

Telluride Bluegrass Festival
When: June 20-23, 2019
Where: Telluride, CO (check website for further details)

Colorado Prairie Music Festival
When: June 22, 2019
Where: 33747 County Rd 2W, Hugo, CO 80821

Central Rockies Old-Time Music Association
When: July 10-14, 2019
Where: 15722 Parrish Ranch Rd, Berthoud, CO 80513

Rapidgrass Bluegrass Festival
When: July 19-20, 2019
Where: 101 Idaho Springs Road East, Idaho Springs, CO 80452

Rockygrass Festival
Converge under the red rock cliffs of the St. Vrain River and listen to bluegrass legends.
When: July 26-28, 2019
Where: 500 W Main St, Lyons, CO 80540

Bluegrass and Beer Festival
Keystone brings the wonders of Appalachia to the Rockies with down-home cooking, frothy flavor, and mountain music.
When: August 3-4, 2019
Where: 164 Ida Belle Dr, Keystone, CO 80435

Rocky Mountain Folk Festival
Summer weekend celebrating songs and stories from around the musical and geographic world.
When: August 16-28, 2019
Where: 500 W Main St, Lyons, CO 80540

Seven Peaks Music Festival
Labor Day Weekend of live country music
When: August 30-September 1, 2019
Where: 14822 County Road 350, Buena Vista, CO 81211

Blues / Jazz

Greeley Blues Jam
Two amazing days of non-stop Blues.
When: June 7-8, 2019
Where: 501 N 14th Ave, Greeley, CO 80631

Jazz Aspen Snowmass
JAS has grown from a simple 3-day event in Aspen to a complex set of multi-day festivals in Aspen/Snowmass.
When: June 20-23, 2019
Where: Multiple venues in downtown Aspen, CO

Telluride Blues & Brews Festival
Blues & Brews is a three-day celebration of music and microbrews.
When: September 13-15, 2019
Where: 500 E Colorado Ave, Telluride, CO 81435


Bravo! Vail Music Festival
Programming consists of chamber music, classical music, jazz, and pops concerts.
When: Select dates in an outdoor venue at various times throughout the season from June 20-August 4, 2019
Where: 2271 N Frontage Rd W C, Vail, CO 81657

Colorado Music Festival
Six-week summer concert season at Chautauqua Auditorium in Boulder showcasing Colorado Music Festival Orchestra
When: June 27-August 3, 2019
Where: 200 E. Baseline Road, Lafayette, CO 80026

Music In the Mountains Classical Music Festival
Annual summer classical music festival located in Durango, with additional performances in other regional towns
When: July 6-28, 2019
Where: Various locations in Durango, CO; check the website for details.


Boulder’s Bands on the Bricks
Outdoor summer concert series in Downtown Boulder has performers from alternatives to classic rock
When: June 5 to August 7, 2019
Where: 1300 Block of the Pearl Street Mall, Boulder, CO 80302

Colorado BBQ Challenge
While not your traditional music festival, this event features multiple bands over 3 days in addition to a cookoff.
When: June 13-15, 2019
Where: 1 Main St Frisco, CO 80443

Crested Butte Music Festival
When: July 2-28, 2019
Where: 523 Riverland Dr, Crested Butte, CO 81224

Aspen Music Festival and School
Offers classical music training to young adult musical students and offers occasional concerts to the public.
When: June 27-August 28, 2019
Where: Varies. Check the website for details

2019 Music Festivals in Colorado for Pinterest

Stretching from New Orleans to Lafayette, US Route 90 stretches through bayous, ancient cypress swamps, and the into the heart of Cajun country and the Louisiana bayou. The road trip starts in the French quarter of New Orleans, where visitors can explore a place and culture centuries old. From Creole to Acadian (Cajun), explore the bayous and byways of Southern Louisiana. French accents, plentiful wildlife, Cajun music, and tasty cuisine make the region a must see in the Fall and Spring months.

How Long? 300.5 miles from New Orleans to the end (around 7 hours). Once you’ve finished in Lafayette, it’s an additional 134 miles (2 hours) back to New Orleans.

When to go? Spring and Fall. Summers can be extremely hot and humid. Winter months are okay, but you’re less likely to see wildlife, especially alligators.

Map not loading on your phone? Try this link.

Start in The French Quarter

The French Quarter of New Orleans.
The French Quarter of New Orleans.

Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve
/ French Quarter Visitor Center

419 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70130

Nouvelle Orleans, New Orleans’s French Quarter, was developed in 1718 by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville. As people moved to the quarter from all over the world, a unique culture rich in food, music, and tradition quickly developed. The Jean Lafitte’s French Quarter Visitors Center presents the history and traditions of the city and the lower Mississippi River delta region through a variety of exhibits and a film. The visitor’s center is also a great place to begin your tour of the old French quarter with sightseeing tours, brochures, and visitor’s information.

Quick TipLove touring old buildings? Check out 15 of the oldest buildings in the French Quarter.


Side trip! New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park

916 N Peters St, New Orleans, LA 70116

Stop by the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park to learn more about the origins and evolution of jazz music. The 4-acre park is technically in the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans, but it’s near the French Quarter. The visitor centers can be found at the New Orleans Jazz Museum at 400 Esplanade Avenue.

Barataria Preserve. Source: Ken Lund, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0
Barataria Preserve. Source: Ken Lund, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve at Barataria

6588 Barataria Boulevard, Marrero, LA 70072

Once you cross the Greater New Orleans Bridge, follow the West Bank Expressway (Route 90) west to Route 45, which leads south to the Barataria section of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. Located just outside of Marrero, the preserve contains 23,000 acres of coastal wetlands. Walk along boardwalks and dirt trails to view the variety of animals (such as alligators) and over 20 species of birds that live in the swamps, freshwater marshes and hardwood forests. Download the trail map, explore with a cell phone tour, or enjoy a self-guided walking tour of Pecan Grove. The town of Jean Lafitte, named after the pirate-turned-patriot, is also just down the road from the preserve.

Example of a Cajun Cabin. Source: James DeMers
Example of a Cajun Cabin. Source: James DeMers

Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center

314 St Mary St, Thibodaux, LA 70301

You’ll take a slight detour on to Route 1 into the small town of Thibodaux. The Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center is a National Park Service center with exhibits on Cajun culture along with boat tours, walking tours of Historic Thibodaux, and Cajun music nights. Learn about the lives of the Acadians (Cajuns) and others who lived in Louisiana’s bayous. On Tuesday nights, the Cercle Francophone gives you a great opportunity to watch linguistic history in action and learn French, Cajun or otherwise. In the Spring and the Fall, boat tours tour Bayou Lafourche, locally known as the “longest street in the world.” Watch for birds and alligators and learn about the bayou ecosystem.

Swamp near Houma, Louisiana
Swamp near Houma, Louisiana

Houma, Louisiana Swamp Tours

Houma Area Visitor’s Center, 114 Tourist Drive, Gray, LA 70359

Getting back on Route 90, you’ll pass through Houma, nicknamed the Venice of America due to its 55 bridges that cross its waterways and over 2,500 square miles of wetlands. More than 65% of Terrebonne Parish consists of wetlands and open water.  Houma’s streets hug the bayou, which served as towpaths in days gone by. Stop by the Houma Area Visitor’s Center to learn about the area and to get restaurant guides, local maps, and suggested itineraries. Houma’s marshland, diverse environment and wildlife, excellent food, and authentic Cajun culture make it an excellent stop on the Bayou Byway.

Quick TipLooking for some authentic Cajun cooking? Stop at the Jolly Inn in Houma (1507 Barrow St, Houma, LA 70360)  for spicy food and live music.

Another local favorite is A-Bear’s Restaurant (809 Bayou Black Dr, Houma, LA 70360), a small restaurant that serves authentic Cajun fare.

Oaklawn Manor

3296 E Oaklawn Dr, Franklin, LA 70538

Outside of Calumet on Route 90, you’ll detour onto Route 182. This new route allows you to follow the bends of Bayou Teche, a 125-mile-long waterway. During the steamboat era, sugar barons built large homes right along the stream leading the area to be called “Sugarcane Country.” Oaklawn Manor is one such plantation house, built in 1837 by Alexander Porter. The restored Greek Revival structure is surrounded by one of the largest groves of live oaks in America.

Shadows-on-the-Teche. Source: Carol M. Highsmith, Library of Congress.
Shadows-on-the-Teche. Source: Carol M. Highsmith, Library of Congress.


317 E Main St, New Iberia, LA 70560

Several additional antebellum homes can be found on the route into New Iberia. (Stay on Route 182, despite your navigation system’s best effort to take you back to I-90. It’s the scenic route). The Shadows-on-the-Teche is one such house built by sugarcane planter David Weeks in 1834. This coral-brick, white-columned home is 3,750 square feet and nestled on the banks of Bayou Teche.  The Classic Revival-style home with a traditional Louisiana garden has tours and seasonal events, such as Terror-on-the-Teche. The house was also the first site in the Gulf South listed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation.


Jungle Gardens and Bird Sanctuary (Avery Island)

Hwy 329, Avery Island, LA 70513

The home of TABASCO® Pepper Sauce, Avery Island is also home to Jungle Gardens, a 170-acre botanical garden and bird sanctuary. Jungle Garden features over 20,000 egrets and its egret rookery built on bamboo piers. The semitropical garden stretches along Bayou Petite Anse.  The island itself is a large salt done, best known as the source of TABASCO® Sauce, a staple of Cajun cuisine. Go to the TABASCO® Visitors Center (32 Wisteria Rd, Avery Island, LA 70513) and take a tour, a cooking class, or book a TABASCO®  Culinary Tour.

Flowers from Rip Van Winkle GardensRip Van Winkle Gardens

5505 Rip Van Winkle Rd, New Iberia, LA 70560

After leaving the antebellum manor, head down Route 14 towards Jefferson Island to explore another semi-tropical garden and mansion. The small island was named after Joseph Jefferson, an actor who played the part of Rip Van Winkle on stage over 4500 times. The Joseph Jefferson Mansion was built in 1870 in a Victorian style with a fourth-story cupola. It sits atop the salt dome approximately 75 feet above sea level. The Gardens consist of 15 acres nestled among 350-year-old oak trees.

Evangeline Oak in St. Martinville, LA. Sorce: Maren, Flickr, CC BY 2.0
Evangeline Oak in St. Martinville, LA. Source: Maren, Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site

1200 N Main St, St Martinville, LA 70582

After leaving Jefferson Island, you’ll head east on Route 675 and then north on Routes 76 and Route 31 to St. Martinville, a town established as a military post in 1714. After being expelled from Nova Scotia by British authorities in 1755, the Acadians (Cajuns) settled in the town. During the French Revolution, so many Refugees came to St. Martinville that the town was called Le Petit Paris. The small town is best known as the setting for Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic poem, Evangeline.

Evangeline Oak Park (122 Evangeline St, St Martinville, LA 70582) has a large oak tree called the Evangeline Oak. The oak tree is where Emmeline Labiche and Louis Arceneaux, supposedly the inspirations behind Longfellow’s poem, reunited after years of separation. (It’s the third Evangeline Oak.) The tree itself can be found at the end of Port Street and is often used by musicians who sometimes gather to play Cajun tunes.

The Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site showcases the regions French-speaking people along the famed Bayou Teche. The 175-acre park also includes a reproduction of an Acadian Farmstead that shows what a typical single-family farm would have looked like in 1800. Also on the site is the Maison Oliver, a plantation built around 1815, in a distinct architectural style that is a mixture of Creole, Caribbean, and French influence.

Lake Fausse Pointe at Sunset. Source: Edd Prince on Flickr, CC BY 2.0
Lake Fausse Pointe at Sunset. Source: Edd Prince on Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Lake Fausse Pointe State Park

5400 Levee Rd, St Martinville, LA 70582

About 18 miles east of St. Martinsville in the middle of the Atchafalaya Basin sits Lake Fausse Pointe State Park. The site of one of the oldest bald cypress groves in the region, the 6,000-acre recreation area was formerly the home site of the Chitimacha Indians. It was later occupied by French and Acadian farmers. The influx of Spanish and Canary Islanders also influenced the local culture. The park sits at the edge of a beautiful water wilderness.  Hike the elevated walkways and view Lake Fausse or the nearby Dauterive Lake. You can also rent canoes or kayaks at the park’s visitor center and see the waterlogged forests and canopies of cypress trees up close.

Beaux Bridge

1908 Atchafalaya River Hwy, Breaux Bridge, LA 70517-8518

Known as the crawfish capital of the world, Breaux Bridge holds a festival every year in May. During this event, you’ll find Cajun music, carnival rides, and crawfish eating contests. In the Fall, the St. Francis of Assisi Fall Celebration has a variety of barbeque and catfish dinners as well.  Antique stores, seafood restaurants, and other little shops fill the historic downtown area. You’ll often hear traditional Cajun music played by local musicians. The Atchafalaya Welcome Center offers additional background on the Atchafalaya area with educational exhibits and an introductory movie on Cajun food.

Atchafalaya Basin Landing & Swamp Tours

Atchafalaya Basin Landing & Swamp Tours

1377 Henderson Levee Rd, Henderson, LA 70517

Looking to take a swamp tour of the Atchafalaya Basin? The Atchafalaya Basin lLanding& Marina tour takes you deep into the Henderson Swamp. The swamp consists of mossy cypress forests, Louisiana Alligators, and a deep history as the original home of the Cajun people. Using an airboat, you’ll get to ride under I-10 on the swamp tour as you view alligators up to 10-feet long and a variety of bird life, such as the osprey. Depending on what you want to see, the Atchafalaya area has a host of tour providers that cover different regions of the swamp.

The tour will end in Lafayette, located in the heart of Cajun country.

A cabin in the Acadian Village.
An example of an Acadian cabin.

Acadian Village

200 Greenleaf Dr, Lafayette, LA 70506

For a final stop on your tour, visit LARC’s Acadian Village, an open-air museum that features one of the oldest authentic versions of Acadian life.  The village recreates a small, 19th-century Cajun bayou community with 11 relocated Cajun homes and a Native American museum. Besides that, a bayou also runs through the community.

Quick TipLooking for some (more) authentic Cajun cooking? Stop at the Blue Moon in Lafayette (215 E Convent St, Lafayette, LA 70501)  for tasty food and live music.

The Azalea Trail is a driving tour through historical Lafayette.
The Azalea Trail is a driving tour through historical Lafayette.

Azalea Trail

1400 NW Evangeline Throughway, Lafayette, LA 70501

The Azalea Trail stretches for 20 miles across historical sites, city streets, and private homes in Lafayette. Landmarks along the trail include the Lafayette Museum, Boulevard of Floral Splendor and Mouton Plantation. The well-marked tour can be downloaded or picked up from the visitors center.

From here, take I-10 back to New Orleans.

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Like it? Pin it. Pontchartrain to Cajun Country

Plan Your Next Adventure

Beyond Bourbon Street and the neon lights and music central lies the historic French Quarter with Spanish and French-era pieces. Some buildings retain their historic properties and operate as museums or private residences. Others have commercial stores such as gift shops yet maintain their iron balustrades and Creole architecture.

Chartres Street is best known for its myriad of Colonial-era buildings that have survived two large fires and multiple floods. Royal Avenue and St. Louis Street have their own Colonial-era sites. Interested in taking a tour? Here are 15 of the oldest buildings in what has been called the Crown Jewel of New Orleans.

Note: Unlike previous maps, this is a walking map of the French Quarter. 

Park by the Old Mint/New Orleans Jazz Museum or down by Jackson Square. The one-way lanes and lack of street parking can be a nightmare in a car.

Let’s get started.

The Old U.S. Mint. Source: Louisiana Travel on Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0
The Old U.S. Mint. Source: Louisiana Travel on Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0

Old U.S. Mint (1838)

400 Esplanade Ave, New Orleans, LA 70116

Coins were continuously minted between 1838 and 1909 at this old mint on Esplanade Avenue. Build on the site of the old Fort St. Charles, the Greek Revival building produced both American and Confederate coinage. The old New Orleans Mint opened as a state museum in 1981. The building was damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 but reopened in 2007.

The Louisiana Historical Center, the New Orleans Jazz Club Collections of the Louisiana State Museum, and the New Orleans Mint Performing Art Center are all currently located here.

Old ursuline Convent, New Orleans French Quarter. Source: Louisiana Travel on Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0
Old Ursuline Convent, New Orleans French Quarter. Source: Louisiana Travel on Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0

Old Ursuline Convent (1745)

1100 Chartres St., New Orleans, LA 70116

The Ursuline Convent is the oldest structure in the Mississippi River Valley. It is also the oldest surviving example of the French colonial period in the United States. Erected in 1745, the Convent was occupied by Ursuline nuns until 1824. It also served as a meeting place for the Louisiana Legislature. Today, it operates as the Catholic Cultural Heritage Center for the Archdiocese of New Orleans. In addition to the Old Ursuline Convent Museum, the structure houses the Archdiocesan archives and a formal garden.

Next to the Old Convent is Saint Mary’s Catholic Church (1116 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70116). Older than St. Louis Cathedral, parts of it date back to 1727. St. Mary’s Church was rebuilt in 1850 and rededicated in 1860.

Beauregard-Keys House. By Infrogmation - Own work, CC BY 2.5,
Outside the Beauregard-Keyes House. Source: Infrogmation – Own Work, CC by 2.5

Beauregard-Keyes House (1826)

1113 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70116

The Beauregard -Keyes House museum includes past residents such as Confederate General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard and American author Frances Parkinson Keyes. The house has elements of a Creole cottage with Greek Revival features, including a Palladian façade. It also has twin curved staircases leading to a Tuscan portico. A formal French garden, typical of the early 1800s architecture, includes a cast iron fountain and boxwood hedges.

Gallier House with green balcony. By Infrogmation of New Orleans - Photo by Infrogmation, CC BY-SA 4.0,
Gallier House with green balcony. By Infrogmation of New Orleans – Photo by Infrogmation, CC BY-SA 4.0

Gallier House (1857)

1118-32 Royal St., New Orleans, LA 70116

Built as a private residence of noted architect James Gallier, the Gallier House is a restored 19th-century house museum. The house is an example of Victorian style architecture and has been furnished according to a household inventory created after Mr. Gallier’s passing. Four wrought-iron arches extend from the balcony to the roof and four windows face each of the arches with shutters typical of the period. Visitors can book a tour of the Gallier house and the Herman-Grima House at the same time. (Just be warned, they are not next to each other so you will have to drive to the Herman-Grima House.)

Madame John's Legacy. Source: Teemu on Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0
Madame John’s Legacy. Source: Teemu on Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

Madame John’s Legacy (1789)

632 Dumaine St., New Orleans, LA 70116

One of the oldest houses in the French Quarter, Madame John’s Legacy is an example of eighteenth-century Louisiana Creole architecture. The house was raised high enough to withstand frequent flooding of the area and has ventilating features to alleviate the subtropical heat. It also managed to survive the great fire of 1794. The museum itself is currently closed for restoration but you can still view the outside.

Next stop, Jackson Square area.

Note: If you are driving to Jackson Square, park and walk to the Cabildo, St. Louis Cathedral and The Presbytere. The public lots by the river behind Jax Brewery or Cafe du Monde or the paid lot at Decatur St & Toulouse St. (near 601 Decatur St, look for big red Public Parking sign) may be your best bets.

Jackson Square, French Quarter, New Orleans
Jackson Square, French Quarter, New Orleans

Jackson Square (1718 and beyond)

700 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116

Initially laid out with the rest of the old French Quarter, Jackson Square sits in front of the St. Louis Cathedral. Also called the Place d’Armes, it is the oldest space in the city. Trees and walkways were added to it in the 1830s and the equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson was added in 1856. Today, the area around the park is a mixture of commercial and residential property. Local artists also display their work on the outside of the iron fence and visitors can walk among the open-air artist colony to see the artists at work.

New Orleans French Quarter, the Cabildo, St. Louis Cathedral, and Presbetere
The Cabildo, Saint Louis Cathedral, and the Presbytère sit side by side in front of Jackson Square in the New Orleans French Quarter

The Cabildo (1799)

701 Chartres St., New Orleans, LA 70130

Located on Jackson Square, The Cabildo was the headquarters of the Spanish colonial government and the site of the Louisiana Purchase transfer in 1803. The New Orleans city council continued to use the building until the mid-1850s. The original Cabildo was destroyed in the Great New Orleans Fire of 1788 and was rebuilt between 1795 and 1799.

St. Louis Cathedral (orig. 1727, 1850)

615 Pere Antoine Alley, New Orleans, LA 70116

Originally built in 1727, the Cathedral-Basilica of Saint Louis is flanked by the historic Cabildo on one side and the Presbytère on the other. After the great fire of 1794, the original structure was rebuilt. The current structure was finished in 1850 and overlooks Jackson Square. The Cathedral is the oldest continuously active Roman Catholic Cathedral in the United States.

The Presbytère  (1791)

751 Chartres St., New Orleans, LA 70116

Originally called Casas Curial or “Ecclesiastical House,” The Presbytère was started in 1791 and is a great example of formal colonial Spanish architecture. It was first designed to match the nearby Cabildo (Town Hall) and was built on the former site of the residence of the Capuchin monks and presbytery. It became a courthouse in 1834 and part of the Louisiana State Museum in 1911.

By Elisa Rolle - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Nicholas Girod House or “The Napolean House.” Source: Elisa Rolle, CC BY-SA 3.0

Napoleon House/Nicholas Girod House (1794)

500 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70130

The home was originally built by Nicholas Girod, the mayor of New Orleans. Girod later extended an invitation in 1821 to Napoleon to reside in the mansion as a refuge during his exile. Although Napoleon never made it to New Orleans, the name has been attached to the mansion ever since. An example of French-influenced architecture, it is a three-story brick stuccoed building with two iron balconies and a cupola. The Napoleon House restaurant serves traditional Creole dishes such as gumbo, jambalaya, and what some call the best muffaletta sandwiches in town.

Inside the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum. Source: Jeremy Thompson, Flickr. CC BY 2.0
Inside the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum. Source: Jeremy Thompson, Flickr. CC BY 2.0

New Orleans Pharmacy Museum (1823)

514 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70130

This old apothecary shop is now a museum with medicines, surgical instruments, journals, and an 1855 soda fountain. The museum also highlights the role of Louis J. Dufilho, Jr., America’s first licensed pharmacist and the owner of the apothecary. A newly renovated courtyard also contains a garden of herbs that were used for medicinal purposes. The courtyard also contains a traditional French Quarter garden for private parties and receptions.

Bartolome Bosque (1795)

617 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70130

This example of a “Creole Townhouse” dates to 1795. In this style of townhomes, you access the building by ascending stairs in the rear of the building. There were no inside stair halls. The monogram on the balcony is also an excellent example of Spanish Colonial ironworking. A unique feature is that the initials were installed in reverse, whether by error or design so that the initials can be read from the inside of the house but not by people outside.

Historic New Orleans Collection (Museum and Research Center)

533 Royal St,  New Orleans, LA 70130

Commemorating 300 years of New Orleans, the Historic New Orleans Collection houses multiple exhibits including two historic homes (from 1792 and 1890), a bookstore, and an art gallery. The THNOC includes 10 historic buildings that cover two campuses in The Quarter. Four exhibition spaces present permanent and rotating exhibitions showcasing New Orleans history and art.

Hermann-Grima House. Source: Reading Tom on Flickr, CC BY 2.0
Hermann-Grima House. Source: Reading Tom on Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Hermann-Grima House (1831)

820 St. Louis St, New Orleans, LA 70112

The Hermann-Grima House is a restored Federal-style mansion with a courtyard garden. The home is a prime example of the influence of American architecture on New Orleans homes after the Louisiana Purchase. The interior depicts the lifestyle of a wealthy Creole family from 1830 to 1860. You can tour the house, adjacent slave quarters, outbuildings, and courtyard. Over one-third of the objects in the home either belonged to the original Hermann or Grima families.

Brennan's Restaurant, a 1795-era Colonial building. Source: Ken Lund on Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0
Brennan’s Restaurant, a 1795-era Colonial building. Source: Ken Lund on Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

Brennan’s Restaurant (1795)

417 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70130

The pink stucco Brennan’s Restaurant is an example of an elaborate former bank and residence from the late Colonial period. Constructed in 1795, the two-story mansion first operated as the Banque de la Louisiane. It was later converted into a residence. A historic marker on the restaurant reads in part “Banque de la Louisiane.” The Creole-style restaurant has resided in the building since 1946.

Looking to explore outside of New Orleans? Check out the list of national and state parks in Louisiana.

Like it? Pin it. Oldest Homes in the French Quarter.

Plan Your Next Adventure

The 4-mile stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard, “The Strip,” is known as the capital of glitter and glam with its concentration of resort hotels and casinos, quick-hitch wedding chapels, and neon signs that light up the desert sky. While marble and earth tones are slowly beginning to replace the old-school neon and faux-crystal of yesteryear, Sin City is still an entertainment mecca where you can find shows, buffets, and entertainment 24 hours a day. What many tourists may not know is that just beyond Nevada’s city of lights is a vast landscape of unexpected treasures. Here’s a list of more than 7 natural attractions near Las Vegas, Nevada.

How Long? One way, it’s 456 miles. That’s excluding the side trip to Red Rock Canyon Scenic Loop, which is right outside of Las Vegas. That’s around 9 hours if you do not stop anywhere. Then you have to turn around and head back. It’s easy a three-day weekend road-trip from Las Vegas.

You can always break it up into segments. A straight trip from Las Vegas to the Great Basin National Park is a five-hour drive, heading north on Highway 93. It all depends on what all you wish to see.

If you’re planning for a full week, you can also jump over to the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest or down to the Mojave National Preserve.

Time of Year? Year-round, with one caveat. As you get into the higher elevations, especially near Echo Canyon State Park and Great Basin National Park, the trails or campgrounds may be closed due to seasonal weather. However, the closer you stick to Las Vegas, the easier it’ll be.


Map not working on your phone? Try this one.


Start in Las Vegas

This road trip assumes that you are starting from a downtown hotel in the Las Vegas Strip. Whether you are staying at the Mirage, The New York-New York Hotel & Casino, or the Luxor, take the Las Vegas Freeway ( I-15) South to Loop I-215. Loop I-215 will take you around to the Great Basin Highway, which turns into I-11. Take the Highway 93 exit to Boulder City Parkway and then follow the directions from there.

Lake Mead Recreation Area, Nevada
Lake Mead Recreation Area, Nevada

Lake Mead Natural Recreation Area

601 Nevada Way, Boulder City, NV 89005

Backing up more than 100 miles behind Hoover Dam, Lake Mead is the world’s largest man-made lake that encompasses 1.5 million acres. At 110 miles long, Lake Mead is a mecca for swimmers, divers, windsurfers, boaters, and tourists lining up to see the Hoover Dam. The park has nine wilderness areas to explore with trails, including the Historic Railroad Trail that overlooks the Boulder Basin area.

Hoover Dam, Nevada
Hoover Dam, Nevada

Hoover Dam

81 Hoover Dam Access Rd, Boulder City, NV 89005

Okay, so it’s manmade but it overlooks one of the natural wonders in the area. Less than an hour from downtown Las Vegas is the Lake Mead Recreation Area, Hoover Dam, and Lake Las Vegas. Considered one of the greatest engineering marvels of the 20th century, the 726-foot gravy-arch Hoover Dam harnesses the power of the Colorado River feeding into Lake Mead.

Start with the guided tour of the Hoover Dam tour, which includes a 1-hour guided tour of the powerplant and passageways within the Dam. From the observation deck, view a panoramic vista that includes Lake Mead and the Colorado River. Take one of the large elevators 500 feet down into the wall of Black Canyon and walk through a 250-foot long tunnel drilled out of the rock. From there, you can view the 650-foot long Nevada wing of the power plant along with its generators.

Boulder Beach

Boulder City, NV 89005

Located about five miles north of Hoover Dam, Boulder Beach is one of the more popular areas of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. It’s not a traditional beach with sand. It has rocks, lots of rocks, right before the water. It’s an oasis in the desert. However, it is beautiful in its own way with the starkness. A large campground area and places for boating and swimming are also available.

Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada
Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

Valley of Fire State Park

29450 Valley of Fire Hwy, Overton, NV 89040

As you head north, the Valley of Fire State Park borders the northern arm of Lake Mead. The Valley of Fire Highway offers stunning views of the red rocks. These red sandstone formations were formed from shifting red dunes over 150 million years ago. The bright red Aztec sandstone outcrops are settled in gray and tan limestone throughout the park that contains ancient, petrified trees and 2,000 years-old petroglyphs. Interpretive trails lead past these petroglyphs and up into the red rocks. The visitor center also offers exhibits on the ecology, prehistory, history, and geology of the park.

Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge, Nevada
Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge, Nevada

Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge

Mile Post 32 HWY 93, Alamo, NV 89001

As US-93 runs north between the lean hills of the Sheep Range to the west and the Delamar Mountains to the east, the desert landscape can look deserted. However, underground water feeds the Lower Pahranagat Lake that leads into a sprawling 5,380-acre wildlife refuge. Part of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge Complex, the refuge has an abundant of songbirds, wildlife, and hiking trails. Free camping can also be found at the Upper Lake part of the refuge. The Upper Lake Trail is a three-mile loop that goes around the Upper Lake and eventually connects with the Waterway Trail. A parking lot is available near the Upper Lake Trail.

You can also find gas, restaurants, and groceries in Alamo, Nevada, which is located three miles north of the refuge.

View from Rainbow Canyon Scenic Drive, Nevada
View from Rainbow Canyon Scenic Drive, Nevada

Rainbow Canyon Scenic Drive

Rainbow Canyon, Nevada 89008

South of Caliente, Nevada, the Rainbow Canyon Scenic Drive is a 21-mile side trip down State Highway 317 that takes you to Rainbow Canyon. Stained by minerals into a kaleidoscope of color, Rainbow Canyon is surrounded by the gentle Meadow Valley Wash. The Canyon lies between the Clover Mountains to the east and the Delamar Mountains to the west, lying 3,000 feet below the mountain peaks. The drive follows the Meadow Valley Wash, which collects just enough water for cottonwood trees to grow along its banks. Highway 317 also connects you to archeological sites such as the Kershaw-Ryan State Park.  Not too far from Rainbow Canyon, you can also visit the Elkin Schoolhouse State Historic Site. The road is subject to washouts so check road conditions.

Cathedral Gorge State Park, Nevada
Cathedral Gorge State Park, Nevada

Cathedral Gorge State Park

111, Cathedral Gorge State Park Road, Panaca, NV 89042

As you continue along Meadow Valley Wash, you’ll enter Cathedral Gorge State Park. The park is a 2,000-acre park that offers a visitor’s center, walking trails, camping, and a trailhead up to Eagle Point. Cathedral Gorge is spiked with buttes and columns that rise above 4,800 feet in elevation. Miller’s Point Overlook, a mile north of the park’s entrance, is also a great place to take in the broad views of the Cathedral Gorge. Miller’s Point also has a one-mile trail that connects the overlook to the picnic area within the park.

Storm approaching Cathedral Gorge State Park. Source: Frank Kovalcheck on Flickr
Storm approaching Cathedral Gorge State Park. Source: Frank Kovalcheck on Flickr

Echo Canyon State Park

State Routes 322, Pioche, NV 89043

Echo Canyon State Park has a 65-acre reservoir that abuts steep rock walls, a perfect setup for echoes. Golden eagles soar through Eagle Valley and campers and hikers are known to enjoy the variety of songbirds, hawks, eagles and other birds that soar throughout the region. Hike the Ash Country trail, a 2.5-mile trail that climbs 300 feet up to the rim of the valley. The hike then descends into the Ash Canyon with its steep-sided walls and dramatic views. Camping is also available onsite, with flush toilets, an RV hook-up station, and drinking water at each site.

View of Wheeler Peak at the Great Basin National Park. Source: National Park Service
View of Wheeler Peak at the Great Basin National Park. Source: National Park Service

Great Basin National Park

National Park, 100 Great Basin, Baker, NV 89311

Nevada’s only national park, the Great Basin National Park includes everything from the majestic crown of Wheeler Peak and Mount Washington to the caves and some of the world’s oldest trees. Drive the park’s 12-mile Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive through forests of spruce and limber pine on a 3,400-foot climb from the visitor center. This drive will take you to the overlook of the glacier, centuries-old trees, and mountain caves.

Wheeler Peak on the way up the Summit Trail; parts of the remaining part of the glacier can be seen from here. Source: National Park Service
Wheeler Peak on the way up the Summit Trail; parts of the remaining part of the glacier can be seen from here. Source: National Park Service

Wheeler Peak Glacier

Nevada’s only alpine glacier sits at the base of Wheeler Peak, measuring 300 feet long and 400 feet wide. Alpine glaciers are the types that sculpt mountain ranges, such as the one at the South Snake Range. You can view the glacier from the Wheeler Peak Overlook on the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive or take the Bristlecone/Glacier Trail 4.6 miles roundtrip to the foot of the glacier. At the end of the scenic drive, the Snake Range includes twisted pines in the rock-strewn soil that are estimated to be up to 3,000 years old.

Note that due to its high elevation, Wheeler Peak Campground closes for the season at the end of September.

Pools found within the Lehman Caves. Source: National Park Service
Pools found within the Lehman Caves. Source: National Park Service

Lehman Caves

5500 NV-488, Baker, NV 89311

One of the 40 known caves in the Great Basin National Park, Lehman Caves are the only caves open to the public. View four distinctive groups of caves, including the Lehman Hill Caves, Baker Creek Caves, Snake Creek Caves, and Alpine Caves. Most of these caves are at high elevation, such as the Alpine Caves or the highest solution cave in the park, the High Pit at 11, 200 ft. The bottom of the High Pit is impacted by snow. The deepest cave in the park at 480 feet is the Long Cold Cave, which is also at an elevation of about 10,000 feet.

After visiting the Great Basin National Park, turn around and head back to Las Vegas. Unfortunately, there isn’t really a circular loop. However, you’ll have the opportunity to see many of the early attractions from a different viewpoint.

Once you finish the four- to five-hour route back to Las Vegas, you can either immediately head west or spend the night and start fresh in the morning.


Red Rock Canyon Scenic Drive

Visitor Center, 1000 Scenic Loop Dr, Las Vegas, NV 89161

Located just 17-miles west of the Las Vegas strip is the Red Rock Canyon Scenic Drive, a 13-mile path that takes you through the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. The horseshoe-shaped drive takes you past spectacular sandstone cliffs. Turnouts along the way lead to stunning vistas and 26 numbered hikes and trails that can be found on a downloadable map. Take a short hike to Lost Creek or Pine Creek Canyon or longer ones such as the White Rock Mountain Loop or Grand Circle Loop. To find a list of hiking trails, visit the Red Rock Canyon Visitor’s Center or download the information online. If rock climbing is more your speed, you’ll find plenty of activities with the great boulders and sheer rock faces.

Happy Traveling!

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In the heart of the Texas Panhandle lies the second largest canyon in the country. Palo Duro Canyon’s red rocks, beautiful caverns, and miles of hiking trails make the area a must-see. Glimpses of the Old West are still visible in the Canyon as well as the small towns surrounding the park. At more than 25,000 acres, the park has plenty of room for camping, hiking, picnicking, mountain biking, and horse trails. North of the Canyon is Route I-40, part of the historic Route 66 that traveled through Amarillo, Texas. Here’s a Texas-sized road trip that will take you through the Texas Panhandle’s most beautiful country.

How long? 266 miles or 5 hours with no stops. For a day trip, it’s a quick and easy ride. Camp out overnight and see the wall of stars in Palo Duro Canyon and make it a two-day journey. If you add side trips, it’s an additional hour up to the Lake Meredith or the Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument.

Time of Year? Year-round, with one caveat. The summer months host the heaviest crowds when the TEXAS musical is in full swing at the park. However, the Panhandle gets winter weather much like Southern Colorado, so it can get more snow and ice than most of Texas. Also, during the rainy seasons, there are plenty of low-water crossings with posted flood warnings. Check the road conditions before you leave. Otherwise, have fun!


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Palo Duro Canyon and Highway 207 Itinerary

Start in Amarillo

Source: Tony Hisgett on Flickr, CC by 2.0
Amarillo’s Route 66 District. Source: Tony Hisgett on Flickr, CC by 2.0

Historic Route 66 District

U.S. Route 66 – Sixth Street Historic District, Amarillo, TX 79106

Starting in Amarillo’s Historic Route 66 District, you’ll find everything from western heritage sites to a flourishing art scene. Mentioned in Nat King Cole’s song Route 66, Amarillo was a featured stop between Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and Gallup, New Mexico. Here you’ll find 13 blocks of historical buildings, antique stores, and quirky art galleries. This 1-mile strip also has the city’s most intact collection of commercial buildings associated with the highway. Commercial buildings with Spanish Revival, Art Moderne, and Art Deco, architecture styles popular during the heyday of Route 66. Running along an east-west axis, it can be found between Georgia and Forest Avenues.  Here are some of the historical buildings that can be seen in the district.

The Natatorium (The Nat Ballroom)

Located at 604 South Georgia, The Natatorium (“The Nat”)  was built in 1922 as an indoor swimming pool in a Gothic Revival style. It was converted into a ballroom in 1926 and redesigned in an Art Deco style. The north side of the building is designed to look like an ocean-faring vessel replete with lifeboat-like elements near the roofline. The Nat closed its doors in the 1960s, but the adjoining Alamo Bar, built in 1935, is still open. A tunnel connects the Alamo Bar to the Nat.

Bussey Buildings

Located at 2713-2727 SW 6th, the Bussey Buildings were the first major commercial buildings in the district. Built in the late 1920s, these commercial buildings have large glass display windows and dark brick with limestone detailing. The San Jacinto Beauty School, which received Texas’ first beauty license, occupied one of the stores from 1941 to 1964.

Cazzell Buildings

Built in 1918, the one-story brick building at 2806 SW 6th street opened as a general store and a post office. The building was sold in 1922, and the owner (W.E. Cazzell) built a new two-story building across the street at 2801 SW 6th.

Borden’s Heap-O-Cream

A one-story frame building with Art Moderne detailing, Borden’s Heap-O-Cream can be found at 3120 SW 6th. The building’s architectural details include oval plate glass windows, 3-lite wood double doors and a rounded metal awning on front and sides.

Adkinson-Baker Tire Company

The Adkinson-Baker Tire Company, located at 3200 SW 6th, was built in 1939. The station was originally the Adkinson-Baker Tire Co. #2 and sold Texaco gas. It was sold in 1945. The station is one of the three stations in the district that has remained structurally unchanged since it opened.

Carolina Building

The Caroline Building at 3313-23 SW 6th Avenue, built in 1926, is an example of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture. Divided by brick piers into eight, glass storefronts, the building is one of the earliest strip commercial buildings in Amarillo.

Dutch Mill Service Station and Café

In operation since 1932, The Dutch Mill Service Station and Café can be found at 3401 SW 6th.

Taylor’s Texaco Station

Built in 1937, Taylor’s Texaco Station is located at 3512 SW 6th. Clad in white porcelain, this one-story gas station has a projecting canopy over the pump island. The structure is one of the first standardized gas station designs. Today, it houses a bar and restaurant.

Martin’s Phillips 66 Station

Built in the early 1930s, Martin’s Phillips 66 Station at 3821 SW 6th operated as Martin’s Phillips 66 station until the 1990s.  The current facility was built in 1963, with modernistic features such as angled service bay entrances, triangular canopy, and canted plate glass walls.

Hubbell Duplex

Located at 3912 SW 6th, the Hubbell Duplex features typical Craftsman details such as battered brick piers supporting the twin entry porticoes. The dark brown brick duplex is practically the same since its construction.

San Jacinto Fire Station

Built in 1926, the San Jacinto Fire Station is located at 610 South Georgia. The fire station was built in Mission Revival style with a red tile roof and battered walls. The station was closed in 1976 and is the only surviving pre-World War II fire station in the city.

The Cowboy Motel Historic Sign on Route 66 in Amarillo
The Cowboy Motel Historic Sign on Route 66 in Amarillo

Cowboy Motel

Neon signs such as the one at the Cowboy Motel and The Big Texan Steakhouse were once common along Route 66. Standing for decades, the Cowboy motel is still in business in Amarillo. It’s visible as you’re coming into Amarillo along old Rte. 66/business road 40. Its address is 3619 E Amarillo Blvd, Amarillo, TX 79107.

While not part of Historic 66, you can also view other attractions in Amarillo such as the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum (2601 I-40 E., Amarillo, TX 79104) or the Downtown Historic District near Polk St. The Cultural District, which includes the Sunset Center Galleries, the Amarillo College Washington Campus, and the Amarillo Museum of Public Art, is also along Polk Street.

Cadillac Ranch
Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

13651 I-40 Frontage Rd, Amarillo, TX 79124

Established in 1974, the Cadillac Ranch sits along Route 66 as you head toward Palo Duro Canyon. Made up of ten Cadillac cars half-submerged in the Texas earth, the cars are covered in graffiti. Tourists often stop by to take photos or bring their own can of graffiti. This exhibit is said to represent America’s hope and dreams, art and commerce, materialism and spiritualism, folly and fame. People take different types of photos, from selfies to people “holding up the cars” or playing around the cars. Just make sure to stand downwind of people spraying the cars. Also, don’t be a litterbug and take your cans to the dumpster down at the end of the road.

Wagon wheel at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum
Wagon wheel at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum

Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum

2401 4th Ave, Canyon, TX 79015

Located on the West Texas A&M campus, the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum features exhibits on the local history, oil industry, paleontology, and archeology; geology and more. Texas’ largest history museum, you can cover 26,000 square miles on foot in a day. View a life-sized pioneer town, historic windmills, and a huge 1920s cable-tool drilling rig. A large art collection featuring Southwestern Art has over 8,000 art objects. The popular People of the Plains exhibit starts by exploring the area’s first inhabitants from 14,000 years ago and how the different American Indian cultures have adapted and lived in the area throughout the countless centuries. From the mud homes of Antelope Creek to the modern fashion’s of today, the exhibit is an immerse educational experience.

Buffalo Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Buffalo Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Buffalo Lake National Wildlife Refuge

FM 168, Canyon, TX 79015

Located southwest of the Canyon, the 7,664-acre Buffalo Lake National Wildlife Refuge features short grass prairie, marshes, woodlands, and water-carved canyon walls. The 175 acres of shortgrass prairie has been designed a national natural landmark. Over 11 miles of bird trails include Cottonwood Canyon, where you can see migratory and resident birds resting and feeding. Feeling more adventurous? The Cottonwood Hiking Trail is a 1.25-mile trail that goes along the old shoreline of Buffalo Lake with cottonwood and elm trees. By driving slowly through the refuge’s 11-mile auto tour loop, you can also see a variety of wildlife. The scenic overlook of the refuge offers an excellent opportunity to capture images of wildlife and scenery.

Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Source: Texas Parks and Wildlife
Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Photo courtesy Texas Parks and Wildlife Department © 2018

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

11450 Park Road 5, Canyon, TX 79015

With its own set of spectacular red rock cliffs, Palo Duro Canyon has more than approximately 50 miles of marked trails, for hiking and horseback riding. The canyon itself is 120 miles long, 20 miles wide, and up to 800 feet deep. The park contains 29,182 acres of the northern-most part of the Canyon. At the rim, the Canyon’s elevation is 3,500 feet above sea level. You can explore about 250 million years of geological history in the canyon walls. The visitor’s center at the El Coronado Lodge is perched on the rim of the canyon and has spectacular panoramic views.

The stars at night are big and bright... at Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Source: Texas Parks and Wildlife
The stars at night are big and bright… at Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Photo courtesy Texas Parks and Wildlife Department © 2018

If you camp out or take an evening trip out into the canyon, the night sky is truly magnificent. The trails can be hard to follow at night, however, so take proper lighting and gear. Actually, just use common sense. It gets very dark, very quickly. Let the starry landscape be your entertainment. One more bit of advice. The elevation at the park is higher than most of Texas and it gets very cool when the sun goes down. Layer your clothing and slide a sleeping pad underneath your sleeping bag to help prevent the cold ground from stealing your body heat during the night. You don’t need a huge pad, but one inflated with air or made with a closed-cell foam is ideal.

Palo Duro Canyon Observation Point

Palo Duro Canyon observation point, Canyon, TX 79015
(On State Hwy Park Rd S heading to Trading Post & Amphitheater)

Palo Duro Canyon Trading Post

11450 Park Road 5, Canyon, TX 79015

Hungry? Stop at the Palo Duro Trading Post, where you can eat some truly great hamburgers and get snacks. If you are planning on camping at the Canyon, you can also purchase camping supplies, ice, and firewood.

TEXAS Musical Drama

11450 Park Road 5, Canyon, TX 79015

During the summer months, the musical Texas is performed in the park’s amphitheater Tuesday through Sunday. TEXAS is a family-friendly show with singing, dancing, fireworks, and Texas humor (which gets us in trouble more often than not). The internationally-known outdoor drama can be found at 1514 5th Ave, Canyon, TX 79015.

Caprock Canyons State Park. Courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife
Caprock Canyons State Park. Photo courtesy Texas Parks and Wildlife Department © 2018

Caprock Canyons State Park

850 Caprock Canyon Park Road, Quitaque, TX 79255

While Palo Duro Canyon is the most famous of the area’s canyons, Caprock Canyons State Park is known as the park where the bison roam. Bison roam over 10,0000 acres in the park; it is one of the five herds that helped to save the animal from extinction. Explore 90 miles of trails and go to Lake Theo for swimming, boating and fishing activities. The park also offers a scenic drive in addition to geocache, biking, and camping activities. The Caprock Canyon’s are the state’s third-largest park at 15,314 acres in size.

After exploring Caprock Canyons, head west back to Silverton. Take TX-207 north to Claude, TX. The scenic drive is worth the trip.

Barn at the Goodnight Historical Center. Source: Jeffrey Beall, Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0.
Barn at the Goodnight Historical Center. Source: Jeffrey Beall, Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0.

Armstrong County Museum

120 Trice St, Claude, TX 79019-3908

In the small town of Claude, explore the rich history of Armstrong County and its ties to cowboy culture and the Old West. The museum district is composed of the Gem Theatre, Goodnight Historical Center, and the Museum itself. The Goodnight Ranch, known as Castle on the Prairie and Goodnight Buffalo Ranch, is no longer a working ranch but is known for its spectacular views of the area and the nearby bison herd. The friendship between Charles Goodnight and Quanah Parker is commemorated by a Quanah Parker Trail marker. You can also explore additional small towns in the area with strong ties to the time period.

After visiting the Armstrong County Museum and Charles Goodnight Historical Center, head west back to your starting point in Amarillo. If you still have time, or want to further explore the Panhandle of Texas, here are a couple of side trips.

Side Trips

These two national landmarks are located only an hour north of Palo Duro Canyon.

Lake Meredith National Recreation Area

419 E Broadway St, Fritch, TX 79036

Located 30-miles north of Amarillo, Lake Meredith is a 10,000-acre artificial reservoir/lake that occupies many of the hidden coves in the canyon area. Created by the Sanford Dam on the Canadian River, the area has the South Turkey Trail, an easy to moderate hike that is 16 miles long; the Mullinaw Trail, 4.3 miles of moderate trail, and the Harbor Bay Trail, up to 8-miles long moderate to hard trail. Lake Meredith itself has shrunk gradually due to drought conditions and water use in the area. Its water levels vary throughout the year. However, the landscape and hiking trails are still excellent places to explore the fauna and flora of the Panhandle.

Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument

Cassjohnson road, Fritch, TX 79036

Located between Amarillo and Fritch, Texas, the Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument is a place with a 13,000+ year history. People traveled to the red bluffs above the Canadian River for flint, which was the best stone for their tools. The Alibates Visitor Center is the best starting point for ranger-led hikes and programs; it also has hands-on exhibits for all ages. Reservations for hiking tours are preferred. The moderate hike to the trailhead is 1 mile but has an elevation gain of 170 feet. View petroglyphs, or rock carvings, believed to have been made by the Antelope Creek people.

Looking for more Texas road trips?

Southwestern — 12+ Sites to Discover in Big Bend National Park Country

Central — 12+ Places to Stop and Explore in Hill Country

Eastern — From Gulf Coast to East Texas Piney Woods

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