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Photo courtesy of Goldee's BBQ

Texans don't need much of a reason to hit the open road. Our state is brimming with natural beauty and charming small towns, but nothing motivates us to fill up the tank like a bonanza of regional foods.

There are renowned Texas flavors to be found throughout the entire state, from small towns like Round Top to the far west end in El Paso. And with meals ranging from Tex-Mex and barbecue to Frito Pie and kolaches, the Lone Star State is known for some of the most iconic foods in America.

When you hit the open road to explore (and taste) it all, know that a Hilton Hotel is nearby for a good night's rest. Whether you're traveling with family, friends, or as a couple, the right room is waiting with a warm welcome.

Hope you're hungry, because here is but a small slice of some of the best.

Barbecue
Goldee's BBQ, Fort Worth
Few barbecue joints in Texas can make a name without serving the holy trinity of brisket, sausage, and ribs. Still, the young chefs and pitmasters at this Fort Worth stop one-up the competition with unexpected sides like chicken rice and collard greens and crowd-pleasers like fish and chips.

Chicken Fried Steak
Babe's Chicken Dinner House, Carrollton
All Texans take their chicken fried steak with some degree of seriousness. We dare say this eatery — which originated in Carrollton and has locations all over North Texas — takes it the most seriously of all, with plenty of family-style sides to round out the table.

Tacos
La Cocina, McAllen
Former oil worker Evin Garcia combines tradition and innovation at this McAllen haunt. Enjoy everything from birria tacos dipped in a luscious consommé to an octopus version served with traditional al pastor fixings like onion, cilantro, and grilled pineapple.

Elotes
Elotes Fanny, Austin + North Texas
With locations in Austin, Fort Worth, and Garland, this snack shop mini-chain knows everything about corn. Get it by the cob or in a cup, and make sure to douse it in the fiery homemade Atomic Salsa.

Fried Chicken
Dolli's Diner, Nacogdoches
This diner does just about everything right, but the crowning jewel of the menu is undoubtedly the chicken fried chicken. It's served with mashed potatoes, gravy, and fresh veggies for color and is best enjoyed with funnel cake fries for dessert.

Frito Pie
RD's Burger, Cibolo
This casual stop does its namesake dish with aplomb, but found pure magic in its Frito Pie. It's served with no muss or fuss and occasionally on the insanely delicious burger.

Kolaches
Slovacek’s, West
When it comes to kolaches, any bakery in West will serve the real deal. Relative newcomer Slovacek's gets the vote for its dozens of fruit flavors and creative klobasnek (the meaty cousin of kolaches) filled with boudin, pepperoni, or kraut.

Pies
Royer's Round Top Cafe, Round Top
No trip to Round Top's famous antique fair is complete without a stop at this darling cafe. "Pie Man" Bud Royer makes every visit sweet with pies like buttermilk, pecan, and the multi-fruit Troy's Junk Berry.

Queso
L & J Cafe, El Paso
This El Paso tradition is by a graveyard, sure, but don't let that deter you from enjoying its queso. The miraculous concoction made with roasted green chile, tomatoes, and onions is served with just-fried tostadas.

Tamales
Leal's Tamale Factory, Lubbock
A Lubbock classic, this mainstay doesn't go for newfangled tamale flavors like sweet potato. Order pork, chicken, or cheese and rediscover the fundamentals.

Viet-Cajun crawfish boils
Crawfish & Noodles, Houston
Who knows what James Beard-nominated chef Trong Nguyen puts in his secret sauce. What we do know is that it's one of the most intensely flavorful experiences in all of Houston.

Texas knows no bounds when it comes to to where you can go (and eat). No matter where your next foodie adventure takes you, a Hilton hotel is waiting for you.

With over 550 Hilton hotels spanning across the state of Texas, the possibilities to earn more while exploring the Lone Star State are endless.

Rendering courtesy of Omni

You can now book your getaway at the new $520 million Omni PGA Frisco Resort

Hole in One

Get your clubs ready: The $520 million new Omni PGA Frisco Resort is now accepting reservations for May 2023 and beyond.

This eagerly anticipated new hotel isn't just for golfers though — it's a complete getaway destination with its own entertainment district, full-service spa and salon, four swimming pools, 500 guest rooms and suites, 10 private ranch houses, and 13 unique dining options.

Here's everything that guests can expect:

Swing time
The resort boasts two 18-hole championship golf courses, collectively known as Fields Ranch. Fields Ranch East was designed by Gil Hanse, and Fields Ranch West by Beau Welling.

Registered guests can book tee times 120 days in advance of their stay to play Fields Ranch, which will be home to 26 major championships starting in May and continuing through 2034. Local residents will also be able to book in late April.

Part of the excitement around PGA Frisco is that you don’t have to be a resort guest to enjoy all the happenings. Anyone can take advantage of The Swing, a lighted 10-hole, par-3 short course; The Dance Floor, a two-acre putting course and entertainment area; the first Lounge by Topgolf; PGA Coaching Center for a high-tech, data-driven club-fitting and instruction experience; Fields Ranch Practice Facility; and a variety of retail and dining concepts throughout the mixed-use development.

Oasis of wellness
Omni’s signature full-service salon and spa, Mokara Spa, boasts 20 private treatment rooms.

Guests can also refuel at Green Cactus Cafe, relax at the spa pool with private cabanas, and recharge at the fitness center and walking trails.

Mouthwatering meals
From grab-and-go to a signature steakhouse, the eatery options at PGA Frisco are sure to please any palate.

Unwind after a day of golf with classic American fare at Ryder Cup Grille or socialize with friends and colleagues over a round of happy hour drinks at the indoor-outdoor Ice House.

Get pumped for the day with Toast & Tee Coffee Collective, choose from an array of in-room and private dining experiences, or indulge in a sweet treat at Margaret's Cones & Cups.

Rest your head
The resort is debuting 500 luxurious guest rooms and suites, with rates starting at $403 per night.

Those seeking a truly luxurious retreat can book one of the 10 four-bedroom private Ranch Houses, each with panoramic golf course views, upgraded amenities, and a 24/7 Experience Concierge for an added VIP service experience.

“Omni PGA Frisco Resort is an ambitious new resort concept for the state of Texas and in one of the nation’s fastest growing cities,” says Jeff Smith, vice president and managing director for Omni PGA Frisco Resort. “The sprawling complex will be a leading destination for entertainment, dining, shopping, wellness, and golf-driven experiences that will be unparalleled for those who are advanced players, new to the game, and everything in between.”

To celebrate the launch of room bookings, guests who book between now and March 31, 2023, for stays from May 2-December 31, 2023, can enjoy up to a $200 resort credit through the Endless Experiences package.

To book and learn more about the new Omni PGA Frisco Resort, visit OmniPGAFriscoResort.com or connect on Facebook and Instagram.


Omni PGA Frisco Resort

Rendering courtesy of Omni

The resort has two 18-hole championship golf courses.

Photo courtesy of Visit Plano

Ready, set, go for all the fun spring things to do in Plano

Let Fun Bloom

Whether you're seeking spring break inspiration or are just ready to get out and enjoy the beautiful Texas weather, you don't have to travel far.

Plano is home to a host of adventures and activities for all ages, from horseback riding to crayon-making, football bowling to ziplines, and even a major festival celebrating all things Texas.

Here what you can get into this spring in Plano:

Let the games begin
You've heard of pickleball, but have you tried fowling? Fowling is the original football bowling pin game, where you throw a football at 10 bowling pins until someone knocks them all down. Of course, there are things such as Fair Ups, Overtime, Sudden Death, and more to make it even more interesting, but fowling is a simple and fun game for anyone to play.

And you can do just that at the recently opened Fowling Warehouse DFW, which combines reserved lanes with a killer menu of apps, burgers, flatbreads and pizzas, and even salads, along with a full-service bar. Find it at 1714 14th St., suite 300.

If you're more into techy fun, Farm + Feed merges a chef-driven restaurant and full bar with all the latest gaming technology, plus old-school board games. Rent booths for a group and try your skills at Xbox, PS5, Switch, and PC titles, or pay $5 for unlimited board games at the bar.

Farm + Feed occupies the former Gordon Biersch brewpub space at 7401 Lone Star Dr.

Nature now
While exploring the 800-acre Oak Point Park & Nature Preserve, swing into Go Ape!, which offers a canopy tour, five individual rope ladder sections, and 40 obstacles — all up to 28 feet in the air. There's even a 423-foot-long zipline that crosses Rowlett Creek.

Be adventurous a little closer to the ground at Southfork Ranch — yes, that famous Southfork Ranch. Saddle up and head out for a trail ride led by a professional wrangler, or sign up for horseback riding lessons to learn the finer points of equine etiquette.

A party as big as Texas
Come celebrate the food, music and culture of our great state at Texas Forever Fest, sponsored by H-E-B and organized by Plano Arts & Events. The free and family-friendly party is happening March 25 from 11 am-6 pm in Downtown Plano’s Haggard Park at 901 E. 15th St.

Expect live music, entertainment, activities, food, drinks, and shopping all influenced by Texas’ diverse culture and spirit.

Bands will play Texas country and Americana music all day, with headliner Casey Donahew taking the Main Stage at 5 pm (the full lineup will be announced soon).

Line-dancing lessons, mechanical bull rides, calf-roping, quick-shoot cowboys and a trick roper will offer entertainment for all ages. Attendees can burn off excess energy in the free H-E-B Zone for all ages and the free Wild West Corral for kids. Texas natives and those who just got here as fast as they could can learn more about our state’s history and culture in the heritage area.

Fletcher’s Corny Dogs, Plano’s own Ye Ole Butcher Shop, food trucks, and other vendors will offer festival-food favorites. The Spirits of Texas Tasting hosted by the friendly folks at Texas Whiskey Festival will allow guests to sample 10-plus Texas whiskeys with the advanced purchase of a ticket here. Beer will be sold at a cash bar, and nonalcoholic drinks will also be available throughout the fest.

For the kiddos
Color your world at the Crayola Experience inside The Shops at Willow Bend, where kids can name and wrap their own crayons, star in their own coloring page, and embark on a 4-D coloring adventure.

Ready to refuel
Take your pick from more than a thousand restaurants spanning all cuisine types, reflecting Plano's diverse culture. A must-visit is Legacy Hall, the dining mecca that brings everything from brisket to wine under one roof.

Make it a weekend
If you're hitting up The Shops at Legacy or Legacy West, then the Marriott at Legacy Town Center is an excellent nearby choice. Surrounded by scenic parks and water features, the luxurious hotel offers free guest self-parking Fridays and Saturdays.

Family at Texas Forever Fest

Photo courtesy of Visit Plano

Mark your calendar for March 25.

For slightly funkier digs, check into the NYLO Plano Hotel. Its industrial-chic decor and loft-style rooms are minutes from the Dallas North Tollway and Sam Rayburn Tollway. A free shuttle goes anywhere within five miles, including Dr Pepper Ballpark, Comerica Center, and Ford Center at the Star.

Side note: The hotels featured here are just a sampling and are not "preferred" hotels. See all your Plano accommodation options here.

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For a complete guide to Plano, head to www.visitplano.com.

Photo courtesy of Carter Creek Winery Resort

First-of-its-kind Hill Country resort blends acclaimed Texas winery, brewery, and spa

Texas getaways

When he’s a beer-loving outdoor enthusiast and she’s a wine-loving spa junkie, agreeing on plans for a quick Hill Country getaway can be tricky. My husband likes to spend the day climbing hills in state parks; I’d rather climb on and off a wine tour bus. He hunts down hoppy craft beer in town; I search for lavender bath products.

So a new(ish) Hill Country resort with our vacation trifecta - winery, brewery, and spa - beckoned to us for a weekend away. Carter Creek Winery, Resort & Spa stands high on a hill overlooking U.S. Hwy. 290, just off a swerve-fast-or-you’ll-miss-it exit outside Johnson City.

Thirty miles east of Fredericksburg, it’s along a stretch of the famous “Texas wine road” between Johnson City and Stonewall that’s become an attractive destination for a slightly more laid-back oenophile experience. (Locals are quick to make Napa-Sonoma comparisons.)

Carter Creek Family Winery has been bottling wines in the area since 2016, and they come with fine Texas pedigree: Head winemaker is Jon McPherson, son of Texas wine industry pioneer "Doc" McPherson and brother of renowned winemaker Kim McPherson. Jon McPherson has teamed up with winemaker Javier Flores to turn out award-winning Carter Creek wines for several years.

In December 2019, owners Jim and Dawn Carter opened Carter Creek Winery Resort in Johnson City as a sister property to their South Coast Winery Resort & Spa in Temecula, California. Knowing how much Texans like their beer, they say, they threw in a microbrewery, too. The Hill Country resort debuted with a winery and two tasting rooms, onsite brewery, restaurant, seasonal smokehouse, outdoor events center, and 78 luxe private villas.

Then COVID-19 hit weeks later and shut it all down.

As restrictions loosened and tourists came back to the area, the owners continued with their plans, finally adding a long-anticipated spa in summer 2022.

Carter Creek now has the only spa in the eastern section of the Hill Country. It’s also the only winery resort with a brewery in the area.

Rooms and brews
After a longer-than-usual drive from Fort Worth to Johnson City (who knew Marble Falls and Burnet had rush-hour traffic?), we checked into villa #2704, our own private palace: separate living room and bedroom, two 55-inch flat screen TVs and an electric fireplace, bathroom with double vanity, and porch with seating area.

We couldn’t help but compare this $209-per-night Hill Country castle to more high-profile Texas hotel-resorts - with tiny rooms - that cost double or triple as much. We were also thankful our quiet villa was one of the farthest back from the highway.

A (recommended) dinner reservation at the resort's Old 290 Brewery Restaurant awaited, just a short walk down a well-lit path across the property. “Old 290” refers to the road that runs along the resort - the actual old 290 road to Fredericksburg from Johnson City.

Here, head brewmeister Justin Zimmerman crafts award-winning small-batch light ales, medium-bodied pale ales, and stouts. Folks were buzzing about his Hell Raiser Bourbon Brown, aged for two months in nearby Garrison Brothers Bourbon Barrels, which won a coveted gold medal in the Fredericksburg Craft Beer Festival last summer. His El Bigote Mexican Lager took home a bronze.

The brewery’s adjacent Hill Country-fine dining restaurant serves the steaks, burgers, and CFS Texas diners demand, with some cheffy twists. The Old 290 Bison Burger, for instance, is topped with brie cheese, tomato bacon jam, horseradish pickles, and crispy onions on a pretzel bun. At a breakfast buffet, “Chef Trey” cooked eggs to order for every guest.

Over housemade garlic knots with tomato garlic compound butter, my husband sampled a flight of Old 290 beers - the IPA earned a rave from the self-proclaimed "hophead" - and I tried Carter Creek wine for the first time. (Tip: Take advantage of the free samples offered before committing to a glass.)

Without evening plans, we’d considered driving 30 miles to legendary Luckenbach to enjoy some live music. No need. A local musician entertained on the restaurant’s stage for hours. Outside, guests gathered around fire pits on the patio and played cornhole on the lush lawn that doubles as a wedding venue with beautiful vistas.

Spa with panache
The next morning, I arrived far too early for my facial and had the intimate spa all to myself. The 1,500-square-foot Carter Creek Spa might be small, but it’s got a mighty name behind it. Spa director Gülçin Johnson is a well-respected aesthetician with an eponymous skincare line called Gülçin Johnson Botanicals carried at top spas across the country.

Carter Creek Spa offers a variety of massages, body treatments, facials, and foot reflexology treatments for individuals or couples. A dry sauna, outdoor pool, and hot tub are just steps away. While priority is given to resort patrons, the spa welcomes day guests for appointments, too.

My refreshing, 50-minute Carter Creek Classic Facial - featuring some Eminence Organic products I've long loved - ended with a glass of crisp Muscat Canelli wine in the relaxation area. (So what if it was not quite 11 am?)

Wine time
An afternoon wine tasting revealed that, unlike other Hill Country wineries with lists as long as a Cheesecake Factory menu, Carter Creek zeroes in on a handful and does them well - currently, four whites, four reds, a rose, a sparkling, and two dessert wines.

The winemakers lean into European varietals, producing crisp whites such the popular Gloriosa ($24), a not-too-sweet blend of Gewurztraminer, Riesling, and Muscat Canelli; and complex reds, such as the top-selling Maverick ($39), a Rhone-style blend of Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault, and Viognier.

Carter Creek also makes a Sparkling Peach ($35) that’s such a sensation, they have trouble keeping it in stock. It also has a fun backstory: When the Carters asked Jon McPherson - a master winemaker with special expertise in sparkling wines - to create a peach sparkler as a nod to the Hill Country, it took some arm-twisting. He wasn’t going to make some cloying hot-tub sipper, he told them; he would make it his way, as a “serious” wine.

A blend of Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Muscat Canelli, and Pinot Noir results in a lightly sweet, refreshingly crisp and only slightly “peachy” bubbly. It won Double Gold at the 2022 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, in fact.

We couldn’t resist purchasing a bottle, along with three other favorites. (Looking back, we should have joined the wine club on the spot and saved 25 percent; there was no pressure to do so.)

Outdoors and out-of-this-world
After spa-ing and sipping, it was time for an outdoor adventure together. Pedernales Falls State Park was just a picturesque, 30-minute drive away. We laced up our hiking boots and drove down hilly backroads to the park, where my husband’s handy Texas State Parks Pass got us in free.

On this sunny afternoon, a lot of other people had the same idea. We hiked out to the famous river rocks - mostly dry after a season with little rain. To break from the crowds, we sat for a spell in the bird blind and viewed bright red cardinals a chirpy finches darting around the trees.

At dusk, we drove up to the park’s star theater for a stargazing session led by a state park ranger. While we bundled up in a blanket and gazed up at the stars, “Ranger Steve” laser-pointed to constellations and recounted their humorous and harrowing origin stories.

Then, he paused and told us to look up at a blinking light streaking overhead. We waved hello to the International Space Station as it cruised by for four minutes, then disappeared among the million stars in the night sky.

We left the Hill Country, this time, having sampled a bit of everything we were craving - wine, beer, pampering, and nature.

Everything, that is, except bluebonnets. Now, to plan that spring wildflower excursion.

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Carter Creek Winery, Resort & Spa, 4064 W. U.S. Highway 290, Johnson City. Rates start at $209, plus $19 per-night resort fees. Discounts available for AAA, AARP, and more. Family-friendly and pet-friendly. Check website for days and hours at tasting room, restaurant, and spa.

Carter Creek Winery, Resort & Spa

Photo courtesy of Carter Creek Winery Resort

Carter Creek Winery Resort opened in the just-before-covid month of December 2019.

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These Texas restaurants and hotels made prestigious Forbes Travel Guide

Awards News

The 2023 rendition of the prestigious Forbes Travel Guide is out, and 26 properties in Texas have made the list.

This is the 65th annual Forbes Travel Guide, which a release describes as the only independent, global rating system for luxury hotels, restaurants, and spas, worldwide. Bow down to Forbes Travel Guide, bow down.

Ratings are broken into three categories: Five-Star, Four-Star, and Recommended, Five-Star being best. The list, which comprises 1,956 properties around the world, runs heavy on hotels (1378) and spas (314), with only 259 restaurants. And for the first year, the list also includes ocean cruises.

In Texas, the list included five restaurants, 12 hotels, and seven spas, although come on who cares about spas, it's the restaurants and hotels that are most intriguing, am I right.

Sadly, no Fort Worth properties made the list.

In a reprise of 2022, only three places in Texas earned five stars: Carte Blanche restaurant in Dallas, Post Oak Hotel in Houston (and its spa), and the Ritz-Carlton, Dallas hotel.

These are the properties in Texas that made the 2023 list, by category:

Restaurants:

  • Carte Blanche / Dallas: 5-star
  • Fearing's / Dallas: 4-star
  • Garrison / Austin: 4-star
  • The Mansion / Dallas: 4-star
  • French Room / Dallas: Recommended

Hotels:

  • Adolphus / Dallas: Recommended
  • Archer Hotel Austin: 4-star
  • Austin Proper Hotel / Austin: 4-star
  • Commodore Perry Estate Auberge Resorts Collection / Austin: 4-star
  • Fairmont Austin: 4-star
  • Four Seasons Hotel Austin: 4-star
  • Four Seasons Hotel Houston: 4-star
  • The Houstonian Hotel Club & Spa: 4-star
  • The Joule / Dallas: 4-star
  • Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek / Dallas: 4-star
  • The Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston: 5-star
  • The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas: 5-star
  • Mokara Hotel & Spa/ San Antonio: 4-star
  • The St. Regis Houston: 4-star

Spas:

  • Fairmont Spa Austin: 4 star
  • Mokara Spa / San Antonio: 4-star
  • The Ritz-Carlton Spa Dallas: 4-star
  • The Spa at Four Seasons Austin: 4-star
  • The Spa at the Joule / Dallas: 4-star
  • The Spa at the Post Oak Hotel Houston: 5-star
  • Trellis Spa Houston: 4-star

The Forbes Travel guide started in 1958 as Mobil Travel Guide, a guidebook for US motorists. They created the original Five-Star rating system for hospitality in the US.

To determine the ratings, Forbes Travel Guide's inspectors visit every hotel, restaurant, spa, and cruise ship in person, visiting anonymously as a typical guest. Participants pay a fee to be considered, but no one can buy a rating.

Facebook/The Ashton Hotel

Fort Worth boutique hotel praised among Texas' best in prestigious U.S. News ranking

the inn crowd

A luxe Fort Worth boutique hotel is among the best in the state this year, according to US News and & World Report. The publication collects its information through hotel ratings, customer reviews, and industry award analysis.

The Ashton Hotellands at No. 24 on the prestigious list for 2023. It is joined by three other Dallas-Fort Worth hotels: The Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek (No. 2), Ritz-Carlton, Dallas (No. 6), and Thompson Dallas (No. 25). The list looks a bit different than it did last year, when seven local lodgings made the cut.

Of Fort Worth's storied Ashton, US News writes, "Located in the heart of downtown Fort Worth, The Ashton Hotel proves that sometimes luxury looks better in a smaller size. This petite boutique has only 39 guest rooms, but it feels rather spacious, according to recent visitors who held functions in one of the property's three event spaces. Although a historical hotel, modern amenities include premium down pillows and bathrooms with separate showers and tubs. The downside to this property is that there is no restaurant on-site, only breakfast is served. And because it is older, it lacks amenities typically seen in other hotels, including a pool, a spa and a fitness center. The best thing about the hotel though, according to recent visitors, is the location. The Ashton Hotel is within walking distance of the Fort Worth Convention Center and two blocks away from Sundance Square."

Despite not having a dedicated restaurant, the Ashton does serve an elegant Afternoon Tea on limited days.

Tea at the AshtonThe Ashton serves a traditional English tea on certain days.Facebook/The Ashton Hotel

Houston’s only double five-star hotel and spa, The Post Oak Hotel, was awarded the No. 1 spot on the US News list. The hotel is known for its “tropical sanctuary” pool, nine restaurants and bars, and ultra-modern room amenities and decor.

“This prestigious list evaluates the top hotels from around the globe, and it is an honor to be included,” said Steven Chou, general manager at The Post Oak Hotel, in a statement.

Dallas' famed Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek takes No. 2 with its elegant decor, proximity to nearby parks, and acclaimed restaurant. It's up from No. 6 in 2022.

"This five-star hotel gets rave reviews, with many recent travelers saying the staff go above and beyond to anticipate guests' needs," US News says. "What's more, the hotel completed a large renovation in fall 2020, bringing the pricey property's design, rooms and suites, and public spaces up to the same vaulted level of service that impresses past travelers."

Uptown's swanky Ritz-Carlton, Dallas lands at No. 6 (up from last year's ranking of No. 7).

"Located near the Museum of Art, the Dallas edition of the luxurious Ritz-Carlton brand goes beyond just offering many of the amenities you'd expect from a five-star hotel," says US News. "For instance, this hotel boasts not just a pool, but a saline-treated rooftop pool; and not just facials and massages, but a 12,000-square-foot spa.

Rounding out the top 25 is the Thompson Dallas.

Other top hotels in Texas from the US News and & World Report hail from Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, and Fort Worth.

The full list of the top 25 best hotels in Texas include:

  1. The Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston
  2. Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek – Dallas
  3. Commodore Perry Estate, Auberge Resorts Collection – Austin
  4. Hotel Emma – San Antonio
  5. Four Seasons Hotel – Houston
  6. The Ritz-Carlton – Dallas
  7. Thompson San Antonio Riverwalk
  8. The Driskill – Austin
  9. Fairmont Austin
  10. Four Seasons Hotel – Austin
  11. JW Marriott Houston Downtown
  12. Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa – San Antonio
  13. JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa
  14. The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa
  15. The St. Regis Houston
  16. Austin Proper Hotel & Residences
  17. Miraval Austin
  18. Lake Austin Spa Resort
  19. La Cantera Resort & Spa – San Antonio
  20. Hotel Granduca Austin
  21. Mokara Hotel & Spa – San Antonio
  22. Hotel Granduca Houston
  23. Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa – Austin
  24. The Ashton Hotel – Fort Worth
  25. Thompson Dallas
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'Yellowstone' stars to greet fans at Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo

Yellowstone news

Yellowstone fans, get your comfy shoes ready - there'll be a long line for this one. Cole Hauser a.k.a. "Rip Wheeler" on Yellowstone, and Taylor Sheridan, the show's co-creator, executive producer, and director of the series, will meet fans and sign autographs at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo.

The event will take place from 4:30-6:30 pm only on Friday, February 3. Location is the 6666 Ranch booth near the south end of Aisle 700 in the Amon G. Carter, Jr. Exhibits Hall.

According to a February 2 announcement from FWSSR, "fans will have the opportunity to snag an autograph as well as purchase some distinctive Yellowstone and 6666 Ranch merchandise while also enjoying all the features the Stock Show offers."

The event is free to attend (with paid Stock Show admission) and open to the public.

It's the second year in a row for Hauser to appear at FWSSR; in 2022, he and fellow cast mates drew huge crowds.

Sheridan, a Paschal High School graduate, is no stranger to Fort Worth; he lives in a ranch near Weatherford and filmed 1883, the prequel to Yellowstone, in and around Fort Worth. Currently, another spinoff, 1883: The Bass Reeves Story, is filming in North Texas.

The Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo is winding up its 2023 run on Saturday, February 4.

Where to find beautiful bluebonnets in Dallas-Fort Worth and around Texas in spring 2023

Signs of spring

In exciting news for wildflower watchers, bluebonnet season not only came earlier across Texas this spring, but the blooms are more abundant, more colorful, and even more fragrant than in recent years.

Thanks to plenty of rain and recent warm, sunny weather, the beloved state flower is painting the landscape blue along highways and in fields all over Texas. At this writing (in the last days of March), bluebonnets are peaking in the Houston area and throughout the Hill Country. Don't wait too much longer to plan your flower expedition; they'll be past their prime by mid-April.

Here in Dallas-Fort Worth, we're a few weeks behind - but not too far off, as anyone who's driven on the local highways in the past week knows. Our biggest bluebonnet mecca in the region, the Ennis Bluebonnet Trails, are opening Saturday, April 1 - and the blooms are already popping, organizers say.

Following are areas in Dallas-Fort Worth and around Texas where folks have reported bluebonnets already, or where they're looking reliable for pretty photos further into spring. Hopefully, just like the flowers, this list will continue to grow.

And, don't forget: Bluebonnets aren't the only wildflower that bloom in spring. Indian paintbrush, Indian blanket, evening primrose, Mexican hat, anemone, redbud trees, Mexican plum, elbow bush, and coreopsis are also among the thousands of varieties that paint Texas with color throughout the season.

Ennis

The Ennis Bluebonnet Trails, North Texas’ No. 1 spot for bluebonnet spotting, open April 1 and run through the end of the month. The trails wind visitors through 40 miles of picturesque wildflowers. But not all of them bloom at the same time; be sure to stop at the Welcome Center for a map and expert guidance. The blooms are expected to peak around mid-April, coinciding with the Ennis Bluebonnet Trails Festival, April 14-16. The first week of April, there’ll be pretty patches along Sugar Ridge Road, spotters say. Those interested in making the trek about 60 miles southeast of Fort Worth can check out maps and updates on the website and social media channels. Download the Ennis Y’all mobile app to get all the information on your smartphone.

Dallas-Fort Worth roadsides, fields, and parks

Freeway embankments
Stopping beside a highway or posing for photos on the side of the road is never advised. But the blue patches are always thrilling for passengers to spot while traversing local freeways. Some to note: The lush fields of blue along either side of SH 183 are a pleasant diversion while stopped in rush-hour traffic near D/FW Airport. Look on either side of I-30 from Fort Worth to Arlington to Dallas (don't miss them between the Montgomery and Hulen exits in west Fort Worth). There are even some that have popped up at the onerous convergence of I-35W and I-30 near downtown Fort Worth. Also check them out along SH 114 in Grapevine, SH 75 going north out of Dallas, and I-635 in northwest Dallas. Drive I-45 south from Dallas, through Corsicana, toward Houston, and you’ll see them everywhere. The blooms also are thick along SH 287 toward Waxahachie. Inside Fort Worth city limits, the Weatherford Traffic Circle has more sprouting up each day.

Fort Worth Botanic Garden/BRIThas thousands of tulips and other spring flowers blooming, but you'll see some bluebonnets, too. Head toward the Cactus Garden greenhouse. Other colorful spring blooms that typically dot their landscape in spring: Texas mountain laurel, peach trees, crabapples, Redbuds, and Dogwood, and cherry blossoms. Keep up with what's flourishing in the gardens via their Facebook page.

Fort Worth Nature Center & Refugehas bluebonnets popping at the end of March, along with picturesque budding redbuds. The best way to find them is to take a naturalist-led tour ($5 with paid admission/members free). Nature hikes take place Thursdays, 10-11:30 am.

The Laura W. Bush Native Texas Park, a 15-acre urban park on the grounds of George W. Bush Presidential Center at SMU, features a one-mile network of trails that walks visitors through native Texas environments, including spring wildflowers. Bluebonnets are peeking out among a sea of other native wildflowers, and they're just getting started. Peak is still a few weeks off. According to park personnel, visitors will also find Winecup, Pink Evening Primrose, Plains Coreopsis, Engelman Daisy, Foxglove, Prairie Spiderwort, White Prairie Clover, Prairie Verbana, Texas Yellowstar, Gaillardia, and Scrambled Eggs. Download a guide to the flowers here.

Cedar Hill State Park, a favorite place for mountain bikers, has bluebonnets popping along the trails. Visitors are sure to see some on a guided hike, and the ranger-led sunrise hikes are especially rewarding.

Bluebonnet Trail Greenbeltin Plano is already popping with blooms at the end of March, with many more to come. Bluebonnet Trail runs from Central Expressway to Midway Road, following an Oncor power line easement and along Spring Creek Parkway and Chase Oaks Boulevard; it intersects with the Chisholm Trail in the middle of Plano and connects with the Preston Ridge Trail at Carpenter Park. View maps of the trails here and here.

McInnish Park & Sports Complex, Carrollton
This go-to spot in DFW is blooming nicely but not yet at peak in late March. Find it at 2335 Sandy Lake Rd., just off the Bush tollway.

Freedom Meadow, Frisco
The field at the Warren Sports Complex is a bluebonnet photo hot spot each year. The flowers are getting revved up; look for them to really pop in April, spotters say.

Hill Country
Just a few hours out of the Metroplex, wildflowers are at peak already. Here are some places to check out in the Central Texas/Hill Country region.

Marble Falls
The bluebonnets are flourishing in this popular Hill Country town (and home to the famous Blue Bonnet Cafe). Look for bluebonnets, Indian paintbrushes, yuccas, and many other wildflowers to paint landscapes all over the area. Turkey Bend Recreation Area is always a specific hot spot. A old house off SH 281 called, simply, "The Bluebonnet House," is showing up in many picturesque photo shoots already; read about it here. Check out the guide to this year’s fresh patches here. They even have scenic drive recommendations, here.

Muleshoe Bend Recreation Area, Spicewood
The bluebonnet fields at this public park northwest of Austin are more abundant than they have been in years, say spotters. There usually are large patches of flowers on the riverbank, and it's easy to drive around and park a car to set up and take time for photo shoots (rather than pulling over on the side of the road). Find it at 2820 County Road 414, Spicewood.

Fredericksburg
For many Texans, Fredericksburg is synonymous with bluebonnets. If you're going there, don't delay. "The 2023 wildflower season is in full bloom. Bluebonnets are at their peak and should be abundant through the first 10 days of April," a report on the Visit Fredericksburg website says. While you'll see the blooms all over the region, a good first stop is always Wildseed Farms, the largest working wildflower farm in the country. Then ask the locals for their favorite flower-viewing spots. They offer a list of places to see them here. The Fredericksburg Bluebonnet Festival will happen April 22. Pro tip: Plan a mid-week F'burg getaway since weekends get mobbed during the spring. While you're in the area, don't miss the ...

Willow City Loop
One of the best drives in Texas is the 13-mile, two-lane Willow City Loop. A lot of people start in Fredericksburg, take State Highway 16 north approximately 13 miles and turn east on Ranch Road 1323 to Willow City. It's reportedly more of a wildflower wonderland this season than it has been the past few. It's a pretty drive, traversing hills and creeks, offering gorgeous views of meadows and valleys. Warning: Roadside property along this route is private, so no wandering into the fields.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Austin
For some of the most abundant and accessible wildflowers in the state, head to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, roughly 12 miles southwest of downtown Austin. Open daily by reservation, the center has native gardens, wild meadows, and experts who can tell you what you’re looking at. They also host special events (in-person and virtual) and offer various resources on plants and flowers around Texas. They offer a wildflower report and ideas for bluebonnet excursions here.

Southeast Texas
Down toward Houston, fields have been bursting with color in March, reports say. Don't wait to much longer to visit or they'll be past their prime. "Bluebonnets are HERE at peak and looking gorgeous! We anticipate they will look vibrant for the next 1-2 weeks," Visit Brenham posted on March 29.

Brenham/Chappell Hill/Industry, Washington County
Halfway between Austin and Houston, Brenham is a town that prides itself on its wildflowers (and on being the home of Blue Bell Ice Cream). Using "Flower Watch," visitors can check in almost daily on the Visit Brenham website to see what is blooming. Spotters rave about a field of bluebonnets behind a Walmart store.

Washington County as a whole thrives with bluebonnets. Prime viewing spots typically are along Highway 290 east and west as you drive into Brenham; FM 1155 to 2679 in Chappell Hill; and FM 2447 and Highway 290 at First Baptist Church of Chappell Hill (the church typically welcomes visitors, but requests that the parking lot remain open to members of its congregation).

Somerville-LaGrange-Ellinger
Also between Houston and Austin, Lake Somerville State Park typically has fields of photo-worthy bluebonnets. The nearby towns of LaGrange and Ellinger do, as well; a scenic drive on Highway 71 in the area will bring some colorful stops, spotters say. FM 1291 from Frelsburg through Fayetteville to LaGrange has photo-worthy fields.

Industry-Fayetteville
One of the hottest spots in Texas has both bluebonnets and zebras - yes, zebras. About 80 miles east of Austin and 90 miles from Houston is a field where zebra roam, along with cows. Occasionally, they'll graze among the bluebonnets and up to the fence line, photographers say. The address is 5411 TX-159, Fayetteville (between Industry and Fayetteville).

2023 bluebonnet festivals

Resources to keep up with wildflower season

Rules of the road

  • Remember that while it isn’t illegal to pick the blooms, it is bad form. Leave them for others to enjoy and so the flowers can go to seed and make more for next year.
  • By the same token, minimize trampling of the plants, as crushing them repeatedly (by, say, sitting on them) can destroy the flowers. Try to walk in other people's footprints in a field.
  • Be aware that fields can also contain fire ants and the occasional snake. Be careful if walking through grass where it’s not possible to see where you’re stepping.
  • Pulling over on the side of a highway for photos is never recommended. Find a nearby parking lot.
  • Also, remember the "groups" rule. If you approach a pretty patch and another family is taking photos, ride on by.
  • Finally, be respectful of private property — no climbing fences, going through gates, or driving up driveways to get that photo. You might get a less-than-warm welcome.

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Got a great bluebonnet spot? Email stephanie@culturemap.com.

Taylor Swift continues Texas takeover with new Eras exhibition at Arlington museum

IN HER MUSEUM ERA

Taylor Swift’s reign in Arlington won't end when her March 31-April 2 "Eras Tour" shows end. She'll continue to dominate Dallas-Fort Worth thanks to a special exhibition called "Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour Collection" opening this summer at the Arlington Museum of Art.

In collaboration with the HELP Center for LGBT Health & Wellness, "Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour Collection," will feature items from Swift’s private collection. It will open June 3 and run through September 24, 2023.

Visitors will be able to experience her journey as an artist and view outfits, photographs, and concert videos from the “eras” of her life and career, a press release says. Highlights of the collection are eight iconic costumes from four of Swift’s albums.

“As an artist, Swift's career is rich in depth and detail, and we believe the exhibition will appeal not only to her fans, music lovers, and art lovers, but to the next generation of emerging museum-goers,” says Arlington Museum of Art president and CEO Chris Hightower in a press release.

Hightower also shared that the new museum exhibition is the perfect opportunity for guests to understand the gravity of what it takes to become a multimedia artist, and what it means to sustain that popularity, especially through the eyes of a 12-time Grammy winner.

“Great artists throughout history have been able to express themselves so sublimely because they were so dedicated to their craft,” he says. “They never stop learning and never hold back. They influence the future because they take creative risks in spite of opposing forces.”

Arlington Mayor Jim Ross says in the release that the collection reflects the city's dedication to building its reputation for world-class entertainment and the arts, and upholding its Texas Music-Friendly Community designation.

“In Arlington, we love collaboration, a can-do spirit, and out-of-the-box thinking,” said Mayor Ross, “and the team at the Arlington Museum of Art continues to surprise and thrill us by really putting all that into practice. It has been so exciting to see the Arlington Museum of Art find its voice in the last few years, and there is no doubt that even bigger things are on the horizon.”

The "Eras Tour Collection" will run June 3-September 24. Arlington Museum of Art members will be able to purchase tickets starting 10 am April 13, and the general public sale will begin at 10 am April 17. Tickets ($5-$20) can be purchased at arlingtonmuseum.org.