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Cheap flights are at North Texas travelers' fingertips as Frontier Airlines offers its all-you-can-fly summer and annual passes. The “Go Wild” passes really do offer unlimited flights to unbounded destinations — both international and domestic — starting May 2.

Both passes are currently deeply discounted. The summer pass, which runs from May 2 to September 30, is available for $399 (compared with $999), and the year-round pass starting on the same day is going for $1,299 (formerly $1,999).

This deal is best for people who travel light and plan fast. Booking options allow domestic flights to be purchased one day in advance, while international gives a little more leeway, with 10 days, and neither include luggage allowances. Still, bags can be purchased as usual, and since the passes cost about as much as an average or slightly higher flight in their respective farthest reaches, it would only take a few uses to practically pay for itself.

Another consideration is blackout dates; not an insignificant number. There is at least one every month, with other, more restrictive months like March, 2024, blacked out on about a third of dates. The pass also auto-renews, so buyers will need to pay attention or be prepared to extend their travel marathon.

Frontier flies out of Terminal E at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. In November 2022, the airlines introduced new service from DFW to Baltimore (BWI), Orange County, Calif. (SNA), New York City (LGA), Raleigh-Durham (RDU), and Montego Bay (MBJ). With the new routes, Frontier now serves 19 destinations from DFW.

“Frontier’s consistent growth at DFW is a tremendous success story,” said Daniel Shurz, senior vice president, commercial, Frontier Airlines, said in a statement at the time of the announcement. “It’s clear DFW will serve a central role in the expansion of our network for years to come."

The straightforward all-you-can-fly deal prioritizes flexible travelers, but offers extensive usefulness to someone willing to work around common travel dates and spend a few extra dollars to pack comfortably. More information about the “Go Wild” passes is available at flyfrontier.com.

Photo courtesy of Visit Galveston

Giant sea creatures made of recycled beach trash wash onto Galveston Island in must-see new exhibit

inspiring sea change

A giant great white shark, massive bald eagle, oversized octopus, and more enormous sea life have invaded Galveston Island.

"Washed Ashore," a compelling traveling art exhibit of giant sea animal sculptures made of trash collected from beaches, is now on display across 19 locations in Galveston.

The clever showcase features more than 20 pieces — most more than six feet tall and as much as 17 feet wide — such as coral reefs, jellyfish, penguins, sunfish, and more.

Sculptures can be found at museums, hotels, parks, attractions, and popular outdoor spaces. Thanks to a partnership between Oregon-based non-profit Washed Ashore and the Galveston Park Board, the exhibit, which is open though March 5, is free.

This innovative, powerful exhibit is designed to educate the public about the hazards of plastic pollution in the world’s waterways and comes at a touchstone environmental moment. Some 35 million metric tons of plastic entered the global aquatic ecosystems in 2020, according to the Ocean Conservancy’s research partners.

Similar "Washed Ashore" exhibits have been displayed at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, as well as zoos, aquariums, and botanical gardens across the nation. Notably, this Galveston debut marks the first time the exhibit will not be behind a paid gate, per press materials.

“The sculptures are impressive,” Visit Galveston Chief Tourism Officer Michael Woody says. “But they’re even more impressive when you look at them closely. The artists at Washed Ashore placed recognizable objects – like buckets and shovels – at a child’s eye view. This way, hopefully, they will learn to take with them what they bring to the beach.”

For more information on the exhibit, visit the official site.

Photo courtesy of Visit Galveston

Meet Greta the great white shark.

DFW Airport

Dallas-Fort Worth lands on new list of best places for long layovers

Cool your jets

Given the Christmas-week travel nightmare for anyone flying, or working for, Southwest Airlines, it's natural for travelers to be thinking some version of, "What if that happens to me? Please don't let that happen to me."

Lawn Love has been thinking about that, too. Well, perhaps not specifically about that week. But, the timing of the company's latest survey is coincidental. Lawn Love ranked the best and worst cities for long layovers, and Texas cities do well overall. Dallas-Fort Worth came in seventh, while Houston ranked fourth.

DFW's top-10 placement was due in part to its number of airline lounges. The city places fifth in that ranking. DFW's got 19 of them, including four American Airlines Admirals Clubs and the airline's Flagship Lounge. Also represented are Delta, Emirates, Lufthansa, Qatar, and United airlines. All provide travelers with space and quiet to chill while waiting on that flight.

In other categories, Dallas-Fort Worth ranked No. 4 for delays, No. 13 for cancellations, No. 16 for "getting around," No. 25 for "things to do," No. 11 for "staying and eating," No. 57 for affordability, and No. 75 for safety.

Houston has travelers covered if a long layover means the need for a hotel stay. That city ranked third in number of accommodations.

Houston ranked 15th in terms of attractions, and 35th in terms of its share of cancelled departures, which means folks heading out of the city's two airports are likely to make their destinations without a lot of disruptions.

San Antonio and Austin round out the top 20 in Lawn Love's rankings, with the Alamo City placing 17th overall, and Austin taking 20th. Both cities fare well in terms of delays. They place 48th and 44th respectively, which means travelers are more likely to leave on time and get to where they're going. The two cities also fall into the top 20 when it comes to accommodations and dining options, finishing 15th and 19th respectively.

So, who fared among the worst? Hawaii. The Aloha State might be paradise on the ground and home to some stunning patches of sand, but the it's got four cities in the top 10 for worst places for a long layover. On the other hand, three of those four (Hilo, Kailua Kona, Honolulu and Lihue) get top marks for having the shortest departure delays.

All something to ponder as travelers pack their suitcases and plan to hit the road for 2023.

Southwest Businessweek

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines rolls out spring sale with $49 fares

Airline News

Just in time for spring travel, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines has launched its seasonal fare sale with fares as low as $49 one-way.

The sale begins January 12, on travel that takes place across the continental U.S. from January 31 through May 17.

Flights to and from San Juan, Puerto Rico are on sale from January 31-March 8, Monday-Thursday.

Flights to and from Hawaii are on sale from January 31-March 15, Monday-Thursday.

Flights to international destinations are on sale from January-March 8, Tuesday-Friday.

Some examples of one-way, low-fare getaways for $49 include:

  • Austin and New Orleans
  • Long Beach and Reno/Tahoe
  • Phoenix and Los Angeles
  • Chicago (Midway) and Nashville
  • San Diego and Las Vegas

Advanced purchase and blackout date requirements apply; seats, days, and markets are limited.

A 21-day advance purchase is required.

There are also the following blackout dates:

  • February 16-February 20 for all flights
  • March 9-April 10 for International travel and San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • March 16-April 10 for travel from the U.S. to/from Hawaii

Seats and days are limited. Fares may vary by destination, flight, and day of the week and won't be available on some flights that operate during busy travel times and holiday periods.

Advertised fares may be available on other days of the week, but no guarantees.

Fares are nonrefundable but may be applied toward future travel on Southwest Airlines, as long as reservations are canceled at least 10 minutes prior to the scheduled departure. Failure to cancel prior to departure will result in forfeiture of remaining funds on the reservation. Any change in itinerary may result in an increase in fare.

Photo courtesy of Gameway

Texas airport powers up totally cool new gaming lounge for bored and weary travelers

game on

Traveling gamers now have a new option to while away those flight delays and passenger pickup waits at one Texas airport.

Houston's William P. Hobby Airport is now one the first airports in the country to offer what's dubbed as the "ultimate gaming experience for travelers." The airport has launched a premium video game lounge inside the international terminal called Gameway.

That means weary, bored, or early travelers can chill in the lounge and plug into15 top-of-the-line, luxury gaming stations: six Xbox stations, five Playstation stations, four PC stations, all with the newest games on each platform. Aficionados will surely appreciate the Razer's Iskur Gaming Chairs and Kraken Headsets, along with dedicated high speed internet at each PC station.

The Gameway lounge pays homage to gaming characters, with wall accents that hark to motherboard circuits crucial for any real gamer: plenty of sweet and savory snacks are available for purchase to fuel up on those fantasy, battle, or sporting endeavors. As for the gaming console stations, players can expect high definition screens, comfortable seating, and plenty of space for belongings.

Photo courtesy of Gameway

Gamers have a new refuge at Hobby.

This gaming addition comes just in time for the holiday rush, when travelers can expect long lines, delays, and are already planning for extended time for trips.

Texan travelers may be familiar with Gameway; the company opened its first two locations at Dallas Fort-Worth Airport. The buzzy lounge an industry wave of acclaim: Gameway was awarded Best Traveler Amenity in 2019 at the ACI-NA Awards and in 2020, voted “Most Innovative Customer Experience” at the Airport Experience Traveler Awards, per press materials.

Two new locations followed in 2021: LAX Terminal 6 and Charlotte Douglas International Airport. The first of Gameway's Ultra lounge brand opened in September at Delta's Terminal 3 in LAX.

“Gameway is the real reason to get to the airport early,” said co-founder Jordan Walbridge in a statement. “Our mission is to upgrade the typical wait-at-the-gate experience with a new stimulating, entertaining option for travelers of all ages.”


Camp Margaritaville RV Resort Crystal Beach/Facebook

New Camp Margaritaville beach club-RV resort makes waves near Galveston coast

happy campers

Beach lovers, campers, and Texans getting away from it all now have a chill new option to waste away. Camp Margaritaville RV Resort Crystal Beach is officially open, following an ongoing renovation and ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Formerly known as Bolivar Beach Club & RV Resort, the 150-acre beachfront location on the Bolivar Peninsula boasts a resort-style camping experience with unique amenities that make the RV resort a memorable vacation spot.

RV drivers/users can rest easy knowing that electric, water and sewer hookups, complimentary Wi-Fi, dog parks, a gym, and facilities for showering and doing laundry await at the site.

Fun includes a beachside concert venue, a Texas-sized pool with a swim-up bar and 50 private poolside cabanas, and large turf playing field. Renovations will continue into next year, promising the Fins Bar & Grill Restaurant, sand volleyball courts, pickleball courts, a bar called License to Chill, and more.

Another huge draw: The resort offers close access to 27 miles of beaches along the peninsula. (Ahh.)

Crystal Beach is the fourth location within the Camp Margaritaville brand, and joins the company's existing Margaritaville Lake Resort, Lake Conroe. The lake resort, which rebranded and opened in the summer of 2020, includes 335 suites, an 18-hole golf course, a three-acre waterpark with a lazy river and outdoor pools.

"We’ve seen incredible success and excitement around our existing Camp Margaritaville RV Resort locations and are thrilled to expand our presence in the state of Texas,” says Margaritaville COO Brad Schwaeble in a statement. “As more and more people are finding new ways to travel and explore, Camp Margaritaville Crystal Beach will provide everything needed for a getaway for all ages.”

Those interested in camping out can book stays, get updates, and more information at the official site, on Facebook, and on Instagram.

Camp Margaritaville RV Resort Crystal Beach

The pool is a major draw for the resort.

Camp Margaritaville RV Resort Crystal Beach/Facebook

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

'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.

Hill Country town puts a Texas twist on Carnival season for 18th annual Cowboy Mardi Gras

Cowboy Mardi Gras

New Orleans may be top of mind for Mardi Gras, but Texas has its fair share of Fat Tuesday festivities. While Galveston's may be the state's oldest celebration, San Antonio wins points for actual floats (courtesy of the River Walk), and Dallas-Fort Worth offers up King Cake alternatives aplenty, one little Hill Country town has put its own spin on the annual event for almost 20 years.

Known as the "Cowboy Capital of the World," Bandera hosts a three-day Cowboy Mardi Gras that attracts over 15,000 people from all over the world to the town of 839 residents. Featuring traditional Cajun bands, country music, a Cowboy Mardi Gras parade, costume contests, gumbo cook-off, and more, the 2023 iteration takes place from February 9 to 11.

Bandera is located a little over two hours from Austin, a pleasant 300-mile road trip for North Texans looking for a colorful start to Carnival season. This year's event honors James and Stella McGroarty, former owners of Bandera's 11th Cowboy Bar, who will act as the 2023 Cowboy Mardi Gras Parade Grand Marshals.

With a 20,000-square-foot bar and 70-foot stage, the bar is one of the largest music venues in the Texas Hill Country, housed in a historic wood-framed building with a porch out front and expansive outdoor venue area out back. James McGroarty acquired the bar in 2006, transforming it into the destination it is today and elevating the town's annual Cowboy Mardi Gras Parade to the party it is today.

In July 2022, D. Foster, Melinie Ivey, and Richard and Sasha Sutton purchased the bar from McGroarty, planning to carry on McGroarty's legacy.

"We are so honored to take on the tradition of the 18th Annual Cowboy Mardi Gras Parade," says Richard Sutton in a release. "Bandera is a remarkable town that knows how to throw one hell of a party and we're looking to carry on that tradition."

“James McGroarty has said that 11th Street Cowboy Bar is all about providing the best Country Western music experience in Texas and sharing drinks with good friends," adds D. Foster. "He wanted to make all things in Bandera bigger than life. This is why we bought the bar and we want to carry on James McGroarty's legacy."

This year's lineup of live music will feature a variety of artists including Deanna Carter, Gary P. Nunn, Dale Watson, Jake Worthington, and many more. Find a full lineup of music and daily activities at cowboymardigrasbandera.com, as well as ticketing information. Tickets for the festivities start at $75 in advance or $85 at the door.

Photo by Tessa Kolodny
The three day celebration brings over 15 thousand people from all over the world to Bandera.

Fort Worth Juneteenth crusader Opal Lee honored with portrait at Texas Capitol

Texas heroes

Dr. Opal Lee, the treasured 96-year-old Fort Worth activist known as "The Grandmother of Juneteenth," now has her portrait hanging alongside other Texas heroes in the state Capitol in Austin.

Lee's portrait was unveiled in a ceremony in the Texas Senate chambers on Wednesday, February 8. According to reports from inside the chamber, the crowd gave her resounding applause.

Lee becomes just the second Black American whose portrait hangs on the walls of the state Capitol, behind Barbara Jordan, the first African-American elected to the Texas Senate after Reconstruction and first Black congresswoman from the South. It's also reportedly the first time the Texas Senate has hung a new portrait in the chamber.

"This will be a historic and significant day in the history of Texas and for the Texas Senate," State Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) told Austin TV station KVUE. "Ms. Lee will forever be an example of a person willing to work tirelessly for a cause they truly believed in. She shows also that it’s never too late to pursue your dreams!"

Dean of the Texas Senate John Whitmire (D-Houston) tweeted photos with Lee at the unveiling and wrote, "A historic day in the Texas Senate celebrating a truly remarkable Texan. Opal Lee proves that one person can make a difference."

As for the woman affectionately known as "Ms. Opal" around Fort Worth, she told DFW's Fox 4 that she was humbled at the honor.

"I don’t know how to feel," she said. "I pinch myself to be sure it’s really happening, you know? My portrait next to Barbara Jordan’s in the Senate, in the Capitol!"

Juneteenth crusade
A recognition of Juneteenth is something Lee has dedicated much of her later life to. In 2016, a then-89-year-old launched Opal’s Walk 2 DC, a two-an-a-half-mile walk that evoked the two-and-a-half years it took for slaves in Texas to learn they were free. She gathered 1.5 million signatures on a petition to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.

She was by President Joe Biden's side at the White House when he signed a law declaring Juneteenth a holiday on June 17, 2021. The Juneteenth National Independence Day, which commemorates freedom for the enslaved via the abolition of slavery in the United States, became the 12th legal federal holiday — the first new one since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was signed into law in 1983.

Lee also has worked to make Fort Worth home to the National Juneteenth Museum. It is planned for the Rosedale Street spot that currently houses Lee’s Fort Worth Juneteenth Museum, which has served the community for nearly two decades, including as a filming location for the 2020 movie Miss Juneteenth.

In 2022, Lee was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. In his nomination letter, U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey (D-Fort Worth) wrote, "As an advocate, Ms. Lee’s hopes to establish Juneteenth as a national holiday went far beyond just recognizing the day that the final enslaved people were notified of their freedom. It is also a symbol of her hope that we as Americans can come together and unify against social issues that are plagues on our nation such as homelessness, education inequality, and food insecurity to name a few."