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    Auto Stonehenge in texas

    Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) is so large that Manhattan Island would fit inside its 17,207-acres and it has its own postal zip code. Many of the thousands of people who pass through daily have long layovers and DFW offers the affordable Grapevine Visitors Shuttle service that stops at locations of interest throughout the area. Year round Grapevine, Texas is a great destination for a brief layover, extended stay or point of departure for the ultimate Texas road trips.                                  

    In 1843 Sam Houston met with representatives of ten Indian nations at Tah-Wah-Karro Creek. The resulting peace treaty allowed settlers into the Grape Vine Prairie and in 1844 the city of Grapevine was founded and named after the wild Mustang grapes that grew in the area. The city's history is interpreted throughout the city with markers, museums and historic structures. In 1996 The Walking To Texas Fountain was dedicated in Liberty Park to honor the native tribes, who are inscribed on the monument, and the pioneers who lived on the land.  

    I suggest that your first stop be the Grapevine Information Visitor Center. The center houses several galleries and provides information, facilities and a WIFI charging station.

    Glockenspiel in the Cotton Belt Hotel Clock Tower.

    No visitor should miss the unique Glockenspiel in the Cotton Belt Hotel Clock Tower. Glockenspiels are known throughout Europe for displaying both the time and an allegorical tale, usually religious or historic. Grapevine's glockenspiel is a slice of the West, with train robbers Nat Barrett and Willy Majors, emerging 4 times daily. The 9-ft. figures are best seen from the other side of Main Street. 

    Main Street is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and plaques indicate the sites and history of various events and edifices. There are more than 80 specialty shops and restaurants along the street so a meander and frequent stops are called for.

    Tolbert’s Restaurant and Chili Parlor in Grapevine

    Tolbert's Restaurant and Chili Parlor is justifiably famous their Donkey Tales, 2 cheese-stuffed beef hot dogs encased in tortillas, and Tolbert's Texas Red chili with onions, cheese, and a serrano pepper.

    Dino's Steak & Claw House was once the location of First National Bank of Grapevine. Today the restaurant offers fine dining in a graceful setting accompanied by live music. Everything here is outstanding.

    The Palace Theater was constructed in 1939 as a movie venue. In 2001 it underwent a $5-million restoration and is now a performance venue and home to the Grapevine Opry. The holiday schedule includes classic Christmas movies and performances.

    VETRO Glassblowing Studio & Gallery in Grapevine

    VETRO Glassblowing Studio & Gallery is a state-of-the-art studio that creates works in one of the country's few air-conditioned studios. Visitors can take classes resulting in an object they created that they can takeaway. 

    The Grapevine Vintage Railroad is always a hit. Victorian-style railcars leave from the 1888 Cotton Belt Railroad Depot and venture on several types of journeys including sightseeing and the Jazz Wine Train. A reservation for any experience is required. 

    Texas Star Dinner Theater's is an interactive mystery dinner theater experience. Three-course meals are prepared by a chef and served prior to the show. Guests participate in solving the crime and there is a great deal of hilarity and snappy dialog.

    Great Wolf Lodge, the only indoor waterpark in North Texas, has activities year round for both adults and children. There are numerous activities and it is ideally situated for touring the area. 

    In April of 2004 Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center on Lake Grapevine opened. This 4.5-acre destination hotel is a connected series of glass-encased atriums that feature accommodations, retail, restaurants, entertainment and a Relache Spa. Outdoor activities include hiking and jogging trails, water sports and the Cowboys Golf Club. Visitors need never leave their bubble but if they choose to it is a short distance to all the other activities.

    Roadrunner stature in cactuse garden

    Amarillo represents everything you have dreamt Texas could be. It is the city that we recognize from iconic movies, filled with larger than life personalities and everything else from longhorn cattle to unique arts and culture. Throughout the city are tangible symbols of the regional spirit of adventure and ongoing quest for the next big adventure.

    Archeologists can reliably place human habitation in the area about 11,000 years ago. The earliest people were nomadic tribes who did not establish farms until around 1150.The name itself, "Texas", is the Spanish pronunciation of the Caddo Indian word for friend, "Taysha". The first European explorers, led by Coronado, reached the area in 1541 but settlement did not occur until the 1880s.

    Amarillo is situated in the heart of the Texas Panhandle and became known as the "Crossroads of the Panhandle" because of railroad and cattle trail access and importance. The quintessential western, "Lonesome Dove", is based on regional locations and characters and Gus is modeled after Charles Goodnight. Charles established the Goodnight-Loving Trail and invented the chuck wagon.

    The earliest documented African Americans, Jerry Calloway and Matthew Hooks came to Amarillo in 1888 and by the early 1900s there were 5 families. Joshua Deets, the African American cowboy in Lonesome Dove is based on Bose Ikard, Goodnight's righthand man. Upon Ikard's death in 1929 Goodnight paid for his gravestone and on it etched, "Served with me 30 years, Fought in 21 Engagements with the Comanche and Kiowa. Cheerful in all weathers. Never shirked a task. Splendid behavior."

    In 1892 the city was named Amarillo, "yellow", after having previously been called both Ragtown and Oneida. It was a prosperous cowtown until the 20th-century when the discovery of natural gas prompted industrial development.

    The Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the largest in Texas, is the best place to obtain an overview of the region's history. The museum interprets 14,000 years through dioramas, artifacts and artworks. An exhibition highlight is Pioneer Town. Visitors walk along streets of an 1890-1910 town filled with typical establishments of the era.

    Charles Goodnight established the first Panhandle Ranch, the JA Ranch, within Palo Duro Canyon in 1876. His ranch would expand to nearly 1-million acres and contain 100,000 cattle. Palo Duro, the second largest in the country, as carved out by the 200-mile Red River and served as the Indians winter camp and settlement for 12,000 years. It was the site of the last major battle of the Indian Wars.                           

    Attractions within the park include the Trading Post that offers food and souvenirs and the Visitor Center. Visitors can view a one-hour film on the history of the 90-million year old canyon and explore several artifact filled galleries. There are 13 trails, a replica of a sod house, the outdoor drama "Texas" and magnificent views within the canyon.

    Amarillo has more than its share of world famous sites, not the least of which is the Cadillac Ranch. A quarter-mile from Route 66 stands an artwork that consists of 10 caddies planted in the ground. The cars are facing west chronological and from 1949 to 1963. The cars were placed there in 1974 and people are encouraged to add to the artwork with their own spray paint contribution. The nearest Home Depot sells more spray paint than anywhere else in country. A great photo op.

    The internationally renowned Route 66 received its official designation in 1926 and was designed to link cities and towns to facilitate the transportation of goods. John Steinbeck called it "The Mother Road" in Grapes of Wrath in 1939 and in 1946 Nat King Cole sang "get your kicks on route 66". Entrepreneurs were quick to realize that a road trip required accommodations and services and a new form of architecture was born. By 1984 the road had been totally supplanted by modern roads and interstate highways. There are 178-miles of the route in Texas and 150-miles of it are navigable. The most iconic section in Amarillo is 6th Street.

    Bob "Crocodile" Lile is the creative mind behind "cadillite" jewelry at Lile Art Gallery. These unique pieces are handcrafted by Croc of paint chips culled from Cadillac Ranch. He is filled with stories about "America's Main Street" and time with him is time well spent.

    Los Bracero Mexican Bar and Grill on Route 66 offers a true Route 66 experience. The restaurant is situated in a former gas station/garage and you are certain to meet the locals. The menu is pure Mexican, and the food is delicious. All the dishes are prepared fresh using authentic recipes. 

    Route 66 ushered in a new era filled with road trips and family vacations. Two museums in Amarillo provide an opportunity to revel in the joys of classic transportation.

    Bill's Backyard Classics exhibits 170 classic cars, on a rotating basis, in two showrooms. The cars are all meticulously restored and are in driving condition. The vehicles date from the 1920s to 2012. Highlights of the collection include Bob Seger's 1961 Pontiac Catalina convertible and a 1928 paddy wagon complete with leg irons. 

    Jack Sisemore's RV Museum is housed in a structure adjacent to the oldest RV dealership in the state. The RV's date from the 1930s and are displayed along with objects from the era.  Exhibited RVs include the bus from the film RV a genuine VW van from the era of peace and love and a 1942 Harley, "the motorcycle that won the war".

    Wonderland is another of Amarillo's riches. It opened in 1951 and remains family-owned. There are 31 rides, only one is original, including 4 steel rollercoasters. Two of the rollercoasters are in the Hall of Fame.      

    The Big Texan Steak Ranch & Microbrewery is an absolute must. The Lee family opened the restaurant in 1960 on Route 66 near the stockyards. It is home to the 72 oz., $72.00, 1-lb. steak dinner. Diners who eat the steak and sides in 60-minutes eat for free. The food is locally sourced, served family style and the ambiance is pure Texas. It should be noted that the current champion is a female. She ate three steaks at one sitting in 2014. She ate the first steak in 4-minutes and 58-seconds.  

    Amarillo was once filled with neon signs and was considered the "Best Lit City West of the Mississippi". Some of the buildings are still lit and the best example is the restored Paramount Theater.           

    In Amarillo you can walk the path followed by the Lonesome Dove characters, the Buffalo Soldiers and Comanche chief Quanah Parker.  

    The Caddo Indians inhabited Texas for more than 11,000-years before Europeans arrived and it was their word, "tayshas", meaning "friend", that the Spanish pronounced "tejas". It would give rise to the name Texas. 

    Alonso Alvarez de Pineda, in 1519, was the first documented European explorer of the McAllen area but a formal settlement would not occur until more than 200-years later. The land was part of a porciones given in 1767 by Spain to Antonio Gutierrez and Juan Antonio Villareal. Jose Gómez established the Santa Anita Ranch in 1797 and people migrated to the region. Gómez's great-granddaughter, Salome Ballí, eventually inherited the land and she wed the ranch manager, John McAllen, in 1861. The ranch became known as the McAllen Ranch and the existing city of McAllen is within that ranch's 160,000-acres.

    Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca introduced horses and cattle into Texas in 1528. By the late 1600s vaqueros, a mixture of Spanish, Native American, African American and criollo descent, were the acknowledged ranching experts and the first "cowboys". Most of the words we associate with cow herding are Spanish and African in origin. Vaqueros usually sold their services independently and they were often recruited from Mexico for their skills. They owned their own horse and ropes. Black cowboys were always an integral part of the southwestern ranch culture. Estimates put their numbers at up to 9,000, roughly 25% of cowboys. Many were fugitive slaves and later former enslaved men seeking a new life.

    The ownership of the land between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande River was a contested border between Mexico and the US. The border eventually became the Rio Grande and the "Nueces Strip" became a line on the Underground Railroad. Freedom seeking slaves from Texas and Louisiana used it to escape to Mexico because Mexico's mulatto president Vicente Guerrero abolished slavery in 1829.  

    Few stories of those who hid fugitives are documented but that of the Jacksons is. Nathaniel Jackson was an Alabama plantation owner who wed, Matilda Hicks, one of his slaves. In the 1850s he freed his slaves and he and his family moved to southern Texas. They were known to have hidden escapees and to have smuggled them to freedom in Mexico./


    In 1866 the Army Reorganization Act facilitated the organization of 2 cavalry and 4 infantry regiments of African Americans. The units were segregated and would become known as Buffalo Soldiers. They were dispatched across Texas to build forts, accompany wagon trains and stagecoaches, apprehend fugitives and subdue enemies. 

    The $45-million McAllen Performing Arts Center's design reflects the environment. A bronze sculpture, "The Vaquero of Nuevo Santander", stands on the exterior and pays homage to the Tejano cattlemen of the 1700s.  

    The heritage of the lower Rio Grande region, from prehistoric beasts to current culture, is recounted in the Museum of South Texas History. Tours begin in the Spanish Colonial Revival Grand Lobby with decorative tiles, ironwork and mesquite doors. The history is presented chronologically through dioramas, documents, artifacts and audio.


    Forty years ago the International Museum of Art & Science was founded. The museum combines bilingual hands-on science exhibits with a 4,5000 object folk-art and textile collection dating from the 1500s, the largest collection of Mexican folk art in the nation. 

    McAllen Public Library is the largest single story library in the country. The building is a redesigned Wal-Mart filled with state-of-the-art technology and community-related services. Self-guided tours are offered. 

    McAllen is a significant destination for birders from around the world. They flock here to witness the great migration. Nearly 500 bird species have been recorded here, many unique to the region. The city is part of the Texas Tropical Trail Region that encompasses nine locations along 120-miles of river road. More than 75% of the nation's bird species can be seen there.

    The World Birding Center is part of the Quinta Mazatlan Historic House complex that features the 1935 adobe home, nature trail, 15-acres of bird habitat, sculptures and conference center. The historic home was built using 10,000 adobe bricks and government certified Televera Tile. Tours of the house and walks along the trails are spectacular. 

    McAllen has a unique vibe that is a distinct mixture of the ethnicities that impacted on its history and one of its most potent exemplifiers is its cuisine. Visitors can opt for traditional Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes at a variety of restaurants. Authentic Mexican food is believed to have its roots in Mayan culture. Tex-Mex is regional and is a blending of both Spanish and Native American cuisine.  


    Tamales, staples of the area, are documented as early as the pre-Columbian Era. As women accompanied men into battle as cooks and the need for portable foods became apparent leading to the importance of the tamale. Delia's Tamales are considered the best in Texas. Delia began approximately 30-years ago selling her fresh tamales door to door. In 1999 she opened the first of three restaurants in McAllen. Her tamales can now be ordered online.

    Costas Messa is renowned for serving authentic Mexican cuisine. 

    Bodega Tavern & Kitchen showcases regional Texas cuisine. The paella here is excellent.

    Cambria Hotel & Suites McAllen Convention Center is centrally located and within walking distance of many attractions. It features regional art and all the amenities necessary to make your stay memorable. 

    The past is alive in McAllen and the cultural blend and diversity is unique and evident all around you.


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    Public Disclosure-- Please Read
    I recently learned of a FTC law requiring web sites to let their readers know if any of the stories are "sponsored" or compensated.  American Roads and Global Highways' feature writers are professional travel writers. As such we are frequently invited on press trips, also called fam trips. Most of the articles here are results of these trips. On these trips most of our lodging, dining, admissions fees and often plane fare are covered by the city or firm hosting the trip. It is an opportunity to visit places we might not otherwise be able to visit and bring you a great story. However, no one tells us what to write about those places. All opinions are 100% those of the author of that feature column.  

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