Our Totally Terrific Texas Trip :: From Canyon Lake All the Way to Houston

While there are tons of things to do with kids in Lafayette, sometimes it takes getting away from it all to appreciate life at home again. Maybe you are looking for a vacation that is within driving distance of Lafayette, or perhaps you are looking for an easy day trip outing with kids (might we recommend Avery Island?!). Lafayette Mom is here to share ideas of enjoying life in Louisiana with kids. Below are some ideas for South Louisiana getaways with kids, and here is a list of other family-friendly weekend trips in Louisiana.

Our Totally Terrific Texas Trip

Our kiddos are in a blessed sweet spot. After what felt like a million years of breastfeeding, bottles, diapers, pullups, and potty accidents, our children are in THE ZONE. They are still cute, sweet more than sour, sometimes think we are cool, and everyone can handle their own potty business with ease.

This forged our bravery in making the massive Mardi Gras pilgrimage to Orlando for a little Legoland and WDW action, and we were successful, albeit missing the magic.

Which is a blessing for us because have you seen flight prices lately? We are having none of that. We will be road trip people for this next phase of life.

For summer 2022, my husband set up an amazing itinerary one hop to the west: in Texas. And it was our favorite vacation ever.

Saturday

We started the trip with our heftiest drive: 6 hours from Lafayette, LA to Canyon Lake, TX. We booked an Airbnb “Villa Blanca” in Canyon Lake, TX. It was a precious house with plenty of room for our family of 6, including a washer and dryer. It was minutes away from the grocery store, and a 10-minute walk from the lake. It boasted a rooftop deck that made for some killer views of the lake, sunrises, sunsets, deer spotting, and stargazing — the stars at night really are big and bright deep in the heart of Texas.

PRO TIP: We did what most families do when arriving at their destination: unpacked, then grocery shopped. Grocery store deli fried chicken sure comes in clutch in these instances. Grab a fruit tray, a veggie tray, and some chicken and you’ve got supper ready quick!

After a good night’s sleep, we headed out for our first day of Texas adventuring.

Sunday

Natural Bridge Caverns in Texas

Natural Bridge Caverns was a HIT. It was a decent drive out from Canyon Lake, but a fantastic experience. The cave tour was rigorous and cool (both in temperature and attitude), and there were fun activities to do after the tour. Zip Line Course at Natural Bridge CavernsOur oldest 3 headed out to the Zip Line Course with Dad, and our 5 year old chose to go mining with Mama. mining at Natural Bridge CavernsWe got a decent little haul from her bag of dirt and then enjoyed a cold fresh lemonade while the others finished working through the obstacle course. We packed a car picnic to eat on the road to our next destination.

family vacation to Texas

The Preserve in Fredericksburg, TX. This was a must-do for our family, and we altered the schedule of the entire trip to make it happen. The Preserve is a wildlife preserve home to three special Asian elephants named Rosie, Becky, and Kitty. They offer elephant encounters on select days each week, and it was pretty dang magical. The Preserve in Fredericksburg, TXWe got to help bathe an elephant, had elephant snuggles, and even had the opportunity to feel an elephant’s foot! It was a very special experience for our family.

Monday

Canyon Lake

This was a lake day, and we soon realized why so many love Canyon Lake. It’s a reservoir of the Guadalupe River formed by the Canyon Dam in Comal County, TX. The water is a beautiful clear green and was perfect for boating. We packed ourselves down with drinks, snacks, and a picnic lunch, rented a boat, tube, and kneeboard/rope from Canyon Lake Marina, and were off for a day of adventure and fun on the water. Our kids learned how to tube. I learned how to drive a boat. We all danced, ate, and swam in the lake. We saw baby ducks, and our 5 year old even treated herself to a little boat nap. All the kids still insist this was their favorite day of the entire trip.

Tuesday

We packed up and said our goodbyes to Villa Blanca and headed out to New Braunfels, TX for a day at Schlitterbahn. This was our 3rd waterpark in the last two years, and we learned some things, with number one being: rent the cabana. It is always worth the money for us to have a place to leave our gear in the park. In some cases, the cabanas come with servers, waters, and even souvenir towels. We opted for a lower-tier option this go-round and were pleased with what it provided: a shady spot to park our shit. We set up a check-in station with a simple notepad and pen so that if our group was separated, they knew to check in at certain times to let us know where they were headed next. Each kiddo got a fancy new waterproof watch for the occasion, and should all be nearly proficient in time when they start back at school this fall. The long lines made fun rides nearly impossible, and we were seriously debating upgrading to Blast Passes for at least the oldest 3 plus a parent. In the future, I think we would build that cost into our planning. Lunch was yummy, and there was even a BBQ food truck on premise for increased options. It was a fun day in spite of the lines, but none of our kids are itching to return.

After our day at Schlitterbahn, we drove back to Fredericksburg, TX for a stay at a super cute A-Frame cottage. The kids were wowed by the decor and hot tub. Mom and Dad were wowed by the ductless air conditioning units in each bedroom (hellooooo customizable air temps). There was so much room, and we all slept incredibly comfortably.

Wednesday

Enchanted Rock in Fredericksburg, Texas

We headed out for an early 8:30 am reservation to hike Enchanted Rock. This pink granite dome makes for a moderate hike. We were there in late July and could not imagine starting our hike any later than we did. The views at the top were breathtaking … or maybe that was just the work to get there. Our kids were mostly impressed with the views, and all learned a great lesson in persevering when the climb gets hard.

We drove into Fredericksburg for some exploring and lunch. Funny story: lots of restaurants are closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays, so instead of grabbing some German food, we walked from Main Street Square down to Tubby’s Ice House for an incredibly delicious lunch. I don’t know if the kids were just THAT hungry from our hike or if the food was really THAT good, but everyone tried lots of new foods and ate WELL. Did I mention it was HOT?! National Museum of the Pacific WarWe lucked out because just across the street was the indoor, air-conditioned National Museum of the Pacific War. We scooted across the street, purchased tickets, and walked through the indoor exhibits. They were very well done and half of our party wished we could have spent more time reading all the displays to gain more knowledge on that aspect of WWII. The other half of our party just wanted ice cream. So off to find ice cream we went. We stopped for cones at Clear River Ice Cream and had tummies ready for the drive to our next AirBnB, Flying J Ranch, in Dripping Springs, TX.

Dripping Springs, Texas

Thursday

We kicked off our day with more hiking. First, we tackled a small walk to Jacob’s Well in Wimberly, TX. It’s a fully submerged cave fed by an underwater spring. It was a neat hike, but due to the drought, swimming at the well is closed. It was a cool sight to see. Blue Hole Regional ParkWe followed that up with another swimming spot: Blue Hole Regional Park, Wimberly, TX. You need reservations to swim here, and we reserved a picnic table as well. It was a really neat experience! You need water shoes as the bottom of the swimming pass is rocky. There were swings to fly into the water, and plenty of grassy areas to sun yourself when you get out of the water. The water is pretty cold, so prepare yourself for that first jump in!

After a little lunch back at the house, and a little rest and regrouping, we headed into Austin for the rest of the day. We booked tickets to the Museum of Ice Cream which was a MAJOR highlight of the trip.Museum of Ice Cream Book your tickets ahead of time to ensure you get your desired time slot. Museum of Ice Cream in Austin TexasThe interactive displays were so much fun, and the ice cream was tasty too! From there, we headed to Vigilante’s Gastropub and Games. My husband is determined to make our kiddos into his ultimate D&D team, and step one is instilling in them his love of board games. This place was a board gamer’s dream. We booked a hidden room, fully themed, with a long table for playing games. We selected Tokaido, albeit we should have chosen something we were at least familiar with to cut down on setup time. Then you choose snacks from their pub menu. They serve alcohol as well. Our kids’ favorite item was the fried pretzel bites. After all of this fun, we got to our real reason for our foray into Austin this night: Bats. Bats in Austin TexasWe booked a bat watching tour with Capital Cruises. They took us out on a boat onto Lady Bird Lake to watch the bats emerge from under the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge for their nightly exit from the bridge to go hunting. It was quite spectacular.

Friday

We packed up from our last night at Flying J Ranch and headed into Austin again. This morning we decided to spend time at The Thinkery, which is like a children’s museum. The ThinkeryIt was honestly kind of disappointing after spending time at similar museums in Little Rock, AR, and NOLA. It felt very much geared to toddlers and preschoolers, so our middle and upper elementary-aged children were not impressed.

We sat down at a traditional Irish pub smack in the middle of Austin, TX — B. D. Riley’s Irish Pub. We learned one lesson on this trip: order an appetizer as soon as you order drinks. Our kids can look at a menu with a bit calmer and decorum after they’ve nibbled on a few yummies. We got chicken bites and fries for the kids, and poutine for the adults and omg the adults won that one. Lordy, it was good. Our kids ate well and we all enjoyed our time at the pub! Maybe it’s the Irish in our blood.

We said farewell to Austin and began the long car ride to Houston. We broke it up by a small detour to Brenham, TX. The home of BlueBell. Duh. The visitor’s center was clean and cute. It was fun to see some of the old commercials. We missed the opportunity to view the factory through the observation window, but we tore up some $1/scoop ice creams. Krazy Kookie Dough, Strawberry, Moose Tracks, Rocky Road, and Mint Chocolate Chip all hit the spot. We drove to our hotel, the Staybridge Suites Houston-NASA/Clear Lake. We love Staybridge Suites. They have 2-bedroom suites that fit us so well. Our suite was equipped with a full kitchen, and this location had a pool AND complimentary washers/dryers. Oh, and hotel breakfast. Score.

Saturday

The last day of our trip was spent at Space Center Houston. It was CROWDED. Like 2.5 hours wait for a tram tour crowded. Like 1 hour wait for virtual exhibits was GOOD crowded. It felt chaotic from the moment we walked in the door to the moment we left.

Space Center in Houston Texas Our little space-lover was in heaven, and I wish we could schedule a visit on a less-crowded day. We left and headed home to Lafayette, and were all so happy to sleep in our own beds, even though there were tears shed on the car ride home because we had so much fun.

I think we were all pleasantly surprised at just how much we loved this trip. We learned so much about what we enjoy doing as a family, and what we are CAPABLE of doing as a family … and no one needed the travel potty even once!

Sarah is a 30-something mom of four children under six and wife to her high-school sweetheart. She returned to Acadiana two years ago following her husband’s completion of medical school and residency in Shreveport. After the move, Sarah switched gears from full-time pediatric speech-language pathologist and working mom to full-time stay-at-home mom to her brood. Her current hobbies include “speech-therapizing” her children, re-reading the Outlander series, catching up on her Netflix queue after the kids go to bed, completing XHIT videos at naptime, and taking her medication every morning. She loves and respects the sacredness of motherhood, but sometimes you just have to let go and laugh it out. Motherhood has been the most humbling, and empowering journey she has experienced.

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