1. Friends, family, coworkers and total strangers meet to tour Texas craft vineyards, craft breweries and distilleries with the Waco Wine Tour experience. Perfect for small gatherings, their vintage or private tours provide transportation, tastings and even a light meal that can be customized for any group.
2. Take a step back in time to Homestead Craft Village, located 5 miles northwest of Waco, offers shopping, dining, and self-guided tours. The 18-acre complex includes a 200-year-old barn, the Potter’s House, a woodworking shop, a restored 1760 gristmill, fiber arts, herb garden, and more. Café Homestead, serving natural beef and homemade baked goods, is one of the top-rated restaurants in the Waco area.
3. Texas and athletics are a perfect match, so the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in Waco is a must-visit for anyone who wants to learn more about Texas teams and athletes and their legacies, including Nolan Ryan, Tom Landry, Babe Didrickson and 300 others.
4. It’s been a challenge in recent years, but Abilene’s convention center-adjacent room roster will be growing when the new 200-room DoubleTree by Hilton hotel opens in the spring of 2023. With 17,000 square feet of meeting space in the mix, the property will also boast a full-service restaurant, pool deck and rooftop bar. The project’s cost: a reported $80 million.
5. If you’re excited for live music to return, mark your calendar for the 11th Annual Outlaws & Legends Music Fest, March 25-26, 2022 in Abilene. Proceeds from the festival go to support the Ben Richey Boys Ranch & Family Program, a nonprofit child care facility that serves the Big Country area.
6. Opening a business during the pandemic is no small feat, though it might be a little easier when you’re slinging a product the pandemic only makes people want more – like beer. Iron Gauntlet Brauhaus is Killeen’s first and, thus far, only craft brewery. With 20 beers on tap, along with non-alcoholic offerings (house made kombucha and locally crafted cold brew coffee), it’s an inclusive, expansive space for both tours and events. Food trucks – local, of course! – can round out the experience.
7. Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area, BLORA for short, is a haven for water sports, fishing, camping, boating, swimming, horseback riding, scuba diving and you can also just laze for a few hours. It is one of the most popular attractions among tourists and a favorite of the residents in and around Killeen. BLORA is also known for bird watching and the scenic setting courtesy Chalk Ridge Falls and Miller Springs Nature Center.
8. Visit the 23 original and restored fort structures that make up San Angelo’s Fort Concho National Historic Landmark, the old frontier army post built in 1867 that’s now a historic preservation project and museum. See what life was like for the hundreds of soldiers who used the fort as their headquarters under the order of notable military commanders such as Ranald Mackenzie, Benjamin Grierson and William ‘Pecos Bill’ Shafter.
9. After experiencing history, continue reading about it by picking up a few books on Western history at Cactus Book Shop, a local San Angelo book store that specializes in Texas and Southwest literature from authors like Elmer Kelton, Ross McSwain and John Erickson, author of the children’s series Hank the Cowdog.
10. Finally, don’t leave San Angelo without getting your Tex-Mex fix at El Paisano Restaurant, where your meal begins with its famous chips, salsa and beans and you can’t go wrong with any of its steaks – locals especially rave about the ribeye.
Sources: Waco Convention & Visitors Bureau, Abilene Convention & Visitors Bureau, Killeen Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, Discover San Angelo