Showing posts with label Urban Adventure. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Urban Adventure. Show all posts

Urban Adventure... Dallas, Texas

Dallas, Texas Skyline
Our family decided one beautiful day recently to have an urban adventure! We decided to have our experience in Dallas, Texas. Dallas is one of the largest cities in Texas & has much to offer families on a budget. 

Cost saving tip: If you plan to visit this bustling city you should consider purchasing a Dallas City Pass. The City Pass includes: 1. Perot Museum of Nature and Science, 2. Reunion Tower GeO-Deck 3. Dallas Zoo OR The Sixth Floor Museum, & 4. George W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum OR Dallas Arboretum & Botanical Garden. The City Pass costs only $46 for adults & $31 for children 3-12. IF you are planning to see all of these attractions you will save 42% by purchasing the City Pass. For more information about the Dallas City Pass click here.  We did not plan to visit all of the attractions included in the City Pass on this trip so we opted not to purchase one. 

Urban Adventure Stop # 1 - Perot Museum of Science & Nature
Opening in December of 2012 this state of the art science museum was a welcomed addition to Dallas, Texas. The Perot Museum mission is to "inspire minds through nature and science".  Our family has visited many times since opening day & continue to be amazed at the quality of exhibits. The four levels of this architect designed building offers activities & exhibits for everyone from 3 to 103! A day spent at this museum will be fun for all in your family.Operating hours are Monday - Saturday 10 AM - 5 PM & Sunday Noon - 5 PM. Admission cost: General Admission adults -$19, children aged 2-17 is $12, children under 2 are free. Parking is $8.
Earth Resources Level of Perot Museum
Perot Museum

Engineering Level of Perot Museum
Natural Science Area of Perot Museum

Fossil at Perot Museum
Sports Hall at Perot Museum

ATTENTION ALL TEACHERS the Perot Museum offers FREE admission to all educators. (Remember to bring proof that you are an educator - paycheck stub or ID.) The Perot Museum is an ASTC reciprocal admission museum. Discounts are available for military. To learn more about the Perot Museum of Science & Nature click here. 

Urban Adventure Stop # 2 - Stop by Klyde Warren Park
When you exit the Perot Museum of Science & Nature take a left & go around the building to the north.  Go down the stairs & you will find a green line painted on the sidewalk.  Follow the green line a few blocks to Klyde Warren Park. (approximately a 10 minute walk) This 5 acre green space in the center of a bustling city is a sight to see! Not to mention the park is located above one of the busiest freeways in the city! Each weekend there are a variety of activities offered at the park.  If you are hungry you can partake of some yummy food truck offerings as well. On your Dallas adventure make sure to include a stop at this unique park. Cost: FREE!  To learn more about Klyde Warren Park click here. 

Urban Adventure Stop # 3 - Dallas Museum of Art
Dallas Museum of Art
Across the street from Klyde Warren Park you will find the Dallas Museum of Art. Featuring 4 levels of art from around the world, you will not want to miss this stop on your urban adventure. Admission is FREE for general admission. Special exhibit admission is $16 for adults aged 12 & up & FREE for children aged 11 & under & senior citizen & military admission is $14.
Dallas Museum of Art

Urban Adventure Stop # 4 - McKinney Avenue Trolley
After the Dallas Museum of Art, head back to Klyde Warren Park & catch the vintage McKinney Avenue Trolley that picks up approximately every 22 minutes.  Ride the trolley up to McKinney Avenue & grab a bite to eat in one of the many restaurants.  The trolley runs 365 days per year & is heated & air conditioned. This one of a kind experience in Dallas, Texas is FREE!  Hop on & off the trolley as much as you wish for the affordable price of nothing. 

Urban Adventure Stop # 5 - Hopdoddy Burger Bar
With our stomachs growling we "hopped" off the McKinney Avenue Trolley at Hopdoddy Burger Bar. This is the place to eat if you want some of the most unique burgers that have ever been created.  Don't worry if you are not the adventurous burger eater, they have the classic burger as well. My son & I had the classic burger & my husband had the terilingua. We all devoured our burgers with some tasty fries. The truffle fries come highly recommended.  I liked them but my husband preferred the classic fries. The price came to about $13 per person for our burgers, fries, & 3 sodas. A bit steep for the family on a budget but is par for the location we were visiting. To see the menu for Hopdoddy Burger Bar click here.

With our bellies full we headed back to our car at the Perot Museum. We had a fun day on our urban adventure!  We were able to see & do things that are not seen or done on a typical day in the life of our family.

Visit our video link at the top of the page to see footage from our trips.  

May God bless you on all your adventures!

Exploring Huntsville, Texas

On a beautiful early fall weekend our family spent some quality time in Huntsville, Texas. Huntsville is located 1 hour north of Houston on Interstate 45. We were looking for a budget friendly destination that would let us experience the beautiful Texas weather we had that weekend.  We were not disappointed!

What is there to do?
    Explore all that nature has to offer.
  • Huntsville State ParkLocated in the Sam Houston National Forest, Huntsville State Park has over 2,000 acres surrounding a  beautiful lake for you to explore and enjoy. Some of the activities you can enjoy include hiking, biking, fishing, swimming, canoe & paddle boat rentals, horse back riding, camping, & picnics. You will find over 21 miles of hiking/biking trails in this state park.The day we visited the park was very busy with a mountain bike race going on & almost all of the campsites were full. We were surprised to find despite so many people were in the park the hiking trails were not crowded. We have hiked trails across the United States and found Huntsville State Park had the best marked trails.  The trails were well maintained and easily traveled. We enjoyed hiking around the beautiful lake.  We did not hike all 21 miles of trails, we focused primarily on the southern portion of the state park near the dam. During our hike we saw several bicyclists on the hiking trail. If you enjoy mountain biking, Huntsville State Park has many miles to ride. We highly recommend spending a day or weekend at Huntsville State Park.  Entrance fees for daily use are $5 for adults 13 and older and FREE admission for children under 12. Campsites: $15-$25 per night, Screened Shelters $30 per night, Shelters with Air Conditioning $60 per night, Group Pavilion Screened Shelter $50 daily. 

Pictures of Huntsville State Park:

Well marked trails..
You are surrounded by towering trees.

The horseshoe shaped lake is encircled by the state park.
Trails have many bridges to cross.
    Easy access from Interstate 45
  • Sam Houston Memorial Museum 1836 Sam Houston Ave, Huntsville, TX hours Sunday: 12:00pm - 4:30pm,  Monday: Closed, & Tuesday - Saturday: 9:00am - 4:30pm. Learn about the life of Sam Houston and how he influenced Texas' entrance into the United States. Entrance fees: Adults $5, Children Aged 6-18 $3, Seniors 65+ $4.
67 foot tall statue of Sam Houston

Where did you eat?
Huntsville has many options for restaurants from chain sit down restaurants, fast food restaurants, and locally owned restaurants. When we travel we like to eat like the locals so we chose a family owned restaurant near downtown Huntsville.  
Farmhouse Cafe located near downtown Huntsville
Farmhouse Cafe1004 14th St, Huntsville, TX. The Farmhouse Cafe is off Interstate 45 and worth the drive into the heart of Huntsville. Each day the Farmhouse Cafe offers daily specials to supplement the down home offerings on the menu. Oh & don't forget the hot and fresh one of a kind homemade cornbread that is brought to the table when you arrive.With meals priced at a reasonable average of $11, you can't go wrong if you are on a budget.  As for my family we ordered the following:

One of a kind cornbread served
with all meals.
I ordered the lunch special and was not disappointed. 
Lunch Special - Parmesan chicken with hand battered fried squash
& Italian style green beans.

Here's what my husband and son each ordered:
Fried catfish platter that served crispy filets, spicy hush
puppies, sweet & tasty coleslaw, & crisp french fries.
The desserts looked spectacular as well! (We had Blue Bell ice cream earlier in our trip so we did not try a dessert.) Do I recommend the Farmhouse Cafe:  YES! Everyone enjoyed their meals, we would definitely return next time we visit Huntsville.

Final notes about the trip:
While our trip was merely a day trip, Huntsville could easily be a great weekend getaway. Whether you are looking for a fun family camp out at the state park or you would like accommodations that include a nice comfortable bed with plenty of air conditioning, Huntsville has something for you to explore & enjoy! 

May God bless you on all of your travels!

You CAN Find it in Canton, Texas

First Monday Canton Trade Days
Are you looking for a family getaway unlike any other?  How about take the family on a scavenger hunt for treasures big or small in Canton, Texas? The Thursday-Sunday preceding the first Monday of the month is "Canton Weekend".  Canton, Texas turns from a quiet East Texas town with a population of 3,500 to a bustling 250,000 to 400,000 visitors each month. During "Canton Weekend" you can find anything from unique backpacks for your children to an antique window from a 100+ year old church and everything in between.  There are over 7,000 vendors spread out over 400 acres in both indoor & outdoor locations. Whatever you are looking for, you CAN find it in Canton, Texas without breaking the budget!

Where is Canton, Texas?
Canton, Texas is located in east Texas about 60 miles east of Dallas on I-20 or 37 miles west of Tyler on Texas Highway 64.

Where is the nearest major airport to Canton, Texas?
The nearest major airport is Tyler Pounds Field airport approximately 31 miles from Canton, Texas. Tyler Pounds Field has two airlines servicing the airport - American Eagle Airlines which connects to DFW Airport in Dallas, Texas & United Airlines that connects to Bush Intercontinental in Houston, Texas.

What is there to do in Canton, Texas for fun?

  • First Monday Trade Days - Your family could spend the day or weekend exploring the thousands of vendors at First Monday Trade Days. Don't have a lot of money to spend? Have a scavenger hunt for the most unique item for sale & take a photo of the item. Or you could pick a category such as paintings and have a photo scavenger hunt for the prettiest, most unique, most representative of the state of Texas or whatever!  Your options are limitless. Once everyone has selected their item, the family then votes on the best one. The person with the best one gets to choose which restaurant or vendor the family eats at that night. If you visit during Christmas each family member could draw names & buy a Canton Christmas gift for that person in the family to be opened Christmas Eve.  The indoor pavilions have new items such as purses, clothes, furniture, etc. If you are looking for an American Pickers experience you will want to visit the old section and avoid the pavilions. When you go you will want to bring a wagon or rent one for all your "finds" so you don't have to carry your purchases around all day. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes. Cost: $5.00 parking fee - not bad for a day of family fun!
Splash Kingdom Water Park
  • Splash Kingdom Water Park - Splash Kingdom is open Memorial Day through Labor Day from 11 AM to 6 PM Sunday-Thursday & 11 AM to 7 PM Friday & Saturday. This family-friendly water park is a great way to spend a day. Cost: $23.95 for 42" & over, $18.95  for under 42", military & over 65 years old is $18.95, under 2 years old is FREE, after 4 PM is $14.44 per person as of July 2015.
  • Yesterland Farm - Yesterland Farm is opened weekends September through December check website for exact dates. Yesterland Farm is fun for families with children aged 8 & under. Yesterland Farm is more than just a farm, it is also an amusement park with rides for small children. They do themed events such as fall pumpkin searches and Christmas cut down your own tree and see Santa Claus.  Cost varies visit website for more information but the cost is anywhere from $12.95 per person to $39.95 per person as of Fall 2015 with an extra fee for the rides of $2.00 per person.
Map of Yesterland Farm
Where can I stay in Canton, Texas?

    I-20 RV Park
  • Camping - If you would like to be close to First Monday Trade Days then you should stay at the First Monday RV Park that is within walking distance of Trade Days.  The cost is $30 per night with a minimum of 3 nights.  Reservations are taken the first Tuesday after first Monday trade days. Another RV park option include Mill Creek Ranch Resort that offers campsites ($37-$52 during non Trade Days, during Trade Days the cost is 25% more) or cabins ($136-$188 during non Trade Days, during Trade Days the cost is 25% more). Canton I-20 RV Park is another great option with rates at $35 per night.  Canton I-20 RV Park gets great reviews for their friendly staff and location. 

  • Hotels -  The hotel that is highest rated on Trip Advisor is Best Western Canton, Texas. This hotel is located near Splash Kingdom & First Monday Trade Days. Nightly rates range from $120 - $199 per night. 
Azalea House B&B
  • Bed & Breakfasts - Canton, Texas has over 30 bed & breakfasts from which to choose. Trip Advisor rates Azalea House B&B as number one. Azalea House is near Canton Trade Days but far enough away to escape the crowds. Azalea House has a pool with hot tub & slide, billards, fire pit for s'mores, and so much more! You must call & check rates if you are interested in staying at Azalea House as the nightly rates are not posted on the website.

Where is good place to grab a bite to eat in Canton, Texas?

  • Dairy Palace claims to be "world renowned since 1984". This family owned restaurant serves up breakfast 24/7 as well as some tasty burgers, sandwiches, & Mexican food. All for a price that will not break the budget!
    Dairy Palace
  • Ole' West Bean & Burger  serves down-home cooking and has a fabulous salad bar to boot! If you are looking for comfort food or a really good salad bar visit Ole' West Bean & Burger. Cost $10-$20 per entree.
  • Jalapeno Tree Mexican Food & Cantina serves Tex-Mex at it's best.  This chain restaurant offers great lunch specials that will not break your budget.  The chips & hot sauce are some of the best ever! This restaurant just opened in April 2015.  Cost $10-$20 per entree.

Palestine, TX Small Town Charm on a Budget

Palestine (pronounced Pah-less-teen), Texas is a quaint town in East Texas with a population of 18,000.  The small town atmosphere draws visitors from near and far.  

What kind of accommodations are available in Palestine, Texas? 

Hampton Inn & Suites
Hotel/Motel: I would recommend the Hampton Inn & Suites ($125/night) located at 2700 South Loop 256 Palestine, Texas. The rooms are clean & comfortable.  The indoor pool is nice for year round fun. The breakfast was fabulously FREE. The staff were friendly and welcoming. You are near Walmart, Walgreens, & CVS as well as restaurants.  

Bed & Breakfast: 
Sabor a Pasion Country House & Bistro is a secluded retreat that will refresh your tired spirit and body. It is located a few miles north of Palestine at 110 Anderson County Road 406 Palestine, Texas 75803. Chef Simon will prepare a breakfast unlike any you have experienced. Reservations are also available at Restaurant Aubergine for lunch or dinner.  If you are looking to get away from it all and enjoy the beauty of East Texas, Sabor a Pasion is an excellent choice!

Campsite Texas State Railroad  Palestine
I would recommend the Texas State Railroad Palestine Campsites  ($12/night) located on Highway 84 East just 3 miles from Loop 256. There are no full service hookup sites but there is running water for each site.  You also have a dump station on site. The campsites are level and in a quiet setting. There is a playground nearby. You  can also hike a short 1/2 mile hiking trail that has a pond. Our son enjoyed riding his bicycle around the camp loop.  We liked that we could sit at our campsite and watch him ride the full loop. You are not able to make reservations.  Campsites are available on a first come first serve basis. 

Lakeview Methodist Conference Center:
Lakeview Methodist Conference Center
Would you like to get away from it all and experience the great outdoors?  Lakeview is a camp setting offering facilities for groups from 2 to 1,100 people. There are 1,300 acres of wooded land, 3 lakes, & rolling hills that you and your family can enjoy.  Lakeview offers fishing, swimming, hiking, basketball courts, volleyball courts, putt putt golf, biking, & a ropes course just to name a few. The area is located south of Palestine on Texas Highway 294.  Cost ranges from $45 - $250 per night double occupancy. Day use fees are $5 per person. If you visit the Palestine area you do not want to miss Lakeview Methodist Conference Center.

Where is a good place to eat?

Rumps BBQ: 120 Farm-To-Market Rd 3328, Palestine, TX 75803
About 15 minutes west of Palestine located in what some might call "the middle of nowhere" you will find one fantastic restaurant! While Rumps specializes in BBQ they also offer fantastic sides & some great fried catfish. If you are in the area I highly recommend making the drive to Rumps for great food offered by fabulous servers & staff. (average meal cost $10)

Red Fire Grille: 400 North Queen Street Palestine, Texas 
Before I begin my review of Red Fire Grille, I want to preface it with the following. Yes, I know this blog is for families who want to travel on a budget. HOWEVER, Red Fire Grille is one of the best restaurants I have ever eaten at and therefore cannot be left from my post. Chef Chrisitan Mailloux prepares a revolving menu that inspires visitors to return time and again. When we visited Red Fire Grille I had the cooked to perfection New York Strip and my husband had the crab cakes which were artfully flavored. (average meal cost is $28) 

Giovanni's Italian Restaurant: 2027 West Oak Palestine, Texas
Giovanni's is quality Italian food that comes in portions big enough to share. If you are looking for an Italian meal or just a pizza, you will not be disappointed at Giovanni's. I highly recommend the chicken aristocrat. (average meal cost is $12)

Oxbox Bakery & Antiques: 215 East Crawford Street Palestine, Texas
No visit to Palestine is complete without stopping in for some of the best pie (I like chocolate) you will ever eat! Oxbow Bakery is located in historic Old Town Palestine.  After you finish your pie, walk it off as you visit other shops in the area. 

Eilenberger Bakery: 512 North John Street Palestine, Texas
This bakery first opened in 1898 and has become legendary near and far.  Featured in Southern Living magazine as one of the best bakeries in the south, you do not want to miss this treat when visiting Palestine. Try the gooey bars - you will not be disappointed.

What is there to do in Palestine, Texas?

Texas State Railroad
Texas State Railroad Steam Engine
The Texas State Railroad offers rides on a steam engine through beautiful East Texas. The rides depart from the Palestine or the Rusk depot depending on the day you choose to visit. The cost for coach or open air is $32 for adults & $20 for children for coach class. The Texas State Railroad offers special train rides throughout the year such as The Polar Express among others.  The Polar Express is a perfect way to get into the spirit of Christmas & the city of Palestine has festive activities taking place during this time as well. 

Davey Dogwood Park
Davey Dogwood Park
This 254 acre park on the north side of Palestine at 900 North Link Street is best seen during the spring during Palestine's Dogwood Festival. Drive through this beautiful park the last two weekends in March.

Enjoy a Small Town Festival: 
Palestine hosts two festivals each year, Texas Dogwood Trails Festival and the Hot Pepper Festival. The Texas Dogwood Trails Festival takes place the last two weekends in March & the first weekend in April - during the height of dogwood trees blooming. The Hot Pepper Festival takes place the last Saturday in October and features live bands, pepper eating contests, Dogwood Jamboree, & good ol' small town charm. Palestine is also a great place to visit during the Christmas holidays. In addition to the Polar Express, Palestine also offers a Christmas parade, Santa's Magical workshop, & Ice Fest.  

Enjoy a scenic drive:

  • FM 322 south to Texas State Highway 294.  Take a right on Texas State Highway 294 and travel past Lakeview Methodist Conference Center (400 PR 6036 Palestine, TX). I highly recommend visiting Lakeview at least for 1/2 a day if not longer. After leaving Lakeview take a right on Texas State Highway 294 and travel approximately 3 miles and turn right onto FM 1990. FM 1990 will take you back into Palestine.
  • Texas State Highway 19 north to Athens, Texas (approximately 35 miles) is another beautiful drive. In Athens visit the Texas Fresh Water Fishery.  Your kids will love fishing in the pond, the dive show, the tram tour, hiking, and learning about the hatchery. Cost $5.50 adults & $3.50 for kids aged 4-12. Plan to spend at least 1/2 day here.
    Texas Freshwater Fishery Athens, Texas
  • Texas State Highway 155 north to Tyler, Texas (approximately 47 miles). See my post for Tyler, Texas for more information on this beautiful city.

Beautiful Tyler, Texas on a Budget!

Texas is a BIG state!  With over 268,000 square miles you can find many different geographic regions. From the piney woods of East Texas to the mountainous region of Big Bend, there is something for everyone. A beautiful region of Texas is the piney woods located in East Texas. The piney woods have rolling hills covered by oaks, pines, & rich bottom lands with tall hardwoods. The largest city in East Texas is Tyler with a population of 100,000 people. Tyler is the "Rose Capital of the World" with the largest rose garden in the United States. When you visit Tyler you will enjoy southern hospitality in a beautiful mid-sized town.

How do I get to Tyler, Texas?

  • Drive: Tyler, Texas is located 10 miles south of Interstate 20  which is about 100 miles east of Dallas, Texas.  If you choose to drive to Tyler, you will not be disappointed in the beautiful scenery that surrounds this East Texas town. 
  • Fly: Tyler Pounds Field has two airlines servicing the airport - American Eagle Airlines which connects to DFW Airport in Dallas, Texas & United Airlines that connects to Bush Intercontinental in Houston, Texas.  
What kind of accommodations are available?
Residence Inn 350 W. Heritage Dr. Tyler, Texas
  • Hotel: I recommend the newly built (Fall 2014) Residence Inn ($159 per night) located in South Tyler at 350 W Heritage Dr, Tyler, TX.  This hotel has an indoor pool, free parking, free WiFi, free full breakfast, & free evening reception (free beer, wine, & snacks).  All 119 suites have kitchens and a pull out sofa.  The size of the suites make for perfect alternatives to a typical hotel for families, it really is like a studio apartment. 
  • Bed & Breakfast: I recommend the Rosevine Inn ($129-$199 per night) if you are looking to stay in the heart of Tyler. It is located at 415 South Vine Tyler, Texas in the historic brick street area.  If you would like to venture outside Tyler (17 miles south) I recommend Kiepersol Estates Bed & Breakfast ($160-$245 per night) Kiepersol Estates Bed & Breakfast is located at a winery/distillery.  In addition there is a fabulous gourmet restaurant on the property as well. 
Kiepersol Estates

  • Camping: You have several choices for campgrounds in the Tyler, Texas area.  I would recommend a Good Sam Campground called K.E. Bushman's Camp which is located about 3 miles from Kiepersol Winery. They have 97 RV & 6 tent sites. ($30 per night for RV). If you prefer a state park, Tyler State Park (Campsites $14 - $26 per night, Cabins $50 per night, & screened shelters $28 per night) located 12 miles north of Tyler is beautiful. 
What is there to do?
Tyler Rose Garden
  • Tyler Rose Garden: This 14 acre rose garden located at 420 Rosepark Drive Tyler, Texas is the largest in the United States. The garden is open 7 days per week from dawn to dusk and admission is FREE.  Don't miss the Texas Rose Festival held the middle of October each year. If you are looking to see some beautiful gardens and get some great photographs, don't miss this budget friendly attraction. 
Caldwell Zoo
  • Caldwell Zoo: An AWESOME zoo for such a small town!  Tyler has one of the best zoos in the State of Texas. Caldwell Zoo has a diverse selection of animals, including white tigers. The zoo is located on 85 acres at 2203 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd Tyler, Texas.  It is the perfect size for toddlers & small children, while still having interesting exhibits for older kids as well.  It is a great way to spend 1/2 a day in Tyler, Texas. Admission is $11.50 for adults and $8 for children 12 and under.  Parking is FREE! 
Discovery Science Place
Tyler State Park
  • Discovery Science Place: This hands-on science museum is great for kids aged 9 and under.  There are 2 buildings of exhibits with many hands on activities for children. This is a great way to spend 1/2 a day in Tyler, Texas. Admission cost is $8 for adults, $6 for kids aged 2-12, & under 2 is free.  Discovery Science Place is located in downtown Tyler at 308 N. Broadway.  There is some parking beside the science place and additional parking across Broadway in the Chamber of Commerce parking lot. 
  • Tyler State Park:  Tyler State Park is beautiful with it's 64 acre lake and 100 foot tall trees. This state park features 13 miles of trails to hike or bike, fishing, swimming, & boat rentals. There are great Ranger programs scheduled throughout the year providing fantastic learning opportunities. Tyler State Park is located at 789 Park Road 16 Tyler, Texas. Admission is $5 for Adults and FREE for children 12 years and under for a day pass. 
  • Bowling Alleys/Entertainment Centers/Movie Theaters: My favorite bowling alley is Green Acres Bowling Center.  Recently under new management Green Acres has turned into a great place to have some good ol' fashioned family fun. Fire Mountain Amusement is a great place to ride go-karts, bumper boats, & play games. It is located south of Tyler at 14722 Highway 155 South. Tyler has several movie theaters.  I recommend Times Square Movie Theater for an indoor theater and Skyvu Drive-in for a drive-in movie theater.  While not state of the art theaters, both are budget friendly and stand out among typical movie theaters.
  • Shopping Centers: Broadway Square Mall located at the corner of highway 69 (Broadway) and Loop 323 is a Simon Mall with 80 stores for your shopping enjoyment.  The Village at Cumberland Park is Tyler's newest shopping center with new stores being added monthly.  If you prefer antiques and boutiques The Potpourri House is for you!
Where is a good place to eat?
  • Kiepersol Restaurant - Fine dining at it's best.  Located at Kiepersol Winery 17 miles south of Tyler, this restaurant offers superb meals worth every penny!
  • Stanley's Famous BBQ - A Tyler tradition for 50 years.  Do not miss a chance to enjoy the best BBQ in East Texas, maybe even in all of Texas! A budget friendly option located at 525 South Beckham Tyler, Texas. 
  • Mercado/Pasados Mexican Restaurant - If Tex-Mex is what you crave, you will not find a better place than Mercados or Pasados.  There are 2 locations, one on west loop 323 and the second on 5th street near downtown Tyler.  Either choice is excellent!
  • Texas Roadhouse -  This chain restaurant serves quality food at a reasonable price.  If you are looking for a steak you will not find a better one than at Texas Roadhouse.  Kids eat free on Tuesday which will help the budget. Located at 2101 E. South Loop 323.
  • The Diner - Serving the best old fashioned breakfast in Tyler.  You will not be disappointed with lunch either! Located at 7924 South Broadway Suite 1000.
Are there any scenic drives from Tyler, Texas?
  • Texas State Highway 155 South from Tyler to Palestine is a beautiful drive across Lake Palestine to the towns of Frankston & then Palestine. 
  • U.S. Highway 69 South from Tyler to Jacksonville has beautiful views of the hilly terrain of East Texas. Do not miss the Lover's Lookout for some spectacular views.
  • Texas State Highway 31 East from Tyler to Kilgore is beautiful.  Make sure you eat at the world famous Country Tavern just outside of Kilgore.

New England On A Budget - Things To Do in Boston

On our 11 day trip to New England we saw many sites both historical and 21st century.  We visited one of the most populated areas in the United States and some of the least populated areas. Listed below are some of the sites we saw on our trip.

Boston/Cambridge: We did not see a fraction of the sites that can be seen in the Boston area.  I would think if you were a history buff you could spend weeks and not see it all. We were limited on the number of days we had in Boston, mainly due to the cost of hotel rooms. 

    Faneuil Hall located on
    Freedom Trail Boston, MA
  • Freedom Trail: The Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile path that is marked by a red-line. There are 16 historical sites along the path that are related to the Revolutionary War. You can follow the path and be your own tour guide or you can pay to have a guided tour.  Being budget conscious, we were our own tour guides using the maps available in Boston.  I found a Junior Ranger Scavenger Hunt on the National Parks Service web page and we completed it with my 10 year old son as we walked the trail.  We followed the path from the USS Constitution to Boston Common because parking was less expensive at the Nautica Parking garage than near Faneuil Hall. We liked the North End of the Freedom Trail best - with great restaurants and things to see. Once we finished touring the Freedom Trail, we then took the inner harbor ferry from the Aquarium back to the Charleston Naval Yard.  This was a lot of fun as you can ride up top and have great views of the harbor and Boston.  I just wished it had not been raining... One of the sites on the Freedom Trail was Bunker Hill monument.  When we visited it was required that all visitors go to the Bunker Hill visitor center at the bottom of the hill to get a pass to climb to the top of the monument. To save yourself a trip back down the hill and up again, you might want to check at the visitor center before you go up to the monument if you want to climb up the monument.  The Bunker Hill monument has 294 steps that are numbered.  The steps are STEEP.  If you have health problems you should probably skip climbing to the top, it is quite the workout.  At the very least you should stretch before climbing the steps. The monument is very narrow and in the June heat it feels as though oxygen is limited. My husband made it to the top of Bunker Hill Monument but then was sore for the next 3 days to the point where he could barely walk. Did I mention Bunker Hill Monument was the 2nd thing we saw upon arrival in Boston? You will need a minimum of 3 hours to tour the Freedom Trail. If you visit the USS Constitution you will need even more time.  We visited the USS Constitution and there were tours being offered by current Naval members.  The tours were very informative. The cost for the USS Constitution was donations with a suggested amount of $20-$25 for families. 

MIT Building 10 & The Great Dome

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Cambridge, MA: The Boston area is home to some of the world's finest universities.  We decided we could not pass up an opportunity to "go to MIT".  I love to tell my students in Texas that I "went to MIT". Of course I have to follow that with, one day while I was on vacation... MIT gives FREE campus tours Monday - Friday at 11 AM & 3 PM. On the tour we were able to gain knowledge about the history of MIT while touring the campus.  The tour lasts 1 hour and 45 minutes.  It was an interesting tour, if you have a couple of hours to spare. One thing I noticed was how little MIT looks like a traditional college campus. If you prefer there are self-guide maps available in the information office at MIT. Cost: FREE!
  • MIT Museum 265 Massachusetts Ave.Cambridge, MA:  My 10 year old son loved this museum.  There are many hands-on exhibits developed by MIT students. We have been to several science museums and this one was the most unique. We spent several hours exploring the hands on exhibits. Cost: $10 for adults and $5 for kids. 

Statue of John Harvard? @ Harvard University

  • Harvard University Cambridge, MA: We felt as though we should visit Harvard since we were right there.  I mean when in Cambridge one must simply visit Harvard right? We did not take a formal campus tour but did meander through the courtyard.  We even wandered into one of the buildings and found the Dean of Students office.  I still wonder if we were supposed to be in that building... We took a picture with the John Harvard statue and rubbed his toe for good luck. (Kind of reminds me of the Sully Statue at Texas A&M)  I wonder who had the idea first? I thought Harvard looked more like a traditional college.  I guess now I can tell my students that I "went to Harvard".  Yes, I will still follow it with "one time on vacation". I recommend seeing Harvard just so you can say you have. Cost: FREE! The tour is the only thing at Harvard that fits that description. 

  • Boston Common: Boston Common is a 50 acre public park in downtown Boston.  It is the oldest public park in the United States. We ended our tour of the Freedom Trail at Boston Common.  However, most people start the trail in this location. I was not a fan of Boston Common.  There were too many homeless people and what appeared to be drug dealers for my taste. That's too bad because it could be a nice place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. I could not relax because I kept thinking I was about to be mugged, or worse...  

New England on a Budget - Getting Around Boston

As of 2013, Boston, Massachusetts has a population of 636,000 people in 90 square miles. The Greater Boston Area is estimated to have a population of 4.5 million people, making it one of the most densely populated areas in the United States.  Due to how densely populated the area is, driving and parking in Boston is insanely difficult...

If you are traveling to Boston and do not plan to visit any region outside of the Boston area you do not need to rent a car. Not renting a car will save you money and keep you on a budget. Boston is a great city to use the MBTA or T train (subway).  Children under the age of 12 ride the subway FREE of charge. You can get a weekly card for $19 that gives you unlimited usage of the T train (subway) and the inner harbor ferry service. There is a harbor ferry service that runs from Logan Airport to Downtown Aquarium to the Charlestown Shipyard. We took the Harbor Ferry and enjoyed getting to see Boston from the water.  My son really enjoyed riding up top of the ferry, even though it was raining! The T train runs from Downtown Boston to outlying areas such as Cambridge.

Boston is very compact so you can walk the city easily. We walked the Freedom Trail the afternoon we landed in Boston.  It is very simple, just follow the colored pathway.  The Freedom Trail is 2.5 miles long and has 16 historic sites along the trail. There are maps all around town or you can download an app for the Boston Freedom trail. We just used a map. We prefer the north end of the Freedom Trail. The north Boston neighborhoods are very quaint and historic. 

If you have a rental car, as we did the day we flew in to Boston you will have to deal with parking in Boston.  Parking is VERY expensive!  Parking near downtown Boston in June 2014 was $35. Remember I am a budget conscious traveler?  No way I am going to pay $35 to park.  I found the Nautica Parking Garage near the USS Constitution museum (five minute walk) for $12 for 4 hours. If you take your parking ticket to the museum they will validate it and save you some money. 

Driving in Boston is insane as well.  We found the streets to be in disrepair. Drivers drive wherever they desire. Frequently drivers would be driving along the shoulder of the road. Our GPS redirected us through the warehouse district and we found potholes as big as the hood of our car! If you rent your car from Logan Airport you will have to pay a toll to go through the Ted Williams Tunnel ($3.50 in June 2014) or you will have to go the long way to get to Boston which in traffic could take you 45 minutes - 1 hour.