Photo by Eric Sandler

A bar in downtown Houston is among the first statewide to take advantage of a new law that allows it to sell vintage spirits. Reserve 101, a whiskey-obsessed cocktail bar located near the House of Blues, has rolled out a vintage spirits program that gives its customers the ability to taste pours they could have only previously found via well-connected friends with extensive collections or by spending thousands at a whiskey auction.

Before diving into Reserve’s offerings, let’s look briefly at this new law that became effective September 1. SB1322 amends certain sections of the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Code to provide for the sale of vintage spirits, which are defined as any distilled spirit that has not been available through a wholesaler for at least five years. To be eligible, the bottle must be unopened. The law places limits on how many bottles any individual can sell to any single store (no more than “24 containers” per 12 months), and it limits how many bottles bars and restaurants may purchase from a retailer to six per 12 months.

Those purchase limits — and the higher prices some of these bottles will likely command at auctions, estate sales, or via other means — likely limits vintage spirits to a niche offering, but Reserve 101 has committed to making a limited selection of these rare pours available on a daily basis.

“It’s really important for us to do it, because, if we want to say that we’re the best whiskey bar — not just in Houston but in Texas — I want to be able to diversify ourselves. I’d like us to stand out beyond other bars that have a really great whiskey selection,” co-owner Sean Fitzmaurice tells CultureMap.

“Now that new opportunities are arising, we want to be on the forefront of that. As soon as we found out we were able to do something like this, that we start cataloging it. So that on September 1, when the law changed, we were able to hit the ground running.”

Fitzmaurice says he began planning for this moment since the law passed the Legislature in May. Reserve’s initial roster includes Wild Turkey from 1987 ($30 for a half ounce) and Old WL Weller Special Reserve from 1977 ($150 per half ounce).

Requiring that vintage spirits only be out of distribution for at least five years allows Reserve to do more than sell whiskey that’s older than many of its customers. Fitzmaurice has also sourced more modern releases such as a highly coveted bottle of ultra-rare Booker’s Rye ($125 per half ounce or $250 per ounce). Coming soon (and pictured above) will be a bottle of Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye from 2013. He’s got a long wishlist of spirits he’d like to offer at some point, including replacing a rare bottle of Yamazaki Mizunara 2017 that was stolen during a robbery.

“My favorite whiskey ever was a collaboration between Compass Box and Delilah's out of Chicago for their 25th anniversary. Those are the ones I’d like to bring back,” he says.

Fitzmaurice acknowledges the prices make trying these spirits a splurge for most people, but they’re also more accessible as a single pour than trying to source a whole bottle. To make the supply last as long as possible, a person will only be able to buy one ounce of any individual vintage spirit per day. Although the offering has only been available for a few days, initial interest has been strong.

“The amount of phone calls, the amount of texts I’ve gotten, I think it’s going to be a program that does really well for us,” he says. “What I think is cool, is that the only constant will be change. What we have today, once it’s gone, it’s gone, and who knows what will be available tomorrow?”

Photo by Becca Wright

Upscale new Heights lounge opens with 'alluring cocktails' and global nightlife vibe

nightlife in the heights

The 11th Street corridor in the Heights offers some of the neighborhood’s most prominent eateries. Already home to restaurants and bars such as Trattoria Sofia, Eight Row Flint, Field & Tides, and Loro, the street has added a new lounge that brings a nightlife component to the neighborhood.

Best Regards has opened in the former Chivos space at 222 W 11th St. First announced in February, Best Regards is a stylish bar and lounge owned by commercial real estate broker Morgan Hansen. The concept takes inspiration from her travels and will host traveling DJs and other performers.

Best Regards interior

Photo by Becca Wright

The bar held its soft opening last weekend.

Formerly a restaurant, the space has been transformed with a large, indoor bar, a fully landscaped patio, and plenty of greenery both indoors and out. Hansen has also added plus banquettes and brass accents. This Instagram reel from local influencer Kayla Dalati offers a sneak peek at the atmosphere.

“Bringing Best Regards from concept to opening has been a thrilling experience and I’m excited to welcome Houstonians to our beautiful and lush social lounge,” said Morgan Hansen of Best Regards. “Guests can expect world-class DJs, a variety of live music, alluring cocktails and bites, and hospitable service our city has yet to see.”

Those “alluring cocktails” include house originals such as the “Wolf of 11th Street” (tequila, cantaloupe, and honey cilantro syrup) and the “White Collar Crime” (cacao-infused Texas bourbon, pecan turbinado, Aztec chocolate bitters). Best Regards worked with Heights favorite Tenfold coffee on a selection of cocktails that include a carajillo and an on-trend espresso martini. Other options include wines, champagne, and non-alcoholic cocktails.

Food options are presented in the form of shareable boards loaded with various snackable items. Options include a Burrata Board with prosciutto, fruit, tomatoes, and bread; a Pickle Board with sliced pickles, fried pickles, and pickle dip; and a Spanish Charcuterie board with various cured pork products paired with cheeses, condiments, and bread. Brunch boards, served from 2-4 pm on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, come with bagels, doughnut holes, egg salad, lox and accompaniments, and more.

The bar held a well-attended soft opening over the weekend. CultureMap asked Hansen what she learned from the experience.

Morgan Hansen Best RegardsCommercial real estate veteran Morgan Hansen is behind Best Regards. Courtesy of Best Regards

“It was very exciting to welcome our friends, family, and neighbors to Best Regards for our soft opening weekend,” she said in a statement provided by a representative. “The overwhelming support reinforced the need for our concept which delivers superior tasting cocktails and exceptional service in a fun and beautiful, indoor/outdoor environment.”

Best Regards is open Tuesday-Thursday beginning at 4 pm and Friday-Sunday beginning at 2 pm.

Photo by Danny Nguyen

Downtown tapas restaurant rolls the dice on new concept playing on its historic saloon days

from tapas to steak night

A downtown restaurant has swapped Latin American-inspired tapas for a more contemporary small plates menu. Batanga’s owners recently converted the Market Square restaurant to The Big Casino Kitchen + Bar.

Named for the historic Big Casino Saloon that occupied the space at 908 Congress St. from the Civil War until Prohibition, the restaurant keeps the things people liked about Batanga — specifically, its massive, 3,600-square-foot, fully landscaped patio — but updates the interior and menu for 2023.

First opened in the spring of 2013, Batanga arrived around the same time as a wave of new bars such as Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar and the Original OKRA Charity Saloon, which reinvigorated the area around Market Square as an eating and drinking destination.

“We loved having Batanga available to Houstonians for a decade but looked forward to revamping the space to appeal to a wide range of guests,” owner Brian Fasthoff said in a statement. “The Big Casino has something for everyone, great food, killer drinks, and a fun atmosphere.”

To create that “great food,” Fasthoff turned to consulting chef Ben McPherson, the culinary mind behind Batanga’s original menu and the current owner of wholesale pasta manufacturer BOH Pasta. Choices include a selection of shareable items such as crawfish beignets, sausage corn dogs, and crab and corn ravioli (made with BOH pasta, of course). The menu also includes an on-trend smash burger, a shrimp roll, and a grilled cheese made with smoked gouda and cheddar.

The Big Casino features steak night every Sunday and Wednesday. The $25 offering comes with a choice of a 6-ounce filet or 16-ounce ribeye paired with mac and cheese and a wedge salad. A crab cake, shrimp scampi, or bacon and blue cheese can be added for an additional fee.

Bartender Megan Hill (1751 Sea & Bar) leads the restaurant’s cocktail program with sips such as the Casino Royale (vodka, gin, Lillet Blanc), High Roller (gin, herbal liqueur, raspberry shrub, lemon, and egg white), and the Hot Streak (tequila, Curacao, lime, ancho-chipotle syrup, and grapefruit soda). Beer and wine are also available.

Interior changes include the installation of a 30-foot onyx bar and an upgraded sound system. Outside, diners will find a dedicated bar as well as a 16x10-foot video wall for watching sports.

The Big Casino is open Wednesday-Sunday beginning at 5 pm. Weekend brunch service will begin in the fall.

The Big Casino Kitchen + Bar

Photo by Danny Nguyen

The Big Casino Kitchen + Bar takes its name from the space's early days as a saloon.

Photo by Eric Sandler

Cool circus-themed pop-up bar spins carnival fun at favorite Montrose restaurant

step right up

From sports bars to tiki bars, Houstonians have plenty of choices for themed drinking establishments. One new bar has found a different source of inspiration.

Saint Julian’s Social Club has begun a three-month pop-up that’s temporarily occupying the Quiote space within The Toasted Coconut. Named for St. Julian the Hospitaller, considered to be the patron saint of hotel keepers, carnival workers, and murderers (among others), the bar pays tribute to carnivals, fairs, and circuses.

The project unites bartender Ben Mowbray (Grand Prize, The Toasted Coconut, etc.) with chef Rob Mungle (Outlaw Dave’s, Red Dwarf). Friends for more than 20 years, the duo tell CultureMap they’ve long aspired to open a concept where Mowbray could develop the bar program and Mungle, who’s won chili and gumbo cookoffs, could serve his slightly offbeat take on bar food.

Mowbray explains that he met performers like magicians and trapeze artists during his time performing standup comedy. He developed Saint Julian’s to honor their work ethic.

“The way they worked their asses off to stick their landings was so impressive to me,” he says. “That carnival concept came to me as a way to celebrate those people and give them a place to relax and feel received.”

Inside the intimate, 14-seat space, customers will find decorations like streamers, posters honoring famous carnival personalities, and other artifacts. The highlight is a giant wheel that customers can pay $5 to spin in order to win prizes such as drinks and swag — the top prize is currently three rare bottles of Citadelle Gin. As Mowbray explains, spinning the wheel illustrates a lot about Saint Julian’s approach.

“When you want to spin the prize wheel, we bring everybody together. It’s your moment in the sun,” he says. “What I really like is the way that vibe brings everybody together. It’s a small place. You’re going to get to know people. You’re going to have some laughs in here.”

Also providing laughs are Mowbray’s candy-infused cocktails. The menu features drinks made with spirits such as Sour Gumball-infused gin, Skittles-infused tequila, and vodka sodas in five flavors — Watermelon, Green Apple, Double Bubble, Skittles, and Lemon Head. Yes, he can also serve a limited selection of classic, non-candy infused drinks, but what’s the fun in that?

“If you’re worried it’s going to be too strong or too sweet or too childish, it’s not. It’s just a very refreshing way to have a vodka soda or gin and tonic,” Mowbray says. “The candy is not any stronger than it is in a flavored vodka. To my mind, it’s a better flavor. You’re drinking a Skittles vodka soda that takes like Skittles.”

Mungle contributes food items such as crawfish etouffee, Frito pie made with pineapple chili, flatbreads, and French toast. He’s also developed a dish he’s calling “candy sushi” — a Rice Krispie treat topped with a Swedish fish, Mexican sour candy, and a wasabi peanut that’s wrapped in a Fruit Roll-Up.

“We’re doing weird fun plays on candy and food,” Mungle says. “There’s nothing healthy in here. That’s what we want to do.”

Saint Julian’s will celebrate its grand opening this weekend (August 10-12). Going forward, it will be open Wednesday-Saturday from 6 pm until midnight. As the concept evolves, Mowbray plans to add performers to the mix such as magicians, jugglers, maybe even a fire swallower.

Quiote will return at some point, but the space belongs to Saint Julian’s through Halloween. That should be enough time to determine whether people like drinking at a carnival-themed bar.

“There’s a real chance people are going to think it’s goofy and silly and they want no part of it,” Mowbray says.

“What I’d like to do is prove this concept is successful. If we make a little bit of money, we’ll set it aside and keep looking for our own shop.”

Photo by Hierarchy Advertising

Permission Whiskey owner promises cool new tune at jazzy Heights cocktail bar

permission granted

A cocktail bar in the Heights has quietly undergone a change in management. Permission Whiskey & Service Co. owner Peter Nolan recently added The Ready Room to his portfolio.

Nolan, who opened Permission in 2020, tells CultureMap that Ready Room owner Ken Bridge approached him about taking over operations at the bar. He adds that he and Bridge, whose interests include Korean steakhouse Mapojeong and successful local chain Pink’s Pizza, know each from Nolan’s time working at Ready Room before he opened Permission.

Even better, Nolan met his business partner at Permission while working at Ready Room.

Opened by Bridge and bartender Peter Clifton in 2018, Nolan sees Ready Room as a companion to Permission that serves more familiar cocktails in an intimate environment that’s anchored by live music. Changes to the interior will be limited, but he plans to expand the patio with more greenery and make it cigar friendly.

“It’s a really good ship. It just needs a captain,” Nolan says. “It’s a beautiful little bar. We knew right away since we had a history there.”

If Nolan is Ready Room’s new captain, then general manager Himanshu Desai is his first mate. Desai, who earned a CultureMap Tastemaker Awards Bartender of the Year nomination for his work at Musaafer, is known for both his friendly demeanor and utilizing culinary techniques in his cocktail recipes.

“He’s ridiculously fantastic,” Nolan says about Desai. “He’s definitely the vibe we’re looking for. He’s a host but also a creator. We’re super excited to see what happens with that.”

One thing he’s learned from talking to regulars is that they like being in an environment with live music but still want to be able to talk to their friends. To facilitate that environment, expect smaller ensembles centered around the space’s piano who can enhance the ambiance without dominating the room. At the same time, he doesn’t want the environment to be too staid.

“If people want to get up and dance, we’ll move the tables,” he said. “If you want [the band] to play your favorite song, we’re on it.”

Ultimately, Nolan envisions a symbiotic relationship between the two bars. People could start their night at Permission, grab dinner at a restaurant like Coltivare or Karne, then end the night at Ready Room. He’s confident the two bars will each find an audience.

“I think Permission is one of the best bars in the country. If we do what we do, I think Ready Room will sail alongside that ship,” he says.

“It will be one of the best jazzy music joints in all of Houston. I want it to be a destination for sure.”


Bobby Heugel swoops in to rescue suddenly shuttered Montrose dive bar

back in the catbird seat

A casual neighborhood bar on lower Westheimer, Catbirds, closed July 31 after almost 30 years in operation, but the Montrose staple will reopen this fall under new ownership.

Shelly and Emily Wilburn, the mother-daughter duo who owned and operated the bar since 2018, tell CultureMap that the decision to close may have seemed sudden to regulars but had been under consideration for some time. They explain that Catbirds remained closed for almost 11 months during the Covid pandemic, because it didn’t have a kitchen that would allow it to operate as a restaurant.

That closure led to the accumulation of debt that's been difficult to pay off. In addition, Wilburn’s husband Matt died last year, putting more pressure on Shelly to work a full-time job during the day and manage the bar at night.

“A lot of people think we decided to sell and move on, but it’s not a sudden decision,” Emily says. “It’s taken a lot of time. It hurts. It’s hard for my mom. It’s hard for my family.”

Enter Bobby Heugel. He and Justin Yu, his business partner in the Thorough Fare hospitality group (Anvil, Squable, Better Luck Tomorrow, etc.), purchased the shopping center that includes Catbirds in 2019. When Wilburn informed Heugel of her intention to close, he purchased the bar’s equipment and the rights to the Catbirds name.

Although Heugel might seem like an unlikely patron for such a casual spot, he considers himself something of a regular — even working a guest shift with Anvil general manager Tommy Ho to raise money for the bar’s staff during the pandemic.

“I really liked the staff here. They were always extremely kind to me,” Heugel says. Later, he adds, “Catbirds is one of the five bars I’ve visited the most in Houston.”

While Heugel has the legal right to reopen the bar as Catbirds, he hasn’t made a final decision about whether to do so. As he notes in a written statement provided to CultureMap, he wants to get a feel for how the bar’s regulars feel about him operating the business.

“I know that bar has a lot of history we aren’t part of, and neighborhood bars, more than any others, need to be supported by locals and regulars,” he writes. “I completely understand why some view me — the guy that opened Anvil — as contrary to their sentiments of an older Montrose. I don’t think that’s entirely fair, but I get it. I hope the neighborhood and all of those who have loved that bar will give us a chance to carry on its legacy, but we are going to reflect on everyone’s input before firmly committing to what’s next.”

For her part, Emily Wilburn hopes the space keeps the Catbirds name. “If they have to change the name, I understand, because at the end of the day it’s whatever’s best for your business. I would love to see the legacy of Catbirds live on, and I would love to see the name when I’m driving down Westheimer,” she says.

Whether or not Heugel decides to operate the bar as Catbirds, the bar will maintain the same spirit it always has. The TVs will remain for watching sports, and the drinks will remain affordable. He hopes its regulars, including those he describes as “people who have worked long hot shifts in kitchens and behind bars,” will remain patrons.

“We do not want this place to be a cocktail bar,” he says. “That is not what we’re trying to do with it. We want it to continue to be Catbirds if people are receptive to it. If not, it will be a neighborhood bar that’s very similar to what Catbirds was.”

The sudden closure caught both the bar’s regulars and its employees by surprise. Shelly Wilburn acknowledges that the staff found out they bar had closed via a Facebook post, although she intended them to find out when a manager issued everyone their final paychecks. “It was unfortunate the way that happened, but it was not our intention in the slightest,” she says.

Since Heugel purchased the bar’s assets and name but not the business itself, it will be at least a couple months before Catbirds reopens. The new bar needs a full set of permits and a liquor license before its can operate.

“Because we don’t want to change very much about it, there’s not going to be any major construction,” he says. “We think it can be quick.”

For Catbirds fans who’ve suddenly lost their favorite bar, the sooner the better. While they might not be want to hear it, Emily encourages a little patience.

“Bobby’s going to keep it a Montrose staple that will be back soon,” she says. “Catbirds will be back. It will just be a new owner.”

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Charming Houston town's top rank in nation for families leads week's hottest headlines

this week's hot headlines

Editor's note: It's time to recap the top stories on CultureMap from this past week.

1. Charming Houston community named No. 12 most family-friendly U.S. city. The "Family-Friendly Cities" list focuses on local communities that offer plenty of recreational outdoor activities.

2. Houston's favorite outdoor concert venue ranks No. 1 in the world in new list. The venue had more million-dollar box office grosses this year than ever.

3. Where to eat in Houston right now: 9 best new restaurants proving our pizza town cred. The new arrivals enhance Houston's dynamic pizza scene.

4.Beyoncé reigns supreme with Megan Thee Stallion cameo in jaw-dropping Houston Renaissance Tour opening night. Our review recaps Beyoncé's breathtaking homecoming celebration, from jaw-dropping visuals, to Megan's surprise appearance.

5.Countdown to Beyoncé: Parking, closures, rideshares, and more for NRG Stadium. We mapped all the ways to get to NRG Stadium for last weekend's epic shows.

Rock icon Bono's daughter makes her own sweet music in Flora and Son

in bloom

The new Apple TV+ film Flora and Son centers on a single mother and her teenage son, a situation that typically calls for an uplifting story about the mother’s struggles trying to support the two of them, and the bond that develops between them as go through the troubles together. While that element exists somewhat here, it goes down a much different path that’s both saltier and equally as rewarding.

Eve Hewson and Oren Kinlan in Flora and Son

Photo courtesy of Apple TV+

Eve Hewson and Oren Kinlan in Flora and Son.

Set in Dublin, Ireland, the film follows Flora (Eve Hewson), a single mom to Max (Oren Kinlan), who gets in a fair bit of trouble. She shares custody with her ex, Ian (Jack Reynor), and their antagonistic relationship, along with Max being a teenager, likely has an effect on how Flora and Max get along. A typical interchange between mother and son has them calling each other all sorts of bad names, although there rarely seems to be any true animosity behind their arguments.

When a guitar Flora refurbishes for Max goes unappreciated, she instead starts taking online lessons herself with an American named Jeff (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). She’s no less brash with him, but her sincere interest in learning how to play and in finding out more about Jeff’s music opens a new door for Flora. Soon, a discovery that Max is making music of his own on his laptop helps them communicate better than they have in a long time.

Flora & Son is the latest music-focused film from writer/director John Carney (Once, Sing Street), and he once again finds the sweet spot in telling a personal story enhanced by song. Flora has more than a few rough edges, making her a less-than-ideal protagonist, but the heart of the character shines through precisely because she has no filter. Once music is added to the equation, it become that much easier to see the type of person she is and why you should root for her.

Both Hewson and Gordon-Levitt are charming actors, so they establish a connection through a screen well. Fortunately, though, Carney chooses not to leave it at that, adding a slight fantasy element to some of their scenes by having Flora imagine Jeff in the room with her. A romantic element naturally arises, but it’s the unexpected way in which two lonely souls find each other from across the world that makes them the most interesting.

There are a couple of decent songs that come out of the process of all of the music-making, but nothing that you could truly call an earworm. Instead, it’s the feeling you get seeing the characters interact when they’re sharing music with each other that makes the film sing. Only one character could be classified as a professional musician, with the rest of them making music for the pure joy of it, an emotion Carney translates well in his storytelling.

Hewson (the daughter of U2’s Bono, in case you were unaware) is having a moment after 15 years in the business. She has a boldness that serves her as well in this role as it did in the recent Apple TV+ limited series, Bad Sisters. This is Kinlan’s first major part, and he acquits himself well. Both Gordon-Levitt and Reynor are seasoned actors who know how to make the most of their limited scenes.

The depiction of a mother/child relationship in Flora and Son is atypical, but it still winds up in a great spot thanks to the power of music and some fine performances. Carney’s love for both songs and filmmaking has yielded some memorable movies over the years, this one included.


Flora and Son opens in select theaters and on Apple TV+ on September 29.

Spectacular SPI sandcastles, F1, ACL, and more Texas travel tidbits in October

where to travel right now

Fall is finally here, and with the (hopefully) cooler temps will come the chance to get outside and enjoy autumn activities all around Texas. Can't decide where to take a quick vacation, road trip, or staycation? Here are 11 events, special celebrations, and hotel happenings to help plan a getaway in October.

Along the Gulf Coast

What better way to celebrate the arrival of spooky season than by seeking out haunted ghost experiences in Corpus Christi? The Heritage Park Museum will showcase four reportedly haunted houses, and phantom chasers will delight in visiting the USS Lexington during the "Haunting on the Blue Ghost" event, October 6-31, to glimpse any ghostly crew members lurking about the vessel. The abandoned Nueces County Courthouse also has some ghouls of its own, with reports of voices, noises, and screams being heard following a hurricane that devastated the area more than a century ago.

Summer might be over, but a trip to the beach is always in the cards on South Padre Island. The annual Sandcastle Days falls on October 5-8, drawing the attention of sandcastle-building experts, food and craft vendors, and free family-friendly entertainment. Then, from October 19-21, classic cars and motorcycles rev up the brand new Chrome in the Sand Festival. The weekend will consist of live performances, car shows, a poker tournament, and more. Tickets for the Chrome in the Sand Festival begin at $20 for general admission, $55 for VIP, and $500 for VIP tables.

Around Austin

It's finally festival season down in the Texas Capital, beginning with the iconic Austin City Limits Music Festival at Zilker Park for two consecutive weekends from October 6-8 and 13-15. Luckily for Texas travelers, CultureMap's got the scoop on all things ACL – from can't-miss acts, to new eats, and more. One-day general admission tickets begin at $170. Weekend One tickets are waitlisted, but there are still one-day general admission tickets available for Weekend Two. Weekend passes for both weekends are waitlisted.

Following ACL, Austin will race to the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas from October 20-22. Red Bull Racing has already won the 2023 Constructors' Championship after its longstanding driver Max Verstappen won the Japanese Grand Prix, and Verstappen is well in the lead to win his third-consecutive World Drivers' Championship title. Three-day general admission wristbands are $475, two-day GA is $425, and three-day parking passes are $275.

F1 racecarRace to Austin for the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix. Photo courtesy of Circuit of The Americas

In the Hill Country

It's never too late for a day by the pool, and the luxurious Lantana Spa at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa has opened reservations for their renovated pool cabanas with a special VIP poolside service and deluxe amenities. The private, two-person Canyons, Preserve, and Oaks Spa Cabanas each include an unlimited mimosa service, shaded seating and chaise lounges, a dedicated server from 11 am-5 pm, and more. Cabana reservations can be made by resort guests or in addition to a spa service, and rates begin at $400.

Nonprofit trade association Texas Hill Country Wineries is bringing back its Texas Wine Month passport this month for a self-guided journey through 45 local wineries with special discounts scattered along the way. With participating estates scattered throughout popular weekend destinations like Fredericksburg, Johnson City, and New Braunfels, it’s a chance to explore the Hill Country and soak in those autumn vibes. Wine passport-holders can visit up to four wineries daily to get the most out of a weekend getaway. Individual passes are $85, and couples' passes are $120.

Speaking of wineries, one Marble Falls-based winery is hosting regular events throughout October, which is perfect for those holding a Texas Wine Month passport. Every Saturday and Sunday, folks can venture out to Flat Creek Estates & Vineyard for their effervescent Bubbles and Brunch from 11 am to 3 pm. And if the trip transforms from a brunch outing into an all-day affair, guests catch live music from local Texas bands during the winery's weekend music series from 2-6 pm. Ernie Vasquez and Evan Grubbs are scheduled the weekend of October 7-8, and Stephen Daly and Andrew Lopez will play on the weekend of October 14-15.

Throughout Texas

If searching for beautiful fall foliage around Texas is at the top of the priority list, cabin rental agency Smoky Mountains' prediction map is the perfect guide to help estimate when the leaves will begin changing throughout the state and the U.S. The map predicts most of Texas will have minimal-to-patchy changing leaves by the end of October, and most of the state's trees will be at their color-changing peak in November.

Dallas-based luxury bus operator Vonlane added 60 new weekly departures to meet anticipated high demand for the fall travel season. There are now more than 430 trips per week departing Vonlane hubs in Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio. Travelers can book their trips online for both one-way or round-trips, with fares beginning at $119.

Two unmistakable cutesy pink trucks are going on tour throughout Texas this month, with stops in several major cities. That's right – the cult craze Hello Kitty Cafe Truck and Barbie Truck are bringing a horde of new branded clothing and accessories to adoring fans in Houston, Austin, and San Antonio. Houstonians can head to First Colony Mall to say hi to Hello Kitty on October 7, then head to Baybrook Mall in Friendswood to catch the Barbie Truck on October 21. Barbie will stick around to visit The Woodlands Mall on October 28.

In Waco

The annual Magnolia Silobration at The Silos will celebrate the 20th anniversary of Chip and Joanna Gaines' Waco-based home design and lifestyle empire from October 19-21. Fixer Upper fans can visit the Silos to enjoy a three-day adventure of local artisan and food vendors, live music performances, shopping, and more. The festival is free, but note that certain ticketed experiences like the 20th anniversary tour, weekend rooftop passes, and Evenings with Chip and Jo are sold out.