• Richard Stout, "Evenings Fall," 1967
  • David Adickes, "Three Men on a Beach," 1953
  • Jack Boynton, "Inland Lights," 1956
  • Emma Richardson Cherry, "Southern Morning," c. 1930

This month's editorial series, True Grit: Houston Style, has sought to answer to what extent Houston embraces its Texas roots. To investigate how Houston artists have come to terms with their state's landscape, we went to William Reaves Fine Art, a gallery whose mission is to define modernism in Texas.

"We opened the gallery to convey a story about the evolution of modernism in our state," says the gallery's owner, William Reaves. He pinpoints Houston as the "birthplace" of Texas modernism for the community's willingness to display abstract works in museums and support award-winning artists as early as the 1930s. Artist-teachers like Emma Richardson Cherry and Ella McNeil Davidson had means to travel internationally and cultivated a generation of informed local artists like Robert Preusser and Frank Dolejska in the 1920s and '30s via institutions like the Art League and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Reaves notes that much ink has been spilt chronicling the first half of the 20th century in Texas art, but it was not until after World War II that the region received the necessary influx of knowledgeable artists to create an enduring community. Several local artists who stayed in Europe after the war brought back global influences. Paris was briefly home to a creative Texan expat culture, inculcating such minds as Herb Meers and David Adickes, who studied under the lionized Cubist painter Fernand Léger.

"This sort of French-looking, Texas cubist school that they created when they returned was very different from the bluebonnets people were used to seeing," says Reaves.

As the 1950s progressed, Houston became a "hotbed" for non-representational art, led by figures like Jack Boynton and Richard Stout (whose work from the era will be on view in an exhibition opening Friday). "A lot of this stuff from the '50s is new again because it's been kind of squirreled away in closets for awhile," says Reaves. "It comes off as fresh because there's a kinship with contemporary artists."

No doubt that international currents increasingly flowed into the local art mix, but did Houston artists ever completely turn their back on the Texas landscape?

"My impression is that it's a blend," says the gallery owner, citing Richard Stout as an example of an artist who has studied under other masters and blended that style with an impression of the state. Explains Reaves,

He paints in an expressionist style and has been informed by a lot of different artists over time. In addition, he was an art professor at UH for 25 years, so he's very aware of what's going on internationally. But Richard is also from Beaumont and his work almost always sees a landscape influence — a lot of coastal plains and rich atmosphere. Yet it is painted in a way that is informed by a lot of important artists from the New York School."

Similarly, Boynton and McKie Trotter presented work at New York galleries, yet their respective reductive landscapes and abstract expressionist works evince a horizon line evocative of the wide skies and flatness of Texas.

In truth, the link between Houston artists and their Texas roots is not a black-and-white issue. But to some extent, the answer is embedded in the cadre of works on view at William Reaves Fine Art. More than simply display and distribute artworks, the gallery presents curated thematic exhibitions that are accompanied by robust physical and online catalogues derived from research conducted at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's Hirsch Library.

"The gestalt of what we're trying to do," says Reaves, "is trace a history of Texas art that may have been overlooked, but at its zenith, there's this beautiful, vital modernism."

The exhibitions Lone Star Modernism: A Celebration of Mid-Century Texas Art and Richard Stout: The Early Years open Friday, with a reception April 9, 5 - 8 p.m. A gallery talk will be held April 30 from 2 - 4 p.m. Both exhibitions are on view through May 7.

  • I wore faux coonskin on my head, and once told an adult that everyone called meplain old David, but that my real name was Davy Crockett.
  • The boys were very taken with all the re-enactors and even volunteered to be getup at 5:30 for the commemoration of the battle’s bloody pre-dawn conclusion.
  • I distinctly remember the panels in which Texian sharpshooters killed Mexicansoldiers and celebrated.
  • You feel them whether the gray on your head comes from your own hair or fromyour coonskin cap.
  • Yes, the epic battle was to some extent fought in defense of slavery. Jim Bowiehimself was a big-time slave trader.
    Portrait by George P.A. Healy, c. 1820
  • Stephen L. Hardin made a name for himself with his military history of the TexasRevolution, "Texian Iliad."

Remembering the Alamo — dark side and all — and how Davy Crockett's still cool

Coonskin Cap Chic

Like most AARP-eligible, Caucasian American males, I grew up under the sign of Davy Crockett Alamo, as interpreted by Walt Disney and Fess Parker. I wore a faux coonskin on my head, and once told an adult that everyone called me plain old David, but that my real name was Davy Crockett.

And because I grew up in South Texas, not far from San Antonio, the Alamo connection was particularly strong. When my mother went shopping at Joske’s, that Taj Mahal of San Antonio retail, I’d tag along, hoping to talk her into buying me a book and into letting me visit the Alamo just a few steps away.

All this was memorable enough for a small town boy, but when word came that John Wayne was going to make an Alamo movie, and play Davy Crockett himself, I suddenly felt a little closer to the center of the universe. The excitement that attended the movie’s world premiere in San Antonio made its way to my hometown. So couple of years later, when I was in seventh grade, I was reasonably excited to study Texas history, even if it was at the hands of a strange, and possibly emotionally disturbed former coach.

That’s when I first realized that the legacy of the Alamo defenders was more ambiguous and complicated than I’d realized. I distinctly remember the comic book about the Texas Revolution that we read in class. Its overt racism made me feel embarrassed for my “Mexican” classmates. I distinctly remember the panels in which Texian sharpshooters killed Mexican soldiers and celebrated by exclaiming “Got a taco bender!” and “Got a bean eater!”

That was my first inkling that the Alamo’s appeal might not be universal.

The older I got, and the larger Vietnam loomed in my life, the more ambiguous the lessons of the Alamo became. It didn’t help that LBJ was exhorting U.S. troops to “nail the coonskin to the wall” over there in Southeast Asia, where I had no intention of ever setting foot.

But the Alamo fire never completely went out for me, and part of the process of reconciling myself to being a life-long Texan, when at times I really wished I were somewhere else, was to re-embrace the Alamo, dark side and all. Yes, the epic battle was to some extent fought in defense of slavery. Jim Bowie himself was a big-time slave trader.

But still…the Alamo defenders may not have literally crossed a line drawn in the sand, but they were surely brave, just as were the Mexican soldiers who crashed the Alamo’s walls. I still can’t read Travis’ final letter — "I shall never surrender or retreat" — without getting an emotional jolt.

And the more I learned about Crockett (which isn’t a lot), the easier he was to cling to. He fell out with his extremely powerful patron, Andrew Jackson, because he opposed Jackson’s policy of Indian removal, which was the ethnic cleansing of that day. There’s a lot of mythology surrounding Crockett, of course, but he really was witty enough to say (after he lost a re-election to Congress bid) “You may all go to Hell, and I will go to Texas.”

Last Christmas, when my 12-year-old son, Gabriel, and my 10-year-old grandson, Cameron, and I made a trip to San Antonio, I took them to the Alamo and wondered how they would respond. They knew a little about the Alamo and Crockett, but they’d never experienced Fess Parker or John Wayne, and I wasn’t sure how this would all translate to their wired and digital generation.

But somehow the old shrine worked its magic, as they each left wearing coonskin caps, which they kept on as we explored the rest of the city. Gabriel even wore his to a Christmas party attended by boys his own age, and who responded predictably to the sight of the absurd headgear (which does, somehow, actually look pretty good on Gabriel). “Is that a condom on your head?” one kid asked.

I expected Gabriel to throw his cap away and foreswear Davy Crockett, but instead he got his back up. Davy Crockett was cool, whether his friends realized it or not.

Earlier this month, Cameron, Gabriel and I went back for the 175th anniversary of the Alamo’s fall. It was quite a time. The boys were very taken with all the re-enactors, and even volunteered to be get up at 5:30 for the commemoration of the battle’s bloody pre-dawn conclusion. Gabriel bought a copy of Crockett’s autobiography, which he’s promised to let me read when he’s through.

I also reconnected with Steve Hardin, whom I hadn’t seen in decades. As Stephen L. Hardin, my old friend and former fencing companion has become quite a writer and historian. He made a name for himself with his military history of the Texas Revolution, Texian Iliad. In Literary Houston, an anthology of writing about Houston that I recently published with TCU Press, I included two pieces by Hardin, who is simply one hell of a writer. One excerpt, from Iliad, vividly brings to life the Battle of San Jacinto and its revenge-and-blood-filled-conclusion; the other, from the unjustly neglected Texian Macabre, memorably describes Houston in the 1840s as “the worst place on earth.”

I rehearse all this because Hardin is so good at bringing history back to life, and to making you understand that the fighters on both sides were human beings, subject to the same emotions as us. Hardin led us on a tour of the greater Alamo battleground, which extends far beyond today’s Alamo grounds. When he came to the story of Susanna Dickinson’s exit from San Antonio, he became quite moved. This despite the fact that he’s told it, and contemplated it, many times before.

We were standing at the very spot where Santa Anna had the naked bodies of the Alamo defenders piled up and burned. Shortly thereafter, when the Alamo-survivor Dickinson left town, en route to Gonzales, she would’ve had to pass right by the smoldering ashes and blackened bones of her dead husband. As Hardin imagined the pain she must’ve felt, he was briefly brought to tears. He apologized, saying, “It’s just such a human moment.”

Despite the fact that the Alamo is surrounded by a impressively tacky atmosphere, complete with a Ripley’s Believe It or Not, these human moments still shine through, and you feel them whether the gray on your head comes from your own hair, or from your coonskin cap.

  • Kiss your grits
  • Texans quarterback Matt Schaub will be one of the judges.
  • Branch Water Tavern
    Photo by Ralph Smith
  • Ouisie's Table

True grits: Houston's best grits show Jeff Bridges who's boss

Foodie News

Grits have come a long way since being the butt of jokes on The Beverly Hillbillies. After all, when Britney Spears' dad was filmed making her a bowl of cheese grits for breakfast, the only snarky commentary was about his use of Kraft singles.

Which is as it should be. The traditional Southern dish of ground corn and creamy goodness may have humble origins, but with the rising tide of respect for Southern cuisine, grits have earned their due as a food that's both simple and delicious. (And no, they aren't just for breakfast anymore.) For the best versions in town, look no further than these restaurants

Zelko Bistro

Many do shrimp and grits well, but Jamie Zelko's version of the Gulf coast classic earned her a Rising Star award from StarChefs.com. The white cheddar polenta itself verges on the edge of too sweet, but the addition of sweet soy agave nectar at the edges of the grits strikes us as simply sublime.

Ouisie's Table

The version of sprimp and grits by Elouise Adams Jones has been the Houston standard for a decade, incorporating bacon, mushrooms, scallions, and just a hint of spice.


The locally-sourced cresenza cheese grits at Haven are simply not optional for me — luckily, even if I'm not ordering shrimp, I can add them on as a side.

The Breakfast Klub

No one fries up Southern favorites quite like The Breakfast Klub, it's true. Though the wings and waffles combo gets more ink, the 'katfish' and grits dish is just as popular and maybe even more revered. Add eggs and a biscuit for the ultimate down-home Southern breakfast.


The version of shrimp and grits by Chris Shepherd gets a bit of a kick from roasted piquillo pepper butter, as well as a tangy goat cheese and bacon. In a word: yum.


Grits in the morning or at night? At Jasper's, in The Woodlands, you don't have to choose. The prosciutto-wrapped shrimp and grits with lemon-thyme butter sauce comes on both the brunch and dinner menus.

Brennan's of Houston

The granddaddy of all the Southern flavors making waves all over town, Brennan's still serves some great shrimp and grits, adding marinated sweet peppers, mirlitons, baby arugula, roasted garlic and oven dried tomatoes for some ladies-who-brunch flair.

La Vista

Taking shrimp and grits to the limit: the bacon is wrapped in prosciutto, the polenta is extra cheesy, and did we mention La Vista adds a little Grand Marnier?


Most grits recipes call for ground corn, but Beaver's takes the slightly more indie approach by using hominy. We dig it.

  • John Travolta in "Urban Cowboy"
    Courtesy photo
  • A familiar sign
  • Mickey Gilley, founder of Gilley's Club
  • Memorabilia from Gilly's

No (mechanical) bull: Travolta, Winger & Gilley's forever changed Houston

Urban (Cowboy) Legend

Editors Note: The opening of PBR recalls the heyday of Gilley's and the Urban Cowboy craze, so we're re-posting this story than ran March 30, 2010.

We’d like you to stop for a minute and consider Houston and its culture, then answer the following question. A perfect score will guarantee you a deep-fried sense of pride.

What is the date and location of the most important event in Houston’s history? Describe the event’s historical ramifications.

(a) August, 1836, confluence of White Oak and Buffalo bayous

(b) July 21, 1969, landing site of the Apollo 11 moon mission

(c) Sept. 8, 1863, Sabine Pass

(d) June 6, 1980, Pasadena

Correct answer (d.) On June 6, 1980, our long-neglected city and its refinery-studded sister to the south, Pasadena, finally got some street cred in the age of Dallas upon the release of the romantic drama Urban Cowboy, a gripping tale of the love triangle between country boy Bud (John Travolta), cowgirl Sissy (Debra Winger) and a mechanical bull (the center of entertainment in a sprawling Pasadena honky-tonk named Gilley’s).

Historical ramifications: For the first time in history, Houston found itself in vogue. The music and the close-ups of young John Travolta and Debra Winger stirring up trouble and sawdust at Gilley’s nightclub generated overnight interest in the Houston scene and the aforementioned bar. America wanted in.

City girls finally had an excuse to run out and buy a cute pair of cowboy boots. Guys no longer had to go to a Western dress store to get shirts with pointy-pocket flaps and pearl snap buttons. They could be found at JC Penney. Once proud city slickers started shrink-wrapping themselves into pairs of freshly pressed Levis before heading out to dance classes.

Wait a minute – dance classes?

Yes, indeedy. After all Travolta’s choreographed boot-scootin’ across Gilley’s dance floor — with a Lone Star jammed firmly into his back jean pocket — the country two-step, the waltz and, of course, the Cotton-Eyed Joe high-tailed it into the cool category of mainstream dance culture. It even spawned a new industry: Country western dance classes, led by retired small-town hairdressers, barmaids and anyone else whose mascara was heavy enough.

These were guys who previously wouldn’t be caught dead on a dance floor, but all of a sudden chicks were swooning over any rugged cowboy-type who could cut a rug. Since Marlboro Men were in distinctly short supply within the city limits, these inner-city interlopers two-stepped in to fill the void.

Western wannabes from all over the country actually booked trips to Houston as tourists to get a taste of the real (real urban, that is) country lifestyle. But more than that, the exalted honky-tonk and new cowboy-chic spread from smelly old Pasadena to points across the country faster than a new strain of swine flu. People were decking out in western duds and flocking to Urban Cowboy outposts from Washington, D.C. to Seattle – and sales of Lone Star Beer spiked across the country due to the brew’s prominent appearances in the movie.

Urban Cowboy did for Lone Star what E.T. did for Reese’s Pieces. And country record producers never had it so good.

No slap at HTown

But why, exactly, did this cinematic romance make such an impact? The only feature that sets this romance apart from so many others was, indeed, Mickey Gilley’s ball-busting play-toy, the mechanical bull. It was just another way for guys to measure their guyness. But when Sissy steps in and excels in rubbing her Wranglers around on it and not falling, well, Bud just couldn’t stand it and, in an ensuing argument, smacks Sissy across the face.

It was definitely a movie of its time. Several such incidents of what we now refer to domestic abuse are portrayed in Urban Cowboy as a way for the man to get his way or to emphasize his point, just another pitfall of a relationship gone sour.

As the movie opens, Bud is leaving his hometown of Spur to go to the big city to find work. His ma warns him that his breakfast is getting cold, but he’s in too much of a hurry and gives hasty hugs all around in a scene that seems straight out of Little House on the Prairie – not too strange a notion since the long-running series was in its sixth of nine seasons at that time.

Although Bud’s the hero, his tantrums early on (throwing his hamburger at the waitress because it’s too rare) are genuinely despicable, even more so than the bank robber parolee who gets a job at Gilley’s, courts Sissy and lives in a trailer in back. Said parolee has to really, really misbehave by hitting Sissy hard enough to mess up her face and by robbing the old lady/Gilley’s employee of the rodeo’s earnings at Gilley’s to get the louder boo’s and hisses toward the end.

Fortunately, Hollywood steps in with a subtle script to make everything right as the movie moves into its crescendo. Bud sees Sissy’s bruised face and hunts down Parolee Guy at the nightclub to avenge Sissy’s injuries.

He attacks him, causing Parolee Guy’s jacket (where he’s stuffed the money he just robbed) to come open, revealing his bad deeds, and all the rest of the cowboys jump on him.

Now, Sissy realizes that Bud really loves her and they ride off together into the sunset. Oops, no, wrong movie. They turn down friends’ offers to buy them beers and head off together to the house trailer, departing inexplicably from reality in the final scene.

After all, everyone knows the real Bud and the real Sissy in real life would stay at the juke joint. No cowboy, even an Urban Cowboy, would ever turn down a free beer.

  • First class service defines PBR.
    Photo by Cameron Blaylock
  • Tired of waiting for $10 cocktails? PBR has you covered.
    Photo by Cameron Blaylock
  • Can you keep up with the Professional Bull Riders?
    Photo by Cameron Blaylock
  • PBR first-timers line-up on the dance floor.
    Photo by Cameron Blaylock
  • The epic deck view delights the riding the professionals.
    Photo by Cameron Blaylock
  • Mastering the mechanical bull requires a distinct finesse.
    Photo by Cameron Blaylock

Chicks with chaps & a mechanical bull: A sneak peek at Bayou Place's PBR bar

First Sip

If we didn't know better, we'd swear it's Urban Cowboy all over again.

In a scene reminiscent of the classic 1980 John Travolta movie set in Houston and at Gilley's nightclub in Pasadena, a duo of sultry twenty-something cowgirls were riding dirty atop the mechanical bull on a recent night at the soft opening of Bayou Place's newest nightlife installation, PBR. That's short for "Professional Bull Riders" for those uninitiated to the much-anticipated conglomeration of bars moving into the second level of the Theater District's one-stop entertainment complex.

Part honky tonk, part skyline hotspot, PBR is poised to become the next go-to watering hole for accessible down-home nightlife.

A lengthy bar flanks the entire west side of the 18,000-square-foot space, serviced by red hot pants and chaps-clad bartenders, who occasionally take five to dance on the bar à la Coyote Ugly. Above, a trio of flat screens broadcasts the latest sports news and games. The bar service isn't so much about breadth of elaborate cocktails as it is about speedy, inexpensive service. On tap you'll find Coors, Miller Light and Blue Moon, as well as a simple array of liquors.

The generously-sized dance floor lends itself equally to raucous line dancing and intimate bumping and grinding, while a cash icebox bar allows easy access to longnecks. A third bar on the eastern edge ingeniously opens onto the indoors and an outdoor balcony populated with rows of high tables. While the veranda crowd enjoys views of downtown's Aquarium, Fish Plaza and Wortham Theater Center, the interior offers peeks into a smoky, double mirror-walled bathroom.

Of course, the main draw is a mean mechanical bull. Ready to mount that mighty stead? Not so fast — you'll have to sign a long waiver first. But once you're on that electric animal (san shoes and shot glass), you'll feel yourself immediately transported to the open prairies of the Wild West. For a brief moment, you are a Professional Bull Rider.

Rounding out the riding experience is a Jesus fish branded onto the machine's backside. The flair doesn't stop on the bull's derrière, though. On Wednesday evening, a cache of yet-to-be-hung tchotchkes rested in a corner — think steel lone stars and decorated NASCAR shirts.

Kitschy? Perhaps. But it's a far cry from the desolate "For Lease" space that has riddled the upper story of Bayou Place. Above all, the vibe is laid back. Comparisons to Rebels Honky Tonk are inevitable, but PBR promises to host none of the nonsense of the Washington Avenue scene.

When PBR opens Friday night, visitors can spy the next stages of the bar concepts that will be opening in the weeks ahead as part of the development dubbed Live at Bayou Place. Up next is Shark Bar, a venue boasting an '80s and '90s soundtrack. Developer Drew Coleman lists N*Sync and Backstreet Boys as expected dance floor mainstays.

Read more about the future of Bayou Place here.

  • Midnight with his prosthetic limb on his rear right leg.
  • Midnight's artificial leg
  • Midnight with Ranch Hand Rescue owner Bob Williams

It's just a mini horse, of course, but this one has an artificial leg

Midnight Rides

For most horses a broken leg can be equivalent to a death sentence. So for a miniature horse named Midnight, born without part of his right rear leg, the prognosis for survival wasn't good until he got a new leg and a new lease on life.

Four-year-old Midnight was recovered by authorities from a neglectful owner and brought to Ranch Hand Rescue, an animal sanctuary in the North Texas town of Argyle.

According to the Associated Press, Ranch Hand Rescue owner Bob Williams thought euthanasia might be the only option for the little colt — until he had an unorthodox idea. Williams approached Prosthetic Care in Fort Worth, which makes prosthetic limbs for people, about producing an artificial leg for Midnight. Horse artificial limbs have occasionally been tried before on horses with broken legs, but without much success.

Williams says he had only hoped a limb would allow Midnight to walk, but to everyone's surprise the colt starting running around just moments after his second prosthetic fitting.

"The first time we saw him run it made us cry, we all cried," Williams told the AP. "It's amazing that now Midnight has the opportunity to just be a horse."

Midnight is now on his third prosthetic leg, valued at $14,000, attached with velcro and worn only during the day. Williams says he hopes the miniature horse can live a long and full life.

As far as miniature horses go, he's even cuter than Lil' Sebastian.

Check out Midnight in action:

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

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.

Houston’s oldest craft brewery taps new chef for its buzzy beer garden and restaurant

Saint Arnold's new chef

Houston’s oldest craft brewery has found a new chef to lead its popular restaurant. Chase Reid is now the executive chef at Saint Arnold Brewing Company’s beer garden and restaurant.

Hired a couple of months ago, Reid replaces chef Ryan Savoie, who had been with the brewery since 2013. A French-trained chef, Reid came to Saint Arnold’s attention after well-regarded stints at Hop Scholar Ale House in Spring and the Historic Hill House and Farm in Willis.

“I’m thrilled to join the talented team at Saint Arnold and build on the legacy they’ve created in Texas,” Reid said in a statement. “I love the creativity that comes with cooking and have always been passionate about craft beer. I’m very much looking forward to combining the two.”

Recent visitors to Saint Arnold have gotten a first taste of the chef’s work with pizza specials and new additions such as a house made bratwurst burger. He’s also the culinary mind behind Saint Arnold’s recent Doughnut Sunday offerings that pair freshly fried treats with different beers from the company’s portfolio on the firs Sunday of every month. Overall, he’s focused on maintaining the quality and consistency that has been the restaurant’s hallmark since it opened in 2018.

Reid will more formally introduce himself to the brewery’s fans at the upcoming Great Pumpkin Beer Dinner. Held on Halloween night, the meal will feature a five-course menu paired with seasonal and limited release beers, including 2013 Pumpkinator, 2023 Pumpkinator, and 2020 bourbon barrel-aged Pumpkinator with cocoa nibs. See the full menu and purchase tickets ($125) on the Saint Arnold website.

“Chase’s enthusiasm for both food and beer got all of us excited to have him joining our team,” Saint Arnold founder Brock Wagner added. “Our Beer Garden & Restaurant is a welcoming place to enjoy our world class beers. We have the same standards for our food as we do for our beer and are always working to elevate and create an experience that will keep our guests coming back again and again.”