The most strenuous task you’ll have to accomplish during your stay at this 210-acre working ranch may be uncorking the bottle of Texas wine that’s been set out for your arrival. Unless you consider strolling through a garden or floating the Guadalupe River (bring your own tube) to be unnecessarily taxing, in which case perhaps you’d rather spend your time reading by the pool or getting to know the Tennessee walking horses that roam the pastures.
Opened in 1911 as a triumphant symbol of Galveston’s rebirth after the devastating 1900 hurricane, the coast’s premier beachfront hotel unveiled an $11 million face-lift last year on the occasion of its hundredth anniversary. So while you’ll find much-needed upgrades throughout, the Queen of the Gulf still radiates the same splendor that made the landmark building the center of Galveston’s social life in its heyday.
Every square inch of this 315-room hotel in the Museum District exudes the look-at-me personality of a Kardashian sister. Formerly the famed Warwick Hotel (which opened in the twenties), the twelve-story building was transformed into the glitzy ZaZa in 2007 (a sister property of the same name opened in Dallas in 2002). To be perfectly up front, it took me a little time to warm to the hotel’s overt (some might say obnoxious) over-the-top-ness.
DIRECTIONS: From Waxahachie, take I-35 south through Waco, New Braunfels, and San Antonio. Then proceed east on U.S. 87 to Victoria.
DISTANCE: 357 miles
DISTANCE: 148 miles
NUMBER OF COUNTIES: 6
WHAT TO READ: Michael Andrews’s Historic Texas Courthouses
DIRECTIONS: East on Old San Antonio Road
DISTANCE: 55 miles
Who wouldn’t get excited about driving a stretch of El Camino Real, which is still known on the map as the Old San Antonio Road? The trail was first blazed in the late seventeenth century, and this short segment reminds us of how Texas used to look.
DISTANCE: 505 miles
NUMBER OF COUNTIES: 15
WHAT TO READ: J. Evetts Haley’s Charles Goodnight: Cowman and Plainsman
DIRECTIONS: Head east on Texas Highway 276 toward Emory, then follow U.S. 69 south for a short way to Texas Highway 515. Drive east on Highway 515 to Winnsboro, where you’ll take a combination of FM roads to finish the drive: east on 1448, north on 115, east on 3007 over the water, and east on 21 to 2882. That links up with 127, which runs east into Mount Pleasant.
DISTANCE: 75 miles
DISTANCE: 140 miles
NUMBER OF COUNTIES: 6
WHAT TO LISTEN TO: Jim Reeves’s “Welcome to My World”