Travel the World Without Leaving Texas


In: Texas Times Column   Posted 06/28/2018
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Summer is upon us, and many Texas families are taking advantage of the opportunity to get away.  Well, not too far away.  It’s hard for us Texas-lovers to venture too far outside our beloved state, but lucky for us, we can see the whole world without ever having to leave the greatest state in the nation.

If you’re looking for an Alpine adventure, there’s no need to hop a plane east to Europe.  Rather, jump in the car and head to West Texas.  Both the European Alps and Alpine, Texas share stunning mountain views, but here in Texas, you can also enjoy a rock hunt for local agate, the famed cliffs of Big Bend, and an Alpine Cowboys baseball game.

The Eiffel Tower is another popular tourist attraction, made even better by the enormous red cowboy hat perched on top.  No, this one isn’t in Paris, France, but in the second largest Paris in the world -- Paris, Texas -- about 100 miles northeast of Dallas.  The 1300-pound Eiffel Tower was erected in 1996 from scrap metal at the local boiler plant, and it’s a sight to see.  You might even stop by Whataburger for some French fries on the way.

If you’re heading west to L.A., you can cut more than 20 hours off your road trip – that is, if you go to Los Angeles, Texas.  This town is more a city of rattlesnakes than a City of Stars, and actually, I guarantee you’ll see more stars in the Texas town than in California – just look up after sundown.  Rather than high-rises, you’ll be surrounded by the natural beauty of the prickly pear cactus.  The place to “be seen” in Los Angeles, Texas is Ruby’s Lounge, the town’s premiere watering hole and downtown’s only business.

Up until a few years ago, Texas families could set eyes on Emperor Qin’s 6,000 terra cotta soldiers and a scale replica of Beijing’s Forbidden City – all at a park off Interstate 10 in Katy, Texas.  A koi fish pond, the aroma of fine Chinese incense, and sounds of ancient Chinese melodies helped transport visitors 7,000 miles without ever stepping on a plane.

The mystery of England’s Stonehenge rock formation has yet to be solved, but we know exactly how our Stonehenge II in Ingram, Texas came to be.  Al Sheppard’s yard project began with a spare limestone from his neighbor’s patio renovation, and before he finished, it had grown to the 92-foot recreation of Stonehenge you can visit today.  On either end of the field, 13-foot replicas of the Easter Island statues stand guard of this Texas treasure.  All in one field in Ingram, you can see the sights of both the United Kingdom and the South Pacific.

We also have a little version of the Big Apple in our state.  Not to be confused with the town of Texas, New York, the town of New York, Texas is quieter, and probably cleaner, than New York City.  Found 11 miles west of Athens (Texas, not Greece), New York, Texas has much friendlier folks than the bigger city in the Northeast – and millions less of them.  Why do these two opposite cities share the same name?  There are competing stories, but legend has it in 1856 either founder T.B. Herndon named it with a chuckle because of its contrast to the big city, or co-founder Davis Reynolds named it with dreams of similar success.  While there, don’t miss the chance to glide above the East Texas pines on a zip line.  

Of course, if you’re really itching to get away, you can visit Houston’s Johnson Space Center for an out-of-world experience. 

We know Texas is big, but just how big?  From Paris to Los Angeles, Stonehenge II to outer space, I guarantee you’ll never run out of worldly sights to see right here in the Lone Star State.