Texas, Travel

A Guide to the Perfect Weekend in Denton, TX

Congratulations on choosing Denton, Texas for the weekend! Whether it be on purpose, by accident, or forced… have no fear, I have an itinerary you can stick to or pick and choose from. Denton is in the northern part of the state about an hour from the Oklahoma border and is the home to two universities, the University of North Texas and Texas Woman’s University. The downtown square is definitely the highlight of the town full of charm and local shops. While in Denton, take in the artsy feel by drinking lots of coffee while thrift shopping.

Saturday

8 a.m. – Get your caffeine fix with a quick drink from Jupiter House. Jupiter House is a coffee shop on the square. The shop burned down back in 2017 and has now been rebuilt and reopened. It looks completely different (and better if you ask me). Not only do they offer good coffee, but great sandwiches as well. You can grab your coffee and relax inside or snag a seat outside and enjoy the morning air.

10 a.m. – Climb the rock wall at the Pohl Rec Center on the University of North Texas campus. You can get a day pass for $5 and climb as many times as you want throughout the day.

12 a.m. – Stop by J&J’s and indulge in some absolutely delicious pizza! J&J’s is my all-time favorite eatery in Denton and I recommend it to everyone. With a very laid back vibe, it is a place anyone can feel comfortable. Just a tip – bring cash unless you want to pay a little extra to process your card.

2 p.m. – Spend the afternoon shopping and relaxing on the downtown Denton square. The square has so many quirky shops to explore including a comic book store, a candy shop, a record store, and a secondhand book shop in an old opera house . Don’t miss out on browsing through the two mini malls (flea markets) – with a little searching, you can find some great stuff for even better prices! Explore the Denton County Courthouse, which has been renovated into a museum, and then lay back and relax on the courthouse lawn.
[Edit: The mini malls are currently closed due to a fire.]

6 p.m. – Enjoy a rooftop dinner at LSA. LSA Burger Co. has indoor seating, but you’ll want to experience the roof with the live music, a view of the Denton square, and – if you’re lucky – a peek at the sunset. LSA boasts a long wait, but a fun, relaxed environment and it is well worth it! Be sure to check out the Texas Last Supper mural right inside the front door.

8 p.m. – After letting your dinner settle, stop into Beth Marie’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream for a sweet cone. Beth Marie’s is a Denton staple with over 50 flavors to choose from – the peppermint is my go-to! Be prepared for the intense smell of waffle cone that hits you as soon as you walk in.

10 p.m. – For evening drinks, you must check out Paschall Bar. It can be easy to miss, but once you travel up the hidden staircase, it feels like you have been transported back in time. The drinks are beautiful and the ambiance is perfect! Also, if you’ve ever wanted to know what it is like to hang out in a Hogwarts Common Room then look no further.

Sunday

9 a.m. – Settle into the day with a cup of coffee from West Oak Coffee Bar. Founded in 2014, it is one of Denton’s newer coffee shops, but it quickly rose to being a local favorite. West Oak offers different types of indoor seating as well as a quaint patio with a great view of the square. Grabbing a spot outside is a fantastic way to meet a friendly face or just people watch.

11 a.m. – Eat brunch at Loco Cafe. It’s a haven for breakfast lovers and has “the best biscuits ever!” Loco Cafe also boasts a vegan friendly and gluten-free menu. The space is open with lots of windows and is the perfect spot to sip coffee, eat pancakes, and catch up with friends.

1 p.m. – Go mural and sculpture hunting throughout the city. Denton is known for being very hipster and artsy, so there is local art everywhere! You can find a list of the murals here. Pick out a few you like and search them down for a good Instagram photo or just drive around see how many you can find.

2 p.m. – Finish your local art hunt at Oak St. Drafthouse and Cocktail Parlor by being the “I” in the Lil d sculpture and snapping a photo with the iconic Denton mural. Oak St. has over 70 beers on tap and endorses drinking craft beer. There is limited inside seating, but the real party is outside on the picnic tables under the twinkling lights. They have board games available as well as some yard games to keep everyone entertained.

4 p.m. – Head to Backyard on Bell to grab an early dinner from a local food truck and enjoy some live music. The available food trucks and live music changes from week to week, so find out what is available here.

6 p.m. – Catch a show at the Campus Theatre on the square. You can see shows, showtimes, and purchase tickets here.

9 p.m. – Finish off the night with a drink at East Side. East Side is another local hot spot with late night food trucks and picnic table seating. Bring a few friends or make new friends while drinking and chatting under the stars.

I hope you enjoy all the charm and personality that Denton offers! Be sure to use the infamous Denton hashtags when posting your photos: #dentoning #onlyindenton

Family, Texas, Travel

5 Things to Know Before Visiting The Ennis Bluebonnet Trails & Festival

During the month of April, the small town of Ennis, Texas hosts the Ennis Bluebonnet Trails. They provide 40 miles of mapped driving trails for easy viewing of the beautiful Texas state flower and a festival to celebrate spring and our beloved state flower. Their website and Facebook page provide updates on how the flowers are blooming, so you can plan your visit. The town also has an up-and-coming downtown area for dining and shopping. I was not necessarily prepared when we arrived, so below are five things I think would be helpful when planning your trip.

1. The Trails & Festival are Different

The Ennis Bluebonnet Trails and The Ennis Bluebonnet Trails Festival are two different things. The Trails are open from April 1-30th. You can come basically any time to see the bluebonnets (although peak season is the second and third week of April). The Festival is one weekend in April (this year it is the the third weekend) where the trails are open, but downtown has live music, food, kid activities, and a market.

2. Visit the Welcome Center First

The Welcome Center is located in the heart of Ennis’ downtown and should be where you start your journey. There you can grab a map of the trails and downtown for instructions on where to find the bluebonnets as well as where to eat and shop. You can also hit up the restroom before heading out. There are people there to answer any questions you may have to help you have a seamless time. The Welcome Center also offers a little information seminar – a video and someone to explain the trails – we sat through it, but I didn’t find it very helpful. The Welcome Center address is incorrect on the festival Facebook page, so be sure to go to the right place (because we didn’t at first!).

3. The Trails are NOT All Open for Pictures

It is important to note that not all the trails are open to the public for pictures. There are three trails – two are driving trails only where you view the bluebonnets from your car and are highly discouraged from parking and taking pictures; the other trail includes two parks where you are encouraged to park, walk around, picnic, and take pictures in and around the flowers.

4. Consider Picnicking

Although there are eateries downtown, consider picnicking at a local park. We did not attend the festival as we visited the weekend before, but the restaurants downtown were absolutely packed with hour wait times. Depending on your schedule and your family, this may work for you, but just understand that if you are in a time crunch, eating at a downtown restaurant might take up a lot of your time. The map also includes “coming soon” eateries which I did not find helpful at all, so it looks like there are a decent amount of options, but there are actually only a small handful.

5. Do Not Pick or Trample the Bluebonnets

For any non-Texans reading this or considering visiting, please know you are not supposed to pick or step on the bluebonnets. I just learned this is not actually against the law, but just frowned upon. They often bloom with other flowers, so feel free to pick the other flowers, but just not the bluebonnets.

We visited The Ennis Bluebonnet Trails for the first time this past weekend – Saturday, April 10th. Our pictures were all taken at Veteran’s Memorial Park (one of the acceptable places to take pictures indicated on the map) at around 2pm. From our experience, I would definitely recommend taking your pictures in the morning or evening as the sun was exceptionally bright (note our squinty eyes LOL). I would also highly recommend visiting the weekend of the festival as there isn’t much to do without their provided activities. We did not eat at a downtown restaurant due to wait times nor did we picnic due to not expecting that option, we just ate at a fast food chain on the way to the park, but I would bring a picnic if we visit again.

Travel, West Virginia

New Every Morning // Great Cacapon, WV

For our epic road trip this year, we decided to go to West Virginia. Typically, we choose a place we have never been before, but with Hazel being born, we thought it was more important to see family. So we embarked on a 24 hour drive with four people and a baby… and it was a success! Hazel was actually the best behaved on the trip out of all of us!!

We chose West Virginia, because Jeremiah’s aunt and uncle own a bed and breakfast up in the mountains – New Every Morning. His uncle builds all the buildings himself and they even cut down their own lumber. He’s a really cool guys and it’s a really cool place! This was my second visit.

His aunt is so kind and creative. She decorates all the rooms and makes them so unique and welcoming. On every visit, she writes a sweet note to us and provides plenty of snacks, blankets, games, and any extra toiletries we might have forgotten. It’s always a wonderful, warming experience!

The view doesn’t hurt either! I specifically chose October for our trip in hopes of seeing beautiful and colorful foliage. Although it wasn’t in full peak – it’s hard to pinpoint – it was more colorful than what we had in Texas. I enjoyed multiple walks around the ground and just lounging around looking out the window.

The best part of the trip was getting so much quality time with our incredible family! We laughed, smiled, told jokes, cooked, ate… and so much more together! Our family up there are some of my favorites and I’m so grateful for the family I married into. I am already ready to plan another trip to visit them! ❤

 

Texas, Travel

New Traditions // Bowie, TX

To be frank, Texas isn’t the best place to be during Christmas if you want to experience a lot of holiday cheer, festivities, traditions, decorations… pretty much anything. It’s still pretty hot here, there is no snow, and there just isn’t much change when Christmas rolls around. Honestly, it breaks my heart. I’ve never been Christmas obsessed, but I appreciate it and get excited about it nonetheless.

Well, my husband loves Christmas. He’s one of those that wants to listen to Christmas music starting in July, watch Christmas movies year round, and prays for snow. His adorable giddiness when it comes to this holiday has made me begin to love this holiday. In the past, I have always been one of those anti-Christmas until after Thanksgiving people, but I confess that I got so excited this year, that I decorated a few days before Thanksgiving!

Anyway, since this is our first year in our house with our new baby, we decided to start some new traditions – one being to cut down a real Christmas tree!! Honestly, the tree has always been one of my least favorite parts of the holiday. My mom is one of those obsessive and anal tree decorators, so it’s too stressful to attempt, so I just leave it up to her. Growing up we always had a fake tree, so I thought what a great way to change my attitude toward the tree than to really mix it up and do the opposite of what I have always done. So I found a Christmas tree farm in Texas where we could pick out and cut down our own tree.

So we drove an hour North to an teeny tiny farm and found a cute little seven foot tree that would be all ours for the month. I wanted something quaint that wasn’t too daunting or overwhelming and we found the perfect one.

The fun really began on our way home. Jeremiah and I secured the tree to the top of our car and headed back. About twenty or so minutes down the highway, we hear a loud mmph. I look in the rearview mirror and there are tree is in the middle of the darn street! I kind of freak out and am about to cry when Jeremiah calms me down and tells me to pull over. I pull off, put my hazards on, and Jeremiah gets out and begins the trek back to where we lost our tree. I watch him the whole time flinching everytime it looks like a car is about to run our tree over; miraculously, no one did! In a break in the traffic, Jeremiah grabs the tree and hauls it back to our car. This time, we realize that the tree will fit in our back end, so we toss it in and head home.

Our tree is a trooper! We got it all set up in our living room and that night I decorated it without a care in the world to what it looks like and it brings me much joy!! 🙂

Texas, Travel

Pumpkin Patching // Grapevine, TX

Visiting a pumpkin patch has become one of those family traditions that we didn’t plan. Before Jeremiah and I were even married, we visited a really lame pumpkin patch at a church near my parents’ house and we brought home two mini pumpkins. We watched a suspenseful movie and I spontaneously carved my best pumpkin to this day! That night was so much fun that I have wanted to do it every year since. The next year, we visited a patch with a corn maze. We went through the maze as the sun went down and we were in there for quite a while, the helpers pretty much knew us by the end, but we had a blast!

So this year, we actually went to two pumpkin patches – one with Hazel and one just the two of us.

We knew Hazel was obviously very young to actually enjoy a pumpkin patch, but we didn’t want to forgo our tradition, so we decided to bring her along anyway. I wanted to get a cute picture of her surrounded by pumpkins (which I did and it was priceless!) and I wanted to pick out a pumpkin that she would fit into it (we bought one, but never got around to carving it). We arrived at Hall’s Pumpkin Farm a few days before Halloween planning to take pictures, choose pumpkins, and best the corn maze… well we ran into just a few hiccups.

1. Snapping a photo of your adorable baby dressed up in a fall outfit with a cute backdrop sounds like a walk in the park until you realize that your baby is wayyy to excited and refuses to sit up on her own. She teetered and tottered and we fought hard to get a cute picture of her without my hand.

2. Grabbing pumpkins with a baby + stroller in tow can be rather difficult especially when you are picking a pumpkin bigger than your child. We had to scour the place for a wagon to be able to haul these bad boys and you had to watch out, because people snatch the wagons left and right.

3. Hanging out in a pumpkin patch in the rain is not nearly as much fun as it sounds. There’s a lot of mud, a little chill, and well it’s just uncomfortable.

Due to the rain, we opted out of the corn maze and just settled for pictures and pumpkins. It was a satisfying first trip to the pumpkin patch and I cannot wait till next year when Hazel is actually interested in the pumpkins and pick one for herself! 🙂