Weirdness along Texas I35, help me find it?
July 20, 2011 9:31 AM   Subscribe

Recommendations for crazy Texas roadside weirdness along I35 between DFW and Austin appropriate for children?

My son has had a really rough couple of weeks. His greatgrandmother died, and then two days ago, our dog died, and a friend and their parents were killed by a drunk driver, and his best friend is trapped at her father's who won't let us see her during "his" month, and all in's been tough to be him. I'm getting him out of town tomorrow to go visit his aunts, and go caving and go see bats in Austin. I've made this trip a zillion times, but usually alone, at high speed, and with a destination time to meet.

I thought tomorrow we would take it slow, and maybe stop and see any weird, i.e., "Worlds biggest rubber band ball" or Carhendge type roadside attractions that might be close to I35 between DFW and Austin. I know there's a ton of cool stuff in Waco, like the mill and the village where they live like it's the 1800s, but I'm seeking more goofy, cheesy, non-educational, americana, stupid funny things. Stuff that will cheer up an 8 year old who has spent a lot of time crying lately.

Thanks gang!
posted by dejah420 to Travel & Transportation (22 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Make sure you stop in West at the Czech Stop for kolaches. They're great! (It's exit... I wanna say 253? Just south of Waxahachie.)
posted by restless_nomad at 9:44 AM on July 20, 2011 [7 favorites]

Italy, TX, is home to the Starship Pegasus, a defunct ice-cream shop made out of a monolithic dome. Not the greatest attraction, but it is kind of weird.
posted by adamrice at 9:48 AM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Temple Railroad Heritage Museum is a fun quick stop in Temple and there's a cool playground attached to boot.

The Bell County Museum is kind of fun too, with some nice hands-on exhibits about the history of the hill country.

Of course the Dr. Pepper museum in Waco, too.
posted by goggie at 9:55 AM on July 20, 2011 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: restless_nomad: "Make sure you stop in West at the Czech Stop for kolaches"

Oh, always...going either direction, I'll stop there. Pure roadside awesomeness. Also, very clean potties. :)
posted by dejah420 at 9:56 AM on July 20, 2011

The Italy exit was always my first pee stop. The BBQ Gas Station Sonic next door to the Starship Pegasus has local jam (including fig, which is hard to find, and strawberry jalapeno) and wacky candy too (also: clean bathrooms). The folks who own/built the Starship are right behind there, too, but I'm not sure if you can visit.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:03 AM on July 20, 2011

Best answer: Oh, the Waco Mammoth Site is also supposed to be fun.

On a separate note, I'm no longer in TX and am now dying for a kolache. :(
posted by goggie at 10:06 AM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: goggie: "On a separate note,"

Ok, mammoths! Huge, huge, huge win there. Boy loves archeology. Fantastic. Yay you!

(As an aside, I just finished a book titled "Snobs", wherein one of the primary characters is a very proper Duchess, nicknamed Googie. I realized I was reading your comments in her voice, because I'd misread your name...but I must say, the idea of a Duchess knowing about West's kolaches is amusing. :)
posted by dejah420 at 10:18 AM on July 20, 2011

Inner Space Caverns!

You ride this cool roller coaster like chair lift down into the caverns and take a tour of all the awesome underground formations in the caves.
posted by blacktshirtandjeans at 10:19 AM on July 20, 2011

Response by poster: InnerSpace is one of the caverns on our weekend list, it does look all sorts of fun.
posted by dejah420 at 10:33 AM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Also, if you aren't as pressed for time, maybe cruise down 67 to 281 to 183 to get to Austin instead of I-35. Way out of the way, but it's a beautiful drive through some cool little towns. That would let you catch the dinosaur valley stuff in Glen Rose, which I always found to be most excellent as a boy his age. There's also a nuclear power plant there that you can (sort of) tour. Maybe you could leave early and do this on the way home.
posted by resurrexit at 10:43 AM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

dejah420: I'll spend the rest of the day feeling fancy, thanks!

Glad the suggestion was helpful, and I hope your little guy has some sunnier days ahead.
posted by goggie at 11:11 AM on July 20, 2011

Best answer: I'm so sorry to hear what you guys are going through but it sounds like you're handling this amazingly!

Further south, closer to SA, is Natural Bridge Caverns, Wonder World, and the Snake Farm. It might be what you'e looking for.
posted by doorsfan at 12:50 PM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you're willing to go south of Austin and he likes critters, Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch is fun. You can buy pellets and feed them to various critters out the windows of your car. We did this last year with my niece and nephews, the youngest of whom was about a year older than your son, and we all (adults and kids) had a great time.
posted by immlass at 1:25 PM on July 20, 2011

Response by poster: Oh guys, this has been fantastic help, thank you so much!

We're planning on doing both Inner Caverns and Natural Bridge, and mammoths, and kolaches, and a bat boat ride, and a private tour of the non-public part of the state capitol, and the UT science museum. Plus, he'll be surrounded by girls giving him attention, taking him to Franks, and one aunt just told him that he was allowed to swim naked if he wants. Dinos, hot dogs, bats, tours and naked time. As weekends go, I don't think I had that much fun before college. :)
posted by dejah420 at 1:49 PM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

This is farther down the road, but really cool: Dinosaur Park!
posted by batmonkey at 2:55 PM on July 20, 2011

The Cathedral of Junk is plenty weird and worth a visit.
posted by fuzzygerdes at 3:02 PM on July 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

Getting in to visit the Cathedral of Junk may be a problem: the artist had to limit the number of visitors due to complaints by the neighbors, code violations, etc. It was a big story around here.

But I agree that it's worth seeing.
posted by adamrice at 3:20 PM on July 20, 2011

I was popping in to say the Czech Stop as well. I just came back from a visit to Texas with 18 kolaches in my carry-on. And it is in fact exit 253.

There's also the Dr Pepper Museum which I've never actually been to but I hear is awesome. It's right off of 35.
posted by jaksemas at 3:27 PM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Nthing the Czech stop on exit 353 (exit 253 is somewhere between Georgetown & Round Rock, btw). The Bush's Chicken at that exit is also the northernmost chicken place I know of that is actually any good. All the Popeye's, KFC, Chicken Express, etc, in this area are terrible.

There is also a really good German restaurant in Walburg. It should be exit 268 on I-35, and east a few miles on FM-972.

If you have the time to take something other than I-35, you could pass through Stephenville & stock up on Dublin Dr Pepper. If you're coming from Fort Worth / Tarrant County, take US-377 southwest. If you're coming from Dallas, take US-67 southwest as a previous commenter suggested.

If you're looking for a good place to go hiking, there is Miller Springs park (link). Exit Adams Avenue in Temple (should be something like exit 301), go west on Adams Avenue for about five or six miles (passing loop 363 & TX-317), turn south on FM-2271. The turn in for the park will be on your left right before you get to the dam.
posted by AMSBoethius at 4:45 PM on July 20, 2011

I only know this is near enough to Austin, as I went there when I was there last. And you may not be religious and I'm certainly not - but stopping into this church for, as it was mentioned in the article "a little personal communion", was one of the most moving things I've ever done.
posted by peagood at 5:28 PM on July 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

Ack - the link.
posted by peagood at 5:28 PM on July 20, 2011

Man, one of the commenters just reminded me of Natural Bridge Wildlife--driving around in my grandpa's huge 1970s Ford car with the other grandkids all packed in, windows down. My friend came with us and was riding shotgun. He had the nasty pellets you buy sitting in a cup between his legs. Mr. Ostrich comes walking up to the car, sees the pellets, and starts viciously biting with his head in a stabbing motion at my (we're probably 7 or 8) friend's crotch. He was shrieking (we probably all were, especially the three girls in the back) like a girl. My poor grandpa almost had a heart attack from laughing so hard.

Oh, that was a good trip. I hope y'all's road trip is just as memorable!
posted by resurrexit at 7:32 AM on July 21, 2011

« Older Finding a European drink in the USA!   |   I'll be the best-educated person under the 9th... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.