LASSO IT UP

3 small-town Texas rodeos just a gallop from Houston

West of the Pecos Rodeo. West of the Pecos Rodeo/Facebook

This article originally appeared on CultureMap and was written by Cindy Brzostowski.

Football may seem like the lifeblood of Texas, but it's surprisingly not actually the official state sport. In fact, that honor goes to rodeo. When spring rolls around, over 2 million people head to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

While that big-time event has come and gone for 2019, but small towns around the state are lassoing up their own rodeos for the summer season. Break out those boots and take a road trip to one of these lesser-known rodeos.

Mesquite Championship Rodeo — 3.5 hours from Houston
What better place to enjoy the fun of rodeo than in the Rodeo Capital of Texas itself? That would be Mesquite, Texas, just 20 minutes east of Dallas. The Mesquite Championship Rodeo at the Mesquite Arena runs June 1-August 24 and kicks off opening day with musical guest Mark Chesnutt. Every Saturday there's an interactive fan experience from 6-7 pm and then a different event at 7:30 pm. Spectators will get the chance to see competitors from around the country compete in bull riding, steer wrestling, bareback bronc riding, saddleback bronc riding, barrel racing, tie-down roping, and team roping. Then, the whole rodeo wraps up with a close-out concert by Clay Walker.

Nearby attractions: While you're enjoying the state's rodeo capital, consider embracing another one of Mesquite's titles as a designated Tree City USA by the National Arbor Foundation with a trip to Trinity Forest Adventure Park. The park is less than 15 minutes from the rodeo and gives visitors the chance to tackle high ropes courses and obstacles of varying difficulty levels amid the treetops.

Big Spring Cowboy Reunion and Rodeo — 7 hours from Houston
Located between Midland and Abilene is the city of Big Spring, which holds its annual rodeo June 20-22 this year. The events include bareback bronc riding, barrels, bull riding, calf roping, mutton bustin', saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, and team roping. On top of the rodeo sport festivities, you can catch Jason Boland & the Stragglers perform on Friday evening and Wade Bowen on Saturday night.

Nearby attractions: Big Spring has two local museums: Heritage Museum of Big Spring and Hangar 25 Air Museum. The former is all about the local history of the city, as well as West Texas. The latter is in a restored World War II hangar and showcases the history of the Big Spring Army Air Force Bombardier School and Webb Air Force Base, where thousands of pilots were trained.

Continue reading on CultureMap to learn about the West of the Pecos Rodeo.

WEEKEND GETAWAYS

The best places to visit in San Antonio

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

One of the great mysteries of Houston life is that so many locals don't take better advantage of San Antonio. Not only is the Alamo City a cultural jewel with more than 300 years of history proudly on display, it is also a strikingly modern city with chic boutique hotels, innovative restaurants, and some of the best shopping in Texas.

In a time when cities across the world are starting to feel numbingly the same, San Antonio has kept its identity. What's travel if not a chance to experience some place unique?

Where to eat and drink

Eastside Kitchenette

After a long period spent renovating its 1906 building, this project from owner chefs Jenn and Jeff White debuted in January with a comforting menu melding the best of Southern and Hill Country cuisine. The dishes — catfish, meatloaf, and even spinach artichoke dip — certainly appeal to traditionalists, but Eastside doesn't exactly deliver home cooking. That catfish is stuffed with sweet blue crab, the meatloaf comes with a side of black garlic broccoli, and the bacon Parmesan streusel topping the dip was never in a Junior League cookbook.

Jet-Setter

The newest player in the downtown bar scene is literally underground, giving it an exclusive speakeasy vibe. Still, once revelers descend the steps, it's clear that its head is in the clouds. Taking style cues from midcentury airports, the lounge has vintage vibes without looking like a Mad Men set. The cocktails are fully contemporary, using ingredients from destinations all over the world.

Lala's Gorditas
The owner of this Southside restaurant, Steve Pizzini, is San Antonio restaurant royalty. His aunt Ernestine Pizzini Chapa founded Teka Molino in 1938 before father Herman Pizzini launched Taco Hut in 1958, and both quickly rose to become some of the Alamo City's most beloved concepts. That's a lot to live up to, but Pizzini rises to the occasion with extravagantly overstuffed gorditas, shatteringly crisp puffy tacos, and deep caramel flan baked every day.

Swine House Bodega
This downtown sandwich shop is serious about its sourcing, using only ethically raised breeds from area farms. For owner Joe Saenz, it's not just a matter of being a responsible global citizen. Pasture-raised meats also taste better, a fact readily apparent in the Swine House's New York-style subs and biscuit sandwiches. Be warned that the shop is only open weekdays for breakfast and lunch. What better excuse to extend a weekend day trip?

Continue reading on CultureMap to find out the best places to shop.

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