February 11, 2011

In this economy, not everyone can afford to travel to exotic places.

I hear a lot about “Staycations”, and as the price of gas climbs past the $3.00 range we will probably hear more. Staycations don’t have to be dull or boring, it just depends on your interests. Of course Texas has something for everyone, especially families.

My wife and I enjoy Granbury, TX. We like to shop at antique stores and Granbury has many great places to do so. We seldom buy anything but merely enjoy seeing the things that were common in our youth (that was a long time ago). Granbury is less than an hour south of I 20 on HW 377 through Benbrook. That is just 45 miles southwest of Fort Worth. Some enthusiasts come here for nothing more than to visit and photograph the grand old court house in the town square.

About halfway there you may notice some shabby looking military aircraft and oddly a WWII mine sweeper on the left side of the road. This is the Pate Museum of transportation. If the gate is open you can drive down to the main building where you can see (free of charge) the air conditioned indoor exhibit of restored and well maintained antique cars. This is at worst a good half hour pit stop.

If antiques are not your thing there are equal opportunities to shop at the various boutiques and gift shops.

You can probably find a black cowboy hat.

For lunch you may want to visit the historic Nutt Hotel on the NW corner of the square for authentic Texas home cooking, http://www.nutt-hotel.com/nutthotel_1.html. The steak house on the opposite corner or for something lite try the sandwiches at the bakery on the NE corner. There are plenty of chain restaurants back on HW 377.

Now for the main attraction, which alone is enough reason to go to Granbury. At the turn of the 19th century small Texas towns often had what they called Opera Houses. That name is a misnomer because they were vaudville theaters. All kinds of traveling acts were brought in for short stays. That would include musical shows, magicians, jugglers and you name it but European style Operas were not likely. Granbury has probably the only remaining authentically restored example of these early theaters. The Granbury Opera House is open mostly during the summer month’s and doing just fine thank you. See this web page below for schedules and reservations http://www.granburyoperahouse.org.

The theater (located on the east side of the square) only holds 220 people and it is always sold out on show night so plan ahead and make reservations. In the past I have seen locally produced versions of Broadway musicals with the main talent being brought in from elsewhere. And, believe it or not, some Broadway plays have opened here before moving to Broadway. Time your departure from home to include your desired amount of shopping and dining before the show. The next production there is Greater Tuna and if you haven’t seen it you should. it is a hilarious two man show about a fictitious Texas town and it has been on Broadway.

After the show you may want to make one more stop before returning home. Go immediately to the south side (1950 style) Rinky-Tink Ice Cream Shop (seating is limited) for a snack. They had a free concert with local musicians after the show on week-ends when I was there last. It is a great venue and recommend checking it out if you pass through town.

Whatever your choice of vacation this summer, there are many great things to see and experience right in our own backyard. Just get out and do some exploring. You might be surprised with what you find.

– Article contributed by Master’s Men Team Member, Jimmy Huffman.