Texas has eighty-nine State Parks. Woah that’s a lot! This Spring, Mike and I decided to take advantage of visiting as many State Parks as we can while taking our road trips across Texas. We decided to start with Huntsville State Park because it is only about an hour and a half drive. It was a beautiful drive and an excuse to get out of the house and enjoy the sunshine.
We learned a lot about visiting our first State Park during a pandemic and also what amenities to expect upon our arrival. The first lesson we learned is to reserve your ticket ahead of time, online. We showed up at the park unprepared and expected to be able to pay at the gate as we normally would be able to when we aren’t in a pandemic. This seems like a simple slip up, but for some reason, I completely missed this step while doing online research. It turned out just fine in the end because we decided to go have a quick bite to eat in town and on the recommendation of the park ranger, reserved our tickets online when spots became available.
Huntsville State Park is located on 565 Park Road 40 west and there are so many activities that you can do while you are there. We chose to have a casual day trip and hike one of the easier trails and explore the East Texas Pineywoods. Next time we go we will plan ahead and pack a picnic and rent a canoe or paddleboat for the day.
10 things to do at Huntsville State Park
- Hike or bike the trails
- Rent a kayak, canoe, or paddle boat
- Relax by the lake
- Camp or RV
- Birdwatch (download the field checklist HERE)
- Kids can learn how to be a Junior Ranger through the park’s Nature Center
- Go geocaching, a modern-day treasure hunt
Sam Houston Statue
On your way to Huntsville State Park stop by the world’s largest statue of Sam Houston, standing 67 feet tall. The Sam Houston Statue Victors Center makes a place to stop and take pictures and learn about the history of Sam Houston on your way to the park. Sam Houston is known for leading the Texan Army to victory at the Battle of San Jacinto, an influential and important point during the history of Texas’s war for independence from Mexico.
Cowboy Boot and Hat House
During our adventure to Huntsville, we stop by to take a look at the 35 foot tall Cowboy boot. Completed in January 2017 by artist-builder Dan Phillips, this private residence also has a matching Cowboy Hat house. If you plan to visit the Cowboy hat and boot, park in the Brookshire brother’s parking lot, across the street, to snap a few pics.
Lunch at 1836 Steakhouse
Directly across the street from the famous Cowboy Hat and Boot houses, you will find a great place for lunch at 1836 Steakhouse. Be warned the portion sizes are huge and enough to possibly share with the whole table. We left with three to-go boxes!
After lunch, we ran out of time to visit a few of the other locations we planned on given our delayed start to visiting the Sam Houston State Park. But that’s ok, because it gives an excuse to take another road trip to Huntsville!
Here is a complete list of additional stops that we plan to make next time we visit. These are the best things to do while visiting Huntsville and a few extra stops nearby!
- Visit the Sam Houston National Forest
- Visit the Sam Houston Memorial Museum
- Tour the Texas Prison Museum
- The Blue Lagoon (note: The Blue Lagoon is a diving school and it costs $25 non-diver/per person, no entry after 3 pm, entry preference given to divers.)
- Sip wine at Teysha Vineyard
- Sip wine at West Sandy Creek Winery
- Sunday Brunch at the Historic Hill House and Farm in New Waverly (nearby), purchase tickets online ahead of time. This is also a great location for an Airbnb if you are looking for a more luxurious stay on your adventure to Huntsville.