Hours of kid fun
at Waco museum
Think you’ve taken your kids to every hands-on museum within a couple of hours’ drive of Austin? You haven’t if you haven’t hit the excellent Mayborn Museum on the Baylor University campus in Waco.
This large, eclectic array of exhibits explores everything from music to how the eye works to how channels manage river flow for boats. (The kids get to move little barriers around in the water; we had trouble tearing the 6-year-old away.) Children can walk through a model heart and hear it beating or pound on old manual typewriters and jam their keys with impunity.
Non-interactive exhibits are fun, too, including archaeological finds such as the 19-foot skull of a humpback whale. Outside, nine buildings constitute a historic 1890s village to explore.
General admission to the Mayborn is just $6 for adults, $4 for children 12 and younger and $5 for seniors. It’s at 1300 S. University Parks Drive on the Baylor campus. Find out more at baylor.edu/mayborn.
Oregon museum explores maritime perils
As a lover of maritime museums, I’m especially fond of the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria, Ore., which is as much a museum about shipwrecks as it is about ships. That’s because the mouth of the Columbia River, where the ferocious Pacific pushes east as the waters of several rivers flow west, is one of the most treacherous places in the U.S. to navigate.
So, you’ll not only see vessels, walk onto a ship’s bridge and board an actual light ship (sort of a floating lighthouse) and get information about everything from knots to shipbuilding; you’ll also learn about the 30- to 40-foot waves that often greet those who move ships and barges into the Columbia, as well as about the Coast Guard, which has to try to rescue the many that founder. So dangerous are the waves and shifting sandbar at the Columbia’s mouth that vessels entering it must be boarded by special bar pilots, who know the territory well. There’s a film about all this at the museum.
Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and $5 for children 6 to $17. Find out more at crmm.org.
After the museum, take time to drive up to the high point of Astoria’s Victorian-dotted hillside and see the Astoria Column, on which are etched scenes from the area’s history. Even without climbing to the top of the column, the vantage point on the hilltop is such that you can — even on a misty day like the one on our recent visit — see all the way to the Pacific Ocean, across the bridge to the state of Washington and down into the Columbia Valley. The cost of parking is $2. Astoria is in the far northwest corner of Oregon and well worth the two-hour drive from Portland.
Big train moves
on up to Frisco
After 50 years at Dallas Fair Park, the last piece of the Museum of the American Railroad has made the move to the new museum in Frisco, an hour to the north. That last piece, the 1.2 million-pound Union Pacific steam locomotive called Big Boy #4018, arrived two weeks ago, pulled by another locomotive at about 10 mph.
The museum is still under construction at its Frisco location — we’ll keep you posted on an opening date; there’s none yet — but in the meantime you can see exhibits about rail history at the Frisco Heritage Museum, 6455 Page St. Find out more about plans for the new museum at museumoftheamericanrailroad.com.
San Diego lures
with food and wine
If the eternally mild, sunny weather isn’t enough to make you book a trip to San Diego, consider the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival on Nov. 20-24. The 10th anniversary of the festival offers celebrity chefs and the very best of California food and wine for 20 events all over town from tastings to cooking classes.
More than 200 wineries, breweries and distilleries will pair with 70 restaurants. The events carry various price tags. Find out about all of them at sandiegowineclassic.com.
Music and fun fest
out in West Texas
It’s time once again for the Trans-Pecos Festival of Music & Love at El Cosmico tent-and-trailer enclave in Marfa. The event starts Thursday and runs through the weekend.
Along with performances by the likes of Margaret Cho with David Garza and the Cosmico Family Band, Robert Ellis, Charlie Mars, Junior Brown, Tift Merritt, Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers, there’ll be workshops, art installations and a sandlot baseball game. Music tickets are $30 a night. You can buy those, along with food and camping at elcosmico.com.
CLOSE TO HOME
Lake Austin Spa
offers a break
Lake Austin Spa, just outside Austin, consistently ranks as one of the nation’s best, but all that excellence is expensive. Now through the end of October, though, you can book a stay for three nights for the cost of two. The deal is good through March 5.
The deal includes your room and meals as well as classes. Spa treatments are extra, as always. Find out more about the property at lakeaustin.com; book at 800-847-5637.