Rec Room: Hiking, kayaking, swimming, splashing, available in Victoria
By Doug Cochran
June 3, 2012 at 1:03 a.m.
Updated June 4, 2012 at 1:04 a.m.
Summer is finally here - what are you going to do?
You don't even have to leave Victoria this summer to enjoy a vacation. There are so many fun things for you to do as a tourist right here in your hometown.
Here are some ideas of things to do in the city of Victoria's parks that are completely free for your summer enjoyment. Of course, you can come up with many more on your own.• Get Close to Nature - The Tonkawaka Nature Trails of the Riverside Park Trail System are located within a 67-acre area bordered by Vine and Red River streets, and Memorial Drive. Two of the three trailheads begin behind the Hiller House, home of Keep Victoria Beautiful. Paths are cleared but primitive and wind through meadows, brush and a variety of woods. Visitors are likely to see a variety of birds, deer, raccoons, squirrels, armadillos and scores of damselflies, dragonflies, butterflies and other insects. Beware of snakes.
• Row, Row, Row Your Boat - Grab your canoe or kayak and get ready for a fun adventure on the Guadalupe River Paddling Trail. You can launch your water excursion at the boat ramp in Riverside Park and finish your ride at the take-out point located behind the PumpHouse Restaurant.
The trail is about four miles long and float time is one to three hours, depending on river flow rate. Along the way, you can enjoy wildlife or even throw out a line and do a little fishing.
For beginners or those with an interest in learning more about paddling, the Parks and Recreation Department will conduct a free Kayak Clinic on Saturday, Aug. 25, at the Gary T. Moses Municipal Pool. The clinic is open to people 12 years and older. Children must be accompanied by an adult. • Take a Stroll (or a bike ride or a jog) - Enjoy the two-mile Lone Tree Hike and Bike Trail that extends from East High School to Airline Road. Designed for walking, running, biking and rollerblading, the trail is paved and lighted. Police patrol the trail daily to ensure safety.
• Shop 'Til You Drop - Market Days are held on the third Saturday of the month during the summer from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at DeLeon Plaza in downtown Victoria. Browse around the booths of more than 100 vendors. The summertime Market Days will be on June 16, July 21 and Aug. 18.
• Dance in the Streets - A Free Outdoor Concert Series will be held monthly this summer at DeLeon Plaza as part of the Hartman Distributing Silver Bullet Concert Series. The dances start at 7:30 p.m. and the summer lineup features Clay Crockett and the Shotgun Riders on June 14, the Scott Taylor Band on July 19 and Ron Shumate on Aug. 9.
Tunes @ Noon is also a free live music event held at DeLeon Plaza on the last Friday of the month during the lunch hour. Tunes @ Noon summer dates are June 29, July 27 and Aug. 31.• Splash Around - A 2,400 square-foot splash pad will be a featured attraction at the new 127-acre Lone Tree Creek Park that is under construction on East Airline Road. The park is near the Tanglewood, Deer Chase and Tangerine subdivisions. The park should be completed in July, weather permitting. The splash pad will include a variety of water sprayers, squirters and spills that can be enjoyed by kids of all ages. Stay tuned to future columns for more information.
The Gary T. Moses city pool also offers a cool diversion from the heat. The pool opens for the summer on Wednesday. Hours are 1-6 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. Admission is $1.50 per person.• Make a Hole in One - If you're looking for something a little different and challenging, you may want to consider disc golf. There is a 21-hole disc golf course in Riverside Park and there is also a 9-hole disc golf course at Ethel Lee Tracy Park. Check out our disc golf YouTube video at youtube.com and search for Victoria Texas Disc Golf. Traditional golfers can enjoy the Riverside Golf Course, the city's municipal golf course in Riverside Park.
Doug Cochran is the director of parks and recreation for the Victoria Parks and Recreation Department. Contact him at 361-485-3200 or firstname.lastname@example.org