A Midwesterner figures out Texas

As a native Midwesterner, I never understood why Texans are so crazy about Texas. One trip to Washington County, the birthplace of Texas, and now I get it: It’s all about the rich history of the state.

Learning history beyond the Alamo is the reason to visit this area about midway between Houston and Austin. The Barrington Living History Farm at Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site gives kids a look at life in the 1850s.

Also housed in the state park is the Star of the Republic Museum, the place where I truly came to understand Texans’ reverence for the home state, which was an independent country for 10 years and even opened foreign embassies. If your kids aren’t enthusiastic museum-goers, at least get them to watch the movie, “Once a Nation.” Take a walk across the lawn to the building where Texans declared their independence, brought to life through the stories told by park rangers.

Reward your history-overloaded kids with a tour and tasting at the Blue Bell Creameries ice cream factory or a visit to pet the miniature horses at the Monastery of St. Clare Miniature Horse Farm. Plan to visit in early spring if you want to see the vast fields of bluebonnets in bloom.

There are some hotel chains in the area, but it’s also home to a plethora of bed and breakfasts, several of which rent to families. I stayed as a guest of the charming Brenham House, which accepts children 13 and older. If you have younger kids, opt for Lillian Farms, one of the historic houses at Texas Ranch Life or a cabin at Mariposa Ranch.

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