Our family has traveled the road between San Antonio and Houston many times, unaware of the riches just beyond our usual path. On one recent trip, however, we diverged from our usual course to discover a few Texas treasures we marked on our map, with one “X” south of Interstate 10 and two off to the north. Like any treasure hunt, this one was full of twists and turns.
Pursuing the first X, south of the interstate, we headed for Seguin (pronounced seh-GEEN), which originally, in 1838, was a settlement laid out among beautiful live oaks beside Walnut Springs on the Guadalupe River. In 1839, the name was changed to Seguin in honor of Juan Seguín, a Tejano who helped Texas fight for independence from Mexico.
Seguin is known as the Pecan Capital of Texas for its pecan-producing industry, and pecan trees abound on the town square, where a pecan-shaped sculpture nearly the size of a Smart Car graces the front lawn of the Guadalupe County Courthouse. Strolling around the square, we also found an antique shop, an Internet café, a bar and grill and the Palace Theatre.
Nearby, a couple of charming places to stay the night are: the Mosheim Mansion, originally the home of Emil Mosheim, a prominent German-born attorney; and the Victorian-era Weinert House Bed and Breakfast.
Perhaps Seguin’s greatest treasure is Max Starcke Park on the south side of town along the Guadalupe River. It features an 18-hole golf course, numerous shaded picnic tables, access to the river for fishing, a children’s playground, an outdoor wave pool and facilities for baseball/softball, tennis, volleyball and basketball.
If you have kiddos along (or adults young at heart), you might also enjoy ZDT’s Amusement Park, just north of downtown.
Lake McQueeney, northwest of Seguin, is mostly private and residential, but it has several gems worth checking out, including Treasure Island, our second X, which we drove across a bridge to reach in the center of the lake.
Turning onto Admiral Benbow Lane and taking in all that surrounded us, we cruised slowly into this little paradise, named after the famed island in the 1883 adventure novel by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson. We savored the beauty of the scene—water skiers zooming around Lake McQueeney, ducks waddling and paddling along the water’s edge, lined by lily pads, stylish boat docks and unique lakeside homes. On the half-mile-long Treasure Island, street names such as Trelawney and Spyglass harken back to Stevenson’s novel, and quaint canals wind through homes of a variety of architectural styles, shaded by massive oak and pecan trees. Though it had no public area at which to stop for a picnic, we thoroughly enjoyed our drive through the island.
Speaking of picnics, we were in need of a snack, so we left the island and headed on toward downtown McQueeney, our third X, where we stopped at Blake’s Cafe on FM 725. One of its featured items is frog legs, although we opted for the onion rings and delicious dipping sauce.
Other places to eat in McQueeney include the Boot Scootin bar and grill, Las Lomitas Mexican Restaurant, Lake McQueeney Thai Cuisine, Bait and Brew Bar and Pica Taco.
Next door to Blake’s Cafe, you can kick up your heels at McQueeney Hall, where dances are held the first Friday of each month. The building was constructed in 1914 as the first general store in McQueeney. The store sold clothes, groceries, seed, feed and other supplies to the small community. In 2004, it was renovated and converted into McQueeney Hall, a true Texas honky-tonk ballroom.
On the other side of Blake’s is what appears to be an old gas station converted into a thrift, or antique, store of sorts, bearing a “Mission Possible” sign and selling donated goods ranging from VCR tapes and clothes to toys and kitchenware. Much of the stuff can be purchased with spare change. As a familiar saying goes, “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.”
The best lodging options around the lake appear to be individual lake houses and condominiums for rent, which can be found with a search for McQueeney sites, such as at www.vacationrentals.com.
Staci Semrad is an Austin-based writer who contributes periodically to Texas Co-op Power.