Making Memories Outdoors
When we moved to Texas last year, my husband, Mike, and I didn't know much about the little town of Buda besides how to pronounce its name.
“It's Byoo-da,” my friend Amanda had told me. “And you'll love it when you and Mike come down for the wedding.”
Amanda was right. The weekend of her wedding, Amanda, her other bridesmaids and I had a great time browsing the cute clothes and décor at the Shops on Main the afternoon before our girls' night. Her fiancé Jeff, along with Mike and the other guys, went to a craft beer tasting at Two Wheel Brewing Company. Later, we ladies headed to Nate's, a local bar, for wine and cheese, live music and a lot of catching up. The wedding at Stagecoach Park was beautiful. The fields, the old oak trees and the historic Stagecoach House gave the ceremony a kind of country charm that's hard to recreate in the city.
A few months later, Mike and I decided to head back to Buda to visit Amanda and Jeff—and this time, we’d be bringing our children, Olivia and Jackson, along. I envisioned Olivia and Jackson climbing on trees and playing in the pitched-roof gazebo at Stagecoach Park, while the four adults caught up. It would be a win-win.
A place to breathe easy
When we arrived in Buda, we headed straight to Helen's Casa Alde. Amanda had texted me that the restaurant was kid-friendly, “and get the breakfast tacos! Homemade tortillas!” she added. I treated myself to The Russ taco—stuffed with cheese, bacon and avocado—and The Fattie, made with potato, egg, bacon, sausage and cheese. Mike ordered the chorizo breakfast plate, which smelled incredible. Olivia and Jackson stuck with their favorite tacos—classic bean and cheese. Wanting to plan ahead, we also ordered pulled pork and grilled cheese sandwiches to go for our next stop: meeting up with Amanda and Jeff at Stagecoach Park. They had offered to bring their gear so the kids could try fishing for the first time.
It was a happy parking lot reunion, and Olivia and Jackson were thrilled that they would get to try out fishing. But first, we wanted to show the kids some of the historic portions of the park. Mike and I were happy to admire the beautiful old Stagecoach House again, with its long, covered porch and blue columns. We told the kids that horse-drawn stagecoaches full of passengers used to stop there a long time ago, before there were cars and gas stations. They spent some time imagining a world without cars, and then the six of us were off to the playscape near the pavilion. We strolled under the shade on tree-lined paths with plenty of shade, soaking up the warmth and listening to chirps and tweets from birds.
When we got to the playscape, with its slides, steps and miniature zipline, Olivia and Jackson didn’t even hesitate before they ran toward the structure and left us adults to set up our picnic. There was a good breeze and plenty of room to spread out and watch the kids play—which they did, with great relish. We chatted about the kids and Jeff and Amanda’s lives as newlyweds over the sandwiches, which led to the happiest surprise.
Jeff and Amanda shared that they’re expecting a baby! There were hugs and high-fives and a few happy tears at that news. “You’re so lucky you’ll get to raise your little one here,” I told them. “It’s so relaxed and there’s so much room for kids to explore outdoors.”
“Your kids will have to show ours how it’s done,” Amanda said. The thought of our kids getting to spend time together made us all a little sentimental—I looked at Olivia and Jackson zipping down the slides, and was so excited that they’d have a new friend to join them. I foresaw many a shared picnic with Amanda and Jeff and their little one in the future.
When our little adventurers headed down the gravel trail to the fish pond, we carried the picnic blanket and the fishing gear. “Look at that giant fan!” Olivia yelled. That’s when we realized neither of our kids had ever seen an old-fashioned windmill before. Together, they ran to the base of the windmill and looked straight up at it as the blades turned. Amanda explained to them how the windmill brought up water from underground and pumped it into the big metal stock tank next to the pond—just like on ranches with horses and cows.
Jackson immediately started looking for cows, but Jeff announced that it was time to “go after some channel catfish” in the pond behind the windmill. He gave our kids some tips and tricks for how to fish, which was especially touching considering that it was easy to imagine him doing the same thing with his and Amanda’s own new addition. I thought our poor kids might explode from anticipation, but their patience paid off when Olivia reeled in a fish! Jackson got so excited that he whooped and hollered, which earned some big grins from a couple of other families fishing from the pond’s edge nearby. We took Olivia’s picture with her prize catch before returning it to the lake, then we all headed back to our cars and said “see ya later” to Amanda and Jeff.
Treats and a fish-feeding
After a well-earned nap for the kids at the hotel, we drove to the Buda Soda Fountain for lunch and sweet treats. It's set in a cute row of shops, and on the inside it looks like a place where my grandparents might have gone on dates. The kids enjoyed ham and cheese sandwiches with chips while Mike and I savored the spinach quiche. Then it was time for treats. Olivia saw another girl eating a Daisy, an artfully designed treat made with slices of banana, ice cream and a strawberry topping, and decided she wanted to try one, too. Jackson stuck with a favorite—a scoop of cookies-and-cream ice cream. I had an Espresso Freeze to keep me going, while Mike ordered the Wiggle Waggle chocolate soda float, partly to make the kids laugh when they heard the name. It was really good, and Jackson thought the Wiggle Waggle name was hilarious!
Then it was on to Cabela's for our last big outing of the getaway. It's a huge outdoor goods shop with all kinds of amazing taxidermy displays of animals from around the world, and a huge aquarium with enormous catfish in the fishing gear section. We made sure to be right in front of the aquarium at 2 p.m., when the Cabela's staff feeds the fish on Fridays. Not only did the fish go wild, so did all the kids watching. Olivia and Jackson’s excitement only amplified when we decided to make a stop in the fishing supplies aisle, where we purchased some rods and tackle gear for our aspiring anglers. What a fun family activity!
We met up with Amanda and Jeff again for an early dinner at Willie’s Joint. We relaxed under the live oaks and enjoyed big platters of delicious brisket, jalapeño sausage and St. Louis pork ribs. Fresh air, good friends, great barbecue and family—the perfect end to the day.
After Jackson and Olivia went to sleep that evening, Mike and I relaxed and talked. We were thrilled that the kids had such a good day outdoors, and we were so excited for Amanda and Jeff. Watching them interact with Olivia and Jackson, I knew they were going to be great parents. And I realized how lucky we were to have a place to bring the kids, catch up with friends and make memories together for years to come.
Discover more great things to do in Buda.