Del Rio is a frontier town that offers plenty of outdoor adventure and a flourishing arts community. The city is best known for being the home of Laughlin Air Force Base, known as the busiest training facility for the United States Air Force, but there is way more to see and do in the area. The town is just a few miles away from Lake Amistad, the third largest lake in Texas and home to some of the best bass fishing in the state. Examine some of the oldest Native American cave paintings in North America. Savor a glass of cabernet sauvignon or Sangiovese at the Val Verde Winery, the oldest winery in the state. These experiences define Del Rio, Texas, an all-year vacation destination ideally suited for those who love to explore the great outdoors. Del Rio is located within a mile of the Rio Grande and the Mexican town of Ciudad Acuña, just 150 miles west of San Antonio. Like many other border towns, Del Rio enjoys a unique blend of American and Mexican culture, which is expressed in the friendliness of its people and its fascinating art.

History

The city of Del Rio can trace its history back to the 17th century when Spanish colonists unsuccessfully attempted to settle the north and south side of the Rio Grande. It wasn’t until the mid-19th century that a permanent settlement was established, with its lifeline coming from San Felipe Creek. The creek provided ample water for farms, orchards, and vineyards due to its many springs. Today, these springs feed millions of gallons of water into the creek, creating Del Rio’s pristine swimming holes, including Blue Lake and Horseshoe Park, that sit on the eastern side of town. These swimming holes have long been popular with locals and visitors alike for their cool and clear waters that provide an idyllic refuge from the Southwest Texas summer heat.

Outdoor Adventures

Del Rio is just a few miles from the vast Amistad National Recreation Area, which includes Lake Amistad, home to some of the best bass fishing in Texas. Lake Amistad is a veritable playground for those who enjoy swimming, kayaking, boating, or even scuba diving. The rugged limestone canyons and arid plains that surround the lake provide a gorgeous backdrop and ample territory for hiking enthusiasts to explore. To the North of Lake Amistad is the Devils River State Natural Area. This spring-fed water retreat isn’t easy to get to, but it’s worth the effort.   Farther west, you’ll come across Seminole Canyon State Park, where you’ll find the aforementioned cave paintings, along with plenty more territory to explore. Some of the oldest prehistoric cave paintings in North America can be found at Seminole Canyon State Park and Historic Site, which is about 40 miles north-west of Del Rio. Make sure to drop by Panther Cave, so called because a 10-foot long painting of the feline can be found there, along with other images. The Shumla Archeological and Education Center was founded to preserve, study and share this important cultural record. Since then, Shumla has been a center of archaeological research, heritage preservation, community outreach and education for students of all ages. Come see these ancient paintings by booking a tour with Shumla’s partners at the Seminole Canyon State Park and The Witte  Museum. If the history is not enough to draw you in, maybe the beautiful surroundings will. The canyons, made of limestone, make for picturesque scenes. You can also have an overlooking view of the Rio Grande River from Parida Cave, which is also found within the park and also hosts several cave paintings. Adventure seekers can also go hiking, mountain biking, and camping while here. Just make sure to bring sun protection such as hats, sunblock, and sunglasses, as the park is composed of arid grasslands.

Explore the City

Del Rio has an active arts scene. The city is home to several art galleries which feature the paintings, sculptures, and photographs of local artists. Alternatively, you can check out their works on the art walk, which takes place every first Friday of the month. Visitors may notice a Mexican touch in some of the artworks, which comes as no surprise considering the proximity of Mexico to the city, which played a role in making Del Rio a perfect blend of American and Mexican cultures. The Firehouse is an institution of its own. So named because it served this purpose at a point in Del Rio’s history, it also was used as the city hall and a jail before it became an art gallery. This place is not just for experienced artists though, because arts enthusiasts can take up lessons there, ranging from writing and painting to performance arts such as dancing. Casa del Cultura also offers art, music, and dance classes, aside from exhibiting local artwork. Falcon Art Gallery is worth visiting not just for its art, but for its history. It is found in the Glenn-Dowe House, which is a Texas historic landmark. Don’t forget to explore life on the frontier at the Whitehead Memorial Museum– a must-see for history buffs interested in American History. If Military History is your thing, check out the Laughlin Heritage Museum found within the Air Force Base. It features the different awards, medals and other artifacts of the personnel and units that once served at the Laughlin Air Force Base. A great weekend to visit the base is coming up soon.. As a thank you for the outstanding support of Del Rio and the surrounding community, Laughlin Air Force Base is hosting an open house May 12, 2018. The open house will be headlined by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration team and will feature many other premiere civilian and military acts from across the nation.Laughlin received the good news that the base was selected to host the Thunderbirds during the International Council of Air Shows Convention in December. The city pulls out the stops with Fiesta Celebrations throughout the year. Cinco de Mayo starts the celebration season, and the Fiesta de Amistad rounds out the year highlighting the friendship between the Del Rio and it’s sister city of Ciudad Acuna, Mexico. Along with a pageant and parade, the festival features a chess tournament, a bike race, arts and crafts and the “Abrazo” (translation: an embrace) between the two cities’ mayors. Be sure to check the Chamber’s calendar and join the party! Explore some of the best of Southwest Texas in Del Rio. Plan your visit today and Take 90 for a wonderful alternative to the usual interstate experience. The Take 90 initiative encourages drivers to consider driving Highway 90 as an alternative to I-10. Grab your calendar and book your stay now!

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