Houston summers are oppressive. My husband and I thought getting away for the day would somehow make the humidity more bearable. So we loaded up our son and set out for Goliad and Victoria. Goliad was a pleasant two hour drive straight down I-59. If you need a pick-me-up along the way, the McDonald’s in Edna makes a solid Americano. Three creams make it even better.

First stop was the Presidio La Bahia in Goliad. Wow! Memories of 7th-grade Texas history came rushing back. The fort is beyond cool. The Presidio was built in 1749 and used by the Spanish to protect nearby missions and strengthen Spain’s position in Texas. It later served as headquarters for some of those feisty Texian forces. Lookout towers marked the outer walls of the fort. A well-preserved cannon used by Col. James Fannin stood at the ready. Even my Scottish/Italian husband was fascinated by the history. Our 3 year old less so. He just loved running around the massive inner courtyard of the Presidio.

exterior view of presidio la bahia in goliad texas with stone front wall and american and texas flags flying
Presidio La Bahia (Photo by William Silver)

We corralled our son and entered the beautiful Our Lady of Loreto Chapel. The first Texas Declaration of Independence was signed here in 1835. In 1853, the chapel and thus the fort were bought by the Catholic Church, so this piece of Texas history comes under the purview of the Pope. In fact, regular services are still held.

Our Lady of Loreto Chapel (Photo by William Silver)

The museum was great. Lots of tidbits about the fort, Spanish rule, and the importance of “Remember Goliad” to the battle for Texas independence. There’s an informative video, which we skipped (see 3 year old above). We learned that the soldiers typically made encampments outside the fort’s walls—what would eventually become the town of Goliad. Those were brave souls—settling this part of Texas without air conditioning. Fortunately, the museum had stellar A/C. Be warned though. If you want to read the informative displays in the museum, do not bring a toddler. We resorted to taking photos of the descriptions and reading them later that night.

Next we took a quick tour of the reconstructed birthplace of General Ignacio Zaragoza. It sits right in front of the Presidio (also good A/C). General Zaragoza would later lead a small Mexican army to defeat French forces in Puebla, Mexico on May 5, 1862. So, you could say we have the General to thank for our Cinco de Mayo celebrations!


By this point, we were getting hungry. We did a quick drive around the darling town square in Goliad and made a mental note to stop for some pie at Mattie’s Bakery and Cafe next time round.

We headed to the Pumphouse in Victoria. We love this place. It’s outdoor patio on the river was tempting, but we opted for inside. Great A/C. (Notice a theme?) We feasted on fresh salads and amazing Sidewinder fries. The little one had the standard chicken fingers and sweet potato fries. Have to say—they were far better than your typical kids’ meal. Incidentally, we noticed that the Pumphouse is a stopping point on the Victoria Paddling Trail. When the kiddo is older, we’d love to come back and get in some kayaks. Gerry’s Kayaks is just the place to outfit us too.


After fueling up, we headed to the Texas Zoo. It’s a small zoo but a great size for a 3 year old. Remarkably well shaded too. After posing for a pic with the jaguar behind him, our son scampered off to find the choo choo train. Sadly, it was still being repaired from Hurricane Harvey damage. Our son fed some deer and then decided that was yucky. So after washing his hands three times, we checked out the bears, peacocks, alligators, foxes, otters and other animals. A blue and gold macaw even said hello to us. We made a quick stop at the gift shop to get a toy safari jeep and then we headed back home.

All in all a fabulous day trip from Houston and one we’d do again.


P.S. Had we known at the time that the super kid-friendly Goliad Brewing Company existed, we probably would have stayed there the whole afternoon. Beer garden. Food trucks. Lots of outdoor space for the kids. Need I say more? But we’d also make time to check out the beautiful Goliad State Park’s Mission Espiritu Santo, too. Then some beers.

Mission Espiritu Santo in Goliad, TX
Mission Espiritu Santo (Photo by LocalKins)

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Take care and have fun!


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