Sydney’s kids in a field of flowers

Fort Cavazos Bucket List

It’s amazing how two people can live at the same duty station and leave with entirely different experiences. Still to this day, I tell everyone I meet how much I loved being at Fort Cavazos (formerly Fort Hood). Rarely, I don’t get a puzzled look followed by the question, “Really?!” as if I just told them that I love being stabbed with sharp pencils or something terrible.

Fort Cavazos is not a popular duty station. Many people complain that there isn’t anything to do in central Texas. Others get caught up in the post’s negative public image and don’t want to be associated with it. Some just find misery wherever they go and have a difficult time embracing new adventures. My husband and I do not fit into any of these categories and are big believers that you must be intentional in enjoying a new place. You must be determined to fall in love with it, and sometimes, you will. Sometimes you won’t, but you will at least leave knowing you tried your best to bloom where you were planted.

As we departed Fort Cavazos just two years ago, I want to share a list of all of our favorite activities for anyone who is looking for a good central Texas adventure, or for anyone who wants to carry on some of our family’s traditions in the Fort Cavazos area:

  1. Enjoy a picnic. One of our very favorite activities was picnicking in Salado. Usually on a Friday or Saturday afternoon, we’d pack up the car with our picnic blanket, some water shoes, swim trunks, a fishing net, and a change of clothes for our son, and spend the evening down by the creek. Our son would splash around for hours, throwing rocks and playing with his trucks while my husband and I sat on boulders along the creek edge, drinking cold beers. We’d get dinner from food trucks and eat it on our picnic blanket. We love the local shops and candy stores. The ride home was always silent as our son munched on gummy dinosaurs, and I tried not to eat the entire bag of candies I’d gotten for myself. We even spent two of our anniversaries in Salado. My husband took me to a bed-and-breakfast on the creek and a fancy dinner, and we enjoyed the rare leisure of shopping around the town at the sweet little boutiques. This is a wonderful place to shop for unique gifts for loved ones.
  2. Take a hike. Close to post are beautiful scenic nature trails featuring waterfalls and suspension bridges along the Lampasas River. Many trails are short and relatively flat, which makes them ideal for a family outing with little ones. I’d usually take my two-year-old son once a week as a fun way to get out of the house. He loved throwing rocks and sticks in the water and looking for bugs. We’d often get smoothies or snow cones on the way home for a little treat!
  3. Indulge in local restaurants. There are so many restaurants with great vibes. I have tasted some of the best barbecue you’ll find in the central Texas area (trust me, we tried a lot of other places). Some of these family-run small businesses are worth standing in a very quickly-moving line out the door.
  4. Capture memories with a family photoshoot. There are so many breathtaking landscapes on elevated plateaus overlooking lakes and scenic surroundings. Why not take advantage and have a family photoshoot? Our family took shots in bluebonnet flowers in April. We will always have these precious moments captured.
  5. Head to the lake. On summer days, we’d pack lunch, grab our floats and flip-flops, and head to the lake for the day. Hey, it might not be the ocean, but you sure can pretend it is. It’s nice and relaxing to look out at beautiful, light blue water and waves crashing along the shoreline.
  6. Say yes to dessert. To cure the Sunday blues, our family would often jump in the car after dinner on Sunday evenings and head to an ice cream shop for some homemade ice cream. Pro tip: Sometimes the stores that look like a complete hole-in-the-wall will have some of the best ice cream you’ll ever eat. I love trying all the unique flavors.
  7. Visit a farm. In the spring, we enjoy picking tulips and strawberries and especially trying farm ice cream. Many farms have no entrance fees and reasonable prices for purchasing tickets to the different activities. In the fall, they have a big pumpkin patch with hayrides, painting pumpkins, corn mazes, flower picking, barrel rides and more. Don’t overlook a visit to a farm!
  8. Roam the zoo. We absolutely adore visiting the zoo. Some facilities may offer special discounts for the military community. I highly recommend packing a lunch, as onsite dining options tend to be quite pricey. The whole family always has a blast on our zoo adventures.
  9. Explore national parks. Located in Southwest Texas, Big Bend National Park has it all. From the Chisos mountains to the Chihuahuan desert, you’ll find hikes with all different typographies and landscapes. It’s a bit of a drive from Fort Cavazos, but I mean it when I say it was one of the most memorable things we did in the four years we lived in Texas.

I hope this list gets you started on your Fort Cavazos adventures. Central Texas is an area like most that you will need to explore if you want to have fun. If you’re like our family, you’ll find that an ordinary place can quickly become a gem just by the familiarity and the memories you create there.


Written By Sydney Smith
Army Spouse

Sydney has been an Army wife for four years and has two children. She often writes on the raw experiences military spouses face during challenging times, striving to be a voice of encouragement and validation among the military spouse community.

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