Antique, Parade, Road trip, Texas, Travel

Nine Flags Festival + Lighted Christmas Parade: Nacogdoches, Texas

We always love going to this parade. We have been several years in a row now. This takes place the first weekend in December in the picturesque downtown square of Nacogdoches, Texas, home to a long Texas history and Stephen F. Austin State University.

Get parade seats early. This year’s parade began at 6:30 so we claimed our seats at about 5:00. If you have small children, the easiest thing to do is bundle them up in their stroller so you can peruse the shops (before you get seated) and then park their stroller next to you to watch the parade. There are a LOT of quirky antique shops, Texas-themed shops (Heart of Texas), Coffee shops, art galleries, and a museum (among other things) downtown so you can easily spend 3-4 hours just exploring downtown Nacogdoches. If you are making a trip of it, one day can also be spent at SFA’s arboretum, azalea trails, and museum.

The festival gets its name from the 9 different flags that have flown over Texas- French, Spanish, Mexican, Fredonia Rebellion, Magee-Gutierrez, Dr. James Long, Confederate, Lone Star, and USA. Any history buff would enjoy this festival greatly. The main event, however, is the parade. Rightly so, as the floats are truly spectacular and the community comes together in a big way to make it happen.

Santa Clause makes an appearance at the end, much to the excitement of all of the kids

The night ends with a SPECTACULAR firework display. I have seen a lot of fireworks, and these rank right up there with some of the best I have experienced, (including those ones on Santa Rosa Beach/Seaside, Florida).

To sum it all up, some helpful, insider secrets:

  • Claim parade seats early
  • Bring chairs
  • Bring blankets
  • Bring cash for vendors (hot cocoa is amazing)
  • Be sure to visit all the shops
  • After the parade, hurry over to watch fireworks!
  • Strollers for children
  • Make dinner reservations for afterwards (Clear Springs does not offer reservations but they usually seat you quickly.
  • Park in the lot directly behind the square



Clayton Lake SP + Tent Camping With an INFANT

SO.. My brave sister and I (along with husbands, grandparents, and a very helpful aunt, took my 3 month old (Dax) and his then-8 month old cousin on the trip of a lifetime (only because we thought we were the only ones crazy enough to take infants on a full-blown tent camping adventure.) Turns out, lots of people do it but you still feel accomplished when it is all over. So, without further ado, I would like to offer some advice and pointers on surviving the unthinkable (tent camping) with an infant and give a very brief (because we were there only as a night/day stop on our way to Grand Mesa National Forest, CO) review of Clayton Lake State Park in New Mexico. First, pictures:


The Packing List for Tent Camping with Babies:

  1. Diapers (cloth + disposable)
  2. Extra formula and food
  3. Approx 2 billion onesies
  4. Cold weather pajamas
  5. Pack ‘n’ Play
  6. Waterproof, reversible picnic blanket
  7. Trash bags/ store bags for trash + diapers
  8. Mosquito netting (or shelter)
  9. Baby bug spray + sunscreen
  10. Sayman Salve
  11. First aid kit
  12. Baby tylenol/ advil
  13. Hats + cold weather gear (if going to cold-weather climate)
  14. Galvanized tub (can be used for bathing, holding tableware, ice, etc… Very useful
  15. Ice chest
  16. Clean water in jugs for bottles
  17. Portable Bottle Sanitizer (boiled water works also but these are amazing)
  18. Bottles, pacifiers, sippy cups (if appropriate)
  19. Stroller/backpack for carrying child
  20. Blankets
  21. Portable fans
  22. Bottle warmer

*If you think baby MIGHT need it- take it.

The most challenging thing about this trip was the car ride. We made frequent stops and got the babies out to “stretch their legs.” It is very doable, very fun, and totally worth it.

Now, Clayton Lake State Park:

Fish jumping out of the water in the early morning hours, birds singing, absolute stillness… That is literally what you can expect when you camp at Clayton Lake State Park. The view we had when we woke up was amazing- it literally took my breath away. We stayed mid-summer and there were a few people there but we had our pick of spots. It is pretty far away from any towns but that is definitely a good thing. I wish we had had more time here but we had just enough to inspire us to plan a trip again next summer. Keep wandering!