Texas bluebonnets

Texas Bluebonnet flower (Lupinus texensis) in spring

There’s not a more heavenly sight than springtime in Texas when the wildflowers are in bloom. When I was a little girl, my parents would load my brother and me up in the family sedan for a Sunday drive through the countryside to visit the bluebonnets.

The car ride itself was pure torture; I constantly enforced the invisible line dividing the backseat into equal halves, using my arm as a guillotine should my little brother encroach on MY side. The sea of blue flowers at the end of the drive was worth the sibling war in the backseat of the Oldsmobile, though. The memories made running through endless fields of bluebonnets are still vivid in my mind.

With children of my own now, I find myself on a quest each spring to identify the ideal spot for photo ops with the best bluebonnets. What better place than Ennis, the Official Bluebonnet City of Texas? Taking Interstate 20 west from Longview, then dropping south on Texas 34 from Terrell, Ennis is just two hours down the road.

TO DO

The Ennis Garden Club showcases more than 40 miles of mapped Bluebonnet Trails April 1 to April 30 each year. Ennis was designated home of the “Official Texas Bluebonnet Trail” by the state Legislature in a measure signed by then Gov. George W. Bush on June 18, 1997.

The Bluebonnet Trails surrounding Ennis are unique in that Ennis Garden Club members monitor their bloom status throughout the month, making note of which areas of wildflowers are peaking and putting on the best show. The Ennis Convention and Visitors Bureau, located downtown, offers free maps that have been highlighted with the best trail to follow at that time. An app called Ennis Y’all also features dynamically updated trail maps in April.

Ennis is home to the Bluebonnet Trails Festival the third weekend of April each year. Festivities downtown include arts and crafts vendors, an art show, presentations by horticulturalists, wildflower seeds for purchase, live entertainment and more.

Sugar Ridge Winery, located northeast of town in Bristol, is a pleasant stop along the Bluebonnet Trail map. Sugar Ridge offers a wide variety of wines to appeal to any palate. Check the winery’s website for information on fun events like karaoke nights and BYOM – Bring Your Own Meat to cook on their grill.

If you’re looking for a unique experience, visit the Galaxy Drive-In just three miles north of downtown Ennis on Interstate 45. The drive-in movie complex opened in 2004 and features seven screens. It is open 365 days a year, rain or shine and features first run movies. The best part? The price of admission entitles you to two feature films that are shown in succession.

TO EAT

Downtown Ennis offers a variety of unique dining spots. Be sure to try out Wildflower Café for a delicious sandwich. I tried the Rachel, sister to Reuben, but made with turkey rather than corned beef. Wildflower Café also offers a variety of soups and salads and a selection of pies that changes daily.

Firehouse Grill is housed in an historic - you guessed it – firehouse in downtown Ennis. The restored building is an excellent backdrop for an extensive menu featuring mouthwatering options such as fried zucchini, quail-k-bobs and buttermilk pie.

If all you need is a little pick-me-up, stop in the Pop Top Coffee Shop. This super cute corner café will give you the caffeine infusion you need to get you through the day.

TO SHOP

Stop by Kindred Soule when downtown. It’s a small business with a big heart – or “soule.” The store offers an eclectic collection of jewelry and accessories, as well as children’s apparel, home goods and more. The shop also houses a tea bar and eatery should you need to whet your whistle.

TO SLEEP

Ennis is home to a number of chain motels, but if you’re looking for a unique place to lay your head, make a reservation at the Moore-Ventura Bed and Breakfast near downtown. The Moore Home was built in 1905 by Confederate Army Capt. H.T. Moore and his wife Malinda Jane Anderson Farrar Moore. It was constructed in the neoclassical revival style and boasts almost 7,000 square feet. Sam and Joanne Ventura are the current owners and meticulously renovated the home while preserving its rich historic beauty.

The Legend of the Bluebonnet

One of the most beautiful of many legends associated with bluebonnets says that a long time ago, the Comanche Indian Tribe was being annihilated by starvation, cold and disease. The Great Spirit revealed to the tribe chieftains that all would be made right if their most cherished possessions would be made a burnt offering and scattered to the four winds. A little Indian princess, the daughter of the highest chief, overheard the council and immediately made ready to sacrifice her beautiful doll with a headdress from the blue jay. While all were asleep, the ritual was performed on a hillside not far from camp. The next morning, where the ashes had fallen there was a beautiful spread of blue flowers, the same shade as the blue jay’s feathers. These flowers, the legend says, were the bluebonnets, which until this day bloom in the spring in Texas. (Source: Ennis Garden Club)


Did you know...

The bluebonnet is also called buffalo clover, wolf flower and el conejo? The flower’s scientific name is Lupinus texensis. It was adopted as the official state flower by the Texas Legislature in 1901 at the request of the National Society of Colonial Dames in Texas.

According to the Ennis Garden Club, the bluebonnets along the Ennis Bluebonnet Trails almost always reach their peak around April 21, which is San Jacinto Day, the day when Texas won its independence from Mexico in 1836. Coincidence? I think not!


If you go...

TO DO

Bluebonnet Headquarters

  • 204 W. Knox St.
  • (972) 878-4748
  • www.visitennis.org
  • 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday
  • During April - 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

Sugar Ridge Winery

  • 353 Sugar Ridge Road | Bristol
  • (972) 666-2888
  • www.sugarridgewinery.com
  • 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday
  • 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

Galaxy Drive-In

  • 5301 N. Interstate 45 | Ennis
  • (972) 875-5505
  • www.galaxydriveintheatre.com
  • Open nightly; Check website for show times
  • $7 ages 12 and up; $3 for children

TO EAT

Wildflower Café

Firehouse Grill

Pop Top Coffee Shop

TO SHOP

Kindred Soule

  • 200 W. Knox St., Suite 100
  • (972) 876-4202
  • www.kindredsoule.com
  • 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday
  • 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday

TO SLEEP

Moore-Ventura Bed and Breakfast