A variety of water slides can be found at Splashway Waterpark, a seasonal outdoor playground that boasts water-fueled attractions for toddlers, older kids, and adults. Sometimes the rides relax, as when visitors drift down the lazy river on waterproof water beds, but sometimes they raise pulses instead, as on the nearly straight drop of Pirate's Plunge.
From May to September visitors can enjoy the park's attractions, which were designed to entertain families with kids of any age. When energy wanes, two onsite caf?s pile plates with all-American fare such as burgers, pizza, and nachos. The truly exhausted can lounge in the new lagoon pool or turn in for the night at the park's RV and tent camp, or the new cabins.
What was once a jumbled catch-all for the hunting trophies of Dr. E. A. Weinheimer, and a generous donation from Steve McManus, has been streamlined into a collection of well-organized exhibits at the El Campo Museum of Natural History. They feature these trophies along with others in realistic replicas of their original habitats.
It's easy to picture what life was like in centuries past at Matagorda County Museum. That's because the museum highlights the county's most memorable events with both detailed recreations and actual artifacts. Guests can absorb the county's nautical history by viewing a cannon and other artifacts recovered from a shipwreck at the bottom of Matagorda Bay. They can also learn about indigenous family life or discover the charms and hardships of life in a covered wagon thanks to exhibits on those topics.
For an even more immersive experience, families need only step in to the award-winning children's section of the museum. There, kids can discover what life was really like more than 100 years ago in a recreation of a late 19th-century town. Newly minted citizens can swing by the town's O.K. Corral to drop off their horses, stop into the barber shop for a shave and a haircut, or head to the one-room schoolhouse to look over education primers. Other places of interest include an opera house, a post office, and, in case anyone at the post office gets caught opening letters not addressed to them, a jail.
An angler of redfish, speckled trout, flounder, and tripletail on the Matagorda Bay and Colorado River for more than a quarter century, Knee Deep Fishing's Captain Ciruti shares fishing wisdom during guided trips. The captain provides all gear on drifting trips, welcoming anglers aboard his 22-foot Torrent CAT 5 boat powered by a 200-HP Suzuki engine and hundreds of bubbles blown by harnessed trout. For fishermen with their own rods and wading boots, Ciruti leads walk-and-wade excursions into shallow flats and along coastlines.
To accommodate nature admirers and history buffs, Ciruti also charters eco tours to illuminate the history, layout, and wildlife of the bay and its surrounding waterways. Skyward glances may yield views of pelicans, herons, and eagles, and below, land-bound creatures such as deer, hogs, and coyotes may make appearances along the banks.
Captain Walt Wendtland can most often be found aboard their specially designed fishing boats. The broad-bottomed watercraft easily cruise the long, shallow tracts of Matagorda Bay as the captains hunt the same prey they have for more than 25 years. They take guests on cruises, providing rods, reels, sunscreen, and cleaning for any catch that gets hauled in. Groups typically pursue trout, redfish, and flounder, though they sometimes seek out seasonal prey such as tripletail.
If it weren’t for the railroad, there would be no Rosenberg. In 1880 the Gulf, Colorado, and Santa Fe Company extended their tracks across those of another railway, creating a junction that they named after the railway’s president, Henry von Rosenberg. All that remains of this junction’s original depot, from which the town of Rosenberg grew, is the signal tower, which is now the centerpiece of Rosenberg Railroad Museum’s collection of historic railcars and other railway paraphernalia.
Representing the full spectrum of passenger railcars, the collection includes a caboose—the living quarters of a train conductor—and a Canadian government business car, which in the 1920s had been appointed to transport dignitaries and prime ministers in comfort. At the museum’s education center, an HO-gauge model train gives visitors a macro view of a rail network, and, up in the signal tower, an interlocking machine lets visitors play at train traffic control, using the same switches the towerman flipped back in 1903 to make sure only one train was routed through a junction at a time and no trains were routed down the tracks that just led straight off the edge of the world.