Biggest Unvisited

A couple of years ago I wrote about my Airport Visits. At that time I came oh-so-close to capturing Love Field in Dallas, Texas. A weather delay and a change of route dashed that achievement. However a work trip to Dallas last week finally righted that wrong. I flew down there on Southwest Airlines and naturally landed at and later departed from Love Field. It didn’t change anything in the earlier article, I figured. Houston’s Hobby Airport remained the largest airport in the United States I’d yet to use. Although something did change, something subtle.

Since that last article, Love Field surpassed Hobby in passenger counts. Unbeknownst to me, Love Field became my largest unvisited airport for awhile, although my recent visit corrected the situation. I’ve now traveled through the top 32 largest airports in the U.S., with Hobby dropping one spot to 33rd. It remained unvisited.

Houston’s Hobby Airport

Old Terminal at Hobby Airport
Old Terminal at Hobby Airport. Photo by BFS Man on Flickr (cc)

Actually, I’m not sure I will ever set foot in Hobby (map). I used to have a reason to go to Houston when family lived nearby. Unfortunately my grandmother passed away a few years ago at the age of 102. Then remaining family members moved to New Mexico for their retirement years. I just don’t see any trips near Houston on the horizon. So progress on this list will probably end. Plus, even if I did return, I’d likely use the much larger George Bush Intercontinental Airport. Southwest Airlines still uses Hobby extensively although most others focus on the other one.

Hobby began as Houston’s original commercial airport in the 1920’s albeit with a different name and under private ownership. It didn’t become Hobby until the city purchased it in the 1930’s. William P. Hobby, its namesake, had connections both to Texas and to Houston. He served as Governor of Texas in 1917 before his fortieth birthday. Afterwards, I guess because he felt he hadn’t accomplished enough already, he became publisher of the Houston Post newspaper. Naming the local airport for him seemed fitting.

Fresno County, California

The Best Little City in the USA, Plate 3
The Best Little City in the USA. Photo by Thomas Hawk on Flickr (cc)

That got me thinking about some of the other largest places in the United States I’d never visited. I’ve done a lot of county counting over the years. The total stood at 1,428 as of the time I wrote this, or 45.5% of counties available. However, I’d never considered the largest of the remaining unvisited. I had to actually create a spreadsheet to figure it out. When I sorted the results I learned the answer: Fresno County, California. More than 900 thousand people resided in the county so I’d missed a pretty significant place.

In my defense, there didn’t appear to be a lot of reasons to target Fresno. Sure, a lot of people lived there although it seemed to lack specific attractions unless agriculture in California’s Central Valley seemed exciting. People who are more familiar with the area are free to correct me. I’m sure it’s a nice place and I hate to give it short shrift.

It did have an attraction of a sort, I supposed. As Historic Fresno reported,

The Fresno Sanitary Landfill is the oldest "true" sanitary landfill in the United States, and the oldest compartmentalized municipal landfill in the western United States… [it] is a National Historic Landmark as well as in the National Register of Historic Places.

Someday I’m sure I’ll find myself in the area and of course I’ll capture Fresno. I might just check out the Historic Landfill too (map).

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Oklahoma City National Memorial
Oklahoma City National Memorial. Photo by Phil Roeder on Flickr (cc)

The largest unvisited city in the United States on my list was Oklahoma City (map). I liked this place because of the whole nesting of Oklahoma City in Oklahoma County in the state of Oklahoma. It didn’t exist until 1889 when the big "Land Run" commenced and it blossomed overnight. The city grew so quickly that it became the state capital in 1907. Today about 600 thousand people live there.

I’m trying to convince my family that we should go there for our family vacation next summer. I select a different state each year and I’ve already made my initial pitch for Oklahoma. It didn’t generate a lot of interest. I don’t know why. I found a couple of zoos for my older son and some military museums for my younger son. For my wife I compiled a list of breweries and brewpubs I knew she’d enjoy. Still, well, we’ll just have to see. Nobody else suggested a state so I might just win this one by default. I believe we have some Twelve Mile Circle readers from Oklahoma City. Please give me a few good reasons to visit and help me make my case. I think the family would enjoy it.

5 Replies to “Biggest Unvisited”

  1. Apparently OKC has a banjo museum in their Bricktown district, if your family enjoys museums. My spouse says that he and his middle school students enjoyed their visit to National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, but it’s about 30 minutes away in Norman.

  2. I have quite a few unvisited major cities: Detroit, Atlanta (have been in the airport and driven through the suburbs), Dallas, Houston (Bush Airport only), Denver, San Diego, Minneapolis.

  3. Fresno County includes part of Kings Canyon National Park. The Giant Sequioas there are worth a look.

  4. I can help with the Hobby airport bit and a family vacation. I live in League City, Texas. It is in Galveston county just south of Harris county (Houston). Hobby airport is much closer to me than Bush / IAH. I use Hobby whenever I can. It’s smaller so you don’t need to do a marathon to get to your gate. The security lines go quickly. The recent remodel improved everything.

    Anyway, here is my summer vacation idea. Fly into Hobby and make a home base somewhere in the Clear Lake area. Do it in June right after school ends for your kids. That minimizes the heat outside. Another possibility is a spring break trip but that could have complications.

    I think everyone should visit the Johnson Space Center and Space Center Houston. It’s in the southeast fringe of Houston and close to me. I drive by it several times a week and I still think it’s cool. The space Shuttle and its 747 are cool. The Saturn V is cool. Mission Control is cool. My nine year old and I love it all.

    Then visit the Kemah Boardwalk. It has good food and family fun. They shoot fireworks on Fridays near the Fourth of July. Then go visit Galveston island. The Pleasure Pier there is fun. It’s the same company as the Kemah stuff so you can get package deals. The sea water is brownish but the beach is nice. I enjoy the Bolivar ferry. Walking onto it will save waiting in line forever. The new Schlitterbahn and Moody Gardens on the west side are great fun. My son will stay on the ropes course for hours.

    Houston has a zoo. That would appeal to your one son. I need to get there sometime. There are great museums in that area including a children’s museum. I assume the train is still in operation.

    There are at least three brewpubs in my area. Saloon Door Brewing is new and small but I enjoyed the beers I sampled. Bakfish Brewing is in nearby Pearland. I haven’t been there yet. We also have a BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse in Webster. I like them.

    Another trip you can do is visit San Jacinto battleground It’s where Texas won its independence from Mexico in 1836. The monument observation area gives great views of the area. It’s taller than the Washington Monument. The Battleship Texas is moored nearby. I always enjoy visiting it.

    All of those areas are in the southern part of Houston. You’ll never need to use Bush airport.

    Now for something for your younger son, I have a good idea. Go visit the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg. My two nephews love going there. Admiral Nimitz was raised there. I wouldn’t make it a day trip from Houston. You’d want more time there. The site is .

    Fredericksburg is a nice German touristy town. Germans = beer too. I enjoy it and nearby Kerrville. Email me if you want intel on twisty hill country roads and some good barbecue restaurants.

    Since you’d be in the area, you might as well visit nearby Luckenbach. Yes it really does exist. Come when beer sales are legal and enjoy a cold Shiner or similar.

    Also since you are in Fredericksburg, you might as well visit New Braunfels and Gruene. Eat at The Grist Mill. Dance and have a cold one at Gruene Hall next door. The kids will love the original Schlitterbahn on the Comal river. Nearby Landa park is at the spring that starts the Comal. The train goes around a nice park and by the lake. The huge oak trees make great shade in the heat.

    Since you are in New Braunfels you might as well drive into San Antonio. The Alamo is sacred ground for Texans. The San Antonio Riverwalk and Hemisfair park are great. I’m attending a jewelry convention there in January. I can’t wait to revisit those spots.

    Ok I know this is a lot of info. I’ve barely scratched the surface. I have visited every county in Texas. We have a lot here.

  5. Actually Katy must have misunderstood. The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum (formerly the Cowboy hall of Fame) is in Oklahoma City, only about 10 minutes from downtown. That museum is only a couple of minutes away from our science museum and Zoo. We also have the Oklahoma History museum near the state capitol building, and down in Norman is the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History.

    We have a great Zoo in OKC (Tulsa’s isn’t bad either, and it is only about 90-120 minutes away). I’m not a beer drinker, but we do seem to have our fill of up and coming breweries. The Bricktown entertainment district downtown has quite a few things to do and see (the land run monument is pretty impressive), including the aforementioned banjo museum.

    If you want to take trips out of town during a day you could get into some very pretty scenic areas. Out east we have quite a few nice lakes. We have some hiking opportunities too, such as Mt Scott, which is down by Lawton. I believe the Wichita Mountains Wildlife refuge, which is adjacent to Mt Scott, has a herd of Bison. The Tallgrass prairie preserve, which is up near Pawhuska, has some, and it is VERY impressive to sit there and wait while hundreds of them cross the road in front of you!

    Of course as indicated in your picture, we have the Oklahoma City National Memorial, which gets quite a few visits. Funny enough, I’ve only been through it once, though I work just a few blocks away.

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