My Backyard: What it’s Like Growing Up in Texas Suburbia

When this guest post project was suggested, I had to laugh. No one has ever written a “Must See” list about Keller, Texas. Kendra Thornton, a former Orbitz Director of Communications, has written below about Chicago—a more worthy must-see city in my opinion.

Yet, Money Magazine listed Keller as the 7th best city to live in the US.


When I heard that, I was like, WHY?

Keller is…so vanilla.

Maybe vanilla is what people want when they raise a family.

Here’s a list of 7 must dos in honor of being the 7th best city to live in the US.

1. Go to the public library.

There are programs organized for kids here, a bulletin board where you can put up advertisements (I got my first piano students this way) and so many free books and movies—I miss this luxury when we travel. I just signed up for my library card because I send bills here and have an address still in Keller though, so now I can get free ebooks and audio from the library database. I’m pumped.



Here’s baby at the park next to the library.

2. Visit a high school football game.

You’ll see the high school stadiums are as large as some college’s in other states. Especially in Texas, there is nothing more important than football, except for, well…

3. Check out the ginormous churches in the Bible Belt.

It’s cool to be Christian here. It’s not cool…to not be. Be sure to list Isaiah 3:5-6 in your high school yearbook message. It’s trendy to quote the Bible in Texas.

milestone church

Milestone Church in Keller: Everything’s bigger in Texas, even churches

4. Go shopping.

Southlake Town Center is the major shopping center near Keller where all corporate giants are represented with somewhat more palatable storefronts—attempts at being quaint. The movie theater, town hall, and post office are here along with some of my favorites: The Container Store, Apple, and Bags N Baggage. By the way, Southlake is set to be the wealthiest city in the United States. Keller is number 59. The guy that made the news recently for killing four people while driving drunk and getting off because of “affluenza”—he was from Keller.

5. Take a drive.

To examine the monster-sized houses where people live like kings. The likes of the Jonas Brothers, Troy Aikman, Terry Bradshaw, and Glenn Beck have bought mansions here. My brother once just knocked on one of the large house’s doors and asked to use their bathroom. They said, “Which one? There’s eight.’

gingerbread house

An extravagantly large gingerbread house at the Gaylord Shopping Center in Grapevine

6. Go to the local gym—The Pointe.

Especially in the summer time. There’s a full out water park at the gym. Not too shabby for a town of 30,000, eh? I’ll give you this—Keller’s weather is VERY liveable.

keller pointe

7. Eat at Judge Roy Beans.

judge roy beansBecause it’s the oldest restaurant in town, and has the most character, although the food is nothing to shout about.

Part Two: Chicago

My Favorite Places in My “Backyard” – A guest post by Kendra Thornton

Chicago CollageAs my lifelong home, Chicago obviously has a  special place in my heart. I am constantly telling people that they need to visit the Windy City, simply because there are so many wonderful attractions that you will find yourself wishing you had more time so you could see and do more! Below are some of my own personal favorite places in the city I call home.

Shop ‘Til You Drop

Chi Boat TourI don’t know about you, but shopping is one of my favorite things to do once I hit the city. One of the very unique, cool aspects of Chicago are its many different neighborhoods and the cultural aspects that each maintains. No two are completely alike, and Andersonville is one of my favorites for shopping. It offers a ton of amazing boutiques with the trendiest apparel and great souvenirs to take back home. I highly recommend going to Eva May and Stockholm, but there are many other choices that are sure to have just what you are looking for.

Local Photographers Rock!

Visiting the Historic Water Tower, which contains the City Gallery, is another great destination. The Chicago Water Tower is one of the most famous landmarks in Chicago, as it is one of the few buildings that were able to survive the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. While most of the city was decimated, this landmark prevailed, and now today it houses the photography of local artists. If you love art, this is a must-see. Also, it is free, so come enjoy these beautiful photographs at no charge!

The Skyline

Chicago BeachOne of the coolest parts about Chicago, and any large city, is simply taking in the incredible size of the city. I love the look of the city when the buildings are lit up at night, as it is truly a marvel to behold. When you travel to Chicago, you need to find that perfect place to stay. If you want to stay downtown, or even in a more historic section of town, use a site like gogobot to find a hotel that allows you to soak in the city.


Have A Hot Dog!

Chicago has so many tremendous local food options, and one of my favorites is to grab a hot dog from Hot Doug’s! They offer an eclectic selection of hot dogs and sausages to delight any meat lover. Whether you are looking for a delicious polish sausage or even fries made with duck fat, something will suit your fancy. Another great hot dog to have is a ballpark frank at Wrigley Field while catching a Chicago Cubs game! Wrigley is one of the best places to be during the fall months, and catching a game is second to none!

What was growing up in your backyard like? I’d love to know!

Kalli Hiller

Article by Kalli Hiller

Kalli Hiller is a voluntary vagabond who, with her husband Jacob, has traveled full time for the last eight years.

Kalli has written 372 awesome articles for us.

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