Once you have booked a trip to Texas, you should begin your must-see list. This might be a really long list as there are simply so many great places to visit.
From the cities and towns to natural sites and some outstanding vacation spots.
You may have heard that Texas is renowned for country music and barbecue yet there is so much more to enjoy.
In this guide, we will look at the 28 best places to visit in Texas, including some great vacation spots.
A Guide To Texas
To put it bluntly, everything is said to be bigger in Texas so you may want to spend a few weeks there.
With such ample room in the Lone Star State, there is plenty to do for anyone willing to pay a visit and spend some time there.
That includes huge cities such as Houston, Dallas and Austin where each location has its own food culture and you can likely catch some sports action.
There is also history on offer such as the hugely significant relic of Texan independence which is The Alamo in San Antonio(see also: 13 Best Breweries in San Antonio).
Texas is also the state where you can find the Dr. Pepper Museum which is in Waco, or enjoy a vacation on the coast such as in the picturesque towns of Galveston, Rockport, and Corpus Christi.
That’s right, for all the talk of barbecue and country music, the coastline of Texas is well worth exploring. So are the parks and The Woodlands has over 145 of them alone.
Then there are national parks like Big Bend National Park and Guadalupe Mountains National Park where you can spend the day following a trail and seeing some epic views.
Try to check the conditions beforehand as Texas can get hot during the day, especially in summer, so you will want to pack plenty of sunscreen and bottles of water.
Texas has plenty to do outside, especially on the water which you can experience when you visit the likes of Wimblerley and even a riverboat ride in Jefferson which is a typically Texan attraction.
It may be strange to consider but the state of Texas also has a few towns that demonstrate the German (see also: The Most Beautiful German Towns In Texas)influence.
These include New Braunfels which is an ideal spot for a vacation, and has several preserved historic attractions.
Another town is Fredericksburg which has several idyllic German restaurants as well as several German heritage sites.
Cities And Towns
If you are deciding on a base to stay in once you arrive in Texas, there are plenty of cities and towns to choose from.
These include the state capital, Austin, as well as other major cities such as Dallas and Houston.
As one of the most liberal cities in Texas, Austin is well worth staying in.
If you can time your trip, the city comes alive for South by Southwest Festival with pretty much every bar and venue hosting live music.
Aside from that, you can still visit the Texas State Capitol Building, or the Bullock Texas State History Museum, as well as plenty of shopping districts to sample.
Outside the city, there’s McKinney Falls State Park and Onion Creek to enjoy.
The central location of the city in the state also means that it works well as a base from which to explore the outer reaches of Texas.
When you do find yourself in the city, try swimming in Barton Springs Pool and maybe spend a full day taking in Zilker Park.
The park alone has its own botanical garden and a mini railway as well as live theater productions to see during the summer.
For a weekend break away from the hustle and bustle of a major city, try going close to the border at San Antonio.
Begin your stay with a trip to The Alamo which is one of the most important historical sites in the state for Texan independence.
There are several monuments and relics of the state’s revolutionary past so you can visit some border fortresses and preserved battle grounds.
For a trip back in time, try to visit some of the intact churches like San Juan, Espada, Concepción, and San Jose.
After all that history, you can take a stroll down the San Antonio River Walk which has several foodie spots and tiny picturesque restaurants.
You could even take the boat for a relaxing little jaunt or while away a few hours in the Museum of Art.
For a few thrills, ensure you fit in a trip to Six Flags Fiesta Texas which has close to 50 attractions including rollercoasters and water splash rides.
Any fans of the TV show should look to visit the city of Dallas. A lot has changed since the TV show aired and the city is now home to a chic art scene and some great restaurants.
There’s Margarita Mile for some sophisticated cocktails, the Dallas Arboretum, Six Flags Over Texas theme park (which is between Dallas and Fort Worth), the Sixth Floor Museum, and even a giant eyeball sculpture.
For an ideal time to visit, time your trip for fall to make sure you can visit the Texas State Fair.
While the city was once known for a presidential assassination and oil barons, if you go looking you should find plenty of Tex-Mex restaurants and museums.
The city is also big on sports so try to catch a Cowboys game and enjoy a foot-long.
There is also the Dallas Museum of Art which comes with a sculpture garden which has free admission and has plenty of pieces of art to take in.
Houston is a huge city with plenty of things to do so it tends to be a popular destination.
You could spend a few hours in the Museum of Natural Science or simply sample the foodie spots that populate the city.
The CBD also includes the Downtown Tunnel System, the Downtown Aquarium, and the Chase Tower Observatory.
Then again, you could spend all day at Space Center Houston to see how NASA has shaped space exploration.
The city of Houston is a great city to take in the arts as it has its own museum district and around 20 cultural centers.
There are even outdoor theaters though there are plenty of bars and clubs to sample too. However, a trip to Houston is not complete without a trip to the Space Center so get that out of the way first.
While Texas may be known for its major cities, barbecue, and beach towns, Fredericksburg is a step away from all that.
The town has deep German roots, great wine, and some excellent shopping to be found on Main Street.
The Texas Hill Country locale has a thorough connection with Germany which you can explore at the Pioneer Museum.
However, you may simply want to make your way through the town’s 50 wineries.
Situated between Austin and Dallas is the city of Waco which is well worth a stopover.
From the Dr. Pepper Museum and Free Enterprise Institute to the Waco Mammoth National Monument which are all well worth visiting.
There are several food trucks and a bakery just in the Chip and Joanna Gaines-owned property known as Magnolia Market at the Silos.
Then again, get out into nature at Cameron Park which is a 416-acre green space that includes Cameron Park Zoo as well as possibilities for horseback riding, mountain biking, and hiking.
You could simply spend your time in the downtown area of Fort Worth and peruse its vast array of restaurants, shops, and music halls.
In fact, this is a great place to enjoy some live music as you can head to Billy Bob’s which is the world’s largest honky tonk (country music nightclub).
This is the ideal spot to see some bull riding, dancing, or simply catching a live concert.
There are animals to see including 7,000 of them at Fort Worth Zoo or you could head to the Stockyards to see twice-daily cattle drives.
For a taste of Mexico, head to the border and the city of El Paso in the western corner of the state.
The city is also known as Sun City and you can soak up some rays and take in some stunning views as the sun sets over the city and the Franklin Mountains.
During the day, take the time to visit the Museum of Archaeology at Wilderness Park, the Centennial Museum and the Chihuahuan Desert Gardens.
For a trip into nature, follow the El Paso Mission Trail which takes in the McKelligon Canyon.
Like Fredericksburg, New Braunfels has a telling German influence and is a great place to visit in its own right.
There are the historic buildings which have been impeccably preserved and include Gruene Antique Company and Gruene General Store.
You could also catch a show at the oldest dance hall in the state at Gruene Hall or simply laze in a tube for the day on the river.
For a photo that none of the family will forget, head to New Braunfels’ water tower.
Conroe has become one of the most popular destinations in Texas and is known as one of the state’s fastest growing cities.
That may be down to the city’s charm as it sits on Lake Conroe, 21,000 acres of water that is right next to a national forest.
While you could take a weekend in the city itself, you would be better off exploring some of the 96 miles of trails, going for a picnic or simply opt for some bird watching.
There are towns in Texas that feel like they simply have not moved on with the passage of time.
One of them is Jefferson which some have even said is haunted, you can find out for yourself on the Jefferson Ghost Walk.
There are plenty of other, allegedly, haunted spots including antebellum mansions though they all seem to be centered around the Big Cypress Bayou though you could see the town from the back of a horse-drawn carriage.
To get away from anything spooky, try some fishing at Caddo Lake State Park or simply head to Lake O’ the Pine and try a riverboat ride.
Another town which is a far cry from the big cities is Luckenbach where ‘Everybody is Somebody’, according to the town motto.
The town has a huge Western influence so you should feel taken back in time when you find a dance hall and a saloon, though the drink’s selection may be more modern.
This is a rustic town which is best visited on the weekend when you should hear guitar playing, and see a lot of old-fashioned dancing.
It’s also less than 15 miles from Fredericksburg which could be ideal for a weekend trip.
One of the prime attractions in Johnson City is its Exotic Resort Zoo. You can even embark on a drive-through safari to see wallabies, emus, and even camels.
Johnson City is also ideal for a camping trip in Pedernales Falls State Park(see also: The 10 Best State Parks In Texas To Go Camping!). For the time spent outside a tent, head to Science Mill for some educational activities for the kids.
Should you set time aside for a visit to Big Bend National Park, you could find somewhere to stay in the small town of Terlingua. That could mean a bubble, a tipi, or even a vintage airstream trailer.
Such is the charm of the town, you may want to extend your stay.
Even there, you can take a rafting tour along the Rio Grande or enjoy some live music from the iconic Starlight Theatre.
The town of Wimberley is another of those well-kept secrets that may be getting a little too well-known.
There are the completely natural and gorgeous turquoise swimming holes situated under huge Cypress trees.
For a hike, climb to the very top of Mount Baldy for some iconic views over the town. Then there are more sedate activities like a round at the Quicksand Golf Course or for a thrill, have a go at Wimberley Zipline.
Of course, even the roads are well worth sampling which includes Route 66.
Amarillo is an ideal stopping point as it includes Cadillac Ranch; an art installation featuring several Cadillacs which are half-sunken into the ground.
For more rudimentary attractions, take in the Amarillo Museum of Art and Amarillo Botanical Gardens.
Inside a half hour drive, you can arrive at Palo Duro Canyon, including the stunning Lighthouse Peak and Capitol Mesa.
With so much space to roam in Texas, there are several natural sites to mull over. This includes natural parks that are great for a hike though check the conditions before you set off.
Big Bend National Park
One of the most renowned national sites in the state is Big Bend National Park.
Ensure that you hike the South Rim Trail which may take all day as it is around 12 miles long but well worth the challenge.
Another trail to try is the Santa Elena Canyon Trail which traverses the border with Mexico as well as the Rio Grande.
The national park is something of a hidden treasure as there are dinosaur fossils to find, as well as the Chimney’s Trail and Window View Trail.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
On the New Mexico border is another excuse to see the great outdoors; Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
This is a diverse area that includes canyons, mountains, forests, and deserts with several animals to spot too. Pine Springs Canyon is ideal for a hike, but so is Pine Springs Trailhead and Devil’s Hall Trail.
Palo Duro Canyon
If you cannot get across to the Grand Canyon then the Palo Duro Canyon is the second-largest in the country.
The canyon cuts through the High Plains of the Lone Star State with some large areas of exposed red rock.
There is also some history behind the area as it was once home to North American tribes such as the Comanche and the Apache.
You can still follow in their footsteps by riding horses and looking out for mountain lions, Aoudad sheep, and whitetail deer.
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
With a day to spare, head to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area and take a picnic.
There are several trails to choose from that vary in difficulty so it should not be too difficult to find one that suits everyone.
For the more adventurous, there are opportunities for rock climbing over rock formations.
Though if you have more than a day to spare, you can take some camping gear and watch the stars as you drift to slumber.
Natural Bridge Caverns
The Natural Bridge Caverns are an easy way to get away from it all with hidden passages, paths and tunnels just outside San Antonio.
They all do connect to each other but you may want to take a guided tour to find the spots that prove truly unforgettable.
There is even a tour where you can wear essential gear to get closer to nature, even if that means a little muddier.
Above ground, you can explore a giant maze, try some gem and fossil mining or a ropes course.
For vacation spots, you really are spoiled for choice in Texas as there is so much coastline to explore.
If you are heading towards Houston, you can take a short vacation to the coastal retreat at the Gulf of Mexico; Galveston.
The town is great to chill out in with several lovely beaches and a downtown area with so many restaurants to choose from.
For the kids, there is Pleasure Pier but for the adults, there is Moody Gardens and Moody Mansion.
Then there is the architecture at the Strand National Historic Landmark District or free Bolivar Ferry rides.
In terms of beach towns, ensure you visit Boca Chica if you want a getaway from it all.
There is a modest eight miles of sandy beaches though you do have to bring your own surfboard, kiteboard, or snorkeling gear.
This is another spot for wildlife watching as there are so many sea turtle and bird species to look out for.
An ideal time to visit is spring or summer as you may see a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle laying its eggs on the shore.
On the south coast of the state is Padre Island which is great for an island adventure. Take a stroll down Padre Island National Seashore (which is a protected treasure) then Whitecap Beach.
For a more contemporary aspect of the island, visit Bob Hall Pier. This is another great vacation destination for bird watching though there is some great nightlife too.
Suitably named as the island was initially inhabited by wild horses, the barrier island is 18 miles long. That includes beaches and areas to go swimming, kayaking, and mountain biking.
For a more sedate activity, simply go wildlife spotting to try to spot one of over 400 species of bird.
Alternatively, head to North Packery Beach for surfing, snorkeling, or wakeboarding.
There is also the town of Port Aransas which is well worth a visit on its own. This is the ideal spot for playing on the beach, sunbathing, or even parasailing.
For a better glimpse of nature, try a dolphin-watching cruise or some angling in what is the ‘Fishing Capital of Texas’.
The Gulf Coast city of Corpus Christi has so many attractions that you might want to spend a few days vacation there.
The town’s scenic shoreline includes McGee Beach which is great for a swim while North Beach is great for the family with its Ferris wheel and a playground for the kids.
For a more educational aspect of your vacation, visit the USS Lexington and the Texas State Aquarium.
An idyllic spot for a vacation on the Texan coast is the somewhat sleepy town of Rockport.
If Corpus Christi seems a little too excitable and loud then this is a place to take a few days out and recharge the batteries.
That could mean sampling some art in the South Austin Street Galleries or the Rockport Center for the Arts.
Then again, there is a huge 25 by 27-foot fiberglass crab sculpture known as the Big Blue Crab.
About 30 miles north of Houston is The Woodlands which is another great spot for a vacation.
You can still enjoy the trappings of high-end shopping but also take part in some outdoor activities.
The Woodlands includes an outdoor concert venue for the adults yet also has The Woodlands Children’s Museum for the kids.
For those that like to sample the outdoors, there is a grand total of 147 parks so there are plenty to choose from for hiking and bike trails.
When the sun is shining, you can rent a kayak and take it to Riva Row Boat House, or visit Lake Woodlands or The Woodlands Waterway.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best place to live in the state of Texas?
While there are plenty of places to visit in the Lone Star State, there are definitely some places that many want to live in.
Top of the list is the city of Austin which is the state capital and enjoys a healthy economy, diverse culture, and outdoor activities.
Austin is also home to South by Southwest Festival where the city opens up its doors to the world as almost every bar and venue hosts bands for the festival’s duration.
There are other music festivals to enjoy as well as plenty of hipster areas in what is probably the state’s most liberal city.
Houston is also high up the list of Texan cities to live in as it has so many entertainment and employment opportunities.
However, though it is affordable as a big city in the United States, it is still considered to be more expensive than most small cities in the state of Texas.
If you want to stay close to a big city but have a more affordable cost of living then Fort Worth might be ideal as a neighboring suburb to Dallas.
That proximity is useful yet Fort Worth has plenty of big employers as well as cultural things to do.
Which Texan city has the widest range of things to do?
One of the great things about Texan cities is how many things there are to do. Perhaps the city with the widest range of activities is San Antonio which is close to the Mexican border.
Not only can you enjoy great Tex-Mex food but there are great shopping areas to peruse too.
For a more leisurely way to spend time in the city, take a stroll by the San Antonio River along The River Walk.
There is history to see in the relic that is The Alamo but also nature too in Brackenridge Park and San Antonio Zoo.
There are a few things to put on a must-see list when you visit the state of Texas.
Of course, there is barbecue and country music yet that should not be too difficult to find, either in a major city or a small town.
The specific attractions should include the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas and the Space Center in Houston.
Try to ensure that you visit the border with Mexico at San Antonio and the coast in towns such as Galveston and Corpus Christi for a great vacation by the sea.
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