It’s no secret that Texas is big – huge, in fact – but its size is nowhere near as impressive as its geographic and cultural diversity. Here the lush and verdant east meets the boundless and open west as the city streets turn into country roads and back again. Whether you are looking for lakes and prairies, forests covered with Spanish moss, the vast desert, or the salty and sandy coast, Texas has a destination for you.
And it’s not just nature that is available to you. The state houses five of the 15 largest cities in the United States. So, no matter what type of traveler you are, there is a vacation for you in the Lone Star State. Check out yours below.
For design lovers: Big Bend Country
As the most westerly part of Texas, Big Bend’s sprawling landscape makes it a wonderful place to camp and stargaze, but art and architecture lovers might find more appeal in the neighborhood. trendy Marfa, nearby. And, despite what you’ve seen on social media, there’s more to the small town than the iconic Prada Marfa installation. In fact, the beautiful region is home to over 20 museums and galleries.
While you’re at it, be sure to check out the Lights of Marfa – a mysterious phenomenon believed to be the work of UFOs – or the artist known as Mother Nature. Ysleta’s mission in El Paso dates back to the 1600s, and although it has been rebuilt over the years, it is a prime example of adobe architecture of the time. In addition, the Magoffin Home State Historic Site offers a rare golden version of the generally modest adobe. The 19-room farmhouse was built in 1875 and its three wings have been meticulously preserved and restored.
For history buffs: the South Texas plains
This part of southern Texas stretches from San Antonio to the Rio Grande River and is filled with a rich American history. First of all, stop Alamo – where the crucial battle of the Texas Revolution in the 19th century took place – before exploring the rest of the San Antonio Missions by bike. Joined by a 13 km trail along the San Antonio River and built by Franciscan missionaries in the 18th century, the complex of stone buildings is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The trail will also take you to the King William District, a quaint neighborhood dotted with Victorian houses, and the San Antonio Art Museum. Housed in a former Lone Star Brewery, the collections span 5,000 years of art, including works from the ancient Mayans to Ansel Adams. Once you’ve taken in all that San Antonio has to offer, head south to King Ranch. Operating continuously since 1853, the ranch spans more acres than the state of Rhode Island.
For road-trippers: Panhandle Plains
Whether you’re passing through the state on I-40 or whatever your destination is, the Texas Panhandle offers plenty of sightseeing without getting out of your car (although we highly recommend it). Stop in Amarillo to see Cadillac Ranch, an art installation that features 10 antique Cadillacs covered in graffiti buried the hoods first in the ground. Then drive through historic US Route 66-Sixth Street for an ironic 13-block peon in mid-century styles. Then head south to Palo Duro Canyon State Park to see the second largest canyon in the country and on Lubbock to visit the Buddy Holly Museum. You don’t even have to go inside to snap a photo with a life-size sculpture of the singer.
For beach lovers: the Gulf Coast
Texas might not be the first state that comes to mind when you think of a beach vacation, but it just might be. With 600 miles of coastline and seaside towns like Galveston, Rockport and Port Arthur, the Gulf Coast offers plenty of room to plant an umbrella and find your place along the Gulf of Mexico.
There are also many activities outside the beach. Stroll on the sidewalks of the Great Texas Coastal Bird Watching Trail, or press the Galveston Marina. If you fancy the city, take a day trip to Houston and opt for a CityPASS, which includes admission to the Space Center, the Houston Zoo, the Museum of Natural Science, and other attractions.
For forest swimmers: the Piney Woods
With flowery meadows, vast woods and streams and four national forests, the Piney Woods is a nature lover’s dream. You will find in the Grand FourrÃ© National Reserve, as well as trails and lakes to explore. Head to Caddo Lake State Park to see cypress trees dripping with Spanish moss, and kayak through its maze of waterways. When you’re done, you can get your fix of flowers in Tyler, the rose capital of America, with visits to the Great Where Municipality of Tyler rose gardens as well as Rose de Chamblee nursery.
For the Wild West: Meadows and lakes
If you are looking for the quintessential Texas, look no further than this part of the state which is home to the Dallas / Fort Worth metro, vast prairies and numerous lakes. Board a 1920s train with Grapevine Vintage Railroad and pass small towns and beautiful countryside on your way to Fort Worth, a family town that keeps that Old West spirit alive. In Fort Worth, you can start the action at Stockyard Championship Rodeo, watch professional riders at Billy Bob’s, or visit the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame.
In the spring, don’t miss the blue hat season, when the state flower covers the countryside in bloom. The town of Ennis hosts a festival during the flowering peak in April, and is home to the Official Texas Bluebonnet Trail as well as on top 30 acres of unspoiled tallgrass prairie.
For adventurous families: the land of hills
If you are an adventure-loving team, there is a lot of fun to be had in the Hills of Central Texas. Refresh yourself at Schlitterbahn water park in New Braunfels, a family-friendly attraction halfway between San Antonio and Austin. It’s 70 acres of H20 entertainment with 40 attractions that appeal to all ages (and risk-taking preferences). After, try kayaking on Lake Travis or hit a swimming hole in Jacob’s Well Natural Area Where Blue Hole Regional Park. For more land fun, explore the 11 miles of trails at Enchanted rock (a 425-foot, 640-acre granite dome) or climb to the top of bald old man for 360 views of the Hill Country. You can also fly over land with a zipline tour at Lake Travis, Cedar pines, Where Wimberley.
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