Welcome to Texas
Texas is big, beautiful, and diverse—800 miles wide and nearly that far from north to south. There’s something for everyone in Texas from the sunny Gulf Coast to mile-high mountains.
If you prefer to go off the beaten path, start your jouney in the rugged Big Bend Country. Native Indians, Spaniards, Mexicans, cowboys, outlaws, ranchers, and the militia have all walked through this land, adding color, zest, and often tragedy to its history. It’s the perfect blend of amazing landscapes and Old West nostalgia.
Big Bend National Park is worth the visit. Its southern border, the Rio Grande River, winds, twists, and bends through desert, mountains and canyons. Explore Big Bend, from the desert floor to the Chisos Mountains.
The extraterrestrial Marfa lights top the bizarre to-do list. Other attractions not to be missed include the dunes of the Monahans Sandhills State Park, dramatic terrain of Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and spring-fed swimming pool at Balmorhea State Park.
The Old West never dies, thanks to places like Fort Bliss, Fort Davis, and Fort Stockton. For a modern view of West Texas life, head to cities like El Paso and Midland-Odessa.
The Texas Hill Country features German towns like Kerrville and Fredericksburg and dozens of smaller towns nestled in the rolling hills. And classic dance halls in towns like Gruene, where you can honky-tonk yourself silly. There's canoeing, rafting, tubing, and kayaking along the numerous rivers—and there’s Luckenbach. When Waylon Jennings first sang about Luckenbach, the town where folks “ain’t feelin’ no pain,” it put this otherwise non-place on the map. The population is about 10, and all that's here is the old General Store, a town hall, and a dance hall.
The Hill Country is rather hilly, from rolling green hills and the brilliant color of bluebonnets each spring to dramatic, craggy landscapes. The State Capitol building in Austin is mere blocks from 50,000-plus students at The University of texas.
Watch the stars come out, the twinkling gems that inspired the lyrics “The stars at night are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas.” Palo Duro Canyon State Park is a spectacular natural attraction. Walls plunge nearly 1,000 feet, exposing brilliant, multi-colored layers of sediment and incredible spires and pinnacles. Caprock Canyon State Park offers trails for hiking, biking, or horseback riding.
America’s famous highway, Route 66 winds its way through the Panhandle Plains. Go for a drive, pull over, and “get your kicks” at cafes, shops, and roadside attractions (Cadillac Ranch will amaze you). Music legend Buddy Holly grew up in these parts. Fans can pay tribute to the shy kid in glasses turned rock n’ roll hero at the Buddy Holly Center in Lubbock.
The Piney Woods feature steeple-high pine trees and hardwood forests. Traveling south, towering pine forests slowly yield to lush wetlands around Caddo Lake and Big Thicket National Preserve.
Oil is a fundamental part of this region’s development. Explore the oil boom days in towns like Kilgore, Marshall, and Longview with museums and a variety of attractions marking the state’s impact on the industry.
Many parts of East Texas, including Tyler and Nacogdoches, possess graceful elements of the Old South. Explore stately plantation homes and mansions under the shade of magnolia and cypress trees and smell the flowers at the nation’s largest municipal rose garden in Tyler.
Prairies and Lakes
This sprawling region is home to Dallas, Fort Worth, and many cities between that have grown into a sprawling area called the Metroplex. Dallas is known for nightlife, restaurants, and dazzling architecture. Sports fans could hardly miss the colossal Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, near the home of the Texas Rangers and Six Flags Hurricane Harbor. Fort Worth showcases its heritage and cowboy spirit. The Stockyards National Historic District, National Cowgirl Museum & Hall of Fame, and Billy Bob’s Texas—the largest honky-tonk anywhere.
Waco may be the heart of this region, and Bryan-College Station is dynamic, partially due to Texas A&M University’s presence. Unique communities like Bastrop and Lockhart, the BBQ Capital of Texas are built around classic town squares and provide a glimpse of small-town Texas life. Tour the famous Blue Bell Creameries and visit Dr Pepper Museum, Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, Waco Mammoth Site, and Dinosaur Valley State Park.
South Texas Plains
Get an up-close look at some of America’s finest Spanish architecture like Goliad’s Mission Espiritu Santo or the Mission District of San Antonio. Sacred to every Texan, The Alamo is the state’s number one tourist attraction. This diverse city also boasts the famous River Walk with shops and restaurants. Other attractions include SeaWorld San Antonio, Six Flags Fiesta Texas, and the San Antonio Zoo.
The mild winter weather of the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) attracts snowbirds, affectionately known as Winter Texans. The beauty and hospitality of the Mexican culture is well known in cities like Brownsville, Harlingen, McAllen, and Mission. The RGV nature scene is filled with many wildlife hot spots. The World Birding Center is a network of nine unique birding sites in the RGV along a 120-mile corridor following the Rio Grande from Roma to South Padre Island.
The Gulf region offers 600 miles of coastline, dotted with seaside towns, incredible views, and beaches. Nature lovers come to Port Aransas, Mustang Island, Rockport-Fulton, and Padre Island National Seashore.
Historical landmarks include San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site, where Texas gained its independence.
Corpus Christi is a popular seaport and one of Texas’ most popular waterfronts. One of the oldest cities in Texas, Galveston sits on a barrier island with 32 miles of sandy beaches, numerous attractions and Victorian architecture.