You may think of wide-open plains when you think of Texas, but central Texas’ Hill Country is home to rolling hills, winding rivers and scenic views. Hopping in an inner tube for a refreshing float is a popular regional pastime. Here, the big cities burst with unique personalities. Austin hosts a hip food scene and a bevy of live music venues. The past meets the present in San Antonio, where the Alamo and historic Spanish missions ooze history.
Gently rolling hills of prairie land are speckled with woodlands and lakes, giving name to the Prairies and Lakes region of north-central Texas. Along the horizon, you might spot the skyscrapers of the large metro areas of Dallas and Fort Worth, home to world-class shops, restaurants, museums and big-time sports arenas. For a quintessential Lone Star State experience, hit one of the many local rodeos found throughout this region. Another Texas favorite, the bluebonnet wildflower, can be seen here. Grab a camera and follow the Bluebonnet Trail in April to catch shots of green fields rippling with blue wildflowers.
A visit to the borderlands of the South Texas Plains will give you a taste of Mexico without crossing the border. The town of Laredo is located just across the border from its Mexican sister city, Nuevo Laredo. Experience the Old World charm of the San Augustin Plaza, and sample authentic Mexican cuisine throughout the city. The town of McAllen is a popular choice spot for bird-watching, with World Birding Centers located around the region. This area is also on the path for migratory butterflies. The National Butterfly Center bursts with color in Mission. Bring your binoculars and scan the skies for winged wildlife while visiting the South Texas Plains.
Cathedrals of tall, green pines? Wetlands and bayous? Believe it or not, Texas is home to these landscapes in the Piney Woods region, located along the state’s eastern border. Explore the region’s diverse habitats at the Big Thicket National Preserve. Hike through dense woodlands, and paddle along the bayous, creeks and river wetlands. This landscape has attracted residents for centuries. The Caddo Mounds State Historic Site was home to early Native American inhabitants, and Nacogdoches is the oldest town in the state. Take a scenic drive, and you may find a Spanish mission, quaint small towns, picturesque lakes and beautiful national forest scenes.
They say everything’s bigger in Texas, and that holds true for big cities and big beaches. The Gulf Coast region of southern Texas has both. Texas’ most populated city, Houston, is home to skyscrapers and metropolitan entertainment. The Museum District and NASA’s Johnson Space Center are popular choices. Grab your sunscreen and head to one of the beach towns that line the shores. Galveston, Corpus Christi and South Padre Island are chock-full of action, while Rockport and Port Aransas are easygoing places. A sunrise walk on a white sand beach is a perfect way to enjoy the beauty of the Gulf.