Texas is one of the most popular states to visit, with plenty of things to see and do. From museums to mountain ranges, restaurants to beaches, the Lone Star States visitors have endless activities to exploit. No matter what you choose to do, Texas is sure to be a great vacation spot for individuals and families alike.
Read on for 20 of the best places to visit in Texas!
This tiny town is tucked away into the hills of West Texas and enjoys some of the most beautiful scenery. The Museum of the Big Bend is great for any visitors who want to learn about the area’s history, and you can also spend a day strolling around downtown Alpine, enjoying the many boutiques, art galleries, cafes, and even the weekly farmer’s market.
The capital of Texas is known for its music scene, restaurants, museums, and many beautiful parks and lakes. From food trucks and barbecue joints to upscale farm-to-table restaurants, the culinary options of Austin are endless. In the center of the city is Lady Bird Lake, which offers several activities, including cycling, jogging, kayaking, and swimming. Austin also has music performances all over the city, so visitors can plan trips that coincide with one of the two major music festivals— South by Southwest (SXSW) and Austin City Limits.
Big Bend National Park
Some of the most beautiful and dramatic natural scenery in the state lies along the Rio Grande River. Located in the Chihuahuan Desert of Western Texas, you can find mountains, canyons, and the massive river on the border, in an entire National Park that offers a range of recreational and sightseeing opportunities. There is an activity to cater to every visitor— extensive hiking trails and campgrounds, river rafting and paddling along the Rio Grande, beautiful picnic spots. Because the park is home to more than 300 species of birds, you can easily birdwatch to your heart’s content!
Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo
This is one of the most iconic sites in West Texas, with colorful cars that stand in line, nose-first into the ground. The artwork on the vehicles is ever-changing, with most visitors bringing art products to add their own mark. Visitors are welcome to spray paint designs and patterns on the cars, using one of the many spray paint cans left around the attraction, and vendors sell paint chips in jewelry settings if you want to take a piece of Cadillac Ranch home with you.
One of the most action-packed cities of Texas, visitors can enjoy attractions like the Reunion Tower and the Dallas World Aquarium. The city has large urban arts districts, gorgeous Pritzker Prize-winning architecture, and various restaurants and bars. Museums and cultural experiences are easy to attend with the free public transportation options in Dallas, like the M-Line Trolley and the D-Link shuttle service.
History buffs will enjoy a visit to the Sixth Floor Museum, where you can learn more about the fatal shot that took President John F. Kennedy’s life and other details of the assassination.
Sometimes known as the City of Cowboys and Culture, Fort Worth offers a historical district called The Stockyards. The older architecture gives the appearance of an old Western movie set, and a herd of Longhorn cattle is paraded through the streets twice daily. But the city also has plenty of modern restaurants, bars, shops, and nightlife. The downtown core has a large water park, the Bass Performance Hall theater, and all sorts of free outdoor activities.
This area has a proud German heritage, excellent restaurants, and a lively art and music scene. Visitors can tour the many wineries, and the city has a wonderful history that visitors can explore in museums and local parks. The downtown core is pedestrian and cyclist-friendly so that you can enjoy many beautiful walking and biking trails throughout the Texas Hill Country.
Only about 50 miles southeast of Houston, Galveston is located on an island of the same name. You can enjoy rides and cafes on the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier, explore the beautiful beaches along the east coast, or visit the educational nature center Moody Gardens and Aquarium. The shop and nightclub-filled Strand Historic District is filled with historical sights such as the Bishop’s Palace and Moody Mansion.
The city of Grapevine has stunning restored buildings from the 19th and 20th Centuries, as well as several wineries and tasting rooms, art galleries, and restaurants. Visiting the Cotton Best Railroad District gives you access to many artisans’ workshops and is the starting point for the scenic Grapevine Vintage Railroad ride.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
If you love hiking, the Guadalupe Mountains National Park is the place for you. This park is home to the state’s four highest peaks and features over 80 miles of hiking and walking paths, including the famous Devil’s Hall Trail and the Guadalupe Peak Trail. Visitors in the autumn will enjoy the vivid shades of red, orange, and yellow of the park’s trees, making it a perfect place for stunning photographs and extra-memorable occasions.
Houston is one of America’s top barbecue destinations, with restaurants and cafes abound in downtown Houston. You can also find cultural gems within Houston, and a world-class zoo, Buffalo Bayou Park, and more. The Museum District is home to some 19 museums, many of which are free, including the Museum of Fine Arts and the Houston Museum of Natural Science, a Holocaust museum, a children’s museum, and other smaller art museums.
Originally home to wild horses, Mustang Island is a paradise of beaches and outdoor activities. Visitors will find the Mustang Island State Park, with locations for mountain biking, kayaking, kiteboarding, wakeboarding, surfing, snorkeling, and swimming. Wildlife is abundant, and the island is home to endangered sea turtles and hundreds of bird species.
Natural Bridge Caverns
The show-stopping Natural Bridge Caverns are a vast underground network of over 10,000 different stalactite and stalagmite formations. In the largest cave network available to visitors in the US, the Natural Bridge Caverns includes the 40-foot-high King’s Throne, a massive wall of stalactites for visitors to enjoy. Apart from the natural sights, you can find themed tours, hikes, and treetop climbing adventures.
The small town of New Braunfels is just a short drive away from San Antonio and is known for its delightful Gruene Historic District. One attraction is Gruene Hall, the oldest dance hall in Texas that has been in operation since 1878. You can enjoy nightly performances, including some of the biggest stars of country music. If you are looking for more nature-based activities, there are endless opportunities for swimming, fishing, and other water sports, including the 70-acre Schlitterbahn Waterpark for family-friendly fun.
San Antonio’s River Walk
The San Antonio River Walk is a gorgeous area that stretches for miles along the San Antonio River in the heart of the city and is lined with restaurants and outdoor patios. The River Walk is built below street level, so it is a popular pedestrian strolling spot where you can sit and dine alongside the water, enjoying the river view as it winds and weaves through the city. You can also go on a leisurely riverboat cruise, with packages that range from sightseeing trips to dinner cruises.
South Padre Island
The shorelines of South Padre Island are some of the best in the state. You can enjoy 34 miles of relaxing beaches with the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, including Beach Park at Isla Blanca, which is a popular location for visitors on a hot day. You can find luxurious vacation spots, child-friendly attractions, spas and shops, surfing opportunities, and sunbathing locations all around the island.
Space Station Houston
This is a wonderful location to learn about NASA’s latest endeavors, space exploration, upcoming missions, and possibly even to meet an astronaut. Visitors can enter replicas of the space shuttle, a shuttle carrier, and Skylab—America’s first space station. The Space Center Houston is just 30 minutes away from Houston’s downtown, and you can also explore the Johnson Space Center and Mission Control while touring the Space Center. It’s recommended to budget at least half a day for exploring the entire complex.
Part of a mission station established in 1718, the Alamo is one of the most important historic sites in the US. The Alamo was built by the Franciscans in 1744 and became a fort by 1836, made famous when a small force including Davy Crockett and James Bowie barricaded themselves inside against the Mexican army during the Texas Revolution. Their historic cry of “Remember the Alamo!” became the rally for the entire state.
Today, the site has a museum, restored building complexes, and a cenotaph in remembrance of the fallen Texans. Other places worth visiting in the area include other mission sites in the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, connected by the Mission Trail.
The USS Lexington, Corpus Christi
This is one of the largest surviving vessels to have served in World War Two, launched initially in 1943 and now serving as a naval history museum. Displays include vintage aircraft, bridge and crew quarters, simulators and 3D experiences, and even a four-hour Hard Hat Tour that takes you to the very heart of the massive ship.
About halfway between Austin and Dallas, visitors can find many things to do in Waco. Nature lovers and adventurers can explore the 416-acre Cameron Park, a large green space with trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. A great zoo, the Waco Mammoth National Monument, the Dr. Pepper Museum, and more sights await visitors, as well as the Branch Davidian Memorial Park, where you can view the original compound and memorial.