Ah, Texas, the Lone Star State. A land of vast horizons, rich history, and a tapestry of cultures that make it one of the most diverse and fascinating destinations in the United States. As you plan your journey through this iconic state, this guide aims to provide you with an insightful and detailed introduction to the wonders that await you.
Spanning over 268,000 square miles, Texas is the second-largest state in the U.S. and presents an incredible range of landscapes. From the arid deserts of West Texas to the piney woods of East Texas, from the sun-kissed beaches of the Gulf Coast to the rolling plains in the Panhandle, every corner of Texas has its own unique charm and character.
History and Culture
The history of Texas is as expansive as its borders. Having been under the rule of six different nations – Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Confederate States of America, and the United States of America – it’s no wonder that the state is brimming with historical sites and stories. Dive into the history of the Alamo in San Antonio, a pivotal battle in Texas’ fight for independence from Mexico. Wander the cobblestone streets of Galveston, where tales of pirates like Jean Lafitte are still whispered. And in cities like Houston and Dallas, witness the modern-day energy, both metaphorically in its bustling urban centers and literally as major hubs in the oil industry.
The fusion of Native American, Mexican, European, and African cultures has given Texas a unique cultural identity. This melting pot has manifested in everything from its culinary delights, such as the world-famous Tex-Mex cuisine and succulent barbecue, to its vibrant music scenes that span genres from country to Tejano to blues.
Natural Beauty and Outdoor Adventures
For the nature enthusiasts, Texas is nothing short of a paradise. Big Bend National Park, located in the vast Chihuahuan Desert, offers some of the most breathtaking canyon vistas and starry night skies you’ll ever witness. The Hill Country, with its clear rivers and wildflower-draped meadows, is the perfect escape for those seeking a tranquil retreat.
If coastal beauty is what you seek, the Gulf Coast, stretching from the Louisiana border to the Mexican border, offers hundreds of miles of sandy beaches. Corpus Christi, South Padre Island, and Galveston Island are just a few of the many spots where you can soak up the sun, enjoy water sports, or simply listen to the gentle lapping of the waves.
Yet, Texas is not all about open landscapes and historic sites. Its cities are modern metropolises filled with world-class attractions. Austin, known as the “Live Music Capital of the World”, boasts a dynamic music scene and is also a hub for tech innovation. Dallas, with its soaring skyscrapers, is a beacon for shopping and the arts. Meanwhile, Houston, one of the most diverse cities in the nation, offers everything from space exploration at the Johnson Space Center to a thriving theater district.
In Texas, the saying goes, “Everything is bigger.” And indeed, the experiences you’ll encounter here, from the vast landscapes to the big-hearted hospitality of its people, are larger than life. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, a foodie, or an urban explorer, Texas has something to offer for everyone.
So, pack your bags, put on your cowboy boots if you’re so inclined, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure in the heart of the American South. Welcome to Texas!
Texas State Guide: A Brief History Of Texas For Visitors
Welcome to Texas, the Lone Star State. Sprawling landscapes, a rich blend of cultures, and a storied past make Texas a fascinating destination. While the vast expanse of the state can be daunting, so can its history. Here, we’ll guide you through the intricate tapestry of events and influences that have shaped Texas into the state it is today.
Early Inhabitants and Spanish Exploration
Long before the Spanish set foot on Texan soil, the region was inhabited by numerous Native American tribes, such as the Caddo, Karankawa, and Comanche. These tribes lived off the diverse landscapes, from coastal plains to high deserts, for thousands of years.
The Spanish started exploring Texas in the early 1500s, driven by tales of gold and the desire to spread Christianity. By the late 1600s, they established missions across the state, the most famous being The Alamo in present-day San Antonio. These missions aimed to convert the local Native American population and served as the foundation for many Texas towns.
Mexican Rule and the Fight for Independence
In 1821, Mexico achieved independence from Spain and claimed Texas as its own. The Mexican government initially encouraged American settlers to move to Texas. Among them was Stephen F. Austin, known as the “Father of Texas”, who brought 300 families into the territory.
However, tensions soon rose due to cultural differences, and in 1835, the Texan War of Independence began. The 13-day siege at The Alamo in 1836, where 200 Texan defenders stood against the mighty Mexican army, is a testament to Texas’s fierce spirit. While the defenders were defeated, the rallying cry “Remember the Alamo!” spurred the Texans on to ultimately win their independence at the Battle of San Jacinto.
Republic of Texas
From 1836 to 1845, Texas was its own sovereign nation. During these years, Texas faced economic challenges, conflicts with Native Americans, and border disputes with Mexico. Despite these challenges, it also saw the establishment of systems of governance, the foundation of future cities, and the growth of its unique identity.
Statehood, Civil War, and Reconstruction
In 1845, Texas was annexed by the United States, becoming its 28th state. The decision was contentious, leading to disputes with Mexico that culminated in the Mexican-American War (1846-1848).
When the Civil War erupted in 1861, Texas joined the Confederate States of America. Post-war, during the Reconstruction era, Texas faced federal occupation, economic hardships, and social upheaval as it grappled with the abolition of slavery and integration of former slaves into society.
Economic Growth and Modernization
The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw Texas undergo profound transformation. The discovery of oil in places like Spindletop in 1901 propelled Texas into an economic powerhouse. Ranching, which had always been a significant part of Texan identity, continued to play a crucial role in the state’s economy.
World War II brought military bases, industry, and a population boom to Texas. The post-war period witnessed the rise of major cities like Houston and Dallas as significant economic and cultural centers.
Cultural Fusion and the Modern Era
Texas’s proximity to Mexico and its history of European colonization has created a unique cultural fusion. Tex-Mex cuisine, Tejano music, and vibrant festivals like San Antonio’s Fiesta are just a few examples of this blend.
In recent decades, Texas has emerged as a hub for technology, healthcare, and education. Its diverse population and dynamic cities make it a microcosm of broader American trends, while still retaining its distinctive Texan identity.
From its ancient Native American roots to its pivotal role in modern America, Texas boasts a rich and varied history. As you travel its vast landscapes, from the Piney Woods to the Gulf Coast, remember that every town, no matter how small, has a story. Dive deep, ask questions, and let the Lone Star State reveal its tales to you. Welcome to Texas, y’all!
Texas Top Attractions and Best Places to Visit
Everything is bigger in Texas. Anybody who has heard any of the Lone Star State’s tourism promotions has heard of this meme, and in many respects it’s amazingly accurate, from the hearty portions that are dished up in its signature BBQ shacks, to the expanse of its territory, as it takes the better part of two days to drive across from west to east.
The spirit and pride of those that call this corner of the USA home is another thing that comes in heaping portions, as any guests that come here will be treated very well, and while many here are proud Americans, some identify as a Texan first.
The fierce sense of independence found here largely comes from a bloody revolutionary war that was fought with Mexico in the 1830’s that wasn’t won without a heavy toll paid in blood. The wide open spaces that spread well beyond their sprawling cities add to this aesthetic of individualism, as the abundant amounts of natural beauty in the countryside seem as if there they were put there just for you.
Throw in a lively Latino culture due to Texas’ proximity to Mexico, and you have a destination that is worth a trip on its own, let alone a point of interest on a cross country adventure.
What To Do – Culture & History
Any historical examination of Texas need to begin at The Alamo. This garrison in San Antonio was the focus of an eleven day siege during the Texan Revolutionary War that ended with almost all the Texan defenders dead. The “Take No Prisoners” approach of the Mexican army led to the battle cry “Remember The Alamo!”, which served as motivation towards the inevitable success of the Texans in this conflict.
Restored to its former glory in the early 20th century, the chapel and the barracks are available to be toured by visitors looking to imagine how things were almost 180 years ago.
The battle that ended this war took place at a field near where Houston is today, with the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site marking the spot where Sam Houston’s army routed the charges of Mexican president Santa Anna, leading to the wholesale surrender and retreat of Mexican forces from Texan territory.
In addition to information of the battle of San Jacinto, a museum also contains informative displays of the cultures that comprise Texas (American, Spanish, Mayan, and more), lending a background to the people that call this state home in the present day.
Other Cultural Attractions: Trip to Texas
While oil comprises much of Texas’ present day wealth, cattle raising has long been a sustainable enterprise for many living in the Lone Star State. The Fort Worth Stockyards was where the best steers were brought to auction, fetching their handlers a pretty price in the past.
Today, it is largely an entertainment venue where many shops selling western apparel, bars slinging frosty mugs of beer, and restaurants serving up the finest in Texan cuisine can be found, though shows put on by volunteers show guests how cattle were rounded up in those days.
If you prefer to see cows at home on the range, rather than in a place where they traditionally met their end, there is no better place to do so than at King Ranch, a working livestock farm found between the cities of Corpus Christi and Brownsville in the far south.
Being roughly the size of the state of Rhode Island, this ranch gives their steers tonnes of room to roam, as well as horses, as well as the imported nilgai, an Asian antelope native to India!
If the muse in you needs some musical inspiration, there is no better way to feed it than taking in some live music in Austin. Self proclaimed as the live music capital of the world, Austin nonetheless as no shortage of venues playing host to a thriving indie music culture night in and night out.
It is the home of the famed show Austin City Limits (try to attend a taping if one is available during your visit, as many A-listers in the music industry show up to play), and SXSW is a music and popular culture festival that you definitely want to take in if your trip has you in Texas during March.
What To Do – Modern & Natural Attractions
Those into science will certainly want to stop by Space Center Houston, which is home to the museum that fills in guests of the history of operations at NASA Johnson Space Center, where all American space missions flown by NASA have been coordinated over the years.
See capsules from past space excursions, watch shows that show you what it takes to be an astronaut, and go on guided tours of the Johnson Space Center that show how people much smarter than you operate technology that rests on the bleeding edge of our engineering ability.
After seeing the Alamo, take time to unwind afterwards by going on the San Antonio River Walk. This pedestrian only walkway along the banks of the San Antonio River is lined with restaurants, shops, and microbreweries that draw locals and tourists alike in massive numbers.
If the Texas-sized heat is starting to get to you, steer your car down to South Padre Island, a barrier isle that is home to Texas’ most notorious beach and best protected coastal area, all in one place.
While the upper portions of South Padre are protected as a national seashore that contains 70 miles of dunes that make a great nesting spot for sea turtles, the southern portion is a resort town popular with the Spring Break crowd. If you like your beach with plenty of beer and rowdy antics, this is likely a better bet for you than the other end of this barrier island.
If you’d rather get lost in Texas’ massive outback, then Big Bend National Park is great spot to do just that. Preserving the biggest chunk of Chihuahuan desert in the US, this park offers backpacking and hiking trails that will take you through canyons, to waterfalls and up mountains in one of the least visited national parks in the entire country.
If you want to up the ante and scale Texas’ highest peak, head to the extreme western portion of the Panhandle near the New Mexican border, where Guadalupe Mountains National Park can be found. In addition to the outstanding mountain hikes, old ranch houses where pioneers eked out a living can also be explored.
Top 101 Things To Do in Texas For Visitors to the Lone Star State
Ah, where to begin with the vast expanse of Texas? With a state so large, it’s no surprise that there’s a plethora of activities to partake in, sights to see, and places to explore. Let’s dive deep into the heart of Texas with this extensive list:
- The Alamo: Begin in San Antonio with this historic mission and battleground, the epicenter of Texas’ fight for independence.
- San Antonio River Walk: A charming walkway lined with shops, restaurants, and historical markers. Take a riverboat tour to get the full experience.
- Big Bend National Park: A diverse environment with canyons, desert, and the Rio Grande. Great for hiking and stargazing.
- Space Center Houston: Learn about space exploration, see moon rocks, and possibly tour the Johnson Space Center.
- Guadalupe Mountains National Park: Home to Texas’ highest peak and beautiful desert landscapes.
- Texas State Capitol: Located in Austin, it’s an architectural marvel and a piece of living history.
- The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza: Located in Dallas, it’s dedicated to the life and death of President John F. Kennedy.
- Bishop’s Palace, Galveston: A stunning Victorian mansion that survived the 1900 Galveston hurricane.
- Gruene Hall: Texas’ oldest dance hall, located in the historic town of Gruene.
- Dallas Museum of Art: A leading art museum with a wide variety of exhibits.
- Hamilton Pool Preserve: A natural pool created by the collapse of a cavern, near Austin.
- Fort Worth Stockyards: Experience a real-life rodeo, cattle drives, and Texas heritage.
- Texas State Fair: Held in Dallas, it’s a grand celebration of all things Texas.
- Palo Duro Canyon: Often referred to as the “Grand Canyon of Texas.”
- Padre Island National Seashore: The world’s longest barrier island, perfect for beachgoers.
- Enchanted Rock: A massive pink granite dome popular for hiking and climbing.
- South Congress Avenue in Austin: A bustling area filled with shops, eateries, and music venues.
- Goode Company BBQ in Houston: Experience authentic Texas barbecue.
- The Strand Historic District, Galveston: A national historic landmark district known for shopping and dining.
- Austin’s Bat Bridge: Watch the world’s largest urban bat colony emerge at dusk.
- Caverns of Sonora: Stunning underground formations that seem almost otherworldly.
- Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch: A safari-like experience near San Antonio.
- Fort Davis National Historic Site: A key post in the defense system of western Texas.
- Lady Bird Lake, Austin: Enjoy paddle boarding, kayaking, or a simple stroll around.
- San Jacinto Monument: Commemorates the Battle of San Jacinto, the decisive battle of the Texas Revolution.
- Houston Museum of Natural Science: One of the top science museums in the U.S.
- Zilker Park, Austin: A recreational area with Barton Springs Pool, botanical gardens, and more.
- Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Dallas: A state-of-the-art facility with interactive exhibits.
- Attend a Texas Longhorns football game: Experience the fervor of Texas college football.
- The Rosenberg Library, Galveston: The oldest public library in Texas.
- Mission Trail, San Antonio: Explore five historic missions including the Alamo.
- Houston Zoo: A delightful experience for families.
- USS Lexington, Corpus Christi: Tour the famed World War II aircraft carrier.
- Museum of Fine Arts, Houston: One of the largest art museums in the country.
- Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden: A peaceful oasis spanning 66 acres.
- Fredericksburg: A historic town known for its German heritage and wineries.
- The Menil Collection, Houston: A unique art museum with diverse collections.
- Dr. Pepper Museum, Waco: Dive into the history of this iconic soft drink.
- Brazos Bend State Park: Offers a variety of activities, including alligator spotting.
- The Moody Gardens, Galveston: Contains aquariums, a rainforest pyramid, and a golf course.
- The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, Waco: Dedicated to the famed Texas Rangers law enforcement agency.
- Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier: A classic seaside amusement park.
- Giant Boots at North Star Mall, San Antonio: Snap a picture with the world’s largest cowboy boot sculpture.
- Blue Bell Creameries, Brenham: Tour the facility and enjoy some iconic Texas ice cream.
- The Buddy Holly Center, Lubbock: Dedicated to the famed rock and roll pioneer.
- King Ranch: One of the world’s largest ranches, offering tours and a unique insight into Texas ranching history.
- Texas Hill Country Wine Tours: Explore the burgeoning wine scene of Texas.
- Jacob’s Well: A stunning artesian spring in the Texas Hill Country.
- Dinosaur Valley State Park: See dinosaur footprints preserved in the riverbed.
- National Museum of the Pacific War, Fredericksburg: Dedicated to the Pacific theater of World War II.
- Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo: A unique art installation of Cadillacs buried nose-first in the ground.
- Catch a show at the Houston Theater District: One of the first-ranked U.S. cities for theater shows.
- LBJ Presidential Library, Austin: Dive deep into the life and times of President Lyndon B. Johnson.
- Sea Turtle, Inc., South Padre Island: A rescue center dedicated to saving sea turtles.
- Witte Museum, San Antonio: A museum dedicated to natural history, science, and South Texas heritage.
- Dallas World Aquarium: A unique mix of an aquarium and a zoo.
- Lulu’s Bakery & Cafe, San Antonio: Home to a massive 3-pound cinnamon roll.
- Fort Worth Zoo: Renowned for its diverse collection of animals and interactive exhibits.
- Glen Rose: Known as the “Dinosaur Capital of Texas.”
- The O. Henry House Museum, Austin: Dedicated to the famed short-story writer.
- McKinney Falls State Park: A serene spot near Austin with waterfalls and camping spots.
- Dallas Cattle Drive Sculptures: Larger-than-life bronze sculptures of a cattle drive.
- San Antonio Missions Baseball: Catch a minor league baseball game.
- Stargazing at McDonald Observatory: Located near Fort Davis, it offers some of the best stargazing opportunities.
- Houston’s Underground Tunnel Tour: Explore the 7 miles of tunnels beneath Houston’s downtown.
- El Paso Mission Trail: A nine-mile stretch featuring three beautifully preserved Spanish colonial missions.
- Fort Worth Water Gardens: An architectural marvel and urban oasis.
- Dallas Farmers Market: A bustling market offering local produce, eateries, and crafts.
- Texas State Aquarium, Corpus Christi: Dive into the marine life of the Gulf of Mexico.
- Schlitterbahn Waterpark, New Braunfels: A must-visit during the hot Texas summers.
- Japanese Tea Garden, San Antonio: A picturesque garden with koi ponds, stone bridges, and a pagoda.
- The Stockyards Championship Rodeo, Fort Worth: Experience authentic Texas rodeo.
- Bats at Old Tunnel State Park: Another bat-watching spot where thousands fly out each evening.
- Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, San Antonio: A quirky collection of oddities.
- Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo: The world’s largest livestock show and rodeo event.
- Margarita Mile in Dallas: A collection of the city’s best and most diverse margaritas.
- Selena Museum, Corpus Christi: Dedicated to the Queen of Tejano Music.
- The Thinkery, Austin: An innovative children’s museum focused on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math).
- State Fair of Texas, Dallas: Experience everything from deep-fried foods to car shows.
- Pioneer Plaza, Dallas: Celebrates Dallas’ cowboy past with bronze sculptures.
- Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center: Marvel at its massive indoor gardens and waterways.
- Visit a Texas dance hall: Like Gruene, Luckenbach, or Floore’s for authentic country music and dancing.
- The Art Car Museum, Houston: A tribute to the world of artistic automobiles.
- Missions National Historical Park, San Antonio: Preserving four of the five Spanish frontier missions.
- Shop at San Marcos Premium Outlets: For some retail therapy.
- San Antonio Botanical Garden: 38 acres of colorful flowers, exotic plants, and lush greenery.
- Ghost tours in Jefferson: Known as the most haunted town in Texas.
- Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum: A powerful and educational experience.
- Explore Marfa: A desert town known for its art installations and the mysterious Marfa Lights.
- The Pegasus Sign in Dallas: A city icon located atop the Magnolia building.
- Bullock Texas State History Museum, Austin: Dive deep into the state’s rich history.
- Attend Austin City Limits Music Festival: A major annual music festival.
- Sandy Lake Amusement Park: A traditional family-friendly park with rides and attractions.
- The George Ranch Historical Park: Offers a journey through 100 years of Texas history.
- Cruise on Lady Bird Lake, Austin: Take a relaxing boat tour or rent a canoe.
- Wimberley Glassworks: Watch master glassblowers at work and shop for unique pieces.
- Dallas Heritage Village: A living history museum offering a glimpse into 19th-century Texas life.
- Houston’s Art Car Parade: A colorful and eccentric parade showcasing hundreds of decorated vehicles.
- Kemah Boardwalk: Overlooking Galveston Bay, it’s filled with rides, restaurants, and shops.
- Admire the Balmorhea State Park Pool: The world’s largest spring-fed swimming pool.
- Eat your way through Texas: From Tex-Mex in San Antonio, BBQ in Lockhart, to seafood in Galveston – the culinary adventures are endless.
Whether you’re a history enthusiast, an art aficionado, a nature lover, or a thrill-seeker, Texas offers an unparalleled range of experiences. With this list, you’re equipped to embark on an unforgettable journey through the Lone Star State. Safe travels!
What To Eat and Drink in Texas
When you visit Texas, you’re in for a culinary adventure that mirrors its vast landscapes and rich cultural history. The Lone Star State’s cuisine is as diverse as its population, drawing influences from Mexican, German, Czech, and Southern cooking traditions. Here’s an extensive guide to ensure you relish the true flavors of Texas.
Appetizers & Snacks:
- Chips and Queso: Creamy, spicy, and downright addictive, this melted cheese dip often includes chili or pico de gallo.
- Guacamole: Fresh avocados mashed with tomatoes, onions, cilantro, lime, and sometimes jalapeños.
- Frito Pie: A hearty mix of chili, cheese, and Fritos corn chips – often served right inside the chip bag!
- Texas BBQ: The state is known for its distinct barbecue style, with Central Texas offering slow-smoked brisket often seasoned only with salt and pepper. Other regions add pork ribs, sausages, and even goat to the mix.
- Tex-Mex: Enchiladas, fajitas, tamales, and chimichangas – all often served with refried beans and rice. Don’t forget the soft flour tortillas, often homemade.
- Chicken Fried Steak: A tenderized beefsteak coated in seasoned flour and fried to perfection, typically smothered in creamy gravy.
- Tacos: Breakfast tacos filled with eggs, potatoes, and bacon or chorizo are a must. For later in the day, explore options like carnitas, barbacoa, or puffy tacos.
- King Ranch Casserole: A Texan casserole with layers of chicken, tortillas, cheese, and a creamy sauce.
- Gulf Coast Seafood: From Galveston to Corpus Christi, you’ll find dishes like grilled red snapper, fried catfish, and shrimp boil.
- Texas Toast: Thick slices of bread buttered and grilled until crispy.
- Fried Okra: Bite-sized pieces of okra, breaded and fried.
- Borracho Beans: Pinto beans stewed with beer, tomatoes, and spices.
- Jalapeño Cornbread: A spicy twist on the classic Southern side.
- Coleslaw: Perfectly tangy and creamy, a frequent companion to BBQ.
- Pecan Pie: Sweet, nutty, and often considered the state’s unofficial pie.
- Blue Bell Ice Cream: Originating in Brenham, flavors like Homemade Vanilla are a treat.
- Tres Leches Cake: A soft, milky cake that’s a Tex-Mex dessert favorite.
- Texas Sheet Cake: A rich, chocolatey cake often topped with pecans.
- Sweet Tea: A Southern staple, this iced tea is sweetened to perfection.
- Lone Star and Shiner Bock: These iconic Texan beers are a must-try.
- Margaritas: Whether on the rocks or frozen, this tequila cocktail is a favorite, especially in the Tex-Mex scene.
- Dr Pepper: Born in Texas, this unique soda has a dedicated following.
- Texas Wine: The Texas Hill Country is home to numerous vineyards producing quality wines, from bold reds to crisp whites.
Texas offers a culinary landscape as sprawling and diverse as its geography. From savory smoked meats to sweet indulgent pies, there’s something for every palate. As the saying goes, “Everything’s bigger in Texas”, and that includes the flavors. Whether you’re sitting down for a hearty BBQ plate, sipping on a chilled margarita, or biting into a spicy breakfast taco, you’re sure to be left wanting more of what Texas has to offer. Enjoy your culinary journey through the Lone Star State!
Top Restaurants In Texas
With its immense size and diverse cultural influences, Texas boasts a dynamic culinary landscape. From high-end establishments helmed by award-winning chefs to unassuming joints that serve mouthwatering dishes passed down through generations, there’s something for every palate. Let’s embark on a gastronomic journey through some of the top restaurants Texas has to offer.
1. Franklin Barbecue – Austin
- Overview: Often hailed as the best BBQ joint in Texas (if not the country), Franklin Barbecue consistently sees long lines of eager diners.
- Must-Try: The perfectly smoked brisket is the star here, with its melt-in-the-mouth texture and rich, smoky flavor.
- Tip: Arrive early; the queue forms hours before opening.
2. Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen – Various Locations
- Overview: A beloved chain in Texas, Pappadeaux is known for its delicious Gulf Coast seafood dishes served in generous portions.
- Must-Try: Crawfish étouffée and the seafood gumbo.
- Tip: Pair your meal with their signature swamp thing drink.
3. Mi Tierra Café y Panadería – San Antonio
- Overview: Located in the historic Market Square, this 24-hour Tex-Mex institution is adorned with vibrant decorations and offers live Mariachi performances.
- Must-Try: Menudo (a traditional Mexican soup) and their pan dulce from the in-house bakery.
- Tip: Perfect for late-night cravings.
4. Uchi – Austin & Dallas
- Overview: A fusion of traditional Japanese and Texan ingredients, Uchi offers an innovative take on sushi and other Japanese dishes.
- Must-Try: Hama chili (yellowtail with ponzu) and the wagyu hot rock.
- Tip: Reservations are recommended, as this hotspot fills up quickly.
5. The Big Texan Steak Ranch – Amarillo
- Overview: Famous for its 72-ounce steak challenge, this iconic restaurant is a pilgrimage site for meat lovers.
- Must-Try: If not up for the challenge, their prime rib and Texas-style ribs are top picks.
- Tip: The in-house brewery offers excellent beer pairings.
6. Perini Ranch Steakhouse – Buffalo Gap
- Overview: Nestled in the Texas countryside, Perini Ranch is a rustic retreat known for its mesquite-smoked peppered beef tenderloin.
- Must-Try: The aforementioned tenderloin and their signature jalapeño bites.
- Tip: Enjoy the serene outdoor seating when the weather allows.
7. Brennan’s of Houston – Houston
- Overview: Serving Creole cuisine with a Texas twist, Brennan’s offers an elegant dining experience.
- Must-Try: Turtle soup and the Texas Creole roasted oysters.
- Tip: Don’t skip the dessert; their Bananas Foster is flambeed tableside.
8. Joe T. Garcia’s – Fort Worth
- Overview: A sprawling establishment with beautiful outdoor seating, Joe T. Garcia’s serves classic Mexican dishes.
- Must-Try: Enchiladas and the fajitas, accompanied by their margaritas.
- Tip: Cash only, so come prepared.
9. The Grey Moss Inn – Helotes
- Overview: With a history dating back to the 1920s, this romantic restaurant is surrounded by centuries-old oak trees.
- Must-Try: Grilled quail and the pepper steak.
- Tip: The wine list is impressive, so seek recommendations to pair with your meal.
10. Reata Restaurant – Fort Worth & Alpine
- Overview: Offering a blend of Southwestern and traditional cowboy cuisines, Reata boasts a rooftop bar with stunning views.
- Must-Try: Tenderloin tamales and the buffalo ribeye.
- Tip: The cowboy hat chocolate cake is a fitting end to the meal.
The diverse culinary offerings of Texas are as vast as its landscapes. From the savory smokiness of brisket in Austin to the spicy depths of crawfish étouffée in Houston, every dish tells a story of the state’s rich heritage and its innovative future. Whether you’re seeking the comfort of traditional dishes or the thrill of contemporary flavors, Texas welcomes you to its expansive dining table. Happy feasting!
Tours For Visitors To Texas
Texas, a vast state with rich history, cultural diversity, and varied landscapes, offers a plethora of tour options to cater to all types of visitors. Let’s embark on a virtual journey, detailing some of the most notable tour opportunities that will allow you to experience the heart and soul of the Lone Star State.
Historical Texas Tours
- The Alamo Tours, San Antonio: Delve into the history of the legendary battle of the Alamo. Guided tours offer insights into the lives of the defenders and the significance of the mission in the Texas Revolution.
- Presidential Libraries Tours: Visit the George W. Bush Presidential Library in Dallas and the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin to gain perspective on the lives and legacies of these Texas-born presidents.
- San Jacinto Battlefield Tours: Explore the grounds where Texas won its independence from Mexico. The towering monument and the USS Texas are must-sees.
- Texas BBQ Tours: Travel through towns like Lockhart and Luling, dubbed the BBQ capitals of Texas. Sample smoked brisket, ribs, and sausages from famed establishments.
- Tex-Mex Trail: Taste your way through San Antonio and El Paso, relishing in nachos, tamales, and enchiladas.
- Texas Winery Tours: The Texas Hill Country is dotted with vineyards. Join guided tours to sample local wines, learn about grape cultivation, and enjoy picturesque views.
Nature and Wildlife Tours
- Big Bend National Park Tours: Guided tours of this vast park cover canyons, desert landscapes, the Rio Grande, and local wildlife.
- Birdwatching in the Rio Grande Valley: Guided birdwatching tours allow visitors to spot some of the 500 species native to this area.
- Bat Watching Tours in Austin: Experience the wonder of the Congress Avenue Bridge bats as they take to the skies at dusk.
Urban Exploration Tours
- Houston Space Center: Guided tours here provide insights into NASA’s space missions, astronaut training, and the marvels of the universe.
- Dallas Arts District Walking Tour: Explore the largest urban arts district in the nation, with stops at various museums, theaters, and architectural wonders.
- San Antonio River Walk Boat Tours: Navigate the winding canals of this iconic Texan attraction, learning about its history, architecture, and cultural events.
Cultural and Themed Tours
- Texas Music Trail: From Austin’s live music venues to Selena’s museum in Corpus Christi, embark on a journey through Texas’s rich musical heritage.
- Ghost Tours: Towns like Jefferson and Galveston offer nighttime tours that delve into local legends, eerie tales, and haunted spots.
- Texas Cowboy Experience: Learn roping, horseback riding, and cattle herding at ranches like the Mayan Dude Ranch or the Dixie Dude Ranch.
- Horseback Riding in Bandera: Known as the “Cowboy Capital of the World,” guided horseback rides in Bandera offer a taste of the rugged Texan terrain.
- Palo Duro Canyon Zipline Adventure: Soar above the “Grand Canyon of Texas” on a thrilling zipline.
- Caving in Longhorn Cavern State Park: Delve deep into the heart of Texas with guided tours of underground chambers and rock formations.
Beach and Coastal Tours
- Galveston Island Tours: Explore historic mansions, the Pleasure Pier, and the Strand Historic District, learning about Galveston’s past and its significance as a port.
- South Padre Island Dolphin Watch: Board a vessel and watch playful dolphins in their natural habitat, also learning about local marine life.
- Port Aransas Birding Boat Tours: Spot diverse bird species in marshes, seagrass beds, and tidal flats.
Custom and Private Tours
- Personalized Tours in Major Cities: Whether it’s Dallas’s historic districts, Houston’s arts scene, or Austin’s quirky neighborhoods, private guides can tailor tours to specific interests and needs.
- West Texas and Marfa Art Tours: Venture to the unique desert town of Marfa, known for its minimalist art installations and mysterious lights.
- Customized Texas Rodeo Experiences: Attend a local rodeo with a guide explaining the intricacies, history, and skills displayed in bull riding, barrel racing, and more.
Texas is a state where history, culture, nature, and modernity converge, offering a multifaceted experience. With guided tours, you not only see the sights but also hear the stories, taste the flavors, and immerse yourself in the Texan spirit. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a returning traveler, these tours promise a deeper connection to this grand state.
Texas Accommodations Guide: Hotels, Guesthouses and Hostels
Texas, the vast and diverse Lone Star State, offers accommodations for every type of traveler, whether you’re seeking luxury suites in downtown skyscrapers, charming bed-and-breakfasts in historic homes, or budget-friendly hostels for backpackers. Here’s your guide to finding the perfect place to rest your head.
- The Driskill – Austin
- Overview: Established in 1886, this Romanesque-style icon stands as the oldest operating hotel in Austin, merging historic grandeur with modern amenities.
- Amenities: Luxurious rooms, gourmet restaurant, and a prime location on Sixth Street known for nightlife.
- Tip: Don’t miss their traditional afternoon tea.
- Hotel ZaZa – Houston & Dallas
- Overview: A boutique hotel offering themed suites and known for its upscale, quirky charm.
- Amenities: Spa, pool, gourmet dining, and concept suites.
- Tip: The poolside bar in the Houston location is a local hotspot.
- The Joule – Dallas
- Overview: A revitalized 1920s neo-Gothic landmark building with contemporary art installations.
- Amenities: World-class spa, rooftop pool, and chic dining options.
- Tip: Located near the Dallas Arts District, perfect for culture aficionados.
- The San Antonio River Walk Hotels: Hotels like the Hotel Valencia, Hilton Palacio Del Rio, and Hotel Contessa.
- Overview: A cluster of hotels flanking the famous River Walk, providing easy access to its attractions.
- Amenities: Vary by hotel but typically include pools, dining, and river view rooms.
- Tip: Ideal for those looking to immerse themselves in the heart of San Antonio.
Guesthouses and B&Bs
- Gruene Homestead Inn – New Braunfels
- Overview: A collection of historic 19th-century farmhouses and buildings turned into quaint guesthouses.
- Amenities: Modern conveniences, country breakfast, and proximity to Gruene Historic District.
- Tip: Perfect for those seeking a quiet, historic ambiance.
- Sage Hill Inn & Spa – Kyle
- Overview: Situated on 88 acres above Onion Creek, it offers breathtaking Hill Country views.
- Amenities: Gourmet dining, spa, and hiking trails.
- Tip: Opt for rooms with private hot tubs overlooking the vistas.
- Magnolia House Bed and Breakfast – Fredericksburg
- Overview: A classic B&B experience in the heart of Texas Wine Country.
- Amenities: Gourmet breakfast, luxurious rooms, and concierge services for local activities.
- Tip: The town often hosts wine events and festivals, plan accordingly.
- HI Houston: The Morty Rich Hostel – Houston
- Overview: A historic 100-year-old mansion transformed into a vibrant hostel.
- Amenities: Free breakfast, communal kitchen, and weekly social events.
- Tip: Located in the Montrose district, it’s within walking distance of bars and restaurants.
- Firehouse Hostel – Austin
- Overview: Texas’s oldest standing fire station, now a unique hostel with a hidden bar.
- Amenities: Lounge, communal kitchen, and access to the “secret” Firehouse Lounge.
- Tip: Great for solo travelers looking to meet others.
- Deep Ellum Hostel – Dallas
- Overview: Located in the artsy Deep Ellum neighborhood, this hostel combines comfort with affordability.
- Amenities: On-site bar and café, communal kitchen, and curated local art.
- Tip: Explore the surrounding area for live music and murals.
Texas’s vast landscape is matched only by the diversity of its accommodations. From luxury hotels in bustling downtown areas to serene guesthouses in the countryside and budget-friendly hostels perfect for meeting fellow travelers, Texas ensures a memorable stay for everyone. As you plan your journey through the Lone Star State, consider what each accommodation type offers in terms of experience, amenities, and proximity to your planned activities. Safe travels and sweet dreams in Texas!
Texas 7 Day Travel Itinerary
(write with great length and detail)
Where To Visit After Your Trip To Texas?
If Texas was one of your stops in a larger journey across America or even North America, there are a plethora of destinations awaiting you. The direction you choose will often depend on your interests, but let’s dive into a comprehensive list of places to consider after the Lone Star State.
1. Louisiana – Dive into Creole Culture
- New Orleans: Revel in the unique blend of French, African, and Spanish heritage. Wander through the French Quarter, experience the vibrant Mardi Gras celebrations, or explore the mysteries of the bayou.
- Baton Rouge: The state’s capital has a rich history, an array of museums, and wonderful southern cuisine.
- Tip: Try the beignets, jambalaya, and gumbo!
2. New Mexico – A Desert Oasis with Rich History
- Santa Fe: Admire Pueblo-style architecture, visit historic churches, and explore a thriving arts scene.
- Albuquerque: Experience the International Balloon Fiesta or traverse the historic Route 66.
- Tip: Visit the White Sands National Monument for a surreal landscape.
3. Oklahoma – The Heart of Native American History
- Oklahoma City: The state’s capital offers attractions like the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum and the Oklahoma City National Memorial.
- Tulsa: A hub for arts and culture, with a stunning urban park known as the Gathering Place.
- Tip: Delve into Native American history at the Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur.
4. Arkansas – Natural Beauty and Thermal Springs
- Hot Springs: Renowned for its naturally occurring thermal waters, this city offers a unique blend of relaxation and history.
- Little Rock: The state’s capital is home to the Clinton Presidential Center and offers picturesque parks and hiking trails.
- Tip: Visit the Ozark Mountains for a captivating natural escape.
5. Mexico – Neighboring Country Full of Color and Tradition
- Monterrey: Known for its mountains and modern architecture.
- Mexico City: Dive into Mexico’s rich history and culture by visiting the Zócalo, Palacio de Bellas Artes, and the ancient city of Teotihuacan.
- Tip: Relish authentic Mexican tacos, mole, and tequila.
6. Colorado – Majestic Mountains and Adventure
- Denver: The Mile High City offers a blend of urban sophistication and outdoor adventure.
- Rocky Mountain National Park: Explore vast landscapes, wildlife, and over 300 miles of hiking trails.
- Tip: Skiing enthusiasts should visit Aspen or Vail in the winter months.
7. Arizona – Red Rocks and the Grand Canyon
- Sedona: Known for its vibrant arts community and the stunning red rock formations.
- Grand Canyon: One of the world’s most iconic natural wonders, it’s a must-visit.
- Tip: Take a road trip through the state for a true southwestern experience.
8. Gulf of Mexico Cruise
- Overview: After enjoying Texas’ coastline, embark on a cruise exploring the Gulf’s azure waters.
- Destinations: Various ports including Cozumel, Belize City, and Key West.
- Tip: These cruises often offer a blend of relaxation, water activities, and cultural excursions.
9. East Coast USA – Urban Adventure and Coastal Charm
- Washington, D.C.: Dive deep into American history by visiting the nation’s capital.
- New York City: The Big Apple offers world-class entertainment, museums, shopping, and iconic landmarks.
- Tip: Travel by Amtrak for a scenic journey up the East Coast.
10. California – From Pristine Beaches to Tech Hubs
- Los Angeles: Immerse yourself in the film industry’s heartland. Visit Hollywood, enjoy the beaches of Santa Monica, and explore the Getty Museum.
- San Francisco: Experience the tech hub of the nation, traverse the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, and visit the historic Alcatraz Island.
- Tip: For wine enthusiasts, Napa Valley offers world-class vineyards and wine-tasting experiences.
11. Nevada – Glitz, Glamour, and Natural Wonders
- Las Vegas: Known for its vibrant nightlife centered around casinos, shows, and an array of entertainment.
- Reno: Another gambling hotspot with a slightly more relaxed vibe than Las Vegas.
- Tip: For a change of pace, visit the serene landscapes of Great Basin National Park.
12. Kansas – A Journey into America’s Heartland
- Wichita: Explore the Old Cowtown Museum, botanical gardens, and vibrant arts scene.
- Kansas City: Known for its barbecue, jazz heritage, and beautiful fountains.
- Tip: The state offers numerous prairies and open spaces, perfect for those seeking tranquility.
13. Tennessee – Music, Mountains, and History
- Nashville: Dive into the world of country music. The Grand Ole Opry and Country Music Hall of Fame are must-visits.
- Memphis: Experience the blues on Beale Street and visit the historic Graceland, Elvis Presley’s home.
- Tip: The Smoky Mountains provide a stunning backdrop for hiking and outdoor activities.
14. Florida – Sunshine, Beaches, and Entertainment
- Miami: Savor its vibrant nightlife, Art Deco architecture, and Cuban influence.
- Orlando: Home to numerous theme parks including Walt Disney World and Universal Studios.
- Tip: The Florida Keys offer a tropical getaway with activities like snorkeling, diving, and fishing.
15. Pacific Northwest – Rainforests, Mountains, and Tech Giants
- Seattle, Washington: Visit the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, and experience the birthplace of grunge music.
- Portland, Oregon: Known for its quirky culture, microbreweries, and stunning landscapes.
- Tip: The region is filled with natural wonders, from Mount Rainier in Washington to the Oregon Coast and Crater Lake.
16. Utah – Red Canyons, Arches, and Adventure
- Salt Lake City: Discover the headquarters of the Mormon Church, the impressive Temple Square, and indulge in the local arts and dining scenes.
- Moab: The gateway to both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, it’s a haven for adventurers.
- Tip: Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park offer unique hiking experiences and mesmerizing rock formations.
17. South Dakota – Mount Rushmore and Vast Plains
- Rapid City: Your base for visiting Mount Rushmore, but also nearby is the rugged beauty of Badlands National Park.
- Sioux Falls: Boasting a historic downtown, beautiful waterfalls, and vibrant arts scene.
- Tip: The annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is one of the world’s largest and a unique experience.
18. North Carolina – From the Atlantic Coast to the Appalachians
- Charlotte: A major U.S. city known for its modern city center and the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
- Asheville: Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, it’s known for its vibrant arts scene and historic architecture.
- Tip: The Outer Banks are a series of barrier islands with pristine beaches and rich history.
19. Alaska – The Last Frontier
- Anchorage: Offers both modern amenities and easy access to the Alaskan wilderness.
- Juneau: The capital city is surrounded by nature and is only accessible by boat or plane.
- Tip: Consider a cruise to experience the state’s coastal beauty, including glaciers and possibly spotting some whales.
20. Mississippi – The Birthplace of America’s Music
- Jackson: Delve into civil rights history, visit museums, and enjoy southern hospitality.
- Biloxi: Known for its beaches, casinos, and the maritime and seafood industry museum.
- Tip: The Mississippi Delta is a must-visit for blues enthusiasts.
21. Illinois – Chicago and the Prairie State
- Chicago: Experience world-class museums, shopping along the Magnificent Mile, the vistas from Willis Tower, and deep-dish pizza.
- Springfield: Explore the life of Abraham Lincoln, from his home to his presidential museum.
- Tip: The Great River Road along the Mississippi offers scenic views and charming towns.
22. Montana – Big Sky Country
- Billings: Delve into the rich history of the region, from the Pictograph Cave to the Yellowstone Art Museum.
- Bozeman: A gateway to Yellowstone National Park and a hub for outdoor enthusiasts.
- Tip: Glacier National Park, with its pristine forests, alpine meadows, and rugged mountains, is a must-visit.
23. Hawaii – Tropical Paradise in the Pacific
- Honolulu: Located on Oahu, it’s home to Waikiki Beach, Pearl Harbor, and Diamond Head.
- Maui: Renowned for its beaches, the scenic Hana Highway, and the Iao Valley State Park.
- Tip: Experience a traditional luau, surf on the North Shore of Oahu, and hike the volcanoes.
After soaking up the rich history, culture, and vast landscapes of Texas, there’s a world of adventures awaiting you, each offering its unique flair. Whether you’re drawn to the desert landscapes of Arizona, the vibrant streets of New Orleans, the snowy peaks of Colorado, or the bustling cities on the East Coast, your next destination promises memories that will last a lifetime. Safe travels and enjoy the journey ahead!
Texas Travel Guide: Final Thoughts
The vast expanse of Texas, both geographically and culturally, makes it one of the most diverse states in the U.S. To journey through Texas is to experience a microcosm of America itself, with its tapestry of histories, traditions, landscapes, and modern marvels. As we come to the close of this guide, let’s take a moment to reflect on the essence of the Lone Star State and offer some final insights for travelers.
- The Multiplicity of Texan Culture: Texas is not just one thing. From the historic Tejano culture of the south to the cowboy traditions of the north, from the deeply-rooted German communities in the Hill Country to the vibrant music scene of Austin, every corner of the state offers a unique cultural experience. Embrace this diversity. Attend a fandango in San Antonio, two-step in a Fort Worth dance hall, or simply engage in conversation with locals to understand the many layers of Texan identity.
- The Scale of Texas: Everything in Texas is, indeed, larger than life. This isn’t just about the size of its ranches or its skyline. The Texan spirit itself is grand. However, this scale also means logistical considerations. Distances between major cities can be vast, so always factor in travel time and try not to rush. Texas reveals itself slowly, and its beauty is best appreciated at a leisurely pace.
- Natural Wonders: Beyond its cities, Texas is a land of remarkable natural diversity. From the arid landscapes of Big Bend to the marshy bayous of East Texas, there’s a wilderness setting for every preference. If your travels have been largely urban, consider revisiting Texas for its parks, beaches, and deserts. The state’s natural wonders deserve an itinerary of their own.
- Culinary Adventures: One cannot speak of Texas without mentioning its culinary contributions. BBQ and Tex-Mex are just the tips of the culinary iceberg. Dive deep into regional specialties, explore food festivals, and visit farmer’s markets. And while you’re at it, don’t forget the state’s burgeoning wine scene in the Hill Country and craft beer innovations in major cities.
- Friendly Locals: Texan hospitality is legendary. Strangers are often treated like old friends. Engage with locals, ask for recommendations, share stories, and you might just form connections that last a lifetime.
- Festivals and Events: No matter when you visit, there’s likely a festival or event taking place somewhere in Texas. From Austin’s SXSW to San Antonio’s Fiesta, from Houston’s Livestock Show and Rodeo to the State Fair in Dallas, these events offer a deep dive into local culture, traditions, and celebrations.
- Stay Connected: Texas is vast, and while urban areas have excellent connectivity, some remote areas might have spotty cell reception. It’s always a good idea to have offline maps and key information downloaded, especially if you’re embarking on a road trip or exploring rural regions.
- Respect and Responsiveness: While Texas is incredibly diverse, it’s essential to approach your travels with an open mind and heart. Respect local traditions, be environmentally conscious, especially when visiting natural sites, and always be receptive to new experiences.
In conclusion, Texas, with its blend of the old and the new, the wild and the refined, the rural and the urban, offers a travel experience unlike any other. Whether you’re drawn to its historic sites, its modern metropolises, its culinary delights, or its natural wonders, the state has something for everyone. As the saying goes, “You may all go to Hell, and I will go to Texas” (Davy Crockett). The sentiment underscores the state’s undeniable allure. So, here’s to Texas: may your travels through its vast lands be filled with discovery, delight, and countless memories. Safe journeys and y’all come back now!