One of the largest states in the US, Texas is totally vast and totally epic to explore. With heaps of cities, national parks and coastal retreats, it’s the kind of state that’s got a little something for every type of traveller. Plus, you won’t be lost for things to do with all the best places in Texas dotted all across the state.
You’re going to be spoilt for choice!
We had the most amazing time on our road trip across Texas and totally loved how diverse the state is. Of course, you’ve got the historic spots in San Antonio, the bustling downtown area of Houston and Austin (which has such a cool vibe); but there’s so much to see outside of the cities, too!
So, to help you get the most out of your visit to Texas, I wanted to share some top gems that we’re head over heels for!
Take a look, below, at the best places in Texas to visit. Have an amazing time exploring and driving across the state.
1.) San Antonio
The second city we visited when travelling through Texas, San Antonio is a total treat to explore. It’s such a lovely city to explore and great for a long weekend city break.
Once here, be sure to first stop off at the Alamo; one of the best places in Texas that you can’t miss. Historically, the site of the Battle of Alamo (back in 1836), it’s one of the state’s most iconic spots relating to Texas independence. Situated in the downtown area of San Antonio, it’s an incredible place to explore, especially with the chapel and long barracks, too.
Afterwards, take a stroll down the San Antonio River Walk; which we visited each night! Following the banks of the river, it’s a totally picturesque area filled with little restaurants, bars and al-fresco foodie spots to grab a bite.
Don’t fancy walking? Hop onboard on one of the boats that head up and down the river itself. It’s so relaxing and a perfect little jaunt after filling your tummy.
If it’s museums you’re after, head into the Witte Museum or the Museum of Art. Both are totally incredible and house thousands of artefacts and art that’s just too good to miss.
Oh, and for a great sunset view, head to the top of the Tower of the Americas. We loved the views from here and loved popping up after a stroll around La Villita Historic Arts Village.
Read more: Best things to do in San Antonio
2.) Big Bend National Park
Big Bens National Park might just be one of the best places in Texas to visit for the great outdoors! Perched along the western border of Texas, it’s the kind of place that’s got heaps to see and do for a few days trip.
Once here, be sure to hike the South Rim trail that’s so beautiful. Yes, it’s around 12-miles (and not for the faint-hearted) it’s the kind of hike that’s worth the challenge. Though, saying that, never head out on a hike if you’re not totally convinced you can complete the trail. This is especially true with arduous hikes like the South Rim trail. If you’re unsure, check-in
at the Chisos Visitor Center before you set out. This way, you’ll get an update on local conditions.
Alternatively, hop on the Santa Elena Canyon Trail that follows the Rio Grande and the international border with Mexico. Just be sure to pack oodles of sunscreen and plenty of water. This trail can be tough on a sunny day.
Oh, and don’t forget to stop off at Santa Elena Canyon Overlook which’s easily reached by car.
Don’t fancy hiking? Drive the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive that stretches beyond Mule Ears Viewpoint it’s totally cool.
Read more: Best hikes in the USA
A perfect stopping point when driving west from Houston, Austin is filled with the coolest coffee spots, eateries and bars that make this city totally fun!
Depending on how long you spend (I’d suggest at least a few days), be sure to visit the Texas State Capitol Building that dates all the way back to the 1800s.
Just like when it was built, the Capitol Building still holds the same prestige and history that easily puts it as one of the best places in Texas to visit.
Best of all, it’s really easy to follow a self-guided tour of the grounds or a guided tour of the building itself. These typically take place every 30-45 minutes and it’s well worth joining.
Also, not too far away is the Bullock Texas State History Museum where you can literally spend days inside! There are so many exhibition halls and shows off the ever-changing story of Texas. It’s pretty cool!
Fancy a gander away from the city streets? Head over to nearby McKinney Falls State Park. The trails around Onion Creek are so chilled and relaxing for a weekend jaunt.
Finally, if you’ve got time, head over to the Hamilton Pool Preserve that’s so beautiful.
Just FYI, you can swim within the pool, you need to be prepared that they might cancel this at short notice. Apparently, it’s something to do with bacteria levels that can bloom and rainfall that can make them a little unsafe. Always check before you set out!
After a day of exploring, head over to Uchiko for their yummy sushi. You won’t be disappointed.
Read more: Best things to do in Austin
Nestled just off the historic Route 66, Amarillo is a perfect stopping point to explore and rest up when visiting the best places in Texas.
Once here, take some time to explore the beautiful Amarillo Botanical Gardens and the Amarillo Museum of Art. Their both lovely spots to visit, especially when on a day trip to the city.
Plus, if you’re driving, stop off at Cadillac Ranch that’s along Route 66 itself. An art installation of Cadillac cars (half -sank into the ground), it’s got a new-age Stonehenge vibe that’s actually pretty cool to see.
Afterwards, head over to Palo Duro Canyon which’s around a 30-minute drive from the centre of Amarillo. The areas around Capitol Mesa and Lighthouse Peak are just stunning.
You’ll also find heaps of trails from easy to strenuous which make it a great spot for an afternoon away from the city itself.
Finally, if you are driving the historic Route 66 through Texas, don’t forget to stop off at Shamrock for a little nosey around.
It’s around a 90-minute drive east of Amarillo and perfect for a pitstop for an hour. Plus, you’ll get to see the Tower Station and U-Drop Inn Cafe which’s totally iconic. It’s been around for decades and is something of an institution on Route 66.
5.) Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Right on the border with New Mexico, Guadalupe Mountains National Park is one of the best places in Texas to visit if you want some time in the great outdoors.
The park itself is totally diverse, with great forests, vast mountainous regions, deserts, and deep canyons, too! You might even get to spot some of the desert animals, too. This means you should watch out for rattlesnakes, especially when hiking the trails.
Talking of hiking, you can also head to Pine Springs Canyon for some of its incredible trails. For some of the best, follow the Devil’s Hall Trail or the Pine Springs Trailhead which branches off with lots of trails that crisscross the area. It’s lovely!
Oh, and as with any hike, always be responsible. If you’re not sure what you need, then pop into the Pine Springs Visitor Center where the ranges can prep you for the most suitable hike for you.
Read more: Best national parks in the USA
Nestled in the north of the state, Dallas is sometimes missed if you’re heading on a wider US road trip across Texas. Though, with it only being a 3-hour drive from Austin, it’s the kind of city that’s pretty easy to visit.
After getting to Dallas, your first port-of-call has to be the Museum of Art; it’s incredible and possibly one of our favourites in all of Texas. Founded well over 100 years ago, it has thousands of pieces. As you stroll, look out for the iconic painting by Jean-Baptiste Marie Pierre (The Abduction of Europa) that was painted all the way back in the 1700s.
Then, after getting your art fill, pop over to the stunning grounds of the Dallas Arboretum. Not just for the summer, this garden has heaps of seasonal events and blooms that make it a totally gorgeous spot to visit at any time of the year. They even have a Christmas village in December!
Fancy an adrenaline-fulled day? Get yourself over to Six Flags Over Texas. It’s a huge theme park that has some white-knuckle rides that’ll leave your throat sore from screaming! You can easily spend a whole day here.
Oh, and don’t forget to visit the Traders Village flea market. It’s got everything and anything you can ever imagine! From antiques, vintage finds to Beanie Babies (remember those?). Plus, it has loads of foodie vendors and a retro fairground that’s totally kitsch.
Read more: Fun cities in the US to visit
7.) New Braunfels
Not too far from San Antonio, New Braunfels is pretty easy to visit as you’re heading between Austin and San Antonio. In fact, it’s a perfect little stopping point for a little chillout.
After taking a little stroll beyond St Peter and Paul’s Church, get yourself over to Schlitterbahn Waterpark. It’s a perfect cool-down spot in Texas and a pretty fun day! Plus, those slides are just so much fun.
Looking for some tasty food and craft beers? Head over to Muck & Fuss that’s something of a legend in New Braunfels. Their burgers and seasonal brews are so good.
If that’s not your thing, head over to the totally informal Huisache Grill. Their blackened catfish is so yummy.
Also, just outside New Braunfels streets is the Natural Bridge Caverns, too. It’s one of the largest caverns in Texas and well worth visiting for a tour. Just prep in advance for that humidity!
Read more: Best hikes in the USA
8.) Padre Island
Looking for an island adventure? Then Padre Island is for you. It’s one of the best places in Texas to explore on the south coast.
Of course, once here, you have to spend some time visiting the Padre Island National Seashore and Whitecap Beach for its sandy stretches. It’s totally blissful.
Also, don’t forget to take a stroll up Bob Hall Pier and grab a bite at Texas Mesquite BBQ. It’s nothing fancy but is a great spot for BBQ in Padre Island. Their smoked brisket is so good.
Not too far from Houston, Galveston is pretty easy to visit for a day trip from the city (or longer chillout).
With gorgeous beaches, the historic downtown area and lots of foodie joints, it’s the kind of place that’s perfect to chill out.
Once in the city, be sure to spend plenty of time at the Pleasure Pier that’s totally fun. The rides are epic and the beaches are just gorgeous, too!
Nearby, you’ve also got Moody Mansion which was built. back in the 1800s and is totally beautiful inside. It almost feels as though you’re stepping back in time.
For a bite to eat, check out Gilhooley’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar. Gilhooley’s is an Old School Restaurant that’s totally casual and tasty. Plus, their homemade shrimp gumbo is everything.
Of course, you have to have some of their oysters and their signature Gilhooley’s Spicy Margarita, too!
Read more: Best things to do in Houston
Initially, Houston was going to be a quick stopping point for us on our trip around Texas; but after arriving, we decided to stay a little longer. We’re so glad we did!
Probably the largest city in Texas, Houston has heaps going for it and it’s totally fun to visit for a fun-filled trip.
After checking into your hotel, head straight outside to explore the downtown area around the Museum of Natural Science. We totally loved the mix of museums, parks and quirky foodie spots that make Houston so great!
For a yummy brunch, head over and grab a table at the Breakfast Klub. They have some of the tastiest waffles in all of Texas!
Oh, and for a day trip from downtown, head on over to Space Center Houston. It’s one of the best places to learn about space exploration, space missions and, of course, NASA’s iconic projects.
It’s so much fun and you’ll totally geek out if you’re into space as much as me!
Read more: Best things to do in Houston
9 Very Best Things To Do In Houston, Texas