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The Best Vacation Destinations in Texas

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They say everything is bigger in Texas and, seeing as the state is larger than countries like France and Germany, they’re not wrong.

The Lone Star State, Texas is famous for BBQ, Tex-Mex, live music (bonus points if it’s of the country variety), scorching hot summers and festivals galore. But the Texas motto is friendship and locals stand by this.

So, if you’re looking to visit one of the nation’s friendliest states, here are 12 of the best vacation destinations in Texas.

1. Houston

Houston, TX

The country’s fourth-largest city and the world capital of space exploration, Houston is an enticing metropolis with something for everyone. This includes an award-winning gastronomic scene, plenty of outdoor and green space, and world-class museums.

Top things to do in Houston include cheering on a home team, seeing some live music at night, visiting the Johnson Space Center (reserve your ticket here), and shopping until you drop at Galleria Houston. And don’t miss out on some of the many unique breweries in Houston. It’s easy to see why it’s one of the best places to visit.

The best time to visit Houston? While the temperature is just right during the shoulder seasons of spring and fall (hovering between 70 and 80 degrees), Houston really comes alive in the summer. You can also find several Texas resorts for families across Houston, so pack up the kiddos and head to H-town!

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Bus & train prices are based on the average cost of a one-way ticket for the respective route available on Wanderu over a 30-day period. 

2. Amarillo

A favored stop along Route 66, Amarillo is one of the most popular places to vacation in Texas because of… steak. Yep, people flock to Amarillo to take part in the 72 oz. Steak Challenge at The Big Texan Steak Ranch.

When you’ve recovered from your steak hangover (or if meat-eating competitions are not your thing), another one of the most popular things to do in Amarillo is visiting Cadillac Ranch. This Stonehenge-like public art display puts this town on the map of beautiful cities in Texas!

Don’t miss exploring Palo Duro Canyon either. The nation’s second largest canyon, this breathtaking natural landmark is home to over 30 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails. Head to Amarillo in spring to make the most of these trails.

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Bus & train prices are based on the average cost of a one-way ticket for the respective route available on Wanderu over a 30-day period. 

3. Dallas

Dallas, TX

Home to America’s Team, the Dallas Cowboys, it would be sacrilegious to visit Dallas and not see the Cowboys play. But if NFL is not your thing (we won’t tell), other top attractions in Dallas include the Dallas Museum of Art, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, and the Reunion Tower. After a full day of visiting these attractions, you’ll definitely want to grab drinks at one of these Dallas spots.

The best time to visit Dallas is hands down during the State Fair of Texas, which usually begins on the last Friday in September and lasts for 24 days. There, you can go shopping, listen to live music, enjoy amusement rides and games, and eat your weight in delicious food.

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Bus & train prices are based on the average cost of a one-way ticket for the respective route available on Wanderu over a 30-day period. 

4. Corpus Christi

Corpus Christi, TX

If you’re looking for a coastal Texas getaway, let us introduce you to Corpus Christi. Home to 192 miles of stunning shoreline, Corpus Christi is one of the best North American cities for kiteboarding, windsurfing, and sailing, thanks to its high winds.

You could spend your entire Corpus Christi vacation beach-hopping from Padre Island to Mustang Island. But there are two other top attractions in the city that you must check out – the Texas State Aquarium and the USS Lexington, a former WWII aircraft carrier that’s been transformed into a maritime museum. For even more, check out these fabulous things to do in Corpus Christi.

Corpus Christi is generally overflowing with people in summer, so if you want to soak up the sun minus the crowds, head there in fall.

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5. San Antonio

When discussing the best vacation spots in Texas, we can’t omit San Antonio, as it is actually the state’s most visited city.

So why do people make a beeline for San Antonio? It could be the fact it’s home to the most visited attraction in Texas, the Alamo. Or that it’s where you’ll find the nation’s largest Mexican market, El Mercado, a three-block outdoor plaza with over 100 restaurants and shops.

We also can’t forget the famed River Walk. This 15-mile urban waterway is lined with the city’s best restaurants, shops, and cultural attractions right in the heart of downtown.

If you decide to go to San Antonio for a Texas weekend getaway, you can be in Austin in less than 1.5 hours or New Braunfels in 35 minutes, which is home to a Schlitterbahn Waterpark. With over 50 thrilling rides, slides and rivers to enjoy, you could easily spend an entire summer’s day here.

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Bus & train prices are based on the average cost of a one-way ticket for the respective route available on Wanderu over a 30-day period. 

6. Big Bend National Park

Located in West Texas and bordering Mexico, Big Bend National Park is one of the most remote and least visited national parks in the U.S. But if you make the journey to this underrated Texas vacation destination, you’ll be rewarded with a sweeping desert landscape and incredible stargazing.

Top things to do in Big Bend National Park include cruising down Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, hiking Santa Elena Canyon, soaking in the Rio Grande Hot Springs, and hiking to the park’s highest point, Emory Peak.

Optimal hiking weather is spring and fall, as this desert gets hot in summer and freezing in winter.

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7. Fredericksburg (Texas Hill Country)

Found in the heart of Texas Hill Country, Fredericksburg is one of the most popular weekend getaways in Texas, thanks to its German heritage and nearly 50 different wineries. Oh, and the fact it’s less than a two-hour bus ride to both San Antonio and Austin. Easy commuting + so many things to do in Fredericksburg = the perfect weekend getaway.

If you want to do more than drink wine, other Fredericksburg specialties include antique shopping, enjoying an unforgettable meal at Otto’s German Bistro, stepping back in time at the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site, and stopping to smell the flowers at Wildseed Farms, the nation’s largest wildflower farm. So if you’re looking for romantic getaways in Texas, we highly recommend heading to the Hill Country for all sorts of activities.

You can even join an organized day trip to Texas Hill Country that departs from Austin or San Antonio. This experience includes transportation, a tour of LBJ Ranch, free time in Fredericksburg, and vineyard visits with tastings available. Giddy-up!

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8. Austin

No list of the best vacation destinations in Texas would be complete without mentioning the state capital, Austin. Known for its live music and nightlife scene, outdoor adventures, and celebration of the arts, Austin is the perfect Texas weekend getaway.

Spend your weekend visiting the Texas Capitol, swimming at one of Austin’s swimming holes, seeing millions of bats take flight at dusk at the Congress Avenue Bridge, and partying all night long at Dirty Sixth. Be sure to stroll through The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center with your sweetheart if you’re looking to make this a romantic Texas getaway! There’s no shortage of unique things to do in Austin.

Our sources also tell us the food at Franklin Barbecue is always worth the wait. Skip summer’s high humidity and visit Austin in March so you can tick one of the top things to do in Texas off your bucket list – visiting SXSW.

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Bus & train prices are based on the average cost of a one-way ticket for the respective route available on Wanderu over a 30-day period. 

9. Guadalupe Mountains State Park

Guadalupe Mountains State Park is one of the most exciting outdoor getaways and one of the most beautiful state parks in Texas. A hidden gem located two hours from El Paso, it’s home to bright white dunes, fossilized reef mountains, and a plethora of wildlife. With over 80 miles of trails, besides hiking, top things to do include stargazing, horseback riding, and backcountry camping.

Top places to visit within Guadalupe Mountains State Park are Frijole Ranch, McKittrick Canyon, Salt Basin Dunes, and Guadalupe Peak, the state’s highest mountain. The best time to visit the state park is October for fantastic weather and gorgeous fall foliage

After catching your breath from the hiking or breathtaking views, you can head back to El Paso for some incredible Tex-Mex, plenty of hotels, and more Texas fun.

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10. Waco

Waco, TX

Waco is more than just the halfway point between Dallas and Austin. It’s where you’ll find Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Market, which is a home decor dreamland, with a bakery and cafe to boot. 

If you’re looking for things to with kids in Waco, or things to do with your inner child, head to the Dr. Pepper Museum, and float down the world’s longest laziest river at BSR Surf Resort! Then explore Waco’s Downtown Cultural District and enjoy shopping in Spice Village. Paired with some live music and delicious food and you have one of the best Texas weekend getaways.

When you’re ready to embrace Texas cowboy culture, join a horseback ride through Waco at sunset, then enjoy a scenic overlook with a campfire and s’mores. This experience also makes the perfect romantic Texas activity.

The best time to visit Waco is in the fall when the average temperature is between 60 and 70 degrees and there’s low humidity and minimal rainfall.

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Bus & train prices are based on the average cost of a one-way ticket for the respective route available on Wanderu over a 30-day period. 

11. Fort Worth

Often coupled with its neighbor, Dallas, we’re here to separate these two destinations, as Fort Worth itself is one of the best vacation destinations in Texas.

Historically known for being the center of the Texas Longhorns cattle trade, you can learn more about this heritage at the Stockyards National Historic District. It hosts the world’s only twice-daily cattle drive and Billy Bob’s Texas, the world’s largest honky-tonk. Sip some beers and make new friends on a bar crawl through the Stockyards with a local guide.

Next, head to the Fort Worth Cultural District and take your pick of five world-renowned museums. Follow that with a visit to Arlington, one of the nation’s cheapest drinking cities and home to Six Flags Over Texas, one of the top places to go in Texas.

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Bus & train prices are based on the average cost of a one-way ticket for the respective route available on Wanderu over a 30-day period. 

12. Galveston

A final coastal getaway, Galveston is one of the most popular vacation destinations in Texas. It also happens to be less than an hour’s drive from Houston.

Locals head to Galveston every summer to enjoy its seven beaches, the Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark, and the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier. Other fun Galveston attractions include the eye-catching Moody Mansion, Galveston Seawall, and the Strand Historic District.

Head there in either spring or fall to beat the crowds but still enjoy Galveston’s water-based activities. Winter equals cheap accommodation, but only the brave enter the water in the cooler months.

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Other fun places to visit in Texas

Now, we’ve covered plenty of great vacation destinations in Texas. But here are a couple of extra Texas vacation ideas that didn’t make the cut.

First, Marfa is a unique small desert city that’s home to the famous Prada Marfa, a sculptural art installation, and the Marfa Lights, an unexplained phenomenon in the night sky—best learn your camera’s astrophotography settings to capture it! 

Second, outdoor adventurers should head to Wimberley in Texas Hill Country. There, you can do zip lining, relax in the state’s best natural swimming holes, and indulge in a glass of wine or five.

So whether you want an urban adventure in Austin or to be one with nature at Big Bend National Park, this Texas travel guide shows that there are plenty of fantastic vacation destinations in Texas waiting for you.

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