When you think of Texas, you quickly have an image in your head: huge herds of cattle accompanied by “lonesome cowboys,” vast prairies and here and there a ranch or an abandoned cowboy village, and next to them gigantic oil fields.
Welcome to the second largest state in the USA. The dimensions are huge. The “Lone Star State” is larger than France, for example.
If you follow the cliché and want to experience country culture, you’ll find it at rodeos, line dancing and adventurous rides to legendary barbecues.
But even though everything here is oversized, Texas has also retained a bit of charm. Unique cities between Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Lousiana with fabulous art museums, forest regions, deep canyons and enchanting coastal towns enchant visitors. Feel the fascination of the Rio Grande, the third longest river in the U.S. and succumb to the myth of the Red River, one of the headwaters of the Mississippi. Here are the 16 best places to visit in Texas.
16. Pablo Duro Canyon
In the heart of the “panhandle” of Texas lies the “Grand Canyon of Texas” second largest canyon in the country. Feel the rugged beauty of the canyon. More than 48 miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails lead through the canyon to scenic vistas and historic sites. The Red River has cut its way into the landscape here.
One attraction is the Amphie Theater. Against the canyon’s stunning backdrop, relive the stories, struggles and triumphs of early settlers in an outdoor musical. The family-friendly show is spiced with plenty of Texas humor, singing, dancing and fireworks.
15. El Paso
The “Sun City,” with 320 days of sunshine a year, is located right on the border with Mexico. The city’s unique history was shaped primarily by Native Americans, Mexicans and Spaniards. The “Tigue Indian Cultural Center and Museum” tells many a story of times gone by.
An overwhelming view of the city, the Rio Grande and the Mexican sister city Ciudad Juarez is offered by a lookout point on Scenic Drive.
Rugged rock, sparse vegetation, huge cacti, on the other side the mighty Rio Grande and in between the young, lively city of El Paso.
Fantastic parks are the green lungs of the city, such as “White Spur Park”, the “Nations Tobin Park” or the “Ascarate Park”.
14. Big Bend National Park
Big Bend, the great loop of the Rio Grande is the namesake of the national park in southwest Texas on the border with Mexico and in the 190-kilometer river loop.
The national park surprises its visitors with more than 1,200 plant species, more than 450 bird species, 75 mammal species and 56 reptile species. On more than 801,000 hectares you will encounter a variety of Cretaceous and Cenozoic fossils, some of which are estimated to be 9,000 years old.
With 240 kilometers of trails, there are countless opportunities to hike or take a day hike on your own. Or join a guided program led by rangers, who have plenty to say about the science, history, nature and culture of Big Bend National Park along the way.
A new wealth has come to Dallas. While oil companies dominated the cityscape until a few years ago, today it is banks and computer companies. You can recognize the new economic structure from afar. The highest building that towers over the skyline is the Bank of America Plaza skyscraper.
40 kilometers outside the city you will find the South Fork Ranch, made famous by the television series. The striking house, as the ancestral home of the Ewing television family, was a tourist attraction for a long time. The current owner has converted it into an event and conference center. The massive 56-story modernist Renaissance Tower in Dallas, in addition to the ranch, was also a television star as the Ewings’ fictional corporate headquarters.
The architecture within Dallas offers unusual views. The city hall of the city, the “Dallas City Hall” resembles an upside down pyramid.
A phenomenal view of the city can be seen from the 171 meter high observation and restaurant tower, the Reunion Tower. It is one of the most famous landmarks of the city.
Exceptional attractions have made Houston famous. Houston began making history in the 1960s. It was here that the first manned shuttle to the moon was piloted from the new Space Operations Center. Feel like a real astronaut in Space Center Houston’s “IMAX” and feel the tingles and tremors of the spectacular launch of a spacecraft in a flight simulator.
Colorful and cosmopolitan with a lively flair, the city of Houston surrounds you. An international cultural scene inspires in the museum district with more than 20 galleries, exhibition houses and cultural centers. The Museum of Fine Arts Houston stands out with its encyclopedic collection, award-winning programs and exciting international loans. Look forward to great shopping at the Houston Galleria, with 375 stores, an ice skating rink and a variety of restaurants.
Relax on the Gulf of Mexico and 51 kilometers of fine sandy beaches. Just 890 kilometers from Houston, you’ll find this charming city by the sea. Filled with art and historic architecture, the Gulf Coast town charms you on a picturesque barrier island.
The 16th-century city has weathered the Civil War and many a violent storm. The historic buildings, such as the “Moody Mansion” from 1895, the “Bryan Museum”, the numerous Victorian houses and the mansions from the 19th century still exude the magic of bygone eras.
Meanwhile, large cruise ships of well-known shipping companies, such as Royal Caribbean Cruises, Princess Cruises and Carnival Cruise Lines, dock at the busy cruise terminal on their Caribbean cruises.
10. Texas Hill Country
The rolling hills of the “Texas Hill Country” are the heart of the state. To the north are rolling plains and prairies that end at the “Balcones Escarpment,” a bulwark of cracked, weathered rock. To the west, Hill Country extends to the Edwards Plateau.
The Texas Hill Country includes 25 counties with the metropolitan areas of Austin and San Antonio.
Many urbanites are drawn out into the Hill Country’s natural environment to enjoy its rare beauty. As a result, natural habitats are being destroyed. Conservationists and farmers therefore work closely together to preserve the natural environment. Hikes on the well-maintained trail network will allow you to experience the impressive hill country and fields dotted with colorful wildflowers.
9. Padre Island National Seashore
Located on the Texas Gulf Coast on Padre Island is the Padre Island National Seashore Nature Preserve. The island is a barrier that separates the Gulf of Mexico from the Laguna Madre. Can you feel the salt on your lips and skin? The lagoon is extremely salty and at the same time an incredibly great area for recreation, windsurfing, fishing and boating. Dunes protect over 106 kilometers of coastline the national park, which is full of life. It is a protected nesting ground for the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle and home to over 380 species of birds.
The mayor’s wish became the slogan for the city’s residents: “Keep Austin Weird.” And that’s exactly what Austin is: simply different. Almost overwhelming is the number of food trucks, almost on every street corner. Food and drink are also the main features at the famous South by Southwest festival, where you can’t help but sample the Mexican food on the rolling vendor booths. Country, rock and blues dominate the entertainment scene on legendary Sixth Street and Red River Street. Clubs, bars and quaint pubs line up here.
You should not miss an extraordinary spectacle and walk to the “Congress Avenue Bridge” in the evening. Huge swarms of bats rise from the bridge every evening into the dark evening sky. And there’s something else to admire. Austin’s Capitol, where the Texas Legislature meets, gives its big brother in Washington real competition. Completed at the end of the 19th century, it gleams in neo-Renaissance style.
7. San Antonio
Colorful, lively and easy to dream about, that’s how San Antonio presents itself. Shaped by completely different cultural influences, a stroll through San Antonio is fascinating and always takes visitors to another world. Along the river promenade “River Walk” you stroll along tropical plants to the observation tower in the “HemisFair Park”. Bridges with a playful Venetian flair transport you to the romantic world of the Venetians.
And a visit to the Spanish mission station “The Alamo” opens up an exciting insight into historic Texas. The Battle of the Alamo in 1836 laid the foundation for Texas independence. Experience San Antonio’s exciting history in 19th-century galleries, museums and mansions and admire the neo-Gothic San Fernando Cathedral.
Want a bit of German history? The small town of Fredericksburg was founded by German immigrants in the 19th century. A peculiar blend of German tradition and Texas lifestyle surrounds you. A real shopper’s paradise are the more than 150 boutiques and art galleries on Main Street in the historic town center.
German cuisine harmonizes with traditional barbecue and Mexican dishes. As the recognized center of “Texas Wine Country,” you can choose from 50 wineries and wines with a variety of tastes: Tuscan, modern and charming. German immigrants discovered the “Mustang Grape” and began growing grapes on the surrounding hills. Today there are 200 commercial vineyards.
5. Corpus Christi
Magical Corpus Christi is full of attractions. As the Gulf Coast capital of South Texas, Corpus Christi scores with spectacular sandy beaches. Everything is possible from adventurous windsurfing, parasailing and kayaking to swimming and bathing in calm waters.
A crowd puller is the “Texas State Aquarium” with a large collection of mainly native fish, marine mammals and dolphins.
Captivating and exciting, on the other hand, is a visit to the aircraft carrier “USS Lexington”. During its missions in the Pacific War, the ship emerged mostly unscathed from fierce battles, giving it a reputation for being unsinkable. It can be visited in the port of Corpus Christi and provides exciting and at the same time shocking insights into what it was like on an aircraft carrier at the time of World War II.
Route 287 “Is the way to Amarillo”. Off to “Los Cedros Ranch” and the cowgirls and cowboys. How about a ride into the sunset?
The city lives from the myth of the “Wild West”. Countless stores offer cowboy boots and clothing. Situated on a dry and treeless plateau, Amarillo lives up to all the popular notions of cowboys and the wild west.
Founded as a railroad camp, the name is said to come from the Spanish for “yellow sand.” Amarillo Lake in the center of town was once a water source for wild mustangs and buffalo. Later, ranchers watered their animals, as Amarillo was once a major loading station for livestock shipments. The town is still the headquarters of the Cattlemen’s Association today. The cattle business was replaced by oil and gas companies in the early 20th century.
3. Fort Worth
The destination of art lovers as well as Western enthusiasts is Fort Worth. The city served as an army outpost on a bluff overlooking the Trinity River when it was founded in 1849. But it was also the historic center of the Texas Longhorn cattle trade. In the Fort Worth Stockyards Historic District, you’ll encounter the West. From original brick walkways to wooden corrals, you’ll feel the breath of history of the famous Texas cattle industry.
Today’s attractions include the “Amon Carter Museum”. Particularly impressive are the building itself and inside it the photographic collection of American photography with more than 30,000 exhibition prints by about 400 photographers. In addition, the “Kimbell Art Museum” captivates visitors. The spectrum of paintings on display ranges from antiquity to the present and from Picasso, Rembrandt, Henri Matisse to El Greco.
2. Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Mountains and canyons, desert and dunes, and spectacular views are found nowhere like the Guadalupe Mountains. The most extensive Permian fossil reef is protected by Guadalupe Mountains National Park. The mountains in Guadalupe National Park rise up to 1,000 meters above the arid Chihuahuan Desert.
The limestone cliff “El Capitan” is the most striking elevation at 350 meters. Towering walls of McKittrick Canyon give shelter to the diversity of the landscape. In autumn, nature explodes with sensational color play in bright reds, soft yellows and deep browns.
The highest level of protection guarantees the national park an “affirmative responsibility”, sensitive air quality resources. These include all vegetation, soils, waters, wildlife, and visibility. Air pollution sources that could potentially affect park resources are subject to strict emission control standards.
1. Mustang Island
Also one of the barrier islands off the Gulf Coast is Mustang Island, which extends from Corpus Christi to Port Aransas. Grazing herds introduced by Spanish settlers first established the name “Wild Horse.” Only later was it named “Mustang Island”. An island really to feel good. Enjoy the miles of beach. Beach games, swimming and paddling or kayaking, parasailing and surfing are the order of the day.
A ranger program will introduce you to the secrets of nature and take you bird watching during their spring and fall hikes or explain the mystery of the starry world. Discover a still almost untouched island world.