A huge sprawling state with its own brand of cool, everything is bigger and better in Texas. It’s also a very friendly place and is known for a huge array of things including country music, tacos, cowboy culture, bluebonnets and its fiercely proud inhabitants. Its diverse landscapes are also equally as special and range from sparkling beaches to parks filled with unique natural beauty. Of course, it’s a very tough choice but here are the best and the most beautiful places to visit in Texas…
1. The Texas Hill Country – a stunning geographic region of Central and South Texas
A magnificent blend of scenic landscapes resting upon the Edwards Plateau, Texas Hill Country comprises the Central & southern region of the state. The rolling hills, spring-fed rivers, quaint cities, and beautiful grasslands make up a fun-filled adventure like no other.
Running through the most beautiful landscapes in the country, the lovely cities of Boerne, New Braunfels and Kerrville offer historic walking tours and scenic drives along the Guadalupe River. Wander along with the dazzling bluebonnet fields of Burnet or swimming on the Blue Hole in the tiny town of Wimberley, these iconic towns radiate Texas charm with rich culture.
2. Big Bend National Park – one of the most beautiful places to explore in Texas
A legendary place in far West Texas, Big Bend National Park is where you can experience three diverse habitats of river, desert, and mountains. Encompassing the largest protected area of the Chihuahuan Desert along with the solitary Chisos Mountains, the archeological sites of the park date back to nearly 10,000 years.
Take a picturesque drive through the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive to view some of the greatest variety of habitats. Walkthrough the longest and deepest canyon of the park, the Boquillas Canyon or take a dip in the natural hot springs of the Rio Grande Village, the park offers endless adventures and discoveries.
3. Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens – a tranquil oasis with a vibrant display of colors
One of the most breathtaking gardens in the world, the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens offers some of the largest floral blooms with seasonal colors. Overlooking the White Rock Lake, the 66-acre park features manicured gardens, ornamental shrubs, seasonal blooms, trees, and eye-catching water features.
A perfect place for a picnic, the garden is packed with art shows, concerts, and seasonal festivals year-round. Explore the historic DeGolyer home and the elegant Camp House surrounded by series of gardens and fountains with a view of the Dallas skyline. The park is full of lovely blooms each time you visit.
4. Scenic Drive – Overlook – a great drive and rocky outlook with wide views of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez
Offering some of the best views of the city of El Paso, Scenic Drive runs through some of the untouched lands of the state. Tucked away in West Texas, Scenic Drive offers a winding drive through the amazing historic city of El Paso. Get on the top for the best views of El Paso city and neighboring Juarez city of Mexico.
Opened in 1920, the two miles long drive offers some beautiful vistas of El Paso. Catch the mesmerizing views of the city lights or explore the nearby Franklin Mountains State Park to get some impeccable views of this secluded landscape with its innate beauty.
5. Austin – easily one of the best places to visit in Texas
Home to myriad attractions and iconic museums, the Capital city of Austin offers one-of-kind outdoor spaces. With abundant greens, beautiful lakes, and vibrant music, Austin caters to visitors of all ages. Active travelers can hike the Zilker Park or Mount Bonnell for a high lookout. If you’re a food lover it’s also handy to know it’s the start of the Texas BBQ Trail.
Stroll the serene Lady Bird Lake or take a soothing dip in the natural springs of Barton Springs Pool, this charming city is a sprawling wonder. Take a walk into the past in the Blanton Museum of Art and Bullock Texas State History or venture into the Sixth Street get a dose of live music in this urban yet soulful city.
6. Palo Duro Canyon State Park – a rugged Texas beauty spot to explore
An easy drive from downtown Amarillo, the Palo Duro Canyon State Park is just 14 miles from Mainstreet town of Canyon. Featuring dramatic geological formations, steep mesa walls, and multicolored layers of rock, the canyon is approx. 800 feet deep & covers 30,000 acres of landscape.
If you’re looking for outdoor fun, the scenic park offers miles of hiking trails, zip-lining, camping, biking, bird watching, picnicking, and much more to your heart’s content. One of the canyon’s man-made attractions is the Canyon Gallery boasting handmade Native American pottery, quirky Navajo, Zuni silver jewelry, and exhibits.
7. Gruene Historic District – a quaint historic town to visit in Texas
Experience rustic Texas in the small town of Gruene located within the city of New Braunfels. A thriving historic district, Gruene is about one hour from Austin. Established by Henry D. Gruene in 1872, Gruene is known for its rich environment and architecture.
Collect some souvenirs from the Gruene General Store or enjoy a musical night at the Gruene Hall, this secluded town is a perfect place to relax and unwind yourself. A rare blend of history and architecture, the Gruene Historic Gristmill on the ruins of an 1878 cotton gin offers a unique spot for dining overlooking the Guadalupe River.
8. San Antonio River Walk – a fun experience located on a world-renowned 15-mile urban waterway
A picturesque network walkway along the banks of the San Antonio River, the San Antonio River Walk is an authentic Texan destination. Also called Paseo del Rio, the river walk is lined with towering cypress, shops, public artwork, museums, recreation spots and much more.
Relive the iconic moments in the history of Texas in the San Antonio Museum of Arts. Explore the incredible mansions in the King Williams Historic District, the iconic landmark of the Alamo or indulge in outdoor adventures along the Mission Reach stretch of the River Walk, this peaceful city is a refreshing escape.
9. The Guadalupe Mountains-the highest point in Texas offering striking natural beauty
Bordering the western part of the state, the Guadalupe Mountains run upwards through lush forests and valleys stretching to southeastern New Mexico. The scenic mountain range includes the highest summit in Texas, the Guadalupe Peak and El Capitan peak bordered by beautiful river valleys.
The magnificent Guadalupe Mountains Wilderness protects endangered species such as peregrine falcons and Guadalupe Mountains violet. Hike the top of Texas on the Guadalupe Peak Trail, watch the wildlife, or camp under the stars, the lofty mountains offer some of the best outdoor destinations in the state.
10. State Capitol Building – one of the most beautiful buildings in Texas
Widely recognized as one of the most distinguished state capitols, the Texas State Capitol is located in downtown Austin. A true testament to the history of Texas, the structure houses the legislative and Governor Offices. Designed in 1881 by Elijah E. Myers, the granite structure stands 14 feet higher than the U.S. Capitol building.
Lookup for the beautiful dome featuring a star with Texas initials spelled around it. The elegant ornate details, giant brass door hinges, monuments & gorgeous grounds form a great place to learn more about the tale of Texas.
11. Port Aransas Beach – one of the most beautiful beaches to explore in Texas
One of the longest barrier islands along the Texas coast, Port Aransas is located 180 miles southeast of San Antonio. Ranked one of the best beaches in Texas, Port A offers year-round outdoor activities from swimming to parasailing & kayaking.
Explore the beaches on Mustang Island and IB Magee Beach with warm clear waters and fresh air. Enjoy surfing along the Mustang Island State Park or take a nature walk in the Port Aransas Natural Preserve, Port A is a world away from the commotion.
12. Caprock Canyons State Park and Trail – a scenic hiking spot in Texas offering amazing views
One of the largest state parks of Texas, Caprock Canyons State Park and Trails is tucked away in the pleasant little town of Quitaque in Briscoe County. Opened in 1982, the state park offers a quiet retreat amid the beautiful red canyons & grasslands.
Spanning over 15,314 acres, the area contains badlands with tall grasses, cacti, mesquite and cottonwoods. Besides marveling at the Bisons and bats, you can camp, bike, take a scenic drive or go paddling in Lake Theo. Explore the 90 miles of varied trails or visit the nearby Bob Wills Museum, Caprock Canyon is a peaceful escape to the Old West.
13. Lake Travis – a large reservoir and a popular scenic vacation destinations in Texas
A highly visited freshwater recreational destination of the state, Lake Travis is a haven for water enthusiasts. With 271 miles of shorelines and crystal clear waters, this man-made lake is a dream vacation in Austin.
With gorgeous natural settings and endless water activities, Lake Travis is a haven for water sports enthusiasts including sailers and campers. Explore the lake down under while scuba diving, enjoy the beautiful sunsets with some of the best culinary delights and live music venues, or simply walk along the Hippie Hollow Park, Lake Travis is a definite bookmark for your Austin trip.
14. Padre Island National Seashore – a dazzling hypersaline lagoon to explore in Texas
A divine barrier island with unspoiled natural marine habitat, Padre Island National Seashore offers the longest stretch of a pristine island in the world. Protecting the 70 miles of coastline, dunes, prairies and tidal flats, the park is located off the coast of South Texas.
A rare feature of the barrier island is the Laguna Madre, a unique hypersaline lagoon with hidden marine life. Watch the turtle hatchling release, camp under the dark skies or seek solitude on the peaceful shores, the park offers a memorable experience on the Texas coast
15. Longhorn Cavern State Park – an incredible wonder in Texas Hill Country
An underground wonder of Texas formed by the dissolving and cutting action of an ancient river, Longhorn Cavern State Park is a captivating destination in the Texas Hill Country. A short drive from Austin, Longhorn Cave is often referred to as the National cave of Texas.
Take a walking tour of the caves and venture deeper onto the primitive caves with guided tours. Explore the classic architecture style buildings, the nearby Falkenstein Castle, climb the observation tower or hike the Backbone Ridge Trail system, the park offers myriad recreational activities for thrill and nature seekers.
16. Hamilton Pool – a magical swimming pool with striking rock formations
A historic swimming hole formed thousands of years ago due to a collapsed grotto, the Hamilton Pool is a gem of a pool with beautiful jade-green waters. Just a short 45-minute drive from Austin, the preserve also boasts a 50ft waterfall and rare plant species.
Encompassing over 232 acres of undeveloped land, the preserve is a fabulous place to check out with family. Soak under the lovely waterfall, discover the towering cypress trees with knobby roots, explore the canyon or take a refreshing dip in the pool, the preserve is one of the best nature spots in Austin.
17. Rockport Beach – a beautiful one-mile long community beach
The buzzing little coastal town of Rockport is one of the nicest beaches in Texas. Part of the Aransas County, Rockport is located on the Live Oak Peninsula jutting out to the northeast from Rockport Harbor.
Besides being home to the largest public beach, Rockport is also home to historic sites such as the Fulton Mansion and a heritage district. Whether you soak up some sun, take a refreshing dip or wade through the clear waters, Rockport makes a great escape for the whole family.
18. Guadalupe Mountains National Park – a lesser-known gorgeous gem to visit in southwestern U.S.
A secluded mountain range bordered by the Chihuahuan Desert, the Guadalupe Mountains comprise the highest peak in Texas. With vast and majestic vistas, canyons, sparkling white dunes, and desert hues, the Guadalupe Mountain National Park offers a stark contrast of landscapes.
About 110 miles from El Paso, the park includes the Salt Basin Dunes with sandy mounds and salt flats. Walk the Smith Spring Trail, McKittrick Canyon Trail, or Pinery Nature Trail, camp under the stars or walk through the museum, the park is a paradise for avid hikers.
19. Monahans Sandhills – a stunning sea of sand which is a unique place to explore in Texas
Far in the west lies a mystical place with a semi-arid ecosystem and wind sculpt dunes in the Monahans Sandhills State Park. An excellent example of active dunes & stabilized dunes, the Monahans dunes were a source of freshwater to the Native Americans.
Surf the sands or set up a camp under the darkest skies, Monahans Sandhills is a must stop in your Texas bucket list. Tumbledown the sands or watch for the myriad creatures and plants, this unique region is a true Sandhills galore in Texas.
20. Natural Bridge Caverns – the largest underground attraction in Texas
A remarkable San Antonio attraction, Natural Bridge Caverns is where visitors can find adventure and fun in every bend. Part of the Texas Hill County, the caverns feature several unique speleothems and geological formations.
Formed over 10,000 years ago, the breathtaking cave is an underground marvel. Explore the massive caverns and the unique formations taking their shape over a slow passage of time. Walk the paths of the caverns or indulge in the above-ground adventure including zip-lining, this climb or crawl escapade is a must when in San Antonio.
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My first true adventure began as a six month voyage around South East Asia as a fresh faced backpacker and ever since I’ve lived a semi nomadic existence, clocking up visits to over 40 countries. I’m a lover of US Road Trips, deserted beaches bathed in warm glow of a sunset, Cuban mojitos, travel destinations far away from the tourist crowds and all things Scandinavian – from cloudberry liquors to Nordic noirs. When not wandering the world and running Global Grasshopper, you’ll find me walking my rescued Greek street dog in leafy South West London, strolling around the Brighton Lanes on random day trips, hunting for photogenic landscapes or daydreaming about my favourite places; Havana, Copenhagen, Italy, Laos, California and the surreally beautiful landscapes of a wintry Iceland.