There used to be an old Texas tourism slogan, “Texas–it’s like a whole other country”. And with a whopping area of 269,000 square miles, it might as well be. There are so many different parts of Texas to explore, all unique in their own way. From the balmy gulf coast, to beautiful hill country, to the hot, arid, and expansive western border, Texas has a wealth of things to see and do. And the best way to do it? A road trip. Here’s our recommendations for the best stops along your Texas road trip.
Big Bend National Park
Nestled up along the mighty Rio Grande in west Texas is Big Bend National Park, a vast, mountainous desert landscape populated by hundreds of bird species, thorny cacti, and a diverse array of desert wildlife. Big Bend is incredibly remote and about as rugged as they come. The park has over 150 miles of hiking trails, and if you’re feeling adventurous, you can camp out on the backcountry. Whether you’re at an established campground or out in the sticks, the night sky is awe-inspiring. You’ll put some miles on your car, but Big Bend National Park is a gem you can’t miss on your Texas road trip.
Corpus Christi Road Trip
You don’t exactly picture beaches and seafood when you think of Texas, but don’t sleep on Corpus Christie. “Corpus” as it’s often called, makes a great weekend stop on your road trip through Texas. Check out the Texas State Aquarium, visit the Selena Museum, and absolutely drive out to Padre Island National Seashore. The vast, sandy beaches are wide enough (and totally legal) to drive on, making for an unforgettable section of your road trip. Padre Island has top-notch fishing, windsurfing, and (generally) warm weather year round. You might want to avoid March, as the town becomes a hotbed for partying during Spring Break. Regardless, Padre Island is long enough that you’ll always be able to find a stretch to yourself.
Dinosaur Valley State Park
Don’t let the kitschy dinosaur statues fool you–this place is legit. While kids of all ages will love the dinosaur lore, adults will also enjoy hiking, biking, kayaking, and hunting in the river for actual dinosaur footprints. Dinosaur Valley is home to four main track sites formed hundreds of millions of years ago in the late Triassic to the late Cretaceous. The footprints tell a compelling story of young Sauropods (similar to Brachiosaurus) being pursued by the fierce, toothy Theropods (believed to be Acrocanthosaurus). Track sites are best viewed in the summer, when water levels are at their lowest. Dinosaur valley State Park is fun for the whole family, making it one of the best road trips in central Texas.
Want a taste of authentic central Texas? Take a Fort Worth road trip and visit the old stockyards, catch a rodeo, and maybe even grab a pair of cowboy boots. The great thing about Fort Worth is that there’s more than Western culture, the city has a solid art scene, with museums like The William Campbell Contemporary Art Gallery and interactive sculptures in the Fort Worth Water Gardens. Another cool Fort Worth gem is the Monnig Meteorite Gallery, operated by Texas Christian University (TCU).
Houston & Galveston
A road trip to Houston and Galveston makes for another great weekend stop on your Texas road trip. Houston, the nation’s 4th largest city after NYC, LA, and Chicago, is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in America, making the opportunity to grab top-notch food unmatched. There’s also a sprawling museum campus where you can gaze at rare gems or learn about the history of NASA. An hour and a half from Houston is the coastal city of Galveston, a laid-back but lively beach city with warm water and great seafood.