17 Terrific Reasons to Visit Texas

Ask any Texan, and they will have no trouble coming up with plenty of reasons that you should visit Texas!

Texans are incredibly proud of their state, from its incredible food to its interesting history to its varied nature, and once you visit, you’re bound to see why.

While Texas might not shine on the national tourism scene quite as brightly as heavy-hitters like California and Florida, there are excellent reasons to visit the Lone Star State.

Considering planning a vacation here–or just passing through and wondering if it’s worth taking your time to enjoy Texas?

Here are just a few of the best reasons to visit Texas!

blooming bluebonnets at muleshoe bend with the Texas hiking trail visible on the right and water in the background

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Texas’ food is some of the best in the USA.

It’s impossible to write a post about the best reasons to visit Texas without waxing poetic about the food.

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From TexMex to barbecue to burgers and beyond, Texas’ food is delicious enough that it alone would be worth making the journey to the Lone Star State.

In addition to all the classic things to eat in Texas, from brisket to pecan pie, Texas’ largest cities (especially Houston!) all have celebrated international food scenes.

plate of texas barbecue as shot from above on a checkered table cloth. food is one of the best reasons to visit texas

Interesting sights are lurking in the small towns.

The best small towns in Texas may just be ones that you’ve never heard of before!

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From the German heritage of Fredericksburg to the charm of Wimberley to the homages paid to Alsatian culture in Castroville, Texas’ small towns are as varied as they are distinct.

No matter what region of Texas you’re in, you’re bound to be close (by Texas standards, anyway) to one of the best small towns in Texas!

kate storm in front of steinbach haus, one of the best things to do in castroville tx

Texas is home to 16 destinations managed by the National Park Service.

If you’re not from around here, you may not have heard of Texas’ two national parks, Big Bend National Park and Guadalupe Mountain National Park–but they’re both absolutely stunning.

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In addition to those two parks, Texas is also home to a slew of other historic landmarks and national protected areas that are managed by NPS, including the Padre Island National Seashore, Big Thicket National Preserve, and the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park.

You can a full guide to the national parks in Texas here!

Rocky peak in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, one of the best couples trips in Texas

… including a UNESCO World Heritage Site!

San Antonio’s collection of Spanish missions is not only a national historic park, they make up the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Texas!

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Mission Concepción, Mission San José, Mission Espada, and Mission San Juan Capistrano are all absolutely worth a visit, and on a beautiful day, you can even bike between them.

The Alamo is also part of the UNESCO site, though not the national historical park.

Mission in San Antonio Texas as seen through a limestone opening in the wall

There are so many beautiful swimming holes in the Lone Star State.

Hamilton Pool, located just outside of Austin in Dripping Springs, is one of the best-known outside the Lone Star State, but the Texas Hill Country, in particular, is positively covered in crisp, spring-fed waters.

Combine the beautiful water with central Texas’ notorious heat, and these swimming holes practically beg visitors to jump in.

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Other popular spots include Barton Springs in Austin, Jacob’s Well and the Blue Hole in Wimberley, the frigid waters of the aptly-named Frio River in Garner State Park, and Krause Springs in Spicewood.

That being said, there’s truly no limit to the number of great places to swim (or float the river) in Texas.

Hamilton Pool Preserve in Dripping Springs TX as shot from inside the cave. Hamilton Pool Preserve is one of the most famous Texas waterfalls.

Springtime wildflowers are one of the best reasons to visit Texas.

Texas’ state flower is the bluebonnet, and from roughly late March to mid-April, the state absolutely explodes with color.

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These beautiful blooms, along with other local wildflowers like Indian paintbrushes, can be spotted everywhere from hiking trails to the sides of highways.

Finding the best patches is a classic pastime for Texans (especially those on the hunt for the perfect background for family portraits).

pair of brown leather cowboy boots in front of bloom texas bluebonnets

Texas’ cities all have their own unique culture.

Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio all rank among the top ten largest cities in the country by population!

Austin (#11) and Fort Worth (#13) just barely fail to make the cut.

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Despite their size, Texas’ cities are (unfortunately) often overlooked in the national tourism scene.

But whether you want to remember the Alamo in San Antonio, sample one of the best international food scenes in the US in Houston, sample cowboy culture in Fort Worth, or enjoy the music scene in Austin, there’s a city in Texas for you.

Kate Storm with her puppy Ranger in downtown Austin with the skyline in the background--Austin is just one reason why you should visit Texas

The Houston Space Center is a world-class museum.

“Houston, we have a problem.”

One of the most famous sentences from the 20th century was relayed to a team located in none other than Houston, Texas.

The current NASA Space Center museum is one of the absolute best ways to explore the history of NASA in the USA, and one of the top things to do in Texas!

NASA sign with logo against a blue sky. The Houston Space Center is one of the best things to do in Houston TX

The most famous road trip in America passes through Texas.

Despite being the second-largest state in the USA, Texas is home to the second shortest portion of Route 66 of any state that the route passes through–but it makes the most of its 170-mile stretch.

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From ghost towns to Art Deco architecture to some of the most famous roadside attractions along Route 66 (hello, Cadillac Ranch!), exploring Texas’ Route 66 attractions is well worth a drive.

Jeremy Storm sitting on top of a spraypainted Cadillac at Cadillac Ranch Amarillo Texas

There’s no better place to stay on a dude ranch.

Bandera, the self-declared Cowboy Capital of the World, is one of the best places to try out life on a dude ranch in Texas.

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From long horseback rides to home cooking to relaxing around a campfire at night, there’s something incredibly special about spending a few days at a Texas dude ranch.

couple riding horses together during a romantic honeymoon in texas

You can see enormous bat colonies!

From March to October each year, Texas is home to tens of millions of bats!

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At dusk, they emerge from the caves and bridges they call home to hunt, and the spectacle is considered one of the best things to see in Texas.

While the colony that lives under the South Congress Bridge in Austin is among the most famous, there are lots of places to see bats in Texas!

people standing on south congress bridge with bats flying above the bridge

The diversity of landscapes in Texas is overwhelming.

Alligator-infested lakes lined with cypress trees, sprawling sand dunes, craggy mountains, crystal-clear rivers, turquoise lakes, the second-largest canyon in the USA, and sandy beaches: what do all of these landscapes have in common?

They’re all in Texas.

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While non-Texans may tend to picture dusty deserts when imagining the Lone Star State, the reality is that the desert only makes a minor portion of the second-biggest state in the USA.

And, for that matter, most Texans live hours from the desert!

view of westcave grotto waterfall from the inside looking out

Wine country is an underrated delight and an excellent reason to visit Texas.

Wine is exploding in popularity in Texas, and you can find vineyards all across the state these days!

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But for the best of the best, head to the Texas Hill Country, where there are so many wineries to choose from that a section of Highway 290 has even been nicknamed “Wine Road 290”.

two glasses of wine on a small table between rocking chairs.

Texas waterfalls are pretty magnificent.

From 70-foot Gorman Falls in Colorado Bend State Park to the increasingly famous Hamilton Pool, the best waterfalls in Texas are as stunning as they are unexpected.

falls creek waterfall lake buchanan, a fun stop on a texas hill country road trip itinerary

… and so are the caves.

Texas is known for its enormous quantity of limestone, which is obvious in everything from local architecture to the rocky trails and rivers that are so ubiquitous in the state.

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A lesser-known result of the plethora of limestone, though, is the enormous number of absolutely stunning limestone caves and caverns in Texas.

You can tour many of the most beautiful Texas caves on visits ranging from simple walks through the rooms to full-on spelunking tours!

Interior of the Caverns of Sonora, one of the best caves in Texas

Texas’ 80 state parks are perfect for outdoors lovers.

The panhandle has Palo Duro Canyon, the second-largest canyon in the USA. 

East Texas has Caddo Lake State Park with cypress trees galore.

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The southwest has Big Bend Ranch State Park with desert hiking and the chance to swim in the Rio Grande.

South Texas has Galveston Island State Park, home to some of the best Gulf Coast beaches in Texas.

In other words, there is no shortage of diversity that you can find in Texas’ many, many state parks!

Family in an inflatable kayak paddling through the cypresses in Caddo Lake State Park TX

You can’t beat the winter weather when visiting Texas.

Sure, Texas’ summers are notoriously brutal–don’t plan a July trip to Houston unless you plan to sweat literally the entire time.

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But in exchange, we’re treated to mild and beautiful winters, with plenty of warm, sunny days to break up the occasional cold fronts.

If you’re looking for a sunny escape from cold and damp weather further north, consider the winter weather one of the best reasons to visit Texas (other than during those rare ice storms, that is).

4 photos of why you should visit texas: hamilton pool, barbecue, cathedral, bluebonnets. black and red text on a white background reads "17 reasons to visi Texas"

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