Texas is an incredibly vast and diverse state–and if you ever brave driving across it, it will quickly become obvious why there are 7 regions of Texas!
From the soaring trees of the Piney Woods to the sparkling rivers of the Hill Country, and from the vast open spaces of the plains to the long beaches of the Gulf Coast, Texas has so many different kinds of natural beauty and cultural interests to explore.
Each region offers a variety of landscapes, activities, and history to be discovered.
Here’s a quick guide to each of the Texas regions, plus some of the fun things to do there.
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How many Texas regions are there?
While we’ve chosen to cover the seven regions of Texas here, you’ll also see many references to the four regions of Texas.
So, which is it: four or seven?
The answer is both!
The four regions of Texas are typically used when covering physical regions only, and they are the Gulf Coastal Plains, Interior Lowlands, Basin and Range Province, and the Great Plains.
These regions are used to describe Texas’ geology and are not specific to the Lone Star State (the Great Plains famously touch many states, for example).
The seven regions of Texas we use here do reflect Texas’ diversity of nature, however, they also reflect cultural differences and are a bit more specific.
The 7 regions of Texas are more commonly used when discussing tourism, and since we are a Texas travel blog at the end of the day, we opted to discuss 7 instead of 4.
A Guide to the 7 Regions of Texas
Big Bend Country
Big Bend Country is located in far West Texas.
The region features some of the most beautiful parks, hiking and camping areas, mountain ranges, historic forts, and mining camps.
Here are some of the most memorable things to do in Big Bend Country!
Head to Big Bend National Park.
If you visit Big Bend Country you have to visit Big Bend National Park.
The park borders Mexico and is the largest protected area of the Chihuahuan Desert in the United States.
Some highlights of a visit will include a hike at Santa Elena Canyon, taking a dip in the hot springs, a visit to the Fossil Discovery Exhibit, camping out at one of the campgrounds, dining at the Chisos Mountain Lodge Restaurant, and canoeing down the Rio Grande River.
Check out Fort Davis National Historic Site
Take a step back in history and visit Fort Davis.
The post is one of the best examples of a military post from the Indian Wars’ time period.
From 1854 to 1891, Fort Davis was used to protect people, mail coaches, and freight wagons on the Chihuahua Trail.
Today, there are 24 buildings and over 100 ruins and foundations that make up the Fort Davis National Historic Site.
Visitors can check out the visitor center, museum, and multiple structures.
Visit vibrant Odessa, Texas.
Odessa is a West Texas town that you are not going to want to miss.
They offer some unique activities that are hard to find like sand dune surfing at Monahans Sandhills State Park and seeing the city’s very own Stonehenge replica located at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin.
Other experiences include checking out a play at the Globe of the Great Southwest, seeing the “World’s Largest Jack Rabbit,” viewing the Chris Kyle Memorial and seeing the geological site of the Odessa Meteor Crater.
Stare in wonder at the night sky at McDonald Observatory.
The McDonald Observatory is an astronomical observatory located on Mount Locke in the Davis Mountains of West Texas.
There is an additional facility on Mount Fowlkes.
The observatory is a research unit for the University of Texas at Austin, and is one of the best places to go stargazing in Texas.
The visitors center of the observatory conducts live solar viewings, tours of the observatory’s telescopes, and hosts evening star parties.
Stop by the Ysleta Mission.
The Ysleta Mission is located in the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo in El Paso.
The mission is recognized by the State of Texas as the oldest continuously operating parish holding its first mass in a small chapel in October of 1680.
Over time, it has transformed into a stunning piece of adobe architecture that visitors can view today.
It is currently open daily to the public.
For a real treat, make it out on the second weekend in July when the church hosts the Ysleta Mission Festival.
The Texas Hill Country
The Texas Hill Country is known for its beautiful rolling hills, swimming holes soaring live oak trees, and small towns.
Of all of the seven regions of Texas, the Hill Country is probably the best-known beyond Texas for its tourism, and it features many attractions from wineries, dude ranches, serene rivers, and vibrant towns.
Here are just a few of the best things to do in the Hill Country (we have even more listed here).
Spend a weekend at a dude ranch.
The Texas Hill Country, especially near the town of Bandera (AKA the self-declared Cowboy Capital of the World), offers outsiders the opportunity to experience the cowboy way of life.
In the area, there are numerous dude ranches or guest ranches that allow visitors to stay and learn about life on the ranch.
They usually have horseback riding tours, ranch demonstrations, home-cooked meals, fishing, and other planned activities.
Go tubing in New Braunfels.
The Comal and Guadalupe Rivers both run through the town, and visitors come from all over the state to relax, grab a tube, and just float.
The original Schlitterbahn is also located there and has water rides, playgrounds, and other water adventures.
Make your way to a winery.
Another popular Texas Hill Country destination is a trip to one of the many wineries.
There are actually over 50 wineries throughout the Hill Country that have a reputation for producing some of the best quality grapes in the Lone Star State.
So, whether you want a winery that provides lodging, hosts events, provides food, gives extensive tours, or even participating in a grape harvest, there is sure to be one that will provide the experience you are looking for.
Climb Enchanted Rock.
Enchanted Rock, located outside Fredericksburg, is a large pink granite mountain that is an immediately recognizable feature of the Hill Country region in Texas.
A trip to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area provides you with the chance of ascending to the top of the beautiful dome, as well as access to the 1,644 acre park that features hiking, camping, rock climbing, bird watching, stargazing, and geocaching.
The formation really is a memorable sight and is a great example of the beauty that the Hill Country has to offer.
Experience the music scene in Austin.
The Hill Country Region is also home to the state’s capital, Austin, which is known as the “Live Music Capital of the World.”
The diverse city has more than 250 live music venues and you will even find musicians playing from the airport terminal to grocery stores.
The city also annually hosts Austin City Limits Music Festival which showcases almost 100 different artists and bands and lasts not one, but two three-day weekends.
The music experience in Austin is truly like no other.
Get underground at Natural Bridge Caverns.
The Natural Bridge Caverns are located near San Antonio and are one of the best things to see in this region in Texas.
The cavern gets its name from the suspended 60 ft natural limestone slab bridge at the entrance that was left suspended when a sinkhole collapsed below it.
Public tours take you 180 feet deep within the Earth and showcase beautiful geological formations.
Back above ground, you will find the Natural Bridge Mining Company Sluice and the Twisted Trails Zip Rails and Ropes Course.
The South Texas Plains
The South Texas Plains region of Texas spans from San Antonio to the Rio Grande River, creating a diverse Texas region stretching from the edge of the Hill Country to the desert.
It is an area with a rich history, gorgeous scenery, and an abundance of wildlife.
If you get a chance to explore the area, here are some suggestions of some places not to be missed.
Remember the Alamo.
A trip to the South Texas Plains would not be complete without a tour of the Alamo.
The Alamo was founded in 1718 as the first mission in San Antonio and became a legend in 1836 during the famous battle during the Texas Revolution.
A visit to this Texas historic icon will provide you with interactive tours, exhibits, and a living history encampment.
Visit the famous King Ranch.
The King Ranch is one of the world’s largest ranches spreading over 825,000 acres in South Texas.
They manage over 60,000 cattle and 300 quarter horses.
Guided ranch tours are available to visitors as well as special interest tours, wildlife tours, birding tours, and motorcoach tours.
They also have a museum and a saddle shop.
This is a chance to learn the history and see the workings of a modern-day ranch that is bigger than the entire state of Rhode Island!
Go birdwatching in Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley.
One of the top destinations in the country to bird-watch is in the Rio Grande Valley.
A great place to do this is at the 797-acre Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park and World Birding Center.
Here you will have the opportunity to view beautiful tropical birds that you can’t see anywhere else in the US.
The World Birding Center is located along a 120-mile historic river road that is home to 9 different birding sites.
Whether you are new to bird watching or an expert birder, with more than 500 bird species to possibly see, this is definitely the place for the ultimate bird watching experience.
Visit the San Antonio Missions.
Get beyond the Alamo by visiting San Antonio’s “other” four missions as well!
The San Antonio Missions National Historical Park is made up of four missions: Mission Concepción, Mission San José, Mission Espada, and Mission San Juan Capistrano.
Together with the Alamo, these 18th century missions make up the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Texas.
Learn some South Texas history.
If you really want to experience the heritage and culture of the Rio Grande Valley, then visit the Museum of South Texas History located in Edinburg.
This Texas museum is home to memorable exhibits and artifacts that explore the Rio Grande Valley between South Texas and Northeastern Mexico.
The museum has expanded over the years and now occupies an entire city block, so rest assured that there will be plenty to discover.
The Panhandle Plains
The Panhandle Plains are located in Northwest Texas.
Clear skies, beautiful landscapes, and a rich heritage make this region in Texas a great place to explore.
Here are a few stops to include on your adventure to the Panhandle Plains.
Go for a hike in Palo Duro Canyon.
The top natural attraction of this Texas region is the beautiful Palo Duro Canyon, which bears the famous nickname of the “Grand Canyon of Texas.”
The canyon is 120 miles long, 20 miles wide, and 800 feet deep making it the second-largest canyon in the USA.
At Palo Duro Canyon State Park you can view the impressive canyon, as well as hike, bike, camp, bird watch, and partake in the guided horseback tours and wagon rides offered by the park.
Don’t miss the chance to hike to the lighthouse formation while you’re there!
Visit the Buddy Holly Center.
Music fans will have to stop by the Buddy Holly Center in Lubbock.
The legendary musician was born in Lubbock and his gravesite can be found there.
The museum features memorabilia from his life and career, as well as highlights on other West Texas musicians.
Road trip Route 66.
The famous Route 66 crosses right through the Texas Panhandle.
Driving down the route will take you into Amarillo and to the historic Route 66 district that has numerous shops, historic buildings, street art, and restaurants to check out.
Along the way, make sure to also check out Cadillac Ranch, home of ten spray-painted Cadillacs half-buried in the desert, nose-down.
Explore the magic of Mineral Wells.
Mineral Wells is a Panhandle town that has been known for over a century for its world-famous healing waters.
People once traveled near and far to obtain some of the sought-after mineral water.
Today, only one well is still functioning at the Famous Mineral Water Company.
Check out the Storybook Capital of America.
Abilene has earned itself the nickname “Storybook Capital of America,” and has dedicated itself to showcasing children’s literature.
The city annually hosts the Children’s Art and Literacy Festival, is home to The National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature Museum, and has a beautiful Storybook Garden.
The Gulf Coast
The Gulf Coast region of Texas consists of a 600-mile stretch along the Gulf of Mexico.
Between the coastal towns, Texas beaches, water adventures, and unique attractions, this region is a perfect destination.
We have some of the top must-sees for exploring one of the most popular regions in Texas!
Tour the USS Lexington.
Corpus Christi is a great coastal city with miles of beaches and fun in the sun.
If you visit though, don’t miss the opportunity of seeing the national treasure, the USS Lexington Museum on the Bay.
The USS Lexington is a World War II-vintage aircraft carrier.
Guests can tour through five tour routes upon the ship, watch films in a 3-D mega theater, view 20 aircraft from the National Museum of Naval Aviation on the flight deck, and even participate in an escape room or flight simulator.
You won’t want to miss out on the piece of history.
Go camping on the beach.
Ever wanted to wake up to a sunrise on the sand?
There are many places to camp on the beach in the Gulf Coast region in Texas!
Check Out Moody Gardens.
In Galveston, you will find Moody Gardens, an entertainment complex that offers a variety of popular attractions.
On the property, you will find a resort hotel, aquarium pyramid, rainforest pyramid, discovery museum, 3D and 4D theaters, and a colonel paddlewheel boat.
They also have seasonal activities, including a palm beach, ropes course, zip lines, and a Holiday in the Park festival.
There is no shortage of activities at this popular destination.
Spot wild dolphins along the coast.
Being on the coast, there are several options when it comes to spotting dolphins in this region of Texas.
Depending on where you are at, some favorites include the South Padre Island Dolphin Watch, the Baywatch Dolphin Tours of Galveston, and the Scarlet Lady Dolphin Adventure Tour in Port Aransas.
You are sure to have a blast seeking out wild dolphins in their natural setting and viewing natural landmarks.
Learn all about space exploration.
The Space Center Houston is the ultimate learning center of all things outer space.
Inside the facility, you will find the Starship Gallery, Astronaut Gallery, a Mission to Mars exhibit, and catch a film or live presentation.
On a tram tour, you will find Rocket Park, astronaut training facilities, Mission Control, and more.
Visit the only tropical island in Texas.
South Padre Island is a perfect beach getaway–and it also happens to be Texas’ only tropical island.
This white sandy beach is the perfect place for surfing, windsurfing, wave running, parasailing, kayaking, banana boating, fishing, horseback riding, and sandcastle building.
This popular tourist destination makes a fantastic weekend getaway that guarantees plenty of fun in the sun.
The Piney Woods
The Piney Woods region of Texas includes the eastern part of the state.
It is filled with lush forests, several lakes, and historic towns.
These are just a few attractions available in the Piney Woods region.
Visit Caddo Lake.
Caddo Lake is a 25,400-acre lake and wetland area on the Texas-Louisiana border that is home to some of the most unique views in Texas.
The lake offers scenic views, an abundance of wildlife, and the biggest Cypress trees you will ever see.
Fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and guided boat tours are the most popular activities.
Wander Through the Big Thicket National Preserve.
The Big Thicket, located north of Kountze, is known as the “biological crossroads of America” due to the diversity of species and terrains.
At the Big Thicket National Preserve, you can find 85 species of trees, over 1,000 flowering plants, 300 species of birds, and more than 50 reptile species.
On a visit, fill time by camping, kayaking, bird watching, wildlife viewing, fishing, and hiking.
Explore the historic town of Jefferson.
The town of Jefferson is a charming town that has nearly 100 historic landmarks, watch out though because some say it is haunted.
There are several homes available for tours that were built in the Civil War era.
There are also numerous churches, historic structures, and one of the best collections of bed and breakfasts in the Lone Star State.
A guided walking tour is a great way to experience the town and all it has to offer.
Stop and smell the roses in Tyler.
Tyler is world-famous for its roses.
The town’s 14-acre public rose garden is the largest in the country.
They feature over 35,000 rose bushes and more than 500 varieties of roses that reach their peak bloom in the fall.
You can also visit the Tyler Rose Museum, and attend the month-long Rose Festival in October.
The Prairies and Lakes Region
The Prairies and Lake Region is another diverse region located in the north-central part of the state that boasts beautiful freshwater lakes and forests.
The region showcases small-town charm as well as vibrant areas like the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.
Here are just a few suggestions on what to do in the region.
Explore Dinosaur Valley State Park.
For an exciting adventure, make your way to Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose where you can see where dinosaurs once roamed.
At the park, you can find actual dinosaur tracks embedded in the bed of the river.
Besides finding dinosaur tracks, you can also picnic, hike, or bike 20 miles of trails, swim, fish, paddle in the river, bird watch, or find a geocache.
Ride aboard a vintage train.
They offer themed rides as well, including the North Pole Express, jazz wine trains, trick-or-treat rides, Thomas the Tank Engine, and more.
Experience First Monday Trade Days in Canton.
Deal-seekers and lovers of vintage goods will love First Mondays, which is the largest flea market in Texas!
Held once a month, on the weekend preceding the first Monday of that month, Canton goes all-out for its trade days.
Experience Six Flags Over Texas.
Six Flags Over Texas is a 212-acre theme park located in Arlington.
The park is actually the first park in the Six Flags chain.
Thrill-seeking roller coasters, children’s rides, activities, and entertaining shows await those who make the trip.
Visit White Rock Lake.
White Rock Lake, located in Dallas, offers a variety of activities like kayaking, canoeing, boating, and fishing.
In White Rock Lake Park visitors will find miles of running, biking, and walking trails, a dog park, and picnic areas.
Nearby there is also White Rock Lake Museum, Bath House Cultural Center, and the Dallas Arboretum.
Seek out the Fort Worth Cultural District.
The Fort Worth Cultural District is where you’ll find many of Fort Worth’s best museums.
It’s home to the Kimbell Art Museum, Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, and the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame.
You will also find the Will Rogers Memorial Center, Casa Manana Theatre, and Fort Worth Botanical Garden. There is no shortage here of things to do.