From beautiful cities to adorable small towns, and from crystal-clear waterfalls to dramatic caves, there is absolutely no shortage of fun things to do in Texas.
The Lone Star State boasts an enormous variety of exciting attractions, and whether you prefer to stroll the streets of a city, go museum hopping, lace up your boots and go for a hike, float the river, tour a historic small town, or relax on a beach, there are a near-limitless number of travel destinations to add to your Texas bucket list.
Here’s what to do in Texas!
The Best Things to Do in Texas Cities
Stroll along the San Antonio Riverwalk.
Lining the San Antonio River, the beautiful Riverwalk is one of the most popular Texas attractions, and is a must-see when visiting San Antonio.
Remember the Alamo.
Located just steps from the famous Riverwalk, the Alamo is the most famous Spanish mission in Texas, known for being the setting of a failed revolt by Texans against the Mexican army in 1836, at the beginning of the Texas Revolution.
Visit Texas’ only UNESCO World Heritage Site.
San Antonio’s four other Spanish missions (Mission Concepción, Mission San José, Mission Espada, and Mission San Juan Capistrano), along with the Alamo, make up the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Texas.
Every visitor tends to walk away with a favorite–Mission San José is mine.
Shop for souvenirs at Historic Market Square.
Bustling with delicious things to eat and beautiful things to buy, Historic Market Square is the largest Mexican market in the USA!
Check out La Villita.
La Villita’s history dates back to the beginning of San Antonio when the area was a collection of small buildings meant for housing the Spanish soldiers who staffed the Alamo during its time as a mission.
As San Antonio’s first neighborhood, La Villita has gone through plenty of changes since then, and today is a beautiful and photogenic art community, packed with galleries and excellent shopping.
Shop the boutiques along South Congress in Austin.
Lined with eclectic boutiques, restaurants, shops, and of course murals, South Congress is Austin’s most popular street to visit for a good reason!
Watch the bats fly out from under the South Congress Bridge.
From roughly March to October each year, 1.5 million Mexican Free-Tailed Bats call the South Congress Bridge home–and with good timing and a bit of luck, you can watch the natural show of a lifetime when they fly out from the bridge at sunset in search of food.
Take a dip in Barton Springs.
Austin’s most beloved swimming pool is filled with natural spring water and is an absolute delight on a hot summer (or spring or fall–this is Austin, after all) day.
Watch the sunset at Mount Bonnell.
The most classic tourist attraction in the city, the view from Mount Bonnell has been a favorite of tourists and locals alike since the 19th century!
Tour the Texas State Capitol.
Built in the 1880s and the home of Texas’ state government ever since, the Texas State Capitol is designed to impress.
Tours are free, and a great way to peek into the history of Texas. One small example: when the Texas House of Representatives in session, a battle flag dating to the Battle of San Jacinto in 1836 hangs in the room.
Attend a show.
No Texas bucket list would be complete without attending a show in the Live Music Capital of the World!
Admire the skyline from the water.
Kayak, canoe, or tour boat–it’s your choice, but whatever method you choose, be sure to enjoy the views from Lady Bird Lake when visiting Austin.
Snap photos with Austin’s iconic murals.
From “I love you so much” to “Greetings From Austin” to “Before I Die” and beyond, there is no shortage of photogenic murals in Austin!
Learn all about the last frontier at Space Center Houston.
No trip to Houston is complete without a visit to Space Center Houston, which is connected to NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
A visit here is absolutely one of the best things to do in Texas!
Visit the San Jacinto Monument.
Standing tall over the site of the decisive battle of the Texas Revolution, the San Jacinto Monument is a symbol of Texas pride and independence.
Enjoy the views from Buffalo Bayou Park.
With plenty of trails and green space available, the dominating feature of Buffalo Bayou Park is the amazing views of the Houston skyline that surround it!
Sample one of the most diverse food scenes in the USA.
As the 4th-largest city in the USA, Houston is an incredibly diverse city (by some measures, equal to or even surpassing NYC), and nowhere is that better celebrated than in its absolutely magnificent food scene.
Visit the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Temple.
This intricate Hindu temple is one of the most magnificent pieces of architecture in Texas.
Admire the skyline from Reunion Tower.
This iconic view of Dallas’ skyline is not to be missed!
Consider timing your visit for sunset for the perfect light.
Visit the beautiful Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden.
A local favorite, the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden is home to 66 stunning acres of gardens, all of which are worth exploring.
Wander through the picturesque Bishop Arts District.
Self-described as “Dallas’ most independent neighborhood”, the Bishop Arts District is home to 60+ independent boutiques, restaurants, galleries, and more, all knitted together with a cozy, walkable vibe that makes it one of the most sought-after corners of Dallas.
Tour the Sixth Floor Museum.
Dedicated to telling the story of the assassination of President Kennedy, the Sixth Floor Museum is one of the darker items included on this list of what to do in Texas, but there is no doubt that that tragic day in 1963 is a deep part of US history.
Enjoy the nightlife in Deep Ellum.
Known for its music venues, bars, restaurants, and street art, Deep Ellum is a must-see neighborhood in Dallas.
Watch an actual cattle drive at the Ft. Worth stockyards.
Twice a day, you can witness a cattle drive through the Fort Worth stockyards.
Watch U.S. currency get printed.
At the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Fort Worth, you can witness actual US currency being printed. It is one of only two locations in the US where you can do so, making this one of the most unique things to do in Texas!
Admission is free, and the bureau is generally open to visitors during regular business hours, Tuesday-Friday.
Visit the beautiful Fort Worth Water Gardens.
These sunken pools are absolutely stunning, and one of the most popular things to see in Ft. Worth.
Other Cities in Texas
Visit Amarillo’s section of Historic Route 66.
Lined with boutiques, antique shops, restaurants, coffee shops, and plenty of street art, this is one of the best stops on Texas’ section of Route 66!
Admire the architecture in Galveston’s Strand Historic District.
Lined with stunning Victorian and Greek Revival mansions, Galveston’s Strand Historic District is a beautiful look into the 19th-century history of Texas’ Gulf Coast.
Enjoy a slice of Americana on the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier.
With a Ferris wheel, roller coaster, carnival games, and plenty of other rides and shops, the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier is a colorful addition to the Galveston Island coastline.
Tour the USS Lexington.
Nicknamed “The Blue Ghost”, this WWII-era aircraft carrier now calls Corpus Christi home and can be toured!
Pay tribute to a music legend at the Buddy Holly Center in Lubbock.
Dedicated to keeping the legacy of Buddy Holly alive, as well as general music from west Texas, the Buddy Holly Center is a must-see for music fans visiting Lubbock!
Must-Do Texas Bucket List Items in the Great Outdoors
Visit some of the Hill Country’s best swimming holes.
Some of the most famous include Hamilton Pool in Dripping Springs, Jacob’s Well in Wimberley, and Krause Springs in Spicewood, but there are plenty more around!
Visit the Lighthouse in Palo Duro Canyon.
The second-largest canyon in the USA is located in the Texas panhandle, and definitely deserves a visit!
While you’re exploring Palo Duro Canyon, you can’t miss hiking to the Lighthouse, the most famous formation in the park.
Float the river.
Grabbing a tube, a cooler, and a whole lot of sunblock to hit the river on a hot summer’s day is a Texas tradition, and indisputably one of the best things to do in Texas!
The Guadalupe River, Comal River, and Frio River are some of the most popular rivers to float, but there are opportunities all across the state to enjoy excellent tubing in Texas.
Climb Enchanted Rock.
This looming rock of pink granite in the Texas Hill Country has fascinated people for more than 10,000 years–and climbing it is one of the most fun things to do in Texas.
Be prepared, though: with little-to-no shade, Enchanted Rock can be a dangerous scorcher on hot summer days.
Seek out Gorman Falls in Colorado Bend State Park.
Stroll up to 70-foot Gorman Falls located deep in the Hill Country, and you just might swear you’ve been transported to Hawaii rather than Texas.
Drive the official Ennis Bluebonnet Trail.
There are dozens of places to check out amazing bluebonnet fields in Texas, but Ennis has some of the absolute best!
Bluebonnets bloom from around mid-March to mid-April each year, give or take, and are one of the prettiest sights in Texas.
Go hiking in Big Bend National Park.
Santa Elena Canyon, the Lost Mine Trail, the Window View Trail are among the most popular spots, but there are plenty of stunning hiking trails to choose from in Big Bend National Park!
… and in Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
For a real challenge, hike the 8.4-mile Guadalupe Peak trail, which will deliver you to the highest point in Texas!
Go kayaking at Caddo Lake State Park.
Lined with bald cypress trees and populated by alligators, Caddo Lake definitely isn’t a standard Texas lake–but it is one of the most unique features of the state, and visiting it absolutely belongs on any list of what to do in Texas.
Not a big fan of kayaking? You can also visit with a more standard boat tour!
Enjoy the late-fall foliage at Lost Maples State Natural Area.
Home to some of the best fall foliage in Texas, Lost Maples is at its best from roughly late October through mid-November each year–but it’s a fantastic Texas hiking destination year-round.
Get underground at one of Texas’ limestone caves.
The Caverns of Sonora are often considered the most beautiful but are located quite out of the way.
Stunning options for Texas caves closer to cities include (but certainly are not limited to!) Natural Bridge Caverns, Cave Without a Name, and Inner Space Cavern.
Go tubing on the lake.
There’s nothing quite like a summer afternoon tubing on the lake in Texas!
Watch the sunset at The Oasis.
Located on Lake Travis, The Oasis is a Texas institution and one of the most popular sunset spots in the Lone Star State.
Dive into stunning Canyon Lake.
Texas has plenty of stunning lakes to choose from, but the turquoise waters of Canyon Lake are definitely a local favorite.
Enjoy the beach on Texas’ only tropical island.
Palm trees, sand dunes, seagulls, and a cool ocean breeze are waiting for you on South Padre Island!
Admire actual Texas longhorns.
Members of the official Texas longhorn herd live in four state parks: Palo Duro Canyon, Lyndon B. Johnson State Historic Site, San Angelo, and Copper Breaks.
Of course, there are far more longhorns hanging out around Texas than that–head out to the countryside on a road trip and you just might spot some.
Go find dinosaur tracks!
In Dinosaur Valley State Park, you can follow in the literal footsteps of dinosaurs.
Take a dolphin-watching cruise.
Dolphins in Texas? Yes, absolutely!
One of the best things to do in Texas is to admire wild dolphins along the Gulf Coast. You can find boats ready to take you out in Port Aransas, Rockport, South Padre, and more.
Go for a walk in the Pineywoods.
For a slice of Texas that feels completely different than the typical images of the Lone Star State, head east to the Pineywoods.
Sam Houston National Forest and Davy Crockett National Forest are both great places to hike, though there are plenty of hiking spots in the Pineywoods to choose from.
Climb Mount Baldy in Garner State Park.
Not only is the trail short and the view stunning, but you’ll also be absolutely ready to dive into the ice-cold, crystal-clear waters of the Frio River once you finish your hike!
Fun Foodie Things to Do in Texas
Dive into a plate of classic pit barbecue in Texas.
For the full experience, pick a popular spot that’s only open at limited times during the week and stand in line with the rest of the hungry visitors–it adds to the experience (and somehow makes the food taste better, too).
… or take a whole barbecue-themed road trip.
Lockhart is the self-declared barbecue capital of Texas, but Taylor and Luling may want to contest that.
The best way to decide who made it best? Try them all, of course.
Eat at Whataburger.
Whataburger is a Texas institution, and a must-try when visiting the Lone Star State. Don’t forget to ask for spicy ketchup!
Enjoy tacos in the morning.
Breakfast tacos are a Texas staple!
Samples Texas kolaches and klobasneks.
Brought to Texas by Czech immigrants, kolaches (sweet) and klobasneks (savory) are essential road trip snacks in Texas.
Drink a frozen margarita.
Invented in Dallas in 1971 by Mariano Martinez, frozen margaritas are a staple at Texas happy hours, tailgates, and more.
Hit up some wineries along the Texas Wine Trail.
With over 50 wineries on the official trail to choose from, not to mention the rest of the wineries in the state, there’s no shortage of beautiful places to sip tasty wines in Texas!
Devour a bowl of queso (or several).
Invented in Texas in the early 20th century, chile con queso is an essential part of any Texan’s diet (and yes, one that has exactly zero nutritional value).
Eat some of the best pie in Texas in Marble Falls.
The Blue Bonnet Cafe has been serving up delicious pie and homestyle American food since 1929, and their pies stand the test of time!
Participate in a chili cook-off.
… or just eat the results. Whichever works for you!
Either way, be sure to enjoy a few bowls of classic Texas chili.
Sample Round Rock Donuts.
Food Network-featured and open in downtown Round Rock since 1926, Round Rock Donuts are–if it’s possible–even tastier than their reputation suggests.
Visit the Dr. Pepper Museum.
Dr. Pepper is a beloved Texas invention, and there are actually two places you can visit to learn about its history in the state: the Dr. Pepper Museum in Waco and the Dr. Pepper Bottling Works & Museum in Dublin, where the drink used to be bottled!
Pick your own peaches in Fredericksburg.
Up north, they may pick apples in the fall, but in Texas, it’s all about picking peaches in the summer–head out to Fredericksburg to pick some of the most delicious peaches on the planet right off the tree yourself.
Visit the Blue Bell Creamery in Brenham.
The birthplace of Blue Bell Ice Cream is open to visitors on weekdays–and of course, any Blue Bell Creameries visit should be followed up with a visit to the on-site Ice Cream Parlor, where you can enjoy gigantic scoops of Blue Bell for $1 each!
… and the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner.
The home to Shiner Beer is open to visitors!
Enjoy plenty of TexMex.
Perhaps second only to barbecue as an iconic Texas meal–though it is a very close race–TexMex is characterized by hearty, cheesy dishes, and is a beloved centerpiece of Texas cuisine!
More Fun Things to Do in Texas
Attend a college football game.
The atmosphere of a college football game in Texas, particularly when the score is close, is infectious, and experiencing it definitely belongs on any list of the most fun things to do in Texas!
… and maybe a few other sports games, too.
Texas is big enough that it doesn’t just have one NBA, NFL, or MLB team–it has at least two of each!
Visit the Texas State Fair.
… and eat oodles of fried food while you’re there.
Stop to smell the roses in Tyler.
The small city of Tyler, Texas is home to the largest municipal rose garden in the USA, and each October, it plays host to the Texas Rose Festival.
Stop at Buc-ee’s Gas Station during a Texas road trip.
Clean restrooms, kolaches, eclectic souvenirs, breakfast tacos, a beaver statue out front, and more: there is no more welcome sight to a road-weary Texas road tripper in search of gas than a Buc-ee’s!
Check out the ghost town of Terlingua.
At first glance, Terlingua looks like the set of an old western movie–but this was once a very real mining town. It went bust when the demand for mercury did and then promptly turned into a ghost town.
Today, Terlingua has come slightly back to life thanks to the tourist trade and its annual chili cook-off, but a visit here still, in many ways, feels like looking backward in time.
Visit the smallest Prada store in the world in Marfa.
Technically, it’s not a store at all, but an art installation–that doesn’t take away from how much fun it is to see the Prada logo pop up in the middle of the desert, though!
Head to the Brazos State Historic Site to see “where Texas became Texas”.
Before Texas was a US state, and after it was part of Mexico, it was its own independent nation–and that all started at Washington-on-the-Brazos, where 59 delegates met in March 1836 to declare independence from Mexico.
Visit the LBJ Ranch.
Home to both Lyndon B. Johnson’s childhood home as well as the Texas White House (so nicknamed because LBJ spent so much of his time as president working from there), the LBJ Ranch is a piece of US History.
It also happens to be right next door to Pedernales Falls State Park, which makes an excellent next stop when checking things off of your Texas bucket list!
… and each of Texas’ three presidential libraries.
LBJ’s library is located in Austin at UT, George W. Bush’s is located at SMU in Dallas, and H.W.’s at A&M in College Station.
Spend a weekend at a dude ranch.
The self-proclaimed Cowboy Capital of the World, Bandera, Texas, is the perfect place to check into a dude ranch for a few days!
Stroll through the most “beautiful town square in Texas” in Georgetown.
You can find gorgeous town squares in towns and cities across Texas, but according to many, Georgetown’s is the loveliest of them all!
Dance the night away at a classic Texas dance hall.
Two-stepping the night away is a classic Texas pastime!
Iconic options include Gruene Hall and Luckenbach Dance Hall, but there are historic and not-so-historic places to dance all over the state.
Snap photos at Cadillac Ranch.
Ten Cadillacs, lined up in a row, with their front ends buried in the ground and thousands of layers of spray paint covering every inch of them: Route 66’s Cadillac Ranch is one of the most classic roadside attractions in Texas, and incredibly whimsical!
Go shopping at the Magnolia Silos.
Chip and Joanna Gaines, of HGTV fame, have put Waco even more firmly onto the Texas road trip map with their repurposed silos featuring a boutique and bakery.
Tour the painted churches of Schulenberg and beyond.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, German and Czech immigrants came to Texas, bringing kolaches, smoked meat, and plenty of other details with them–including the stunning painted churches of Texas.
Most prominently found in Fayette County, these antique churches may look unassuming from the outside, but are stunningly beautiful, with intricately painted facades, on the inside.
Find Europe in Texas.
London, Athens, Florence, Dublin, Paris, and more all have a Texas-style counterpart on this side of the pond.
Some of the towns aren’t all that interesting beyond the name, but others have great roadside Texas attractions (like Paris’ Eiffel Tower) and still others are fabulous places to visit in their own right (like the charming town of Dublin).
Enjoy a dash of whimsy in Wimberley.
As the home of two of the Hill Country’s most beloved swimming holes (the Blue Hole and Jacob’s Well), Wimberley is bound to be a delight–add it a charming downtown that is practically exploding with boutiques, galleries, and restaurants, and you have a near-perfect Hill Country town to explore.
Be sure to track down at least a few of Wimberley’s adorable (or as they would say, “bootiful”) painted boot statues while you’re there!
Learn about Spindletop in Beaumont.
On January 10, 1901, the Lucas Gusher erupted into the air, spewing oil for nine straight days–and so began the Texas oil boom.
The drillers, in this case, were looking for water. But Spindletop, as the event came to be known, turned attentions to oil, and quickly brought wealth and fortune-seekers to Beaumont and beyond.
Today, visitors can learn about this integral history to the state of Texas at the Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum, a recreated early-20th century town.
Get a new angle on Texas’ giant skies at the McDonald Observatory.
Located in west Texas, the McDonald Observatory allows visitors to access one of the most impressive views of the night sky imaginable, and a visit here is a special addition to any Texas bucket list!
Browse the Round Top Antiques Fair.
Three times a year, the Round Top Antiques Fair descends on Round Top, Texas, and it is the perfect destination for those in pursuit of the weird, wacky, and wonderful.
The spring and fall shows are the largest, but they do have a smaller winter show as well.
… and First Monday in Canton.
From dawn to dusk, Thursday-Sunday before the first Monday of each and every month, the self-proclaimed largest flea market in the world is open in Canton, Texas!
Celebrate Christmas in Fredericksburg.
While Texas is littered with towns boasting proud German roots, but perhaps nowhere is it better on display than in Fredericksburg, where the town hosts its own German Christmas Market each December!
Other fantastic places to celebrate Christmas in Texas include San Antonio, Grapevine, Jefferson, and New Braunfels!
Ride roller coasters at the original Six Flags.
Six Flags may be a national theme park brand now, but it all started in Arlington, Texas, with Six Flags Over Texas.
The Six Flags brand is named for Texas history, as it represents the six different flags that have ruled over Texas since European settlers arrived in North America (Spain, France, Mexico, the USA, the Confederacy, and Texas itself as an independent nation).
Stay in a cozy bed and breakfast in Jefferson.
The adorable small town of Jefferson, Texas, is known for its incredible collection of bed and breakfasts–it’s a perfect romantic getaway for couples looking for a quiet weekend, and staying here definitely belongs on any list of what to do in Texas.
Be sure to shop in the gorgeous Jefferson General Store while you’re in town!
Climb the Port Isabel Lighthouse.
The charming Port Isabel Lighthouse dates to 1852, and a mere 75 steps will deliver you to the top, where you can admire beautiful views of the coast and the Queen Isabella Causeway, as well as South Padre Island in the distance!
Attend a music festival.
While there is a near-limitless choice depending on the time of year, music preference, and even how many crowds you want to tolerate, there’s no doubt that Austin’s SXSW is the most iconic music festival in the state.
Hit up Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels.
Schlitterbahn may be a chain of water parks now, but the original location in New Braunfels has been open since 1979, and visiting is a Texas childhood right of passage!
Parts of the park are fed by the Comal River, rather than the standard chlorinated water typical of water parks, and the award-winning park is one of the best family attractions in Texas.
Check out Texas’ stunning historic courthouses.
Drive through enough of Texas’ small towns, and you’ll start to notice something interesting about them: so many seem to boast an intricate, beautiful courthouse in the center of town (unsurprisingly, they’re often made of limestone).
And, of course, Texas’ major cities tend to have incredibly beautiful courthouses as well.
Caldwell County Courthouse in Lockhart, Bexar County Courthouse in San Antonio, Ellis County Courthouse in Waxahachie, and Dallas County Courthouse in Dallas are just a few that are considered exceptionally lovely in the Lone Star State!
Buy some boots!
If you’ve ever wanted to own a pair of cowboy boots, there’s nowhere better to buy them than during a memorable Texas vacation.
Prices range from similar to a standard pair of shoes that you buy off the shelf all the way up to thousands of dollars for a custom-made pair (that could take months or years to arrive), depending on how dedicated you are to acquiring the perfect pair.
Check out the Dutch Windmill Museum in Nederland.
In the late 19th century, Nederland, Texas was settled by people from Holland (in other words, the inspiration behind the name “Nederland” is quite obvious!).
In a tribute to their homeland, the new residents of Texas erected a beautiful replica of a Dutch windmill, and you can visit it today when exploring the best things to do in Texas.
Take a road trip (or fifty).
… and sing along to “Deep in the Heart of Texas” and “God Blessed Texas” at least a few times each during it.
Many of the items included on this giant Texas bucket list are best seen via a road trip–the Lone Star State was made for road tripping, so jump in the car and set off on a Texas-style adventure (after filling up at Buc-ee’s, of course).
No matter what part of the state you head to, you’re bound to run into some of the best things to do in Texas.