//New horizons: Travel Texas

New horizons: Travel Texas

Texas is a sum of all its part, a place to explore, a place to discover, a place to be surprised and enchanted by.

Expecting Texas to be a dry, arid desert landscape full of cowboys? Think again.

While Texas does offer stunning desert scenery and plenty of cowboys, there’s much more to discover and experience when you set foot in the Lone Star State. The geography of Texas makes it ideal for a multi-centre trip, allowing visitors to really get to know the place – from big city to small town, beaches to canyons.

Most people have heard of Dallas, but few know it well – and this city certainly subverts expectations. A cultural and commercial hub, Dallas is stylish and cosmopolitan. Enjoy lunch or dinner at Trinity Groves, a food mecca full of pop-up restaurants, before taking in the skyline views across the river from the adjacent Ronald Kirk Bridge, which promises a bustling atmosphere on warm evenings with families and couples sampling from the food trucks. Enjoy a fun night out in hip Deep Ellum, the former warehouse district now known for its nightlife, live music and laid-back style. Then there’s the Dallas Arts District, which boasts more than 20 blocks of award-winning museums and galleries. Any visit to Dallas is incomplete without a visit to the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, which details the historic JFK story overlooking the grassy knoll.

Fort Worth is situated a 30-minute drive from Dallas and is the home of the Historic Stockyards area with its twice-daily herding of Longhorn cattle through the streets, the rodeo Friday and Saturday nights, and the must-do Billy Bob’s Honky Tonk – pull on your cowboy boots and go for it! Downtown Fort Worth and the Sundance Square area is full of shops, restaurants and entertainment venues. Follow the Fort Worth Ale Trail, visit the JFK tribute and seek out the historical marker plaques around the city that give insight into the rich history of the area.

State Capitol Austin is music central, populated by more than 250 music venues. Every taste is catered to, from jazz to country and western, right through to EDM and house. It’s a vibrant city that plays host to a plethora of music festivals throughout the year, as well as sporting events including the Formula 1 Grand Prix. Foodies are spoilt for choice, with everything from food trucks to charming locally owned eateries downtown.

Colourful San Antonio is home to The Alamo and the San Antonio Missions, a Unesco World Heritage site comprising five mission sites, a historic ranch and connected properties. The city has a rich colonial heritage and its downtown area is pleasantly walkable. Take a stroll and discover great architecture, good vibes and the magnetic Riverwalk area, where friends gather on the pretty riverside pathway to enjoy the selection of indoor and outdoor dining venues. The hotels here make a good base, or simply spend an evening wandering between the shops that line the waterway. It’s a great place to while away some time, day or night.

A short walk away from the Riverwalk and you’ll come across “San Antonio The Saga”, a light projection detailing the story of San Antonio on the San Fernando Cathedral. If you’ve got room, follow it up with food at Mi Terra. Open 24 hours a day, this landmark restaurant is an essential pit stop for tasty Tex-Mex delights.

Just 45 minutes’ drive from San Antonio is Bandera, the ranching capital of Texas. This quaint cowboy town has more than 20 ranches where visitors can live like a real cowboy – either for the day or longer stays.

Houston is home to NASA’s Johnson Space Center, a great day out for visitors young and old. Beyond space heritage, explore the city’s world-class culinary scene, arts and museum districts, shopping hubs and nightlife. Take a bike tour of the city and stop at Buffalo Bayou Park to soak up the greenery of this sprawling city sanctuary. When you need to refuel, stop at the chandelier-adorned Kitchen at The Dunlavy for a coffee and pastry or delicious brunch. If being a spectator is more your thing, grab tickets to a sports game or enjoy a show at one of Houston’s many theatres. For beach-lovers, the Texas coast is just 45 minutes away by car. 

Speaking of the coast, Texas boasts 600 miles of coastline right on Houston’s doorstep – from Kemah with its fun boardwalk and theme rides, and the cruise port of Galveston with its family attractions, to the picturesque Port Aransas and Mustang Island farther down the coast. Relax on white-sand beaches, spot pods of dolphins and migratory birds, or head for the glistening waters of South Padre Island at the very tip of Texas.

Elsewhere, the geographic region of Texan Hill Country has lush landscape full of wild flowers. These rolling hills are home to Texas Wine Country and stunning Hill Country towns such as New Braunfels, where you’ll find the oldest dance hall in Texas and river surroundings, the Schlitterbahn Waterpark and river tubing spots; and Fredericksburg, with its main street packed with independent stores and eateries, an urban walkable wine trail downtown, and stunning vineyards and wineries nearby, plus Enchanted Rock State Park for stargazing and hiking, biking and outdoor adventures. The region is rounded off by quirky Luckenbach with its population of three, cowboy hat store, post office, gift shop and bar, and legendary picker circle of local musicians at 5pm daily (unless a main concert is taking place for you to enjoy). 

Those wanting to explore further have plenty of options – five hours from Fort Worth is Lubbock, the birthplace of Buddy Holly and replete with great live music and food. From here, you’re within easy reach of Palo Duro Canyon State Park, home to the second-largest canyon in the US (after the Grand Canyon), and Cap Rock Canyon State Park with its wandering herd of wild bison. A couple of hours north of Lubbock is the way to Amarillo – route 66, offering some great points of interest.

Out in West Texas you will find Big Bend National Park, truly the great outdoors with rustic lodgings, outdoor activities, magnificent scenery, wildlife and stargazing. Head to Marfa, a popular arts destination, to see the Instagrammable Prada installation and view the eerie and unexplained Marfa Lights at dusk. 

So, with all of this, where will you start?

See traveltexas.com