My name is Liz and welcome to my guide on the best things to do in Texas. I was born in Puerto Rico – growing up surrounded by mountains, coffee plantations and a loving family. Since I was a child, science caught my eye which is why I became a Microbiologist and then a Medical Technologist. After finishing my studies, I met my soulmate and we got married.
My husband and I had always considered living in the US and after doing some research, we decided to choose Texas! We primarily chose this state because of the quality of life, weather and job opportunities. We moved to Texas in August, 2018 and started hiking. Little by little, we began to explore this state. Most of our trips are by road as we love driving on the open road and connecting with nature. That is also why we do a lot of camping.
Texas captivated us with its geographical diversity. We have been able to enjoy the mountains, coastlines, deserts, large cities and small towns. I was very surprised by the cultural diversity in Texas and how this is reflected in the traditions, gastronomy, music and architecture. Personally, I have had the chance to appreciate a Mexican, Spanish and German influence here.
All of my adventures in Texas had to be captured so I could cherish these memories forever. This is what led to my photography passion. I started taking photos with my cell phone until the day I bought a camera and decided to share our experiences on Instagram at @lizdanerys. Texas is big and there is a lot to do but here I will share my 10 things to do.
10 Best Things To Do in Texas
1. Spend 3 or 4 Days in Austin (the State Capital)
Austin is the state capital and it makes for the perfect first stop on your trip. It’s a versatile and unique city. One of my favorite activities here is kayaking on Lady Bird Lake and appreciating the vegetation that grows around the lake and views of the downtown buildings at the same time.
Other beautiful places with epic views where you can enjoy the sunsets are Mount Bonnell, 360 Bridge Overlook (also known as the Pennybacker Bridge Overlook) and The Oasis On Lake Travis. Twenty minutes from downtown is McKinney Falls State Park where you have the opportunity to hike, go mountain biking, camp, swim and observe wildlife.
The gastronomy of Austin is impressive and varied too – from restaurants to food trucks. If you prefer nightlife, Rainey Street is for you! You will enjoy several quaint bars with live music and lots of fun. You can also enjoy the many festivals held throughout the year. My favorite is Austin City Limits Music Festival – one of the most famous music events in the state of Texas!
2. See the Attractions of San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio has two world-renowned attractions: the Alamo and the River Walk. The Alamo (originally referred to as Mission San Antonio de Valero) is a historic Spanish mission founded in the 18th century. It was the site of the Battle of the Alamo in 1836. Today, it’s a museum for people to visit.
The San Antonio River Walk, on the other hand, is known not only for its beauty but also for its many restaurants, shops and hotels. You can book a river cruise and then listen to a guide who narrates historical events. On this cruise you will be able to better understand the German, Mexican, French, Irish and Native American influences on the area.
Another point of interest in San Antonio is the Historic Pearl – a renovated space that has outdoor spaces, breweries, restaurants and the Culinary Institute of America. This city is also home to the Six Flags Fiesta amusement park and the Tower of the Americas where you can enjoy dinner in a revolving restaurant at 750 feet.
3. Explore Palo Duro Canyon State Park
Palo Duro Canyon State Park is located in the Texas Panhandle near Amarillo and Canyon. It’s the second largest canyon in the US and many call it the “Grand Canyon of Texas”. Here you can go hiking and see an epic set of colors over geological layers that descend 500 ft to the canyon floor.
The canyon began to form a million years ago. Thirty minutes from this park is a popular place called Cadillac Ranch. It consists of ten different Cadillac cars buried in the ground. The cars were installed in 1974 and they span successive generations of the car line. The entire facility is also painted with graffiti, and you can make your own contribution and leave your mark.
4. Go Hiking at Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park has the Rio Grande running through it and this river forms the border between Mexico and the US. Big Bend has many amazing trails (explorable by car or hiking) where you can appreciate the many mountains, rivers and deserts on offer. There are also 600 species of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians to see while you hike the trails.
After enjoying this park you can explore Terlingua. It’s characterized by being a peculiar town that looks like an old Western movie. You will notice these characteristics in the architecture and residents.
5. Experience Texan/German Culture in Fredericksburg
Fredericksburg has nice vineyards and German food, if you are a lover of wine and this type of cuisine. It’s cool to see the mixture of Texan/German culture that is reflected in the restaurants, music and residents.
If you want to enjoy a spectacular view then you cannot miss Enchanted Rock Natural Area, located just 17 miles north of Fredericksburg. It has several hiking trails where you can appreciate the impressive rock formations and climb to the top and observe part of the Texas Hill Country.
6. Visit the Island of Galveston, Gulf Coast of Texas
Galveston is an island city off the Gulf Coast of Texas. The island has a tropical vibe and is home to the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier, Aquarium At Moody Gardens, Galveston Historic Seaport – Home of the 1877 Tall Ship ELISSA and Galveston Island State Park.
Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier is a famous amusement park because it’s located on the edge of the pier with fabulous views. One of the most famous attractions is the Aquarium At Moody Gardens where you will find a huge glass pyramid that houses sharks and marine animals. You can kayak, fish or enjoy the beach at Galveston Island State Park. If history is your cup of tea you should visit Galveston Historic Seaport.
7. Check out the Parks and Castles of Burnet
In addition to having great vineyards, Burnet also has natural parks such as Longhorn Cavern State Park and my favorite Inks Lake State Park. We had the opportunity to go camping at Inks Lake and enjoy the trails there.
Another dreamy destination near Burnet is Falkenstein Castle. The architecture of this castle was inspired by the famous German castle called Neuschwanstein Castle. You can book a tour at the castle and also stay overnight. There is actually a lot of German influence in Burnet, so you can’t leave without visiting a brewery and eating a German pretzel or two!
8. Discover the Rich History in Boerne, Texas
Boerne is a historic town that was colonized by German immigrants. The city has numerous old stone buildings that are of great significance, but the city also offers modern attractions such as contemporary art galleries, locally owned cafes and wine bars, and trendy boutiques.
Cibolo Nature Center & Farm is a nature preserve in Boerne surrounded by wilderness areas of the Hill Country that provide education, research, entertainment and outdoor activities. Another wonderful state park that I recommend (20 minutes away from Boerne) is Guadalupe River State Park.
9. Head to Houston for a Couple of Days
Houston is one of the most famous cities in Texas because of its many attractions and the many activities to do here. For science lovers you have the Space Center Houston and the Houston Museum of Natural Science.
You can enjoy parks in Houston that perfectly blend the city with nature such as Buffalo Bayou Park, Hermann Park, McGovern Centennial Gardens, Discovery Green as well as many attractions for those who love art, culture and theatre. And finally, you can’t leave without enjoying Houston’s BBQ!
10. Have a Water Adventure at New Braunfels
New Braunfels, Texas is another town with a lot of German influence. It’s known for the Comal River and Guadalupe River where you have the opportunity to fish, swim, kayak and go tubing (one of my favorite activities to do here). New Braunfels is famous for the Schlitterbahn Waterpark too.
Adventure seekers should also visit the limestone caves at Natural Bridge Caverns, while anyone interested in history can visit the Gruene Historic District to marvel at German buildings which date back to the 19th century.
Best Seasonal Activities in Texas
- Bluebonnet Season (March-April): There are several towns where you can see these flower fields but my favorite is in Ennis, Texas. Here you have a festival full of activities commemorating the Texas flower.
- Texas Renaissance Festival (October-November): Located in Todd Mission, this is the largest Renaissance theme park in the US. More than half a million guests attend regularly each year and it has 200 daily performances, 300 craft stores, 60 food and beverage stores, nightly fireworks and more than 3,000 costumed characters strolling around.
- Great Texas Balloon Race (June): Held in Longview, Texas this is a fascinating spectacle indeed! I want to highlight that there are other balloon festivals in Texas such as in Fredericksburg, Plano and Selma.
- Austin City Limits Music Festival (October): Popular and amazing!
- Various Rodeos in Texas: These are held every month of the year from El Paso to Amarillo and east from Fort Worth to Texarkana and south from Austin to San Antonio, Houston and the Rio Grande Valley.
- Texas State Railroad: Here you can enjoy a trip that includes food, beverages and historical narration on a train ride that takes you back to another century in time. This attraction is located in Palestine, Texas.
Best Places to Eat in Texas
Gastronomy is always an important part of my adventures and Texas offers much more than just BBQ and Tex-Mex. But it all depends on what city you are traveling to. So here are some of my favorite places to eat in Texas.
- Aba Restaurant (Austin) – Mediterranean food
- Suerte Restaurant (Austin) – Mexican food
- Buenos Aires Cafe (Austin) – Argentinian food
- Numero28 (Austin) – Italian food
- QI (Austin) – Modern Asian food
- ATX Cocina (Austin) – Mexican food
- Better Half Coffee & Cocktails (Austin) – American food
- South Congress Cafe (Austin) – American food
- Otto’s German Bistro (Fredericksburg) – German food
- Dough Pizzeria Napoletana (San Antonio) – Italian food
- NONNA Osteria (San Antonio) – Northern Italian food
- Mi Tierra Cafe y Panaderia (San Antonio) – Mexican food
- Grand Central Cafe (Kingsland) – American food
- The Republic Steakhouse (College Station) – Steakhouse food
- The Garden at Ellera (Bee Cave) – Italian food
- Season’s Harvest Cafe (Cypress) – American food
Best Places to Stay in Texas
- Cypress Valley (Spicewood, Texas): Five tree houses in total each one having a large space surrounded by nature. Here you will feel very comfortable and sleep in total privacy. Other details of the complex are that it has ziplines, a swimming pool, a lake and a BBQ area.
- Lajitas Golf Resort (Terlingua, Texas): Tucked away in Big Bend National Park, this resort is famous for its natural beauty and desert setting. This unique destination and complex is rich in history.
- Udoscape (Lago Vista, Texas): A unique and beautiful eco-glamping accommodation that is located in Lago Vista, Texas on top of a hill with incredible views of the countryside. The amenities include grills, fire pits, hammocks and my favorite part is stargazing through telescopes.
- Hotel Valencia Riverwalk (San Antonio, Texas): This place combines Spanish colonial design with modern Mediterranean styles and contemporary ideals. From their balconies you can see the Riverwalk.
Final Thoughts on this Great State
There is no doubt in my mind that Texas is a fascinating destination. My recommendation is that before planning your trip, take into consideration the weather because it’s varied in summer and it can get hot. However, in winter, the temperature can drop to 30F. Another thing to keep in mind is that Texas receives many tourists – so book your hotels early.
Thanks for reading my guide on the best things to do in Texas. I hope you enjoyed reading it. For more recommendations you can follow me on my Instagram page at @lizdanerys where I’m constantly sharing new places!