Texas is the second-largest American state next to Alaska in terms of land area, and as such, there’s almost no limit to what attractions you can enjoy and experience while you’re visiting the Lone Star State. Everything seems to be bigger in Texas, including the number of scenic spots and landmarks you should visit while you’re in the area. So, keep reading the best Texas road trip destinations now!
Before you set off for your Texas road trip, it would be wise to plan your itinerary so you won’t be overwhelmed by all of the places that beg to be visited while in the state. Here are some of the most recommended tourist attractions that you must see as you embark on your Texas driving tour.
This Texas road trip destinations guide helps you to have an amazing vacation. If you are a tourist, book your vacation rentals at Rental Trader and enjoy your tour.
- 1 Austin – World’s Live Music Capital
- 2 Fort Worth – Live the Cowboy Legend
- 3 The Panhandle – Canyons, American Bison, Rock Formation & More!
- 4 Big Bend National Park – Natural Escapade
- 5 Dinosaur Valley State Park – Camping, Hiking & More!
- 6 Cascade Caverns – Enjoy the Cold Texas!
- 7 The Perry Mansion – Unique Texas Experience
- 8 Unique Museums in Houston – Apollo 11 Legacy & More!
Austin – World’s Live Music Capital
The topmost on the list of Texas road trip destinations is Austin, the capital city. It is called the World’s Live Music Capital for a good reason: the beats are hip and fun, instantly picking up your mood throughout the day. It’s also known for a diverse range of eccentricity in art and culture, making the city one of the most unique across the country. In fact, the city belongs to the UNESCO Creative Cities Network for incorporating urban development and art.
The entrepreneurial energy is alive in Austin, but it never forgets the rich history it was built upon for centuries. The city itself draws a great crowd, with its laidback nature and creative vibe that attracts people across the globe. You can check out the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas for some of the best paintings you’ll see in your lifetime. There’s also the Ransom Center that houses thought-provoking artifacts such as the Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales 1450 edition and the oldest surviving photograph.
When you’re in Austin, take some time to go to the Texas State Capitol and see the pink granite edifice erected since 1888. Of course, you can’t say goodbye to the city without tasting its world-famous Franklin Barbecue off at 900 East 11th Street, but you have to be patient—both locals and tourists keep coming back to this restaurant!
Austin is one of the top 10 budget-friendly places to visit in the US, if you are traveling on a budget, this is where you should be.
Fort Worth – Live the Cowboy Legend
The authentic Texas experience is not limited to the senses of sight and feel, but also smell! Fort Worth is your key to entering the legendary cowboy area that you won’t get anywhere else. The place is fondly called Cowtown, owing to its being a cattle drive destination in the 1860s, particularly the Chisholm Trail. If you want an interactive adventure, head to the Stockyards National Historic District and witness what cowboy-related activities took place in the days of yore.
Hear the clip-clop of cattle down the cobblestones at Fort Worth, making you feel like you’ve stepped into another world. For an art-inspired trip, visit the Kimbell Art Museum and be amazed by pieces of great artists like Picasso, Matisse, Monet, and Cézanne. For something a little quirkier, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth treats you to a floating look atop a pond, while housing Andy Warhol silkscreens inside.
To learn about empowered women in the American West, stop by the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, and contribute to the remembrance of these courageous icons in history.
The Panhandle – Canyons, American Bison, Rock Formation & More!
Texas can sometimes be too large to explore, which is why the Panhandle is often underappreciated by tourists. However, it does not lessen the aesthetic of the area, and it’s a destination worthy of being included in your itinerary. This region is home to the canyons, and the American bison herd and is considered the Mother Road of the famous Route 66. There’s plenty of jaw-dropping rock structures and wildlife in the Panhandle, along with a unique artistic heritage that you need to see for yourself.
Visit the Palo Duro Canyon State Park a few miles from Amarillo and witness the grandness of the second-largest canyon in the US, which you can experience up close by hiking on the trails. To get to the popular Lighthouse rock, there’s an eight-kilometer round trip walk that takes you halfway to the park towards this landmark.
While driving, don’t forget to do a stopover at the Cadillac Ranch, where an art installation featuring ten classic cars are buried hood-first. It sure is a nice backdrop for your travel photos!
Big Bend National Park – Natural Escapade
The Big Bend National Park is a six-hour ride from San Antonio, but the long hours on the road will be rewarded with breathtaking views. It is located on the border between Texas and Mexico, featuring beautiful mountainous landscapes and vast deserts. Most campers choose to stay a night or two to explore the whole place because there’s so much to see. Take a hike to the Santa Elena Canyon, a spectacular rock formation you can witness at the end of a two-mile trail.
To cool down your sore muscles from the hike, the Hot Springs Historic Trail will take you to the natural hot spring spots within the area. Speaking of history, there are cool ruins scattered throughout the park, such as the old post office, Dorgan House, Mariscal Mine, and many others.
Dinosaur Valley State Park – Camping, Hiking & More!
If you are done exploring Fort Worth, you might want to check out the Dinosaur Valley State Park, which is just located outside town near the Paluxy River, where several dinosaur tracks have been marked and mapped. You can follow the trails and observe for yourself some of the last remaining pieces of evidence that these creatures existed many centuries ago.
You can set up a camp at the Dinosaur Valley State Park’s many campgrounds or discover what the twenty trails lead to by hiking or mountain biking. You can also go swimming or fishing by the river, or even geocaching if you’re interested to learn more about this amazing park. The rangers at the interpretive center are ready to teach you about the wildlife or give you a crash course on archery or fishing, so avail of these lessons when you can!
Cascade Caverns – Enjoy the Cold Texas!
The Cascade Caverns are a thing to behold in the north of San Antonio. This living cavern offers unique rock formations from corridor to corridor, giving you the chance to explore what’s underneath the Texas Hill Country. You can take a guided tour that lasts an hour, taking you across the caverns. If you think the Texas heat is too much, a trip to this place can surprise you, since temperatures stay at an average of 64-degree—much, much colder than the Texas temperature above.
Opened to the public in 1932, the caverns have served as camping grounds for many adventurers. There are over a hundred campsites, each featuring different amenities that suit your taste. Some of them have public showers and restrooms, nature trails, pavilion, picnic grills and tables, recreational buildings complete with vending machines, and a convenience store.
The Perry Mansion – Unique Texas Experience
If you prefer a unique Texas experience, the mining town of Terlingua has some places worth including in your road trip itinerary. The Perry Mansion is a spooky gem built in 1909 and was abandoned for a long time until they had it renovated. There are rumors that the place is haunted, but you’d have to book a stay and find out yourself if these stories are true. While you’re here, try to visit the local cemetery and the famous St. Agnes Church, where they say spirits roam.
However, if you don’t feel courageous enough to explore the “haunted” sites, you can check-in at the Lajitas Golf Resort and Spa for a relaxing experience in town. There are many activities to do, such as paddleboarding at the Rio Grande or playing a round of golf with your friends or family. Craving for a breakfast burrito? Espresso y Poco Mas will serve you yummy dishes and iced lattes to wake your senses up in the morning.
Unique Museums in Houston – Apollo 11 Legacy & More!
Houston is the largest Texan city and is a world-class destination for Americans and foreigners alike. What makes this city special are the many museums within the area that will surely satisfy your quest for more knowledge. There’s the NASA Mission Control Room, which served as the headquarters for the Apollo 11 moon landing in July 1969. It’s an iconic moment that you can discover for yourself while in Houston.
Space Center Houston is another worthy stopover since you can take the tram tour to this out-of-the-world museum, highlighting several space programs and celestial stories that will fascinate you. You can also head to the Museum District, where nineteen different takes on cultural legacy help you understand what the city is about. You can take a drive down tree-lined canopies and explore the Museum of Natural Science, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and the Buffalo Soldiers Museum, and more galleries along the way.
If you are a space buff, make sure you have this on your top Texas road trip destinations itinerary.
Wrapping Up The Texas Road Trip Destinations
Every city and town of the Lone Star State has its unique charm, and you’ll get to know them better when you visit each of them. Texas is a huge state, and you might have to spend several days visiting all the must-see landmarks and attractions, so get a reliable car rental while you’re at it and pack extras of your necessities just in case!