If you know anything about Texas, you probably know that Texas is a huge state. I mean, we are the largest state in the lower 48 United States, so it is no surprise when I tell you that road trips in Texas are popular.
It does not matter if you are looking for small Texas towns, or lively big cities, Texas road trips will have you covered! Besides, Texas consistently makes the list of affordable family vacations, so why not plan a road trip here?
We have lived in Texas our entire lives and have seen so many of the great towns in Texas, so you are in the right place to start planning your road trip. It really does not matter which direction you head in Texas, you are bound to find something of interest.
While I love the big Texas cities of San Antonio, Austin, and Dallas, there truly is so much more of Texas to explore. We have small-town gems just waiting for you!
So, grab all of your road trip essentials and hit the road to see what really makes up the great state of Texas.
If you’re new to Texas, be sure and read these facts about Texas to learn more about the Lone Star State before your visit!
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Road Trips in Texas
Texas Hill Country Road Trip-Austin, Wimberley, Fredericksburg, San Antonio
The Texas Hill Country is one of the best road trips in our opinion. The hill country is one of our favorites areas in the Lone Star State. There is just something about the rolling hills and wide-open spaces in the hill country that make it so beautiful, and thus making it one of our favorite road trips in Texas also!
Here you will find charming towns surrounded by rolling Texas hills amidst some of the most laid-back big cities in Texas. Of course, we are just going to hit the highlights so feel free to adventure out and make this Texas road trip your own.
Start your road trip adventure by spending a couple of days in the Texas state capitol, Austin. Now, do not be overwhelmed by the big city. After figuring out the best place to stay in Austin, go check out some of the local hangouts. Austin is full of them!
Some examples of things to do in Austin include heading to South Congress for some funky, vintage shopping, or exploring the Texas State Capital before heading out for some awesome food and great nightlife that includes Austin’s ever-popular music scene.
There are so many free things to do in Austin that you could stay busy and barely spend a dime!
After leaving Austin, plan to spend a night in one of the romantic getaways in Texas, Wimberley. We love the artistic vibe of this small Texas Hill Country community.
Head out to Wimberley Valley Winery to sip on some Texas-made wine or cool off in the famous spring-fed Jacob’s Well or the famous Blue Hole if you are visiting during the summer months.
Hamilton Pool in the town of Dripping Spring is another cool place to swim that isn’t too far away from Wimberley. Just be sure you make reservations for the Blue Hole, Hamilton Pool, and Jacob’s Well as they all get crowded!
There are so many things to do in Wimberley, making it the perfect place to spend a night out of the big city.
The next stop worth of any list of road trips in Texas is one of our favorite Texas Hill County towns, Fredericksburg. Along the way, you may want to stop off in Johnson City and hike at Pedernales Fallas State Park or visit Lyndon B. Johnson State Park. There are also several wine tasting rooms to try while in Johnson City.
For this Texas road trip, we recommend spending two nights in Fredericksburg. Take your time to explore all of the things to do in Fredericksburg.
Outdoor lovers will enjoy hiking at Enchanted Rock State Park and watching the bats emerge at Old Tunnel State Park. (Note that you need reservations at Enchanted Rock State Park).
Wine lovers will definitely want to visit the Fredericksburg, TX wineries. There are vineyards and tasting rooms all over town. If you are here in the spring, be sure to check out their wine and wildflower wine trail!
History lovers will definitely want to see the Fredericksburg Pioneer Museum and the Pacific War Museum. Of course, you can always just grab a drink and stroll down Main Street browsing all of the great shops if you choose.
After a couple of days in Fredericksburg, we suggest that you enjoy the beautiful countryside as you head south to San Antonio.
Along the way, stop off in another of the charming Texas Hill Country towns, Boerne. Boerne is home to some great antique shops, charming boutique shops, and some awesome restaurants.
If you liked the small-town charm of Wimberley and Fredericksburg, then you might want to consider spending a night or two in Boerne also. If not, just stop in for a day before going on to San Antonio.
The final stop of this Texas road trip is San Antonio.
We recommend spending about three nights in San Antonio. This will allow you to get a good feel for the city without rushing.
Of course, your Texas road trip must include some good Mexican food, and our favorite in San Antonio is Nicha’s. You can hit it up while exploring the San Antonio Mission Trail as it is right across from Mission San Jose.
While in San Antonio, be sure to spend some time on the world-famous San Antonio River Walk and go to the El Mercardo. The San Antonio River Walk is lined with restaurants and shops, making it a great place to spend the evening. You can also take a cruise on the San Antonio River to learn more about the history and culture of the area.
Another great area is San Antonio’s Pearl District. Here you will find great boutique shops, historic buildings, and one-of-a-kind restaurants that often offer live music.
Theme park enthusiasts will also want to visit San Antonio Fiesta Texas and Sea World San Antonio.
While you are in this area, consider checking out the tiny town of Gruene also. This fun town located just north of San Antonio has an awesome historic district, including a historic dance hall, wineries, cute shops, and several companies offering the opportunity to float the river to cool off from the hot Texas sun!
This area is also great in the spring to see all of the bluebonnets in Texas!
North Central Texas Road Trip-Weatherford, Fort Worth, Dallas, Canton
This itinerary is one of the best road trips if you love a good mix of big cities and small towns. North Central Texas is packed with awesome big cities surrounded by fun small towns that will exhilarate you while allowing you to experience some true southern hospitality. This region of Texas is big on charm and huge on culinary delights, making it one of the top road trips.
Let’s begin our North Texas road trip in one of the towns surrounding the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Weatherford. We recommend spending 1-2 nights in Weatherford.
Weatherford is a great Texas town boasting a pioneer spirit and many great small-town attractions.
Make sure to head out to Chandor Gardens to enjoy the 3.5-acre estate that is filled with beautiful gardens and ornate Chinese architecture. Another great garden area to enjoy is Clark Gardens where you can explore the 143-acres of nature waiting for you here. You can also explore Lake Mineral Wells State Park which isn’t too far away if you’re a state park lover.
Roam the historic downtown area and shop and the cute and quirky vintage shops that line the streets here before heading to the perfect bed and breakfast. (I personally love the peach wine that I find in Weatherford.)
Speaking of peaches, if you visit in July, you can enjoy the Parker County Peach Festival where you can taste all things peach!! It is one of my favorite times of the year in Weatherford.
After exploring Weatherford for a couple of days, we are heading to Fort Worth on our road trip adventure.
Tourists flock to Fort Worth to enjoy the cowboy way of life. While this is an awesome draw, there is so much more to this city than just the cowboy culture.
I would recommend spending 2-3 nights in Fort Worth so that you can enjoy all that it has to offer.
While here, definitely stay in the Sundance Square area of Fort Worth as you could easily see most of the attractions that we are going to talk about from this area. I
f you really want to explore the cowboy culture, then your first stop should be The Fort Worth Stockyards. Here you can watch the daily cattle drive down Exchange Street before exploring Stockyard Station and all that it has to offer.
While in this area, you have to pull up your boots and do some Texas 2 stepping while listening to country music. One of the most iconic places to do this is Billy Bob’s Texas, the World’s Biggest Honky Tonk.
While in Fort Worth, you will also want to check out the trendy West Seventh area of the city. This area is full of great bars, restaurants, and shops for you to enjoy.
Of course, Fort Worth has a fabulous zoo, botanical garden, and a beautiful water gardens area in Downtown.
By the way, the Fort Worth Water Gardens is one of the many free things to do in Dallas-Fort Worth.
Explore Fort Worth’s Sundance Square area as well. Here you will find many great ideas for date night in Fort Worth.
Enjoy a great dinner before catching a live theatre or comedy performance in this fun area of the city.
If you are a sports lover then you will want to head to the suburb of Arlington to enjoy some Texas football by seeing the world-famous Dallas Cowboys. Baseball lovers will enjoy visiting the ballpark in this area as well to catch a game with The Texas Rangers.
While in Arlington, adrenaline junkies will love a visit to Six Flags Over Texas theme park. Be sure and ride my two favorite rides, The Texas Giant and The Titan!
After leaving Fort Worth, our Texas road trip takes us to Dallas, Texas. Now while Dallas and Fort Worth are geographical neighbors, most people from this area would agree that they feel like different worlds. Dallas boasts excellent museums, great outdoor spaces, and awesome culinary adventures.
There are so many things to do in Dallas that you could easily spend a week or more exploring the area. We recommend staying 2-3 nights for this portion of your Texas road trip.
Start out your time in Dallas by visiting the great Dallas Arts District. Here you can explore awesome museums, catch some live theatre, and enjoy the great art scene that Dallas has to offer.
History lovers will want to explore the Sixth Floor Museum and Dealey Plaza to learn about President John F. Kennedy’s life and unfortunate assassination on this spot in Dallas, Texas. You can also learn about the history of Dallas at the Old Red Museum before stepping back in time at Dallas Heritage Village.
If you find yourself in Dallas in the fall, then you have to head to Fair Park and enjoy all of the fried culinary delights at The Texas State Fair. If the fair is not in town, you can still enjoy this area by catching a performance at Music Hall at Fair Park.
Spend some time exploring the Dallas Arboretum or the great views while walking the trails around White Rock Lake. State park lovers can head to Cedar Hill State Park and enjoy the trails just outside of the city.
Foodies will be delighted in Dallas as there is a great food and beverage scene here. Take a food tour to be acclimated to the local cuisine before venturing out on your own.
After spending a few days exploring Dallas, our road trip takes us to another Texas town, Canton. Canton is located about an hour east of Dallas and is a great little escape to end this portion of your Texas road trip.
We recommend visiting on the weekend before the first Monday of the month so that you can enjoy the Canton, TX trade days.
Book one of the great cabins in Canton, Texas or these try out covered wagon camping to enjoy a weekend away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. The trade days of Canton draw over 100,000 shoppers to this otherwise small Texas town.
Of course, there are other things to do in Canton as well. You can shop the cute shops around the square, visit Canton Plaza Museum, play some golf, or check out Splash Kingdom Waterpark.
West Texas Road Trip-Marfa, Big Bend, and Terlingua
West of the cities of Wichita Falls and Abilene, you will find the arid, dry region of Texas loosely called “West Texas”. This area has a unique geography as West Texas experiences much less rainfall than the rest of the state.
However, don’t let that dry, desert-like terrain keep you from visiting. For you see, West Texas has a hidden gem that you must visit at some point in your life.
Our West Texas road trip will begin in Marfa, TX.
The small town of Marfa is most popular for the “Marfa Lights”. People have reported seeing these mysterious light orbs in the desert for years.
According to witnesses, the orbs are about the size of a basketball and vary in color. Supposedly, they appear, twinkle a little, split into two, and then quickly dart across the Texas sky.
Maybe you will get lucky and find yourself in Marfa during their annual Marfa Lights Festival. If not, you can try to find the epic Texas Marfa Lights for yourself by heading about 9 miles out of town on Highway U.S. 90 toward Alpine to the Marfa Lights Viewing Area.
We recommend spending one night in Marfa to ensure that you have the opportunity to see all of the things to do in this West Texas town. Don’t forget to check out the Prada store as well. ?
Big Bend National Park
After leaving Marfa, we are heading to the hidden gem that is Big Bend National Park. I would recommend spending 3-5 nights in Big Bend National Park, depending on how much you love the outdoors.
You might be curious as to why I said Big Bend National Park was a “hidden gem”. Well, it turns out that Big Bend is one of the least visited National Parks in the country, seeing only about 300,000 tourists a year. When you compare that to the over 10 million visitors that the Great Smokey Mountain National Park receives, you can see why Big Bend National Park is a hidden gem.
The fact that Big Bend is so remote means that you need to keep a few things in mind. There are fewer amenities here than around other National Parks, so come prepared.
Fill up on gas along the way, wear good shoes, and bring plenty of water and food for camping, which is always good advice when visiting the National Parks.
If you are a stargazer like Marty, you definitely want to bring your telescope, as Big Bend is one of 10 places in the world that is an International Dark Sky Park, meaning that you can see over 2,000 stars a night because of the lack of light pollution.
Also, remember, you are in a desert area, so watch out for snakes!
Of course, the best part of being in Big Bend is exploring the park itself. Hike the Closed Canyon Trailhead for an easy walk down to the Rio Grande River. Another popular hike is the trail to The Window, where the rocks perfectly frame the Texas desert. There are miles of hiking all around this huge state park, so just pick a trail!
Water lover can get their fix in Big Bend also. You can hike to Cattail Falls to see a gorgeous waterfall or kayak in Santa Elena Canyon. Santa Elena Canyon surrounds you with 1,500-foot walls, making this a spectacular activity.
Along the way, don’t forget to visit the Texas ghost town of Terlingua as well. This former mining community that was centered around Chisos Mining Company is most popular for their yearly chili cook-off, but you can visit anytime.
This quirky town has taken full advantage of its fame by creating fun roadside attractions, including a pirate ship and a sand-locked submarine, just to name a few.
This is also a great place to try out some of the glamping in Texas!
Don’t forget to add the small West Texas town of Alpine to this itinerary also!
Texas Coast Road Trip-Galveston, Part Aransas, and South Padre Island
This is one of the best road trips if you love coastlines! Why? Well, the Lone Star State boasts over 3,000 miles of coastline. That’s a lot of epic Texas coastline! While we aren’t going to cover every mile on our coastal tour, we will show you some of the most popular places to visit on the Texas Coast.
The Texas Coastline is teeming with a diverse ecosystem and fun activities that you won’t find anywhere else in The Lone Star State.
We begin our coastline road trip in Galveston, Texas. We recommend staying 2-3 nights in Galveston.
Galveston is an island city located not far from Houston, Texas. Known for an epic Mardi Gras celebration, Galveston Island definitely knows how to have fun. Of course, you can spend time on one of Galveston’s many wide-open beaches to enjoy all that the Gulf of Mexico has to offer.
Once you have your fill of the beach, get out and explore what Galveston has to offer. Adults and kids will love visiting Moody Gardens. Boasting indoor rain forests, awesome aquariums, zip lines, and awesome 3D theatre experiences, Moody Gardens can fill a whole day in your itinerary.
Of course, you won’t want to miss Pleasure Pier with its great amusement-style rides and games while near the beach.
Shoppers and history lovers will both like visiting the Strand area of Galveston to do some shopping, see the historic building, and tour the Railroad Museum. There are also many great restaurants in Galveston. A great way to discover great places to eat in Galveston is to take a food tour.
After exploring Galveston, our Texas road trip takes us to the Port Aransas/Mustang Island area. Port Aransas and Mustang Island make up 18-miles of Lone Star State shoreline. Boasting year-round outdoor activities like parasailing, fishing, and birding, visitors flock to Port Aransas. We recommend spending 2-3 nights in Port Aransas.
The art scene in this town is big. Art lovers can enjoy the Port Aransas Community Theatre, a museum honoring the wild mustangs and anglers of the area. If you would like to see boats being made, then Port Aransas has you covered there also, just head to Farley Boat Work.
There are numerous outdoor activities in Port Aransas. Anglers will feel right at home here, as Port Aransas is the “Fishing Capital of Texas.” You can fish in the local bays, channels, or cast a line right off of one of the docks into the ocean. There are dolphin cruises and bird-watching expeditions originating in Port Aransas as well.
South Padre Island
Our final stop on our coastal road trip in Texas is South Padre Island. One of the most popular beach destinations in the state, South Padre Island deserves 2-3 nights of your time as well.
Filled with miles of shopping, beaches, recreational activities, and great restaurants, Padre Island is the perfect escape. Of course, the most popular activities center on the beach!
One of those activities is for sure surfing as Padre Island is one of the best destinations to learn surfing!
Ride horses along the beach, charter a fishing trip, go parasailing, or just spend the day lounging on the beach enjoying the Texas sunshine!
While here, be sure and check out the South Padre Island Sea Turtle Art Trail. Local artists have been commissioned to build sea turtle art sculptures throughout the city to celebrate this beautiful aquatic creature and to bring awareness to the Island’s endangered sea turtles. You can learn more about sea turtles by visiting Sea Turtle Inc. as well.
No matter what you are looking for in a beach town, South Padre Island has you covered.
East Texas Road Trip- Longview, Tyler, and Nacogdoches
The Piney Woods region of East Texas is one of the best road trips for nature lovers. East Texas is a sharp contrast to the desert terrain we introduced you to in West Texas.
East Texas will have you traveling through thousands of acres of green forests dotted with beautiful blue lakes. It is also in this region that you can discover loads of Texas history.
Our first stop on this Texas road trip is the town of Longview. One visit here and you will see exactly where its name originated from, the long view that you have across this area of Texas. Sure, it is loaded with pine trees, but look closely and you will see so much more.
Visit in the fall to discover the gorgeous fall foliage that stretches for as far as the eyes can see (a great place to do some bird watching). We recommend spending 1-2 nights in Longview.
Visitors here enjoy great golf courses, a historical museum, the Longview Museum of Art, and the great hospitality the town offers. Longview also hosts multiple festivals throughout the year. Be sure and check their calendar of events to see if there are any the interest you.
Our next road trip stop leads us to Tyler, Texas. Nicknamed “The Rose Capital of America”, Tyler has a long history of being associated with roses.
It is home to the largest rose garden in the United States that encompasses 14-acres and houses over 38,000 rose bushes! If you find yourself here in October, you can enjoy the annual Texas Rose Festival as well.
Roses aren’t the only thing to do in Tyler though. Tyler is also home to a drive-thru wildlife safari park, several wineries and breweries, and live event venues.
Outdoor lovers won’t want to miss the numerous lakes in and around this area to enjoy some outdoor recreation.
After spending a couple of days exploring Tyler, we are going to end our East Texas road trip in Nacogdoches. Nacogdoches is a quintessential East Texas town that has something for everyone.
Nicknamed “The Garden Capital of Texas,” Nacogdoches is home to numerous beautiful gardens that you will find sprinkled throughout their city.
A true Texas delight is their crepe myrtle garden that is located on the Stephen F. Austin campus. Another notable garden in this area is the Durst-Taylor Historic House and Gardens that surround the historic 1835 home.
Shopping is not in short supply in Nacogdoches either. You will find numerous antique stores and specialty boutiques in this small Texas town.
Of course, there are also numerous restaurants, wineries, and breweries when you need to take a break from all of that shopping.
Visitors can also enjoy the many arts and entertainment venues that call Nacogdoches home. I am sure a visit to Nacogdoches will have you returning again and again.
Final Thoughts on Texas Road Trips
Well, there you have it. Some of our favorite places to hit the road and see in Texas. Of course, this list is not all-encompassing.
There are so many great Texas trips that we could go on and on forever. Planning a great Texas road trip is easy since there are so many awesome places to see in Texas along the way. Pick a geographical region and take off!
Of course, if you are short on time, feel free to adapt these and make them a short weekend getaway!
We would love to hear what Texas towns you love. Comment below and let us know. Until then….SAFE TRAVELS, FRIENDS!
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About the Author
Michelle Snell is a travel writer, history buff, wine lover, and enthusiast of different cultures. Michelle enjoys bringing places to life through creative content creation and her informative writing style on her blogs, That Texas Couple and Totally Texas Travel and accompanying social media accounts. She is happiest sipping wine in Italy or chilling on a beach with her husband, Marty.
Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight:
We love using CheapOAir, Kayak, and Kiwi to search for the best flight prices. We love using these search engines because they search the web for airlines worldwide to ensure you get the best deal! In addition to flights, you can also find great hotel prices on Kayak and Kiwi.
Book Your Vacation Package:
If you want to book an entire vacation package, we suggest using Expedia. We love how easy Expedia is to use, and we always find good deals on entire vacation packages on their site.
Another great site for vacation packages is BookVIP. BookVIP offers super cheap vacation packages to incredible destinations. You are sure to save money using their site!
For full guided vacations, including hotels, some meals, transportation, and guides, then we book with Trafalgar. Trafalgar is a trusted tour company that will meet all your needs while ensuring a great experience.
Trip.com allows you to book flights, hotels, train tickets, rental cars, airport transfers, tours, and more all on one site. Owned by the parent company that also owns Skyscanner, this is a trusted resource for travel booking and a great “one-stop shop.”
Book Your Accommodations:
We always begin our search by checking out honest reviews on TripAdvisor hotels. This allows us to narrow our search for specific properties once we are ready to book. Of course, you can also book directly on the TripAdvisor site!
There are several accommodation sites that we like to use. One of our favorites is Booking.com because it offers a wide variety of hotels and guesthouses at a good price.
Another “go-to” hotel booking site for us is Hotels.com. We love their loyalty program that allows you to earn free nights, and their “secret prices” for members are fabulous deals!
If you want a luxurious all-inclusive vacation, consider checking out the Sandals/Beaches properties. Sandals properties are for couples only and Beaches are for families. We have visited Sandals in the past and absolutely love the attention to detail and the service they provide.
Tour Companies We Trust:
We love taking guided tours when visiting new places. Our go-to tour companies are Viator.com and Get Your Guide. Both of these companies have been in business for years and provide excellent customer service. You can trust booking tours from their sites for sure!
CityPass is a great way to save money when visiting large cities. CityPass allows you to get free admission to major attractions once you buy their pass. The savings add up quickly with this pass, often saving 50% with combined admissions.
Another great pass to save money in larger cities is the Sightseeing Pass. This pass allows you to save valuable time and money by combining admissions to major attractions. They also have a handy app that keeps everything you need at your fingertips.
Looking to Save Time and Money?
Check out our resource page for all of our favorite vendors. These companies help us to save time and money on our travels!