Less than an hour’s drive south of the city of Houston is Galveston, a coastal retreat on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. As a popular vacation spot, Galveston boasts miles of sandy coastline and unending dining, shopping and nightlife options. While you’re in Galveston, don’t forget to check out the older architecture of the Strand National Historic Landmark District, stroll through the incredible indoor Moody Gardens or explore aviation history at the Lone Star Flight Museum. Galveston is the perfect place to make a splash, so don’t miss the free Bolivar Ferry rides or a walk along Pleasure Pier.
Making up a significant portion of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is Dallas, the state’s third largest city. Dallas is probably best known for the infamous assassination of former U.S. President John F. Kennedy. Located in the same building from which Lee Harvey Oswald fired the shots, the Sixth Floor Museum is dedicated to the assassination. The city is a shopper’s dream thanks to more stores per capita than any other American city. You can also visit one of the many amusement parks in Dallas or attend a local rodeo for some local Texas flavor.
8. Big Bend National Park
Although Big Bend National Park is one of the least-visited parks in the United States, it is a jewel in the heart of Texas and a must-see destination. The park is enormous, and borders the Rio Grand River. The park was once underwater, and dinosaur fossils speak to the history of the region. There are miles of scenic drives throughout Big Bend National Park, but hiking is an even better way to see the rock formations and landscape up close. Try an east stroll along Window View Trail, the more challenging Chimneys Trail or just a relaxing float down the river instead.
. 9. El Paso
Right on the Mexican border in the far western corner of Texas is a city called El Paso. This destination is also known as Sun City, and it boasts incredible views as the sun sets nightly over the Franklin Mountains. There are many great attractions in El Paso, just some of which include the Chihuahuan Desert Gardens, the Museum of Archeology at Wilderness Park and the Centennial Museum. El Paso offers plenty of opportunities to get active outdoors, so don’t miss the chance to hike along the El Paso Mission Trail, picnic in view of McKelligon Canyon or drive along the scenic Transmountain Road. Trips to Ciudad Juarez just across the border were once popular but have become to dangerous due to drug-related violence.
10. Palo Duro Canyon
Cutting through the High Plains region of Texas is the Palo Duro Canyon, the second largest in the United States, after the Grand Canyon. Red rock is exposed, creating a beautiful sight to behold, but the canyon is more than just a void. It is also where Native American tribes like the Apache and the Comanche once called home. There is an abundance of wildlife in the park, so as you hike the miles of trails, keep your eyes peeled for things like Aoudad sheep, whitetail deer and even mountain lions. You can also ride horses and dine on chuckwagon cuisine in and around the canyon.