Texas is a big state. In fact, it’s the biggest state in the contiguous United States and covers 268,820 square miles of land. That means there’s a lot to see and do besides just hitting the major stops like Austin or San Antonio. The open road is calling you to explore the back roads; drive for a day or even stay at a vacation rental in Texas to extend your road trip into a weekend. Here are the 10 best road trips everyone should take in Texas.
1. Texas’ Abandoned Places
There’s something about abandoned places that are absolutely fascinating. Maybe it’s the fact that a pile of ruins was once a thriving spot or the fact that something supernatural could be inside. This road trip will take you to some of the creepiest abandoned places in Texas. Start in Mineral Wells at Fort Wolders Training Site. It was the largest infantry replacement training center in the United States and also served as a German POW camp. Also in Mineral Wells is the Baker Hotel, one of the most famous abandoned places in Texas. Next, head to the Swift Armor Meat Packing Plant in Fort Worth that hasn’t been in operation since the 1970’s. Are you brave enough to visit an abandoned mansion with an Indian burial ground nearby? Then, check out Stewart Mansion in Galveston.
2. Natural Wonders
This is the perfect way to spend a relaxing long weekend. Many of the places along this road trip are near each other so it’ll be easy to stay at a vacation rental in between. Start at the Caverns of Sonora, known as one of the most beautiful caverns in the entire world. Next is Jacob’s Well in Wimberley, a 200-foot deep hole in the middle of Texas and a great place to cool off on a hot Texas day. Then, drive to Dripping Springs to see Hamilton Pool with its limestone overhang, trickling waterfall, and a blue-green pool of water. Fredericksburg is home to Willow City Loop, which is full of vibrant wildflowers during the spring, and Enchanted Rock, a giant pink granite mound where Native Americans believed they observed mysterious fires glowing in the night and heard creaking and groaning with no apparent source. Other amazing places to see are Gorman Falls in Bend and Palo Duro Canyon in Canyon before finishing your trip at Big Bend in Big Bend National Park.
3. West Texas Road Trip
Get ready to see the untouched beauty of the Lone Star State. Start by touring the quaint town of Alpine to start getting a sense of what West Texas charm is all about. No trip to West Texas is complete without seeing the Chisos Mountains at Big Bend National Park. Take a hike on one of the many trails, and then, cool off in the waters of Santa Elena Canyon. The last stop is Terlingua, the most famous ghost town in Texas.
4. Texas’ Best Barbecue
One of the things Texas is known for is its food, mainly barbecue. Most of these places are famous around the country for their tasty grub, and we’ve put together the absolute best. Start at Cooper’s Old Time Pit BBQ in New Braunfels, home to the famous “Big Chop.” Then head to City Market in Luling, some of the most authentic barbecue you’ll ever have. Next, check out the oldest barbecue restaurant in the state, Black’s Barbecue in Lockheart. You can digest while you wait in line at the famous Franklin Barbecue in Austin. Don’t worry, the wait is well worth it. If you have any room left, visit Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor, Kreuz Market in Bryan, and Stanley’s Famous Pit BBQ in Tyler.
5. Haunted Places
It doesn’t have to be Halloween to get a little spooky. Texas is full of places that have with paranormal activity. Start at Hotel Galvez in Galveston where a young woman hung herself in room 501. Many people have reported seeing her ghost on the premises. Next, head to Saratoga for the 8-mile Bragg/Ghost Road, where you might see the infamous ghost light. Next up are another ghost light in Marfa and Woman Hollering Creek in Seguin. Finally, the famous Saintly School Children in San Antonio. According to legend, a school bus stalled on the train track. It was struck by a speeding train and all the children died. If you stop your car in the tracks, these saintly children will push uphill to safety.
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6. Hill Country
If you’re itching for the great outdoors, then this Texas Hill Country road trip is the one for you. The Lone Star State has a lot to offer, and Hill Country is full of nature activities. Of course, we have to include Texas’ most famous watering hole, Jacob’s Well. Only 30 minutes away is the mystical grotto at Hamilton Pool Natural Preserve. After all of that swimming, it’s time for some hiking at the Enchanted Rock in Fredericksburg. Then, spelunking at Natural Bridge Caverns, and tubing in the Comal River.
7. Small Town Road Trip
Don’t forget about the little guys! These small towns are what give Texas its character, and these small, historic towns are so charming, you might never want to leave. Jasper in East Texas is a great place to start. Then visit Hemphill, Jefferson, and Straw. You can’t miss the famous Willow City Loop in Fredericksburg, the most scenic drive in the state. Luckenbach was put on the map by Willie Nelson, but this town will still make you feel like you’re stepping back to a simpler time. Then, there’s Wimberley, Gruene, Lockhart, and Schulenburg, a little German town that’s home to the Texas Polka Music Museum.
8. Lighthouse Road Trip
You probably think of Maine is dotted with beautiful lighthouses, but Texas has a beautiful, long coastline that’s also full of them. Start at the Lydia Ann Lighthouse in Aransas Pass. It’s the only lighthouse in Texas that operates 24 hours a day. Next on the trip are Half Moon Reef Lighthouse in Port Lavaca, Sabine Bank Lighthouse in Port Arthur, and Point Bolivar Lighthouse in Port Bolivar, arguably the most famous lighthouse in Texas. After 150 years of erosion, this lighthouse turned black and is rumored to be haunted.
9. Taco Road Trip
There’s a barbecue road trip so we only had to be fair and include a taco road trip too! The second thing Texas is famous before besides barbecue? Tex-Mex. This Texan-Mexican hybrid has created tacos like you’ve never had before. Start at Veracruz All Natural, a food truck in Austin. Then, try Mi Lindo Oaxaca in Dallas, Brothers Taco House in Houston, and Taco Diner in San Antonio. You’re just getting started because some other delectable Texas tacos can be found at Revolver Taco Lounge in Fort Worth and El Ultimo Taco in Brownsville, before you head back to Austin for Tamale House East.
10. El Camino Real
Last, but certainly not least, on our list, is the Old San Antonio Road. This road trip really is about the journey, not the destination. This historic roadway reaches across the entire state, from Eagle Pass all the way to Natchitoches in Louisiana. This path was once used by Spanish Missionaries and Native Americans as early at the 1700’s. You’ll get stunning views in every direction, and you can follow the route by looking for the pink granite markers placed every 5 miles along the route.
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