Our state travel guide will help you discover the regions of Texas and the unique attractions and outdoor activities that they have to offer. Find things to do and highlighted places to see throughout the Lone Star State. The quality certified inns of the Texas Bed & Breakfast Association make ideal accommodations for exploring our great state.
Explore the Many Regions of Texas
Big Bend Texas
The Big Bend of Texas is like nowhere else. Amongst the towering desert skyline, people in West Texas have learned to commune with the stunning nature around them.
The Midland Odessa area is spotted with oil wells, giving away the secret of the vast wealth underneath this seemingly barren landscape. But that is part of the wonder of the desert; although it may seem barren, it’s actually a blossoming habitat.
One of the largest attractions is Big Bend National Park. Big Bend holds three different climates: desert, mountain and river. For the outdoor enthusiast, Big Bend has everything to offer and more. Primitive roads lead to remote car camping and the Rio Grande can provide unmatched solace during single or multi-day float trips. There are a variety of tour groups stationed in some of the tiny and entertaining border towns around Big Bend, such as Terlingua, which lead travelers on river rafting, Jeep expeditions and ATV tours, as well as hiking. The stars at night, are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas!
After outdoor adventures, wander back into one of the tiny and charming towns that dot West Texas. Alpine is the home of Sul Ross State University and the hub of Big Bend. Marfa is an interesting town with a ghostly history. From the first recorded sighting of the Marfa lights in 1883, no one has been able to give a scientific explanation to the mysterious lights that occur in the same place night after night. Some think it is only headlights reflecting from the nearby highway, others believe it is the spirit of an Apache Chief. Marfa is a town in transition, holding onto the feeling of a West Texas settlement, but also adjusting to the influx of a remarkable number of artists and second homeowners from areas like Dallas, Houston, Austin and New York.
South Texas, in some ways, seems to have barely changed since it belonged to Mexico. This region still has a deep connection with its south-of-the-border heritage.
The area is drenched in history, and the sense of time travel that one experiences as they visit the Alamo and other missions from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries is an enjoyable South Texas phenomenon. That, and the unbelievable Mexican food that can be found in this area.
Home of the famous Alamo, San Antonio has become one of the top five tourist destinations in the United States and the top tourism location in Texas. Because San Antonio is home to such an important part of American History, the city has excellent accommodations and attractions for all visitors. San Antonio is a community with some very interesting footprints from the past. Along with the Alamo, the San Antonio River has a long history in Texas culture. Over centuries of development, dams and draining, the relationship between the river and the city is reminiscent of Venice. It is a beautiful and unique interaction between urban landscape and flowing water that makes the Riverwalk so majestic. It can be enjoyed afloat or on foot, where one can spend hours drinking something refreshing by the waterfront or browsing the many shops.
There is also the San Antonio Zoo, SeaWorld, the home of Shamu, as well as a Six Flags theme park. La Villita is one of the original neighborhoods of San Antonio and today is full of shops, art galleries and other attractions. Just outside of San Antonio are the amazing Cascade Caverns, natural underground caves that contain a 100-foot waterfall! There is so much to do in South Texas, you may never want to head North!
Texas Panhandle Plains
The Texas Panhandle Plains Region is called so because it looks like a handle sticking out from a pot or pan. The landscape of the panhandle is very flat and dominated by the agricultural, windmills and petroleum industries. This region goes south and east to include lovely towns such as Sweetwater, Brownwood and Mineral Wells.
There are some intriguing attractions to be found in this area, including Adobe Walls, an ancient Spanish trading post, as well as Lake Meredith National Recreation Area.
A quarter of the panhandle is comprised of the Llano Estacado, which represents one of the largest flatland areas in the world. Within the Llano Estacdo is Lubbock, the birthplace and hometown of Buddy Holly. The panhandle offers such entertainments as golfing and fishing at Lake Meredith, a great spot for anglers.
The Caprock Canyons State Park and Trailways is a great way to explore the landscape around the panhandle. The park includes a 64-mile trail converted from a train track that crosses 46 bridges and runs through the Clarity Tunnel, one of the last active railroad tunnels in Texas. Visitors can ride bikes, rent horses at the local dude ranch, and check out the official Texas State Bison Herd, whose home is in Caprock.
If the wilderness is not what you are looking for, Lubbock offers some great activities, like Texas Water Rampage, which has a 9000-square-foot wave pool, two water slides and more. Wonderland Amusement Park in Amarillo is home to the Texas Tornado roller coaster and other thrill rides. Also in Amarillo, check out the Kwahadi Kiva Indian Museum, which hosts live dance performances during the summer months.
Prairies and Lakes Texas
The Prairies & Lakes Region of Texas is bordered by the Red River, separating the Lone Star State from Oklahoma, south to the Guadalupe (Near San Marcos). It is a diverse region, made up of the largest metropolitan centers, Ft. Worth and Dallas just to name a few, but also home to small towns like Canton, Salado and Waco and everything in the middle. Discover the wonder of all the natural rivers and lakes along with the man-made attractions of this lively region.
The Dallas/Ft. Worth area is full of big city attractions like the Dallas Museum of Art and the Dallas Zoo. Beautiful architecture can be found throughout the city especially in the White Rock Lake or Turtle Creek areas. Dallas is also an affluent fashion and dining center, boasting large malls, classy boutiques and department stores as well as high-end eateries.
Ft. Worth is a big city that remembers its roots, and one can enjoy a taste of the urban cowboy at the Stockyards National Historic District and Stockyards Collection and Museum. Also in the Stockyard District is Billy Bob’s Texas, the largest Honkey-Tonk in the world; just one of the venues for live music in the region. Head over to Arlington and Six Flags Theme Park for some thrill rides.
You may know Brenham and Washington County for various reasons: it’s the home of Blue Bell ice cream, which is also part of the exhibits in the Brenham Heritage Museum. The Round Top Antiques show twice a year is very popular.
Some exceptional locations include Dinosaur Valley State Park, Eisenhower State Park, Fairfield Lake State Park, and Mother Neff State Park, the first state-protected land in Texas.
The Hill Country of Texas is home to ranches as large as small counties and families who round up their cattle on horseback. In this region with a cultural focal point like the city of Austin, this is one of the most progressive areas in Texas. Austin is like no other place in Texas, or maybe the world. The area is filled with tiny clean springs and blankets of wildflowers during certain parts of the year. It is also a hunter’s paradise.
If you smell BBQ while driving through one of the many small towns in the area, make sure to stop. You never know what kind of tangy, savory masterpiece you might miss. One such location is Coopers World Famous BBQ in Llano. Inside the restaurant, candid photos of President Bush chomping on brisket and ribs attest to the fact that even though there are paper towels on the tables, this BBQ is fit for royalty. That is kind of how it is in the Hill Country: good enough for the Queen of England but inhabited by the average man. The rolling hills are also home to natural wonders like the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. Enchanted Rock, just outside the town of Fredericksburg, is a huge pink granite dome, one of the largest of its kind in the United States. Fredericksburg itself is a lovely town, with a rich German heritage, including fun Bier gardens and turn-of-the-century buildings that now house restaurants and romantic bed and breakfasts.
In this same area, visitors who want a taste of true Texas nightlife should head over to London Dancehall. A fifteen-minute drive from the town of Junction, the London Dancehall is one of the oldest dance halls in Texas and a true slice of the Texas culture. Real cowboys, the Texas two-step, and Lone Star Beer. The building itself is over 100 years old, and on the weekends anywhere between 200 and 800 revelers gather for some honkey-tonk.
Austin is not only the capital of Texas, it is also an amazing city full of college students, budding musicians and innovators of all kinds. Austin is truly one of the most enjoyable big cities in the state, home to the SXSW conference and the University of Texas with almost 50,000 students, as well as over 200 parks, and 300 days of sunshine a year!
The city provides ample locations for outdoor recreation. Zilker Park has live musicals every summer. Lady Bird Lake is in the center of town. Barton Creek and Springs is a magical place in the Austin landscape: three acres of fresh spring water that stays at 68 degrees year-round. It is both a local favorite and a must-see for travelers. Another a must-see when in Austin is a live music performance. They won’t be hard to find, but a place to start could be the PBS studio where Austin City Limits is recorded. This is PBS’ longest running program, and tours of the studio occur daily. Outside of Austin, College Station is also an interesting area for intellects, housing Texas A&M as well as the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum.
Texas Gulf Coast
The Gulf Coast of Texas faces the Gulf of Mexico and is home to some of the loveliest beaches in the United States. This sandy play land draws millions of visitors and stretches over 350 miles from South Padre Island to the Rio Grande Valley.
The area is renowned for its natural beauty and is also the home of America’s space program. The Gulf Coast is dotted with island and coastal getaways, providing all your favorite beach activities. Galveston is one such location, offering beautiful accommodations, entertainment, shopping and of course, miles of beach. Galveston is home to the Strand National Historic Landmark District, which contains 36 blocks of antique stores, art galleries and restaurants. Port Aransas is a great Texas island sheltered between Mustang Island and Corpus Christi. Sheltered between Mustang Island and Corpus Christi, the island contains a beautiful shoreline. There are abundant opportunities to interact with nature in this area through bird and dolphin watching, fishing, kayaking, surfing and swimming. This area is hailed as the fishing capital of Texas, and the gulf waters are home to red snapper, king, mackerel and pompano, just to name a few.
Corpus Christi is Texas’ largest coastal city. Just 20 minutes from Padre Island, Corpus Christi lays claim to some of the world’s best sport fishing, sailing, and windsurfing. This big city also offers the Texas State Aquarium and Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History. After a hot day at the beach, if a cool drink is your thing, check out Corpus Christi’s late-night district of Chaparral Street.
And don’t forget about the famed South Padre Island. Only 30 miles from Mexico, South Padre Island is a coastal resort town offering everything you are looking for in a tropical vacation: golf, tennis, some of Texas’ best deep sea fishing, windsurfing and kiteboarding.
Piney Woods Texas
When folks think about Texas, images that usually come to mind involve wide horizons and tumbleweeds. Well, Texas is awfully big, and it isn’t all mesas and cactus. In East Texas, the forest is the dominant landscape.
When it comes to fall foliage, one Texan would say, “Why go the East Coast when we can just go to the Piney Woods?” In East Texas, great trees, both evergreen and deciduous, turn into a stunning display of color when the sassafras, maple, persimmons, and dogwoods change with the season. The seasons continue to shape this luxurious landscape as winter approaches and East Texas becomes a yule tide enchantment. The small towns of Piney Woods in East Texas are transformed into the quaint winter wonderlands of youths gone by. Town squares glisten with twinkling lights and parades, and holiday parties are abundant.
As the seasons change, Tyler is a great place to be for the spring. For some reason, the soil just seems to want to see things grow in Tyler, especially flowers. Tyler is known for its roses, many located at the Tyler Municipal Rose Garden, the largest in the nation.
For a flavor of Texas history during its struggle for independence, look no further than Nacogdoches. One of Texas’ oldest communities, it was originally established in the 1700’s as a Spanish fort and later was the site of three short-lived republics. In 1832, the opening shots of the Texas Revolution were fired here, as citizens fought a Mexican garrison in the center of town and were successful in forcing the Mexican troops out of East Texas.