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You know what they say: everything is bigger in Texas. You’ve heard it countless times, but because it’s true! As the largest state in the contiguous United States, it has a veritable landscape of mountains, deserts, rivers, prairies, and dunes worthy of any cinematographer’s study, not to mention two incredible state and national parks. It means endless adventure opportunities, dreamy camping, relaxing getaways, and photogenic scenery. From the Chisos Mountains to the picturesque waters of the Rio Grande to stunning mountain views, here are 27 beautiful places in Texas to visit on your next trip to the Lone Star State.
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Big Bend National Park is filled with natural beauty and seems truly untouched by the outside world. Brewster County is about the size of Texas and encompasses the entire Chisos Mountains, much of the Chihuahuan Desert, Santa Elena Canyon and natural hot springs. It’s also home to an impressive array of wildlife and world-class stargazing.
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We really don’t want to sell Guadalupe Mountains National Park to you. The Salt Basin Mountains and the vast Chihuahuan Desert are reasons to visit. Additionally, it has the largest wilderness area in the state and numerous scenic hiking trails.
There are many impressive rock formations in Texas, however, the 425-foot-tall pink granite dome, the crown jewel of Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, is the real highlight. Of course, seeing (and of course photographing) the famously beautiful rock formations is the main attraction, but learning about the mysterious lore surrounding the site is also pretty fascinating (at least that’s what we thought).
For beach lovers living in the Lone Star State, just looking at Monahans Dunes State Park can feel like torture. The lack of waves certainly won’t stop you from admiring this amazing natural phenomenon. Many people come here to admire the beauty of the entire landscape, and those brave enough to hike up the mountain are sure to leave the best stories (and videos) behind.
The Dallas Arboretum is known for its floral displays, sculptures, seasonal events, and educational programs. 66 acres of gardening paradise on the shores of White Rock Lake with beautiful waterfront views of blooming flowers. When walking, it’s easy to forget you’re in a big city.
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Quietly nestled in an unassuming location, Franklin Mountain State Park awaits visitors with its 100 miles of multi-use trails, scenic hikes overlooking dreamy desert terrain, and the thrill of climbing McKelligan Canyon. (This last one is for experienced climbers only. Others should watch in awe from a safe distance.)
If a trip to the Grand Canyon isn’t on your bucket list, it might be time to visit the second-largest canyon in the United States. Palo Duro Canyon in the Texas Panhandle is absolutely massive—120 miles long and 20 miles wide in some places. (Need we say it again? Everything is big in Texas.)
Longhorn Cavern is an ancient cavern dating back to prehistoric times, filled with carvings and sinkholes, and holds a secret history as a gunpowder manufacturing facility during the Civil War. It may look like a scene from an Indiana Jones movie, but Longhorn Caverns State Park has just a few underground adventures waiting to be discovered.
Austin gets over 300 days of sunshine per year. This means perfect weather for outdoor recreation such as boating, fishing, swimming, and water skiing on beautiful Lake Austin. It’s worth mentioning that it’s an especially cool place when the thermometer hits 100 degrees, which we all know is the case in the summer.
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One of the highlights of Colorado Bend State Park (although the entire park is certainly worth exploring) is Gorman Falls, a stunning 70-foot waterfall. Not to be overlooked, the 1.5-mile hike to the falls passes through beautiful scenery. (Pro tip: It gets pretty steep near the end, so most hikers recommend bringing hiking poles.)
Most people associate the striking fall foliage with places like Vermont and Connecticut (well, basically all of New England) and New York, but locals and informed travelers alike know Lost Maple State Park is located two hours northwest of San Antonio. The best place in the Lone Star State to see flaming red leaves.
Yes, we mentioned that everything in Texas is about a billion times bigger. Need another prime example to prove this point? Enjoy the 25,400-acre Cardo Lake, the gem of East Texas. It’s the perfect place to boat, fish, kayak or pitch a tent on the beach.
Sonora Caverns is known as one of the most beautiful snow caves on Earth, but it’s not a place many people outside of Texas know about. This means many people miss out on the opportunity to walk into underground limestone caves, form calcite crystals, and even pan for gemstones.
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The 109-acre Fort Worth Arboretum includes the famous Rose Garden, Rainforest Preservation Japanese Garden, a series of orchards, and the Texas Native Boardwalk, which is basically an outdoor classroom filled with plants and educational stations.
Remember when we lamented the beach-loving residents of the Lone Star State? No need to worry about beachgoers because you can head to beautiful Rockport Beach. The first beach to receive blue wave certification, it’s a playground of miles of sand, sun and turquoise tides.
South Llano River State Park is a little-known gem in the Texas Hill Country. Most people who visit (not that many to be honest) swim or float in the spring-fed river. Walk around and you’re sure to stumble upon wildlife and babbling streams. This is a great place for hiking, biking or sunbathing.
Mount Bonnel, also known as Covert Park, is the highest point in the area at 781 feet above sea level. The climb to the top will test your endurance, but the views over the city and Lake Austin feel like a fitting reward for all the hard work.
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Few places have the capacity to transport tourists. Houston’s gleaming BAPS Sri Swaminarayan Mandir is a traditional Hindu temple in Fort Bend County that draws many visitors twice. In addition to the beautiful architecture, there are unique cultural exhibitions showcasing paintings, drawings and traditional crafts.
San Antonio has a little of it and a lot of it. If you ask us, the city’s best (and most beautiful) asset is the San Antonio Riverwalk. There is a park and walking trails that meander over the water, making it the perfect place to take a stroll, admire the scenery, or head to one of the many restaurants to dine with a view.
The Medina River is one of the most peaceful places to kayak and float through Texas. It’s close to several big cities, and if you want, you can stay in luxury hotels, play, and eat chef-prepared food. However, we recommend staying the night to really immerse yourself in the natural beauty. (Franks and beans can be delicious, right?)
There are many myths and misconceptions about what really happened at the Alamo. But what’s indisputable is that this 18th-century Spanish mission and fort lives up to its name and is a photogenic historical landmark. Once you visit the Alamo, it’s a place that’s hard to forget.
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An artistic and photogenic dot on the West Texas map, Marfa is home to huge indoor and outdoor art installations, exhibits at the Marfa Ballroom, stunning arid landscapes, and of course, creative types (yes , as well as many social media content creators). This phenomenon is called Marfa Light. In Marfa, it’s like a tumbleweed or an Insta influencer you’re not sure you’re going to flip next.
Visiting the beautifully landscaped historic gardens at Bayou Bend, the former home of Houston philanthropist Ima Hogg, is like stepping back into a time of grandeur and sophistication. Its appeal goes beyond manicured hedges, flowerbeds and fountains. Inside you’ll find an incredible collection of fine art, paintings and furniture.
Remember when we said Texas was huge? Well, it’s so big that it takes over eight hours to drive from Dallas to South Padre Island (FYI, you can also fly). Don’t let distance stop you. Not when you’re on some of the state’s best white sand beaches, dolphin watching and gazing at the Gulf of Mexico.
Unless you’re a particularly good driver or putter, it’s worth booking a tee time at the Lanny Wadkins-designed Black Jack’s Crossing golf course. Adjacent to Big Bend National Park
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