As the second-largest state in the US, Texas offers a wealth of possibilities for fun and adventure. The Lone Star State boasts a long list of places to explore, from urban cities to coastal beaches to the picturesque Hill Country. Whether you’re an adventurer, history enthusiast, foodie, or big-city lover, Texas has the perfect activity for you.
Fill up your gas tank for a tour through Texas and you’ll almost forget that you’re still in one state. It’s true: “Everything is Bigger in Texas!” Intrepid travelers can explore the thousands of miles of picture-perfect terrain on epic outdoor adventures, while Texas’ small-town gems introduce you to the “Wild, Wild West.”
There is no shortage of memorable things to do in Texas, but exploring its cowboy heritage is a must! Add rodeos, line dancing, and horseback riding to your itinerary for a complete cultural immersion or explore the state’s rich history at excellent museums. Don’t forget to pair your adventures with a plate (or two) of authentic Texas barbecue.
With so many exciting things to see and do in Texas, you might not know where to begin. So we’ve compiled our list of the absolute best things to do in Texas for you, highlighting the top sights, activities, and attractions. Consider this your official Texas bucket list when exploring this big, bold, and beautiful state!
- 25 Cool and Unique Things To Do in Texas
- 1. Sample Tasty Texas Barbecue in Austin
- 2. Take a Guided Tour of the Texas State Capitol
- 3. Ride the Longest Zip Line in Texas at Lake Travis Zipline Adventures
- 3. Take a Dip in Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve
- 5. Climb to the Summit of Enchanted Rock
- 6. Admire Texas Bluebonnets on the Willow City Loop
- 7. Go Wine Tasting in Texas Hill Country
- 8. Beat the Heat at Hidden Swimming Holes in the Hill Country
- 9. Hike Your Way to Gorman Falls in Colorado Bend State Park
- 10. Cruise Along the Famous San Antonio River Walk
- 11. Take a Step Back in Time at The Alamo
- 12. See the Incredible Natural Bridge Caverns
- 13. Check Out Masterpieces at the Dallas Museum of Art
- 14. Stop and Smell the Roses at Dallas Arboretum
- 15. Fill Up on Deep-Fried Foods at the Texas State Fair
- 16. Watch a Cattle Drive and Rodeo in Fort Worth
- 17. Go Paddling in Caddo Lake State Park
- 18. Learn About Space Exploration at Space Center Houston
- 19. Explore Galveston’s Beaches and Iconic Pleasure Pier
- 20. Plunge Down Water Slides at Schlitterbahn
- 21. Explore a World War II Aircraft Carrier in Corpus Christi
- 22. Bask in the Sunshine at South Padre Island
- 23. Take a Hike in Big Bend National Park
- 24. Hike the Highest Point in Texas at Guadalupe Mountains National Park
- 25. Follow the Lighthouse Trail in Palo Duro Canyon
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25 Cool and Unique Things To Do in Texas
1. Sample Tasty Texas Barbecue in Austin
It’s no surprise that indulging in delicious barbecue is one of the top things to do in Texas. There are numerous spots in Austin to get your fix of true Texas barbecue, but only a handful can be considered the best. The state’s capital offers you a chance to sample signature dishes, including what it’s most famous for – smoky and juicy brisket, pork, and chicken slathered with salty and savory rubs.
Feeling hungry? You can choose from a range of restaurants in Austin, from classic sit-down barbecue joints to sizzling hot spots offering a modern twist. Don’t forget the sides, as Austin’s barbecue dishes are often served with pinto beans, potato salad, and coleslaw that will pair perfectly with your carefully-crafted meat platters.
Franklin Barbecue is arguably the most famous (even Obama visited in 2014!) barbecue joint in Austin, while Loro turns out traditional favorites with an Asian flair. Start your morning with a barbecue breakfast taco at Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ food truck, then fill up with smoky meats at the family-run Terry Black’s Barbecue, or try Central Texas-style barbecue at La Barbecue.
2. Take a Guided Tour of the Texas State Capitol
Austin is the capital of Texas, offering a unique combination of historic sites, quirky attractions, and outdoor spaces. Visiting the Texas State Capitol is a top thing to do in this lively city, serving as both a magnificent piece of architecture and a place to enjoy free and informative tours. Fun fact – it’s the largest capitol building in the United States!
To learn more about the Texas Capitol, take one of the free 30-minute tours for a behind-the-scenes look at its historic halls. You’ll have the chance to visit key areas of the Capitol and get a comprehensive overview of the historic building, Texas history, and the legislature. Self-guided tours are available, while special themed tours include Women in Texas History and Heroes of the Texas Revolution.
Stop by the Visitors Center to browse fascinating exhibits highlighting the history of Texas traditions. The Hero’s Reward exhibit is a must-see, allowing you to walk in the footsteps of Texas Revolution soldiers. After all that walking, you can recharge with lunch at the Capitol Grill in the Capitol Extension.
3. Ride the Longest Zip Line in Texas at Lake Travis Zipline Adventures
A mix of thrill-seeking adventure and family fun, Lake Travis Zipline Adventures is home to the longest and fastest zip line in Texas. Offering the “Adventure of a Lifetime” (as the attraction says) the experience includes a 3-hour guided tour and a chance to ride five exhilarating zip lines.
Suitable for ages 10 and up, this epic attraction is about 45 minutes from downtown Austin and is easily one of the most unique things to do in Texas. You can zip across the incredible canyons and marvel at the beauty of the area from 200 feet above! For the grand finale, the last zip line launches off a cliff 20 stories high and lasts ½ mile across Lake Travis.
After your ride, you’ll have complete access to the private lakefront property, which boasts picnic spots, swimming areas, hammocks, and beach games. All necessary equipment, boat transportation, water, and a light snack are all included with your visit.
3. Take a Dip in Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve
Need a break from the Texas heat? Cool off with a swim in Hamilton Pool Nature Reserve. Located about 45 minutes from Austin in Dripping Springs, this historic swimming hole boasts beautifully inviting blue-green water. The swimming hole’s central feature is the 50-foot waterfall, which spills out over limestone croppings from Hamilton Creek.
The popular Central Texas attraction is the ideal spot to take a dip and feel refreshed on a warm, sunny day, especially when you can bask under the cascading water. The pool itself is so clear that you’re able to see colorful fish and turtles swimming by! Many locals bringing floats and pool noodles to kick back and relax. (Free life jackets are available to borrow.)
It’s part of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve, which offers over 30,000 acres of natural habitat and scenic trails leading to the Pedernales River. Keep your eyes peeled for rare plant species and local birdlife, including golden-cheeked warblers and cliff swallows. Keep in mind if you’re visiting Hamilton Pool Nature Reserve in peak months (May to September), reservations are generally required.
5. Climb to the Summit of Enchanted Rock
Offering majestic views of its massive pink granite dome, Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is easily one of the most unique things to do in Texas. Located in Fredericksburg, this natural wonder has attracted visitors for thousands of years. You can go hiking, backpacking, or camping, while stargazing and birdwatching are other popular activities.
Active travelers love its rock climbing opportunities, while nature enthusiasts appreciate its interpretive exhibits offering insight into this centuries-old destination and its unique plants and animals. There are over 10 miles of hiking trails to choose from, many of which are short and family-friendly. If you only have time for one trail, the short but steep Summit Trail offers postcard-worthy panoramic vistas of the Texas Hill Country.
Spring is the best time to visit, offering pleasant temperatures and blooming wildflowers, but if you can handle the cold, winter sees fewer crowds. If you come in the summer, make sure to book a reservation in advance. If you plan on visiting other Texas state parks, we suggest purchasing the Texas State Park Pass. This way, you and anybody riding in the vehicle with you can gain entrance to all 89 state parks!
6. Admire Texas Bluebonnets on the Willow City Loop
Texas bluebonnets aren’t just the state flower of Texas, they are also one of the most beautiful wildflowers in the state. While it’s possible to catch a glimpse of these blooming flowers on various Texas roadways, one of the best ways to see them is on the Willow City Loop in the Texas Hill Country.
Take the 15-minute drive from downtown Fredericksburg on Highway 16 N towards Llano. From there, follow the 13-mile path in the aptly-named Willow City, a small unincorporated town with a population of about 100 people! Bursting with blues, reds, yellows, and whites, you can see over a dozen different wildflowers carpeting the landscapes, which are dotted with live oak, pecan, and mesquite trees.
While the Texas bluebonnet flowers start blooming in March, they peak in mid-to-late April and can sometimes be seen in May. However, the land along the road is privately owned, so you’re discouraged from stopping or parking along the way. Instead, simply enjoy the views of the expansive flower-filled fields and postcard-worthy displays.
7. Go Wine Tasting in Texas Hill Country
If you’re a wine lover, there’s no reason to fly to Florence, as the Texas Hill Country has transformed into one of the most popular wine tourism destinations in the United States. The Texas Hill Country American Viticultural Area (AVA) is the second-largest AVA in the US, covering over 9 million acres. Its climate is similar to Rioja, Spain, or Southern Rhone, France, making it the perfect setting for producing world-class wine.
Stretching from north of San Antonio to west of Austin, winemakers produce renowned Bordeaux varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Merlot. Vino enthusiasts have their pick of over 50 wineries in the Texas Hill Country, while annual wine-related events include grape stomps and food and wine pairing dinners.
You can swirl, sniff, and sip your way through the collection of charming wineries in Central Texas and sample reds, whites, and rosés. Many Hill Country wineries have tasting rooms where you can share a bottle while enjoying picturesque vineyard views. If you want to learn more, on-site tours offer a behind-the-scenes look at the winemaking process.
8. Beat the Heat at Hidden Swimming Holes in the Hill Country
Summers in Texas can reach scorching temperatures, and one of the best ways to beat the heat is to take a refreshing dip in one of its sparkling swimming holes. Hill Country offers some of the best in Texas, with aquatic adventures available for all types of travelers, whether you prefer a popular spot or hidden gem.
Located in the charming town of Wimberley, Jacob’s Well and Blue Hole are some of the most well-loved swimming holes in Texas. James Kiehl River Bend Park in Comfort is a quiet slice of paradise surrounded by towering cypress trees. Adrenaline junkies can even go cliff jumping off the rocky outcrops at Inks Lake State Park!
With beautiful jewel-colored waters, Krause Springs in Spicewood boasts a stunning grotto and twin waterfalls. Tubing the crystal-clear waters of the Frio River is considered a rite of passage in the Lone Star State. And Garner State Park is one of the best places to tick this activity off your Texas bucket list! Known for its therapeutic properties, the over 100-year-old Hancock Springs in Lampasas is a hot spot for health enthusiasts.
9. Hike Your Way to Gorman Falls in Colorado Bend State Park
Just two hours northwest of Austin, Colorado Bend State Park is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, offering 5,300 acres of unspoiled wilderness and 35 miles of hiking and biking trails. The spring-fed Gorman Falls is the park’s biggest highlight, towering at 70 feet and spanning more than 150 feet. You’ll need to be prepared for a 3-mile round-trip hike over rough and rocky terrain, but the stunning views of the cascading waterfall make it worth the effort.
The spring-fed pools at Spicewood Springs are another top attraction and perfect for when you need a refresher. To reach the best overlook in the park, follow the 2.2-mile Tie Slide Trail past oak, pecan, and cactus-studded landscapes for views overlooking the Colorado River. Camping and paddling along the river are other popular activities.
If you’re feeling adventurous, some of Colorado Bend’s best views are underground in its collection of historic caves. Sign up for a cave tour and explore the darkened natural wonders by crawling your way through the unique rock formations. Alternatively, you can opt for a quiet day on the lake, as the area also offers some of the best bass fishing in Central Texas.
10. Cruise Along the Famous San Antonio River Walk
San Antonio is home to many world-class attractions, but none are as famous as its River Walk. One of the best things to do in Texas and the crown jewel of this popular city, the River Walk is a free attraction with shaded riverside paths perfect for strolling. You’ll find some of the city’s best restaurants, shops, and museums here, as well as top hotels.
At 15 miles long, there’s plenty to see and do at the River Walk. Sit down and enjoy a meal at one of the riverfront restaurants, shop until you drop at the Shops at Rivercenter, and visit the Museum Reach section of the River Walk. Alternatively, opt for a live performance at Arneson River Theatre or enjoy a cold beer at the historic Esquire Tavern, which opened in 1933 at the end of Prohibition.
Cruising the waterways along the River Walk is one of the coolest things to do in Texas. Hop aboard one of Go Rio’s eco-friendly electric barges and enjoy a narrated cruise past San Antonio’s historic neighborhoods. Sit back and listen to your guide share expert knowledge about the city’s architecture and points of interest, such as Selena’s Bridge and the Briscoe Western Art Museum.
11. Take a Step Back in Time at The Alamo
The Alamo tops the list of things to do in Texas for many reasons, the biggest of which is that it stands as a reflection of the state’s rich history. As one of the most visited historical landmarks in all of Texas, the Alamo serves as a monument to the 189 Texan volunteers who fought and died during a famous 13-day siege in 1836.
Tour the iconic landmark and see exhibits and artifacts used by military heroes such as Davy Crockett, who died defending the Alamo. Step inside the beautiful 300-year-old former Spanish mission turned fortress and listen to fascinating stories about the Texas Revolution and the Battle of the Alamo.
Open year-round, this free attraction in San Antonio is a family-friendly destination that offers living history demonstrations and special events throughout the year. For a deep dive into the history of this attraction, you can sign up for a 1-hour walking tour for a behind-the-scenes look at the Alamo Church and Alamo Exhibit.
12. See the Incredible Natural Bridge Caverns
Looking for one of the most unique things to do in Texas? Located a short drive from San Antonio, the Natural Bridge Caverns boasts the biggest natural underground cave system in the world! It’s listed in the National Register of Historic Places and designated as a State Historical Site, offering bucket list-worthy adventures around every turn.
You have your pick of fascinating tours to choose from at the Natural Bridge Caverns, including the popular Discovery Tour that takes you 18 feet below ground. It features state-of-the-art lighting that illuminates the ancient rock formations, such as stalagmites, stalactites, flowstones, chandeliers, and soda straws. For a chance to see some of the rarest and most delicate formations, sign up for the Hidden Passages Tour.
Kids will love the old-fashioned fun at the Mining Company, where they can mine and pan for gems, fossils, and other treasures. Alternatively, opt for an adventure in the sky on the Twisted Trails Zip Rails and Ropes Course or get down and dirty on the Adventure Tour, where you will climb, hike, and explore ancient caverns.
13. Check Out Masterpieces at the Dallas Museum of Art
The Dallas Museum of Art is one of the largest art museums in the country. Offering more than 25,000 works spanning over 5,000 years, it’s one of the best things to do in Texas if you appreciate art. Best of all, it’s completely free to visit.
The museum’s growing collection includes one of the most important collections of modern and contemporary art in the United States. If you’re interested in global pieces, you’ll find artwork from the ancient Americas, Africa, and South Asia, as well as notable European and American paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts.
Don’t miss the Portrait and a Dream oil and canvas by Jackson Pollock or Sheaves of Wheat by Vincent van Gogh. Are you a history lover? Make sure to find the Greek Eros earrings that date back to the late 14th century BC and Egyptian rock crystal ewer from the late 10th-11th century.
You can see something different with every visit to this dynamic museum, as new pieces are added all the time and galleries are always changing. Not only that, but it also boasts a spectrum of educational programs, lectures, concerts, and literary events throughout the year.
14. Stop and Smell the Roses at Dallas Arboretum
An oasis amidst the towering skyscrapers in Dallas, the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden is a vibrant green space set on the shores of White Rock Lake. Just minutes from the heart of downtown, this year-round natural attraction features 66 acres of flower-filled gardens.
Perfect for a day trip, you’ll find surprises at every turn at this floral wonderland. Wander among the various sculptures in A Woman’s Garden, marvel at the seasonal flowers and plants in the Jonsson Color Garden, or let the kids connect with nature in the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden. If you’re hungry, you can sample seasonal produce and locally-grown food in the kitchen at A Tasteful Place venue.
Time your visit right and you can also attend seasonal festivals, art shows, and educational programs throughout the year. Seasons are important here, as the gardens come to life in spring, especially the Color Garden with its 2,000 varieties of azaleas. Spring also features vibrant displays of daffodils, tulips, and tapioca plants, while autumn showcases brightly colored chrysanthemums.
15. Fill Up on Deep-Fried Foods at the Texas State Fair
First established in 1186, the Texas State Fair celebrates all things Texas with food, festivities, and family fun. Held in the historic Fair Park in Dallas, it’s the largest state fair in the nation and offers around 100 free and exciting attractions!
One of the fair’s biggest highlights is its range of delicious fried food offerings. Deep-fried butter, anyone? Great food and fairs go hand-in-hand, and these Texas food vendors take it up a notch with menus featuring deep-fried everything, from fried tacos to fried beer. Other food classics include Corny Dogs and turkey legs, while the wine garden showcases different wine varieties from across the state.
After you’ve had your fill of tasty treats, take advantage of the fair’s fun-filled activities, including the spectacular opening parade with marching bands and colorful floats. Next, head to Midway to enjoy more than 70 rides. Some of the favorites are the 212-foot-tall Ferris wheel, log flume ride, and classic carousel.
If you’re visiting with the family, kids can dress up in cowboy gear and participate in the mock rodeo events, snap a photo next to a sculpture made entirely out of butter, and say hello to cuddly animals in the livestock barns!
16. Watch a Cattle Drive and Rodeo in Fort Worth
Experiencing true cowboy culture should definitely be on your Texas bucket list, and one of the best places to delve into this western lifestyle is Fort Worth, aka “Cowtown.” The Old West comes to life in this exciting destination, where the Fort Worth Herd presents a twice-daily cattle drive.
You can see the real Texas cowhands drive a herd of Texas longhorns down East Exchange Avenue in the Stockyards National Historic District, usually at 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. One of the best places to watch this live display of American cowboy culture is from any of the Stockyards Station restaurants with outdoor seating. The lawn in front of the Livestock Exchange Building also gives you a front-row seat to the action.
If you’re looking for more thrills, grab your favorite cowboy attire and attend the 2-hour Stockyards Championship Rodeo in the historic Fort Worth Cowtown Coliseum. It’s the world’s only year-round rodeo! Held every Friday and Saturday at 8:00 p.m. it features an exciting series of riding and roping contests highlighting the working skills of the American cowboy.
17. Go Paddling in Caddo Lake State Park
A fantastic destination for nature-loving families, Caddo Lake State Park is the state’s only natural lake and considered an East Texas treasure. Large cypress trees draped with Spanish moss overlook the maze of bayous, sloughs, and ponds of Caddo Lake and offer the perfect setting for a day out in nature.
While you can enjoy fishing, hiking, and camping in this beautiful park, one of the best ways to see its natural beauty is by paddling along the natural waterways. Rent a canoe or kayak, or bring your own, and enjoy a leisurely afternoon navigating Caddo Lake’s twists and turns. You’ll love the serene setting and wildlife watching opportunities! Guided boat tours are also available.
You can also explore the Caddo Lake area on foot. The nearby Caddo Forest Trail is especially beautiful in autumn with its colorful display of fall foliage.
Walk along the Big Cypress Bayou and stop to admire the sunset from the picturesque Saw Mill Pond. If you’re not ready to leave just yet, check out the park’s collection of campsites and historic cabins.
18. Learn About Space Exploration at Space Center Houston
There’s no doubt about it – Space Center Houston is one of the coolest things to do in Texas! A visit here offers access to all things space exploration, from the remarkable past to the exciting future of America’s human spaceflight program. In addition to live shows and presentations, you’ll have the chance to explore its artifact-filled galleries.
Home to the largest collection of space artifacts, space enthusiasts of all ages will be captivated by the engaging center filled with more than 400 objects (including flown spacecraft!), as well as permanent and traveling exhibits. Marvel at the moon rocks, discover what it takes to travel to Mars, and get hands-on with the interactive exhibits.
There is always something new at this world-class attraction. Seeing the SpaceX Falcon 9 exhibit is a big highlight, while the Astronaut Gallery showcases real-life spacesuits. Take your time to browse the national treasures in the Starship Gallery, then step inside a shuttle replica at Independence Plaza.
19. Explore Galveston’s Beaches and Iconic Pleasure Pier
Galveston is one of the top travel destinations in Texas – and for good reason! It boasts the perfect combination of outdoor recreation and cultural attractions. The 32 miles of sun-soaked coastline make it a hit with families year-round. In addition to a wealth of enticing restaurants, antique stores, art galleries, and entertainment options, it’s also home to the iconic Pleasure Pier.
Ready to dig your toes in the sand? Throw your towel on the soft sands of Galveston’s beaches for a day of complete relaxation. Stewart Beach is one of the best beaches in Galveston for families, featuring restrooms, concession stands, and plenty of sand for building sandcastles.
Considered a must-do in Galveston, the Historic Pleasure Pier is a nostalgic boardwalk-style amusement park with roller coasters and kid-friendly rides. Join in on the fun with carnival-style games, test your bravery at the 5D theater, or take flight on the 230-foot-tall Texas Star Flyer.
For a nature-filled day, pack a picnic and head to Galveston Island State Park, a 2,000-acre area popular for its beaches and birdwatching, kayaking, and hiking opportunities. Afterward, you can spend the afternoon browsing the boutique shops in the charming Strand Historic District.
20. Plunge Down Water Slides at Schlitterbahn
There’s no better way to beat the heat in Texas than at a fun-filled water park. Schlitterbahn Waterpark has two locations: one in New Braunfels and another in Galveston. These beloved family attractions are a mecca of fun! They offer tons of water-based adventures, including tube slides, surfing waves, zero-entry beaches, and heated pools.
The waterparks are ideal for all ages and feature plenty of areas for your little ones to splash and play. Those looking for thrills will find a wide range of heart-racing slides, rides, and water coasters. When you’ve had your fill of heart-pounding attractions, float in the lazy river or sip frozen drinks at the swim-up bar.
For an overnight adventure, Schlitterbahn Waterpark & Resort in New Braunfels offers various accommodation options that range from resort-style rooms and cabins to lofts and luxury suites. This park is so huge that it has two distinct sections separated by a few city blocks, with a free tram service connecting the two.
21. Explore a World War II Aircraft Carrier in Corpus Christi
The USS Lexington is not just your typical museum – it’s a World War II-vintage aircraft carrier. Nicknamed “The Blue Ghost,” it was commissioned in 1943 and served the United States longer and set more records than any other carrier in the history of naval aviation.
Jump aboard this fascinating naval museum and learn about the ship’s storied history as well as naval aviation and battles. Behind-the-scenes tours offer you a chance to see a collection of vintage aircraft, as well as a first-hand peek at the real flight deck, hangar, and crew quarters. Themed tours are also available, from paranormal tours to a comprehensive Hard Hat Tour that offers an in-depth exploration of areas not accessed by the public.
The USS Lexington also hosts other family-friendly attractions, including an escape room and 3D theater. Want a more immersive experience? Test your nerves behind the controls of a warplane flight simulator or enjoy an interactive game with virtual battle stations. Alternatively, you can browse the museum’s scale model collection with over 400 pieces on display.
22. Bask in the Sunshine at South Padre Island
If you’re looking for some fun in the sun, South Padre Island should be at the top of your Texas bucket list. Aside from its spring break reputation, this resort town off the southern coast of Texas is beloved for its beautiful beaches and tranquil waters. While it’s tempting to throw down a towel and spend your days soaking up the sunshine, other popular activities on this barrier island include boating, fishing, diving, surfing, and kitesurfing.
If you’ve got the kids in tow, you can build sandcastles at Isla Blanca Park, one of the island’s best beach areas, or enjoy thrilling water slides at Beach Park at Isla Blanca. Families can also hop aboard a dolphin-watching cruise or get up-close and personal with resident turtles at Sea Turtle, Inc.
If you need a break from the beach, learn more about the area at the Museums of Port Isabel. There are three notable sites to explore: Port Isabel Lighthouse, the Port Isabel Historical Museum, and the Treasures of the Gulf Museum. For a glimpse of South Padre’s wild side, follow the scenic Laguna Madre Nature Trail to see more than 300 species of birds in their natural habitat.
23. Take a Hike in Big Bend National Park
If you’re a nature lover, Big Bend National Park should be at the top of your Texas bucket list. At a whopping 800,000 acres, it’s not only one of the largest national parks in the United States but this southwestern Texas gem also offers an array of epic outdoor adventures, from hiking along scenic trails to soaking in natural hot springs.
Ready to lace up your hiking boots? Capture some of the most sought-after vistas in Texas on the park’s Lost Mine Trail, a 4.8-mile roundtrip hike with panoramic views over the mountains and valleys. The sunset views are unparalleled at the Window View Trail, while the Santa Elena Canyon hike gets you up close with the Rio Grande River.
If a scenic drive is more your style, hit the road on the more than 100 miles of paved roads. In addition to gorgeous vistas, you’ll have the chance to spot local wildlife and an incredible diversity of flora and fauna along the way. The Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive is one of the park’s best, offering picture-perfect overlooks and worthy pit stops, including the Sotol Vista, Mule Ears Outlook, and Tuff Canyon.
24. Hike the Highest Point in Texas at Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Looking for a challenge? One of the coolest things to do in Texas if you’re an active traveler is to explore Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Climb to the top of Texas with a hike up Guadalupe Peak, where you’ll experience a 3,000-foot elevation gain along the 8.5-mile round trip hike.
While it takes around 6-8 hours to complete this up-hill trail, hikers are rewarded at the end with fantastic views from the highest point in Texas at 8,751 feet. The peak towers over the 40-mile-long Guadalupe Mountain Range and offers magnificent views of El Capitan.
The park itself is located off Highway 62 in far west Texas, just outside of El Paso and features a mix of canyon slots, desert shrubbery, and lush forests. There are plenty of other hikes in this park, including the picturesque Devil’s Hall, Smith Spring Loop, and McKittrick Canyon trails.
If you’re ready for an overnight adventure, both primitive tent and RV camping are available. On clear nights, you can enjoy gazing at the park’s canopy of stars and Milky Way, which are visible from horizon to horizon.
25. Follow the Lighthouse Trail in Palo Duro Canyon
Dubbed the ‘Grand Canyon of Texas,’ Palo Duro Canyon State Park is home to the second-largest canyon in the United States. It’s an absolute must-do Texas attraction if you’re an outdoor lover. The trail offers more than 30 miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails for you to explore.
Its rugged natural beauty is best seen on its popular Lighthouse Trail, which is 5.7 miles round trip along a fairly wide canyon. The reward of this relatively easy trail is seeing the canyon’s iconic Lighthouse rock formation up-close, with the photo-worthy sight boasting a large red rock pillar sitting at the edge of the cliffs. Make sure to stop and savor the panoramic views of the gorgeous canyon.
Located in the Texas Panhandle, less than an hour from Amarillo, the Palo Duro Canyon appears out of nowhere after hundreds of miles of flat plains. If you prefer to explore this dazzling area by car, follow the Palo Duro Canyon Loop. While it only takes about 30 minutes to complete, plan for longer since you’ll find numerous outlooks to stop at along the way.
There you have it! 25 of the best things to do in Texas. What’s your favorite thing to do in the Lone Star State?
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