10 Amazing Places in Texas You Should Visit This Year

By James Waterson

It’s a (not so) new year, which means it’s time to start thinking about where your next Texas road trip will take you. If you’re planning to visit the Lone Star State, don't miss these 10 amazing places in Texas.


Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Texas may not be known as a mountainous state, which is exactly why you need to get yourself to Guadalupe Mountains National Park pronto. Situated in the northern end of the Big Bend Region, this spectacular park has everything from cactus-covered valleys to woodland canyons, riparian springs, and mountaintop forests. All of this breathtaking scenery can be experienced by traversing the park’s more than 80 miles of hiking trails.

All of the seasons occur in the park, making it an oasis in the desert. In the autumn, the leaves of the maple and oak trees turn orange and red, while the mountains see their fair share of snow. This diversity makes Guadalupe Mountains National Park a favorite for photographers and wildlife watchers as well.

City: Salt Flat
Region:
Big Bend Country
Best Thing to Do: Hike
See Also: Franklin Mountains State Park
Photo Credit:
Justin Melssen/flickr


Jacob's Well

Jacob’s Well

Jacob’s Well is one of the most beautiful, and unusual, places in Texas. In addition to being one of the largest underwater caves in Texas, it’s an extremely popular swimming hole. Clean and clear spring water flows from a massive hole that, at first glance, looks as if it could take you to the center of the Earth. Along with that memorable sight, the well is surrounded by limestone cliffs and the rugged terrain that the Hill Country is known for. So whether you’re into swimming, or hiking, you owe yourself a trip to Jacob’s Well.

City: Wimberley
Region:
Hill Country
Best Thing to Do: Swim
See Also: Blue Hole Regional Park
Photo Credit: Larry D. Moore/Wikimedia Commons


Monahans Sandhills State Park

Monahans Sandhills State Park

Mounds of unblemished sand cover the barren landscape like a crumpled blanket, while the unyielding sun shines through a wide, cloudless sky. Could this really be Texas? Indeed it is. Monahans Sandhills State Park is a West Texas gem that has something no other park in Texas has: sand dunes. Although the sand dunes are a fascinating site, it’s what you can do here that sets the park apart. Monahans is one of the few places in Texas where you can go sand dune surfing. Don’t have your own disk? No problem. You can rent one from the park’s main office.

City: Monahans
Region:
Big Bend Country
Best Thing to Do: Surf the Sand Dunes
Photo Credit: Texas Parks & Wildlife


Caddo Lake State Park

Caddo Lake State Park

Caddo Lake is the only natural lake in Texas, which already sets it apart. Add in the forest of bald cypress trees that tower over the lake’s still and reflective waters, and you’ve got a place you’ve got to visit. Rent a canoe from the park’s headquarters and paddle between these cypress trees and through areas that closely resemble sloughs, bayous, and ponds.

Thanks to its diversity and abundance of native fish species, Caddo Lake is also known as one of the best places to fish in Texas. Along with the canoeing and fishing, Caddo Lake State Park offers hiking trails to explore. If you want to extend your stay, reserve a campsite or rent one of the park’s charming cabins that offer all the comforts of home. 
City: Uncertain
Region:
Piney Woods
Best Thing to Do: Fish or Canoe
See Also: Lake Sam Rayburn
Photo Credit: Texas Parks & Wildlife


Bandera, Texas

Any Dude Ranch in Bandera

If you want to get to know Texas, then you need to live the life of a cowboy. What better place to do that than at a dude ranch in Bandera, AKA the Cowboy Capital of the World? Don your wide-brimmed hat, ride a horse along a scenic trail, listen to Country Western tunes, and eat some lip-smacking barbecue. The many dude ranches that surround Bandera offer these, and many more, experiences. So giddy ‘up, partner. There’s no time to waste.

City: Bandera
Region: Hill Country
Best Thing to Do: Horseback Riding
Photo Credit: Jonas Lamis/flickr


Caprock Canyons State Park

Caprock Canyons State Park

Rocky sandstone cliffs jut from flat grassy plains occupied by a herd of wild bison. Sights like this aren’t uncommon at Caprock Canyons State Park, an enormous state park situated nearly two hours from Amarillo. The park is home to one of the few herds of wild bison in existence, but it’s not the only attraction. All the park’s gorgeous landscapes and scenic views can be relished in a variety of ways. Hike or bike along 90 miles of multiuse trails, fish or swim in a pristine lake, or hop in the car and enjoy a scenic drive. At the end of the day, you just might see a famous Texan sunset paint the wide-open sky in a swath of pinks and oranges; a fine way to end just about any day in the Lone Star State.

City: Quitaque
Region:
Panhandle Plains
Best Thing to Do: Hike
See Also: Palo Duro Canyon State Park


Rockport Beach

Rockport Beach

Crystal clear water, soft sand, and a cool ocean breeze. Ask any beach going Texan where the best place to experience these things is, and they’ll probably tell you South Padre Island (and deservedly so). Yet there’s another place you can go to enjoy some of the purest surf in the Lone Star State: Rockport Beach. Here’s why: Rockport’s one-mile-long beach is so carefully maintained that it was the first in Texas to be named a Blue Wave Beach by the Clean Beaches Council. Not only is the water clean, but there are few waves thanks to the beach being in Aransas Bay instead of the Gulf. Not only is Rockport Beach a great place to swim, but it’s also in an area that offers some of the best fishing in the Texas Gulf Coast.

City: Rockport
Region: Gulf Coast
Best Thing to Do: Get in the water!
See Also: Aransas National Wildlife Refuge
Photo Credit:
Stuart Seeger/flickr


Seminole Canyon State Park

Seminole Canyon State Park

What makes a trip to Seminole Canyon State Park cool? Allow us to answer with another question: have you ever seen prehistoric cave paintings in person before? That’s right; Seminole Canyon State Park has some of the oldest Native American pictographs and cave dwellings in all of North America. To see these ancient works of art, go on a guided tour led by a knowledgeable park ranger. After the tour, explore the hiking and mountain biking trails that take you to overlooks from where you can savor some of the best views in this part of the Lone Star State.
City: Comstock
Region:
Big Bend Country
Best Thing to Do: Marvel at the Cave Paintings
Photo Credit: Texas Parks & Wildlife


Sam Houston National Forest

Lone Star Hiking Trail

For a true escape to the great outdoors, it’s hard to beat the Lone Star Hiking Trail, This 129-mile-long path, the longest in Texas, weaves through dense thickets of pine and hardwood trees found in the Sam Houston National Forest. The easily traversed trail passes trickling streams, flowing creeks, and beds of wildflowers; a wonderful backdrop for any adventure. If you were to traverse the entire path, it would take you about one week to complete it. Once you do, try to avoid the urge to turn around and head back into the forest.

City: Montgomery
Region:
Piney Woods
Best Thing to Do: Hike
Photo Credit: Dustin Ground/flickr


Balmorhea State Park

Balmorhea State Park

It may not be that unusual to swim in a spring-fed pool. Unless you’re in Balmorhea State Park, of course. That’s because here you can dive into the crystal-clear waters of a 1.75-acre pool, which is the largest spring-fed pool in the world. Balmorhea State Park’s pool is 25 feet deep in certain areas, making it a great place to scuba dive as well as swim. The water is always fresh, too; more than 15 million gallons of water from the San Solomon Springs flow through the pool each day. So if you’re exploring West Texas and you need to escape the summer heat, the pool at Balmorhea State Park can’t be beat.

City: Toyahvale
Region:
Big Bend Country
Best Thing to Do: Swim
Photo Credit: Texas Parks & Wildlife

Click here to find out more about the many great destinations, attractions, and events in Texas.

About the Author: James Waterson is the head writer and content specialist for Tour Texas. When he isn’t writing about the many great places in the state of Texas, he’s planning his next epic adventure in the Lone Star State.

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