The Lone Star State is home to some incredibly captivating landscapes and a wide array of activities that are guaranteed to please even the fuzziest of travelers.
Because of its humongous size, Texas boasts a wide array of different sceneries, ranging from rolling hills dotted with vineyards to expansive deserts and mountains looming right into the sky.
If you’re eager to explore the best the Lone Star State has to offer, we’ve put together the ultimate bucket list of the sights and activities you absolutely cannot miss out on during your visit in order to experience the very best Texas has to offer!
The Ultimate Texas Travel Bucket List
1. Drive The Willow City Loop To See Carpets Of Bluebonnets
Bluebonnets are the official state flower of Texas, and seeing the endless fields of the Hill Country carpeted in them is a scene that will make you feel as though you’re inside a Van Gogh Painting.
Even though you can see Bluebonnets blooming in many locations all over Texas during the season, there’s no adventure quite like driving the Willow City Loop, an incredibly scenic drive that provides a mix of the charm of the Texas Hill Country, wine-tasting experiences, and Bluebonnets all over!
The best time to drive the Willow City Loop is late March to late April.
2. See Sky-High Mountains At Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Looming mountains are probably not the first image that pops to mind when you picture the Lone Star State, but a visit to Guadalupe Mountains National Park is guaranteed to change that.
Home to four of the highest mountains in the state, a visit to this somewhat overlooked national park is an absolute treat, especially for those who love adventuring outdoors and wouldn’t mind an experience that combines mountain views and desert goodness.
Hiking is the top thing to do at Guadalupe Mountains State Park. There are plenty of short trails available to explore the mountains and the desert around them as well as more challenging ones if you’re interested in summiting a few peaks.
If you’re an avid hiker, you can actually hike up Guadalupe Peak, where you’ll get the most incredible views of the area once you reach the top!
3. Explore Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park is commonly nicknamed “Texas’ gift to the nation”, and once you get there, you’ll see exactly why that is!
Home to the Chisos Mountains and the Rio Grande River, Big Bend is home to unequaled vistas and amazing recreational activities. Scenic driving is a wonderful way to cover a ton of ground in one go, but if you’d like to get closer to nature, hiking, swimming, and biking are also great choices.
If you’re into history, the park also provides a great chance to take a step back in time thanks to the many archeological sites, sea fossils, and dinosaur bones scattered all over!
- Take on this epic cross-state road trip driving from Houston to Big Bend National Park, taking in several thriving cities and scenic state parks along the way.
4. Experience The Largest Undeveloped Barrier Island In The World
This may come as a shock, but Texas is home to the largest undeveloped barrier island on Earth!
Padre Island National Seashore divides the Gulf of Mexico from the Laguna Madre. Because it consists of a whopping 130,000+ acres, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing what to do, especially when you consider the variety of habits that make up the island.
5. Swim At Jacob’s Well
Jacob’s Well is a submerged cave in Texas (the second largest in the state) as well as an artesian spring that releases thousands and thousands of gallons of water per day. The cave’s deepest point reaches 140 feet, making it one of the most enchanting (and somewhat mysterious) spots in Texas for a unique swim.
Aside from swimming your worries away in a truly mesmerizing setting, there’s a lot more to do in and around Jacob’s Well, including hiking in the wilderness area, birdwatching, and even geocaching!
Top Tip: Another gorgeous spring named Blue Hole is located pretty close to Jacob’s Well. If you’re up for more swimming and great views, make sure you combine a visit to go and make a day trip out of it.
6. See The Second-Largest Canyon In The United States
Nicknamed “The Grand Canyon of Texas,” Palo Duro is the second-largest canyon in the entire state.
Because of its multicolored layers of rocks, the canyon’s beauty is absolutely breathtaking. In order to get the most out of your visit, we recommend hitting a few of the hiking trails on offer, all of which will give you a chance to traverse steep mesas, gawk at beautiful rock formations, and get the most impressive vistas of the canyon without hoards of crowds around.
If possible, we highly recommend staying at least one night within the boundaries of Palo Duro State Park because stargazing here is an experience like no other.
There are several campsites inside the park, but if you feel you need a bit more comfort, plenty of glamping sites are on offer and cabins located right on the canyon’s rim!
- A stop at Palo Duro State Park can make a brilliant addition to our Houston to Grand Canyon road trip itinerary, via Amarillo and Albuquerque taking the I-40 route
We hope this Texas bucket list inspired you to plan the perfect itinerary in order to see and do everything! Even though the list of amazing things to do in the Lone Star State is pretty much endless, these activities, in particular, are a wonderful way to make the most out of your time here!
Before You Hit The Road In Texas
- Remember Texas is BIG! Driving distances can be long, and fuel stops can be few and far between once you leave the major cities.
- Do go beyond the obvious landmarks and national parks. You may want to add some of these Texas hidden gems to your itinerary, or how about taking a tour of small town Texas?
- Stay up to date with traffic information before you set out on a scenic drive with drivetexas.org.
- By law in Texas, Children 1 to 7 must be secured in a child passenger safety seat.
- Never forget an important family road trip item again! Download our family road trip essentials checklist ready for your next family road trip.
© Family Road Trip