Even though the first destinations that may come to mind when you think of the Lone Star State are places like Austin, Dallas, or Houston, the state’s enormous size means it has plenty of space for a whole lot of other attractions that are also worth checking out during your visit.
If you’re the type who prefers exploring hidden gems rather than visiting popular sites, Texas just happens to be the ideal place to get your explorer on.
From funky art installations in the middle of nowhere to walking over fossilized mammoths, here are some of the most unique places in Texas you’ve got to check out during your visit!
Unique Places to Visit in Texas You May Not Know Exist
1. Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge
Set right on the Mexican border over the Lower Rio Grande Valley, the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge is a perfect place to head to if you love all things wildlife-related.
Home to over 400 species of birds, Laguna Atascosa boasts the largest number of bird species in the entire country.
As if that weren’t reason enough to convince you to pay this place a visit, it’s also the home to several endangered species such as the Texas ocelot and the Gulf Coast jaguarundi, making it a haven for those keen to get close to the animals that roam the Lone State State.
2. Cathedral of Junk
It’s not exactly a secret that Austin prides itself on its quirky vibes, and the Cathedral of Junk is a prime example of how weird and wonderful the city can get.
Set in the backyard of a local named Vince, this cathedral is exactly what its name sounds like – a “cathedral” created from random junk. Vince began “building” it (or his “clubhouse”, as he often calls it) back in the late 80s.
Over the years, it has continued to evolve, both by Vince’s efforts as well as locals who fell in love with the project and wanted to donate their very own junk to the cause.
3. Waco Mammoth National Monument
Keen to take a trip back in time to the Prehistoric era? Waco Mammoth National Monument is the home to the largest concentration of mammoth fossils to have died after a big natural disaster, and there are so many of them around that you won’t even know where to start looking!
Most of the mammoth fossils you’ll find here are said to be the result of a mudslide that took place almost 70,000 years ago (although that’s just a theory). As you explore the site, you’ll get plenty of opportunities to get close and personal to these gigantic extinct animals.
Moreover, you’ll also be able to see several other fossils, including those of a saber-tooth cat and bulls.
4. Cadillac Ranch
Founded back in the 70s, Cadillac Ranch is a huge art installation on Route 66 that features a collection of graffiti-covered Cadillacs that are partially buried in the ground.
The installation’s aim was originally to represent the American Dream, but today, most visitors come to see the incredibly photogenic scenery it provides!
Pro tip: Don’t forget to bring your own can of spray paint along, as visitors are encouraged to get creative and leave their mark on the cars!
- Cadillac Ranch makes a great stopping point on our Houston to Grand Canyon road trip, taking in the best stops along the I-40 between Amarillo and Albuquerque
5. Caddo Lake
If you’re into storybook-like settings, Caddo Lake is sure to please. Formed centuries ago by the Great Raft, this lake and its forested surroundings are incredibly idyllic, especially when you consider the entire area is dotted by humongous cypress trees and moss-covered walls!
Aside from hiking, boating, and swimming, Caddo Lake is also the perfect spot to do some serious wildlife spotting. Keep your eyes out for alligators, eagles, owls, and mink while you adventure in and around the lake!
6. Enchanted Rock
Located in the middle of the alluring Texas Hill Country, Enchanted Rock is a gorgeous pink granite mountain whose beauty is guaranteed to leave you awe-struck.
While the mountain’s eye candy is reason enough to give it its name, the reason it was actually named that way comes from the sharp sounds it emits on some nights when its surface contracts!
Being the second-largest granite dome in the country, hiking opportunities are aplenty. Another incredible way to experience Enchanted Rock is by spending the night at the park, where stargazing is an experience like no other, thanks to the lack of light pollution anywhere nearby!
7. Hamilton Pool
Encircled by limestones and featuring stalactites dribbling from the roof, Hamilton Pool is one of the most unique (and slightly otherwordly-looking) spots in the state to do some serious swimming.
To reach the pool, you’ll need to follow a hiking trail through a lush canyon, making the entire experience of visiting one that will make you feel as though you somehow landed in a setting from the movie Avatar!
We hope this list of incredibly unique places to visit in Texas inspired you to craft an itinerary that will get you exploring some of the lesser-visited sites in the Lone Star State. Even though the entire state brims with plenty of more wonderful destinations, these are by far some of the most interesting of them all!
Further Road Tripping in Texas
- Learn more about Texas back roads in our guide to the best scenic drives in Texas
- Check out our guide to the best small towns in Texas you might not have heard of!
- For a longer drive checking out major cities to lesser-known state parks, try our Houston to Big Bend National Park road trip itinerary.
- Never forget an important road-tripping item again! Download our PDF road trip checklist and read through all the essentials we like to pack for different road-tripping adventures.
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