The Lone Star State of Texas is the second largest state in the U.S. by both size and population. One of the biggest draws of Texas is its varying geography -- lay by the beach on the Texas coast, go on a wildflower tour of the hill country, and hike through the rocky Natural Bridge Caverns. Although stereotyped for its dusty planes with cacti and tumbleweeds, Texas is actually home to lush vegetation and picturesque scenery. Add in the friendly residents, delicious foods, and fun-filled activities, and you get a perfect vacation destination.
Big Bend National Park combines Texas desert with stunning mountains. Camp enthusiasts love this spot for its unparalleled views and range of wildlife. There you can spot over 400 species of birds and 1,100 species of plants. An unexpected form of transportation in Big Bend is by boat, so be sure to book a river tour.
Remember the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas. This well-preserved mission stands as a historic monument to the 1836 battle that saw the death of all the Texan defenders. Although the battle was a loss for Texas, it spurred inspiration in Texans and led to the ultimate defeat of the Mexican army. Entrance to the Alamo Church and its grounds is free, but for a fee, you can get a guided tour or audio tour.
Houston boasts the largest livestock exhibition and rodeo in the world. The rodeo is held in the NRG Stadium but arrive at the grounds early to check out the livestock and grab a bite. The tots will enjoy the petting zoo where they can get up close and personal with goats, lambs, and other loveable creatures. Then head into the stadium for the bucking broncos and other wild rodeo activities. Each night is punctuated by a different musical act performing on the main stage.
Nashville and New Orleans aren't the only two cities known worldwide for their musical acts. Austin, Texas has been dubbed "the Live Musical Capital" of the United States and the best way to experience that is by taking a nighttime stroll down 6th Street. Sixth Street and Red River are the entertainment hubs of Austin and are chock-full of restaurants and bars that host local and popular live music acts on any given night.
"Houston, we have a problem," is not a phrase you will be uttering when you visit the Space Center in Houston. This center is a leading science and space learning center containing space artifacts and exhibits. It also serves as the gateway to tour NASA Johnson Space Center. Admission runs around $30 for adults and $25 for children, but be sure to check online for seasonal deals and memberships.
Bring history to life with a visit to the President Kennedy and Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas, Texas. Located at the Texas School Book Depository where the shot was fired that led to the assassination of President Kennedy, the museum offers a detailed account of that fateful day and the history leading up to it.
Marfa, Texas may not hold any records for population or growth, but the small West Texas town is a gem in its own right. Stay at an idyllic bed and breakfast or camp in style, known as "glamping." And no visit is complete without a stop at the Instagram-famous pop art installation known as Prada Marfa.
Home to the Spurs, Tex Mex, and Six Flags Fiesta Texas, there are many great reasons to visit San Antonio, Texas. But one of the most iconic elements of this city is the winding river flowing through downtown. The San Antonio River Walk shows off the city's rich culture through its restaurants and decor. Visit at Christmas to see the dazzling lights in the oak trees and carolers singing on barges on the river.
The colossal USS Lexington, nicknamed "Lady Lex," is one of the largest surviving vessels to have served in WWII. The well-preserved ship is now docked on the shore of Corpus Christi, Texas and is open for tours. Inside the ship, take a tour into the heart of the boat, see a 3-D informative movie, and test your nerves in a flight simulator.
Although California has gotten most of the glory for wineries in the United States, Texas is making a name for itself among wine experts. Combine a day-long wine tour with the beautiful scenery of Texas hill country, and you have a great getaway. Go during wildflower to see fields of beautiful bluebonnets, the state flower of Texas.