Around here, everyone is getting excited about our 30th birthday, including the 30 winners of our "A Heart as Big as Texas" essay contest. These winners, joined by a guest, will be treated to a VIP culinary weekend event in Austin provided by Whole Foods Market and our anniversary partners, Texas Tourism opens in a new tab, JetBlue Airways opens in a new tab and the Radisson Austin opens in a new tab. Our friends at Texas Tourism got extra excited and, while the party is in Austin, they wanted to tell everyone about 30 great Texas destinations. Ever been to Texas? Plan on visiting? What would be on your top 30 places to see? Here's their list:
Austin Considered "the Live Music Capital of the World," Austin opens in a new tab has it all—blues, country, reggae, jazz, Tejano, swing and rock—featured daily in nearly 200 live music venues around the city. The city’s hills and lakes also lend themselves to abundant kayaking, hiking, cycling and other activities.Lubbock
Lubbock opens in a new tab is home to Texas Tech University, Buddy Holly’s birthplace, unique shopping and dining and a legendary ranching and music heritage. Although Lubbock maintains an atmosphere of small-town hospitality and West Texas charm, it also offers big-city delights.Caddo Lake State Park
Thick bald cypress trees and a tangle of aquatic plants thrive in the waters at Caddo Lake State Park opens in a new tab, encompassing 480 acres beside Caddo Lake. Featuring camping areas, trailer sites, cabins opens in a new tab, boating, hiking, and nature trails, the park also affords excellent access to diverse fishing experiences.
Amarillo Amarillo opens in a new tab is the center of the Texas Panhandle, located at the edge of the Great Plains. It offers a true Western heritage, a unique geographical area with wide, open spaces and breathtaking sunrises and sunsets.Alpine
Located between the Davis and Glass mountains and near Big Bend National Park, Alpine opens in a new tab is one of a kind, offering small town values, friendly hospitality, special attractions, vast landscapes, big skies and a high and dry climate.Dallas
Dallas opens in a new tab is a mecca for shoppers, as it boasts more shopping centers per capita than any other U.S. city. This richly diverse city offers a thriving culinary scene, leading arts district, countless luxury accommodations, professional sports, trendy entertainment districts and endless shopping opportunities.
Fredericksburg Approximately 40 percent of all Texas peaches are grown in Fredericksburg opens in a new tab and surrounding Gillespie County, with more than 1,400 acres of commercial production located within the county. Nine wineries now call Gillespie County home, and Fredericksburg-based Wine Road 290 strings together a series of the Hill Country’s finest.Fort Worth
The city of cowboys and culture, Fort Worth opens in a new tab is a destination redefined, with new hotel offerings, restaurants and tourism venues which enhance the city's reputation as one of the premier leisure travel destinations in the nation. Visitors can experience exciting Western heritage in the Stockyards National Historic District and artistic masterpieces of Fort Worth's Cultural District.
Galveston Offering 32 miles of beach, Galveston opens in a new tab is a treasure trove of things historically Texan. From sunny beach fun, to sizzling nightlife, to tantalizing Gulf Coast cuisine, Galveston Island promises fun for the entire family.Bryan/College Station
Byran-College Station opens in a new tab is a community rich in tradition and history, set deep in the heart of Central Texas. Enjoy the modern amenities of a big city, combined with a warm small-town charm, making this one of the friendliest places you’ll ever visit. Bryan-College Station is also home to the premier Messina Hof Winery, which offers a romantic journey to the European wine country with a perfect blend of Italian and German cultures.Abilene
Abilene opens in a new tab is the defining city of West Texas, where the frontier spirit is still applied to discovery, development and creativity. Abilene boasts a central location – just 150 miles west of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex – and is home to 120,000 friendly people. Relax, explore and enjoy the mix of Western heritage and contemporary culture.Graham
Nestled within the North Texas Hill Country, Graham opens in a new tab offers the perfect setting for all kinds of outdoor recreation. Visitors like to shop in the historic downtown square and at a growing number of antique stores, and courthouse square is recognized as the largest downtown square in America. The city also features one of the few remaining drive-in theaters left in the state.Big Bend
The largest state park in Texas, Big Bend State Park opens in a new tab encompasses more than 300,000 acres in the Chihuahuan Desert wilderness, between desert, mountains, canyons and the Rio Grande. Visitors can embrace some of the Southwest’s most remote and rugged terrain via hiking, backpacking, nature study, river rafting and canoeing experiences.Houston
Houston opens in a new tab is the largest city in Texas and fourth largest in the nation. Nicknamed Space City – as it is home to NASA and the Johnson Space Center – visitors can choose from a plethora of dining and cultural options in the Museum District and 17-block Theater District. Houston offers a wide variety of shopping attractions for any budget, including the famous Houston Galleria, Rice Village or Harwin Drive for bargain shopping. Houston also hosts the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, the world’s largest such event held annually.
Lockhart Located about 30-miles south of Austin, Lockhart opens in a new tab was named the Barbecue Capital of Texas, and four BBQ establishments in the city estimate about 23,000 visitors each week (approximately 1.2 million people per year).McAllen
McAllen opens in a new tab is in Texas' lush lower Rio Grande Valley, noted for subtropical climate and tourist facilities catering to thousands of summer and winter visitors. This area is the best birding location in the entire country. Several wildlife refuges and state parks offer excellent bird-watching activities. At Quinta Mazatlan, visitors flock to see more than 500 documented species of birds. Birders can see species they can’t find anyplace else in the country like the Green Jay, Buff-bellied Hummingbird and Altamira Oriole.Lajitas
Lajitas Golf Resort and Spa opens in a new tab is situated at the western edge of Big Bend National Park on 27,000 exquisite acres. Set along the majestic Rio Grande River, the resort’s unique destination is rich in old west history complimented by the rugged luxury service of a first class hotel.
South Padre Island Located on the tropical tip of Texas, South Padre Island opens in a new tab is bordered by the Gulf of Mexico and the Laguna Madre Bay. Beautiful beaches, warm Gulf waters, fishing, boating, bird watching, shopping and diversity of year-round activities await every visitor.Palo Duro Canyon State Park
Located 25 miles southeast of Amarillo, Palo Duro Canyon State Park opens in a new tab is one of the largest state parks in Texas, with 26,000 acres amid scenic landscapes. On the tabletop expanse of the Texas High Plains, enjoy extraordinary colors and beauty and travel the same trails used by Native Americans, early Spanish explorers, buffalo hunters and pioneers.Bandera
Located less than an hour from San Antonio, this authentic Western town, surrounded by working and guest ranches, bills itself as "Cowboy Capital of the World opens in a new tab." Bandera County dude ranches offer a taste of the cowboy lifestyle with horseback riding, trail rides and chuckwagon meals. At local honky tonks, the music is lively and the dance floor is full.
San Antonio One of Texas’ most visited and one of America’s oldest cities, San Antonio opens in a new tab is steeped in deep Latino roots as well as a fusion of other cultures that have shaped the city’s diversity. Cultural treasures include the Alamo and famed, recently-expanded River Walk lined with bistros, cafes and shops among cobblestone paths.New Braunfels
Founded by German settlers, New Braunfels opens in a new tab is overflowing with old world heritage and small town Texas charm. Visit New Braunfels’ great museums, historic districts and performing arts, and have some fun in the sun on/in the Guadalupe River and Comal River.Port Arthur
Port Arthur opens in a new tab is a year-round fisherman's destination, featuring many locations to catch more than 25 varieties of freshwater and saltwater fish. With access to both Lake Sabine and the Gulf of Mexico, Port Arthur has fishing for every type of angler. With Cajun flavors, dramatic history and natural beauty, Port Arthur has something for every traveler.Marfa
Situated on a high plateau of the Chihuahuan Desert between three mountain ranges, Marfa opens in a new tab is where the air is light, the beauty is natural and the sky is vast. Marfa’s is also known for its "mystery lights," first documented in 1833, and while many theories have been proposed, these playful lights stimulate the imagination and beckon visitors to adventure.Corpus Christi
Corpus Christi opens in a new tab is a major deep-water port and one of Texas' most popular seacoast playgrounds. Local residents and regional visitors alike flock to the warm waters and beaches of the area. Favorite outdoor activities include fishing, birding and surfing. Other popular attractions include the U.S.S. Lexington, the Texas State Aquarium and the South Texas Botanical Gardens & Nature Center.Waco
Located between Dallas and Austin, Waco opens in a new tab is famous for its taste of Texas history and hospitality. Waco’s 18 museums and attractions offer a unique, relaxing getaway from the ordinary. Waco is also the birthplace of Dr. Pepper, and the Dr. Pepper museum serves up history and nostalgia as one of Waco’s favorite must-sees.
Grapevine Grapevine opens in a new tab is a premier leisure destination in North Texas with extraordinary hotels, shopping, restaurants and more. There are also eight wineries in the Grapevine area, making for a fun and tasty weekend getaway.El Paso
Located at the western tip of Texas, where Texas, New Mexico and Old Mexico meet, El Paso opens in a new tab is the largest international metroplex in the world and seamlessly blends cultures and traditions. Visitors can enjoy an eagle-eye view of 7,000-square miles of Southwestern nature beauty from atop Ranger Peak in El Paso’ Franklin Mountains, with views of the Hueco Mountains, New Mexico’s white sands and Mexico.Tyler
With its charming brick streets, quaint antique shops and unique specialty stores, Tyler opens in a new tab offers something for everyone. Visitors enjoy crystal-clear lakes and scenic campgrounds along with world-class art museums and the Tyler Municipal Rose Garden, a 22-acre rose showcase featuring 38,000 rose bushes representing 500 varieties.