As the largest mainland state with a land area of almost 270,000 square miles, it’s no surprise that Texas is brimming with incredible road trip destinations. From its sprawling national parks to its laid-back beach towns and everything in between, there’s no shortage of variety when it comes to what you can see, do and experience in the Lone Star state. And with the summer season now in full swing, there’s no better way to explore the state than by jumping in the car and setting out on the open road.
Whether you’re looking to take a day trip out of the city or head out on a weekend adventure, we’ve rounded up 10 must-see road trip destinations across Texas.
If there’s one thing we Texans are spoiled by, it’s our beautiful swimming holes. One of the state’s most beloved is Jacob’s Well in Hill Country, which attracts adrenaline seekers looking to plunge themselves into the well’s 140-foot deep, crystal-clear waters. And with the spring’s water temperature sitting at a cool 68°F year-round, a dip in Jacob’s Well is sure to refresh you on a hot summer’s day — just be sure to make a reservation ahead of time.
Cadillac Ranch on Route 66
While Texas’s stretch of Route 66 is fairly short (you can drive across the panhandle in about three hours), it’s one of the state’s most classic road trip destinations. Route 66 is home to its fair share of unique roadside attractions, including Cadillac Ranch, which is where you’ll find 10 Cadillacs immediately recognizable by their countless of layers of spray paint. Travelers are encouraged to add to the installation, so be sure to bring a can when visiting!
Four hours north of Houston is arguably one of the prettiest bayous we’ve ever seen: Caddo Lake. Crossing state lines between Texas and Louisiana, Caddo Lake is covered in water lilies and has big, beautiful cypress trees growing right on the water. If your ideal day trip is one spent in nature, hiking, fishing, canoeing or camping in the surrounding forests, then you don’t want to miss this lake spot.
Dinosaur Valley State Park
If your kids can’t get enough of prehistoric times, we’ve got good news for them: dinosaurs are closer than they think at Dinosaur Valley State Park, just three hours outside Austin. See dinosaur replicas and follow dinosaur tracks to the Paluxy River, where you can swim, fish or kayak. Visitors can also picnic, camp, hike or mountain bike along the trails, or even bring their own horse to ride in the park. Rangers are also on-site for those looking to try their hand at new skills like archery.
Blue Hole Regional Park
Just 13 minutes from Jacob’s Well is Blue Hole Regional Park. Its swimming hole attracts people from across the state and has been named one of Texas’s best thanks to its crystal-clear waters. In addition, the 126-acre park is also home to miles of trails, picnic areas, campgrounds, an amphitheatre, playground, and basketball and volleyball courts.
Big Bend National Park
Although Big Bend is one of the furthest places on our road trip list, it’s definitely worth the visit. This remote national park sits on the western edge of Texas near the Mexican border, and it’s a playground for outdoor adventure seekers with more than 450 birds species for bird watching, 50 miles of hiking trails and three on-site campgrounds.
Just two hours from San Antonio is Corpus Christi, a beach town with countless things to see and do both on and off the water, from the USS Lexington battle ship and the Texas State Aquarium to North Beach and Mustang Island — a beautiful, 18-mile stretch of beach, parks and fishing opportunities.
As any city native or Houstonian will tell you, there’s a lot to love about Galveston Island. From its beautiful beaches to its historical downtown, there’s no shortage of things to see, do and explore on the island. Water lovers will love swimming, fishing, ski-dooing, kayaking and more on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico; history buffs will love touring the local museums; and the whole family is sure to love shopping and trying some of Galveston’s great local restaurants.
Known for its German heritage and countless wineries, Fredericksburg is the perfect weekend getaway for wine lovers who also can’t resist a nighttime stroll through a charming town. Visit top vineyards like Grape Creek, Narrow Path or Das Peach Haus during the day, and spend evenings shopping the boutiques on Main Street, exploring the National Museum of the Pacific War or enjoying a hearty German meal.
If you loved Cadillac Ranch and want to spend more time in Texas’s Northwest side, then be sure to spend some time exploring Palo Duro. The second-largest canyon in the USA, Palo Duro is known as the ‘Grand Canyon of Texas’ and is unforgettable with its crimson mountains and breathtaking landscape features. Hike, climb or horseback through the terrain, and spend the night for a spectacular view of the stars.