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21 Amazing & Incredible Road Trips in Texas

Looking for the best road trips in Texas?

With its vast distances, far-flung cities as well as natural areas, and offbeat roadside attractions, the Lone Star State is one of the best road trip destinations in America.

Here you will find several unforgettable road trips, scenic drives, and backcountry gems.

Texas promises the ultimate vacation for road trip lovers.

Whether you want a themed road trip like the best barbeque joints or a family trip to natural attractions or a drive down the best beaches in the state, Texas has the ultimate road trip for you!

Discover the best road trips in Texas in this epic guide!

Best Texas Road Trip Ideas – Long Distance Trips!

Planning a long distance road trip around Texas?

The state is so vast and spread out that you can easily spend two to three weeks planning a road trip to Texas and still not see it all!

The 7 regions of Texas make excellent road trips in themselves as do the major attractions in Texas.

Here are our favorite places to road trip in Texas in a week or more.

Highlights of Texas Road Trip

If you can visit Texas only once, then use this itinerary!

Our Best of Texas road trip will take you through the highlights of the state.

From the megacities of Dallas and Houston to the lovely San Antonio River walk, explore the best places to visit in the state in one epic Texas road trip. 

Dallas

Begin your trip in Dallas at the historic Dealey Plaza.

The Sixth Floor museum is a must visit – this is where the assassination of JFK took place.

Next, enjoy the cultural heart of Dallas by visiting the museum district.

See the dinosaurs at Perot Museum of Nature and Science. Art lovers should visit the Dallas Museum of Art.

Enjoy the nightlife in Deep Ellum and the trendy vibe of Bishops Arts District.

Fort Worth

Up next, Fort Worth.

Fort Worth is home to the Fort Worth Stockyards.

This is your chance to admire the cowboy side of Texas.

Plan your visit to see the daily cattle drives as well as mock shootouts.

Two step at Billy Bobs and eat the famous Texas bbq. Buy western hats and boots while you’re there!

Austin

Then drive down to lively Austin.

Tour the magnificent Texas State Capitol building made of pink granite. Visit the museums and walk around Lady Bird lake.

Enjoy the city’s nightlife and music scene.

Austin is the live music capital of Texas and you can find events as well as performances happening almost everywhere in the city.

San Antonio

Make the short drive south to San Antonio.

Begin your trip at the Alamo where the famous Battle of Alamo took place.

The Spanish Mission is an iconic part of the rich Texas history.

After Alamo, visit the city’s second most popular attraction of the San Antonio River Walk.

Dine at the River walk restaurants and take a stroll on the paved paths. Take a boat trip down the river.

Houston

Finally, it’s time to drive east to Houston.

Marvel at the exhibits in Johnson Space Center and enjoy the culinary scene of Houston on Westheimer Road. 

Finally, spend some time relaxing on the beach at Galveston.

If you have more time you can even drive down the Gulf Coast to Mustang Island or South Padre Island or head to West Texas and Big Bend. 

To plan this trip down to the details, read our Ultimate Texas Road Trip Itinerary now.

West Texas Road trip to Big Bend National Park

West Texas is one of the least visited regions of the state and has spectacular natural attractions and desert scenery. 

This Texas road trip is a delight for those who love off the beaten path attractions.

The highlight of this trip is, undoubtedly, Big Bend National Park.

This is one of the most beautiful national parks in America.

It has many attractions such as hiking in the Chisos mountains, paddling down the Rio Grande river, scenic drives, bird watching, and wildlife.

Santa Elena Canyon is amongst the best kayaking trails in Texas.

Apart from the national park, the Big Bend region also offers many other attractions for travelers.

Visit the quaint town of Alpine, visit the Gage gardens in Marathon, and also admire the unique art installations in Marfa.

Take a walk through the abandoned ghost town of Terlingua on a day trip and catch a magnificent sunset out in the desert.

The peak season to visit Big Bend National Park is from fall to spring when the weather is cool enough to make hiking in the desert a pleasure.

Big Bend and West Texas are the ultimate Texas road trip destinations in winter!

Our Most Popular Big Bend Road Trip Planners!
Austin to Big Bend Road Trip Guide
Houston to Big Bend National Park Trip Planner
Dallas to Big Bend National Park Itinerary
San Antonio to Big Bend Trip Itinerary

Gulf Coast road trip

Lighthouses and pristine Lone Star beaches!

This epic road trip down the Gulf Coast of Texas is definitely one for beach lovers.

On the way, you can explore some of the last remaining lighthouses along the Texas Coast, splash and swim at beautiful beaches, camp on the Texas beaches, and enjoy the sound of the waves pounding the coast at night. 

You can beach comb for seashells and shark teeth or watch out for dolphins and sea turtles.

Take a stroll in the charming Texas beach towns and cities by day and step inside a seafood shack for dinner at night.

Other activities include building sandcastles and horse riding on the beach at dawn.

Hands down, one of our favorite Texas road trips ever! 

Texas Hill Country road trip

The Texas Hill Country is one of our favorite regions of Texas.

The region is bounded by Austin in the east, San Antonio in the south, Llano in the north, and stretches west as far as Rocksprings.

There are many amazing things to do in the Hill Country for all ages.

Fredericksburg, a delightful town with German heritage is located in the heart of Hill Country. 

The region offers many attractions including stunning natural areas like Enchanted Rock and Hamilton Pool, romantic bed & breakfasts, cowboy ranches, barbeque joints, and charming small towns such as Brenham and New Braunfels

Caves and caverns, waterfalls and swimming holes, scenic drives, dinosaur tracks and fossils – the Hill Country has it all!

With its abundant wineries, vineyards, tasting rooms, and wine festivals, the region is also known as Texas wine country.

It is a favorite with wine lovers.

A road trip to the Hill Country is delightful in all seasons.

In spring, you can spot the famous Texas bluebonnets blooming all over the Texan countryside while in summer, you can beat the hot Texas sun by floating down the Guadalupe River.

See enchanting fall colors and attend events at wineries in autumn and see the holiday lights in the Hill Country at Christmas. 

Route 66 in Texas

If you are a fan of road trips, then you must drive along Historic Route 66 in the Texas Panhandle.

Route 66 is known as the Mother Road and extends from Chicago to Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles.

The Texas section of Route 66 crosses the panhandle and has plenty of unique road trip stops.

The road is 180 miles long and extends from Shamrock to Adrian. 

The U-Drop Inn in Shamrock was featured in the movie ‘Cars’.

Adrian marks the midpoint of the road and is home to the famous Midpoint Cafe.

This cafe is the inspiration for Flo’s V8 Cafe in the movie’ and also a must see photo op along the road. 

But the main attraction of Route 66 is in Amarillo.

See the Route 66 Historic District, visit the museums in Amarillo, then have dinner at the famous Big Texan Steak Ranch.

Here you will also find Cadillac Ranch: one of a kind art that features 10 vintage Cadillac cars painted in vibrant shades and hues!

The cars at Cadillac Ranch look simply fantastic and make for Instagram worthy shots.

A short way outside of Amarillo, off Route 66, you will find Palo Duro Canyon State Park.

Known as the Grand Canyon of Texas, the beautiful natural area of Palo Duro Canyon is worth the detour on your Texas panhandle road trip.

East Texas road trip to Caddo Lake

This classic road trip is a must for adventurers and outdoor explorers.

Make the trip out to the Texas Louisiana state border and go on an epic adventure at Caddo Lake State Park.

With its Spanish moss curtains, bald cypress trees that grow out of the shallow water, and hundreds of tree stumps all around you, Caddo Lake State Park is an enchanting place.

The best way to explore it is by kayaking the water trails.

The three small towns of Carthage, Marshall, and Jefferson are located quite close to Caddo Lake and are worth a visit.

At Carthage, you can visit the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame.

See the beautiful Victorian architecture in Marshall before checking out the historic structures in Jefferson. 

Other attractions in the Piney Woods region of East Texas include the Sabine National Forest, the town of Port Arthur, and the Sea Rim State Park.

At Sea Rim, you will find one of the least crowded beaches along the Gulf Coast as well as saltwater marshes which are great for birdwatching.

If you are making the trip from Houston, then take the time to see Nacogdoches – one of the oldest towns in Texas!

Best Short Road Trips in Texas

These short Texas road trips are good to explore the major cities and their surrounding attractions and perfect if you have a long weekend in Texas.

Austin and Hamilton Pool Preserve

One of our favorite weekend road trips from Houston is to Austin and Enchanted Rock Natural State Area.

This road trip combines beautiful Hill Country views with unique roadside attractions and the urban attractions of Austin.

Austin is home to the University of Texas as well as the State Capitol building. 

Zilker Park is a great place to spend a day amidst lush green trees while Lady Bird Lake is great for paddling and enjoying downtown views.

Austin has many museums for culture lovers and is also a culinary destination.

To end your day, enjoy the nightlife on 6th Street or watch the bats fly under the Congress Bridge at sunset for a unique experience.

Also Read: Best Places to see Bats in Texas

A road trip to Austin cannot be complete without visiting the nearby city of Dripping Springs.

It promises a variety of outdoor experiences including the popular swimming hole of Hamilton Pool Preserve and the rolling vineyards of Hill Country.

You can also visit distilleries, breweries, and go horseback riding at a ranch in Dripping Springs.

San Antonio and Natural Bridge Caverns

Similar to the Austin road trip, this short road trip along I-10 offers plenty of fun attractions.

San Antonio is the #1 tourist destination in the Lone Star State and has a variety of things to do for visitors.

The Alamo, a former frontier Spanish Mission and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the top attractions in the city. 

The other most popular attraction is the iconic San Antonio River walk.

The River walk is a beautifully landscaped vibrant place with shops, restaurants, bars, and souvenir shops.

You can cruise down the San Antonio River and learn more about the history of this beautiful city from tour guides. 

While you are visiting San Antonio, you should take the time to visit Natural Bridge Caverns.

Here you can explore two distinct cave systems of guided tours and see geological landforms such as stalactites and stalagmites.

The adjacent Natural Bridge Wildlife Safari is one of our favorite drive-through safaris in the state – kids can feed zebras and deer from the car in the park. 

Prehistoric road trip to Glen Rose

Glen Rise is one of the best places to visit in Texas with kids.

This underrated road trip has plenty of attractions and should be on the top of your Texas bucket list.

Glen Rose is home to 3 awesome kid-friendly attractions: Dinosaur Valley State Park, Dinosaur World, and Fossil Rim Wildlife Center. 

At Dinosaur Valley State Park, kids can walk and explore real dinosaur footprints that were left in the river bed millions of years ago.

It is amazing to see these huge footprints and walk in the steps of the giants.

Just outside of the state park, you will find Dinosaur World.

Here kids can see hundreds of giant dinosaur statues, dig for fossils, see dinosaur skeletons and fossils in the museum, and buy a variety of dinosaur-themed souvenirs. 

Nearby Fossil Rim Wildlife Center has a drive-through safari where kids can feed deer, zebras, ostriches, goats, and even giraffes right from the car!

Dallas and Fort Worth

The Dallas Fort Worth metropolitan area is vast and worthy of a long road trip in itself.

The region has plenty of historical attractions, cultural destinations, barbecue spots, and Wild West charm.

You will also find loads of outdoor areas, green spaces, and stunning natural attractions in the vicinity. 

Begin your trip in Dallas at the Sixth Floor Museum, which overlooks the Dealey Plaza.

Then explore the Dallas Arts District and it’s attractions including the Meyerson Symphony Center, Dallas Museum of Art, and the Nasher Sculpture Center.

Take the time to explore the stunningly landscaped grounds of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens along White Rock Lake. 

If you can, attend the Texas State Fair. The event has many attractions for the whole family.

Spend the rest of your trip in Fort Worth.

If you are a fan of cowboys, rodeo, and the Wild West then you will love Fort Worth.

Begin your trip at the historic Fort Worth Stockyards.

This is cowboy country!

You can see cattle walking down the streets, visit the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, and experience a Wild West saloon at Billy Bob’s.

Fort Worth also has many other attractions such as the zoo, museums, and street art.

End your trip with a visit to Six Flags Fiesta theme park in Arlington.

To spend time outdoors, visit the Cedar Hill State Park or Fort Worth Botanic Garden.

These are perfect to spend the day out in the open with the entire family. 

Houston, Kemah, and Galveston

Explore the best of the Texas Gulf Coast region with this road trip to Houston and Galveston.

Along the way stop at Kemah and have fun at the boardwalk. 

Begin your trip by checking out the popular attractions in Space City.

See the Gerald D. Hines Waterwall fountain and the museums downtown.

If you have kids, visit the Houston Zoo, Children’s Museum, and the Butterfly Center.

Then tour the Johnson Space Center and see the Apollo 13 spacecraft. 

If you happen to visit during March, attend the famous Houston Livestock Show – the Rodeo!

Then take the trip out to Kemah.

The Kemah Boardwalk has many attractions for all ages.

Here you will find excellent waterfront dining, thrilling rides, a rainforest exhibit, and beautiful water views. 

For your final stop, relax on Galveston Island.

Take a stroll along the promenade and swim in the Gulf waters.

Relax on the beach and catch some sun – unless it’s summer! Enjoy the rides at the historic pleasure pier.

On hot summer days, see the beautiful Moody Gardens pyramids.

Dine on seafood and take the ferry to Bolivar peninsula to spot the dolphins swimming in the waters.

Rio Grande Valley & South Padre Island

Follow the epic US-83 south through Rio Grande Valley to the beautiful South Padre Island.

Along the road, in the valley, you will find beautiful fruit orchards and roadside stands selling fresh fruit. 

The valley is a favorite Texas winter vacation getaway for snowbirds from up north – these are known as the Winter Texans.

Go hiking through the marshes of the valley and on birding trails to see Texas’s amazing wildlife. 

End your trip in the Resort City of South Padre Island, only skip the spring break season!

While the island is home to the college population and beachside parties during spring break, it is perfect for families for the rest of the year.

Go horseback riding on the beach, learn to make a sandcastle, or just enjoy a day by the sea.

South Padre Island is our favorite weekend getaway in Texas. 

Brenham and Washington County

This makes the perfect short Texas road trip from either Dallas, Houston, Austin, or San Antonio.

While it’s most popular during the wildflower season, Brenham is great to visit year-round. 

Take a stroll in the town and see the historic architecture as well as beautiful homes on Main Street.

See the museums and beautiful murals in town. Shop for antiques and eat in local restaurants.

Brenham is romantic and charming, a perfect place for couples. 

Then see the other attractions in Washington County.

Explore the small town of Independence.

Visit the Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site and see the place where the Declaration of Texas Independence was passed. 

Guadalupe Mountains road trip

Looking to explore hidden natural wonders in Texas?

Take a long road trip in southeastern Texas to the Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

Up for an adventure?

Hike to the top of Guadalupe Peak and admire the Texan desert spread around you.

Looking for something less strenuous? Explore the park on scenic drive and family friendly hiking trails.

While you are there be sure to visit the city of El Paso and the Monahans Sandhills State Park.

El Paso is a booming frontier Texan town along the Mexico border. It has plenty of character.

See the city’s historic buildings and Spanish mission, shop in ethnic markets, and enjoy the cuisine.

The beautiful Franklin Mountains State Park is located at the center of El Paso and also worth a visit.

In Monahans Sandhills State Park, you can go sandboarding over the sand dunes.

Kids of all ages love this state park for the sand play opportunities.

Love caverns? Drive across the New Mexico border to see Carlsbad Caverns National Park!

Be sure to plan this road trip in the cooler fall to spring months as the region gets very hot during summer.   

Seasonal Texas road trips

In addition to these year-round road trip attractions, Texas also has many seasonal road trips.

In the fall, you can go on a beautiful road trip to see the fall colors. That’s right, Texas has fall colors! 

And in spring, you obviously need to go on a bluebonnet jaunt – search for those beauties and other flower fields including Indian paintbrushes and poppies along roadsides.

In the holiday season, drive to Grapevine – the Christmas Capital of Texas.

Meet Santa and play in the snow to ring in Christmas. 

And come summer, you can go on one of our favorite Texas road trips.

Load up your 4WD or RV with camping gear and go driving on 60 miles of sandy beach at Padre Island National Seashore near Corpus Christi.

Actually, you can even do this trip year-round!

Here are our favorite seasonal road trip inspiration ideas for travel in the Lone Star State. 

Texas fall colors trip

When you think of fall foliage and scenic drives, Texas doesn’t immediately come to mind.

You’d be surprised to know that Texas sports some of the most vibrant fall colors – if you know where to go!

Start this nature lovers road trip by hiking the beautiful Lost Maples State Natural Area, then enjoy fall colors from the water at Garner State Park.

Next head to Guadalupe River State Park for the most beautiful fall displays in Central Texas.

Dinosaur Valley State Park is also spectacular during the fall while in East Texas, the fiery reds and oranges are most beautiful at Tyler State Park.

With advance reservations and careful planning, you can visit these hidden gems together on an epic fall colors road trip. 

Also Read: Best Places to see Fall Colors in Texas

Fredericksburg and Willow City Loop wildflowers trip

Come spring, and nothing is more enchanting than the Texas Hill Country.

While the entire Hill Country is scenic and colorful during spring, it’s heart is the vibrant city of Fredericksburg and the unpaved Willow City Loop that is located just a few miles away. 

On the Willow City Loop, you will find cowboy boots, famous Texan ranch signs, beautiful homes, as well as simply stunning displays of the bluebonnets and other wildflowers including Indian paintbrushes.

You can take the iconic photos of cattle and horses among the flowers. 

Ennis Bluebonnet Trails

Ennis, located just a little over half an hour south of Dallas, is home to pretty and colorful bluebonnet hills in spring.

The town holds the Ennis Bluebonnet Festival, which is one of the major spring festivals in Texas.

Visitors from all over the world come to see the beautiful flowers.

There are assigned bluebonnet driving trails as well as audio tours to make sure you enjoy the blooming flowers.

There are other activities like concerts, barbeque cookoffs, and more to enjoy time in Ennis.

Christmas road trip to Grapevine

Grapevine is popularly known as the ‘Christmas Capital of Texas’ due to its over the top holiday decorations, the sheer number of Christmas themed events, and the vibrant holiday atmosphere.

The Great Wolf Lodge is an excellent place to stay, enjoy the snow, and have a fabulous Christmas vacation.

During the holiday season, Grapevine’s Main Street including the Town Square is resplendent with millions of lights and looks magical.

The town also has many holiday-themed events including the North Pole Express and is amazing to visit for the entire family. 

Beach camping trip to Padre Island National Seashore

Looking for a quiet beach away from the crowds on the Texas Gulf Coast? Looking for a budget friendly beach vacation?

Head down to Padre Island National Seashore near Corpus Christi.

Padre Island National Seashore is one of our favorite national parks in Texas.

It is located on the undeveloped barrier island of North Padre.

The national park has over 60 miles of beach area – South Beach – which is open for beach driving and primitive camping.

Camping here is an amazing experience. You sleep by the ocean in the shade of the sand dunes and wake up to seagulls soaring in the sky.

Other things to do at Padre Island National Seashore include birding trails, kayaking, windsurfing, as well as turtle hatchling release programs. 

Padre Island National Seashore is, undoubtedly, one of the best places to road trip in Texas!

Marble Falls

Marble Falls makes the perfect Hill Country road trip during spring.

If you have seen Ennis and Fredericksburg and want something new to visit this spring, then check out beautiful Marble Falls.

The road to Marble Falls goes through rolling hills and blooming bluebonnet fields. It looks enchanting in the spring. 

Downtown Marble Falls is a charming place to explore.

Shop in the boutique stores, browse through art galleries, and admire the sculptures on Main Street.

A must visit on the Marble Falls road trip is the iconic Blue Bonnet Cafe.

This eatery has existed for ages and is most famous for its pie.

The abandoned Bluebonnet House is also a must-see attraction during spring.

Turkey Bend Recreation Area in Marble Falls is awesome for mountain biking amidst the flower fields.

We hope you liked our ideas to plan the perfect Texas road trip.

Did we miss any cool places to road trip in Texas? Let us know in the comments.