16 Hidden gems in Texas


Enjoy going off the beaten path and looking for hidden gems in Texas to explore on your next trip?

Texas is home to several stunning landscapes. 

From the West Texas desert scenery to the Gulf Coast, the Lone Star State has several amazing destinations as well as natural spots. 

Visitors can hike the tallest waterfall in Texas and then enjoy the nightlife in Austin in a single day. 

Or visit historic sites like the Alamo in San Antonio to learn Texas’s history. 

For art and culture lovers, cities like Houston and Dallas are the perfect getaways. 

In addition to these, Texas also has several quirky attractions, spectacular sights, and offbeat destinations….

….that are known by very few visitors as well as locals. 

Here are the best hidden gems in Texas to add to your bucket list. 

Palo Duro Canyon

Did you know that Palo Duro Canyon, located in the Texas panhandle, is the second-largest canyon in America? 

This geological wonder, carved by the river, is known as the Grand Canyon of Texas. 

The state park is one of the most visited in Texas and popular for hiking, mountain biking, as well as horseback riding. 

Stunning sunrise views at Palo Duro Canyon
Stunning sunrise views at Palo Duro Canyon

Willow City Loop

Willow City Loop is a small scenic drive located in the Texas Hill Country near Fredericksburg.

In spring, the drive is surrounded by beautiful Texas bluebonnets and other wildflowers.  

With its views of flowers, windmills, as well as Texas flags, Willow City Loop is very popular with nature photographers. 

Enchanted Rock, Texas Hill Country

The pink granite dome of Enchanted Rock, surrounded by the rolling hills and lakes of the Texas Hill Country, is an absolute delight. 

The rock is popular with climbers, who enjoy hiking to its summit. 

Enchanted Rock is also known for its history of Native American worship and legends.  

Gorman Falls, Bend

Gorman Falls is Texas’ tallest waterfall. 

The towering 70 feet beauty is located in Colorado Bend State Park about 2 hours from downtown Austin, Texas. 

For the best views, visitors can hike 3 miles long Gorman Falls Trail and enjoy beautiful views and a thrilling descent down rocky boulders.

Bursting colors of fall foliage surrounding the picturesque Gorman Falls in the Texas Hill Country
Bursting colors of fall foliage surrounding the picturesque Gorman Falls in the Texas Hill Country

Hueco Tanks State Park

Often overlooked, Hueco Tanks State Park is a popular destination for rock climbers as well as photographers near El Paso in West Texas

The park has several rock climbing routes and prehistoric Indian petroglyphs and pictographs that date back thousands of years.  

The state park is home to many wildlife species.  

Falls Creek Falls

Falls Creek Falls on Lake Buchanan is one of the best waterfalls in Texas.

The stunning waterfall is located on private land and cascades directly into the lake.

The waterfall falls down a sheer cliff of pink granite and limestone to create one of the most spectacular sights in Texas.  

The only way to see the waterfall is on private watercraft or on Vanishing Texas River Cruises in Burnet.

Gruene, Texas – Historic District

Nestled along the banks of the Guadalupe River just outside New Braunfels, Gruene is a popular destination for visitors and locals alike.  

This historic district has many boutique stores and restaurants to enjoy as well as several music venues where famous musicians like Willie Nelson and George Straight play.  

Gruene Texas is especially charming in the holiday season
Gruene Texas is especially charming in the holiday season

San Felipe Springs, Del Rio

The San Felipe Springs that flow from limestone terraces is a popular swimming destination near Del Rio in West Texas.

Swimmers can enjoy the cool, clear water as well as picnic and hike along the banks. 

Crystal clear waters of San Felipe Creek
Crystal clear waters of San Felipe Creek

Caddo Lake State Park

Caddo Lake State Park is home to Caddo Lake, the largest of the only naturally formed lakes in Texas.

The lake is surrounded by wetlands, trees, hills, and wildlife.

For best viewing of the wildlife and flowers that surround the lake, visitors can take a kayaking tour on Caddo Lake during fall when the bald cypress trees change color.  

Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge

Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge is a wildlife nature preserve located in Tyler, Texas.

The refuge provides a home for rescued big cats that cannot be released back into the wild.  

Visitors can spot lions, tigers, cheetahs, as well as other big cats on a guided tour of the sanctuary.

Santa Elena Canyon, Big Bend National Park

Located in West Texas, you will find the beautiful and rugged Santa Elena Canyon. 

The natural wonder, located in Big Bend National Park, is one of the best hidden gems in Texas. 

The canyon was formed by the Rio Grande and has been several years in the making. 

The Santa Elena Canyon trail is one of the most popular hiking trails in Texas.

It takes visitors to the mouth of the canyon. 

The canyon resembles the famous Zion Canyon in Utah with the shallow river running through it and towering white canyon walls. 

Natural Bridge Caverns, San Antonio

Natural Bridge Caverns is one of the best caves to visit in Texas.

Located near San Antonio, Natural Bridge Caverns has several natural formations and cave formations.  

The caverns were formed by water over millions of years.

They are very large with corridors up to 100 feet wide. 

Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge

One of our favorite hidden gems near Houston! 

This wildlife refuge in Texas is home to many birds, particularly waterfowl.

The refuge has several viewing platforms for visitors interested in spotting the colorful species.  

The beautiful lake and canoe trails make Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge ideal to explore by kayak or boat.

It is one of our favorite places to visit when we need a nature break.  

Cedar Hill State Park, Dallas Area

A hidden gem near Dallas and Fort Worth, this state park is full of hill country beauty.

It has a wonderful nature center, large lake, as well as several hiking trails for visitors to explore. 

The park is located atop a scenic bluff with several trails that wind through the woods.

Cedar Hill State Park is home to many species of trees and wildlife including deer and wild turkeys.  

Hamilton Pool Preserve, Dripping Springs

Located near Austin, Hamilton Pool is one of the best hidden gems in Texas. 

This swimming hole has gorgeous scenery, crystal clear water, and also lush greenery.  

Visitors can hike, fish, and even climb to get a better view of the waterfalls.  

Guadalupe River State Park

With its turquoise water and stunning natural beauty, it is hard to believe that a place like Guadalupe River State Park exists in the state. 

The state park is one of our favorite hidden gems in Texas for several reasons. 

In summer, you can enjoy a float trip on the Guadalupe River. 

Come fall and the bald cypress trees on the river banks change color, creating beautiful photo ops. 

The state park also has several campsites by the river and is one of our favorite places to camp in Texas. 

We hope you liked our list of best hidden gems in Texas. 

Which of these attractions are you planning to visit next? 

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