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Ultimate Texas Road Trip Itinerary for First Time Visitors

Looking for the ultimate Texas road trip itinerary to plan your next vacation?

The Lone Star State is perfect for road-tripping because of its large size and diverse attractions.

From El Paso to Amarillo, Texas is filled with spectacular landscapes, national parks, and vibrant cities.

Visit the laid back beach towns on the Gulf Coast, enjoy the charming small towns and wineries in the Texas Hill Country, and enjoy the urban vibes of Austin, San Antonio, Houston or Dallas.

Don’t forget about the incredible Tex-Mex cuisine or the famous barbecue!

And if you are not satisfied seeing all those longhorns around, check out a rodeo show while you’re road tripping Texas!

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Perfect Texas Road Trip Itinerary

Plan an epic Texas road trip using our detailed guide.

In this road trip itinerary, we consider Dallas the starting point.

The city is well connected by air and also has rental car companies.

Besides Dallas, Houston is another great starting point for the Texas road trip.

Dallas – 2 Days

Start your Texas road trip in Dallas.

Dallas is a diverse city with plenty of urban attractions including museums, city parks, restaurants, and cultural attractions.

A must visit attraction is the Sixth Floor Museum in Dealey Plaza in Downtown Dallas.

The Sixth Floor Museum is located inside the Texas School Book Depository and is dedicated to the life and assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.

Another great museum in Dallas is the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.

The Perot Museum has plenty of interactive science exhibits including dinosaur skeletons and is a favorite with kids.

The Nasher Sculpture Center has an impressive collection of modern sculptures.

The beautiful street art in Deep Ellum and Bishops Arts District is a favorite for photo ops in the city.

Take a walk by the Trinity River and admire the view of the impressive Dallas Skyline including the Reunion Tower skyscraper at night.

You can also enjoy panoramic views of the city from the observation deck on the top of the Reunion Tower.

Fort Worth – 1 Day

Wish to experience the wild west on your Texas road trip?

Visit the Fort Worth Stockyards!

The Fort Worth Stockyards is a historic area filled with cowboys, honky tonk bars, and delicious barbecue.

Visitors can watch a cattle drive through the streets as well as see a mock shootout.

In addition to shopping for souvenirs, visitors can enjoy rodeos and ride a mechanical bull at the stockyards.

Texas Panhandle – 2 Days

From Dallas, we recommend taking the road north through the Texas Panhandle to Amarillo.

Amarillo is one of the most underrated big cities in the Lone Star State.

Spend some time in Amarillo see the historic district, museums, murals, and restaurants in the city.

Visit the iconic Big Texan Steak Ranch and try their 72 oz steak challenge!

Then see some of the major attractions near Amarillo including the famous Cadillac Ranch.

This section of the Texas road trip will be along historic Route 66.

Cadillac Ranch is an essential stop on any Texas itinerary.

At Cadillac Ranch, you will see 10 Cadillac cars half buried in the ground with their noses sticking up.

It’s a popular location to take fun photos with your family.

Drive to the Palo Duro Canyon State Park from Amarillo on a day trip.

The state park is only an hour away from the city and is home to Palo Duro Canyon, one of the most beautiful natural wonders in Texas.

The state park is famous for hiking, camping, mountain biking, and stargazing.

After seeing the Panhandle, make your way south to Central Texas.

Both Austin and the scenic Texas Hill Country are located here and are popular tourist attractions in the state.

Optional: Waco

On your way to Austin, you can visit Waco.

Waco is home to several attractions including the Waco Mammoth National Monument and the Dr. Pepper museum.

Located on the banks of the Brazos River, Waco is also one of the best places to go kayaking in Texas.

Downtown Waco has the ultimate small Town Texas vibe: here you will find Charming cafes, art galleries, boutiques, and pretty murals.

It makes a great stop on the Texas road trip, especially for kids.

Austin – 2 Days

The modern city of Austin is the capital of Texas.

Must-see attractions in the city include the Texas State Capitol building, Barton Springs Municipal pool, Zilker Park, Lady Bird Lake, and Mount Bonnell.

The Texas State Capitol is one of the most beautiful state capitols in America and can be seen on a self guided tour.

Austin is also famous for its live music scene and the diverse culinary options.

The festivals that are hosted here throughout the year include SXSW (South by Southwest), Austin City Limits Festival, and the Pecan Street Festival.

You can easily listen to live music in any of the city’s bars and clubs.

Austin might be famous for its urban attractions but the city is also surrounded by spectacular scenery of the Hill Country and is a heaven for outdoor lovers.

For a relaxed day trip from Austin, visit the famous swimming hole of Hamilton Pool Preserve.

Hamilton Pool is located on the western edge of Austin and is known for its beautiful natural rock pool, sparkling waterfall, and great hiking trails.

Hamilton Pool is one of our favorite places to visit to beat the Texas sun.

Optional: Texas Hill Country

If you have more time, then explore the Hill Country from Austin on your Texas road trip.

This region of Central Texas has rolling hills, waterfalls, rivers and lakes.

The Hill Country is most scenic in spring when bluebonnets pop up all over the countryside.

You will find several charming small towns in the Hill Country such as Fredericksburg, Llano, Wimberley, and Marble Falls.

Stroll their charming Main Streets and shop for antiques and local products.

Popular natural attractions in the Texas Hill Country include Enchanted Rock Natural Area, Pedernales Falls State Park, Colorado Bend State Park, Lost Maples, and Highland Lakes.

Enchanted Rock is most beautiful during the springtime when wildflowers are in full bloom.

Float down the San Marcos River, see fall colors on the banks of the Guadalupe, hike to Gorman Falls, see the LBJ Ranch, and admire the dinosaur tracks at Canyon Lake!

Read our post on Best Things to do in the Texas Hill Country for more information.

Make your way south to San Antonio after seeing the Hill Country.

San Antonio – 2 Days

For most people San Antonio is the major attraction of any Texas road trip.

The city is home to two of the most iconic attractions in America – the Alamo and the San Antonio River Walk.

The Alamo is the site where the Texan forces held their ground for 13 days against Mexican troops in 1836.

The Spanish frontier Mission was once an old Church and has several beautiful historic murals inside it – definitely worth checking out!

Today, Alamo is a UNESCO Site and one of the most famous national parks in Texas.

The San Antonio River walk is a fantastic 4-mile linear park that follows the San Antonio River and is filled with restaurants, bars, shops, and beautiful sights.

San Antonio also has many museums for all interests, popular attractions such as the Historic Market Square, as well as amazing culinary scene.

One of the best ways to explore downtown San Antonio is on a Segway!

Natural Bridge Caverns, located about an hour away from the city, is also great to visit.

At Natural Bridge Caverns, you can see the natural marvels inside – spectacular stalactites and stalagmites.

Houston – 2 Days

Houston is the largest city in Texas and one of the most famous big cities in America.

It is an essential attraction on your Texas itinerary.

Houston is famous for its museums, including the Museum of Natural Science, which features a dinosaur exhibit and an amazing Butterfly Rainforest.

The Johnson Space Center Houston complex is another popular attraction in the area.

Nasa Space Center features great interactive exhibits about space exploration and also includes IMAX theaters where you can catch 3D movies about space exploration.

Undoubtedly, Space Center Houston is one of the best things to do in Texas with kids!

Houston is also known for the Downtown Aquarium, featuring underwater tunnels that take you over sharks and stingrays.

Optional: Galveston Island

Galveston Island makes a perfect beach day trip from Houston.

Popular attractions on the island include the Historic Pleasure Pier, Galveston Railroad Museum, and Moody Gardens.

Galveston also features great seafood, shops, and the Strand Historic District.

This city is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon.

Optional: East Texas

If you love exploring hidden gems, then be sure to visit East Texas on your road trip.

Here you will find charming attractions such as Caddo Lake State Park, the Texan Christmas towns of Marshall and Jefferson, and the Rose Garden of Tyler.

Read our epic guide to the best attractions in East Texas to plan this road trip.

Corpus Christi – 1 Day

You cannot really visit Texas without visiting the Gulf Coast beaches and Texas coastal towns.

Corpus Christi is a great place to start.

The city is known for its beautiful beaches and the boardwalk.

Also Read: Best beaches in Texas to Visit Now

Must-see attractions in Corpus Christi include USS Lexington Museum on the Bay, Texas State Aquarium, and North Beach.

The USS Lexington was an aircraft carrier that was vital during World War Two.

The Texas State Aquarium is another popular Corpus Christi attraction for families with kids, featuring several beautiful underwater exhibits.

North Beach features great nature trails and is a perfect place to watch the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico.

Mustang Island State Park and Padre Island National Seashore, both featuring amazing beaches, are located close to Corpus Christi.

Other Texas cities to explore near Corpus Christi include South Padre Island and Port Aransas.

After visiting the coast, drive towards the Big Bend region.

Big Bend National Park – 2 Days

Big Bend National Park is one of our favorite places to road trip in the Lone Star State.

The park is located in the far West Texas area in the Chisos desert.

Big Bend National Park is most popular for its desert landscapes and the nearby mountain range.

Popular things to do in Big Bend National Park include hiking, climbing, horseback riding, scenic drives, kayaking down the Santa Elena Canyon, and observing the desert wildlife.

Santa Elena Canyon of the Rio Grande River is one of the most scenic places in Big Bend.

Big Bend National Park is a dark sky park and offers excellent sky watching opportunities.

During your road trip in Texas, make sure to take a detour to this national park on the US Mexico border – you can experience amazing culture of both countries!

While in the Big Bend region, stop at the charming town of Marathon, stroll the Main Street of Alpine, see the ghost town of Terlingua, and admire the Prada art installation in Marfa.

Optional: El Paso

The frontier city of El Paso is a great addition to any West Texas road trip.

El Paso is located just about 4 hours away from Big Bend National Park.

The city of El Paso is famous for its cultural attractions, ethnic markets, museums, and Spanish missions.

You can spend a day walking through the historical downtown area, explore beautiful murals at San Jacinto Plaza, and admire local artists at the El Paso Museum of Art.

Franklin Mountains State Park, located near downtown El Paso, offers some great hiking opportunities.

Optional: Guadalupe Mountains National Park

If you have the time, visit this amazing National Park in West Texas.

Located near the New Mexico border, Guadalupe Mountains is a must visit for outdoor lovers.

The national park is home to Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas at over 8,000 feet.

The park has desert hiking trails, sand dunes, excellent camping, and wildlife viewing.

If you have time, we highly recommend exploring both these places on your Texas road trip.

If you’re looking for the best places to see on your Texas road trip, this guide should give you plenty of ideas!

Whether it’s adventure-seeking or culture that interests you most, we hope that our list will help inspire your itinerary.

From San Antonio and its iconic attractions like the Alamo (UNESCO site) and River Walk; to El Paso with its historical downtown area, Spanish missions, and art installations; there are so many places to explore!

When planning your road trip through the Lone Star State make sure not to miss Big Bend National Park – one of our favorite spots in the American Southwest.

We hope you liked our epic Texas road trip itinerary.