Texas named #1 for road trips: 20 must-visit attractions in the Lone Star state

High Season Begins In Tuscany
High Season Begins In Tuscany / Giulio Origlia/GettyImages

Everyone’s bank account seems to have been struggling lately, which can be a real damper when planning summer vacations. Some people have found a way to make the best of the situation by embarking on road trips and taking advantage of the neat attractions they see along the route. Road trips have become exceptionally popular, with some choosing to live out of a camper or van on a more permanent trip. Sounds thrilling, right? It is also considerably cheaper than going to the beach for a week or flying abroad. Who needs cruises and packaged beach vacations when you can instead find marvels along the road that belong on a bucket list?

Texas is a mighty big state with many amazing parks and natural wonders. Unsurprisingly, the hefty state came in first for best places for U.S. road trips. The winner is based on cost, safety, and activities. Throughout the Lone Star State, national and state parks attract people from all over the world. Think of a Texas road trip as the chance to tour the natural wonders throughout the state at your own pace. 

What to expect on a Texas road trip

The Open Road
The Open Road / Epics/GettyImages

Planning a road trip through Texas is affordable due to the low gas prices and decently low-priced hotels and motels. The lodging may not be the most luxurious, but this trip isn’t about the hotels but the attractions you stumble upon. Texas has over 9,500 miles of scenic byways to explore and some of the most unique parks in the country. Make sure if you do not rent a vehicle that, you have a mechanic look over your vehicle before you set out. You’re going to want to have air conditioning.

Some of the coolest stops in Texas

Cadillac Ranch by Ant Farm
Cadillac Ranch by Ant Farm / Danny Lehman/GettyImages

There is no wrong answer to where to begin your quest. Many drive through the mesmerizing Chisos mountain range, which runs through Big Bend Park. Big Bend is the most popular destination in Texas which is why everyone passing through on a grand road trip should stop by and witness the incredible landscape of Big Bend. The other parks and attractions should not be ignored. Here’s a quick look at why you don’t want to skip these destinations.

1. Dinosaur Valley State Park (Glen Rose)

This beautiful park is home to some extra large footprints. Walk the trails to give your legs a stretch, or go swimming in the Paluxy River. Look out for all the mini waterfalls around the park.

2. Space Center Houston (Houston)

You won’t regret stopping here to witness the past, present, and future of space travel.

3. The Beer Can House (Houston)

Visit this unnatural wonder created by John Milkovisch in 1968 using beer cans, metal scraps, marbles, and rocks. The best part is that he did all this because he was tired of mowing the yard!

4. Mrs. Pearl the Giant Squirrel (Cedar Creek)

Mrs. Pearl is the mascot for Burdoll Pecan Candy & Gift Company, a local candy company. She is a local celebrity, and everyone who passes by wants to have their picture taken with her.

5. Museum of Weird (Austin)

The museum is certainly weird but it fits in perfectly in Austin, where oddities and fun run amuck.

6. Cathedral of Junk (Austin)

This Austin gem is a fan favorite. Travelers from all over flock to have their photo taken with Vince Hannemann’s Cathedral of Junk. He refers to it as his clubhouse and states that he never wanted attention and built it in his backyard passerbys cannot see. Such a marvel could never stay hidden for long.

7. Longhorn Caverns State Park (Burnet)

This phenomenal park offers walking  cave tours and gem mining for the little ones. If you feel brave, check out the wild cave tour and expect to get dirty crawling in all those tight places.

8. Texas Prison Museum (Huntsville)

This look inside the Texas prison system is a little unnerving but will certainly remind you to be on your best behavior. Be sure to check out Old Sparky and the Ball and Chain.

9. Inner Space Caverns (Georgetown)

This amazing cave was hidden for over 10,000 years and remains one of Texes’ most well preserved caves. In it, you will see beautiful rock formations and even some prehistoric animal bones!

10. Big Thicket National Preserve (Beaumont)

Hop in a boat or check out the bayou and 113,114-acre park on foot. You’re sure to see plenty of grinning alligator faces along the way.

11. Cadillac Ranch (Amarillo)

Experience this awesome and colorful roadside attraction built by a hippy group called Ant Farm from San Fransisco. It’s a rite of passage.

12. Enchanted Rock State Area (Fredericksburg)

This massive pink granite dome is truly one-of-a-kind and a must-see. Be sure to check out the trails around the masterpiece.

13. World’s Largest Cowboy Boots (San Antonio)

Bob “Daddy-O” Wade was an amazing artist of gigantic proportions. He was responsible for the giant iguana on the rooftop of the New York City building and more. He made these huge ostrich-skin cowboy boots in 1979 for the sum of $7,000.

14. Lady Bird Lake (Austin)

This is a kayaker’s paradise. The Austin skyline is beautiful, especially at night when it's all lit up like a fairytale. If you go at night, be sure to paddle over to South Congress Ave. to watch as the bats come out for some breakfast.

15. Marfa Mystery Lights (Marfa)

The Marfa Lights are surrounded by superstition and people hoping to get a glimpse of a UFO. A special pull-off on US-90 is specifically for gazing at the twinkling lights along the western skyline.

16. Seminole Canyon State Park (Comstock)

Visiting the canyon is different each time. The canyon continues to erode and grow deeper annually. It also has a wonderful view of Mexico.

17. Caddo Lake (Karnack)

Enjoy the lovely Spanish moss hanging from the 400-year-old cypress trees. Breathe in the fresh, clean air and listen to the sounds of the marsh.

18. West Cave Outdoor Discovery Center (Round Mountain)

Take a guided tour and feel like a hobbit. The massive grotto, covered in grass, certainly stirs up fairy-like vibes.

19. Hamilton Pool Preserve (Austin)

The absolutely iconic waterfall at the Hamilton Pool Preserve is a great place to take some photos, stretch your legs, and dive into the lovely deep blue pool, but make sure to make a reservation ahead of time.

20. Jacob’s Well (Wimberley)

the well is a natural spring that pushes water up through a hole and within that hole is the second largest known submerged cave in Texas.