There are some experiences in life that you just can’t miss out on. And a road trip, blasting your favorite songs, and singing along with your besties is one of them.
There’s something so freeing about a great road trip that you can’t ever fully understand until you’ve experienced it for yourself.
And what better place is there for you to travel than through the US’s Southern state? It has so much to offer. Cascading waterfalls, rolling hills, exciting and eclectic cities, and some of the very best views you’ll ever see.
Regardless of who is bounding into your car and coming on your adventure, there will be something for everyone.
I can’t imagine there is a single landscape that can be missed during a Texas road trip. Whatever your definition of beauty is, you’ll find it here.
Excited to get on the open road? I bet you are. So, without further ado, let’s get straight into some of the best Texas road trips and itineraries. I call shotgun!
Best Road Trips In Texas
I know that everyone knows that America is big, but sometimes I think the size of just singular states alone is massively underestimated.
To give you some indication of exactly just how expansive Texas is, you could fit Belgium, Switzerland, Slovakia, Macedonia, Hungary, Luxembourg, the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia, and The Netherlands all inside it.
So as you can imagine, it’s pretty easy to miss some of the best parts of Texas during a flying visit.
If you really want to take the time to soak in all that Texas has to offer, you’re going to want to visit the slightly slower way – by car.
But where should you head? Where are you traveling? Let’s take a look.
Often described as Texas’ Gift to the Nation it would be criminal not to visit this national park. These historic lands are brimming with a beauty that is difficult to comprehend. And even more difficult to describe.
To really understand the magnificence of Big Bend National Park, you really need to see it for yourself.
Situated around 5 hours away from El Paso or 6 hours away from San Antonio, it’s far enough away from most urban destinations to allow for an epic road trip along the way too. There’s plenty of time to blast your music and have fun in the car!
And for those that love nature, you won’t find a better ultimate destination. Big Bend is undoubtedly the home to some of the best hiking trails across the entire state, if not the country.
And after such a long time in the car, you’ll be eternally grateful for the excuse to get the blood pumping in your legs again.
It’s also an incredibly interesting site with tons of history. Human inhibition of Big Bend stretches back a whopping 10,000 years.
And throughout your exploration, there’s a highly likely chance that you’ll stumble across carefully preserved archaeological sites that provide evidence of the many Native Americans that once lived off this land.
The Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive is an absolute must for your itinerary. You’ll be able to drive through 30 miles of stunning scenery where you’ll see several ranches before you come to the trailhead of Santa Elena Canyon.
Here you can take a trip towards the river and canyon floor.
Overnight backpacking is also available provided you have a special permit.
Honestly, there is so much to do here that knowing where to start can be quite daunting. But I can tell you this much, pack tissues for the drive home as you certainly will be devastated come hometime.
2. Mineral Wells To Marble Falls
This lesser-traveled trip is truly underappreciated. Perhaps because it is situated parallel to the Dallas-Austin drive, it just gets overlooked.
Regardless of reasoning though, this amazing trip deserves far more credit than it gets.
During this route, you’ll have a more personal road trip where you’ll discover this small town in Texas.
As far as road trips go, it’s not the longest, perfect for those who are planning a shorter trip. You can get from one quirky destination to the other in just two hours thanks to the US Highway 281.
Which is one of the most scenic routes ever and has loads of great sights along the way.
While in Mineral Wells, you have to check out the Baker Hotel. It is a very luxurious resort that was once the training ground for some of the best baseball teams across the country.
Be on the lookout for any paranormal activity while you’re there though, as the building is said to be occupied by guests belonging to a different realm. Think you can survive a night in this haunted hotel? Are you brave enough to try?
You’ll also need to purchase yourself a bottle of the mineral spring water the city is named after. Many say it has magical healing properties. It would seem the city is well-known for its mysterious and mythical tendencies.
Then there are plenty of great stop-off spots along the way to Marble Falls. Hico is a great little spot to experience the best of small-town life having less than 1500 residents.
And then Hancock Springs Park in Lampasas provides a much-needed refreshing break from Texas’ blistering heat.
Be sure to take a dip in the oldest swimming pool in the state which is fed by completely pure local spring water.
Then once you reach your destination, the fun continues. For those who enjoy basking in all that Mother Nature has to offer, the old-growth forests, limestone caverns, and country vineyards are a must.
And for the more active and adventurous, there are options to go zip lining, hang gliding, and mountain biking.
And all that exploring and adventure makes for hungry work, so be sure to stop for one of the best homemade pies in the state!
Dallas has always been a popular hubspot for tourism, however most visitors often limit themselves to the more notorious downtown attractions (Also check out Best Beaches In Dallas).
This is a mistake you don’t want to make, there is so much more to Dallas than that.
The Belt Line Road is a great option for those that want to see the real Dallas. This 92-mile loop route hits 15 stunning cities along with an often unseen side of Dallas.
Trust me when I tell you that you’ll see some of the very coolest places driving along this stretch of road.
There’s nothing typical about this Texas road trip, but for those eager to travel it will experience a trip like no other.
You’ll drive through both rural and urban settings along with neighbours filled with history, and some of the best stops for food.
If you put pedal to the metal, you can complete this circuit in around two hours, however, with so many amazing stop off points, it’s highly likely that this will be an all-day-in-Dallas kind of drive.
You’ll definitely want to stretch those legs at the Cedar Mountain Nature Preserve. You can take a wander through the trails and see all of the pretty plants that surround you.
You’ll also get the chance to see some old railroads and remnants of the cotton industry.
Grand Prairie, Garland, and Carrolton are also brimming with stunning historical architecture and some of the best shopping around.
I would definitely recommend a stroll around the local farmers markets and stopping for a bite to eat. No one does food quite like the Texans!
4. Austin To San Antonio
Why not really get the party started by opting for a lively weekend in San Antonio? The trip from Austin will take around an hour and a half as you blast your favorite tunes on the stereo for this 80-mile drive.
Austin and San Antonio are arguably the two most bustling cities in all of Texas, so you can be sure that you’ll have the best time from the second your road trip starts right up until it ends (Find out Where To Stay In San Antonio, Texas).
I could write a novel on all the different activities you can get up to in Austin, but since I don’t have the time to do so, I’ll list the highlights.
You’ll want to spend a while in the Texas State Capitol since there is so much to see. Be sure to check out East 6th Street – there are tons of great bars and fantastic restaurants.
Then continue your journey south and ensure that you stop at San Marcos. While here a tour of the stunningly scenic Spring Lake is a must. And best of all you’ll travel by a boat that has a glass bottom so you’ll be sure to see wonderful aquatic wildlife.
You’ll then want to continue on your way to New Braunfels. The history buffs amongst you can enjoy learning all about this historic German-influenced district while those searching for thrills can check out the Schlitterbahn Waterpark and Resort.
And then you’ll finally pull up in the wonderful San Antonio. Texas’ longest standing city has plenty to offer.
The San Antonio RiverWalk has been a popular tourist destination for years – its scenic route has impressed people from all across the globe.
There’s also Alamo which is well worth a visit. Alamo is a small fortress and monument to the history of texas. You’ll find a museum here with so many different artifacts and gardens to discover.
The El Paso road trip is perfect for anyone that wants to live out their cowboy fantasy.
Just instead of riding through on horseback, you’ll be in a cool and comfortable automobile. And wow, what a view you’ll have while doing so.
You’ll be encompassed by low, rolling mountains and delightful deserts as you trek between the New Mexico and Mexico borderline.
If you love nothing more than a great trail that will have you hiking through breath-taking views, then this area is your dreamland. State and national parks are littered around here.
Now, I would recommend giving yourself some considerable time for this trip if you really want to make the most of it and hit all the stops along the way.
You could probably fit most things in during a long weekend, but five to seven days will allow you to see everything in a much calmer and less frantic manner.
The first port of call for your itinerary, without a doubt, should be the Hueco Tanks State Park. This park is the embodiment of the phrase good things come in small packages. Though the park may only be small it really is fantastic.
The unique granite landscapes make for the perfect rock-climbing experience and guided tours for historic rock art are also available too. So whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or a culture vulture, there is something for you.
Then, it’s on to the next stop which is about an hour and a half away – Guadalupe Mountains National Park. This is a really great place to visit to marvel at the wonders of Mother Nature.
From the world’s largest fossil reef to the four tallest mountains in Texas, there is plenty to behold.
If your ideal road trip is a break away to somewhere so peaceful, tranquil, and scenic that it feels like you’ve dropped off the face of the planet, then head to Piney Woods.
These fantastic forestry and mystical lakes will have you believing that anything is possible. You half expect fairies, elves, and ogres to be hiding beneath the surface.
It holds a type of magic that I can’t really explain. You’ll have to experience these whimsical woods for yourself.
From Dallas, Daingerfield State Park is just a 2-hour drive away. If you’re planning a trip here, please for your sake, organize it for the fall.
There’s no image quite as gorgeous as this park’s trees boasting their orange sunset-colored autumn leaves.
If you can’t make your trip for the autumn, don’t despair too much, this secluded and rustic spot will look stunning no matter what time of year. It also has year-round camping, and plenty of activities to get up to such as fishing, boating and hiking.
The lesser-known vineyard route is also a must for any wine connoisseur. And since this route is still somewhat of a hidden gem (for now) it’s a much more personal and intimate tour due to the lack of constant tourists.
From there you can then make your way to Caddo Lake State Park. Be sure to take a boat tour on the lake to see some of the best natural beauty around on the state’s only natural lake.
Just be sure to keep your eye on the waters below, you aren’t the only one in the water. See if you can spot any alligators! Let’s hope you’re not made to walk the plank!
7. Route 66
Surely you have to have been living under a rock not to have heard of route 66, right? Well, for all you rock inhabitants that don’t know, it’s one of the most famous and recognized road trip destinations across the globe.
Route 66 runs through Missouri, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. So what has it got to do with Texas? Well, the state has a claim to a small stretch of this historic highway.
You’ll start off in Shamrock for this amazing trip. The Tower Station and cafe are must-visits (Also check out the Must-Visit Places To Vacation Around The United States).
The restored 1935 Conoco gas station still has all its original signs and pumps which is pretty epic. But don’t expect to refuel here as the services no longer run for customers. Bummer!
You’ll then continue driving until you reach Amarillo. This is the only city on the route so it is well worth the stop. It is also home to the US Route 66 Sixth Street Historic District which is amazing.
You’ll chow down on some of the very best Southern cooking you’ve had the pleasure of trying and stroll around the amazing shopping area where you can pick up some unique antiques as your souvenirs of the trip.
Once you’ve satisfied your Amarillo curiosity, you can then make your way towards Adrian. Be sure to take an Instagram-worthy pic by the halfway mark of the route.
You can also stop for a quick bite to eat in the amazing Midpoint Cafe which serves tasty traditional American grub in a cute 50s style diner.
While the journey may only be 178 miles long, there will be so many stops along the way you could easily make this a long weekend trip.
While there are plenty of ways to get from Waco to Longview, the only acceptable answer is to travel via State Highway 31. Okay, maybe it’s not the only acceptable answer, but it’s certainly the most scenic route.
Be warned though, you’ll want to stop constantly driving this route so be prepared for a long trip.
From small quaint roadside towns to vast open spaces and water sport hubspots, there is everything you could ever ask for.
But one of the very first places you’ll want to go is to BSR Cable Park. That is if you have the nerve. This is an adrenaline junkie’s dream.
You will not find a better waterpark than this one. Their Royal Flush ride is unlike any other. It’ll send you high into the air before bringing you back down as you plunge deep into the water of the pool. This really isn’t for the faint hearted, think you have what it takes?
Once you’re a little warmer and drier, you can take a wander through Corsicana. You’ll find this small town around ⅓ of the way into your journey.
It’s the ultimate stop off point for food. And foodies rejoice, for this is great food at its absolute best. And history buffs, there is plenty for you too. Be sure to check out the Pioneer Village and the Petroleum Park.
Then once you finally make it to your destination, Longview, there is a whole load of great activities to partake in.
You can take the time to sip at some of the finest local wine you’ll ever try. And for those who are a little more daring, whizzing across the waterfall zipline here is a once in a lifetime experience you won’t want to miss out on.
9. West Columbia To Corpus Christi
State Highway 35 is an absolute dream to drive. The seaside stretch of road is known as the hug the coast highway and so is the perfect scenic route for any beach bums amongst us.
This drive is easily manageable for a weekend trip, you won’t even need to race around too quickly either. Though the likelihood of you wanting to zoom across these winding quiet marshes is unlikely.
You’ll begin in the heart of West Columbia. And this starting point actually has its own historical significance.
It was once the capital of the Republic of Texas during 1836. Though this was only true for three months, so its brief historical significance at its best. But historical significance all the same.
While here, be sure to check out the two museums before you move onwards.
You can then make your way towards Palacios. Be sure to check out The Point while here.
Travelling is hungry work and where better to satisfy that hunger than at one of the best Vietnamese and Mexican restaurants around? You can also check out the bait and tackle store!
Then, on to the next destination – Rockport. You’ll really enjoy the scenery on the way to Rockport – it is the most stunning view of the whole journey.
If you’ve got the time to spare, I would then advise a short stop at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.
Not only will you be up close with nature here, but you should also get the chance to spot a few whooping cranes since the spot is known for its massive population of the bird.
If you drive without stopping this route will take just three hours. However, considering the bountiful stunning stop-off points I’d give yourself a lot of extra time for this road trip (Also check out Road Trips From Dallas).
10. Georgetown To San Antonio
If you don’t want to follow the crowds or pick a typical road trip, then take the chance to get off the beaten path by traveling from Georgetown to San Antonio.
It’s just a two hour trip if you keep pedal to the metal, but I would advise a much more leisurely drive if you want to see the wonders that this scenic route has to offer.
Unbeknown to many of the speeding cars with places to be, there are 5 amazing spring-fed swimming holes just waiting to be discovered.
So be sure to pack your swimsuit for this journey if you don’t want to be bitterly disappointed.
There’s nothing more refreshing after a drive in the blistering Texas heat than delving into one of these cool secret swimming holes.
Just a stone’s throw away from the center of Georgetown you’ll find the Blue Hole Lagoon. From there you can then travel a further 31 miles until you reach the equally beautiful Barton Springs.
San Marcos Springs is the next one on the list, but to spice things up a little, I would also recommend stopping at San Marcos River and Rio Vista Park which are nearby.
Here you can get a little more active opting for some tubing or paddleboarding.
Then it’s time to relax again at the Comal Springs which is actually the largest complex of freshwater springs in the entire state.
Then finally it’s off to San Pedro Springs which is known for its rich historical significance. It is said that humans have lived nearby for more than 12,000 years!
Then finally, you’ll end up in your final destination San Antonio which is known for being a bustling and thriving town where I can assure you that you’ll have plenty to do.
If you want to leave the hustle and bustle behind and escape to a place filled with relaxation and sea air, then this colorful destination is the place for you.
Dallas, your starting point, has so much to offer so I would really recommend giving yourself a day to explore before your road trip officially begins! Then once you’ve hit all the highlights of the city it’s time to venture onwards.
There aren’t too many itinerary activities for this trip because most people are far too excited to hit that stunning beach that stop-offs aren’t usually on the agenda.
However, everyone needs at least a half-way through break to stretch their legs, right? Well, what better place to stop than Madisonville’s beloved Buc-ee’s. Be sure to stock up on tasty treats for the rest of the drive here.
Then once you reach your destination, I really don’t need to tell you how to spend your time. It’s the beach! Get sunbathing, dipping in the sea, and tucking into only the freshest and tastiest seafood.
Some of the best views around paired with some of the finest wine around? Um, yes please. For those looking to explore areas nearby to Austin, there isn’t a better route than the Texas Hill Country road trip.
You’ll begin around 45-minutes outside of Austin at the Hamilton Pool. It’s temporarily closed for repairs but should hopefully be up and running again soon.
Then you’ll move on to Fredericksburg. This is the perfect place for a spot of shopping as they have some of the best boutiques about. Oh and some of the best vineyards too. Time for a tipple anyone?
Then once you’ve exhausted all that the German enclave has to offer, it’s time to head towards the bustling city of San Antonio.
On the way you can stop at Landa Falls and try out the Texas tradition of river tubing. If you dare.
Road trips are some of the very best breaks away you’ll ever experience. You get to see so many wonderfully unique places and partake in activities that you never dreamed of doing. You’ll be sure to come away with memories that last a lifetime.
So what are you waiting for? Fill up your tank and set off on the perfect adventure today!
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