If the Lone Star State is in your future travel plans, prepare for an experience with culture, food and sights substantially different from the rest. Of course, depending on the time of the year, you might want to bring an extra jacket and prepare for triple-digit temperatures within the same week, but the state of Texas offers an experience that separates itself from neighboring southern states.
It holds true that everything is bigger in Texas–from the chicken fried steak to the smiles on the streets. Prepare for freeway overpasses at unthinkable heights and a sky full of bright stars at night. Whether you’re looking to try the fanciest bars or experience unforgettable Texas-true flavors, you are in for a treat while visiting one of the proudest states in the nation.
Outside of these large cities are plenty of small Texas towns ready to offer unique experiences that give passing through travelers stories to take back home to share with family and friends. Texas is not a one-stop state and will almost always leave you ready to come back and experience more of the diverse culture, friendly faces and special attractions it has to offer.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s unlikely you will encounter a cowboy or horses in the streets during the busier hours of the day. That is unless you’re in Fort Worth. Also known as “Cowtown,” Fort Worth is the heart of cowboy culture in the North Texas region.
If you happen to find yourself in Cowtown, treat yourself to an unforgettable meal at the famous Reata Restaurant at Sundance, which is famous for rooftop views and “sophisticated cowboy cooking,” from Tenderloin Tamales with Pecan Mash to their mouth-watering carne asada topped with cheese enchiladas. The restaurant is notably named after the family ranch in the 1956 movie Giant starring James Dean, Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor, and Reata doesn’t disappoint with its traditional cowboy aesthetic.
If you’re looking for a truly Texas-themed evening and have a comfy pair of dancing shoes handy, head on over to Billy Bob’s Texas, known as the Stockyards dancehall. Not a dancer? No problem. Wind down with a cocktail while shooting some pool paired with live dancing, history and fun every night of the week. It’s not a true Fort Worth experience until you’ve been to Billy Bob’s.
The sister city to Fort Worth in the North Texas region presents a modern, urban chic vibe and is known for having the world’s best skyline. If you’re lucky enough to be staying at the beautiful Omni hotel or anywhere near the Reunion Tower, prepare to be in awe of the city’s energy and beautiful lights.
There are more than enough options for relaxation on a rooftop while taking it all in. If you’re seeking an unforgettable happy hour experience, head on over to “The Happiest Hour” in Harwood District. Notable publications such as the Dallas Observer, D Magazine, Dallas Eater and CultureMap list this spot as one of the best Dallas has to offer.
Seeking a real Dallas experience? Treat yourself to an unforgettable time at the Reunion Tower for breathtaking panoramic views complete with a revolving dinner at Cloud Nine Restaurant. If heights aren’t your thing and you’re seeking a true Texas tradition, Hard Eight BBQ will most definitely hit the spot. A relaxed, family-friendly environment comes complete with some of the best Texas barbecue loaded with all the fixings that are sure to satisfy a first-timer or a returner.
For a breathtaking and serene experience, give the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens a peruse. Regular admission is under $20 and provides a great opportunity to check off an item on your Texas bucket list of experiences. If your schedule permits, take advantage of the lunch menu at Restaurant DeGolyer, which is surrounded by 66 acres of garden scenery in the DeGolyer House, with optional indoor and outdoor dining experiences.
If you find yourself in the State Capitol city, it’s almost a given to hang around and snap a few pictures. Take in the views and history with a free half-hour long Capitol Tour as late as 4 p.m. before making your way to the Skylark Lounge for an evening of jazz, motown and blues. Known as Austin’s best blues bar, Skylark serves wine, beer, cocktails and performances by local talent every night.
For a fancier cocktail selection, head over to The Living Room Bar in the lobby of the W Hotel in downtown Austin. This stylish and chic lounge provides a relaxing ambiance and fancy scenery paired with a DJ. The Tequila Bar offers signature cocktail options and sits between the Living Room and Record Room, which is complemented with more than 8,000 records.
In true San Antonio tradition, two attractions are must sees: the historic Alamo and the famous San Antonio Riverwalk. The Alamo is certain to cater to any history buff, especially with its newest “Weapons of the Alamo” tour. If you’re looking for fine dining and scenic views, head on over to downtown San Antonio and give the luxurious Biga on the Banks a try. This five-star dining experience boasts the highest Zagat rating on the San Antonio Riverwalk and is complete with a full wine cellar, cocktail menu and a fantastic dishes from Bruce Auden. Biga’s chef and owner customizes the menu daily, offering new selections of succulent options that make the experience that much better and unique.
If time permits, every trip to San Antonio must include a visit to one of the most delicious hidden gems: Taqueria Datapoint off Medical Drive. This hole-in -the-wall experience is every Tex-Mex lover’s dream. Datapoint is the opposite of fancy and keeps its service and menu simple, accurate and cheap. It goes without saying that once your taste buds experience their homemade salsa, fresh tortillas and generous portions, you will be hooked. Trust us on this one.