They say everything is bigger in Texas. And if you take into account all that the state has to offer, it's easy to see why the Lone Star State packs such a potent punch with travelers. Texas is filled to the brim with breathtaking countrysides, significant historical attractions, diverse museums, pristine city parks, suburban shopping meccas, mouthwatering barbecue and more. U.S. News took into account traveler sentiment and expert analysis to come up with the Best Places to Visit in Texas. Want to share your opinion? Make sure to vote below to help determine next year's list.
Why go: The capital city's colorful character takes Texas to an entirely new level. Austin offers loads in the way of culture, cuisine and natural scenery. While here, expect unique parks (such as the natural Barton Springs Pool), museums and loads of delectable barbecue. The best way to soak up Austin's contagious energy is with a trip to Sixth Street. This music hub has helped Austin earn the distinction of the "Live Music Capital of the World."
Why go: Historic relics like The Alamo are no doubt San Antonio's biggest draw, however, you don't need to be a history buff to enjoy all the city has to offer. Brackenridge Park and the River Walk make for a soothing stroll, while the San Antonio Museum of Art features a diverse array of art. And kids of all ages will enjoy a trip to the San Antonio Zoo and Aquarium.
Why go: Renowned as one of the barbecue capitals of the USA, Houston offers travelers a finger-licking good time. But did you know Houston is also a culture hub? Among the urban sprawl lie museums galore, from the impressive Johnson Space Center to the quirky Art Car Museum. Plus, with the world-class Houston Zoo, verdant Buffalo Bayou and a children's museum, Houston is an ideal (and affordable) vacation spot for families.
Why go: If you're after a quintessential Texas vacation, Dallas – Fort Worth is the place to go. This is largely thanks the Fort Worth Stockyards, where travelers can witness an old-fashioned cattle drive and pick up some cowboy boots. If you're visiting during football season, catch a Dallas Cowboys game to see state pride at its best. If not, delight in the many museums, parks and historical sites the city has to offer, including the infamous Dealey Plaza, where JFK was assassinated.
Why go: Believe it or not, Texas is home to some prime shorelines, and South Padre Island is considered one of the best. South Padre offers 34 miles of relaxing beaches along the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. While the island has a reputation for being a prime party spot for spring breakers, the rest of the year it's favored by families thanks to its affordability and bevy of kid-friendly attractions.