San Antonio, Texas: Visitors walking next to the bars and restaurants along the river walk, via Khairil Azhar Junos /

8 Best Road Trips to Take in Texas

Embarking on a road trip is one of the best ways to explore a state—especially with friends and loved ones. Unlike being on an airplane, the open road offers plenty of opportunity to stop at natural wonders, charming towns along the route, and delicious roadside diners to refuel. Texas, also known as the Lone Star State, features plenty of roads to discover, thanks to its vast size. With more than 16,000 historical markers and breathtaking landscapes, you'll understand why 279 million tourists flock here every year. This article will explore the top eight road trips to take in Texas.

Galveston to Cove

Pleasure Pier amusement park in Galveston, Texas.
Pleasure Pier amusement park in Galveston, Texas. Editorial credit: Mark Taylor Cunningham /

Kickstart your trip at Galveston, colloquially known as "Oleander City" due to the vast oleander plants nearby. Since Galveston sits on a barrier island, there will be plenty of scenic views as you cross the Galveston Causeway bridge into mainland Texas. From there, it's roughly 55 miles of coastal terrain on the highway, with the drive taking less than an hour to complete. Significant points of interest include the Bay Forest Golf Course, Little Cedar Bayou Wave Pool, and Whataburger, a 1950s-themed quick-service restaurant that offers delicious hamburgers, with multiple layers of patties. Nearly 20 minutes later, you will find yourself on the Fred Hartman Bridge, a massive eight-lane structure spanning 2.6 miles while towering 436 feet above water, providing mesmerizing views of the Tabbs Bay. After reaching Cove, you're free to explore several attractions, including J.J. Mayes Trace Park, Trinity River Waterbird Rookery, and the Chambers County Museum at Wallisville, located just a short five-minute drive from Cove.

San Antonio to Big Bend National Park

Canoeists prepare to paddle down the Rio Grande River through Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend Texas.
Canoeists prepare to paddle down the Rio Grande River through Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend Texas. Editorial credit: Mark Taylor Cunningham /

This road trip will require a few things: time, fuel, and eagerness! It will take five hours and 45 minutes to reach Big Bend National Park, but there will be plenty of attractions during the trip. One such place is the Amistad National Recreation Area, which lies 2.5 hours away from San Antonio. This preserve is renowned for its stunning crystal-clear blue waters, ideal for boating, kayaking, and fishing. Additionally, it's only a few minutes from the Diablo East Swimming Area in the picturesque Walk Lake, a perfect chance to cool off from the heat and refresh amidst your journey. As you traverse the US-90 W, you will eventually stumble upon the Seminole Canyon State Park and Historic Site, offering access to fascinating Native American rock art, trails, and campsites while being able to take a breather. From here, you have 2.3 more hours before reaching Big Bend, one of America's most historically significant national parks. Big Bend harbors ancient archeological locations that date back tens of thousands of years, providing miles of trails for mountain biking and hiking. Since Big Bend is insulated from light pollution, it's a prominent area to stargaze and look into the cosmos. In fact, Big Bend National Park is one of few parks listed on the National Park Service's list of parks to stargaze, so remember to bring your binoculars and telescopes.

Dallas to Runaway Bay

Downtown Dallas Skyline from Trinity Overlook
Downtown Dallas Skyline from Trinity Overlook

This road trip will be easy, consisting of just 1.5 hours. Your journey will begin on the I-35E in Dallas, heading northwest toward Fort Worth. The first half of your voyage will be in the city as you gradually reach the outskirts, and the first point of interest is the quaint town of Rhome, home to several eateries, including Taco Casa and Good Morning Doughnuts. Around half an hour later lies Bridgeport Falls, a scenic tourist attraction that provides a refreshing cool breeze to stop and take some pictures. From this prime location, Runway Bay is just a short 15-minute drive away. After arriving, experience the crystal-clear waters of the Runway Bay Public Swimming Beach and grab a bite at the One Stop of Texas, or camp out at the tranquil Fort Davis Campsite located on the bay of Lake Bridgeport.

San Antonio to Fredericksburg

The Main Street in Fredericksburg, Texas.
The Main Street in Fredericksburg, Texas. Editorial credit: ShengYing Lin /

The distance from San Antonio to Fredericksburg requires 71.5 miles of driving. Since San Antonio is a historic city, the 300-year-old Alamo is a worthwhile landmark to visit—it stands as one of the most significant attractions not just in the city but the whole state, honoring the brave defiance of a small, yet powerful band of fighters against a much larger army in the struggle for Texan independence. After that, Friedrich Wildness Park also serves as an excellent place to rest as you make your way north. Here, you can take stunning photographs and enjoy a short hike in the 200-acre reserve that includes woodlands, meadows, and canyons if you're feeling extra adventurous. After reaching Fredericksburg, the entire city is your playground to explore. Visit the National Museum of the Pacific War or the relaxing Fredericksburg Nature Center to see exotic birds and wildlife. And not to be outdone, trek the Cross Mountain Park, a historic landmark that enables panoramic views from 1951 feet above sea level.

Lubbock to Monahans Sandhills State Park

City park skyline, Lubbock, Texas
City park skyline, Lubbock, Texas. Image credit Real Window Creative via Shutterstock

Few towns embody the Lone Star State better than Lubbock with its cowboy culture, music, and several oil rigs that tower over the arid land. The journey from Lubbock to Monahans Sandhills takes around three hours of driving, but fret not, as there will be plenty of attractions along the route to make it worthwhile. Around 28 minutes in, you will pass through Tahoka, a small quaint town with many cafes and eateries, including the Crushers 40 Weight coffee shop serves refreshing iced cappuccinos and bistro sandwiches. 109 miles later in Odessa lies the Stonehenge Replica, a project built by students from the University of Texas that now stands as a famous attraction in the local area. Once you arrive at Monahans Sandhills State Park, the list of opportunities is endless: see dunes that reach 70 feet high, scenic ripples perfect for capturing everlasting photographs, or rent disks for you and your friends to descend and slide down the dunes. Moreover, the park boasts 26 campsites with amenities to make your stay as comfortable as possible.

Fort Worth to Wichita Falls

A bird's eye view of the cityscape of Wichita Falls, Texas on a sunny day
A bird's eye view of the cityscape of Wichita Falls, Texas on a sunny day

If you're an outdoor enthusiast, this road trip is for you. The TX-199 highway will take you along several lakes, parks, and quaint towns. Less than 10 minutes into your journey, you will come across the riverside Rockwood Park and, 15 minutes in, the Marion Sansom Park Pavilion #2 Inspiration Point, one of the most beloved spots in Fort Worth. Not too far away, the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge provides 3,621 acres of land to deer, gators, birds, majestic bison herds and other exotic wildlife. To recharge and grab a bite, consider stopping by Dairy Land Drive Inn in Jacksboro, a delicious barbecue restaurant offering authentic Texan cuisine in a cozy, art-filled environment. After reaching your destination, Lake Wichita Park is a good first stop to visit and get some fresh air amidst the lush trees and scenic lake. The expansive 234-acre park is also ideal for hiking and picnicking. Alternatively, for a more relaxing option, the Wichita Theater provides numerous opportunities for events and shows, and more impressively, was built over a century ago.

Corpus Christi to Lake Jackson

Corpus Christi, Texas Skyline view of City harbor.
Corpus Christi, Texas Skyline view of City harbor.

The duration it takes to reach Lake Jackson from Corpus Christi will take roughly 3 hours. However, you will witness scenic vistas of the Corpus Christi Bay waters, the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, and more along the way. Your first point of interest will be the Texas State Aquarium, which offers a premier exhibition of local marine species, including dolphins and sharks. After that, you'll find a wide range of parks and beaches, such as North Beach and Sunset Lake Park—but nothing will top the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge—this 115,324-acre area was established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as a sanctuary for migratory birds and other wildlife. Today, it's home to sea turtles, alligators, endangered whooping cranes, and armadillos, to name a few. The park also includes an observation tower and picnic areas overlooking the San Antonio Bay. After your stop, Lake Jackson is 132 miles away, where you can explore the tranquil shores of Surfside Jetty County Park. Moreover, Lake Jackson is also home to the esteemed Brazosport Museum of Natural Science, the Wetlands Exhibit Sea Center, and the Lake Jackson Freeport Beach.

Houston to San Augustine

San Augustine, Texas: The old business district on Broadway Street
San Augustine, Texas: The old business district on Broadway Street, via Roberto Galan /

Finishing off the list is Houston, also known as "Space City," to the delightful town of San Augustine. The trip will be 3 hours and 25 minutes, consisting of 191 miles. During the journey, you will pass through several small towns, including New Waverly, Huntsville, and Trinity, each offering a wide range of eateries to stop at and recharge. The first significant point of interest is Huntsville State Park, ranked number four on TripAdvisor's list of things to do. This vast preserve is known for being a great fishing spot and is ideal for horseback riding while taking pictures amidst the tapestry of pine trees that dominate the landscape. As you head towards the north, the town of Groveton comes 53 minutes later and is the main gateway to the Davy Crocket National Forest, home to wooded areas, camping facilities, and swimming spots. After finally reaching San Augustine, consider experiencing the Gary Brewer's Deck House, one of the town's top tourist attractions, before refueling for some delicious food at the Heart of Texas Grill, a prominent bar and grill establishment. Like its predecessor towns, San Augustine is also a gateway to nature preserves, as the Sabine National Forest is conveniently located just a short 21-minute drive away. Sabine spans over 160,000 acres and fosters an ecologically rich environment while harboring life for over 10,000 years. Additionally, the forest is also prominent for recreation and camping purposes.

In conclusion, the Lone Star State offers countless ways to forge memorable experiences with its diverse landscape and habitat. From coastal views to historical landmarks and natural wonders, Texas has something for everyone. So pack your bags, cameras, and binoculars to the road and create unforgettable memories on these scenic drives.


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