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The 10 best things to do in Texas in 2022

From the Alamo to national parks and the space center, here are the very best things to do in Texas this summer

James Wong
Written by
James Wong
Contributor
Justine Harrington
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The sheer amount of awesome things to do can get the best of anyone in Texas, let alone first-timers. All seven of the Lone Star State’s regions are wildly distinct, from the glamorous skyscrapers of Dallas to the lush green wine country, to the sandy beaches along the gulf coast. But, no matter where you are, you’re bound to encounter a near-universal rebellious spirit and a deeply entrenched sense of Texan pride. In short, the rumors are true: Texas is big, bold, and in many instances, beautiful.

How best to get around? Well, unfortunately, not pub trans (trust us, it is bad here). You’ll need a car, patience, and an expectation that you’ll be filling up a lotta tanks of gas—this is the second largest state in the country, after all. Deal? Compile an ultra-long playlist now, and come down to tick off the very best things to do in Texas this summer.

Best things to do in Texas

Officially designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the River Walk in San Antonio is a one-of-a-kind attraction that attracts millions of visitors every year. Dripping with pretty Spanish colonial architecture and historical markers, in addition to popular dining and nightlife spots, the River Walk is the picture-perfect place to stroll around – or, better yet, hop on a river taxi for the best possible tour experience.

For a rich insight into Fort Worth’s Wild West culture and the famous livestock industry, a visit to the Stockyards is a must. The city used to be known as “Cowtown” due to being one of the biggest stockyards and processing operations in the West, and today, strolling through the Stockyards is akin to stepping back in time. Come by for the twice-daily cattle drive, and stick around after for live entertainment in the form of rodeo.

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Home of NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center and Mission Control, the monitoring center for the agency’s manned space flight is one of Texas’s top tourist draws. The Space Center in Houston provides a captivating look into the world’s largest space program, with dozens of interactive exhibits, astronaut artifacts, space simulators, film screenings, and other fascinating behind-the-scenes displays. Diehard space fans should reserve a “Level 9 Tour” ahead of time, an in-depth guided tour of NASA and Mission Control.

Situated in the far-flung, southwestern reaches of the state, Big Bend is one of the most remote and least visited national parks in the country. It’s also one of the most beautiful. With its cathedral-like canyons, lushly forested mountains, stunning desert expanses, and unending stretches of wilderness, there’s no overstating Big Bend’s natural beauty and sheer biodiversity. Visitors can opt to float the mighty Rio Grande, hike in the gorgeously craggy Chisos Mountains, or explore the fascinating Chihuahuan Desert. Do yourself a favor and spend at least one night in the park, to properly experience those famous West Texas starry night skies.

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Established in 1888, Texas’s three-story state capitol building is the largest in the union and arguably the most impressive structure in the state. The building is architecturally beautiful with its ornate, pink-granite grandeur and the legendary 218-foot rotunda. But be sure to walk around the flourishing grounds and check out the outdoor monuments, as well, to gain a rich insight into Texas history and culture.

To visit the Alamo is to better understand the state’s eccentric pride and individualistic spirit – in short, to know the Alamo is to know Texas. This fortress compound was where the infamous Battle of the Alamo occurred in 1836, and today, it’s Texas’s most-visited landmark and its most revered historical site. Basically, anyone who’s interested in American history and the history of the Republic of Texas should make time to “remember the Alamo”.

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Texas’s musical history is storied, rich, and steeped in tradition. Nowhere is this more apparent than at Gruene Hall, the historic dance hall and live music venue located in picturesque Gruene, about 25 miles north of San Antonio. Erected in 1878, Gruene Hall is the oldest-running and most famous dance hall in Texas. The list of famed country singers and legends that have performed at Gruene is long, and the landmark venue still boasts a full concert calendar, dance lessons, and other town events.

The most famous BBQ joint in Texas, Franklin Barbecue (in Austin) is on many a meat-eater's agenda. You have probably heard about the epically long lines at Franklin Barbecue—it is not uncommon to stand in line for three hours on the weekend— and whether the ordeal (in the summer heat) is worth it, but that depends on how much you love a brisket. Alternative, shorter line options include the equally tasty La Barbecue in East Austin and barbecue food truck Leroy and Lewis on South Congress.

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The world’s longest undeveloped barrier island, Padre Island National Seashore is a Texas treasure and one of the state’s most important conservation areas. Here are 70 miles of protected, scenic stretches of coastline, prairies, and dunes that separates the Gulf of Mexico from the Laguna Madre. The island provides a safe habitat for over 350 migratory bird species, in addition to the rare Kemp’s ridley sea turtle. Plan to visit the Malaquite Visitor Center upon arrival to get your bearings and plot your beach activities for the day.

The second biggest canyon in America, after the Grand Canyon, Palo Duro Canyon State Park is characterized by astonishing natural beauty, brilliant colors, and, of course, the rugged, breathtaking canyon itself, over 100 miles and over 1,000 feet deep in parts. Located just 20 miles south of Amarillo, in the Panhandle, this state park is a must-see. And for a real Lone Star State-themed treat, plan your visit around seeing TEXAS, an outdoor musical that runs during the summers in the park’s Pioneer Amphitheater.

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