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Taste of Texas: Road Tripping the Biggest State in the Continental USA

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Texas is one of those states that makes a big statement in the US. People either love it, or hate it, but there is no denying that there are a ton of places to visit in Texas.


It took us a long time for us to make our way over to Texas, and to be honest, after traveling all over the world, it wasn't a place that truly caught our attention. Well, boy were we wrong! We couldn't believe the diversity of the different places to visit in Texas, the great food, and the overwhelmingly friendly people! 


We spent one week road tripping Texas, and found that we were leaving with the feeling of wanting more. With all of the unique places to visit in Texas, you'll definitely want to add it to your future road trip itinerary! In this guide we're going to share everything we learned on our road trip, the best places to visit in Texas, and things to know while on the road. Let's dive right in!

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Where is Texas in the US?

Texas is located all the way in the south of the US, in the central part of the country. It is the biggest state in the continental US, and shares borders with the states of New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana, as well as the country of Mexico.

where is Texas on the map

Texas is located in the south central part of the US.


How to Get to Texas

There are a number of airports in Texas to choose from, the most popular ones being Dallas, Austin, and Houston. These are typically the three cheapest and easiest airports to fly into, so depending on where you are coming from, should depend on where you start your Texas road trip from.


Other cities you can look to fly into. that are in Texas include Abilene, Amarillo, Austin, Brownsville, College Station, Corpus Christi, El Paso, Harlingen, Killeen, Laredo, Longview, Lubbock, McAllen, Midland, San Angelo, San Antonio, Texarcana, Waco, and Wichita.


In our case, we found that the cheapest flights were to and from Houston from NYC, so we flew into Houston, and then decided to rent a car from the Houston airport. If you are coming from another country, chances are that you will find the best flights into Houston as well, since this is the biggest hub in the state, and offers the most connections both domestically and internationally.

Flight Tip: Using Skyscanner you can your city to "United States". This way you can see which is the cheapest airport in Texas to fly to. Also, you can check the calendar to see which are the cheapest dates for each airport!

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Entry Requirements for Texas and the United States

Remember Trump wanted to build a wall between Texas and Mexico? No, that did not happen. But you definitely should be in the know for any of the requirements to enter, whether you are driving from Mexico, or flying into Texas from an international country.


Visa Entry Requirements

If you aren't from the US, it's important to know that the US isn't particularly the friendliest to foreigners. Make sure you check to see if you need a visa before visiting, and always have your outbound flights ready to show the customs agent.


We have never crossed the land border from Mexico to Texas ourselves, but do know that it is much easier doing the crossing as an American than it is as a Mexican or other nationality. If you do want to visit Texas via the Mexico land border, make sure to have all your documents ready, have patience, and don't have an attitude on either end.


Covid Entry Requirements

Covid requirements are something that are long gone in the US. Don't worry- whether you are vaccinated or not, you can come visit without needing to get a Covid test or anything else.


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Local Adjustments for Texas

Whenever traveling to a new country or state, you may find some differences you'll need to adjust to. Here are a few things to keep in mind when visiting many spots in Texas.


What Language Do They Speak in Texas?

The official language in Texas in English. If you are not a native English speaker, you will notice that many Texans may be a bit difficult to understand due to their thick accents. 


Being so close to Mexico, it's also no surprise that Spanish is the second language spoken in Texas, and quite common to hear all around the state, particularly in the south.


Currency in Texas

The currency used in Texas is the USD. Credit cards are the number one form of payment, so if you are visiting Texas from another country, you probably won't need to exchange a ton of cash. If we were you, we'd honestly stick to using a credit card the whole time, as there are hardly any situations where you would need cash at all.

 

Electrical Outlets in Texas

Texas uses the same plug types as the rest of the US, Mexico, and Canada, which are types A & B. The standard voltage in the US is 120 V and the standard frequency is 60 Hz.


Is it OK to Drink Tap Water in Texas?

The tap water is completely safe to drink pretty much everywhere in Texas. We suggest bringing a reusable water bottle so that you can fill up at fountains. It also gets very hot in Texas, so make sure to hydrate as much as possible!


If you are coming from abroad, it's good to know that in restaurants water is not a luxury, but something that comes free of charge everywhere you go. Unlike Europe, servers do not bring bottled water, charge you for water, or get annoyed in the slightest when you ask for water. So don't be shy and keep asking for refills!


Is Tipping Common in Texas?

Like we said, servers are happy to give you water, and unlimited refills. The service around the world is unmatchable to the US, and a big part of it is due to the tipping culture.


While you can agree with it or not, it's important to play by the rules when it comes to tipping. Tipping is traditionally 15-20% of your bill, and can be paid in cash, or directly on the line of your credit card receipt. It typically will not be added automatically, unless you have a big party. 


We really encourage you to tip, as not tipping means that server will actually lose money. This is because servers tip out the other employees such as bartenders or bus boys on what they've sold. While businesses definitely should be absorbing the cost, not tipping will only hurt the server, and the tipping culture will not be affected, so PLEASE tip your servers.

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The Best Places to Visit in Texas

Now that you know the basics for visiting, let's check out all of the best places to visit in Texas!

Don't have time to read the whole article and want to save it for later? Just pin it!

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best places to visit in Texas pin
best places to visit in Texas pin

Austin

If you only have a weekend to spend in Texas, then we would suggest Austin! As the capital of Texas, this is the most popular city in the state, and is smack in the middle, making it the easiest place to base yourself.


Austin is known for its fun, hipster vibes, and has a great bar-hopping atmosphere, funky restaurants, and a ton of great day trips for those that want to swim, hike, or do other adventurous activities.

cute nail salon in Austin, places to visit in Texas
Austin, places to visit in Texas
Barton Springs, best places to visit in Texa
sunset in Austin, best places to visit in Texas

There are a ton of fun ways to enjoy Austin.

You could easily spend a full week exploring Austin and the other fun places to visit in Texas just surrounding it, which is why we wrote a complete guide for you!


Dallas

Dallas is the second most popular city in Texas, and is another great destination for those wanting a weekend getaway, or a party destination.


Dallas is the NYC of Texas, and has more of a cosmopolitan vibe than the other places to visit in Texas. Think rooftop bars, colorful murals, and a walkable city center. Dallas also has some unique activities like massage chair party buses, and BYOB sunset sails to check out.

Dallas, places to visit in Texas
Dallas, places to visit in Texas
Dallas, places to visit in Texas
Sweet Tooth Hotel, things to do in Dallas TX for couples

Dallas is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city.

We found that spending a weekend in Dallas was the perfect way to enjoy this city, and also had time to see some of the unique spots in its outskirts.


San Antonio

If you like history and charming towns, then San Antonio is definitely one of the best places to visit in Texas for you. We didn't read so many exciting things about this city, so just gave ourselves an afternoon to explore. Well, boy were we blown away! We absolutely loved San Antonio, and found it to have the perfect mix of cultural sights, and vibrant nightlife.

San Antonio, places to visit in Texas
Dallas, places to visit in Texas
missions San Antonio, places to visit in Texas
San Antonio, places to visit in Texas

San Antonio is full of culture and history.

San Antonio is one of the closest big cities to Mexico, so it has an incredible blend of cultures, and is definitely a place you shouldn't miss while on your Texas road trip.


Houston

Houston is definitely not one of the cities that travelers rave about when they are recommending places to visit in Texas. However, we found that Houston has quite a few fun reasons to visit in and around the city.


Check out the incredible Gerald D Hines Waterfall Park, the cool Beer Can House, or the stunning BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Temple. You can also find a ton of fun things surrounding the city like a giant treehouse, a massive castle, or huge manmade lagoon to spend the day.

waterfall park in Houston, things to do in Texas

There is an awesome waterfall park right in the middle of Houston.

Definitely give yourself a day or two to dedicate to seeing the quirky finds in Houston. Whether you are spending a long layover in Houston, or traveling there to hop on a cruise in Galveston, this city does have some fun things to offer, and should be on your list to stop by!

Tree house in Texas, places to visit in Texas
Lagoonfest, places to visit in Texas
castle in Texas

Houston has a lot of cool things around the city itself.

 

Big Bend National Park

While most of the best places to visit in Texas are cities in the central, eastern part of the state, the west also has something very unique to offer- which is Big Bend National Park. Bordering Mexico, Big Bend is home to some incredible rock formations, great hiking trails, and some of the most beautiful glamping experiences in Texas.


Unfortunately we didn't have time to visit this area of the state, as it is quite far from the rest of the main places to visit in Texas. However, if you have time, we would highly suggest making it over to this area!


Other Fun Places to Visit in Texas

Now that you know some of the most popular places to visit in Texas, let's share some of the lesser known gems! Here are some other great places to visit in Texas to add to your boat trip.


Fort Worth

Located just a half hour from Dallas, Ft Worth is great for its history and old western charm. The airport of Dallas is actually located right in the middle of the two cities, making Ft Worth a super convenient day trip from Dallas, or a great place to explore right before or after going to the airport if Dallas is your hub.


Fredericksburg

This adorable town has the most adorable mix of old western and German vibes. We originally went for their annual balloon festival, but then fell in love with the atmosphere of the town itself. This is the perfect place to spend a night and enjoy the vibrant live music in the local bars.

Fredericksburg, places to visit in Texas
Fredericksburg, places to visit in Texas
Fredericksburg, places to visit in Texas

Fredericksburg is a quaint German town.

Waco

This cute town is conveniently located right between Dallas and Austin, making it the perfect stop to break up your road trip, or even spend a night! Our favorite part of Waco is that it is home to Texas's only beer spa. That's right - just like in Prague or Budapest, you can bathe in a tub of beer while sipping on a pint, definitely one for the bucket list!

beer spa in Waco, places to visit in Texas
beer spa in Waco, places to visit in Texas

Waco is home to Texas's only beer spa!


Marfa

Located all the way out west, Marfa is a small desert city known for its arts, as well as its army base. If you are heading to Big Bend, then make sure to stop in this town, and check out the cute pink firehouse as well!


Getting Around Texas

Hands down the best way to get around Texas is to drive! (This goes for almost anywhere in the US). We decided to do a road trip around some of the top places to visit in Texas, and rent a car from the Houston Airport.


Renting a Car in Texas

You can rent a car easily from pretty much any major city in Texas. We suggest renting your car well in advance for the best availability and prices. We also suggest renting from a well-known company. 


Our Experience Renting a Car in Texas

When we arrived in Houston, we had to get a shuttle to our car rental. This took quite some time, so if you are flying into Houston, remember to put this into consideration (the car rentals are all off site, and it's super chaotic).


When we arrived, we found a rental station with a virtual check in - a complete nightmare! They told us they didn't have a car for us, then they tried charging us an insane amount extra for insurance (we'll get into insurance in just a moment), and wasted a ton of our time.


The company was Rent a Car 4 Less, so if you happen to see this company, make sure to avoid it at all costs! We booked through Economy Bookings, which made things right in the end, and we used them to book Thrifty for an affordable rate, so definitely recommend using them to book but with a reputable company.


What Do I Need to Know About Driving in Texas?

There are a lot of things to keep in mind when driving in a new place! Whether you are coming from another state, or another country, here are some of the things to keep in mind while driving in Texas.


Can I Drive With a Foreign License in Texas?

You can drive with a foreign license in Texas. However it is more expensive for foreigners to drive, as they will need to purchase extra insurance.


Insurance While Driving in Texas

If you are from the US, you will just need to be insured, and potentially have the info on you just in case they ask. If there are any issues, it is taken up with the insurance company, making renting a car hassle-free.


If you are from another country, you will have to purchase insurance, which can add up a bit. This is why Danni always drives while we are in the US (she is a local), and Fede is passenger princess (he is from Argentina).


In our case with Rent a Car 4 Less, they were requiring extra insurance to be purchased, even with us having US insurance. This is completely out of line, and is a huge red flag for anyone renting from the US. This is why it's crucial to use a reputable company.


Tolls in Texas

Texas doesn't allow you to pay tolls by cash, so if you want to use the toll roads, you will have to purchase TxTag, as EZ Pass is also not accepted.


Rental companies will charge a fee to use their TXTag, on top fo the toll fees. However, there are hardly any tolls in Texas, and it is super easy to avoid them! This means that you can refuse to purchase the TXTag, and just choose the option of "avoid tolls" on Google Maps or your GPS.


Can You Turn Right on Red in Texas?

Yes! You can turn right on red in Texas, unless there is a sign stating otherwise, or a designated light for turning red.


Drinking and Driving in Texas

The legal limit to drive in Texas is .08% BAC. Unlike other countries, the US is very strict with drinking inside the vehicle. Even passengers are not allowed to consume alcohol in the car, whether or not the car is stopped. You also need to keep any bottles in the trunk, even if you are not consuming them.


Can You Travel Texas Without a Car?

Don't want to drive? Don't worry- there are also other alternatives to driving around Texas. Flix Bus is an affordable site that has buses connecting major cities around the US, with plenty of different options for some of the best places to visit in Texas.


Here are some popular routes that you can book for getting around Texas:

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Local Food & Drink in Texas

Other than all of the incredible places to visit in Texas, one of our favorite parts of our road trip was trying the food in Texas! It's true- everything is bigger in Texas, so be prepared for big portions, and heavy, fattening foods. It is inevitable to put on a few lbs while visiting Texas, but you definitely won't regret it!


A lot of foods in Texas are deep fried or contain a lot of sugar. Texans love spice, so you can also find a wide variety of hot sauces and spice incorporated into their dishes.


What Food is Famous in Texas?

Texas has two main specialties when it comes to their cuisine- barbecue, and Tex-Mex. Barbecue is everywhere, and they do it damn good in Texas. If you're a meat lover, then this is an absolute must! If you're a vegetarian, don't worry- you can still find plenty of options (they're even starting to offer vegetarian platters in BBQ joints).


Also, being so close to Mexico, it's no wonder that Mexican food has a high presence in Texas. We're not going to lie- TexMex is certainly not our favorite, especially after having spent two full months in Mexico and trying all fo the incredible food in Mexico. Being the birthplace of Tex-Mex, our hopes were not high for Mexican food, but boy were we wrong! There is so much great Mexican food!


Another thing that Texas is known for is their state fair, where they deep fry everything from Oreos and ice cream to butter and beer. You can pretty much everything at the state fair, and it's really a unique experience to add to your bucket list.

food in Texas
food in Texas
Loro, food in Austin
best food in Dallas
barbecue in Texas

Texas is known for its Mexican food and barbecue.

Foods to Try in Texas

Here are some things that you should definitely try while in Texas!

  • Brisket: cut of meat from the breast or lower chest of beef or veal, typically slow cooked and super tender
  • Boudin: a Cajun sausage stuffed with meat and rice
  • Chicken Fried Steak: thinly sliced chicken thickly breaded and deep fried, typically served with gravy
  • Buscuits: a soft and fluffy quick bread often served for breakfast and typically with a thick gravy
  • Chili: a thick soup/stew made with ground beef, beans, peppers, and tomatoes
  • Fried Chicken Sandwich: a basic fast food option across the US- Texas absolutely kills it with how good they make them 
  • Pecan Pie: a sugary pie made from pecans (pecans are super popular in Texas and used in many recipes!)
  • Beef Jerky: dried and seasoned beef- you can try a variety of flavors in markets or at Buccees
  • Kolaches: filled pastry originally from the Czech Republic, but instead of sweet fillings, Texans use savory fillings
  • Breakfast Tacos: tacos with eggs, also served with meat, cheese, and a variety of toppings

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Is Texas a Safe State?

Texas has some crazy laws, and a very heavy gun culture. We're not going to lie- the idea of being able to be shot by simply stepping foot on someone's property doesn't settle with us well.


However, despite the crazy gun laws, we found Texas to feel like a very safe state! The people are unbelievably welcoming, friendly, and helpful. Like anywhere, you can find certain pockets to be a little shady, but only in small areas of the big cities.


The touristic areas of big cities, as well as all of the small towns are extremely safe, and there is nothing to worry about in terms of safety while visiting.


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Other Things to Know About Visiting Texas

Now that you know the best places to visit in Texas, and how to get around, let's go over a few final helpful details.


What is the Weather Like in Texas Year Round?

Texas is consistently ranked as one of the hottest states in all of the US! It's a very big state, so of course the weather varies a bit from one side to the other.


The west side of the state is mainly desert, which means that it is extremely hot, sunny, and dry during the day, and temperatures drop down significantly at night. The south east part of the state lies along the Gulf of Mexico, and the weather is equally hot, but much more humid. Head to the central part (Austin and Dallas), and temperatures are still extremely hot, but a bit more sub-tropical.


Summers in Texas can be unbearably hot, and get well over 100 degrees (over 40 degrees Celsius), while temperatures in the winter are mild and pleasant. It can get cold in the winter months, but temperatures never drop too low to snow.

places to visit in Texas
places to visit in Texas
Jacob's Well, fun things to do in Austin, Texas

Texas is a great place to enjoy the outdoors.


The Best Time to Visit Texas

We personally think the best time to visit Texas is in the Fall or Spring. This is when temperatures are pleasant enough to walk around, but still warm enough to swim and do all of the great water activities that the state has to offer. In addition, places are a bit less crowded the closer to winter you visit, so the natural pools are looking their best, and it's a great time for outdoor activities.


If you are going to choose one week out of the year to visit Texas, we would definitely suggest the last week of September going into the first week of October, as this is when the Texas State Fair is held!


Packing For a Trip to Texas

Packing for a trip to Texas definitely depends on where exactly you plan on visiting. However, here are a few things to keep in mind:


What Type of Clothing Do People Wear in Texas?

It's pretty interesting, because people dress differently all over the state! Dallas is a bit more cosmopolitan, so you'll see people dressed up more with nice shirts and pants, dresses, and heels. In Austin you'll find a more hipster vibe, and in San Antonio a more casual vibe. One thing is for sure though- you'll see everyone wearing cowboy boots all year round!


Things to Pack for a Trip to Texas: 


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There are so many fun places to visit in Texas, and it is definitely a state worth adding to your bucket list! Whether you are into partying, history, or adventure, there is really something for everyone in Texas.


Plan on visiting other parts of the country? We have several travel guides around the US, as well as many others coming up! Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date, as well as to receive exclusive content and discounts for our products and services.


Looking to plan your most epic trip? Scratch Your Mapa offers one-of-a-kind travel planning services that are guaranteed to save you both time and money. Take a look at some of the travel planning services that we offer, or email us to create your own personalized package. Our promise is to find you affordable travel options, without adding extortionate commission fees.


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