As the second-largest state in the USA, Texas is a land of diverse landscapes, iconic monuments, and immense natural beauty. Below, I’ve delved into the difficult task of narrowing it down to just 31 of the most beautiful places to visit in Texas.
The Lone Star State celebrates cowboy culture with rodeos and ranching while embracing the culinary delights of barbecue and Tex-Mex cuisine. From Texas’ charming coastal towns to its rugged mountainscapes, the essence of Southern hospitality shines bright here.
So please join me as I uncover the breathtaking beauty that awaits around every corner in the great state of Texas.
31 Beautiful Places to Visit in Texas
Table of Contents
- 31 Beautiful Places to Visit in Texas
- 1. Austin
- 2. Caverns of Sonora
- 3. Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens
- 4. Pedernales Falls State Park
- 5. Santa Elena Canyon
- 6. Padre Island National Seashore
- 7. Hamilton Pool Preserve
- 8. Jefferson
- 9. Guadalupe Mountains National Park
- 10. San Antonio River
- 11. Lost Maples State Natural Area
- 12. Rockport Beach
- 13. Barton Springs Pool
- 14. Monahans Sandhills State Park
- 15. Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden
- 16. Marfa
- 17. Lake Bob Sandlin State Park
- 18. Terlingua
- 19. Chisos Mountains
- 20. Palo Duro Canyon State Park
- 21. Fredericksburg
- 22. Lake Austin
- 23. Fort Worth Water Gardens
- 24. Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
- 25. Galveston
- 26. BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Houston
- 27. Lake Travis
- 28. The Fort Worth Japanese Garden
- 29. Port Isabel
- 30. Caprock Canyons State Park and Trailway
- 31. Texas State Capitol
- Final Thoughts: 31 Beautiful Places to Visit in Texas
From tasty Mex-Tex dining in Austin to magical nature areas, Texas isn’t short of places to visit. Here’s a deep dive into 31 magical places worth visiting.
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With multiple greenbelts, lakes, and nearly 500 public parks, Austin is about as beautiful as cities get. The abundant greenery helps with cooling down the city and clearing up pollution, so your visit here is bound to be lush and fresh.
I’d recommend stopping in at the LBJ Presidential Library and the Blanton Museum of Art for a wonderful combo of history and creativity.
For an authentic taste of Austin, spend a fair amount of time downtown or, more specifically, Sixth Street. Here, you’ll find a superb range of bustling bars, artsy hubs, live music, and tasty cuisine – after all, you are in one of the US’ most diverse cities.
2. Caverns of Sonora
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These underground caverns are world-renowned for their magnificent display of calcite crystal formations and are, unsurprisingly, one of the most spectacular underground cave systems in the US.
From brilliant whites to more earthy tones, the subterranean crystal kingdom displays an enchanting sparkle that’s bound to captivate you from the moment you enter. Plus, the caves remain a constant and comfortable 22°C, making them a pleasant escape from the often-scorching Texas heat.
Experience this geological wonder via a guided tour by purchasing tickets online. There’s also lots to do above ground, such as hiking, camping, and panning for gemstones.
3. Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens
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With 14 acres of meticulously landscaped gardens and a magnificent American art collection, Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens is in the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.
The museum is set in the former residence of Ima Hogg, a philanthropist and art collector who was also known as ‘the First Lady of Texas’. The museum showcases significant pieces such as paintings, furniture, ceramics, and silver.
Bayou Bend provides an opportunity to experience American culture and heritage in an authentically serene setting.
4. Pedernales Falls State Park
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Situated along the Pedernales River banks in Blanco County, just a ten-minute drive from Johnson City, is Pedernales Falls State Park.
The park’s centerpiece is definitely the Pedernales River, which cascades over a series of limestone formations, creating picturesque waterfalls and pools.
The rugged terrain and raw beauty of the surrounding landscapes complement this oasis. Once here, you can set yourself up in a fantastic picnic area or base yourself in the campground for a night or two. Enjoy plenty of scenic trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horse riding.
5. Santa Elena Canyon
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Although Big Bend National Park is one of Texas’ treasures, it has a couple of features that are worthy of their own mention. The park’s very own Santa Elena Canyon is one such impressive landmark.
At eight miles long and 1,500 feet deep, Santa Elena Canyon is wonderfully dramatic. Its towering limestone cliffs form a breathtaking barrier along the serene Rio Grande. Once here, the only sounds you’ll notice are gushing water, whistling wind, and chirping birds echoing through the canyon.
6. Padre Island National Seashore
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In need of a break from desert canyons and metropolis cities? Head to Padre Island National Seashore for a whimsical seaside escape.
Padre’s shoreline protects 66 miles of wild coastline along the Gulf of Mexico. Its unique tidal mudflats are an absolute haven for birds, wildlife, and numerous prairie habitats. From fishing to birdwatching, there’s plenty on offer for nature lovers and chill-seekers.
I’d recommend camping here for a night or two. Just remember that park entrance fees are required, although no reservations are accepted (first come, first serve).
7. Hamilton Pool Preserve
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This breathtaking natural swimming pool is around a 40-minute drive from Austin’s city center, making it the perfect day trip if you’re looking to cool down and get some nature in.
The pool lies within the basin of a limestone grotto, and its emerald-green color is complemented by a cascading waterfall and lush greenery.
Just remember that you can only go if you’ve made a reservation, as the preserve only lets in a certain number of people at a time. This is great, though, because it means the pool will never be overcrowded.
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Not too far from the Louisiana border lies Jefferson, with its charming small-town eateries, quaint historic lodging, and plenty of ghosts. Yep, that’s right. Jefferson is apparently the most haunted city in Texas, with many visitors reportedly sighting ghosts and experiencing paranormal activity.
Before you get too spooked, Jefferson is an idyllic spot for a memorable getaway. It’s actually known as the ‘bed and breakfast capital’ of Texas, as its award-winning accommodation is really what makes this town stand out.
It’s picturesque and filled with old charm, so don’t hesitate to pay a visit here, as it’s one of the best things to do in East Texas.
9. Guadalupe Mountains National Park
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If you’re an avid hiker, I’d definitely recommend paying a visit to the Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Western Texas’ Chihuahuan Desert.
With over 80 miles of moderate to advanced hiking trails to choose from, you’ll be instantly rewarded with breathtaking vistas of mountains, forests, canyons, and deserts.
At 8,751 feet, Guadalupe Peak is the highest point in Texas, boasting panoramic views and awesome scenery for a once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity. It’s a very strenuous 8.4-mile out-and-back hike, but totally worth it if you’re up for the adventure!
10. San Antonio River
The San Antonio River is formed by large springs just a few miles out of the city of the same name. However, the real attraction here is the San Antonio River Walk – a delightful sanctuary within the city.
With a 15-mile stretch of cobblestone paths, colourful umbrellas, and enchanting bridges, it’s no wonder the River Walk is one of the best things to do in downtown San Antonio.
Here, you’ll find a bustling hub of activity where you can enjoy leisurely strolls, dine al fresco at waterside eateries, or take a scenic boat tour through the city’s heart. Lit by thousands of twinkling lights, it takes on a magical atmosphere in the evening.
11. Lost Maples State Natural Area
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With springs, streams, and plateau grasslands, Lost Maples State Natural Area in Vanderpool is vibrantly stunning.
Here, you can witness the best fall foliage Texas offers as the orange, red, and yellow hues of the Uvalde Bigtooth maples leave you speechless and reaching for your camera. The area even updates its fall foliage colour reports on its website, so you can be sure of seeing some brilliant colours before you leave home.
Not sure where to start? Try the 5.2-mile East Trail, a moderate route that’s well-maintained and very shady in the hot summer months.
12. Rockport Beach
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Rockport Beach is one of the best places to catch streaky sunsets and shimmering moonlit waters over the Gulf of Mexico. With its pristine sand and well-kept amenities, you’re in for a real treat. In fact, Rockport Beach is Texas’ only Blue Wave Beach.
The fresh seafood here attracts a lot of visitors to Rockport’s shores. You’ll find plenty of delicious oysters, shrimp and fish straight from the boats.
A bonus? The area is known for having great weather, even in winter. With the combination of plenty of sunshine and mild temperatures, you can’t go wrong.
13. Barton Springs Pool
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Barton Springs is situated in Austin’s Zilker Park. It’s easily one of the city’s top attractions due to its beauty and practicality.
The stunning freshwater pool is fed by natural underground springs and remains at a pretty consistent temperature that’s ideal for swimming (usually between 20 and 21°C). The springs attract heaps of hot visitors in the summer, with everyone seeking to cool down in its crystal waters.
The three-acre pool is surrounded by lush grass, perfect for picnics or naps in the sun. A visit to the springs will only add to your dreamy Texan summer memories.
14. Monahans Sandhills State Park
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Monahans Sandhills State Park is home to nearly 4,000 acres of sand dunes. Once you step foot on the dunes, you’ll be transported to a sandy paradise.
These ever-shifting dunes make for an exhilarating playground. You can explore the dunes on foot or embark on a sand surfing adventure by renting sand disks at the visitor center.
In my opinion, the best time of day here is sunrise, when the sun hits the sand with peachy pink tones and before they heat up. This only applies to the winter months, though, when the sun rises later and the park opens at 7 am.
15. Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden
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The exquisite 66-acre Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden is one of the most spectacular spots in Texas. It’s considered one of the best botanical gardens in the world.
Expect a vibrancy in the form of hundreds of thousands of plants, flowers, sculptures, and water features – a brilliant blend of art and horticulture.
The garden’s ethics lie in diversity, education, and inclusion. With 21 unique signature gardens, you’ll be spellbound into thinking you’ve landed in another world.
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Marfa is a quirky, artsy desert town with tons to offer in terms of charm and creativity. It’s home to the Chinati Foundation, an impressive contemporary art museum founded on an old army base.
Marfa is packed with galleries, shops, and exhibitions from both local and international artists. In fact, its Prada installation is one of the most well-known landmarks in Texas.
Apart from art, one of the main reasons visitors come here is to witness the Marfa Lights – mysterious glowing orbs on the horizon that no one seems to know the source of.
17. Lake Bob Sandlin State Park
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The Lake Bob Sandlin area is probably best known for its pristine lake. It’s only a two-hour drive from Dallas, making it a convenient weekend spot for a refreshing city escape.
There are tons of lovely picnic spots, as well as nine campsites with idyllic lakeside views. It’s the perfect place for boating and water activities such as swimming, kayaking, and fishing. You can even rent or buy fishing rods from the park’s store in an effort to catch some dinner.
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Keen to experience the best of West Texas? Well, Terlingua is your town! With an abandoned ghost town and great proximity to Big Bend National Park, it should definitely be high up on your list of beautiful places to visit in Texas.
Originally an old mining village, Terlingua is a quintessential cowboy town. Have dinner at the Starlight Theatre Restaurant and Saloon for an unforgettable Texan experience. Spend the night at one of Camp Elena’s luxury tents and experience a million twinkling stars.
19. Chisos Mountains
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As the centerpiece of Big Bend National Park, the Chisos Mountains are a sight to behold due to their rugged, jagged, barren peaks rising up from the desert. Hiking enthusiasts – you’ll be pleased to know that within the mountains lie a utopia of trails just waiting to be explored.
Geology lovers – take note of the exposed rock layers that tell stories of volcanoes, rivers, erosion, and ancient seas.
You can even hike to the highest point of the Chisos Mountains – Emory Peak. It’s a strenuous 10.5-mile trek but totally worth the sweeping views at the top.
20. Palo Duro Canyon State Park
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The area’s rust-red cliffs and rugged terrain are what make Palo Duro Canyon so unique.
During the day, sunlight plays on the layered rock formations, creating a scene from a painting.
One of the best things to do here is hike to the Lighthouse rock formation, which is probably the park’s most famous landmark (bonus: it’s also a relatively easy trek at 5.7 miles).
Pressed for time? You can also drive the Palo Duro Canyon Loop. It’s a fantastic 30-minute route with many pretty places to stop along the way.
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Fredericksburg, known for its rich German heritage, is a charming town with fantastic wineries and vineyards. Couple this with rolling hills, quaint buildings, and lush orchards, and you’ll have found one of the most majestic spots in all of Texas.
What I’m really hinting at, though, is driving the 13-mile Willow City Loop just north of the town. Along the route during the springtime, you’ll see fields of blooming bluebonnets (the Texas State flower), sunflowers, Mexican poppies, and wine cups.
PS: For more floral inspiration on your trip, check out these stunning Texas sunflower fields.
22. Lake Austin
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Oh, Austin – you’ve done it again with another one of the most beautiful spots in Texas! While it resembles more of a winding river, Lake Austin is a flow-through reservoir on the Colorado River. It’s a serene escape for a day of outdoor fun just minutes from the city.
Enjoy swimming, sunbathing, and basking in nature. In my opinion, the best swimming spot at Lake Austin is from the Emma Long Metropolitan Park because of its sandy beach.
23. Fort Worth Water Gardens
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Fort Worth Water Gardens is quite an architectural marvel. The 4.3-acre gardens, located in downtown Fort Worth, feature three pools – the aerating, the quiet, and the active pool.
The park encourages quiet meditation and contemplation, so it’s a great idea to come here with your headphones and a favourite book or to simply sit in stillness. Fortunately, there’s no admission, so come and enjoy these man-made cascades free of charge.
24. Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
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As a true Texas treasure, this 425-foot pink granite batholith is well worth the visit. This batholith is a particularly special geological formation – it was created deep under the earth’s surface as the result of magma cooling. Even more impressive? It’s about a billion years old.
Some think the name “enchanted” originated from the granite’s tendency to groan and creak as it naturally heats and cools. Whatever the reason, this ancient dome is a special place to visit.
Hiking to the top involves a moderately challenging route, which will take you just under an hour.
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As an island city on Texas’s Gulf Coast, Galveston is one of the best beach destinations in the state. Unsurprisingly, it’s also one of the most popular Texas coastal towns due to its prime location, historic architecture, and first-rate restaurants.
While some might enjoy the iconic Galveston Pleasure Pier, others may prefer the more peaceful Galveston Island State Park. No matter your preference, Galveston’s picture-perfect sunsets and sandy shores are some of the best and most stunning in all of Texas.
26. BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Houston
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The beauty is in the detail at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Houston. This intricately adorned temple is composed of Turkish limestone and Italian marble pieces that were hand-carved in India before being shipped to Texas.
The Mandir was built entirely by volunteers, taking a total of about two million hours to complete!
It symbolises peace and offers a tranquil refuge where all are welcome – entry is free and open to people of all backgrounds and religions. You’ll immediately feel at ease and be in awe of this marvelous structure and its magnificent grounds.
27. Lake Travis
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Known as one of the most beautiful lakes in Texas, Lake Travis has plenty of picturesque beaches, serene swimming spots, and perfect picnic areas.
One of the best beaches on Lake Travis is at Bob Wentz Park, so keep this in mind when planning your excursion.
Boat lovers and water sports fanatics will love this spot, as you can even scuba dive and windsurf. My advice? Jump on a SUP or kayak and paddle your way through the lake’s heavenly blue and green waters.
28. The Fort Worth Japanese Garden
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These 7.5-acre gardens in Fort Worth come complete with everything you’d imagine a Japanese Garden to have, such as cherry blossom trees, bamboo, bridges, and waterfalls.
The best time to visit the garden is between March and April when the cherry blossoms bloom. During this time, there’s a delicate fragrance in the air, and the clusters of pink flowers create a stunning overhead canopy as you stroll through the gardens.
It’s an exceptional recreation of traditional Japanese colors and patterns and is bound to be one of the most exquisite gardens you’ll visit in your lifetime.
29. Port Isabel
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If you’re searching for a taste of coastal Texas charm, look no further than Port Isabel. The town’s laid-back atmosphere and natural beauty make it a delightful destination for beachgoers and sunseekers.
In the town square, you’ll find the iconic white brick lighthouse (Port Isabel is the only town in Texas with a lighthouse in its square) built in 1852.
After exploring the town and browsing some shops, relax, kick back, and spot dolphins from the shore as you savor the tastiest local seafood at the quaint restaurants.
30. Caprock Canyons State Park and Trailway
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In the remote Texas Panhandle, the Caprock Canyons shine bright thanks to the brilliant auburn hues of their red beds.
What’s really unique about this park, though, is that it’s home to one of the last remaining herds of Southern Plains Bison. Trust me, seeing these majestic animals up close is a special and rather rare experience.
Speaking of, the park was even home to Palaeolithic hunters, several Native American tribes, and some of the first Anglo settlers. You’ll most certainly feel its spiritual significance when hiking the numerous trails or simply taking in the magnificent views.
31. Texas State Capitol
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The Capitol’s exterior is made of Sunset Red Texas Granite, and the stone’s warm, reddish hues shine through when the building is illuminated by the sun.
Add this to the Italian Renaissance Revival architecture present throughout the building, and you’ve got yourself one of the most enchanting structures in all of Texas.
To contribute to its grandeur, Texas’ Capitol boasts a majestic dome that reaches a height of 308 feet. This makes it taller than the United States Capitol in Washington, DC.
Well, there you have it, folks – everything is indeed bigger in Texas.
Final Thoughts: 31 Beautiful Places to Visit in Texas
And that’s a wrap! Have any of these 31 beautiful places made it onto your Texan bucket list?
Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures, a taste of history, or a simple and serene escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, Texas has tons to offer.
From the striking landscapes of Big Bend National Park to the charming streets of San Antonio’s River Walk, each destination offers a unique and unforgettable experience.
Read Next: If you’re a fan of the high Texas temperatures, take a look at these warm places to visit in January in the USA.