Texas is often given a bad rep in the other 49 states. With big cars, big people, and big guns, Texas is frequently overlooked when it comes to tourist destinations. I’m here to say that while Texas has its downfalls, it really is an experience all its own. So brush aside your bias and take a second look at the lonestar state–you won’t be disappointed.
Killer Music Festivals
Although plagued with hipsters, the music festivals of Austin, Texas are something everyone can enjoy. Concerts like South by Southwest offer audiences great indie music as well as film screenings and Austin City Limits has become one of the most prestigious music venues for up and coming artists. When ACL started as a publicly broadcasted show, the students at University of Texas Austin could never have imagined it would be the jumping off point for artists like Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, and many many more.
Wildflowers for Days
With an almost obsessive dedication to wildflowers, Texas boasts some of the most beautiful botanical gardens and natural settings for flower fanatics. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin is not only a wonderful way to see the never ending pallet of southern wildflowers, it also focuses on preserving the native plants and landscapes of Texas. If that doesn’t convince you of Texans’ dedication to wildflowers, there are two distinct highways: US 281 and Texas 71 that are not only useful routes of transport, but also hot spots for wildflower viewing.
Tex Mex Food
When you ask for “queso” in almost any other part of the country you’ll most likely receive a bunch of shredded cheese or, if you’re lucky, a block of cheese. However, queso, as it is in Texas, is a spicy, melty, absolutely mouth-watering cheese sauce used for dipping or pouring (either on food or directly into your mouth). Short for Chili con Queso, this delectable sauce is just one aspect of the Tex Mex experience. Tex Mex takes the best parts of Mexican food and makes it saltier, fattier, cheesier than you’ve ever seen it before. Horrible for your arteries but it does wonders for your taste buds.
Cadillac Ranch is a brightly colored sculpture garden (of sorts) located just outside of Amarillo. Created in 1974 by the art group Ant Farm, Cadillac Ranch features dozens of old Cadillacs buried nose down into the dry, west Texas earth. The cars are buried at an angle resembling the Pyramids at Giza and are all brightly painted with spray paint. Visitors have contributed to the decoration of the Cadillacs and the cars are often painted to represent various social movements. Recently, the Caddies were painted rainbow to show the artists’ support for marriage equality.
Once a booming Victorian town, Galveston has seen its share of hardship over the past 150 years. With hurricanes, economic collapse, and a beach that used to be all but disgusting, Galveston has made a huge comeback over the last 20 years. Galveston, just south of Houston, celebrates the rich and unique history that cities like Houston and Dallas have all but wiped out. With tall Victorian mansions, sprawling botanical gardens, and fresh seafood for days, Galveston offers an inexpensive and far more remote alternative to other Gulf Coast attractions.
Much like standing before the Mona Lisa, seeing the Alamo may result in the response, “Is that it?” Although small and simple, it is the history of the Alamo that really packs a significant punch. Centered in downtown San Antonio, the Alamo is almost hard to distinguish amongst the Hard Rock Cafe-esque restaurants and attractions that litter the neighborhood. However, inside the walls of the compound, surrounded by the high adobe walls that once comprised this miniature fort, it is hard not to feel profound. Whether remembering the iconic characters that died there, or seeing it as a monument to America’s western expansion, the Alamo is a historical gem right in the center of our country.