Miles and Miles of Texas

2,623 miles, in fact, of scenic drives and remote highways and hidden spots just waiting beyond the bend. So get behind the wheel, hit the open road, and prepare to discover a Texas you’ve never seen.

It’s true: Everything is bigger in Texas. From portion sizes, pickup trucks, and 10-gallon hats to the thousands of miles of rugged, gorgeous terrain. This state encompasses such a wide swath of human experience that exploring all of its nooks and crannies would take years—maybe a lifetime.

Come for a picnic, afternoon swim, fishing trip or a weekend campout on the banks of the spring-fed Blanco River. Blanco State Park in the Texas Hill Country hugs a one-mile stretch of the river. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Come for a picnic, afternoon swim, fishing trip or a weekend campout on the banks of the spring-fed Blanco River. Blanco State Park in the Texas Hill Country hugs a one-mile stretch of the river. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Texas is so big and diverse that it’s practically its own country. It was, in fact, a nation of its own from 1836 to 1845. The Texas landscape ranges from desert badlands and impressive coastlines to lush mountains and sprawling prairies. Its communities go from the heights of large urban cities on down to the tiniest, most charming out-of-the-way towns.

There is surely no shortage of Country culture here: rodeos, line-dancing, and ample opportunities for an adventure by horse or mule.

And then there’s the barbecue. It’s hard to find a better place on this planet for a plate of ribs or brisket served with a heaping helping of Texas home-style side dishes.

The “Original Black’s Barbecue” opened in 1932. Now four generations of the Edgar Black family later , the Original Black’s in Lockhart is the oldest BBQ joint in Texas, always owned by the same family. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The “Original Black’s Barbecue” opened in 1932. Now four generations of the Edgar Black family later , the Original Black’s in Lockhart is the oldest BBQ joint in Texas, always owned by the same family. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Strap on your boots and travel Central Texas to taste the best slowsmoked- over-wood coals BBQ in the state. These mouthwatering family-owned joints serve thousands of customers each day. Regulars come for the food and the chance to lick their fingers with friends and meet new acquaintances. For most, the pits boast as much history as the family who cooks over them.

For starters head over to Lockhart and for their three historic BBQs: Black’s Barbecue, Smitty’s Market, and Kreuz Market. Another hot spot for tourists and locals is City Market in nearby Luling. The legendary Franklin Barbecue in Austin can boast all-day waits—and it is worth it.

The Battle of the Alamo (February 23 – March 6, 1836) was a pivotal event in the Texas Revolution. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Battle of the Alamo (February 23 – March 6, 1836) was a pivotal event in the Texas Revolution. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Imagine hills, soft and scrubby, green valleys, and limestone cliffs. Conjure up ranches and communities of German heritage, wineries, fields of wildflowers, and sparkling rivers lined with cypress and oak. No big cities, no hustle and bustle. Just cafes with country cooking, water for fishing and inner tubing, and old places with timeworn comfort.

The Hill Country rises out of south-central Texas like an island out of a vast ocean. A large area of rolling hills and valleys with limestone canyons, clear-water rivers, and a few scattered small towns, the Hill Country is quite densely wooded. Prepare to be amazed.

History buffs can travel far and wide across the Lone Star State to learn about its rich cultural legacy. San Antonio is home to the Alamo, a centuries-old Spanish mission and the site of a long, bloody battle in the early 1800s. Frontier Texas!, a bold museum in Abilene, introduces visitors to the “Wild, Wild West” using life-sized holograms. Of course, Texas is also host to its share of arts and cultural sophistication, from the glossy urban landscapes in Dallas and Houston to the freewheeling funk of Austin where you can expect the unexpected.

Rockport is a popular tourist destination for its access to various forms of marine recreation such as boating, fishing, swimming, birdwatching, and seafood. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Rockport is a popular tourist destination for its access to various forms of marine recreation such as boating, fishing, swimming, birdwatching, and seafood. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Arguably, the state’s most beautiful city, San Antonio has much to offer. Fantastic museums, San Antonio River Walk, La Villita, HemisFair Park, Tower of the Americas, El Mercado, King William Historic District, and, of course, The Alamo are but a few of its highlights. And if you like the Alamo, you’ll love the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, a string of several 15th- and 16th-century Spanish missions in and around the city.

Rockport is known as “The Charm of the Texas Coast” and for good reasons. A relaxing getaway year-round, Rockport-Fulton is known for its signature trees, clusters of giant ancient oaks sculpted by the Gulf Coast winds.

Despite its small town status there are plenty of things to do. There’s fishing, golfing, and nature trails. A few places to enjoy the wildlife are at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Connie Hagar Wildlife Sanctuary, and Goose Island State Park. The Aransas National Wildlife Refuge is the winter host for the largest flock of whooping cranes.

Enjoy seafood at Port Lavaca and other communities along the Gulf coast. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Enjoy seafood at Port Lavaca and other communities along the Gulf coast. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Texas Spoken Friendly

Worth Pondering…

First buy a cowboy hat and boots. Then you’re on your way to being a Texan.

—James Michener

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