Ask anyone who has driven across the country and they may tell you driving across Texas was the most picturesque part. It is a big state with plenty of reasons to stop, get out of your car, walk around and snap a few photos. Here are ten Instagram-worthy iconic Texas stops.
In 1974, eccentric Amarillo billionaire Stanley March III wanted a piece of public art that would baffle the locals. He commissioned a group of traveling artists to install a tribute to the evolution of the Cadillac fin. The group buried ten Cadillacs nose down at the same angle of Great Pyramids. Today the kitschy roadside attraction along Route 66 west of Amarillo is a must-stop for anyone driving through the Texas Panhandle. Visitors are encouraged to bring spray paint or grab a half-used discarded bottle from the pile circling the piece of public art and leave their mark on the cars.
Some say it is the way the light reflects off of the dusty mountains, others say it is the majestic landscape, while other say it is the vastness of the horizon. Whatever the reason, Big Bend National Park is a must stop for anyone with the photography bug who wants to snap the perfect photo of the rugged West Texas landscape, or anyone who appreciates 800,000 acres of raw natural beauty. The park is so large it encompasses three natural habitats ripe for exploration: river, desert and mountains for visitors to float, hike, bike, ride or drive through the scenic park. The dramatic beauty of the Santa Elena Canyon with its 1,500-foot cliff walls makes for a memorable photo as does the ragged peaks of the Chisos mountain range.
Everyone is someone in Luckenbach, Texas. Waylon Jennings made the tiny unincorporated town on the edge of Gillespie County famous when he sang about it in Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love). Originally established as a trading post in 1849, today the town consists of a post office/general store, a bar and a dance hall (all the essentials of a good Texas country town). Grab a beer at the small bar in the back of the general store and if you are lucky, listen to a live jam session that would make Waylon, Willie and the boys proud.
What is the first image that pops into your mind when you hear the word Texas? For most people it is the Alamo. The landmark is as synonymous with Texas as the Eiffel Tower is with France. The Spanish mission built in the early 1700s was the key battleground site during Texas’ war for independence from Mexico. When thousands of Mexican soldiers surrounded the 182 voluntary Texan soldiers inside the Alamo, Colonel William Travis refused to surrender. He and his men, including Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie, defended the fort for 13 days before the Mexican army overpowered them. Days later Texas declared its independence from Mexico. Sam Houston used the phrase “Remember the Alamo” as a battle-cry to win independence. For Texans, the Alamo is a symbol of heroic resistance and independence. Visitors are still remembering the Alamo with the #RememberTheAlamo hashtag on their Alamo selfies.
If you are in central Texas during the springtime, do what every Texan does; find a bluebonnet field and take a photo among the stunning blue flowers. The bluebonnet is the official state flower of Texas. Lady Bird Johnson encouraged the planting of native flowers along Texas highways, and now bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush and Black-eyed Susans blanket highway medians, roadsides and open fields across Central Texas. Ennis – less than an hour south of Dallas – is the Official Bluebonnet City of Texas. The Ennis Garden Club showcases 40 miles of Bluebonnet Trails. Burnet in the Texas Hill Country also celebrates its status as the Official Bluebonnet Capital of Texas with a three-day Bluebonnet Festival.
Need a selfie with an awesome backdrop? Head to the streets of downtown Houston. Vibrant murals cover walls, stairwells, train cars and bridges in and around downtown Houston, especially in the Washington Avenue Arts District. Graffiti artists use open space as their own personal canvas giving H-town one of the most vibrant street art scenes in the world. The art is always changing as new designs paint over old favorites. Houston celebrates its street art scene with a graffiti museum and mural festival. The city is a must for any outdoor art lover or those looking for the perfect backdrop to add color to your IG feed.
Texans like to brag that “everything is bigger in Texas,” so it is only fitting that the world’s largest cowboy is the official greeter at the Texas State Fair. Towering above the crowds at 52-feet, Big Tex greets fair-goers with a deep “howdy folks” year after year. He made his public debut at the 1952 State Fair wearing size 70 boots and a 75-gallon hat. Since then, he has become the unofficial mascot of the fair to celebrate all things Texan.
The Texas State Capitol is the largest state capitol building in the country and at the time of its construction in 1888 was the eighth largest building in the world. The “sunset red” limestone exterior gives the building a dusty pink color that changes appearance with the setting sun. Spend the afternoon learning about the capitol’s history, Texas politics and Texas history on one of daily free guided tours, bring a picnic to eat on the lush capitol grounds or just snap a selfie under the capitol’s stunning rotunda.
Texas is a blend of Southern and Western cultures. The west in Texas starts in Fort Worth and nothing embodies Western heritage more than the historic Fort Worth Stockyards. Between 1866 and 1890 four million head of cattle traveled through Fort Worth on their way up the Chisholm Trail giving the city its nickname “Cowtown.” Learn the history of the cattle industry by taking a walking tour or watch the world’s only twice daily cattle drives. Every day at 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. cowhands drive a herd of Texas Longhorns down Exchange Avenue. From the saddles to the chaps, every detail of the cattle drive is historically true.
You cannot visit Galveston without walking along the historic Pleasure Pier. Built in the late 1940s, the pier is one of the world’s top seaside parks rivaling similar parks like Coney Island’s Luna Park, Chicago’s Navy Pier and the Santa Monica Pier. The 1,100 square-foot pier extends over the Gulf of Mexico to step back in time and feel like you are strolling along a 1950s seafront boardwalk. Have lunch at one of the many great seafood restaurants including the first Bubba Gump Shrimp Co, play a round of Whack A Mole or Ring Toss on the midway, or take a spin on the 52 mile per hour Iron Shark roller coaster. Sneak over to the beach at dusk to take an iconic photo of the rollercoaster during sunset.
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