Texas is an inviting year-round destination. With mild temperatures, clear blue skies, abundant sunshine and diverse adventure-packed landscapes, the Lone Star State is an ideal destination for people who love the outdoors. From birding to hiking, from sport fishing to scuba diving and all things in between, Texas delivers an amazing outdoor vacation.
Water sports are, as one might imagine, among the most popular attractions along the coastal and inland waterways. Texas boasts more than 600 miles of sparkling coastline fronting the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and inviting visitors to enjoy a variety of activities. Paired with plenty of sunshine and pristine beaches and bays, the coastal region serves up some of the best places to indulge in water sports. Avid fishermen can boat to the remote marshes along the serene bays or travel with a group on a guided deep-sea fishing trip catching fresh gulf seafood like red snapper, grouper and marlin. Non-anglers can catch the waves from South Padre Island to Galveston Bay and surf, parasail and kiteboard while enjoying the warm gulf breeze and salty waters.
Travel inland and discover the 15 crystal clear rivers and an abundance of large man-made lakes where native Texans and visitors spend their summer afternoons basking in the sun. Accessibility to public boating ramps and rental facilities offer for infinite possibilities and make for a prime getaway for those who enjoy water skiing, tubing, kayaking or canoeing among other water activities. Stay for a weekend or for a week and discover the endless fun-filled possibilities.
For those searching for a unique, mapped out experience, hit one of the 48 Texas Paddling Trails located throughout coastal and inland areas of the state. Maps and signage provided by Texas Parks and Wildlife direct paddlers through calm to rough waters and through scenic landscapes, accommodating paddlers of every skill level.
Visitors looking for backpacking and camping adventures have countless landscapes from which to choose. Lake and riverside camping grounds are among some of the most popular for those who prefer to sleep under the starry Texas skies, while lodges and campsites around state and national parks are popular choices for those preferring a more formally enclosed accommodation. The Palo Duro Canyon State Park in the Texas Panhandle offers majestic grounds for camping and hiking during the day with outstanding star gazing opportunities at night. And for a larger experience, Big Bend National Park in West Texas encompasses more than 800,000 acres of mountains and desert scenery. Enjoy birding and wildlife watching in addition to rock climbing, ATV off-trail adventures, rafting on the Rio Grande and mountain biking along rugged back roads.
Texas is often touted as the “Birding Capital of America” with more than 600 species of birds to see and catalogue in the state. A whole new adventure can be found at The World Birding Center, offering visitors a dazzling array of birding opportunities at not one but nine unique locations in the Rio Grande Valley, easily accessible along a 120-mile historic river road. The Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail, the first of its kind in the country, runs along the Texas coastline from Beaumont down to the Rio Grande Valley. Its primary function is the conservation of bird and wildlife habitats in the local communities, and education of these same communities; however, it has naturally evolved into one of the most popular birding habitats in the United States. This coastal trail sends visitors on a path that leads them to find some of the state’s most precious birding species at a wide array of hotspots by providing accessibility and resources at visitor fingertips — including boardwalks, parking pullouts, observation platforms and distinct landscapes.
From rugged outdoorsman to birders to water and nature lovers, anyone can create their perfect vacation by exploring the variety of landscapes Texas has to offer. For more information please visit www.TravelTex.com.
Cowboy culture in Texas has a long and proud history, dating back as early as the 1500s, when the Spanish first introduced cattle to this land, and continuing for three centuries with a line of hard-working ranchers, vaqueros, and Chisholm Trail riders.
Visitors who want to saddle up for an authentic cowboy experience in the Lone Star State will have their pick of options, from a weekend stay at a dude ranch, a visit to the rodeo, or shopping for the perfect pair of cowboy boots.
Here are some recommendations for great cowboy-themed trip options.
Visit the Cowboy Capital of the World. Bandera, Texas, a rural town nestled in the rolling hills of Texas Hill Country, is the “Cowboy Capital of the World,” a nod to its geographic importance in the last big cattle drives of the 19th Century. You can make a reservation at one of the town’s many dude ranches, such as Mayan Dude Ranch, Dixie Dude Ranch, and Rancho Cortez, enjoying simple bunkhouse accommodations, trail rides, and mess hall-style eats, signaled by a dinner bell.
Go to the Rodeo. Is this your first rodeo? No worries: Texans are happy to indoctrinate you. Typically held January through March, rodeos are held across the state in Fort Worth, Houston, San Angelo, Austin, and elsewhere, and they include impressive entertainment line-ups with concerts and children’s activities, in addition to traditional livestock shows and rodeo events.
Grab some breakfast with the ranchers. Cowboys still exist in Texas, and you are most likely to find them in the humble, mom-and-pop style diners near livestock auctions in Amarillo, Elkhart, and West. These are the places where farmers and ranchers still meet to sell their cattle at weekly sales. It doesn’t get much more authentic than a plate of “chicken-fried” at the Amarillo Stockyard Cafe. If you’re lucky, you might hear some great modern-day cowboy tales.
Get yourself a hat—and boots. If you come to Texas seeking some western flair, you might as well leave with some, too. Many handcrafted hats and boots are still made in Texas, from the custom-fit cowboy hats at Catalena Hatters in Bryan to the luxurious, hand-stitched Lucchese cowboy boots in El Paso. Stores across the state carry these items, and they’re also available to order online.
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