The Lone Star state has an interesting appeal and draws visitors from all over the world. Known for its cowboys, rodeos and Texas-sized Texas pride, Texas is a must see for anyone traveling around the United States. For the outdoors enthusiast, it is no surprise that the second-largest state in the has ample amounts of open spaces and opportunity for outdoors activities. The following list is a quick guide to the state's more unique places.
Big Bend National Park
Located on southwestern Texas' border with Mexico, Big Bend National Park combines three unique eco-systems. The Chisos Mountains let visitors climb and hike to higher heights for grand views of the surrounding Chihuahuan Desert and Rio Grande River. Shady canyons and the occasional waterfall complement the abundant desert vegetation. The many paved and unpaved roads through the park make it suitable for biking, and the park has over 150 miles of hiking trails. Visitors can go on day and extended river trips by themselves (with a permit) or through an outfitter. The park has three campsites, and backcountry camping is available.
Big Bend National Park
P.O. Box 129
Big Bend National Park, TX 79834
Padre Island National Seashore
Offering over 70 miles of protected, undeveloped beaches, Padre Island National Seashore on Texas' Gulf Coast offers a tropical escape from Texas' typically arid air. In addition to the beach, the island contains sand dunes and ample grasslands filled with vegetation and wildlife. Birding is a popular activity at the park, as is picnicking. The park's five campgrounds range from primitive to semi-developed with toilets and cold showers; there are no electrical hook-ups, but a water-filling and dump station is present in the park. The public is invited to watch the park's sea turtle hatchlings make their way to the ocean in organized releases that take place from July through September.
Malaquite Visitor Center
P.O. Box 181300
Corpus Christi, TX 78480-1300
As the capital of Texas, Austin offers a unique Texas experience. Contrary to the images of cowboy hats and pickup trucks, Austin's unofficial slogan is "Keep Austin Weird." This independent and liberal city is filled with artists, musicians and eccentrics. Almost every bar in downtown offers free live music nearly every day of the week, and the city is home to many music and film festivals. The 350-acre Zilker Park is home to the natural Barton Springs Pool where visitors can swim and rent canoes, walk trails, and visit a sculpture garden and a botanical garden. Local restaurants and cafes outnumber the chains and add to Austin's unrivaled feel.