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I Have Visited Every Major City In Texas And These Are My 5 Favorite Destinations

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Unlike all my exes that live in Texas, the Lone Star State still holds a special place in my heart.

Although born in Grand Prairie, a suburb outside of Dallas, I called various cities and small towns home around the state for many years.

Oftentimes, family vacations were within state borders as those who have never visited can't fathom the massive size of Texas.

beautiful field of bluebonnets in texas

I love this state and continue to visit each year. Some places are better than others and not every destination will appeal to everyone.

Texas is often misunderstood as a state full of boot wearin', horse ridin', tabacco spittin' people with a one track mind.

While I have certainly passed through some towns that fit the mold, at the end of the day Texas is more diverse than given credit for and has something for everyone.

I have visited every major city in Texas and these are my 5 favorite destinations:

5) Dallas – Ft. Worth

downtown Dallas eyeball

The metroplex has changed a lot over the years, but Fort Worth has piqued my interest in recent visits. Dallas and Ft. Worth make up a huge chunk of North Texas.

Often overshadowing Ft. Worth with more name recognition, Dallas is a big draw nowadays and becoming one of the trendiest major cities in the U.S.

If you can weave in and out of the stereotypical everything-is-bigger-in-Texas size trucks and mini mansions, there is a bustling city to explore with world-class shopping, amazing eats, hip neighborhoods and nearby charming towns, such as Grapevine.

Ft. Worth on the other hand, is a completely different vibe. Part college town, part cowboy town, this underrated city should definitely be on your radar for the Stockyards alone.

cattle drive stockyards fort worth

Just don't mistake Ft. Worth as a Running of the Bulls destination when the cows are let loose for the daily longhorn cattle drives.

With the luxurious Hotel Drover set along old-timey streets lined with steakhouses, shops, ‘saloons' and the world famous Billy Bob's honkytonk, this timeless district is a must-visit.

I always have a blast and definitely never come back home on an empty stomach.

4) Port Aransas

I discovered Port Aransas on a random last-minute trip to Corpus Christi and was shocked by how nice it was since Texas is quite underrated for beach vacations.

aerial view of port aransas

It easily became one of my favorite places in the state, even though it was an unintentional find. Beachgoers are actually allowed to drive on the beach, but there are car-free areas too for more space.

After having only visited Galveston for a Texas beach getaway, Port Aransas was a major upgrade like going from Spirit's crammed seats to Delta's first class.

Port Aransas isn't mainstream yet; it's more of a locals' escape. Nevertheless, it can become packed during spring break and summer, of course.

While you won't find name-brand resorts like South Padre, vacation rentals are the way to go. TripAdvisor holds a 4.5/5 rating for Port Aransas, and I'd say that's accurate as the long stretches of beach are squeaky clean and perfect for taking in the sunset.

blue waters of port aransas

3) El Paso

Oddly enough, the first time I visited El Paso was to use it as a launchpad for a road trip to New Mexico. And even as much as I loved that trip, I couldn't stop thinking about El Paso and how wrong I was to pre-judge it.

Commonly overlooked and labeled an ugly border town, this city of roughly 800,000 will captivate you with its friendly locals, stunning nature and culture.

There is an edginess to the city that equates to charm with the right perspective. I loved it so much I ended up moving to ‘the 915' and may go back again as a digital nomad.

el paso skyline at dusk

As one of the last truly affordable U.S. cities, your dollar goes far here with almost anything. Downtown is home to some bougie hotels and is still being revitalized, but there are plenty of fun things to do around the city and nearby small towns.

I love going hiking through the stunning Franklin Mountains, taking a day trip to Mesilla, trying breweries in the very underrated beer scene and indulging in some of the best Mexican food imaginable.

2) New Braunfels/Gruene

First-timers to Texas may be blown away by how gorgeous the state can be. You won't find desolate roads with tumbleweeds in the Hill Country as Texas is often depicted.

blue water of guadalupe river in texas

Quite the opposite, actually. The small towns and natural sites in the Hill Country are stunning, but my personal favorite stomping grounds is the delightful town of New Braunfels.

Besides the Buc-cee's gas station, the most popular attraction is tubing the blue waters for miles along the Guadalupe River.

And uniquely placed within New Braunfels is a historic unincorporated town named Gruene, pronounced like the color.

This itty bitty town is a blip on the map, but it's a vibe. It can easily become the highlight of your trip by taking a step back in time with stops at the historic Gruene Hall, for example.

gruene hall in texas

1) Austin

If I didn't fall in love with San Diego, chances are I never would have left Austin. Another city that doesn't quite feel like Texas, it is indeed the state capitol.

My two knocks on Austin are the unbearable humid summers… and my ex lives here.

Besides those things, Austin is one of the coolest cities not only in Texas, but the entire U.S.

A constantly growing city has still somehow held onto its unique quirky appeal as a big city with a small town feel.

With endless delicious restaurants, outdoor activities, fun bars, and festivals throughout the year, there is never a dull moment in this city.

drone view of kayakers in austin

Especially with live music and a surge in the stand-up comedy scene. Locals are always friendly and people just genuinely seem happier here.

Even with the ever-changing skyline of ritzy hotels, my favorite place to stay is the classic Austin Motel on SoCo.

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Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.