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Why West Texas Is The Most Underrated Destination To Visit In The Lone Star State

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As the saying goes, “everything is bigger in Texas”. Yet, a whole side of this massive state is often overlooked.

The major cities tend to steal all the shine, as well as charming small towns. There is so much to experience all over Texas, but why are some of the most beautiful and cultural places treated as if they don't exist?

tourist under Milky Way at big bend

Trendy cities, such as Austin, are a draw for travelers year-round, while Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio each have their own unique appeal.

These cities are all within 4-5 hours of each other, and it takes as much as 12 hours to drive across the entire state from Louisiana to New Mexico. And that's without traffic!

That leaves a lot to be discovered. Tucked away in the western corners of the state are a pair of overlooked destinations that should be in the same conversation as other popular places.

As we forge into 2024 looking for new experiences, it's time to recognize West Texas is so much more than desolate roads, high school football, and tumbleweeds.

Big Bend National Park

rio grande at big bend

U.S. National Parks are some of the most beautiful places on Earth. Many are easily accessible for road trips and have airports close by.

Big Bend is an adventure to reach, but Instagramers and TikTokers are backing up the claim that it's well worth the trip.

Set in a vast area of rivers, canyons, deserts, and mountains, visitors are not only stunned by the park's scenery but perhaps even more so that it's not talked about nearly enough.

Whether you bring up Texas or National Parks, Big Bend probably doesn't come to mind for either topic. However, visitor arrivals are spiking compared to other National Parks.

mountains in big bend

What To See At Big Bend

As the park back up to the Mexican border, some used to consider this region a no-go zone in fear of crime.

Today's travelers are putting that narrative to bed and enjoying all the wonders of this very underrated side of Texas.

The stunning scenery is enough of a reason to visit, but tourists can also immerse themselves with many different species of wildlife and outdoor activities, such as hiking and kayaking.

hiker on big bend trail

The local economy is growing largely in part due to plentiful accommodations where guests can choose rustic cabins and lodges, revamped casitas, and even teepees – all perfect to step outside and stargaze.

But nothing compares to The Summit, where you can stay overnight in a Luxurious Cave or Stargazing Dome.

Road trips to Big Bend are common by Texans, but outsiders will want to fly into Midland/Odessa (MAF) or El Paso (ELP).

Speaking Of El Paso…

el paso skyline at dusk

El Paso has to be the most misunderstood city in Texas. Often declared an icky, ugly border town with nothing to do; this couldn't be further from the truth.

Yes, the immediate area at the actual border can be unpleasant, but should that define a city of nearly 700,000 residents?

The Sun City is uniquely set upon a blend of 3 cultures as Mexico, Texas, and New Mexico all merge, making it an endless foodie paradise.

Downtown is being revitalized with museums, trendy bars, restaurants and cafes while the nightlife scene is quite underrated too. Not to mention the awesome rooftops at luxury hotels, such as The Plaza.

el paso Texas mural

El Paso rivals San Antonio as Texas's culture hub and is super safe, very affordable, and home to the Franklin Mountains, which are a great alternative for nature lovers who don't want to make the 260-mile trip to Big Bend.

Don't Sleep On Marfa

Perhaps the quirkiest town in all of Texas, Marfa is a small, isolated town between El Paso and Big Bend. Even if Marfa isn't your mainstay, you'll never forget it!

Marfa water tower

This seemingly unsuspecting town is a mix of traditional Texas flair of cowboys, and simple folks intermingled with Austin's leftover hipsters.

You never know what you'll see in and around Marfa. Home to a booming arts scene, there is randomness galore when driving the quintessential West Texas roads with art installations placed in the middle of nowhere.

Visitors will be surprised at the variety of nice hotels should you decide to stay in this one-of-a-kind town for a while.

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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.

Carol Shuey

Sunday 31st of December 2023

What about Lubbock? It's a great place to live, has many amazing, delicious restaurants, sites to visit and housing is very affordable. It is also without the traffic and pollution that the big cities in Texas have. The citizens are also very friendly.