Everything is bigger in Texas, so here is our big Texas bucket list, highlighting all the unique, fun, fried, strange, friendly, historic, and beautiful things the state has to offer. Yee haw.
Eat BBQ (and other stuff)
Many people say that you can find the world’s best BBQ in San Antonio, but the truth is, the cooking style is great across the state. From Rudy’s and The Salt Lick in Austin to the many barbeque competitions across Texas, picking a favorite spot won’t be easy. The Lone Star State’s cuisine does not stop at BBQ though, the TexMex — a Mexican food hybrid — is also legendary. Plus, the quickly diversifying Houston is becoming a hot spot to try Vietnamese and Indian food.
Remember the Alamo
One of the most iconic landmarks in the country, a visit to the Alamo is an educational, entertaining, and moving activity. There are many tour options which eloquently detail the hundreds of Texas revolutionaries’ last stand against the thousands of Mexican troops attacking the former mission.
Get Some Texan Religion AKA Football
Texas is home to some of the most exciting college atmospheres and a few of the best NFL stadiums in the country. AT&T Stadium is home to the Dallas Cowboys and is one of the most impressive stadiums in the world, complete with a hole in the roof “so God can watch the Cowboys play”. For college football, there are not many universities that can compete with the tradition of the University of Texas Longhorn football. Even high school football games are a monumental event — after all, this is the original home of Friday night lights.
Venture Into the Great Outdoors
Texas is big. Like, really big. So big in fact it is bigger than England, Ireland, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany combined. Needless to say, with all that room there is plenty of nature to explore. Our favorites spots are Big Bend National Park and the Hamilton Pool Preserve in Texas hill country.
Listen to the Live Music Capital of the World
Austin is known as the Live Music Capital of the World. Jazz, country, folk, rock, nearly every genre of music can be found on a nightly basis here. South Congress and 6th Street are both spots to find numerous bars blaring local music, while popular venues Stubb’s BBQ, Antone’s, The Continental Club, and Elephant Room are best for bands and themed nights.
Float a River or Conquer Schlitterbahn
It’s no secret that it gets hot in Texas during the summer, and unless you’re on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, you’ll be desperate for a dip. Floating the river (people take their tubes to pretty much every river in the state) has become a strong tradition. Another way to cool off is to visit Schlitterbahn, now with four locations in Texas, they are among the most fun waterparks in the world.
Road Trip Just to Stop at Buc-ee’s
Those who know, know. Buc-ee’s is an odd, but impressive staple of Texas culture. Literally the largest gas stations/rest stops in the world, they offer up fresh jerky, homemade fudge, and cheesy Beaver Nuggets (don’t ask, we aren’t sure). Just follow the giant sign of a smiling beaver to find it.
Love them or hate them the show the bat colony at Austin’s Congress Avenue Bridge put on is spectacular. Home to somewhere between 1.5-2 million bats, their venture into the night is a sight to see as a cloud of the critters emerge out from under the bridge for many minutes. Austin locals love them as they gobble up around 30,000 pounds of insects per night.
Day of the Dead Celebration
Texas has one of the strongest Latinx communities in the US, and every year San Antonio is home to one of the largest Dia de los Muertos celebrations outside of Mexico. It is a great opportunity to learn about the traditions of our neighbors to the south and to see colorful ofrendas and calaveras, as well as hear authentic mariachi music.
Spring Break Vibes on South Padre Island
South Padre Island off the south coast of Texas is known for its beauty but also its parties. Those coming here can grab a drink and turn back the clocks to Spring Break ’99 (or whenever).
State Fair of Texas
Sure the carnival rides, live music, and Red River Shootout (the Longhorns’ biggest game of the year against rivals University of Oklahoma) are all big draws to Dallas’s State Fair of Texas, but the number one reason to go? Food. Fried food. And not just fried chicken, find fried delicacies like fried beer, deep fried butter, fried PB&J, fried pizza, and fried Oreos — trust us, there are more terrifyingly appealing options we haven’t mentioned.
Learn to Two Step
The classic dance of Texas, the Texas Two Step is not terribly hard to learn, although to be a true master it takes a lot of practice. Any out-of-stater who can work their way around a dancefloor is sure to be embraced by Texan locals.
Giving definition to the phrase “middle of nowhere”, Marfa in West Texas has become a strange destination for art lovers and fashionistas. Nowadays, Marfa has a Prada pop-up store and numerous classy art galleries.
Space: The Final Frontier
Texas, along with Florida, has long been a state at the forefront of the United States’ Space Program. Space lovers can visit NASA’s Johnson Space Center or take a trip to the peak of Mt Locke where the McDonald Observatory, free from light pollution, offers some of the clearest, most breathtaking views of the stars.
Look Like a Cowboy
Yes, picture the most stereotypical Texan in your head and know some Texans do actually dress like that. So be sure to play the part and get a custom made ten-gallon hat and a pair of slick cowboy boots.
South By Southwest
South By Southwest, or SXSW for short, has evolved into something way more than just a music festival. These days, the event extends from music to art, film, comedy, and conferences on various social and business-related subjects. March 2019 will see guests include Kevin Hart, the CTO of IBM, Trevor Noah with Jake Tapper, Zoe Saldana, Frank Oz, Elizabeth Moss, and many others.
The River Walk
Circling back to San Antonio, and pretty much right across the street from The Alamo is San Antonio’s famed River Walk. The canal, which winds through part of downtown, is open for boat tours and is surrounded by shady restaurants serving up a variety of food and an endless supply of margaritas.