Everything is bigger in Texas. No, but really. It is the largest state in the contiguous United States of America. This means opportunity for adventure is always at an all time high. From the bustling capital city of Austin to the whimsical waters of the Rio Grande, here are just a few beautiful places in Texas worth visiting.

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1. Big Bend National Park

Despite more and more magazines and newspapers featuring Big Bend National Park, it is still (shockingly) not an uber popular vacation destination for those that live in Texas. And while this is a “yah snooze, yah lose” situation for those who know how fantastic it is, we still are urging you to rent that camper and hit the road with your crew to explore this area of the state that is truly unlike any other. Think 800,00 acres of desert, mountains and rivers just waiting sometimes seemingly untouched by the world around it. Oh, and the stargazing is excellent too. The Mountain View Restaurant, located in the Chisos Mountain Lodge, provides the only full-service dining inside the park.

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2. Austin

The only big city in Texas to make this list, and for good reason. Although Austin has been all the rage to everyone from the hippies to the highfalutin for over a decade, it still manages to be one of those in state destinations that we just can’t quit. Start your morning at Paperboy by crushing Texas hash and cold brew before going for a dip in Barton Springs Pool. Continue the outdoor excursion by climbing to the top of the Mount Bonnell for views for days. Head back for a quick change before hitting up Salt & Time for dinner followed by a live music venue for Texas Country under the stars. Aw shucks, we love you, Austin.

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3. Fredericksburg

They grow wine here. Need we say more? This diamond in the rough region of Texas is a delightful area that is infused with German heritage. Start your day with a hike up Enchanted Rock or a slow stroll through Wildseed Farms. Spend your afternoon amongst the vines sampling wine at area favorites like Becker Vineyards and Signor Vineyards where you’ll also find food. Head into town for dinner to try something uniquely German at Otto’s. And while you are always welcome to stay in town, we’d recommend gathering up your girlfriends and shaking up in a quaint cottage or cabin for a true Hill Country experience.

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4. Llano

The absolute abundance of ranches and wide-open spaces that remain untouched in this area of the Texas Hill Country is incredible. If you are truly interested in doing something totally Texan, rent a ranch for the weekend on many an acre and simply stroll the land. You’ll surely stumble on wildlife and babbling brooks, not to mention catch an epic sunset. Don’t even think about leaving the area without stopping in to Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que with a big appetite and an adult bib.

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5. Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Located in West Texas, this is the least visited of the country’s 60 national parks. With that said, if you are craving to be alone with your thoughts in nature, or simply are tipping your toe back in the vacationing pond, this might be your absolute jam. It’s all about camping and sleeping in your RV here, and if you fancy yourself a hiker, you’ll be getting good sleep as there are 80 miles of trials. Did we mention that the Insta-famous Guadalupe Peak is considered the “Top of Texas” at 8,751 feet?

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6. Monahans Sandhills State Park

It seems almost like torture for beach lovers living in the Lone Star State to look at these dreamy dunes only to realize that they do not hug the ocean. But, in fact, this seemingly random act of nature is out in good ole West Texas. And while many travel here to snap a picture and to gaze at the wonder of the scene as a whole, it is the sand dune surfers that seem to enjoy this state park more than any other group.

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7. Medina River

This is one of the most peaceful places to put your kayak in the water and float through Texas. And while you are close enough to a couple of sizable cities to stay, play or eat if you so choose, it is advisable to take in the beauty of this running river by staying out in nature for as long as your life lets you. First hit up the Medina River Company to get the inside scoop on when the perfect time is to float or camp and then plan where you will pick up grub for your cooler. Fatboyz Sandwich Shop, anyone? Speaking of cool, post river activity, raise a glass of craft beer to time well spent at Bandera Brewery.

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8. South Padre Island

Remember when we said Texas was big? Well, it’s big. So big that to get to this beautiful beach from Dallas would take you a whopping nine hours. And while that tempts many to push on a few more hours to the white sandy beaches of 30A, there is something special about heading south for a weekend of dolphin watching, brunching at Yummies Bistro and sunbathing by the pool while gazing at the Gulf of Mexico.

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