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Everything is bigger in Texas. You’ve heard it countless times, but that’s because it’s just so true! The largest state in the contiguous United States serves up a massive amount of mountains, deserts, rivers, meadows and sand dunes, not to mention incredible state parks and two national parks. That translates to endless opportunities for adventure, awesome camping and photogenic sights. From the Chisos mountain range to the whimsical waters of the Rio Grande, here are 25 beautiful places in Texas to visit on your upcoming trips to the Lone Star State.

RELATED: THE 15 BEST STATE PARKS IN TEXAS FOR CAMPING, STARGAZING & EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN

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1. BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK (BREWSTER COUNTY)

Big Bend National Park is jam-packed with natural beauty that truly looks untouched by the outside world. This Texas-size expanse covers the entire Chisos mountain range, a huge portion of the Chihuahuan Desert, Santa Elena Canyon and natural hot springs. It’s also home to a fascinating array of wildlife and world-class stargazing.

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2. GUADALUPE MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK (SALT FLAT)

We really don’t need to sell you on Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Salt Basin Dunes and the sprawling Chihuahuan Desert are reason enough to visit. Plus, it’s got the largest wilderness area in the state and tons of scenic hiking trails.

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Dean Fikar/Getty Images

3. ENCHANTED ROCK STATE NATURAL AREA (FREDERICKSBURG)

There are many enchanting rocks in Texas, however, the towering 425-foot pink granite dome that’s the crown jewel of Enchanted Rock State Natural Area really takes the cake. Sure, seeing (and, of course, snapping pics of) the famously beautiful batholith is the main attraction, but it’s also deeply fascinating to learn about the mystical legends that swirl around the site (at least, we think so).

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4. MONAHANS SANDHILLS STATE PARK (MONAHANS)

It seems almost like torture for beach lovers living in the Lone Star State to look at Monahans Sandhills State Park only to realize the ocean is nowhere in sight. A lack of waves certainly shouldn’t turn you off from this stunning act of nature. While many travel here to take in the beauty of the scene as a whole, those brave enough to surf the dunes will surely leave with the best stories (and videos).

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Kushan Mehta/Getty Images

5. DALLAS ARBORETUM AND BOTANICAL GARDEN (DALLAS)

The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden is acclaimed for its floral displays, sculptures, seasonal events and education programs, this 66-acre horticulture haven hugs the shores of White Rock Lake for blooms with a beautiful waterfront view. While walking around, it’s easy to forget you’re in a major city.

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Visit El Paso/Flickr

6. FRANKLIN MOUNTAINS STATE PARK (EL PASO)

Franklin Mountains State Park just sits there in an unassuming yet deeply desirable way, waiting to entice visitors with its 100 miles of mixed-use trails, scenic picnic spots overlooking dreamy desert terrain and the heart-racing thrill of scale McKelligon Canyon. (The last is for experienced rock climbers only. The rest of us should probably just watch in amazement from a safe distance.)

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Robert W. Hensley/Getty Images

7. PALO DURO CANYON (CANYON)

If you had a blast ticking the Grand Canyon off your bucket list, it might be time to visit the second-largest canyon in the United States. Palo Duro Canyon in the Texas Panhandle is absolutely massive—120 miles long and reaches a width of 20 miles in some places. (Do we need to say it again? Everything is bigger in Texas.)

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gsloan/flickr

8. LONGHORN CAVERN STATE PARK (BURNET)

An ancient cavern that dates back to prehistoric times, carvings, sinkholes and stealth history of gunpowder manufacturing facility during the Civil War and a 1920s speakeasy sounds like the setting for an Indiana Jones flick but that’s just some of the subterranean thrills waiting to be discovered at Longhorn Cavern State Park.

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heatherwalker/Getty Images

9. LAKE AUSTIN (AUSTIN)

​​Austin gets more than 300 days of sunshine each year. That translates to pretty good odds of picture-perfect weather for a day of outdoor recreation—boating, fishing, swimming and water skiing—on beautiful Lake Austin. We should mention that it's also a particularly great place to cool down when the thermometer reaches 100 degrees, as it’s known to do in the summertime.

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Richard McMillin/Getty Images

10. GORMAN FALLS (BEND)

A major highlight of Colorado Bend State Park (though truly the entire park deserves to be explored), Gorman Falls is an enchanting 70-foot waterfall. Not to be overlooked, the 1.5-mile hike to the cascade passes beautiful scenery. (Pro tip: It gets pretty steep towards the end, so many trekkers recommend bringing hiking poles.)

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Richard McMillan/Getty Images

11. LOST MAPLES STATE PARK (VANDERPOOL)

Most people associate striking fall foliage with places like Vermont and Connecticut (OK, basically all of New England) and New York, but locals and in-the-know travelers know Lost Maples State Park, located two hours northwest of San Antonio, is the best spot in the Lone Star State to peep fiery leaves.

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Martina Birnbaum/Getty Images

12. CADDO LAKE

Yes, we’ve mentioned that everything is bigger in Texas about a billion times. Want yet another prime example of that fact? Feast your eyes upon 25,400-acre Caddo Lake, an East Texas treasure distinguished by its labyrinth of bayous and Span­ish moss-draped Cyprus trees. It’s the perfect spot to go boating, fishing, paddling or post up in a tent on the shorefront.

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Leah Jones/Flickr

13. CAVERNS OF SONORA (SONORA)

While the Caverns of Sonora have been touted as one of the most beautiful snow caves on the planet, it’s also not a place that many people outside of Texas know about. That means lots of folks are missing out on the chance to navigate to subterranean limestone lairs, peep calcite crystal formations and even pan for gemstones.

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Dean_Fikar/Getty Images

14. FORT WORTH BOTANIC GARDEN (FORT WORTH)

The Fort Worth Botanic Garden spans a whopping 109 acres and includes the famous rose gardens, rainforest conservancy Japanese garden, an orchard collection and the Native Texas Boardwalk, which is basically a living outdoor classroom with plants and educational stations.

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15. ROCKPORT BEACH (ROCKPORT)

Remember when we lamented for beach-loving residents of the Lone Star State? Don’t feel too sorry for folks on the coast because they do have access to beautiful Rockport Beach. The first Blue Wave Certified beach, it’s a mile-long playground of sand, sunshine and turquoise tides.

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16. SOUTH LLANO RIVER STATE PARK (JUNCTION)

South Llano River State Park is a little-known gem in Texas Hill Country. Most people who visit (which honestly isn’t that money) go to swim or float on the spring-fed river. Wander around for a while, you’ll surely stumble on wildlife and babbling brooks, too. It’s also an epic spot to go hiking and biking or catch the sunset.

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RoschetzkyIstockPhoto/Getty Images

17. MOUNT BONNELL (AUSTIN)

Towering 781 feet above Austin, Mount Bonnel, also known as Covert Park, is one of the highest points in the area. Climbing to the summit will test your endurance, but the pay of commanding views of the city and Lake Austin feels like a proporanite award for all that effort.

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Katie Haugland Bowen/Flickr

18. BAPS SHRI SWAMINARAYAN MANDIR OF HOUSTON

Few places truly have the power to transport onlookers. The glimmering BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir of Houston, a traditional Hindu temple in Fort Bend County, causes many visitors to do a double take. Besides beautiful architecture, there are unique cultural exhibitions showcasinging paintings, tableaux and traditional crafts.

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Walter Bibikow/Getty Images

19. SAN ANTONIO RIVER WALK

San Antonio has a little, er a lot, of everything. If you ask us, the city’s best (and most beautiful) asset is the San Antonio River Walk. A park and pedestrian pathway that loops around the water, it’s the perfect place to go for a stroll and soak in the scenery or hit up one of the many restaurants for a meal with a mesmerizing view.

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20. MEDINA RIVER (BANDERA)

The Medina River ranks among the most peaceful places to put your kayak in the water and float through Texas. It's also close to a couple of sizable cities to stay at a swanky hotel, play and eat chef-made grub if you so choose. Though we'd recommend an overnight to really immerse yourself in the beauty of nature. (Franks and beans can be gourmet, right?)

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Dean Fikar/Getty Images

21. THE ALAMO (SAN ANTONIO)

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about what actually happened at the Alamo. But what’s not up for negation is that the 18th-century Spanish mission and fortress lives up to the hype as both a photogenic and historic landmark. Once you’ve visited the Alamo, it’s a pretty hard place to forget.

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Jason Brow/Getty Images

22. MARFA

An artsy and photogenic little dot on the map in west Texas, Martha draws creative types (and, yes, many social media content creators) with its giant indoor and outdoor art installations, exhibitions at Ballroom Marfa, breathtaking arid scenery and, of course, the phenomenon known as the Marfa Lights. In Marfa, it’s almost like you’re not sure if a tumbleweed or an Insta influencer will blow past next.

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Mark Gibson/Getty Images

23. BAYOU BEND COLLECTION AND GARDENS (HOUSTON)

Touring the gorgeously groomed historic gardens of Bayou Bend, the former home of Houston philanthropist Ima Hogg, feels like stepping back in time to a regal and refined era. It’s not just the impeccably manicured hedges, flower beds and fountains that are impressive. Inside, you’ll find an incredible collection of decorative art, paintings and furniture.

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24. SOUTH PADRE ISLAND

Remember when we said Texas was big? Well, it’s so huge that the drive from Dallas to South Padre Island takes over eight hours (FYI you can also fly). Don’t let the distance deter you. Not when some of the best white sand beaches in the state, dolphin watching and the Gulf of Mexico await.

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Lajita’s Golf Resort/Facebook

25. BLACK JACK'S CROSSING GOLF COURSE (TERLINGUA)

Even if you aren’t a particularly skilled driver or putter, it’s worth booking a tee time at the Lanny Wadkins-designed Black Jack’s Crossing Golf Course. Backed by Big Bend National Park and situated along the Rio Grande, it offers spellbinding West Texas scenery. While soaking in the views, you won’t even care if you go a few strokes above par.

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