15 Road Trips from Houston That Show Off the Best Part of Texas

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While Houston, Texas is chock-full of culture and things to do, The Lone Star State is home to dozens of just-as-incredible destinations within easy driving distance. Whether you prefer to hit the beach, explore a new city or spend the weekend wine-tasting away, these road trip destinations are sure to impress any type of traveler. Have we got your attention yet? Read on for the best road trips you can take from Houston that make for an easy—and fun!—weekend getaway. Happy travels, y’all!

The 25 Most Beautiful Places in Texas

1. Dallas, Texas


  • Driving Distance: 240 miles (approx. four hours)
  • Why We Love It: great food and drink, shopping, arts and culture, history
  • Where to Stay: The Joule (from $262/night), Wild Stallion (from $136/night), Loft Penthouse Suite (from $89/night), Thompson Dallas (from $263/night)

Embark on a road trip to Dallas to experience some of the Lone Star State’s best food and drink offerings, which range from artisan bread and pastries at Eatzi’s Market & Bakery to fresh sushi at Nobu Dallas, to innovative cocktails at Punch Bowl Social. Tight on time? Take a food and culture walking tour to experience everything this modern metropolis has to offer in both realms. Meanwhile, art lovers can spend some time in the city’s Arts District, home to the Dallas Museum of Art, the Crow Collection of Asian Art and the Nasher Sculpture Center. Indulge in some retail therapy at the boutique-lined Highland Park Village followed by a celebratory happy hour drink at Uchi and The Standard Pour

2. Grapevine, Texas


  • Driving Distance: 261 miles (approx. four hours)
  • Why We Love It: historic charm, quaint Main Street, wine tasting, outdoor adventure
  • Where to Stay: Hotel Vin, Autograph Collection (from $308/night), Robin’s Nest (from $134/night) 

Grapevine is best known for its historic centuries-old buildings, most of which can be found along quaint Main Street. Here, you’ll also find a slew of mom-and-pop eateries, shops (don’t miss the Texas General Store for fun Texas-themed souvenirs) and galleries. Don’t skip town without spending an afternoon exploring the historic Cotton Belt Railroad District, either. Wine lovers, rejoice: Grapevine is also home to seven tasting rooms where you can kick back, relax and sip on a glass (or two) of vino. Lastly, if the weather’s nice, make your way to the 8,000-acre Lake Grapevine, where outdoor activities—from boating, fishing, water-skiing, hiking and biking—abound.

3. Irving, Texas


  • Driving Distance: 253 miles (approx. 4 hours)
  • Why We Love It: art and culture, history, spas, golf
  • Where to Stay: Texican Court (from $149/night), Luxury Lake Loft (from $118/night)   

Like Grapevine, the city of Irving is located right outside of Dallas. The destination is home to the namesake Irving Arts Center, which has over 90,000 square feet of performing and visual arts space. The Ruth Paine House Museum—where JFK’s assassin spent the night before committing the heinous act—is a must-visit for U.S. history buffs. Golf enthusiasts can even practice their swing at one of four courses. Besides, no trip to Irving is complete without checking out the Mandalay Canals, best explored via gondola or stand-up paddle board. Afterward, treat yourself to a rejuvenating massage at a nearby spa (there are around a dozen to choose from). Lastly, for ample shopping, drinking and dining, make your way to the bustling Las Colinas Entertainment District.

4. Fort Worth, Texas


For a fun-filled getaway, hit the road and head to the Forth Worth Stockyards. Here, you’ll find over two-dozen bars and restaurants that run the gamut from fresh-baked biscuits at The Biscuit Bar to haute Italian fare at Caterina's, to ice-cold brews at Second Rodeo Brewing. Later, head to Billy Bob’s—home of the world’s largest honky-tonk—to catch a show or hop on the mechanical bull. The next day, spend the morning strolling through Mule Alley before checking out the world’s only year-round rodeo at the Cowtown Coliseum. Alternatively, catch the world’s only twice-daily cattle drive on Exchange Street before listening to live music at Tannahill’s Tavern & Music Hall. Don’t skip town without snagging an epic souvenir: We recommend customizing a hat at Flea Style.

5. Beaumont, Texas


Just one-and-a-half hours from Houston is the coastal city of Beaumont. A popular place for nature enthusiasts, Beaumont offers loads of outdoor activities like birding, paddling (don’t miss the Village Creek Paddling Trail) and hiking, the latter of which can be enjoyed at Big Thicket National Preserve, the first Preserve in the National Park System. After a day spent exploring the outdoors, you’re likely to work up an appetite. In this case, check out some stops along the stops on the Cajun Food Trail and savor regional delicacies like gumbo, crawfish and etouffee. Art lovers will also appreciate a visit to Beaumont, which is home to the Art Museum of Southeast Texas, the Dishman Art Museum and lots of ‘gram-worthy murals

6. Waco, Texas


This central Texas city—about halfway between Houston and Dallas—is home to an abundance of antique shops (including Sparrow and Central Goods, among many others) and local boutiques, making it the perfect place for a shopping spree. Waco’s vibrant Downtown Cultural District is home to some of the destination’s best galleries, bars and restaurants, making it well worth a stroll. Other must-see attractions include the Dr. Pepper Museum, Magnolia Silos, Waco Mammoth National Monument and Cameron Park Zoo. Meanwhile, HGTV fans should certainly check out the Magnolia Trail, a list of locales featured on locals Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Network. Finally, feast on local favorites like Texas BBQ at Vitek’s or decadent ‘wiches at Schmaltz Sandwich Shop.

7. Tyler, Texas


As The Rose Capital of Texas, Tyler is a fantastic spot for floral lovers. From late March to early April, visitors can admire springtime flowers along the Azalea & Spring Flower Trail, in which you’ll find azaleas, tulips, wisteria, dogwood and more. The Texas Rose Festival, which takes place every fall, is also spectacular. Meanwhile, the 14-acre Tyler Rose Garden is open year-round and boasts over 200 varieties of roses. Beyond the blooms, Tyler boasts a great shopping scene (especially for antique lovers!), a vibrant local arts scene and a namesake state park with a 64-acre lake and 13 miles of hiking and biking trails. Culinary connoisseurs will also love it here: Eclectic food and drink options also abound, from locally roasted brews at Big Shot Coffee House to fresh seafood at Black Pearl, to mouthwatering Mexican at Don Juan.

South Padre Island offers 34 miles of coastline and 300-plus days of sunshine, making it one of America’s top beach destinations. Soak up the sun from the sand or splash around in the clear, warm waters. With its prime oceanfront locale, the island is home to some great seafood joints, like Sea Ranch and Daddy’s Seafood & Cajun Kitchen. Once you’ve refueled, try your hand at surfing, snorkeling or fishing—and, if you’re lucky, you may even spot some dolphins. If you want to escape the party vibes, check out SPI Birding, Nature Center & Alligator Sanctuary for a guided birding tour or a meet-and-greet (from a safe distance) with rescued alligators. There’s also the very special Sea Turtle Inc., an organization’s dedicated to saving the sea turtle population. There, you can visit some rehabilitating patients and non-releasable residents. For local arts, check out the Sea Turtle Art Trail, which is comprised of 12 sea turtle art sculptures—and the Sandcastle Trail, which boasts around 30 magnificent sand sculptures.

9. San Antonio, Texas


San Antonio offers something for every traveler, including a fascinating history, iconic eats and plenty of arts and culture. Start your trip with a stroll along the scenic River Walk. Then, make your way to some of the city’s most iconic sites, including The Alamo, the King William Historic District and the Historic Market Square, the latter of which is the largest Mexican market in the country. But above all, this city is about the food. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that San Antonio is one of just two U.S. destinations that’s been designated a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy. As such, innovative food offerings can be found at nearly every corner of the city, and local favorites include Cured, Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery and Best Quality Daughter. Make sure to get your reservations on early (and often).

10. Austin, Texas


The state’s capital city and home of University of Texas is loaded with cool things to do. What’s more, it’s nearly impossible to be bored in this fun- and food-filled locale. If the weather’s warm, cool off in the Barton Springs Municipal Pool located on the grounds of Zilker Park. Alternatively, paddle along Lady Bird Lake or explore Austin’s vibrant street art on foot (or via e-bike!) Beer enthusiasts will especially love it here: The city and its surrounding area are home to over 20 breweries, including the beloved Lazarus Brewing. For endless shopping opps, head straight to South Congress Ave. Once you’ve shopped the afternoon away, get ready for dinner at trendy Aba for Mediterranean fare or the more laid-back (albeit still delicious!) Gabriela’s for Mexican food and refreshing cocktails. The fun doesn’t stop there, though: After your meal, make your way to Sixth Street for a fun night of bar hopping.

road trips from houston: fredericksberg

11. Fredericksburg, Texas


Fredericksburg is famous for two things: Its wineries and German heritage, which dates back centuries. Speaking of the former, travelers can—and should!—embark on a wine-tasting tour through the area’s many wineries. Spring is arguably the best time to visit since it’s when thousands of wildflowers (including bluebonnets, Indian paintbrushes, poppies and more) begin to bloom. Admire the colorful florals at Wildseed Farms, the nation’s largest working wildflower farm. In town, you’ll find a charming Main Street lined with boutiques, galleries and tasting rooms. Enjoy a scenic hike on Enchanted Rock—which offers panoramic Hill Country Views—before listening to live music at Hondo’s on Main, Hill Top Cafe or Crossroads Saloon & Steakhouse.

12. Corpus Christi, Texas


Ideally situated along the Gulf of Mexico, Corpus Christi is an absolute must-visit for sun-seekers. With over 100 miles (!) of sandy shoreline, the destination is sure to delight beach bums of all ages. Whether you prefer to lounge out on the sand or head into the warm waters for a refreshing soak, this oceanfront oasis is beloved for good reason. Travelers can also sign up for a surfing lesson, go fishing, get paddling, try a floating yoga class or embark on an uber-romantic oceanfront horseback ride. Among the city’s most famous attractions is the awe-inspiring Padre Island National Seashore, which offers 66 miles of unspoiled coastline, where you might just spot some wildlife. If you need a break from the beach (though, TBH, why would you?), consider visiting the waterfront Texas State Aquarium or step back in time with a visit to the USS Lexington.

13. Galveston, Texas


You don’t need to travel too far from Houston to enjoy an epic beach getaway—just drive an hour south to Galveston! This island city is best known for its sunny weather and pristine beaches. Between dips in the ocean, travelers can partake in water sports like kayaking or fishing; if they’re lucky, they may also be able to spot dolphins, too. At ​​Galveston Island State Park, visitors can enjoy 2,000 scenic acres of beaches, dunes, coastal prairie, wetlands and so much more. Animal lovers can check out the family-friendly Moody Gardens, which is home to creatures like penguins, sharks and monkeys, to name a few. Finally, no trip to Galveston is complete without a stroll through The Historic Strand District or a visit to the nostalgia-inducing Pleasure Pier, an amusement park that boasts plenty of rides, games, shops and entertainment.

14. New Braunfels, Texas


Located near San Antonio, the riverfront city of New Braunfels is chock-full of charm and natural beauty. Unwind with a picnic in Landa or Cypress Bend Parks before tubing or paddling down the Comal River. Adventure enthusiasts should certainly check out the underground limestone caves at the Natural Bridge Caverns or Schlitterbahn, one of the country’s best water parks. Thanks to its riverfront location, tubing is also popular here. And if getting your hair wet isn’t your think, head to town to explore the Gruene Historic District’s 1800s-era architecture,  plus an array of great shops and restaurants such as Gristmill (the chops here are *chef’s kiss*) and Mozie’s (don’t miss the burgers). Cheer to an excellent trip with a beer along the Hill Country Craft Beer Trail.

15. Arlington, Texas


Arlington is best known as the home of the Dallas Cowboys and the Texas Rangers (AT&T Stadium and Globe Life Field are both located here), but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Beyond football and baseball, theme parks Six Flags Over Texas & Six Flags Hurricane Harbor. Alternatively, get out and explore the outdoors at the 1,3000-acre River Legacy Parks, which offers miles of hiking and biking trails. Here, you’ll also find the River Legacy Living Science Center, which houses aquariums, terrariums and interactive exhibits for the whole family. The museums here are equally impressive —albeit a bit quirky!—like the International Bowling Museum & Hall of Fame and the National Medal of Honor Museum. Not only is Downtown Arlington a hub for arts and culture, but it’s also where you’ll find some of the city’s best shopping and dining.

purewow author

Freelance Writer

Lauren Dana Ellman is a New York-based freelance writer and editor. As a self-proclaimed shopaholic, she is most often found wandering through Home Goods, scrolling through...