Being a Texas resident for almost 30 years, I have great pride in all our state has to offer. The people are down home and friendly (even in the big cities), while the landscape is gorgeous. From the bustling metropolises of Dallas and San Antonio to the charming small towns dotted throughout the state, Texas has something for everyone. A road trip in a Leisure Travel Van is a fantastic way to discover the diverse attractions the Lone Star State has to offer. While I’ve been to many of the places I’ve listed here, some are on future itineraries and often raved about by the people in the know. But a bit of a disclaimer: we escape Texas in the summer, as the heat is not for the faint of heart, but the spring and late fall is the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors in Texas.
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Urban Attractions: Dallas
Starting in our hometown of Dallas, numerous highlights should be on every visitor’s itinerary, and here are the ones I highly suggest.
This museum is housed in the former Texas School Book Depository building, which meticulously documents the impact and events surrounding President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963. It offers a deep dive into one of the most tragic moments in American history. You even have an opportunity to look out the window from Lee Harvey Oswald’s perspective and stand on the grassy knoll. It’s surreal, to say the least, and believe it or not, I lived here for 20 years before I drove 10 miles from my house to this spot where world history changed, and it is truly a must-visit destination.
Now, I know not everyone is a Dallas Cowboys fan; however, as America’s team, visiting The Star is an awesome pilgrimage if you are a football fan. The Star is a 91-acre entertainment district in Frisco, Texas, home to the Dallas Cowboys World Headquarters and practice facility. This is a great place to visit for Cowboys and NFL fans of all ages, as it offers a variety of attractions, including historical tours of the Dallas Cowboys franchise and the NFL, an amazing entertainment and shopping district, and plenty of world-class restaurants. I know there are some that this would not interest, but as a massive Cowboys fan, I have to show off our beloved team!
This brand-new immersive art experience in Grapevine is just minutes from my office, and I plan to visit as we speak. It is the second permanent Meow Wolf installation, after the original, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The Real Unreal, as it is called, is a sprawling, interactive artscape that tells the story of an ordinary family who encounters the extraordinary. Here are some of the things you can expect to see and do at Meow Wolf Grapevine:
- Explore a giant house filled with secret passages, hidden rooms, and interactive art.
- Play games, solve puzzles, and interact with the art in new and unexpected ways.
- Learn about the history of the Delaney and Fuqua families, who once lived in the house.
- Be amazed by the incredible art and architecture created by over 300 artists from around the world.
Unwind and revel in the beauty of the 66-acre Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. With numerous smaller gardens and seasonal flowers, it offers a relaxing escape in the heart of the city. When we have out-of-town visitors, this is one of our first stops, as it’s a fantastic way to enjoy nature in the middle of Dallas. I would recommend the RV park in DFW, The Vineyards on Lake Grapevine.
Nature’s Bounty: Texas State Parks
Now, let’s steer our RVs towards the great outdoors. The Texas State Parks offer the perfect blend of adventure and tranquility. We are fortunate to have many opportunities to see a vast selection of Texas environments.
If you’re interested in beach camping, Galveston Island State Park is a great choice. It offers both beach and bay sides, with several campsites equipped with water and electricity for RVs. It’s a perfect place for swimming, fishing, bird watching, and hiking. Be sure to check out Moody Gardens while you are there and discover the magic of their iconic pyramids, mesmerizing marine life, and magnificent rainforests.
One of Janet’s favorite places, this state park is home to the second largest canyon in the United States, often referred to as “The Grand Canyon of Texas.” The canyon is approximately 120 miles long and 20 miles wide, with a depth reaching 800 feet.
For wildlife lovers, Palo Duro is home to a variety of species, including mule deer, wild turkeys, coyotes, roadrunners, and even the rare Texas horned lizard. The birdlife is diverse and vibrant, making the park a great spot for bird-watching.
RVers are well-catered for, with numerous campsites equipped with water and electric hookups, picnic tables, fire rings, and nearby restrooms with showers. There are also primitive drive-up sites for those desiring a more rugged experience. During the summer season, visitors can enjoy the outdoor musical drama “TEXAS.” This spectacle in the park’s Pioneer Amphitheater features singing, dancing, and a bit of historical storytelling beneath the beautiful Texas night sky.
While we have not visited yet, it’s definitely on our to-do list. Located in the Texas Hill Country, approximately an hour’s drive west of Austin. One of the main attractions at Pedernales Falls State Park is the Pedernales Falls, a series of cascading waterfalls and pools in a scenic limestone gorge. The river’s clear, cool waters are perfect for swimming, and the area around the falls has plenty of hiking and picnicking spots.
Bird watchers will enjoy the opportunity to spot a variety of birds, from vibrantly painted buntings to red-tailed hawks. The park is home to many other wildlife species, such as deer, raccoons, rabbits, armadillos, and coyotes.
For RVers, the park has around 70 campsites that include water and electric hookups, restrooms with showers, picnic tables, and outdoor grills, according to the Texas State Parks website.
Small Town Charms
One of our absolute favorite things to do while traveling in our Leisure Travel Van is to explore small towns, and Texas has some real gems.
It’s been a while since we’ve been here, and it has grown in popularity tremendously since our last visit, and it’s not hard to see why. Located in the heart of Texas wine country, the area has more than 50 wineries and vineyards. Wine tours and tastings are popular, with many wineries offering gorgeous views of the Hill Country landscape. Despite its small size, Fredericksburg, with its unique blend of Texan charm and German heritage, offers a multitude of experiences for all kinds of visitors.
The town’s Main Street is another highlight, known for its boutiques, art galleries, and German-themed restaurants serving local specialties like bratwurst and sauerkraut. Fredericksburg’s German influence is also displayed at annual events like Oktoberfest, a lively celebration with music, food, drinks, and traditional German costumes.
Also situated in the picturesque Texas Hill Country, Wimberley is also a must-visit while in the area. They are known for its vibrant arts scene and beautiful outdoor attractions. Visit the many art galleries and studios in town, shop for treasures at the monthly Wimberley Market Days, or catch a show at the outdoor Wimberley Playhouse.
The Blue Hole Regional Park offers beautiful swimming spots for nature lovers, and the hike to the top of Old Baldy Mountain rewards you with panoramic views of the area. I’ve recently been told you can no longer swim in the Blue Hole, but it’s still worth visiting, as it’s beautiful and chock full of wildlife.
This is embarrassing, but I have yet to turn the RV towards Waco, just an hour and a half from us. Not a month goes by that Janet doesn’t mention that we must go to Waco! Located along the Brazos River, halfway between Dallas and Austin, is a city rich in history and natural beauty that offers a unique blend of urban and rural Texan experiences.
The city has seen a recent surge in popularity, partly due to the HGTV show Fixer Upper featuring Chip and Joanna Gaines, whose Magnolia Market at the Silos has become a must-visit location (and catalyst for Janet’s reason to go). The Silos, a shopping complex with a rustic-chic vibe, offers a variety of home decor, fashion boutiques, a bakery, and food trucks, making it a delightful destination for fans of the show and lovers of Joanna Gaines’ distinct design style.
But there’s much more to Waco than just the Magnolia Market. The city boasts an array of cultural and recreational attractions. The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum pays tribute to the legendary law enforcement agency, while the Dr. Pepper Museum is a treat for fans of the famous soft drink that was invented in Waco.
As you can see, with its vast landscapes and diverse attractions, Texas promises an unforgettable RV adventure. As you embark on your journey, remember that the most important thing is to enjoy the ride and let the Lone Star State surprise you at every turn.
To see Brandon’s story mapped out, click here to view the route in the Leisure List Trip Planner.