They say everything is bigger in Texas, and that certainly seems to be true. From the food portions to the grand landscape to even the sizes of the vehicles, this southern US state does everything bigger and better.
The vast landscape covers almost 270,000 square miles and boasts over 300 miles of coastline kissing the Gulf of Mexico, offering a lot to take in, so make sure you’re fully prepared for the trip of lifetime, from applying for your ESTA to choosing the most fantastic hotels, restaurants and attractions to visit.
With a terrain of deserts, mountains, prairies, forests, rivers and glorious coastlines and grand cities including Dallas, Austin and Houston, complemented by small welcoming towns, there is a lot to see and do during a trip here.
Though somewhat limited when it comes to international travel at this time, this offers us the ideal opportunity to plan big adventures for ourselves once we are let loose and, to make it easier for you, we’ve narrowed down our top selection of hot spots to visit in this interesting and immense state.
Before you go – preparations and ESTA
It may seem like a fun idea to head off to the Lone Star state and immerse yourself in the cowboy culture but with so much to cover you can’t possibly do it in one trip, that’s why it’s always advisable to plan well ahead so that once you land you don’t miss out on any of the fantastic sights. Do a little research and pick out the top experiences, places or sights that you’d love to visit, including any restaurants, bars or hotels that fit the bill. Planning properly also means that you can pack appropriately for the destination so you’re not lugging around excess clothing or desperately in need of something when required.
It’s relatively simple to visit the USA but did you know that you need the ESTA visa travel permit to enter? This electronic travel document gives you access to the country and is easy to apply for online before you travel. The only exceptions to needing an ESTA are if you have a U.S passport or visa or you visit by land, and it’s important to note that underage children need to hold one too.
Now you’re here and what better place to start than the capital city itself, Austin? Known for its eclectic live music scene, which is focused on country, blues and rock with the likes of Janis Joplin playing here in the 60s, this inland city also features a thriving arts scene with plenty of outdoor spaces to enjoy too. Boasting 300 days of sunshine, this offers the ideal opportunity to get outside and enjoy the Butler hike and bike trail, a swim in Barton Springs, take a riverboat cruise or even rent out a kayak and explore the waterways yourself.
When you need a place to rest, Four Seasons Hotel, Lake Austin Spa Resort and JW Marriott all offer upscale accommodation in this vibrant city, while Uchi and Uchiko provide some rather highly rated Japanese cuisine.
Next up is the largest city in the state, the fourth biggest in the U.S, and one most widely known for its space connections – Houston.
If you love the arts, you’ll be thrilled here as Houston boasts a bulging scene with ballet, theatre and opera for all as well as a museum district to rival any other major city. Head to the nearby visitor centre at NASA’s astronaut training complex and enjoy the outdoors in the city centre’s 600-hectare public park.
The Post Oak Hotel, Hotel Alessandra and Hotel Granduca all provide a luxurious spot to lay your head and indulge in the facilities, while restaurants such as State of Grace, Brennan’s of Houston and Masraff’s all come highly recommended.
From contemporary sculpture to ancient Asian arts, Dallas is a city rich in culture, while also offering those American Football fans a taste of the big time with five-time Superbowl champions, the Dallas Cowboys. Head to the AT&T Stadium for a thrilling game, whether you’re a big fan or simply for the experience.
You can shop until you drop in Dallas and sample some gorgeous cuisine from a traditional tasty Texas barbecue to sushi at Trinity Groves. Stay at the Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas and enjoy the 18-hole golf course and spa.
If you feel the need to get out of the city and explore a bit more of what Texan nature has to offer there are many places to go including hiking in Big Bend National Park, horse riding in Palo Duro Canyon State Park, fishing in Corpus Christi, exploring the Guadalupe Mountains National Park or rock climbing the Enchanted Rock Natural Area with its huge pink granite dome.
Whether you’re visiting the wineries of Fredericksburg, enjoying the San Antonio River walk or heading to the state’s most visited landmark, The Alamo, you’ll never be short of things to see and do and places to stay and eat along the way. Just make sure you have your trip well planned and that ESTA is applied for and you’ll, no doubt, have the time of your life!
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