Our Geeks compared dozens of cities to find the most charming places to visit (or live) in Texas. Whether you’re moving to the Lone Star State or just passing through, these destinations should definitely make your itinerary:
Home to restored 19th-century buildings, a vintage railroad, and a variety of artisans’ studios, there’s a hipster feel to downtown Grapevine. And you can explore it all aboard the Grapevine Visitors Shuttle for just $5 a ride. Take the kids to the Legoland Discovery Center, then wind down at the Texas Star Dinner Theater.
Often referred to as Mexico’s Door due to its two international bridges across the border and the historic ruins of the 18th-century San Bernardo Mission, Eagle Pass offers one-of-a-kind shopping experiences, fishing at Maverick County Lake, and access to the Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino.
Treat the family to a visit to Moody Gardens – where they can explore an indoor rainforest, a discovery pyramid featuring themed attractions, and interactive animal attractions – or the Pleasure Pier, with its 15 amusement rides, and round it all off at Board Game Island, a cafe with walls lined with opportunities to play.
With 56 miles of recreational trails freely open to the public, Plano offers the outdoor addict both the Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve and Arbor Hills Nature Preserve to explore by foot, bike, or even canoe. And for those who prefer to get off the ground, there’s Go Ape, the state’s first treetop adventure course.
Killeen has a reputation for its military history, but it is perfect for date nights; the Killeen Parks and Recreation board hosts free concerts in the evening, Nature in Lights turns the town into a romantic wonderland, and Schoepf’s BBQ is an underrated dance hall known for its country music shows.
There’s a lot to do in Mansfield, from the Urban Air Trampoline Park and Hangman’s House of Horrors to the Epic Waters Indoor Waterpark. The kids will love All Star Ninjas, where they can release their inner American Ninja Warrior, and adults will get a kick out of the numerous escape rooms in the area, such as the highly recommended Mind Maze and Breakout Games.
Next time you’re in Pharr, look beyond the war museums to take in first-run movies in full digital at Cinemark Theatre Pharr Town Center, see over 200 species at the National Butterfly Center, and bet on greyhounds at Valley Race Park.
Austin is known across the world for its music festivals, including South by Southwest and Austin City Limits, but it’s rapidly making a name for itself as a thriving cycling scene, with numerous bike shops and a multitude of trails and courses. You will also find river cruises and interesting eateries like Juan in a Million and Torchy’s Tacos.
Officially designated the Unique Dining Capital of Texas, Roanoke manages to blend great food with small-town charm. Check out The Twisted Root Burger Co and Wise Guys Pizzeria for quirky takes on old favorites, or try Hey Sugar and Stacks Biscuit House to indulge your sweet tooth.
Rio Grande City
Gorillas, giraffes, lions, rhinos, and many more are all waiting for you at Gladys Porter Zoo, while theater productions, fighting competitions, and dance performances take place regularly at the charmingly old-school Harlingen Memorial Auditorium.
Forty parks make Texas City a haven for runners, cyclists, and dog-walkers alike; together, they total over 1,000 acres complete with feature playgrounds and picnic areas for family-focused activities. But don’t stop there; Texas City Dike, the longest man-made fishing pier in the world, has to be seen up close to be believed.