The Lonestar State stretches over so many miles — and so many different types of vacation activities — that three (or even ten!) days would never be enough to see it all. Nevertheless, embrace the go get ‘em Texan attitude and strike out for cowboy country with this guide in mind.
The Gulf Coast & Houston
Although Texas may not immediately come to mind as a beachside retreat, its coastline is packed with beautiful beaches and aquatic sights. On Day One, take a break from the beach to visit Sea Turtle Inc. on South Padre Island for a captivating glimpse into the life cycles of sea turtles and what we might do to preserve them. In Lake Jackson, SeaCenter Texas is a fish hatchery, museum, and aquarium all rolled into one, so once again a chance to learn more about the Gulf Coast’s marine wonders. On Day Two, take in a bit of naval history by penciling in a visit to the Texas Seaport Museum. Located in historic Galveston, the Seaport Museum details the history of what was once the “Ellis Island of the West.” Moody Gardens is also a must-visit in Galveston, with its own IMAX and rainforest landscaping. As you make the turn for Houston, be sure to stop at Battleship Texas, which is moored at the San Jacinto Historical Site and allows tours of the illustrious WWI and WWII battle vessel.
Devote Day Three to the exciting metropolis of Houston. The Houston Museum District is jam-packed with enough attractions to suit any traveling group, and includes the Museum of Fine Arts, the always-popular Houston Zoo, and the Children’s Museum. Space junkies will also adore the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. For evening fun, the Theatre District has it all, with symphony, opera, and ballet. Or, the Bayou Place Entertainment Complex will occupy you for hours with its selection of bars and restaurants, all under the same roof. Toast to three days of fun with a beer at Saint Arnold Brewing Company, Texas’ oldest craft brewery.
The Alamo…and Austin, too!
Everything starts and ends with the Alamo in San Antonio, site of one of the most famous battles in U.S. history, and originally a Spanish mission. If you can, pack Day One with a trip to SeaWorld as well, and get splashed by the whales in one of the state’s three such parks. San Antonio’s gorgeous Riverwalk will keep you occupied all evening long, with its tastefully designed urban garden strip of dining, retail, and entertainment options.
Days Two and Three are definitely best spent in funky, fresh Austin. Make a pilgrimage to Sixth Street, which draws frequent comparisons to New Orleans’ Bourbon Street for its mix of historic buildings, dining, nightlife, and live music. Beat the heat at Zilker Park, which features hundreds of acres of outdoor space, including the Barton Springs Pool, where locals and visitors go for a dip. On Day Two, tour Austin’s impressive State Capitol, which was once the tallest capitol building in the nation, and still brings the “wow” factor. For more Texan pride, check out the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum or hit the water again with a boat trip on Town Lake. Don’t miss Austin City Limits, which brings world-class musicians from all over the world onto the stage. You’ll be making plans to return for Austin’s SXSW music and arts festival in no time!
Dallas & Central Texas
Base yourself in Dallas for three days of city fun and country excursions. Dallas hotels have a great range for every budget, and will ensure a comfortable place to lay your head come nightfall. Take a day to experience the 66 acres of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens or the Great Trinity Forest, a hardwood forest right smack dab in the city, and the nation’s largest to boot. On Day Two, get your heart racing at the Zero Gravity Thrill Amusement Park or the Dallas Zoo. Dallas nightlife includes authentic jazz in the Deep Ellum neighborhood and the fancy Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. Retail therapy can be had at Highland Park Village, which is an atmospheric setting to spend a little cash. And, of course, you’ll want to try some Texas barbeque while you’re in town.
On Day Three, check out Granbury Lake and the charming historic downtown of Granbury or the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose. There, board a safari-style vehicle for an “expedition” into the Texan savannah that will leave your memory card full. Or, hike the trails at Cedar Hills State Park and take a break at Joe Pool Lake. Sun, fun, and memories will definitely be yours after your 72 hours of living it up, Texan-style.
Julianne is an avid traveler and runner. When she’s not running she’s travelling to run!