A Texas vacation can be as grand as the state of Texas itself, and as diverse as its seven regions. The Panhandle region features the Great Plains and spectacular sunsets, while the Prairies and Lakes offers exciting nightlife, sports, and recreation. You'll find bayous, historic towns, and pine forests in Piney Woods; and port cities, cultural attractions, and 600 miles of beaches in Texas's Gulf Coast. South Texas Plains features Spanish missions and theme parks. The rolling hills, rivers, dude ranches, and music of Hill Country are next to the mountains, desert, and canyon of Big Bend Country.
Texas boasts a number of natural attractions—from the caverns of Sonora, to the Palo Duro Canyon, second in size in the US to the Grand Canyon. Visitors will feel a sense of history at the Alamo in San Antonio, the Fort Worth Stockyards, or any of 800 ghost towns in the state. For family fun, take a trip to Adventure Bay in Houston, with wave pools, tube rides, and the Master Blaster, a water coaster. There is also Six Flags over Texas, featuring the state's tallest and fastest coaster and a 1920s carousel.
But if you're looking for a real Texas vacation, visit any of the state's working ranches. You and your family can test your cowboy skills at the sprawling King Ranch, reminiscent of the Old West, along the Gulf Coast. Many dude ranches in West Texas also welcome guests. Join more than a million visitors from 50 countries every February for the two-week Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, one of the largest rodeos in the world.
While you're at it, enjoy authentic Texas cuisine. Visit Lockhart, Llano, and Taylor—site of the annual International Barbecue Cook-off—for the best barbecue anywhere. If chili is your thing, plan a trip to Terlingua around the first Saturday of November for the International Championship Chili Cook-off.