Where to Go First
Few things make Texans happier than a full tank of gas and an open highway. You’ve got a lot of ground to cover, but I propose you start with these four trips, each originating at Brady, the geographic center of Texas. You’ll be saying “y’all” and offering the hi sign in no time.
The Lighthouse, Palo Duro Canyon State Park
The most famous spot on the Staked Plains (or the “Llano Estacado,” if you want to impress people), Palo Duro is famous for its history and beauty. The hike to the Lighthouse, a stunning rock formation, is a perfect way to immerse yourself in the landscape. Not only do you feel lost in time, but you also realize that you are following the tracks of those who came hundreds and hundreds of years before you.
11450 State Hwy Park Rd 5, Canyon; 806-488-2227
Galveston Island–Port Bolivar Ferry, Galveston Island
Ferries have been operating on the Texas coast since the nineteenth century, and this trip, which connects the northern tip of Galveston Island with Port Bolivar, is a great way to experience the coast and take in the Gulf views. The short ride is a rite of passage for Texans, and the price remains right: it has been free since 1949.
Santa Elena Canyon, Big Bend National Park
The signature canyon in the state’s signature national park, Santa Elena straddles the Rio Grande and two countries and cultures. The iconic view is worth the trip, but don’t stop there: river trips are easy to arrange and reveal dramatic spots no scenic overlook can provide.
1 Panther Dr., Big Bend National Park; 432-477-2251
The Mission Hike and Bike Trail, San Antonio
The Alamo may be the best-known landmark in Texas, but the Mission Hike and Bike Trail is the city’s crown jewel. Stretching for eight miles along the San Antonio River and far removed from the tourist traps downtown, it boasts four missions from the Spanish colonial period of the 1700’s. Each one still has an active parish, and attending mass in any of these historic churches makes for an unforgettable experience.
6701 San Jose Dr., San Antonio; 210-922-0543
This piece is just one bit of wisdom offered in our April 2015 cover story, “Welcome to Texas!” a friendly user’s guide for our state’s most recent transplants. To read more advice, go here.