Texas is full of great vacation destinations. Of course it is almost impossible to visit them all. And, the vast majority of visitors to Texas head to a handful of well-known tourist towns. While each of those popular vacation spots have plenty to offer visitors, so do these often overlooked Texas vacation destinations.
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The largest city in the South Texas plains region, Brownsville is nestled in a crook in the Rio Grande River just a few miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico. It is most often thought of as the "Gateway to Mexico" for visitors to nearby Port Isabel and South Padre Island wishing to head across to Brownsville's sister city, Matamoros, Mexico. However, Brownsville is very much a destination in its own right. With numerous shopping opportunities, including the Juarez Market, as well as a full complement of hotels, restaurants, museums, and attractions, Brownsville offers more than enough to keep visitors busy. The two most popular tourist attractions in Brownsville are the Palo Alto Battlefield, site of the first battle in the US/Mexico war, and the nationally-renown Gladys Porter Zoo.
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Historic Georgetown, Texas is the home to Texas' oldest university, Southwestern University, as well as the "Most Beautiful Town Square in Texas." With events staged throughout the year and a variety of historical and natural attractions, Georgetown has become a popular stop for visitors to the Texas Hill Country.
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Home to the mysterious "Marfa Lights," the tiny West Texas town of Marfa plays host to thousands of visitors annually, who come to watch this unexplained nightly light show. Although the lights have been viewed practically every night since 1883, no one has yet been able to explain why they occur. The Marfa Lights are the biggest attraction in Marfa. Today there is actually a 'Marfa Lights Viewing Area' as well as a Marfa Lights Festival. In addition to the lights, Marfa boasts a good complement of museums, art galleries, a winery and the Cowboy Hall of Fame.
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Home to Caddo Lake and nearby Lake O' the Pines, Jefferson is located near the Texas/Louisiana border and is widely known as the "Bed and Breakfast Capital of East Texas." During the mid-1800s, Jefferson was an important river port, shipping primarily cotton, but also other goods. In 1873, the Army Corps of Engineers removed a blockage from the Red River above Shreveport, effectively lowering the water level near Jefferson to the point riverboat traffic was no longer feasible. Today, Jefferson relies heavily on tourism. Most visitors are drawn by the area's history and natural attractions.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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Goliad is another small town with a big place in Texas history. The site of the most infamous battle in the Texas Revolution, the Texas Declaration of Independence was actually signed inside a mission in Goliad. However, the town is most closely related to the incident following a battle in 1836, when Col. James Fannin and 341 Texan soldiers were captured following the Battle of Coleto Creek and executed in what became known as the Goliad Massacre.
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Located just across the Laguna Madre Bay from South Padre Island, Port Isabel is almost its polar opposite. Whereas South Padre is new and modern, Port Isabel is historic and charming. In fact, Port Isabel is one of the oldest towns in Texas and its historical charm is undeniable. But, the two sister cities work well as complements to each other. Visiting Port Isabel's historic lighthouse, touring its museums or shopping around the Lighthouse Square, offer a nice change of pace from a busy beach vacation.