Texas' Top Drive-To Vacation Destinations

Several Great Spots Within A Short Drive of Major Cities

Enchanted Rock in Texas
Enchanted Rock. Taylor Reilly / Getty Images

With air travel becoming more and more difficult, many travelers have begun seeking out destinations within driving distance of their homes. Although Texas is a huge state—one that can take days to drive across—there are plenty of “drive-to” destinations within easy reach of Texas’ major metro areas.

Of course, each of Texas’ largest cities is a destination unto itself. However, for local residents looking for a quick weekend escape, or for out-of-town visitors looking for a day trip from their primary vacation destination, the following are easy drives to interesting places.

Austin

Canyon Lake: Due to its location on its namesake lake and the Guadalupe River, the town of Canyon Lake proclaims to be the "Water Recreation Capital of Texas" and offers visitors numerous water and outdoor recreational opportunities as well as quick access to a number of Hill Country attractions, towns, and cities.

Enchanted Rock: Located just north of Fredericksburg in the Texas Hill Country, Enchanted Rock is one of the largest natural rock formations in the United States, with a dome that rises 425 feet above the ground (1825 feet above sea level). Designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1970, Enchanted Rock is also part of the Texas State Parks System and attracts thousands of visitors annually.

Lost Maples: New Englanders aren't the only that get to enjoy watching the fall foliage change, Lost Maples Natural Area in Central Texas offers Texans and visitors to Texas a breathtaking palette of colors every fall.

Luckenbach: Made famous by a Willie Nelson tune, the tiny Hill Country town of Luckenbach continues to symbolize all that is Texas to many. On your next trip to the Lone Star State, don't miss your opportunity to go to the town where "Everybody's Somebody."

Wimberley: Wimberley is a quaint little village in the Texas Hill Country, situated within an hour's drive to either Austin or San Antonio. Additionally, Wimberley is conveniently located to many Hill Country attractions and is home to a host of specialty shops and restaurants.

Dallas

Big Thicket: Covering nearly 100,000 acres, Big Thicket National Preserve was the first such preserve in the United States. The Big Thicket NP is home to a diverse group of plants and animals and plays host to thousands of nature enthusiasts annually. While camping is allowed, there are no prepared campsites in the Big Thicket, so be prepared to make your own.

Lake Fork: Known as one of the top trophy bass lakes in the nation, Lake Fork draws anglers from across the US and beyond. Each of these anglers knows that any time they are fishing Fork, they stand a good chance of catching a true trophy largemouth.

Lake Lewisville: A favorite spot for Dallas watersport enthusiasts, Lake Lewisville offers visitors a variety of activities, including fishing, swimming, water skiing, jet skiing, sailing, sailboarding, and more.

Palestine: Known primarily for housing the Texas State Railroad and hosting the Dogwood Trails Festival, Palestine is a charming Southern town tucked deep in the Texas Piney Woods.

Salado: Whether you want a romantic getaway or a quiet weekend along, Salado is the perfect spot. Offering fine bed and breakfast inns, as well as quaint shops, dynamic water gardens, and carriage tours, Salado is sure to put your mind at ease.

Houston

Brazosport Area: Not a town, but rather a collection of communities, the Brazosport area offers visitors to the Texas coast plenty to see and do.

Galveston Island: Galveston Island is truly a year-round destination. With plenty of attractions, world-class hotels and restaurants, and, of course, miles of sandy beaches, Galveston is a perfect vacation spot any month of the year – and, it’s within an hour’s drive of Houston.

Kemah: Located on Galveston Bay, just outside of Houston, Kemah's boasts the finest boardwalk on the Texas coast, with a number of fine restaurants, bars, shops, and hotels.

Lake Conroe: Lake Conroe's 21,000 acres lie just a short drive from Houston. It's quick access to the nation's fourth-largest city has made it one of the busiest lakes in the state when it comes to recreational boating traffic.

San Antonio

Bandera: Known as the "Cowboy Capital," Bandera prides itself on its cowboy heritage. Today, visitors to this quaint Hill Country community can expect a variety of shops and attractions, as well as festivals held throughout the year.

Boerne: Home to Cascade Caverns, a number of antique shops and restaurants and much more, the Texas Hill Country town of Boerne offers visitors plenty to see and do while still enjoying a laid-back atmosphere.

Garner State Park: Located on the Frio River in Concan, Garner State Park is one of Texas' most popular summer getaways. Whether it's swimming, fishing, paddling, or tubing, most visitors to Garner find a way to get on or in the water. However, there are also "dry" activities such as miniature golf, birding, nature trails, hiking and more.

Lake Amistad: Located near the border town of Del Rio, Lake Amistad was formed when the Rio Grande was dammed in 1969. Its remote location is part of its charm, as are its clear, sprawling waters. Massive Lake Amistad encompasses nearly 70,000 surface acres, which are shared between Mexico and the United States.

New Braunfels: The very spot where "floating the Guad" was invented, New Braunfels offers excellent access to Texas' famed Guadalupe River. Float tubing, kayaking, swimming, and fishing are just a few of the recreational opportunities available on this stretch of the Guadalupe.

Rockport: Best known as a mecca for Texas artists, Rockport is also home to the Maritime Museum, prime saltwater fishing, excellent birding and lots of other activities.