Texas is big. It’s big for food, big for hotels, big for fun, big for everything. In such a vast state, first-time visitors are spoilt for choice when it comes to tourist draws. Sure, you have the big cities, but those seeking to tread off the beaten path and discover the real Texas will want to blend the obvious with the authentic. We’ve handpicked a healthy selection of mega-city with up-and-coming stops so y’all can have the best time down south.
Austin is the perfect Texan introduction for out-of-towners. The capital is awash with history, live music, international cuisine and modern museums. Top attractions include the Texas Capitol, the new Museum of Ice Cream and Barton Springs Pool. Chill with the local Yuppies who spend all day on Planr and sip sinfully good cocktails at Higher Ground and Devil May Care, party on down at major music festivals like ACL and SXSW, and at the end of the day return to your trendy boudoir, Hotel Van Zandt – the acclaimed downtown stay.
Where to stay: Kimpton Van Zandt
From Austin, take a 1.5-hour drive to Texas Wine Country aka Fredericksburg. Taste or cycle through Gillespie wineries, then learn about the town’s rich history via a vintage trolley tour, the National Museum of the Pacific War, and the Vereins Kirche Museum. Foodies are spoilt for choice; there’s a huge variety of brilliant eateries both classic and new. Try Eaker for barbecue, West End for pizza, Hill & Vine for southern fare, and Frische for a juice detox. Finally, be prepared to shop, shop hard, on adorable Main Street.
San Antonio is definitely worth a stop when in Texas. Its famed attraction is the Alamo, a shrine of Texan liberty, closely followed by the San Antonio Riverwalk where you can take a boat ride. Stop at the coolest immersive art exhibit at Hopscotch and then wander the historic Pearl district; where the city’s top chefs operate. Our picks are two internationally-influenced eats; Asian-American restaurant Best Quality Daughter for out-of-this-world Char Siu (and more), and Caribbean shack Mi Roti for heavenly jerk chicken.
We couldn’t have a Texas itinerary without Dallas. The Big D is a chance to get dressed up to hit fun-time hangouts and bag yourself local pals The Pittman Hotel’s Deep End is a popular cocktail bar by the pool that’s awash with hipster-chic clientele, but go uptown if you’re feeling extra fancy and sip bubbles at Cle Supper Club or the Crescent Court’s afternoon tea. Sightseeing-wise, the staples are the Reunion Tower observation deck and the Sixth Floor Museum which chronicles the assassination of JFK.
Where to stay: Kimpton Pittman Hotel
Dallas may be the heavyweight attraction in the region, but neighbor Fort Worth is biting on its coattails. The rodeos are legendary here, not to mention the twice-daily cattle drive (Seager cowboy hat optional). A glistening new Kimpton just opened too; The Harper Hotel. Housed in a landmark 1921 building, it blends FW charms with modern style. Guests fall in love with the deep soaking bathtubs, the freshly made pasta at il Modo, and social hour up on the 24th-floor lobby.
Where to stay: Kimpton Harper Hotel