Five unmissable things to do, see and taste in Texas

Live Music at Empire Control Room. Pic: Geoff Duncan for Visit Austin
Live Music at Empire Control Room. Pic: Geoff Duncan for Visit Austin

While Texas is one of the best places in the US to experience real ranching and cowboy culture, there’s so much more to Texas than BBQ and rodeos – it’s home to a wide array of gastronomic experiences, a thriving arts and live music scene, and awe-inspiring natural beauty.

Check out five of the coolest things to do in the Lone Star State.

Visit Prada Marfa

A tiny city in the middle of the desert in Texas, Marfa is known as an artist’s hub and is considered a global player in the international art circuit. Oozing cool; artists, art groupies and retirees come from all over the world to visit this small but culturally significant town. 

If you’re heading to Marfa, a must visit is the famous Prada art instillation, just thirty minutes outside the city. Built to resemble a Prada store, the iconic instillation is constructed out of a biodegradable adobe-like substance and has been designed to slowly melt back into the earth over time. Serving as a commentary on western consumerist culture, the artwork contains real Prada merchandise, but you won’t be able to buy any designer goods at this store.

Gaze your night away

Contrary to its nickname, the Lone Star State is home to some of the starriest night skies in the world. Texas’ Enchanted Rock State Park is the best place to spot the stars, thanks to minimal light pollution, providing unspoiled views of the night sky. 

Enchanted Rock. Pic: Chris Zebo

Enchanted Rock. Pic: Chris Zebo

Leave the bright lights of the big cities behind and check out one of Enchanted Rock's nighttime events. Join one of the rangers for a night hike where you’ll be surrounded by some of the darkest skies and brightest stars or take part in a one of their ‘Rock Star Parties’ where you can learn everything there is to know about the constellations.

Gorge on authentic Tex-Mex

When people think of Texas, they often thing of BBQ but as the gateway to central America, Texas is also the best place to experience authentic Tex-Mex. The birthplace of the ever-popular cuisine, there’s no way you can visit the state without indulging in this delicious combination of southern and Mexican food.

Created by Texans with Mexican roots, the hybrid cuisine combines the best of both cultures from classic chips and queso, to huevos rancheros topped with refried beans, to drool-worthy tacos using fresh local ingredients.

Some top places to check out include the family run restaurant Joe T Garcias in Fort Worth; the popular restaurant always has a huge queue, but definitely worth it, especially when you can order an ice cold margarita while you wait. If you’re down San Antonio way, head to Mi Tierra – the classic Tex-Mex joint is open 24 hours, serving up Mexican treats and Tex-Mex favourites.

Austin City Limits is a celebration which showcases the city's iconic music scene. Pic: Andy Forde

Austin City Limits is a celebration which showcases the city's iconic music scene. Pic: Andy Forde

Visit iconic music venues

The ‘Live Music Capital of the World’ is one of the best destinations to catch a hot act, with more than 250 venues showcasing live music including dive bars, honky tonk saloons, retail shops, restaurants and even museums.

Austin is also home to some of the trendiest music events in the world, including South by Southwest (SXSW) and Austin City Limits. Despite international acclaim for the music scene, Austin has maintained its small-town vibe and quirky style, with lots of fun things to explore including an endless number of old-school records stores and cute hole-in-the-wall cafes.

Check out the street-art of Austin

While you’re checking out the iconic Austin music scene, take a break to take in the city’s incredible street art. Bold, fun and a little bit weird, the colourful street art is a great representative of the city itself.

East Sixth Street. Pic: Visit Austin

East Sixth Street. Pic: Visit Austin

For the best view, take a stroll through South Congress (SoCo), where the murals cover otherwise sparse alleys. Or make your way to the Castle Park, where you’ll find a street art park filled with constantly revolving calendar of art installations. 

If you’d like more of a guided experience, try the delicious downtown Street Art and Street Food tour – you’ll be sampling eats from local food trucks while admiring the wonderfully weird art that lines the streets of Austin.

IF YOU GO

For more, visit www.traveltexas.com