You know what they say: everything’s bigger in Texas. It couldn’t be more true, and I’m so grateful that I had the chance to explore some of the state this past fall. I explored north Texas in Dallas, central Texas in Austin, and southwest Texas in Houston. Each city I visited had their own vibe and offered a unique aspect of the state. Read more below for the full details about my adventures exploring, and the must-do’s in these three major cities!
North Texas: Dallas
My first destination in Texas was Dallas. I flew in to this airport directly from Toronto, and it was a lovely three-hour flight. After my car accident in Seattle, I was a bit on-edge to be driving again – especially in Texas which has a expansive highway system with many overlapping roads. Thankfully for all of us, I’m a good driver, which you really have to be in Texas given the complexity of the highways! My full day in Dallas was lovely, all of the schools I visited were great, and the city overall felt more green than I had expected. It was also a bit cooler than expected, especially since I had visited Houston a couple weeks prior during a heatwave, which was SO hot. North Texas definitely has a different vibe, but I enjoyed it! If you’re looking for green spaces and a slightly cooler climate while still being in the south, Dallas should be on your list.
Central Texas: Austin
After a day in Dallas, I was heading on to Austin, where I would spend the next day and a half. I had heard a lot of good things about Austin, so I was excited to have the chance to explore. From the little exploring I did, I definitely felt the city had more of a hipster vibe to it, especially compared to Dallas and Houston. I went out for dinner and had some of the best pizza I’ve ever had at Bufalina Due – SO good! I’d consider going back to Austin to do some more exploring in the future for sure. If you’re looking for hipster vibes and amazing food, Austin should be on your list! Sooner than I’d hoped, it was time to travel onwards to Houston and continue exploring.
Southwest Texas: Houston and The Woodlands
I had previously visited downtown Houston for a few days for a conference a couple weeks prior, so coming back felt a bit familiar, which was really nice. Thankfully this time wasn’t quite as hot, but still hotter than Austin and Dallas! This time around, I was exploring more of the suburbs. One particular area I visited was The Woodlands, a very pleasant surprise! The area truly feels like the woodlands because it is in the middle of a forest. It was very unexpected for me as it is so different from the rest of Houston, and I enjoyed exploring the area for a short time. If you also want to feel like you’re suddenly in the midst of a forest, I definitely recommend checking out The Woodlands!
I also explored closer to downtown Houston, in the Uptown and The River Oaks area, visiting the famous Galleria Mall and the Menil Collection as well. Located in the Museum District, the Menil Collection was a big highlight. It’s completely free to explore the collection of art within their building. They also have a bistro and bookstore across the street, plus an expansive park to relax in. I truly felt this was one of the most peaceful areas of Houston. Right beside Menil Park is the Rothko Chapel and the Broken Obelisk, a very unique monument for Houston. I definitely recommend checking out this area if you have the chance! Afterwards, I went to visit nearby Hermann Park, an expansive green space that has multiple museums, gardens, and the zoo. I explored some of the gardens and the park which was a lot of fun. I didn’t have the chance to visit any of these museums, but if you are visiting with a family, this would definitely be a good spot to check out.
Of course, you can’t visit Houston without enjoying some delicious food! The influence of Mexico is really felt here, with a lot of Tex-Mex options to enjoy. When I was in downtown Houston previously, I enjoyed some great Italian food at The Grotto, plus had a wonderful social hangout with live music at The Rustic. This time, I really wanted to enjoy more of the Mexican food options, so I visited Candente Houston and The Original Ninfa’s. Both were so delicious! If you’re looking for a cultural atmosphere with plenty of museums to choose from and a strong Mexican influence on cuisine, then Houston should be your go-to spot!
All things considered, I really enjoyed my time in Texas. Each area of the state feels quite different and I’m glad I had the chance to explore a few different areas. I’ll share a few recommendations for visiting Texas, but keep in mind that since I spent most of my time in Houston, many of my recommendations are for that area. Here’s my top tips:
- Check out a delicious restaurant or the bar scene in Austin, TX
- Visit the Museum District in Houston and check out the Menil Collection for free!
- For a different vibe, explore The Woodlands near Houston – a wonderful green space
- Enjoy some delicious Tex-Mex at many of the wonderful options in Houston, such as The Original Ninfa’s, a Houston favourite!
Whether you’re searching for green spaces (found in Dallas and The Woodlands), hipster vibes (Austin), museums galore (Houston), or simply delicious food (Austin and Houston) – you’ll be set in Texas! Make sure to exercise caution on the roads, and I’m sure you will enjoy your visit to Texas as much as I did.