Despite high gas prices, AAA estimates a record number of people will drive to their vacation destinations this summer, both in Texas and nationwide.
Our great state is home to the American South's most beautiful natural wonders, and as the largest state in the nation, is extremely diverse with an array of things to do. From wine country escapes, unique castles, lakes sandy beaches and romantic getaways to family Texasfun day trips and coastal spots.
While researching our own summer adventures we saved a short list of unique favorites to share!
OCIO Ranch49 min (43.9 mi) From Lubbock, TX
Is there an animal lover in the house? Then the OCIO Ranch could fit the bill! This unique spot right outside of Lubbock houses rescued ranch animals (goats, sheep, and a donkey) who were on their way to slaughter. Their previous owners couldn’t bear to let them go, so they brought them to stay at OCIO.
Collect some eggs, grab a pepper to throw on the grill, or just sit back and enjoy a hot tub sunset with a glass of local wine. All OCIO experiences are designed with downtime in mind.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park1 hr 45 min (119.2 mi) From Lubbock, TX
It may be right in our backyard, but West Texas is home to the second largest canyon in the United States.
The “Grand Canyon of Texas” boasts 800 feet to the canyon floor and more than 16 miles of paved road, fantastic scenic views, historical sites and markers, picnic tables, public restrooms and showers, miles and miles of hiking and biking trails, horseback riding, a souvenir shop and more!
Monahans Sandhills State Park2 hr 35 min (168.1 mi) From Lubbock, TX
We may have a lot of dirt in West Texas, but did you know there are sand dunes too? Monahans Sandhills State Park offers a Texas-sized sandbox for kids of all ages, as well as a close-up view of a unique desert environment.
Nearly 4,000 acres of sand dunes include activities like "surfing", camping, hiking, picnicking, and bird and wildlife watching.
Balmorhea State Park3 hr 56 min (256.7 mi) From Lubbock, TX
Swim, scuba or skin dive, camp, geocache, study nature and bird watch. The park has picnic sites, an outdoor sports area and a playground.
The Civilian Conservation Corps built Balmorhea State Park in the 1930s. Nearly 80 years later, people are still cooling off at our park.
Stay overnight at one of the 34 campsites. Or reserve a room at the San Solomon Springs Courts, motel-style retro lodging built by the CCC.
Fort Worth Stockyards4 hr 34 min (317.5 mi) From Lubbock, TX
Once home to cowboys, cattlemen and outlaws, today the Stockyards National Historic District is one of the most popular attractions in Texas.
Day and night, visitors come to the Stockyards to get a taste of the true American West. Begin your journey on Exchange Avenue, where the weathered brick streets are lined with historic buildings, restaurants, shops, saloons and other attractions.
Waco Surf5 hr 47 min (362.2 mi) From Lubbock, TX
One of the best ways to beat the Texas summer heat is by lounging in a tube along a lazy river. And you can do exactly that at Waco Surf. This park is actually a water sports facility that is also home to the longest lazy river in the world. This BYOB lazy river will be a hot spot to cool off during the summer months.
The resort features Waco Surf Hotel, The Cabins, The RV Hookups, Surf Houses, a wakeboarding cable park, the world’s longest lazy river (allegedly), and the Wedge Slides.
Japanese Tea Garden5 hr 57 min (386.8 mi) From Lubbock, TX
The Japanese Tea Garden has a glorious history of over 90 years, from the time it was an operating rock quarry to today.
The Japanese Tea Garden is currently open daily. Admission is FREE! No reservation is needed to enjoy the Garden. The Garden is pet friendly, as long as they are on a leash.
Vacation Destinations in Texas
Now, we’ve discovered several unique vacation destinations in Texas, but here are a couple of extra ideas that didn’t make the cut.
First, Marfa is a unique small desert city that’s home to the famous Prada Marfa, a sculptural art installation, and the Marfa Lights, an unexplained phenomenon in the night sky—best learn your camera’s astrophotography settings to capture it!
Second, outdoor adventurers should head to Wimberley in Texas Hill Country. There, you can do zip lining, relax in the state’s best natural swimming holes, and indulge in a glass of wine or five.
So whether you want a destination closer to home or a weekend getaway, this mini guide shows that there are plenty of fantastic vacation destinations in Texas waiting for you!