If you are a Texan and looking to get on with your travel bucket list, this list of staycation ideas around Texas is a good place to begin. Whether it is traveling while you work from home or a weekend getaway, Texas offers an array of mind-blowing sceneries to reset your senses and get out of the Covid daze. Here is our selection:
Palo Duro Canyon and Amarillo
Amarillo may be way out in West Texas, but it’s certainly worth the drive if you enjoy nature, stunning scenery, and a quirky vibe. The hiking and biking trails and rock formations of Palo Duro Canyon provide excellent outdoor opportunities for weekend visitors. The famous Route 66 roadside attraction, Cadillac Ranch, is also on the outskirts of town and a unique spectacle that’s worth a quick stop for the photo ops. Other attractions to visit are the American Quarter Horse Museum & Hall of Fame and the Amarillo Zoo. The nearest airport to Palo Duro Canyon is Amarillo (AMA). You can take a bus from Midland/Odessa (MAF) to Palo Duro Canyon via Big Spring and Amarillo in around 7h 19m.
Texas Hill Country Wineries
An easy weekend trip from Austin is to the alluring Texas Hill Country. Considered to be the region from Austin to Fredericksburg and Lampasas to New Braunfels, you’ll find an array of charming wineries to explore. Visit over Memorial Day weekend to take part in the Austin Wine and Music Festival and sample the wines of several Hill Country vineyards. The nearest airport to the Hill Country Wineries is San Antonio International Airport (SAT / KSAT).
Big Bend means big adventure in Texas, which is a great place for hiking, off-road tours, canoeing, and rafting. If the waters of the Rio Grande River are flowing, a rafting trip through Santa Elena Canyon and its 1500-foot walls is an unforgettable experience. Two of the most unique attractions of the place are the Marufo Vega loop trail that passes through canyons and the Chimneys Trail that reaches an impressive desert rock formation. The nearest airports served by major airlines are located in Midland/Odessa, Texas (235 miles from Big Bend headquarters) and El Paso, Texas (330 miles from Big Bend headquarters).
Corpus Christi along the Gulf Coast is an amazing place to spend a staycation weekend in Texas. There is a lot of affordable lodging here, RV parks, fun bars, and delicious restaurants. Enjoy miles of beaches along the Gulf of Mexico for sunbathing and swimming, golf courses like the Palmilla Beach Golf Club and the Lozano Golf Center, and go fishing either with your own gear or a local fishing guide. You can also simply walk, jog or bike along Shoreline Drive and Ocean Drive to make a lovely day on your getaway. The nearest airport to Corpus Christi is Corpus Christi (CRP) Airport which is 6.7 miles away. Other nearby airports include Harlingen (HRL) (110.8 miles), McAllen (MFE) (124.1 miles), Laredo (LRD) (128 miles), and San Antonio (SAT) (136.6 miles).
Austin is one of the most truly unique places in all of Texas, with a vibrant culture, a busy entertainment district, and a famous music scene. Austin is often touted as the live music capital of the world, and with many things to do and festivals scheduled throughout the year, there really is no bad time to visit the city. Experience the best of this city for yourself, dine at any number of Austin’s most unique restaurants, marry the experience with the perfect place to stay and you’ll have a weekend getaway to last you until your next vacation. The nearest airport to Austin is the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and it is also well connected via bus from all the major cities in the country and Mexico.
Enchanted Rock and Llano
Enchanted Rock is a beautiful natural area near Llano, Texas. This is a large formation that you can hike to the top of or around the perimeter for lovely views. Its massive granite dome has been drawing people to Central Texas for thousands of years, and there are about 11 miles of hiking trails here to explore. Llano is known as the deer capital of Texas and has some museums to explore. The place is around 96 miles from Austin and takes 1 hr 45 minutes to drive.
Colorado Bend State Park
Not to be confused with Big Bend National Park, the Texas town of Bend is the gateway to Colorado Bend State Park. This is a fairly rustic and primitive park that really gets you into nature and experiencing all that the wild has to offer. Popular activities here include hiking, mountain biking, caving, kayaking, and visiting the 60-foot Gorman Falls. The park is 2hrs drive from Austin.
Cat Springs is a romantic getaway ideal for a couple staycation with 500 acres of beauty that welcomes guests for a day, a week, or even longer. You can stay at the bed and breakfast cabins or guesthouses with antiques, kitchens, and plenty of privacy. Enjoy the simple pleasures of farm animals and wildlife, or kick back and relax with local beer supplied by Huff Brewing Company. This is also a popular spot for weddings, family reunions, and company picnics. The place is just one hour west drive from Houston.
San Marcos is a great place for a girls’ weekend staycation because this is where the San Marcos Premium Outlets and the Tanger Outlet San Marcos are located. Groups of friends who love to shop will have a blast in this area for the weekend. There are affordable and convenient motels along the interstate and also lovely beds and breakfasts nearby. San Marcos is just a half an hour drive from Austin.
Bastrop is a Texas city that is located along the Colorado River within the Lost Pines. You can explore the El Camino Real Paddling Trail down the Colorado River, which is a six-mile trail that winds around the city. Bastrop State Park is also a great place to visit to see the pine trees. The most unique attraction of the place is its antique shops. The city is just 37 drive from Austin via state highway 71E
Granbury is a quaint and picturesque town that’s family-friendly and only about 90 minutes southwest of Dallas. Here you can check out a parade, arts and craft fair, and cookoff. Another festival in March is the Brazos River Music Fest, which is a fun place to listen to country music. Other things to do here for the weekend include taking a boat cruise on the Granbury Riverboat, renting out jet skis, and watching a performance at the Granbury Opera House. Granbury is a 2hr 56 min drive from Austin via US 281-N.
Inner Space Caverns of Georgetown
If you drive about 175 miles from Houston, you’ll reach Inner Space Caverns and feel like you’re a world away. Inside the caves, you’ll find stunning rock formations that were discovered by highway crews in the 1960s when they were building I-35! After touring the caves, you can shop for crafts, antiques, and chocolates in Georgetown Square in the Old Town area.
Upscale Seaside at Rockport
While some Gulf Coast towns are a bit cheesy and budget-friendly, Rockport is a more upscale seaside location that offers excellent cuisine and lots of art. One recommended restaurant here is called Glow, which is famous for Sunday brunch. The Lighthouse Inn is a great place to stay for lovely views of the Gulf. Corpus Christi is the nearest airport to Rockport.
Located between Austin and San Antonio, the originally German town of New Braunfels is one of the best-known weekend getaways in Texas for those who live in either Austin or San Antonio, partially because of access and partially because of how many classic Texas pastimes you can find there. Whether you want to float the Guadalupe River, go dancing in the classic Gruene Hall, check out the original Schlitterbahn, or visit the incredible Natural Bridge Caverns, New Braunfels has you covered. New Braunfels is just 1h 5 min drive from Austin.
There are plenty of reasons that Ennis could qualify as one of the best small town weekend getaways in Texas–its cute historic district, great Czech food, and annual Polka festival among them–but the absolute best reason to spend a weekend in Ennis comes around in April: bluebonnet season. Home to 40 miles of what is called the Official Bluebonnet Trail of Texas, there is no better place to admire Texas’ iconic–and absolutely stunning–wildflowers each spring. The nearest airport to Ennis is Shannon Airport.
Once known primarily as the home of Baylor University, Waco is now even more widely known for something entirely different: home improvement, or more specifically, Chip and Joanna Gaines. Part store, part bakery, and part event space, the Silos (as they’re known around town) have propelled Waco onto the tourism map, drawing visitors from across the country to the small town of Waco. The city has seen a predictable explosion of excellent restaurants. Waco is about 90-100 miles from Austin and Dallas Airports.
South Padre Island
Located on a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico, South Padre Island is among the most popular weekend getaways in Texas for people hoping to hit the beach, from laid-back retirees to young families–but during Spring Break, it becomes the most popular party destination in Texas. With long stretches of beach, a turtle sanctuary, and plenty of classic beach town activities, South Padre is arguably the most beloved beach getaway in Texas. Visitors can fly into Valley International Airport (VIA) in Harlingen – about 40 miles west of South Padre – and catch the South Padre Shuttle to the island.
Located on Mustang Island, charming Port Aransas is certainly one of Texas’ best beach getaways but is perhaps even better known for its many fishing opportunities and incredible dolphin sightings. Port Aranas’s thriving arts community includes casual studios, galleries, and the Port Aransas Art Center, which features works of art from local artists and numerous year-round classes and events. The Port is a paradise for the Bird watchers. You can come to Port Aransas using two different routes. You can go drive through Corpus Christi and enter Port Aransas to Mustang Island from the south. The other route brings you directly to Port Aransas from the mainland via the town of Aransas Pass.
Home to sandy beaches, plenty of fishing, a beautiful historic district, family-friendly amusement parks, and even lovely historical homes, Galveston has something to offer all kinds of visitors–especially given its location, which makes it an incredibly convenient weekend getaway from Houston. The nearest airport to Galveston is Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), which is about 70 miles north.
Six Flags Fiesta Texas (San Antonio)
Six Flags Fiesta Texas, formerly known simply as Fiesta Texas, is an amusement park located in La Cantera.The park’s current icon is Scream which can be seen from all around the park as well as outside the property. The vibrant colors of Scream can also be seen from the intersection of Loop 1604 and Interstate 10, as well as miles away from Six Flags Fiesta Texas. Most of the other attractions at the park are hidden due to the park being surrounded by a rock quarry wall, but some key visible rides include the SkyScreamer, the Crow’s Nest Ferris wheel in Fiesta Bay Boardwalk, the lift hill of Superman: Krypton Coaster and the lift hill of Iron Rattler. The park is 15 min drive from downtown San Antonio.
Schlitterbahn (New Braunfels)
While the Schlitterbahn brand has several parks now, the original–and biggest–is located in New Braunfels and has been open seasonally since 1979. Half of Schlitterbahn New Braunfels uses spring-fed river water from the Comal River to feed its rides, making it one of the more nature-friendly water parks around. The place is just 1 hr drive from San Antonio.
Six Flags Over Texas (Arlington)
Six Flags Over Texas is a 212-acre (86 ha) theme park located in Arlington, Texas, east of Fort Worth and west of Dallas. It is the first amusement park in the Six Flags chain. The main attractions of the park are- The Batman ride, Judge Roy Scream, La Vibora, Mini Mine Train, Mr, Freeze Reverse Blast, New Texas Giant etc.The nearest airport to Six Flags Over Texas is Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW). You can take a train from Killeen (GRK) to Six Flags Over Texas.
Located just outside of Austin and nestled in the Texas Hill Country, the small town of Dripping Springs is primarily known for two things: weddings and Hamilton Pool Preserve, which has become one of the most recognizable Texas landmarks over the last decade or so. The many wineries surrounding Dripping Springs make it a prime wedding venue in Texas, though of course its vineyards, distilleries, and even olive farm all make the town worth visiting even without a wedding. Then, of course, there’s the Instagram-famous Hamilton Pool, the natural pool that was carved out of limestone when a river caved in thousands of years ago, leaving a refreshing hangout (complete with a 50-foot waterfall!) behind for generations of Texans to enjoy. The closest airport is Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (about 22 miles).
Dinosaur Valley State Park
Dinosaur Valley State Park, located just northwest of Glen Rose in Somervell County, Texas, is a 1,524.72-acre (617 ha) scenic park set astride the Paluxy River. The most notable feature of Dinosaur Valley State Park can be easily guessed from its name: if you head down to the river, you’ll be able to spot actual dinosaur footsteps, fossilized and frozen in time, in the riverbed. The nearest airport to Dinosaur National Valley State Park is Waco (ACT).
Pedernales Falls State Park
Packed with both hiking trails and swimming holes (aka pools formed in between each of the small waterfalls in the river), Pedernales Falls State Park makes for an incredibly fun Texas weekend getaway. In addition to the park itself, it’s worth mentioning that Pedernales Falls is located practically next door to Johnson City, the former home of President Johnson and the current home of the LBJ Ranch, which is now a museum. The park is just 1 hr drive from Austin.