Texas known as the “Lone Star State” is the second largest and second most populous state in the South in United States of America. Owing to its remarkable size, distinctive culture and politics, and colorful history, many Texans maintain a fiercely independent attitude, with Texan identity often superseding American identity. Few other American states feature their flag so prominently in businesses, on the backs of cars and in advertisements. It also is very tax-friendly with the lowest taxes in the USA. Originally a territory of Spain and, later, Mexico, Texas rebelled in 1836 and became its own nation for 10 years before being annexed by the United States in 1845. Despite having existed under the auspices of six different nations (France, Spain, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Confederate States of America, and the United States of America), Texas has maintained its fascinating independent spirit, making for a unique and unrivaled exploration ground for any intrigued and intrepid adventurer.
Known for their generosity, hospitality, unusual accent, and penchant for the larger-than-life, Texans are wonderful people to meet, and the variety of cultural experiences, from feasting on bratwurst with the Germans of the Hill Country to watching Flamenco dancers with the Tejanos of the Rio Grande valley, is seemingly unlimited.
The large size of the state should not be underestimated. Texas measures over 267,000 square miles (695,673 sq. km) in area, making it slightly larger than France. Having a car is essential for travel between cities, and within most. The traveler should factor on long driving times between cities and destinations.
Texas is bordered by the U.S. states of New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, and the Mexican states of Tamaulipas, Nuevo León, Coahuila, and Chihuahua.
Panhandle Plains (Lubbock, Amarillo, Abilene)
Prairies and Lakes (Dallas, Fort Worth)
Piney Woods (Nacogdoches, Tyler)
Gulf Coast (Houston, Galveston, Corpus Christi, South Padre Island)
South Texas Plains (San Antonio, Laredo, McAllen)
Hill Country (Austin, Fredericksburg, New Braunfels)
Big Bend Country (El Paso, Midland, Odessa)
Click on the city’s name for hotels and activity ideas
- Austin – Live Music Capital of the World. State capital. Home to the University of Texas (5th largest in the USA by enrollment).
- Corpus Christi – Home of the Texas State Aquarium and gateway to Padre Island.
- Dallas – One of the most popular visitor destinations in Texas.
- El Paso – The largest city on the US/Mexico border.
- Fort Worth – Fort Worth Stockyards. “Where the West Begins.”
- Houston – Texas’ largest city. Home of NASA’s Mission Control Center.
- Laredo – The US’s largest inland port.
- Lubbock – Financial and cultural center of the South Plains. Birthplace of Buddy Holly and home of several top notch wineries. Location of Texas Tech University.
- San Antonio – Famous for the Alamo and the “River Walk” nightlife district.
- Big Bend National Park
- Guadalupe Mountains National Park
- Palo Duro Canyon
- South Padre Island
- Texas Hill Country
France, Spain and Mexico have all laid claim to Texas at one point or another. However, in 1836, Texas won its independence from Mexico and became the Republic of Texas. The most famous battle of the fight for independence was the stand at the Alamo. The Alamo was a stand against the invading Mexican Army. Although tragic, the sacrifice allowed the main army of Texas time enough to gather their strength and defeat the formidable Mexican army, led by General Santa Anna. Nine years later Texas agreed to be annexed by the United States and became the 28th state of the Union.
The ethnic background of Texas is extremely diverse. Fully one-third of the population has some sort of Hispanic background. There are also many German settlements (such as Fredericksburg and New Braunfels), as well as Norwegian, Polish, Czech, Swedish and French settlements. Also, a sizeable number of African-Americans (mainly in East and Southeast Texas) and Asian-Americans (often in in metropolitan areas of Texas) can be found.
Texas is a huge state and thusly experiences an extreme variety of weather. The state is very warm in the summer months, with temperatures often above 100ºF (38ºC). In West Texas and the Panhandle, summers are usually dry with fits of stormy weather. North (Dallas/Fort Worth region) and coastal (Houston region) areas have unstable climates (hence the oft-repeated saying about Texas weather: “If you don’t like the weather, wait 10 minutes” – though 10 minutes later you might not like the change).
Thunderstorms are common, sometimes generating tornadoes and hailstorms. It is often warmer near the coast, though humidity can be unbearable in the summer. Conversely, the spring, autumn and winter are relatively pleasant for most of the state. It rarely dips below the freezing point in winter, except in the Panhandle region where the winters can get quite cold (Lubbock and Amarillo have suffered devastating blizzards in the past), and, though it is quite rare, even points as far south as Corpus Christi and Brownsville have seen snow.
Again, the sheer size of the state is not to be underestimated. Brewster County in West Texas is larger in land area than Rhode Island and Delaware combined, while Texas’ largest ranch, King Ranch is larger than Rhode Island; also Texarkana is closer to Chicago than it is to El Paso, and Brownsville is closer to Mexico City than it is to Dallas. If you are wanting to take in the full Texas experience, you will need ample time to do so.
Texas has no official language. However, as with the rest of the United States, English is the predominant language of the state. Spanish is also widely spoken by approximately one-third of the population. (Don’t assume that all people of Mexican heritage speak Spanish; some families have been in Texas for longer than Texas has been part of the U.S.) The Hill Country region in Texas also has it’s own unique dialect of the German language thanks to the German settlers who settled much of the area, although it is mostly spoken by the elderly population and is thus dying out. Texas also has small numbers of Amharic, Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, French, Hindi, Korean, Russian, Tagalog, and Vietnamese speakers as well owning to recent trends in immigration.
Don’t assume that the majority people are going to have a “Texan” accent. While you will run into many that do, the majority of Texans, especially in Dallas and other urbanized cities lack the “Texan twang” one associates with the state’s residents
Texas shares an international border with Mexico as well as a 600 mile coastline. It is bordered on the north by the state of Oklahoma, on the west by the state of New Mexico, and on the east by the states of Arkansas and Louisiana. As a state of the United States, all visa and passport rules of the USA apply.
Texas is home to two major airlines: American Airlines , based out of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport; and Southwest Airlines , based out of Love Field, Dallas’s secondary airport. United Airlines maintains a primary hub at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH). American and United fly direct to/from many national and international destinations. Southwest is the no-frills discounter granddad and flies throughout Texas and most of the United States as well as Mexico and some destinations in Central America. Travel to any destination world-wide is quite painless from the larger Texas airports.
The primary (commercial) airports are in:
- Austin Bergstrom (AUS)  is the third busiest airport in Texas and is a huge focus city for Southwest Airlines and JetBlue.
- Dallas-Fort Worth Area –
- Dallas-Fort Worth International (DFW)  is the largest and busiest airport in Texas and 4th busiest airport in the United States. It is a major airline hub (especially w/ American Airlines) and is relatively cheap to fly into with most major domestic and some foreign carriers serving it.
- Dallas Love Field (DAL)  is the smaller, alternative airport closer to downtown Dallas for Southwest Airlines and some Delta Connection and Virgin America flights.
- El Paso (ELP) 
- Houston –
- George Bush Intercontinental (IAH)  is 40mi/64km north of Houston is also a major hub for United Airlines and has the most international connections in the state.
- Houston Hobby Airport (HOU)  is a smaller airport 11mi/17.5km south of downtown Houston for Southwest, American Eagle, Delta Connection, and JetBlue.
- McAllen-Miller International (MFE) 
- San Antonio (SAT)  is the fourth busiest airport in Texas and is a huge focus city for Southwest Airlines.
Texas is well-served from other points in the U.S. by the United States Interstate Highway system, the quality and condition of which is generally very good. There are many roads which cross into Texas from Mexico, most notably in McAllen, Brownsville, Laredo and El Paso. Due to the enormous amount of traffic from Mexico and Central America, Laredo is the country’s largest inland port, and wait times at this and all border stations can often be tremendous. In all, Texas boasts over 72,000 miles of state and federal highways.
If you are not a U.S. citizen and you are driving into the U.S. from Mexico, you must have a visa or valid permit beforehand, as they are not issued at the bridges across the Rio Grande. If you are a U.S. citizen, you must present a passport to customs at the border crossings to re-enter the United States. Otherwise, your vacation in Mexico just got longer!
Amtrak, +1 800 USA-RAIL (+1 800 872-7245),  offer two routes through Texas:
- The Heartland Flyer  runs from Fort Worth to Oklahoma City with a stop in Gainesville.
- The Sunset Limited  runs from New Orleans to Los Angeles with stops in El Paso, Sanderson, Del Rio, San Antonio, Houston, & Beaumont.
- The Texas Eagle  runs the same route as the Sunset Limited (see above) from Los Angeles to San Antonio with the same stops. From San Antonio the Texas stops are San Marcos, Austin, Taylor, Temple, McGregor, Cleburne, Fort Worth, Dallas, Mineola, Longview, Marshall, & Texarkana, AR.
For the braver, more adventurous (and more frugal) passengers, the bus may be another option. Please take into consideration that this mode of transportation is used by those who cannot afford air travel (as well as individuals preferring overland travel) and you may be riding with migrant workers, and very low income Americans. Even so, conditions at most stations and on the buses are okay. Greyhound has the largest network and can take you to remote cities within Texas, and can also take you as far as Mexico City and all points in Canada. Megabus also runs buses from New Orleans to Houston and Memphis to Dallas respectively. Longhorn Charter Bus is based in Texas and operates in several large cities such as Dallas, San Antonio and Houston to name a few. GOGO Charters is another famous transportation service in Texas, operating in and around the state. SHOFUR is a charter bus rental provider that has an extensive transportation network in all 50 states.
There are a large number of bus lines operated by various companies such as Autobuses Americanos, Omnibus Mexicanos, Turimex Internacional, El Expreso, and Tornado that serve the large Mexican population in Texas, running routes across the border from Texas to regions in Mexico such as Monterrey, Guadalajara, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas, Durango, Tampico, Mexico City, and Chihuahua. Bus passengers coming from Mexico must have a valid passport.
Major ports in Texas include Houston, Corpus Christi, Galveston, Beaumont, Port Arthur and Brownsville. Both the Port of Houston and the Port of Galveston are home ports for cruise ships.
The road system is almost universally excellent, and even the most remote points in the state can be accessed with an average sedan. Gas stations are numerous; however, in rural West Texas, do not press your luck. Texan highways are often built with parallel frontage roads and turnarounds at most exits. Speed limits are very strictly enforced in rural areas of the state; Texas state troopers will pull you over for an infraction as small as five miles per hour over the speed limit. However, when traveling through larger cities, observing the “common speed” of traffic around you is much safer. The rural speed limit in Texas is generally 70-75 MPH (even on two lane roads), though it increases to 80 MPH on Interstates 10 and 20 in the sparsely populated far western portion of the state.
Some of the highways in Texas, particularly around cities such as Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, or Austin are toll roads. While some of them do accept cash tolls, others are all electronic and requires use of a TxTag transponder. Most Texas drivers are courteous and careful drivers, and the safety and ease of driving in Texas is similar to most developed countries. However exceptions can be found in the most congested areas of Houston and Dallas, where road rage, reckless driving and red-light running are commonplace.
In regards to driver’s licenses, Texas has reciprocity agreements with 83 countries (including Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, most of Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea), meaning your driver’s license is likely good in Texas if you plan to stay less than a year. That being said it never hurts to carry an International Driving Permit (IDP) in addition to your domestic license; for foreign nationals of countries who do not have reciprocity agreements, this is a must. IDPs are available from your local automobile association and are usually valid for one year.
Flying may be a more reasonable option from crossing large expanses of the state. Many airlines like American, American Eagle, United, United Express and Southwest link cities within the state of Texas.
The primary (commercial) airports are in:
- Dallas-Fort Worth area (DFW)  is the largest and busiest airport in Texas and 4th busiest airport in the United States. It is a major airline hub (especially w/ American Airlines) and is relatively cheap to fly into. Dallas Love Field (DAL)  is the smaller, alternative airport closer to downtown Dallas for Southwest Airlines and some Delta Connections, United Express, and Virgin American flights.
- Houston area – George Bush Intercontinental (IAH)  is 21mi/34km north of Houston is also a major hub (especially for United) and has the most international connections in the state. Houston Hobby Field (HOU)  is a smaller airport 11mi/17.5km south of downtown Houston and primarily serves Southwest, American Eagle, Delta Connection, and JetBlue.
- San Antonio (SAT) 
- Austin Bergstrom (AUS) 
- El Paso (ELP) 
- McAllen-Miller International (MFE) 
Some of the smaller airports in the state, served mainly by United, Southwest and/or American Eagle flights to/from Houston or Dallas.
- Rick Husband Amarillo (AMA) 
- Brownsville South Padre (BRO) 
- Corpus Christi (CRP) 
- Laredo (LRD) 
- Lubbock Preston Smith (LIA)  for Lubbock and the northern part
- Midland International (MAF) 
Since Texas cities are geographically dispersed, travel by train is expensive and often inconvenient, though Amtrak  does provide several lines. Passenger service is no longer an option for cities in the Panhandle or southern Texas. Again, the size of the state is startling; traveling across the width of Texas (from Orange, in the eastern extremity, near Houston, to El Paso in the western extremity) is roughly the same distance as one would encounter while traveling from El Paso to Los Angeles or from Houston to Jacksonville, Florida. Texarkana, in the northeast corner of the state, is closer to Chicago than it is to the extreme southern tip of Texas.
The below are the train lines passing through (one originating from Fort Worth) and the cities & towns they stop at:
- The Heartland Flyer  runs from Fort Worth to Oklahoma City with a (Texas) stop in Gainesville.
- The Sunset Limited  runs from New Orleans to Los Angeles with stops in El Paso, Sanderson, Del Rio, San Antonio, Houston & Beaumont.
- The Texas Eagle  runs the same route as the Sunset Limited (see above) from Los Angeles to San Antonio with the same stops. From San Antonio the Texas stops are San Marcos, Austin, Taylor, Temple, McGregor, Cleburne, Fort Worth, Dallas, Mineola, Longview, Marshall & Texarkana, AR.
The below is a local commuter train:
- The Trinity Railway Express  runs trains between Ft Worth, Centerpoint (DFW Airport stop), and Dallas with multiple stops.
Greyhound , Vonlane , AFC Transportation , ECHO Transportation , and Megabus  provides intercity bus service. Of the five companies mentioned Greyhound has the largest network and serves the most cities and towns in Texas.
- The Alamo in San Antonio, where the erstwhile Republic of Texas saw its most tragic hour. Here some 200 men under seige by a Mexican army of 1,500 or more bravely refused to surrender, and gained immortal fame.
- San Jacinto Battleground State Historical Park, Houston. This is the site of the decisive 1836 battle between Texians led by Sam Houston and the Mexican army under the dictator Gen. Santa Anna, in which Texas gained independence. The San Jacinto Monument, the the park’s 570-foot-tall centerpiece, is fifteen feet taller than the Washington Monument and the world’s tallest monumental column (everything is bigger in Texas!). The battle is counted among those having the greatest impact on history. Within a dozen years of its defeat, Mexico had lost not only Texas, but the territory of the future states of California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and New Mexico. Don’t forget to make time to visit the Battleship Texas, permanently moored nearby.
- Galveston was a prosperous port city, when a hurricane hit in 1900, wiping most of the buildings, and 6,000 to 8,000 of its residents in America’s worst ever natural disaster. The city rebuilt on sand pumped in from the sea behind a 17-foot high seawall, but never regained its former position. A few buildings that survived the storm, and others built after the disaster and then protected from replacement by the city’s decline, today form a handsome historic downtown district.
- After Texas was annexed, the U.S. and Mexico proceeded to quarrel over the border. General Zachary Taylor was ordered by President Polk to set up and to mobilize ground troops at Fort Texas/ Fort Brown. During the American Invasion of Mexico, 1846 to 1848, two historic battles took place in Brownsville the Battle of Resaca de la Palma and the Battle at Palo Alto
- Fort Davis National Historic Site – Partially restored fort, home of the Buffalo soldiers (the first peacetime all-black regiments in the regular U.S. Army)– located in the town of Ft. Davis north of Big Bend Nat Park. In the surrounding Davis Mountains is MacDonald Observatory and Ft. Davis State Park. A scenic loop drive goes through the forested mountains and down on the desert prairie; you may see deer, pronghorn (also called antelope), javelinas (also called peccaries), roadrunners, eagles and some very beautiful scenery.
- The Fort Worth Stockyards offer a look into the past, when cattle drives and cowboys were all the rage.
- Lubbock Lake Landmark State Historical Park, Lubbock. Evidence of human occupation dating back several millennia is strewn across this South Plains park. Archaeologists even today frequently discover new artifacts.
- Dealey Plaza, Dallas. One of the top tourist attractions in the state, this is where the assassination of John F. Kennedy occurred on 22 November 1963. Visit the Sixth Floor Museum in the infamous Texas School Book Depository building, and the equally patronized Conspiracy Museum nearby.
- The state capitol in Austin is a pink granite look-alike to the nation’s capitol, with a gorgeous interior under the spectacular dome. In the nearby Bob Bullock Museum of Texas History, a Disney animatronic version of Sam Houston narrates the story of Texas.
- The Rio Grande has cut a pass through the Southern extension of the Rocky Mountain chain, here called the Franklin Mountains, found in the center of El Paso. Three Spanish missions south of the city — Ysleta founded 1682, Soccorro Mission 1759, and San Elizario Chapel 1789 — are some of the oldest still functioning churches in the U.S. The campus of UTEP, the University of Texas at El Paso, features buildings, even parking garages, which improbably enough are constructed in the Bhutanese style of architecture, unlike any place in the country.
Fun and Games
- The original Six Flags and Hurricane Harbor, Arlington
- Six Flags Fiesta Texas, San Antonio
- Sea World, San Antonio
- Schlitterbahn, New Braunfels, South Padre Island and Galveston
- Wonderland Park, Amarillo
- Joyland Amusement Park, Lubbock
- Kemah Boardwalk, Kemah
- Galveston Historic Pleasure Pier Galveston
Culture and “Texana”
- The King Ranch, along the Gulf Coast, is a working ranch bigger than the state of Rhode Island.
- As the largest city on the US/Mexico border, El Paso is a hotbed of Hispanic culture in America with a flavor that is more Mexican than Texan.
- Not to be missed is the extraordinary Hill Country, with its fields of wildflowers covering sprawling cattle ranches.
- Big Bend National Park is mountains, desert, wilderness, and river (Rio Grande) scenery. There are snakes, deer, javelina (wild pigs) plus many other types of wildlife. At the western entrance is Terlingua (an old ghost town) which is the home to the annual International Chili Cookoff. Farther down the road to the west along the El Camino del Rio (The River Road) scenic drive to Presidio is the town of Lajitas whose mayor is a goat (a real goat) that guzzles beer like water — put a bottle or can near his mouth and he will grab it right out of your hand in his teeth and turn it up until it all drains into his mouth.
- Get an idea of the size and space of Texas with a drive through the Chihuahuan Desert or through the Texas Panhandle.
- Guadalupe Mountains National Park, at the New Mexico state line in the far western part of the state, is home to 8,749 foot Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas. Another point of interest in the park is McKittrick Canyon, a rather startling oasis of maple trees and other flora and fauna that stands out in stark contrast to the aridness of the surrounding desert.
- Palo Duro Canyon, the second largest canyon in the country, was cut across the High Plains near Amarillo by a branch of the Red River, providing some really breathtaking scenery and plenty of trails to follow.
- Rio Grande Valley, the most Southern East section of Texas, is where temperate, coastal, dessert, and tropical climates converge, creating one of the richest experiences for birders.
- Big Thicket National Preserve in East Texas which is known for it’s rich variety of plants and wildlife, all packed into 100,000 acres of watery bottomland. Explore the area on foot or in canoe, and see how the woods grow so thickly here that they all but blot out the sun, and make trailblazing almost impossible.
- Take a leisurely inner tube trip, floating down the Comal, Guadalupe, San Marcos, Brazos, or Frio rivers.
- Spend the weekend living the Old West at a Dude Ranch.
- Hike and climb through the natural wonders of the Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo.
- Enjoy live music and Western heritage at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, held every spring at Houston’s Reliant Park.
- Pique your curiosity about Texas’ storied history at the Alamo in San Antonio.
- Take in a show in Houston’s Theatre District – the largest performing arts district outside of New York City and Cleveland.
- Sports fans will want to see some of America’s winningest and iconic professional and collegiate sports teams, including the Dallas Cowboys, the Texas Rangers, the Dallas Mavericks, the Houston Astros, the San Antonio Spurs and the University of Texas Longhorns.
- Explore the Riverwalk in downtown San Antonio.
- Watch one of the largest bat colonies in the world at the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin
- Take part or watch one of the greatest motorcycle rallies in the US, the Lone Star Rally in Galveston
- Camp out at Enchanted Rock and see if you become invisible (that’s what the legend says!)
Sales tax in Texas is usually between 6.25% and 8.25%. The main items exempt from sales tax include medicines (prescription and over-the-counter), food and food seeds (but prepared food such as from a restaurant, is subject to sales tax). Texas provides one sales tax holiday per year (generally in August prior to the start of the school year, running from Friday to Sunday of the designated weekend). Clothing less than $100 (except for certain items, such as golf shoes) and school supplies are exempt from all sales tax (state and local) on this one weekend only.
The major department stores in Texas include Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Dillard’s, Macy’s, JCPenney, Sears, Kohls, and Bealls. The first three are considered to be upscale. Macy’s and Dillard’s is mostly midrange and most stores feature its own store brands. JCPenney, Sears, Kohls, and Bealls generally target a middle-class to working-class market.
Some noteworthy malls and shopping centers include:
- The Galleria (Houston)
- Katy Mills (Katy)
- NorthPark Center (Dallas)
- Galleria Dallas (Dallas)
- Grapevine Mills (Grapevine)
- Shops at La Cantera (San Antonio)
- North Star Mall (San Antonio)
- The Domain (Austin)
- Barton Creek Square (Austin)
- Cielo Vista Mall (El Paso)
In addition there are also several outlet malls located in Texas of which the most important are located at San Marcos, Round Rock, Texas City, Terrell, Grand Prairie, El Paso, and McAllen. In particular the outlet mall in San Marcos has been ranked as one of the best in the country, and is popular with both locals and Mexican tourists.
For those who want to buy genuine cowboy boots and other western wear, there are located all over Texas.
The Fry’s Electronics computer retail chain has several stores located in Texas primarily in the Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, and Austin areas. Unfortunately, most Fry’s stores are not conveniently located from a tourist perspective and are very difficult to reach without a rental car.
As in the rest of the U.S., the leading convenience store chain in Texas is 7-Eleven which is coincidentally founded and based in Dallas. The two other major convenience store chains are Stripes and Circle K.
For basic supplies, try to use supermarkets and pharmacies if possible, as they have better selection and provide better value for your money than convenience stores. The major pharmacy chains in Texas are CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid. The major supermarket chains include H-E-B, Kroger, Randall’s, Tom Thumb, Albertsons, United, Brookshire Brothers, and Aldi. Whole Foods Market which is based in Austin is the leading organic/natural supermarket throughout the state; and other organic/natural chains such as Trader Joe’s, Central Market, and Sprouts Farmers Market have a presence in the larger cities as well. The ubiquitous discount store chains Walmart and Target both offer some groceries (Walmart Supercenters and SuperTargets offer a full selection of groceries) and also usually have pharmacies on site.
- La Plaza Mall, 2200 South 10th st., McAllen, TX 78503, ☎ 956-972-5454, . edit
- Barbecue is the mainstay of any true Texan’s diet (most Texans will frown at you if you call it B-B-Q). The International Barbecue Cookoff is held annually in Taylor, TX (northeast of Austin). A Texas specialty is chopped or thinly sliced beef brisket, usually served with a slice of white bread, pickles, onions, and sauce in a separate container (although Central European-style sausage is also common). Classic sides are coleslaw, beans, and potato salad.
- Chili is the official state dish of Texas. There are many varieties of chili, but original Texas-style chili contains no beans. The place to try all the varieties is the International Chili Cookoff, held on the first weekend in November in Terlingua, TX.
- Tex-Mex is Mexican cuisine with Texas flair. Take ancient traditions (such as filled tortillas) and add beef, sauces, cheeses and spices, and Tex-Mex is born. Nachos, crispy tacos, crispy chalupas, chili con queso, chili con carne, chili gravy, and fajitas are all Tex-Mex inventions. Serving tortilla chips and a hot sauce or salsa as an appetizer is also an original Tex-Mex combination, and one that Texan diners insist on. While Texans are generally nice people, and won’t be easily offended, it’s worth repeating: Tex-Mex food is most definitely not the same as Mexican food, a point locals will be all-too-happy to point out.
- Down Home Cookin’ is a blend of American and German cuisine brought about by the necessity of cooking from the back of a chuck wagon. Meals include steaks, stews, casseroles, breads and pies. There are many steakhouses around the state, notably the Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Bob’s Steak and Chophouse in Dallas, Fort Griffin General Merchandise in Albany and Taste of Texas steak house in Houston’s west side.
- Chicken Fried Steak is cube steak pounded until tender, breaded, and fried in a pan, usually topped with a peppery, creamy white gravy and served with a side of mashed potatoes and beans. CFS (as it’s sometimes known) can be found everywhere from school cafeterias, to fast food joints, where it may be served on a sandwich, to upscale eateries (with a creative twist, of course). Its presence on the menu is a sure-fire way to tell if you’re in Texas – just don’t ask for it “rare” or “well done”; it’s not that kind of steak!
- Kolaches are a type of pastry that holds a dollop of fruit or other fillings such as sausage, chocolate, jalapeño-cheese, etc rimmed by a puffy pillow of supple dough. Due to the earlier large influx of Czech settlers into Texas along with their descendents, kolaches later became extremely popular in the state and both Caldwell and West, Texas, claim the title of “Kolache Capital” of the state and most doughnut shops and convenience stores such as Shipley’s Do-Nuts will also sell kolaches.
Aside from those Texas staples mentioned earlier it is also relatively easy to find hole in the wall ethnic restaurants serving a wide variety of authentic ethnic cuisines from around the world such as interior Mexican, Cajun, Italian, Chinese, Lebanese, Honduran, Cuban, Ethiopian, Salvadorian, Vietnamese, Thai, Indian, etc especially in large and medium sized cities thanks to the large and rapidly growing transplant/immigrant population in Texas particularly in Houston, Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio. In addition cities such as Austin have jump started the national trend on food trucks. These usually offer a variety of foods, usually at lower than normal prices. Some popular food trucks include East Side King, Chi’lantro, Hey Cupcake!, and the Peached Tortilla
- Horseshoe Bay Resort, 200 Hi Cir N, Horseshoe Bay, TX 78657, ☎ +1 504 524-7611 (toll free: +1 877 611 0112), . Exclusive resort in the heart of Texas Hill Country for easy access to shopping,golf,spa services,tennis,and boating activities.. edit
As with all other states, the legal drinking age in Texas is 21. And like with most other states, Texas allows underage drinking on both private non-alcohol and alcohol selling premises, but only if a parent or legal guardian is present.  
Texas has many cities with fabulous nightlife. Some of the more notable include:
- Dallas: Uptown, Deep Ellum, and Greenville Avenue districts.
- Fort Worth: the Historic Fort Worth Stockyards including the world-famous Billy Bob’s Texas, which claims to be the largest Honky-Tonk in the world (it even has its own rodeo arena). Also, in Fort Worth’s surprisingly clean and vibrant downtown area, there is Sundance Square, where one can find food, drink, and entertainment ranging from live music to first-run movies.
- Houston: Downtown, The Heights, or Montrose.
- Austin: 6th Street and the Warehouse District.
- San Antonio: the River Walk
- Lubbock: Depot District.
The maximum legal Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) limit for adults is 0.08.
In early 2006, the controversial Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission (TABC) program that allows for “public intoxication” arrests in any public area or business establishment, including bars, drew national attention. This was due to an unfortunate incident where people staying in a hotel were arrested for being intoxicated in that hotel’s bar. There has been enough negative feedback from the public regarding the TABC program that it has been suspended for review.
Texas (especially Austin) produces a number of famous beers, particularly German-style beers, which are available throughout the state and beyond.
- The Spoetzl Brewer  in Shiner is famous for producing Shiner Bock, the best selling specialty beer in the state.
- Anheiser-Busch’s Houston brewery produces Ziegen Bock, sold only in Texas.
- Revolver Brewery in Granbury just started distributing in 2012, with the only current beer in distribution being Blood and Honey. Grand opening is in October ’12, and tours soon after. 
- Deep Ellum Brewery is a new craft brewer in Dallas that is known for it’s Deep Ellum IPA and Farmhouse Wit. They have tours of the brewery every Thursday night and Saturday afternoon. Get a glass and three samples for $10. 
- Lone Star Beer , brewed in San Antonio, is billed as the “national beer of Texas”, but is sold as far away as New York — and reportedly even spotted in Tallinn, Estonia.
There are also several important regional breweries, such as Saint Arnold and Southern Star in Houston, Live Oak Brewing Company and Austin Beerworks in Austin, Freetail Brewing Company in San Antonio and Real Ale Brewing Company in Blanco.
Texas Wine & Other Spirits
While not on the level of either Napa Valley or Sonoma Valley in California, Texas does have a burgeoning wine industry that is mainly concentrated in the Hill Country west of San Antonio and Austin and in the Panhandle region around Lubbock. Several wineries in Texas such as Llano Estacado Winery have actually won many awards. There are several wineries in and around Fredericksburg that are open to the public throughout the week, but the rest usually open their tasting rooms only on weekends.
Tito’s Vodka is also produced in Texas and is unusual compared with other vodkas since it is made from yellow corn, instead of the more commonly used wheat or potatoes, resulting in a mildly sweet aftertaste, and is distilled six times.
Texas / Mexico Border
Due to the state’s proximity to the International Boundary with Mexico, visitors should be cautious while in areas near the border.
- Know where you are at all times, follow good safety procedures and use common sense when making decisions.
- Do not pick-up hitch hikers.
- Keep valuables, including spare change, out of sight and lock your vehicle.
- Avoid traveling in well-marked but unofficial “trails.”
- Avoid hiking or camping in areas of major border activity. If you are visiting a national or state park, consult park staff to help plan backcountry travel in safer areas.
- Report any suspicious behavior to the U.S. Border Patrol.
Crossing The Border
Thousands of U.S citizens visit Mexico from Texas every year with the majority of travelers returning from an enjoyable experience. However, a minority of travelers do experience difficulties and serious inconveniences while traveling to Mexico. It is illegal to transport any guns or ammunition into Mexico and you can immediately get thrown in a Mexican jail for doing so. Before traveling to Mexico, ensure that you have the proper documentation and are familiar with the recommendations for foreign travel from the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs.
While many of the Mexican border towns adjacent to Texas such as Nuevo Progreso, Ciudad Acuña, Piedras Negras, and Ojinaga are safe, other Mexican border towns such as Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa, and Matamoros have been severely affected by the recent drug war violence and there have been occasions when innocents were caught in the wrong place at the wrong time when a firefight broke out, so one is advised to should exercise extreme caution when visiting the latter group of cities and heed locals advise. According to the US Department of State in recent years US citizens have been victims of “homicide, gun battles, kidnapping, carjacking, and highway robbery” in Mexico. 
Also if you are traveling further into Mexico away from the border be sure to obtain a Mexican tourism permit (forma migratoria para turista, or FMT) which is required unless you are staying within the border zone (about 15 miles in) and not staying more than 72 hours.
The crime rate in Texas is relatively low. In the larger cities, if you stay in the tourist areas you will be generally safe (talk to your hotel concierge or manager if you aren’t sure about a certain area). The rural areas have a very low crime rate. College towns and suburbs in Texas have a medium crime rate.
There are a couple of things you should be aware of that have to do with drug laws Texas. Some common painkillers in other countries or in other states are illegal narcotics in Texas like codeine. Don’t bring any with you unless you carry a copy of your prescription or you may join others who have received jail sentences. In contrast, antibiotics are freely available over the counter at pharmacies. If you receive a prescription for controlled drugs in Texas, such as some painkillers and antidepressants, be sure to keep the copy of the prescription with you when traveling out of the state.
Another trap for the unwary is that if you are suspected of being under the influence of drugs, a blood test can be taken, and if it shows evidence of substances that are illegal, then you will probably end up in jail even if the substances were ingested in the country or state that you were previously in. In addition to testing your blood, they will likely check your belongings. People have been jailed for possession for finding microscopic specks of drugs on them with highly sensitive equipment.
Law enforcement is provided statewide. All major cities and almost all towns have a police department, and all counties maintain a sheriff’s office. However in country side areas around West Texas normally do not have a police department and county sheriffs office would be spread out. Texas Rangers (DPS) are also spread out. Just as in the rest of the United States, the number “911” should be called in the event of an emergency.
Policing on the state level is generally provided by the Texas Department of Public Safety. This agency mainly enforces state traffic laws, but also provides more localized law enforcement services in areas like West Texas. The Texas DPS has an outstanding reputation in the United States for being extremely courteous and professional. Officers of this agency (called “troopers”) can be easily recognized by their characteristic tan uniform and matching cowboy hat. The Texas Rangers, despite being internationally known and storied, are unlikely to be seen by the public and are not prominent in everyday police work.
If you find yourself in an emergency situation (of any kind), dial 911 on your phone.
Drug smugglers and illegal immigrants are a problem in the southern region of the state along the Rio Grande. Use caution when picking up hitchhikers (or hitchhiking yourself) here. There are checkpoints along major highways leading east and north away from the US/Mexico border, at which the Border Patrol conducts random checks on vehicles for illegal passengers and/or drugs. Behave sensibly with them and you won’t have any problems. If you are traveling within 50 miles of the border, be sure to carry your international passport or domestic drivers license/photo ID with you since you may be asked to produce it. Cartels are also an issue so use caution in Texas cities bordering Mexico. Many cartel members are armed and will use force if they fear you might snitch on them or even see too much of the illegal activities they are doing.
Texas generally has strict enforcement and prosecution of violent crimes, and the result is a large prison population of violent offenders. Prison sentences for violent crimes can be very long and sometimes include the death penalty. Texas executes more inmates than any other American state.
Residents of Texas allowed to conceal carry firearms after a thorough out extensive background check and training. Be aware it is illegal to bring any weapons into the country of Mexico. Any attempt to bring weapon supplies into Mexico will result in being detained by authorities and brought to a Mexican Jail. You will see signs forbidding firearms in some public places, and that will likely be your closest encounter with a gun. The state has a very strong gun culture, owing to its rural character, hunting traditions, and its many US military bases. The vast majority of people who carry handguns are kind, law-abiding people who will not cause any trouble for anyone. Be aware, however, that gun politics arouses very strong emotions and opinions for many Texans, and it is best to avoid discussing the topic. Also, Texas is one of the few states (along with states in the South and Rocky_Mountains_(United_States_of_America) that allows its residents to use deadly force to defend property (even of minimal value), instead of exclusively for self-defense. In rural areas, vertical stripes of purple paint on trees or posts mean “no trespassing.”
Texas’s race relations have improved since the 1950s and 1960s, and many of it’s major cities are ethnically diverse with immigrants from all over the world residing in cities such as Houston and Dallas. Many White Texans have friends, family, and even spouses who are non-White. However that doesn’t mean racism is entirely gone and in some rural areas there have been some reports of people being refused service (or given inferior service) due to race (which is against the law in the entire U.S., but difficult to enforce). Keep watch of any form of racial discrimination especially in rural areas. It is also noted that younger Texans are going to be much more tolerant of race relations than Texan seniors. Also note that hate groups such as the KKK, and neo-Nazi and neo-Confederate organizations are still active in some part of Texas and the South so in some rural areas, stay indoors at night and if you encounter issues, call the police. They are trained to handle situations with hostile racists and will assist you.
Tolerance of the LGBT community varies in Texas. In a few districts of Austin, parts of Houston, and Dallas, as well as in certain towns such as Denton and Galveston, people tend to be more tolerant. Outside of those areas, however, Texans take a more conservative stance especially in communities in the Panhandle, East Texas, Gulf Coast and Rockwall County. There have been cases of violence that have happened to LGBT people in Texas, so it is wise to not show overt public displays of affection. A few cities have anti-discrimination laws, but most do not. Also Texas has a strictly enforced “no pro homo” law, which means that discussing gay rights or homosexuality issues around children in schools is illegal. In many rural counties, gay sex is de facto illegal and can lead to fines or a prison sentence.
The startling heat of a Texas summer is not to be underestimated. The state has experienced temperatures as high as 120ºF (49ºC), and though this extreme is rare, it is a good indicator of how hot things can get. Areas from north central Texas down to the coast also tend to experience stifling humidity during the spring and summer months, so pack accordingly with plenty of loose, light colored clothing.
Western portions of the state tends to experience higher temperatures and lower humidity. It is true that the Texas deserts are beautiful, but the heat can be dangerous without the proper precautions. Bring plenty of water and sunscreen. If you are venturing off into the desert, it might be best to do so later in the afternoon once the sun has begun to lower in the sky. Do not go alone, and always let someone else know where you will be going and when you should return. Follow desert survival guidelines.
Never leave children or pets in a parked car for any length of time! Due to high temperature for most of the year, the interior of a parked car can easily heat to lethal temperatures in a short amount of time. During the summer, the interior of a parked car can reach 130-170ºF (55-75ºC) in just 15 minutes, regardless of the color of the exterior or interior, nor whether the windows are open a small amount. You not only risk their lives, but it is illegal and the consequences could be thousands in fines and even imprisonment.
Be aware of the weather during hurricane season on the coast (June 1 to November 30, though hurricanes move slow and provide days to weeks of warning). If you planning to visit areas along the Gulf Coast during hurricane season, you might want to check out the hurricane safety page. Many hurricanes and tropical storms have been known to cause tornado’s and flooding in inland areas as well so even if you are not directly on the coast it would be advised to pay attention to weather reports if a hurricane is foretasted to pass through an area.
Snakes are common in the state of Texas and most southern states. Several venomous species also live in the state of Texas mostly rural and desert areas. If you see a snake don’t handle it or touch it unless you have prior experience of handling snakes. If your bitten by a venomous snake seek emergency care asap and call 911.
The eastern and central regions of Texas are located within the infamous “tornado alley”. Always maintain a vigilance of any severe weather threats while traveling through or to these regions of the state during the spring and summer months. Dangerous weather conditions can arise suddenly, and if a traveler is unprepared, dire consequences may be the result. Tornadoes in this region can be exceptionally large and deadly. If there is an imminent threat of such weather, do not stay outside to take pictures. Do not try to outrun a tornado in your vehicle. Seek immediate shelter!
Refer to the Tornado safety page for further information.
As a Deep South State, the people of Texas have a reputation for being devout evangelical Christians. Most people there may be puzzled by a suggestion that you are an atheist, due to the strong influence religion has in the social and cultural life. Some cities have up to 99% of the population following Christianity (or possibly Judaism or Islam in the larger cities). Many of the Christians are evangelical Protestant or Catholic; and many Muslims are Sunni or Shia. Both followers take their faith very seriously. They may pray in public and will casually ask you what you believe since they don’t see that as a private matter. They may even invite you to their church or mosque or try to convert you. Just be civil while discussing and DON’T MAKE ANY JOKES ABOUT ANY RELIGIOUS FIGURES OR THINGS OF RELIGIOUS SIGNIFICANCE. It will not be take kindly and it could cause a physical or verbal fight. Even if you know you are not with someone who seems to follow that, even those who may be of a different faith will be offended at your rudeness if you crack wise. Respectful questions about beliefs will be appreciated though and will be happily answered.
The following US states share borders with Texas:
- New Mexico – Texas’s western neighbor was a Spanish and then Mexican colony until the Mexican War of the 1840s, and retains a culture that is heavily influenced by its native and colonial past.
- Oklahoma – The state’s northern neighbor has been a state since only 1907 and retains some of the pioneer spirit from its early days as a frontier, along with a lot of Native American history and culture.
- Arkansas – Texas shares a small border to the northeast with “The Natural State”, which is home to the Ozark Mountains in the northwest while the south and east of the state has flatter land and shows more of its agricultural heritage.
- Louisiana – Home to New Orleans, this state on Texas’s eastern border offers a unique culture with Cajun and French Creole influences thanks to it’s French colonial past.
These Mexican states also share a border with Texas:
- Chihuahua – The biggest state in Mexico, Chihuahua served as the battle ground between federal and revolutionary forces led by Pancho Villa and has played a crucial role in the development of high-tech enterprises in Mexico.
- Coahuila – Mexico’s top mining state, Coahuila has also been a leader in modern policies such as offering civil unions to same-sex couples and, like Baja California, plays an important role in Mexico’s wine production.
- Nuevo León – This state shares a tiny 15km border with Texas and is home to Monterrey, Mexico’s third largest city.
Tamaulipas – Strongly focused on export-oriented manufacturers (i.e. maquiladoras), the average wage for an employee in Tamaulipas is the highest in Mexico, making Tamaulipas also a leader in education with minimal illiteracy compared to other states.
Content copyleft courtesy of the wonderful wikitravel.org.