State Parks to Visit in Texas this Summer

If you were to attempt to drive across the width of the state of Texas, it would take you approximately 14 to 16 total hours, thus allowing you many opportunities to survey one of the 88 total State Parks in the area. Luckily, Southern Living has compiled a trusted list to help parse down that directory to just nine “Best State Parks in Texas To Visit for a Lone Star Adventure,” an article by Kaitlyn Yarborough.

The state of Texas is so large that it is not only twice as large as Japan or Germany, but it’s also 10% larger than France. Because it is the second-largest state in America, averaging a length of approximately 790 miles and a width of 773 miles, there’s plenty of area for a variety of landscapes and a diversity of natural features across its total landmass. One of the most surprising facts about the state of Texas is that the Lone Star State “is so large that El Paso, Texas is closer to San Diego, California than it is to Houston, Texas. Similarly, Orange, Texas is closer to Jacksonville, Florida than it is to El Paso, Texas.” Because of this massive size, there are dozens of state parks ready to be explored throughout the state that occupies approximately 7% of the total land and water area of our country.

State Park attendance in the United States has reportedly “skyrocketed across the South in recent years,” according to Southern Living Magazine, so there’s never been quite a time like this upcoming summer season to survey what the great state of Texas has to offer, whether it be deserts found in Western Texas or the bayou-adjacent areas of Eastern Texas.

One of the featured State Parks on the list that had near-immediate name recognition among the trendy and well-traveled is Pedernales Falls State Park. As the entry notes, Texan singer-songwriter Willie Nelson once penned a ballad to the Pedernales River, a water feature to which this State Park owes its cascading waters. Located just 30 miles west of the “weird capital of the country,” Austin, this park is quite popular among visitors to the vibrant city with many of them driving over for an extended afternoon or weekend trip, and it’s for good reason!

What makes Pedernales Falls State Park is its collection of off-beat landscape features, namely its impressive system of massive cascading slabs of limestone that are leftover from prehistoric eras. What results is some of the most beautiful and unique scenery in all of the Texas Hill Country. The area is lush with several miles of trails that allow visitors many different pathways to survey the terrain and its various nooks and crannies that can be found among the boulders in the riverbeds and along the sandy shoreline of the Pedernales River.

As mentioned above, the landscape of Eastern Texas can sometimes resemble the more water-centric State Parks of Florida or Louisiana, especially when one visits a terrain that is wholly different from the other State Parks in the area. Caddo Lake State Park is just one of those parks that you have to actually visit in order to truly understand that it’s located in Texas. The collection of Texan bayous, sloughs, ponds, and bald-cypress trees that are draped with the iconically-southern Spanish moss all attribute to a bizarre experience to any visitors who have driven in from the Western perimeter of the state. Check out one of the campsites in the area to truly take in the variety of wildlife and water activities that can be experienced in one of the most unique parks in Texas.

Lastly, one stand-out among the State Parks featured on Southern Living’s list is indicative of the out-of-this-world scenery that is often attributed to the West Texas area. Located near the New Mexico border, Texas’s Monahans Sandhills State Park features acres upon acres of rolling sandhills that resemble an ocean- especially with the locals who like to surf along the top of the dunes on rentable sand discs. Similarly, the extraterrestrial-adjacent area also offers visitors an 800-acre equestrian area for some of the most desert-theme horseback riding that you can experience in the Lone Star State.

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Best Resorts in Texas

It’s true what they say: “everything’s bigger in Texas,” and according to Travel + Leisure’s list of the best resorts in the state of Texas, the state may also be known for everything being “better” in addition to “bigger.”

Travel + Leisure, or T+L, publishes a “World’s Best” awards list each year that serves as the travel and tourism industry’s standard benchmark for critically acclaimed destinations for the publication’s readership and many more. Among dozens upon dozens of other Top 10 lists, this year’s “The Top 10 Resorts in Texas” points out a gem of the nation’s second-largest state (in both landmass and population) that often goes unnoticed- the incredibly bewildering decadence of the Lone Star State’s resorts.

Featured across T+L’s annual survey, Texas offers a variety of experiences for the Travel + Leisure reader such as the mesmerizingly unforgettable history of the Alamo, world-renowned music festivals of Austin, the invitingly adventurous expanse of Big Bend National Park, and the capital city of Houston’s notable collection of contemporary art–just to name a few. Though, if you’re up for visiting Texas in opulent style and luxurious spectacle, then be sure to look no further than the full list which features Austin, Texas’s Commodore Perry Estate, which stands alone as a unique pinnacle of the Auberge Resorts Collection, among many other finds.

Horseshoe Bay Resort; Horseshoe Bay, Texas

Horseshoe Bay Resort is a premier luxury lifestyle vacation destination set on the shores of Lake LBJ and just a short drive from Austin and San Antonio. You’re sure to be inspired to partake in a period of rest and relaxation amid the beautiful landscape of Texas Hill Country, as seen from the resort’s modern rooms, suites, and villas with their views of the lake. The resort is located in close proximity to all sorts of creative local cuisine from Horseshoe Bay Report’s world-class restaurants, and you’ll somehow always be able to fit a tee time in on one of the campus’s three championship golf courses. It’s true, whether you’re partaking in an exhilarating boating excursion or indulging your inner sense of groundedness and peace with the resort’s Bayside Spa, you’re sure to find heaven on Earth at Horseshoe Bay Resort.

 JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa; San Antonio, Texas

This otherworldly decadent resort rests amid 600 acres of unforgettable oak-covered hills in San Antonio, Texas as a luxury haven set within a stunning landscape. This Marriott resort is located near the area’s most notable wineries, the Natural Bridge Caverns, Six Flags Fiesta, and Seaworld, just to name a few, but it’s the offered amenities such as the balcony-laden suites and rooms, eight spectacular eateries, and the reliably transcendent Lantana Spa and Resort Health Club that will make you never want to leave the grounds. This especially holds true if you’re a fan of aquatic attractions, as the resort offers the one-of-a-kind River Bluff Water Experience, which is an exhilarating experience you won’t want to miss.

This year’s “World’s Best Awards” survey, which was developed by the editors of Travel + Leisure in association with the M&RR research firm, was administered to the publication’s readership from January 11, 2021 to May 10, 2021. It was additionally noted by the T+L editors that the voting period was occurring amid many of the world’s destinations lifting COVID-19 restrictions to travel, accommodations, etc. This being said, the editorial staff still views their survey data as an accurate representation of its readership because the survey is known to allow readers to reflect on the past three years of travel experiences whenever responding.

 As always, any vacationing travelers should look into properly researching all local guidelines and CDC recommendations due to new local regulations, social distancing measures, and travel restrictions occurring due to COVID-19 surges. It’s always a good idea to remain proactive in order to keep those you care about as safe and responsible as possible in these unprecedented times.

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