Home to vast mountain ranges, broad plains, beautiful beaches and countless miles of rolling countryside and uninhabitable desert, the southern state of Texas is arguably one of the most awe-inspiring of all the fifty in the Union.
“Everything is bigger in Texas” is slogan Texan natives like to brag about, and there is ample evidence on display to support the claim. The second-largest state in the USA after Alaska, and bigger than several sizeable European countries combined (a vast space which would easily engulf Germany and the UK and then some more), in Texas you’ll find almost everything is huge: the mountains, the wide open expanses, the cities, the food portions, and yes, some of the people too.
The ‘Lone Star State’ is world renowned for its Wild West spirit and a brazen “don’t mess with Texas” attitude, but there is much more to this state than big-headed cowboys, small town girls in their Daisy Dukes line dancing, a nationalistic defiance and George ‘Dubya’ Bush.
In fact, Texas, which has at various times in its history been its own nation-state, may surprise many who visit with how cultured and advanced it is in many areas of the state. It is host to a plethora of cosmopolitan and sophisticated cities, sprinkled with creative businesses districts, smart urban types, internet millionaires and artistic communities. And Texas boasts a powerful economy to rival that of any advanced Western nation, so it is certainly no slouch or dummy.
The capital Austin is a dynamic and happening city with a lively music scene, retro vibe, boutique stores and an out of the ordinary motto - even by Southern standards - of 'Keep Austin Weird'. The state’s largest city (and fourth largest in the USA), Houston is an expansive, multi-ethnic municipality with plenty of charm, and is famously the home of NASA and the point of call for astronauts who have “a problem”.
Dallas, with its glittering high-rise skyline, elegant stores, fine restaurants and a rich cultural and sporting life, is another case to point. Many come here to see the famous Dallas Cowboys American football team play, or with the decidedly more gruesome aim of finding out exactly what happened on the Dealey Plaza that fateful day in 1963.
All that aside, if it is a more Wild West or small town America experience you are after, then Texas will more than deliver the goods there too. Visit Fort Worth, with its still retains an Old West charm and features rodeos every Saturday night and cattle drives through the city. And lest we forget San Antonio; the beautiful South-central city that is the home of a stunning Paseo del Río (River Walk) and what is undoubtedly one of the state’s most famous historical monuments: The Alamo.
Visitors to Texas are really spoilt for choice, and alternative to exploring the many cities and towns, you can saddle up at one of the working ranches, lounge on a sun-kissed and unspoilt beach along the spectacular Gulf Coast, discover one of the many astonishing National Parks (such as Big Bend or Guadalupe Mountains) or spend some quality family time at one of the many amusement parks, zoos and aquariums that are dotted around the state.
Despite their regular depiction as chest-beating, brash southerners with attitude, Texans are generally very friendly and welcoming folk (unless you are illegally crossing the border from Mexico that is). Much like William B. Travis, James Bowie, Davy Crockett and the other heroes of the Alamo, Texas as a state is filled with character and an indomitable spirit that will likely bowl you over.