Summer means that it’s time to hit the road and explore the country. We here at Instamotor are big advocates of getting out and seeing the world from behind the windshield of your favorite new-to-you vehicle, and this week we’re focusing on the great state of Texas. With more than 675,000 miles of road in the state there are plenty of weird, wild, and wonderful things to see and explore, all without leaving the state. Check out our list of 10 things to do in the great state of Texas. Feel free to weigh in with your own favorite places to road trip in your state in the comments section below.
Just outside of Amarillo, Texas, located in the panhandle, you may stumble across a field of American cars buried in the ground. This giant art installation was created by a group of artists, known as Ant Farm, from San Francisco, CA. In 1974, in cooperation with Texas billionaire Stanley Marsh III, they drove 10 Cadillacs into the ground nose first as homage to the evolution of the tail fin. In the years since, the cars have been vandalized, spray-painted, and stripped of many of their iconic parts. You can visit the Cadillac Ranch and add to the cars’ patina if you are so inclined.
The largest plot of protected Chihuahuan Desert in the U.S. is located in the southwest corner of Texas. Its 801,000 acres are home to mountains, canyons, and desert spotted with lost mines and beautiful vistas. With more than 10,000 years of human history passing through the park there is plenty to see and do.
If you’re into strange and out-of-this world sites, Marfa, Texas, is the place to stop. It’s a tiny town between Big Bend and the Davis Mountains, and on clear nights strange lights appear in the sky. They’ve been recorded since at least 1883 and are visible when facing southwest toward the Chinati Mountains. They’re seen on only a dozen or so nights per year. The Native Americans used to think that they were fallen stars. Scientists and the military alike have tried to explain the lights (everything from light refraction from nearby Route 67 to piezoelectric charges caused by the rocks in the Texas desert) and many like to attribute them to aliens or ghosts wandering the desert. Whatever the cause, it’s worth checking out.
It’s the second largest canyon in the U.S., and just like the Grand Canyon, it has steep mesa walls and dramatic vistas. The canyon is roughly 70 miles long and an average of 6 miles wide. Palo Duro has had human inhabitants for more than 10,000 years, and the most famous place in the park is Lighthouse Rock, a red rock pillar that shoots up into the sky. It can be reached by a 3-mile trail—but long stretches of it are dry and hot with little shade. If you go, be sure to take plenty of water.
If you’re looking for the Old West,, look no further than Fort Worth. There, twice a day, cattle are driven down Exchange Avenue to the Stockyards. Every Friday and Saturday night there’s the Stockyard Championship Rodeo as well. While you’re in town, check out Sundance Square, named after the Sundance Kid who spent some time in Fort Worth in the early 1900s. There’s also the National Cowgirl Museum & Hall-of-Fame, where you can see Annie Oakley’s gun and wedding ring.
Mason County is the only place in Texas that you can hunt for natural topaz. The stones can range from clear to bright blue and are usually found in riverbeds. Mason is the only place in Texas that the stone occurs naturally. Rock hunters are welcome from February through September, and you can stay at a ranch that allows topaz hunting—or you can just visit on your way through.
The capital of Texas is known for keeping things weird—and they do it just right. There’s the Cathedral of Junk and some of the best thrift store shopping around. You can catch some of the world’s best musical acts on their way through town and pick up some seriously delicious breakfast tacos. And while you’re at it get in on a game of chicken-poo bingo. Seriously, it’s a blast.
There’s an aquarium, the retired aircraft carrier and museum called The Lexington, the Museum of Science, and some of the best beach areas that the Gulf Coast has to offer. Head out to South Padre Island for a real treat.
In 1963, from the sixth floor of the Dallas County Administration building (formerly the Texas School Book Depository), Lee Harvey Oswald shot JFK. The space is now home to a museum that examines the life and death of John F. Kennedy, and is open to the public. Check out historic photographs, artifacts, and displays that take a deeper look at what happened on that day in November. While you’re in Dallas you can also visit the Dallas World Aquarium complete with exotic animals and fish.
San Antonio is perhaps best known for the Alamo (which, if you go, is far smaller than you might expect it to be), but it has a fantastic path that runs right along the River. The River Walk runs past restaurants, fantastic shopping, and fascinating museums. Spend the day taking in the sun and the culture, and make sure you stop at the Aztec Theatre—it’s an old-school and lavish motion picture palace built in 1926, and the second most popular tourist attraction in Texas.
See something we missed? Let us know in the comments and check back at Instamotor for all your used car needs.
Digital media content producer/consultant & former CNN senior producer, now running CN'TRL : Cars, Tech, Real Estate & Luxury.