Vast fields of bluebonnets. Rolling hills as far as the eye can see. Miles of undisturbed beaches. Meandering scenic rivers. Thriving cultural landscapes. The best BBQ on the planet. When you make it to South Texas, you soon realize you’re in the heart and soul of the Lone Star State.
With so many memorable experiences, you’ll want to keep coming back to South Texas again and again. But before you go, be sure to check out our list of the most interesting and beautiful places to visit—deep in the heart of Texas!
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1. Gruene Hall – New Braunfels, TX
At the top of your South Texas list should be a visit to Texas’ oldest dance hall, Gruene Hall. Built in 1878, the iconic Gruene Hall gives you the chance to dance the night away while admiring all the country music legends who have played there.
During your visit, making time to explore the Gruene Historic District (where Gruene Hall is located) is a must. This famous neighborhood includes the beloved Gruene General Store, multiple shopping and dining options, and plenty of accommodations such as the Gruene Mansion Inn, my personal favorite.
If you’re there in the summertime, you can beat the heat by enjoying a day at Schlitterbahn, considered one of the world’s best waterparks.
2. Padre Island National Seashore
One of the best places in South Texas to experience beaches, Padre Island National Seashore protects 66 miles of coastline—and is the longest barrier island in the world.
Relaxing on this unspoilt stretch of beach allows you to enjoy the peaceful serenity of the Gulf of Mexico away from the crowds. If you have an off-road vehicle, you can even drive along 60 miles of wide open beach to truly get away from it all.
A major draw of the park is seeing a hatchling release of baby Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles, the world’s most endangered species of sea turtle. Other activities you can enjoy include birdwatching, camping, fishing, and windsurfing the Laguna Madre.
3. Congress Avenue Bridge – Austin, TX
Interestly, one of the most popular places to visit in Austin is the Congress Avenue Bridge, but for an unexpected reason—bats. Since 1980, Mexican Free-Tailed Bats flying out from under the bridge each night have drawn crowds of locals and tourists eager to see this unique South Texas sight.
From March to early Fall each year, you can experience up to 1.5 million bats ascending as a dark cloud into the sky for about 45 minutes each night as they feed on insects. As a popular activity, you’ll want to get there early for a good view!
4. The Riverwalk – San Antonio, TX
High on the list of Texas’ most-visited attractions, the Riverwalk meanders through the heart of San Antonio, alluring millions each year as a true Texas treasure. Don’t let yourself miss out on experiencing all the Riverwalk has to offer during your South Texas vacation.
Any jaunt along the Riverwalk will provide moment after moment of Instagram-worthy photo ops. Extra credit if you experience all these views while taking a river boat ride.
Full of riverside shops and restaurants, the Riverwalk provides a lively day of fun for the whole family or a wonderful spot for a romantic date night.
5. Whataburger’s Hometown – Corpus Christi, TX
The iconic Texas fast food chain Whataburger is beloved for its burgers, shakes, fries, and spicy ketchup. Whether you’re a foodie or not, during your South Texas trip, you’ll want to make a stop at Whataburger to experience it for yourself.
Perhaps the best place to taste Whataburger firsthand is its birthplace, Corpus Christi. Located near the coast, Corpus Christi provides burger fans some unique ways to indulge in this one-of-a-kind source of Texas pride.
Visitors should make a stop at Whataburger By the Bay, Whataburger’s massive two-story flagship location (including an elevator!) with a statue of the founder and nice views of the bay. Fans will also love the Staples Street Whataburger, which provides an onsite replica of the original 1950 location.
6. Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
A massive granite dome dominating the surrounding landscape, Enchanted Rock State Natural Area will leave you wondering, how did that get there?!
Drawing tons of visitors throughout the year, you’ll want to make the trip to ascend Enchanted Rock yourself to experience beautiful 360-degree views of the Hill Country. If you go in the springtime, be on the lookout for bluebonnets, the Texas state flower.
After you’ve enjoyed the numerous hiking and rock climbing options in the park, make a visit to the nearby town of Fredericksburg. With a picturesque main street and numerous wineries, Fredericksburg is a quintessential South Texas Hill Country town.
7. Austin City Limits – Austin, TX
As the live music capital of the world, Austin will give you numerous ways to experience great music during your South Texas vacation. Perhaps Austin’s best place to see live music, however, is Austin City Limits.
Austin City Limits is both a legendary concert and the longest running music series in American TV history. The biggest names in music have performed on the show since its premiere in 1976.
If you’re able to attend a taping of the show—lucky fans are drawn at random to attend for every performance, and even if you can’t attend a taping, you can still see regular shows at ACL’s music venue or go to the Austin City Limits Music Festival held annually at the famous Zilker Park.
8. The Alamo – San Antonio, TX
A visit to South Texas wouldn’t be complete without paying homage to the state’s most famous landmark, the Alamo. An iconic Texas legend, the Alamo provides hallowed ground for all Texans and Texans at heart.
The site of a famous battle in the Texas Revolution, the Alamo draws millions of visitors eager to relive the epic history that took place within and around its walls. You may hear the echoing cries of “Remember the Alamo” yourself as you explore its fascinating history firsthand.
After your visit, make time to see the nearby historic colonial missions at the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, which contains Texas’ only UNESCO World Heritage site.
9. Garner State Park
Once you experience Garner State Park during your South Texas adventure, it’s easy to see why it’s Texas’ most-visited state park year after year. Garner State Park provides some of the state’s most spectacular Hill Country scenery.
You’ll love the views you can enjoy at the park’s numerous hiking trails, as well as floating the beautiful Frio River on a tube or kayak. Even summer nights are special with the park’s jukebox dances—a tradition that’s drawn crowds since the 1940s.
During your visit, be sure to drive the famous Twisted Sisters nearby. Travelers come from all over to experience the winding, scenic 100-mile loop of Ranch Roads 335, 336, and 337.
10. Where “Everybody’s Somebody” – Luckenbach, TX
With an official population of 3 people, Luckenbach is perhaps Texas’ most well-known “small town.” A place of legendary characters, folklore, and country music history, the town embraces its motto: “Everybody’s Somebody in Luckenbach.”
The subject of a famous Waylon Jennings song, today Luckenbach is a destination for travelers eager to experience the laid-back vibe of this tiny South Texas getaway. When you go, make a visit to the “post office” and general store for your Luckenbach souvenirs and be sure to relax under the town’s oak trees with an ice cold drink from the saloon.
And stick around for what every Luckenbach visitor loves—its beloved live music performed daily.
11. Hill Country BBQ Joints
While good barbeque is found all over the United States, Texans unabashedly believe they have the best. And it’s widely considered that the greatest barbeque joints in the entire state are located in the Hill Country area of South Texas.
Here, brisket is king and the meat runs out quickly, so people will line up before dawn to taste Texas’ most famous BBQ. While there are several options you can experience, these are perhaps the most legendary (and often voted the best):
- Snow’s BBQ – Lexington, TX
- Franklin Barbecue – Austin, TX
- Louie Mueller Barbecue – Taylor, TX
- Black’s BBQ – Lockhart, TX
- Kreuz Market – Lockhart, TX
- Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que – Llano, TX
Did we miss any of your favorite places in South Texas?
Let us know in the comments if there are any more places in South Texas that you would add to our list!