You’re probably familiar with the phrase “Everything’s bigger in Texas.” While that may or may not be true, Texas makes a point to let you know exactly how big the state is as soon as your wheels roll across the state line. When you cross into Texas from Louisiana on Interstate 10, you’ll be greeted with a sign informing you it’s 23 miles to Beaumont and 857 miles to El Paso. If you had doubts about Texas indeed being big, that sign is there to squash them.
It would take about 12 hours to traverse Texas without stopping, and I don’t know any gas tanks (or electric vehicles) built for that kind of marathon driving. Whether you like to break up a long stretch of driving with an hour stop or a 2-day stop, below I’ll detail my favorite spots along Interstate 10 in Texas — an I-10-erary, if you will.
Note: Interstate 10’s path through Texas will treat travelers to hot weather most of the year. The eastern through central parts of the state tend to be humid; this switches to a dry heat once you hit Junction, where the landscape changes from Hill Country green to juniper-dotted limestone outcroppings. If you’d rather avoid the heat, spring and late fall are the optimal times for a Texas road trip.
Keep in mind that the first two cities are not only two of Texas’s largest cities, but they’re also two of the largest cities in the United States. San Antonio and Houston are major metropolitan areas with multiple freeways and heavy traffic, so unless you stick close to the interstate on your pit stop, plan to add substantial time to your layover.
Now let’s get rolling, starting with the two big cities.
Note: My trip to Beaumont was part of a hosted media visit. All opinions are my own.
1. San Antonio
Along Interstate 10, check out Friedrich Wilderness Park. Owned by the City of San Antonio, this public park offers 10 miles of birding, hiking, and walking trails of varying difficulty. The easier trails are gravel paths, and the more difficult trails are steeper with rocks to navigate. If you have mobility restrictions, even the easier trails may prove challenging.
To explore more of San Antonio, plan on an extended day trip or one (or more) overnights. San Antonio is a popular convention city popular with tourists who usually have the River Walk and the Historic Pearl on their radars.
Pro Tip: If you’re looking for a splurge, the Hotel Emma is an unforgettable experience. The industrial touches that remain from the brewery it once was, combined with cloudlike luxury bedding and turndown service that includes macarons from nearby Bakery Lorraine, is pure indulgence.
Visitors to downtown San Antonio will most certainly want to visit the Alamo, but don’t stop there: The other four missions (covered by our own Michelle Snell here) are less commercial and more photogenic. The San Antonio Missions National Historical Park is the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Texas.
The Houston Heights neighborhood is right on the interstate. If you’re looking for shops, restaurants, or just a place to grab coffee, historic 19th Street offers many choices. Local Foods serves fresh salads and sandwiches that won’t make you too full and sleepy when you start driving again. If you need to stretch your legs, Donovan Park is just around the corner.
Houston is home to many museums, such as the Houston Museum of Natural Science and Space Center Houston, both of which made TravelAwaits contributor Janie H. Pace’s list of things to do in Houston with grandkids. If you’re looking for outdoor space to get some exercise or walk your dog, here’s a citywide list of Houston parks to explore.
Columbus is about an hour’s drive west of Houston. This stop is perfect if you prefer to plan road trip stops away from big cities.
Columbus has a paved downtown area with several historic buildings. If you’re able to pop into the Colorado County Courthouse, the green stained-glass dome will make you feel like you’ve rolled into the Emerald City. The building is also beautiful to see from the outside.
Other things to do include the Santa Claus Museum and the Live Oak Art Center. If you’re a fan of quirky roadside attractions, don’t miss the third-largest Live Oak in Texas. That might sound a little cheesy, but even in third place, the 70-foot-tall tree is still impressive.
4. El Paso
El Paso is located on the westernmost tip of Texas. If you seek a quick outing to help you stretch your legs, El Paso has several free museums that keep you out of the Texas summer heat: the El Paso Museum of History, the El Paso Museum of Archeology, and the El Paso Museum of Art.
Outdoor enthusiasts will find a network of easy- to moderate-difficulty trails at Franklin Mountains State Park. El Paso Parks and Recreation also has several free parks with paved paths that might be better suited to visitors with mobility restrictions.
El Paso has a great zoo focused on education and conservation. Fun fact: This is the zoo that established “name a cockroach after your ex for Valentine’s Day.” The concept has caught on and many zoos nationwide have followed suit, but it all started here.
Pro Tip: Most of Texas is on central time, but El Paso is on mountain time, so if you plan to stop here, don’t let the time difference throw you off.
Beaumont is a small east Texas town established during the oil boom. Beaumont has a variety of free activities near the highway.
Stop for a couple of hours and visit the free museums in downtown Beaumont: the Fire Museum of Texas and the Art Museum of Southeast Texas. Texas Energy Museum and Beaumont Children’s Museum are nearby but aren’t free.
If you stay overnight in Beaumont, there are plenty of hotel choices dotted along I-10. Hungry travelers will find no shortage of local eateries, familiar franchises, and fast food. Tia Juanita’s Fish Camp, a delightful blend of Mexican and Cajun flavors, is a don’t-miss.
Editor’s note: If you want to make it a weekend in Beaumont, Kim Croisant has you covered.
It would be easy to fill a weekend or more with activities here, but there’s also a solid selection of things to do in Boerne to fill a couple of hours. Boerne’s Miracle Mile, the shopping and entertainment district, is an excellent place to get your legs moving after a long car ride, although the temptation to stop in the stores will be strong. The Miracle Mile also has plenty of places to stop for a meal or coffee.
Boerne’s visitor’s center offers a self-guided art walk and a historic walking tour. Boerne City Lake Park and the Cibolo Center for Conservation are both fun outdoor spaces to play in. Some of the activities at Cibolo Center for Conservation are fully accessible, and while the nature trails are not difficult, mild slopes and uneven terrain may prove difficult for those with mobility restrictions.
Pro Tip: Check Visit Boerne’s events calendar in advance of your visit. There’s always something cool going on that will make you wish you’d planned a longer stay.
Kerrville is a great place to enjoy being outdoors. The Kerrville River Trail, a bike and pedestrian trail, is a great way to explore the Guadalupe River on foot, or on two wheels if you’ve brought your bicycle. Kerrville also has a nice selection of city parks. If you’re a fan of quirky roadside attractions, check out the Empty Cross or Stonehenge II in nearby Ingram.
If you are staying overnight on a summer weekend, check out Crider’s Dance Hall in nearby Hunt. They do a fish fry on Fridays followed by a Saturday night rodeo and dance.
8. Fort Stockton
My kids and I discovered Fort Stockton when we planned it as an overnight spot on a westbound road trip in 2018. We’d picked this West Texas city because of the robust selection of chain hotels and gas stations right off the highway.
We were pleasantly surprised to find a good selection of things to do in Fort Stockton. We wished we’d had more time, so we went back a couple of years later and dedicated a day to exploring the town. Museums include the Annie Riggs Memorial Museum, Old Pecos Jail Museum, and historic Fort Stockton. If you stay overnight, I recommend stopping at the Gray Mule Saloon, which is a historic building turned wine bar.
If you’re just doing a quick gas and go, don’t miss Paisano Pete, the 11-foot roadrunner in downtown Fort Stockton.
Editor’s note: Here’s more on all the lovely things to do in Fort Stockton.
Welcome Surprise On I-10
Whether you’re looking to experience Texas culture or just trying to get through the state, these stops along Interstate 10 just might add some extra spice to your trip — and leave you saying, “I sure didn’t know that was in Texas.”