If you are considering a trip to Texas, then you are in the right place! Texas is filled with diverse terrain, world-class museums, amazing food, and loads of southern hospitality. When you combine all of the great attractions with the sheer size of the state, it is easy to become overwhelmed when planning a trip to Texas.
That’s where I come in. I was born and raised in Texas and still call it home today. During my years of living in Texas, I have traveled all around the state and am excited to provide you with some valuable knowledge as you plan your trip to the Lone Star State.
Let’s dive into my list of things to know before visiting Texas.
1. Texas Is Huge
The old saying, “Everything is bigger in Texas” is true, especially when you are talking about the size of the state. If you place Texas over Europe on a map, you can easily see that the state of Texas could fit several European countries inside of its borders.
The sheer size of the state makes me advise many people to not try and tackle everything during one visit. Instead, I advise choosing a region or area of the state to focus on. For example, you can explore the Texas Hill Country on one trip and then far West Texas on a different trip. This will save you valuable vacation time and resources!
2. You Need A Car
When you combine the size of Texas with the fact that public transportation (even in the big cities) is severely limited, you realize that you definitely need a car when visiting the Lone Star State. While many cities in the world are easily walkable or have an established public transportation system, that is not true for Texas. Even our larger, more developed cities like Houston, Dallas, and Austin are spread out enough that you still need a car to get the full experience of the city.
3. Barbecue Is King
Texans are full of pride for so many things and one of those is our barbecue. It’s important to know that when we say barbecue in Texas, we are referring to one thing, Texas beef! While many states pride themselves on using pork in their barbecue recipes, here in Texas we use beef, and more specifically, brisket. The meat is slow-smoked, seasoned with a delicious rub, and falls apart in your mouth.
Now, don’t get me wrong, you can still get pulled pork and sausage, but for real Texas barbecue, go for the brisket. Trust me! You will find barbecue joints across the state serving up delicious smoked brisket and you can order it two different ways: sliced or chopped.
4. Don’t Turn Up Your Nose At Gas Station Food
I know, the thought of gas station food seems a little off-putting. Most people think of fried burritos sitting under a heat lamp for hours or hot dogs rolling on a warmer for days when you mention gas station food. Well, in Texas, we give gas station food a whole new meaning.
A shining example of this is Buc-ee’s, the grandfather of gas stations. Buc-ee’s is a road trip essential when traveling in Texas as they always have super clean bathrooms and a plethora of food and drink choices. Honestly, Buc-ee’s is truly a Texas institution. Inside you will find an entire section dedicated to delicious Texas specialty food like kolaches, barbecue, and freshly made fudge.
5. Texas Has A Diverse Landscape
People often think that Texas is only cowboys and wide open plains. While you will find plenty of that in the Lone Star State, Texas has so much more to offer. Texas boasts a wildly diverse terrain ranging from desert landscapes to miles of coastal shoreline. You can view the rust-colored plateaus in Palo Duro Canyon, or spend a weekend surrounded by Texas bluebonnets. Boasting fabulous small towns, and incredible big cities, everyone is sure to find a place they can feel right at home when they visit Texas.
6. Southern Hospitality Is Our Specialty
Texans are huge on being friendly and providing some good old southern hospitality. To some, it can be odd for strangers to wave at you while driving down the road, or for someone to say “hello” as you pass on the sidewalk, but to Texans, it’s just another day.
The majority of Texans want to be friendly and neighborly. We love making people feel welcome and at home. With this in mind, be ready for compliments as well. Texans will compliment you on your outfit, your hair, your car, or really, anything that they like. It’s truly just a way of life here.
7. Tex-Mex And Mexican Food Are Very Different
While visiting Texas, you have to try some Tex-Mex. Just don’t make the mistake of thinking that Tex-Mex is just like Mexican food. It isn’t!
Tex-Mex is a blend of Mexican, Tejano, and American food styles that melds into a delicious and unique blend of its own. Tex-Mex originated when Texans began making their favorite Mexican dishes at home using ingredients that were readily available to them such as beef, flour, and cheese. This popular style of cooking took off and restaurants around the state began serving up Tex-Mex food as well.
During your visit, be sure and try some delicious Tex-Mex dishes. Popular choices include queso, beef fajitas, refried beans, and cheese enchiladas. Just keep in mind, like most things in Texas, the portions are usually huge, so you might want to share!
8. We Don’t All Dress Like Cowboys And Ride Horses
If all you know about Texas is what you have seen on television, you are probably under the impression that all Texans dress like cowboys and ride horses. I am here to tell you that nothing could be farther from the truth!
The majority of Texans have never ridden a horse, nor do they own a pair of cowboy boots. If you are looking for this, then head to places devoted to cowboy culture like the Fort Worth Stockyards, or the “Cowboy Capital of Texas,” Bandera, Texas. What you will see in the cities of Texas are people who dress like people in other cities around the world and utilize cars as their preferred mode of transportation.
9. We Love Our Sayings And Slang
One thing is for sure in Texas (and most of the southern United States), we love our sayings and expressions. Honestly, I never really thought anything about using these sayings until I traveled more extensively. I quickly realized that not everyone used terms like “y’all” or knew what I meant when I said, “bless your heart.”
Here are a few of the popular sayings that you might be exposed to during your visit to Texas:
- “Madder than a wet hen.”
- “This ain’t my first rodeo.”
- “That dog won’t hunt.”
- “Like lipstick on a pig.”
Don’t worry though, you can usually gather the meaning of the sayings when they are used in the context of a conversation.
10. Whataburger Is The Best Hamburger
Now, I know that this is a controversial statement to many, but it isn’t for people who were born and raised in Texas. Any true Texan will tell you that Whataburger is the best hamburger, hands down. Don’t even think about having a debate between Whataburger and In-N-Out Burger, you might get ejected from the state.
The first Whataburger restaurant was opened in 1950 in Corpus Christi, Texas, and has been a Texas institution ever since. Today, the fast food burger chain has 716 stores in the state serving up made-to-order Texas-sized hamburgers and cheeseburgers. The best part is, you have over 36,000 ways that you can customize your Whataburger to make it the burger of your dreams.
11. Texans Are Proud People
Everything that you have heard about Texas pride is true. Texans are incredibly proud people. When you consider the fact that Texas was once a nation, it all seems to make a little more sense. Texans (even though none were alive during that time) still take great pride in the fact that Texas was a republic for over 100 years. Most Texans truly mean it when they say, “Remember the Alamo.” This saying demonstrates the love for our great state and the willingness to protect it.
12. Texas Heat Is No Joke
When I tell people that it is hot in Texas in the summer, I wonder if they fully understand the extent of the heat here. Texas temperatures hover at or over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in most of the state during July and August. When you combine the high temperatures with the humidity, you have the makings for a hot visit!
Be sure and protect yourself from the heat. It is very important to stay hydrated and wear sun protection when outdoors. The best advice is to plan your itinerary where you can be indoors during the heat of the day if you are visiting during the summer months (May-September).
Well, there you have it, my list of things you should know before you visit Texas. As I said above, I love Texas and am proud to call it home. Be sure you take all of this into consideration when planning your Texas adventure.
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