Whether you are a photographer, hiker, or just looking for a quiet spot to share a picnic with the family, Texas boasts some breathtaking scenery. We explore eight of the most beautiful locations Texas has to offer.
1. Fort Worth Botanic Gardens, Fort Worth
Originally known as Rock Springs Arboretum, Fort Worth Botanic Garden lies west of downtown Fort Worth.
Established by father and son Sidney Hare and S. Herbert Hare in 1933, the 109-acre site is home to a French and Italian-inspired municipal rose garden, one of its top attractions.
Also the oldest botanical garden in Texas, Fort Worth Botanic Gardens features an authentic Japanese garden, comprising a waterfall and koi pond surrounded by Japanese maples.
2. Jacob’s Well, Wimberley
Thrill seekers flock from far and wide to take the plunge in this stunning natural swimming spot. The spring features one of the largest underwater caves in Texas, reaching depths of more than 40 meters. Though the area has earned an infamous reputation as one of the world’s most dangerous diving destinations, it remains popular with scuba divers.
In addition to the well, the area boasts some impressive scenery along the waters of Cypress Creek, with meandering trails offering prime warbler spotting. Under restoration, Monarch meadow aims to attract rare insects and butterflies and is popular with nature lovers for its indigenous flora and fauna.
3. Bayou Bend Gardens, Houston
Situated in 14 acres of carefully manicured gardens, Bayou Bend was established in 1927 by philanthropist Ima Hogg, whose former residence lies within the grounds.
Thirty years later, Hogg opened her home to the public, showcasing her collection of American decorative paintings, silver, ceramics, and furnishings.
Bayou Bend Gardens incorporates winding ravines and natural woodland, including native shrubs and trees. Hogg created formal gardens in the Country Place style, featuring topiary and classical gardens to showcase her collection of Greek mythology statues.
Bayou Bend is open all year round, with thousands visiting the house every year. The Lora Jean Kilroy Visitor and Education Center, which includes a library, gift shop, and rental spaces, was added in 2010.
4. Caddo Lake State Park, Karnack
Popular with locals and tourists alike, Caddo Lake is a Texan treasure famed for its waterways and historic cabins. Visitors can paddle along the park’s waterways, towered over by bald cypress trees laden in Spanish moss.
Other popular activities include hiking, boating, geocaching, and camping. However, alligators inhabit the area, so swimming is allowed only in designated areas. Feeding alligators is strictly forbidden, but visitors can take photographs from an adequate distance.
5. Mount Bonnell, Austin
A steep limestone staircase leads to the summit of Mount Bonnell, Austin’s highest peak. The area is popular with hikers, bikers, and picnickers—particularly at sunset— due to stunning views across the Colorado River and the city skyline.
Drawing visitors since the 1850s, Mount Bonnell is not only one of Austin’s oldest attractions, but also one of its most popular. There is ample parking, as well as several trails to suit hikers of all fitness levels.
For those who prefer solitude, reaching the summit in time for sunrise is an unforgettable experience.
6. White Rock Lake, Dallas
Established in 1911, White Rock Lake attracts more than 1 million visitors each year. Once the principal water source for downtown Dallas, the area has become a recreational magnet for residents interested in biking, hiking, and watersports.
White Rock Lake is one of Dallas’ largest parks. It is home to hundreds of varieties of indigenous plants and wildlife. Popular with botanists, ornithologists, and naturalists, there is plenty to keep the nature lover entertained. Wildlife found in the area includes coyotes, beavers, pelicans, eagles, and even parakeets.
7. Monahans Sandhills State Park, Ward and Winkler Counties
The wind-sculpted sand dunes of Monahans Sandhills State Park draw visitors of all ages to experience this unique desert landscape. The area, which features campsites and an 800-acre equestrian area, is popular with horse riders.
Visitors can stop by the Dunagan Visitors Center to view wildlife from massive windows overlooking the area. Those who want to get up close with nature can explore the dunes. Here, they can experience the myriad creatures, wildflowers, and plants that flourish in what appears to be a hopelessly inhospitable environment.
8. Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Pine Springs
This national park is home to the four highest mountain peaks in Texas, as well the world’s largest expanse of Permian fossil reef.
Established in 1972, Guadalupe Mountains National Park covers 135 square miles and forms part of the Chihuahuan Desert. The mountains are home to a range of rare and endangered species, including black bears, golden eagles, peregrine falcons, mule deer, elk, and mountain lions.
Prehistoric local paintings and fire pits, made more than 12,000 years ago, can still be found throughout the area.