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Soap Tree Yucca (Yucca elata) in Texas© PierdeluneSoap Tree Yucca (Yucca elata) in Texas
© Pierdelune
The thing to remember about Texas is that it's big. It's the biggest state in the lower 48. It's home to a single ranch that's bigger than the entire state of Rhode Island. Big skies, big personalities, big ideas: that's Texas.

San Antonio can trace its roots back to 1718, when Spain established a mission there that would later go down in history as the Alamo. Visitors also flock to the city's scenic River Walk, a lively strolling, shopping and dining area. For kids, there's the Six Flags Fiesta Texas theme park.

Dallas's wealth rests on oil, and residents have no shortage of places to spend those petrodollars: the city has more shopping malls per capita than any other American city. It also has a number of distinctive arts and entertainment neighbourhoods, including the Dallas Arts District. Conspiracy theorists head to the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza to learn about JFK's assassination.

In the state's biggest city, Houston, don't miss Space Center Houston at NASA's Johnson Space Center, where you can try your hand at astronaut skills in high-tech simulators. If cowboy culture is more your thing, don't miss the enormous Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in March.

The state capital of Austin is also one of the country's leading live music venues. Sixth Street is one hub where on any given night you can probably find any type of music from swing to Tejano.

Mission Concepcion - part of the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park in San Antonio, Texas© Mike NortonMission Concepcion - part of the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park in San Antonio, Texas
© Mike Norton
Texas may be home to big cities, but you can also explore countless larger-than-life natural spaces. The 3,242 square kilometres (801,163 acres) of Big Bend National Park include everything from the canyons of the Rio Grande to the hot Chihuahuan Desert and the woodsy Chisos Mountains, making it a popular destination for campers and hikers. Texas also has more than 1,000 kilometres (624 miles) of coastline. Try South Padre Island, near the Mexican border, for beachfront fun.

by Laura Byrne Paquet

Stock Photos from 123RF

Stock Photos from 123RF