Texas, also called The Lone Star State, is the second-largest state in America in regards to size and population. Over the years, it has sparked a lot of tourism from local and foreign tourists alike.
Due to its complicated history as a former province of Mexico, Texas has become a cultural melting pot with a lot of unique flavors that can cater to a wide range of tourists. From its famous barbeque to the rodeos and country music, Texas has a lot to offer and isn’t a state you can attempt to cover on one trip.
Whether you’re thinking of taking buses from Houston to Dallas, or flying at low altitudes and visiting small towns aboard a Cessna 172, this article will take you through a few ways to explore Texas without you resorting to using a car.
For the tourist not willing to plan a trip on their own, guided tours are the way to go. Due to Texas having a strong ‘car culture,’ finding your way around on your own or with your family without a car could be an exhausting task. A guided tour will provide you with a schedule that encompasses your travel and accommodation.
There is the added benefit of security and comfort in numbers when traveling in a new place, sharing the experience with fellow travelers is a good way to get used to the environment. There are situations where the insider knowledge a tour guide has will help you discover hidden gems in the area.
Popular guided tours in Texas include:
- The San Antonio River Walk Cruise
- Tower of the Americas Tour
- Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
- JFK Assassination and Museum Tour with Lee Harvey Oswald Rooming House
- A Haunted Austin Walking History Tour
A couple of online searches can give you a more extensive list of the popular guided tours offered by different tourist companies.
Traveling by bus is arguably the cheapest mode of transport on this list. Whilst it cuts into your travel time. Traveling by bus allows you to take the ‘scenic route.’ This can give you a deeper appreciation of the Texan countryside. Bus lines connect the smaller cities and the major ones. As such, there are a lot of options for bus travel.
Most bus companies offer onboard restrooms, Wi-Fi, reclining seats, and overhead storage. These features can make traveling around Texas a lot easier, especially if you’re traveling as a group. All you need to do before your trip is book tickets in advance for a smoother process.
A significant number of cities and towns in the state are linked by rail. The train service has similar rates to the bus services and offers a smoother ride, making it a desirable option for tourists. If you want to see the beauty of the country without worrying about directions or the road, this is a good option.
There are about 19 Amtrak stations in Texas using three routes:
- The Heartland Flyer which connects Fort Worth and Gainesville
- Sunset Limited which connects El Paso and Houston
- The Texas Eagle which connects El Paso to Dallas
The train ride, though slower than driving won’t dramatically slow you down, you might just have to add about an hour to your travel time. The major setback you might bump into here is the number of trains that run per week might be low. Also, some routes might only have a single train running a day! Bummer if you needed to travel in your own time.
If you want to get around Texas much more flexibly but you don’t have a car, then carpooling could be your next best option.
There are ride-sharing services that link people through an app to other people going to the same destination as them. If you’re a newcomer to the Texan streets, then this will come with the added bonus of having people who already know where it is you want to go.
Many people may opt for this route because it allows them to visit some relatively remote parts of Texas such as the Big National Park. If you choose to carpool and depending on who you share a ride with, it might allow you to stop on the roadside to take in different sceneries, which is really cool!
Come prepared for the roughly four- to five-hour drive between big cities such as Austin, Dallas, as well as Houston. If you plan to go as far as El Paso, for instance, or even South Padre Park, then prepare for an even much longer drive.
Otherwise, carpooling has the potential to add a bit more fun to your trip if you aren’t too particular about meeting and traveling with new people.
Traveling by plane is for those who want to maximize their time and get to their destinations more quickly. It may cost a bit more than by traveling by bus or train but it has the added benefit of giving you more time to explore the cities on your itinerary. With less time spent on travel, you can give more time to do actual tourist activities.
There are also tour packages in major cities that allow you to explore Texas by air. On a small two-seater plane, you can see the rolling hills or urban landscape from a bird’s eye view. This way, you can have a greater appreciation for the immense size of the state.
Tourists traveling to Texas from outside the country can take advantage of APEX (Advance Purchase Excursion). This is a service that offers pretty good discounts to travelers.
Whether by bus, train, or air, a trip to Texas is something you will always remember and treasure. As mentioned above, due to its large size, Texas isn’t a state that can be explored as a whole in just a few days. Tourists should do their research beforehand, locate the areas they are most interested in visiting, and plan a route based on that information. This way, you can take in The Lone Star State in bite-sized pieces.