Destination Spots to Visit When Driving from East to West Across Texas


Ready to hit the road and experience the best of Texas? If you want a Texas road trip where you travel across the Lone Star State, traveling from the east to the far west – we’ve got you! There can be many different ways to drive across the state, but this guide offers a scenic route with stops at some of the must-see cultural and tourist spots in Texas, from the quaint town of Jefferson to the sprawling deserts of El Paso.


Polk Street, Jefferson, Texas

Start your Texas road trip in Jefferson, a town that feels like a step back in time with its beautifully preserved architecture and oak-lined streets. It’s a perfect snapshot of Southern charm and history. While you’re here, don’t miss the chance to explore the serene waters of Big Cypress Bayou. Whether you’re up for a leisurely boat tour or a quiet afternoon fishing, the bayou offers a peaceful escape into nature.

After you’ve had your fill of Jefferson’s historical sights, make your way to Joseph’s Riverport Barbecue for some of the best-smoked meats in East Texas. Grab a plate of their famous brisket, slathered in a rich, homemade BBQ sauce, and you’ll quickly see why it’s a must-visit for anyone passing through Jefferson.

Caddo Lake State Park

Canoeing on the Caddo Lake between Cypres trees

As you continue your journey westward, make sure to stop at Caddo Lake State Park. This unique natural treasure is known for its enchanting cypress swamps draped in Spanish moss, creating a scene straight out of a fairy tale. The tranquil waters are perfect for kayaking or canoeing, offering a peaceful way to connect with nature and maybe even spot some local wildlife.

Paddle quietly, and you might catch glimpses of alligators sunning themselves or hear the distant calls of owls and other birds nestled among the trees.


Old Townhall of Nacogdoches

Drive southwest on US-59 S and go to Nacogdoches, proudly known as the oldest town in Texas. This small town is rich in history and charm, with well-preserved buildings and lush public gardens inviting a leisurely stroll. Be sure to visit the Sterne-Hoya House Museum and Library to get a taste of 19th-century life in Texas, and don’t miss the Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden, where the vibrant flowers bloom colorfully in the spring.

While you’re soaking up the history and charm of Nacogdoches, make sure to swing by Dolli’s Diner for a bite. This cozy spot is the perfect place to fuel up with a hearty American breakfast or lunch.


Drive on to Huntsville, a city with deep roots in Texas history, where you’ll find the towering Sam Houston Statue proudly overlooking I-45. Known as “The Big Sam,” this monument honors the legendary Texan who played a crucial role in the state’s history. After paying your respects to Sam Houston, head to the nearby Sam Houston National Forest for some outdoor adventures. The forest offers miles of trails for hiking and biking, beautiful campgrounds, and serene spots for fishing and picnicking, making it a perfect place to stretch your legs and breathe in the fresh pine-scented air.

When hunger strikes in Huntsville, Mr. Hamburger is the place to go. This iconic burger joint, a staple since the 1950s, dishes out some of the best burgers in Texas.

Space Center Houston

Plane at the Independence Plaza presented by Boeing in the NASA's Johnson Space Center

Head south on I-45 to Space Center Houston, where you can dive deep into the history and thrilling future of American space travel. This world-class space museum offers an unparalleled look at the achievements of NASA and its astronauts. Get hands-on with interactive exhibits, see real spacecraft, and even tour the historic Mission Control. Whether you’re a science buff or just curious about the cosmos, Space Center Houston offers an inspiring glimpse into the boundless possibilities of space exploration.

San Antonio 

The Alamo Mission in San Antonio

From the Space Center, take I-10 W to San Antonio, a city rich in history and culture. No visit to San Antonio would be complete without exploring the Alamo, the legendary site of the 1836 battle that symbolized Texan resilience and spirit. Take a moment to walk through this historic mission, learn about the heroes of Texas’ fight for independence, and honor their legacy.

Riverwalk in San Antonio city downtown skyline

Afterward, stroll along the famous River Walk, a network of pathways along the San Antonio River lined with vibrant restaurants, shops, and lush greenery. It’s a wonderful place to experience the heart of the city, enjoy a meal, or simply relax by the water.


a bridge in Austin, Texas

Continue on I-35 N and roll into Austin. Known as the “Live Music Capital of the World,” Austin’s eclectic music scene is pulsing with life at nearly every bar and restaurant downtown, especially along the famed Sixth Street. Be sure to visit Zilker Park, an urban oasis where locals picnic, jog, and paddleboard on the serene Lady Bird Lake.

Just outside the city, the rolling landscapes of the Texas Hill Country offer stunning scenic drives and abundant outdoor activities. Austin’s blend of urban culture and natural beauty always creates something new to discover.


Vereins Kirche, Fredericksburg, Texas

Take US-290 W and enjoy a scenic drive to Fredericksburg. Known for its German heritage and warm hospitality, this charming town is in the heart of Texas Hill Country. Wine enthusiasts will love exploring the area’s numerous vineyards and tasting rooms that dot the landscape—each offering a variety of fine wines that showcase the region’s unique flavors.

Don’t miss a chance to hike up to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding countryside from atop a massive pink granite dome. Whether you’re sipping local wines or exploring rustic landscapes, Fredericksburg provides a peaceful retreat into country life.

San Angelo

Continue to San Angelo, a city that captures the essence of West Texas. From Fredericksburg, take US-87 N to San Angelo and enjoy Hill Country scenery and the beginnings of West Texas landscapes. When you’re there, take a leisurely walk along the Concho River Walk, a beautifully landscaped waterfront that is perfect for an afternoon stroll or even a bike ride. Be sure to visit historic Fort Concho, one of the best-preserved frontier forts in the country, where you can step back in time and experience military life in the 1800s through well-maintained exhibits and occasional reenactments. San Angelo blends its rich history with a vibrant arts scene, making it a compelling stop on your Texas road trip.

After soaking up some local history, make your way to The Concho Pearl Icehouse for a true Texas BBQ experience. Whether you’re in the mood for smoked brisket that melts in your mouth or spicy pulled pork, the Icehouse has you covered. Pair your meal with one of their craft beers and enjoy the local music scene—it’s the perfect way to unwind and savor the flavors of West Texas.


Marker of Marfa, Texas

Continue to drive westward and prepare to be captivated by Marfa, a small town with a big reputation for art and minimalism, making it a cultural oasis in the desert. Marfa’s galleries and installations, like the famous Chinati Foundation, reflect the town’s modern artistic spirit, which contrasts sharply with its rugged surroundings. Make sure to stay until dusk to catch the mysterious Marfa Lights, an unexplained phenomenon that has puzzled residents and visitors alike for generations. Marfa is where the unexpected is the norm, making every visit a unique experience.

For a culinary twist, head to Food Shark, a renowned food truck that has become a must-visit in Marfa. Food Shark serves up Mediterranean-inspired dishes as creative as the town itself. Try their famous “Marfalafel” or a savory lamb kebab!

Big Bend National Park

A valley in Big Bend National Park

From Marfa, head south on US-67 S to Alpine, then take TX-118 S towards Big Bend. Big Bend National Park is a spectacular sight, showcasing Texas’ natural beauty, and it’s a must-see for anyone curious about the vast landscape of Texas. With its dramatic desert landscapes, diverse wildlife, and breathtaking vistas, Big Bend offers some of the most stunning hikes in the Southwest. Whether you’re trekking through the Chisos Mountains or rafting down the Rio Grande, Big Bend provides endless adventure and solitude. This majestic park is not just a stop—it’s a highlight, promising profound connections with nature and unforgettable panoramic views.

After a day of exploring Big Bend’s rugged beauty, drive to the nearby ghost town of Terlingua for a truly unique dining experience at the Starlight Theatre. This historic venue, originally an opera house in the early 1900s, now serves as a charming restaurant and live music spot where you can enjoy local Texan flavors under the stars.

El Paso

El Paso skyline

Return to Alpine and drive west on US-90 W to merge onto I-10 W towards El Paso. Your epic Texas road trip concludes here on the western edge of the state. Explore the Franklin Mountains State Park, offering hiking, biking, and rock climbing with spectacular views of the desert landscapes and city skyline. Don’t miss the historic missions of the El Paso Mission Trail, which are among the oldest in the United States. These missions tell the story of the city’s rich history and are a must-visit for anyone interested in the region’s heritage.

Cap off your journey at L & J Cafe, an iconic spot that’s been serving traditional Mexican cuisine since the 1920s. Located close to the Concordia Cemetery, this family-owned restaurant is beloved by locals for its authentic dishes like chile con carne and enchiladas Montadas, all served in a cozy, welcoming setting.


From the historic streets of Jefferson to the vibrant views of El Paso, each stop along this route offers a unique glimpse into the heart and soul of the Lone Star State. You’ve experienced the warmth of its people, tasted the richness of its cuisine, and stepped into the vastness of its landscapes. There’s a whole state waiting to be explored, and the road stretches out invitingly ahead. Safe travels, y’all!

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