Texas embraces a certain boastful swagger. We fly our state flag proudly, have unwavering opinions about chili and Tex-Mex cuisine, and enjoy spinning a good yarn or two about our greatness.
Sure, not everything might be bigger or better here, but it’s not like we’re all hat and no cattle—we’ve got the goods to back up our braggadocio, sometimes even in the form of a Guinness World Record. Here are some places you can enjoy a heapin’ helping of that Texas greatness for yourself.
The Texas State Fair is a chart-topper in itself. The Lone Star State holds the record for both the largest and the longest running state fair, with more than 2.2 million visitors since 1886 in its Dallas Fair Park location. Speaking of big, you’ll be greeted at the fair by Big Tex, a giant cowboy who wears real size 96 boots from Texas bootmaker Lucchese and Dickies-designed Western shirt and jeans. While there, sample a beloved Tex-Mex staple: Frito pie. In 2012, the Guinness World Record went to a 1,325-lb. Frito pie produced during the Texas State Fair.
A Texas road trip isn’t complete without a peek at some gigantic, photo-worthy stops of Guinness World Record-holding sculptures. Add the World’s largest cowboy boots to your list when you're visiting San Antonio. On the way to Austin from San Antonio, stop by Seguin for a photo of the World’s largest pecan. Other small town photo-worthy stops include the World’s largest killer bee in Hidalgo and the World’s largest Armadillo in Granbury.
Big Views and Island Living
Sun rays sparkle on the water and toes squish in the sand on Padre Island National Seashore, which boasts 70 miles of coastline overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world. This quiet nature preserve is where more than 380 bird species call home, and if you time your visit right, you can even watch a sea turtle hatchling release. Padre Island is a restful getaway for beach campers, hikers, and people who just want to get away from it all.
“Big” is right there in the name: Big Bend National Park offers a treasure of more than 800,000 acres of protected Chihuahuan Desert. It’s not the biggest national park, but with awe-inspiring river, mountain, and desert terrain, this one belongs on your must-visit list.
And sure, we can’t claim the largest canyon in the U.S. (that honor goes to the Grand Canyon, of course). But the second largest suits us just fine—and the views can’t get any better than Palo Duro Canyon State Park, which sits pretty grand at 120 miles long just outside of Amarillo.
Biggest Surprises in Texas
People who aren’t familiar with Texas’ diverse terrain often have misconceptions that Texas is mainly flat and desert-like. Sure, we have some areas like that, but we also have some incredibly lush, green regions, such as Piney Woods in East Texas and the Hill Country region of Central Texas.
In the Piney Woods region, thousands of acres of hardy coniferous trees grow in thick forests, snaked through with rivers. You can find the state’s largest freshwater lake nearby at Caddo Lake State Park, offering excellent boating and recreational opportunities.
Meanwhile, natural spring-fed swimming holes throughout Central Texas, including Barton Springs in Austin, Blue Hole in Wimberley and Hamilton Pool in Dripping Springs offer fresh, cool dips as a counterpoint to a hot Texas summer day.