These 13 lesser-known places to visit in Texas may be your best vacation yet!
Lesser-known places in Texas sometimes make the best vacations. You stumble upon something unexpected and deem it a “hidden gem” and one of the most interesting places to visit.
Visiting hidden gems in Texas may be the best alternative to your travels any time of year. With the rising cost of gasoline and airfare, most travelers stick closer to home when vacationing – so I’ve heard millions of times.
So, your bucket list may have dived this year, but don’t worry, Texas Travel Talk has you covered. You’re going to want to check out small towns first. A town with less than 8,000 people can be the perfect place to relax and unwind. That’s what I think, anyway. I do love small towns. But that’s not to say larger populated towns don’t have lesser-known places to find. I’m sure they do, and when I head to Dallas later this month, I’ll be on the lookout for some!
Lesser-Known Places To Visit In Texas
Texas is the second-largest state in the United States, next to Alaska, so there is a lot of ground to cover. A road trip with hidden gems in it is what we are talking about today. The list below might not be new to you, but there are places you may not have considered visiting.
So, instead of flying off to the Bahamas or anywhere International, consider one of these hidden places to stay in Texas.
1. Texas Historical Sites Are Hidden Gems In Texas
Whether you’re a history lover or not, the historic district in small towns is sometimes overlooked when vacationing, but it can be a fun history lesson for the whole family. My son will often tell me that he is learning the very same thing in the school that we are visiting. That right there gives me the chills and reassures me I’ve taken him to a great place.
There are over 35 historical sites in Texas. Below are a few places that I have visited. But to get the full list, visit Explore State Historical Sites In Texas.
Texas Historical Sites to Visit:
- Barrington Plantation (we went here when visiting Brenham)
- Washington-on-the-Brazos (same as above)
- Sabine Pass Battleground – Port Arthur
- Varner-Hogg Plantation – Brazosport
2. Jacob’s Well Natural Area
Did you know this natural beauty exists in the small town of Wimberley in the Texas Hill Country? Jacob’s Well is one of Hill Country’s hidden gems. If you’re new to the area, I’m sure Fredericksburg comes to mind first. It did for me, too – until I started researching the area for wineries. I realize that Wimberley is just as quaint as any other small town in the Hill Country. And I can’t wait to go there. Yes, I said it. I have not been…yet! And now, there’s this place to swim.
3. San Saba County (Central Texas)
This area has four parks with distinct characteristics that make San Saba in Central Texas a great place to discover a beautiful hidden gem. San Saba is one of those quaint towns off the beaten path at the top of the Hill Country. One day, I am going to get down and over that way. It’s one cool, lesser-known place to vacation in Texas. Here are a few places you might want to visit when in the area of San Saba.
• Mill P0nd Park
You’ll find a wonderful playground, swimming pool, nice walking trails, beautiful waterfalls, and pretty scenery.
• Colorado Bend State Park
It is a beautiful state park that offers 6 miles of Colorado River frontage for tubing, fishing, kayaking, swimming, birdwatching, and guided tours of Gorman Falls. One of the best state parks in Texas is Colorado Bend State Park, located in West Texas. Another place that I didn’t know was so wonderful. You do need to make a reservation to enter. I did not and was disappointed when I arrived. I finally went back months later and did get in, but sadly, I didn’t have much time to see it all.
• Risien Park
Located on Hwy 190, east of San Saba, this park shares the beauty of the San Saba River and is full of shady pecan trees. There are picnic tables, playgrounds, pavilions, volleyball courts, and a rock amphitheater.
• San Saba River Nature Park
The new 40-acre park includes a large pecan orchard with centuries-old trees along Mill Creek and the San Saba River. Amenities include hiking and bike trails around the park, fishing areas, wildlife viewing sites, restrooms, and more.
Pro Tip: San Saba has several unique holiday events if you’re out that way!
4. Caverns Of Sonora
When I was researching caves to visit in Texas, I happened upon the Caverns of Sonora. I had not heard of this one, and maybe you haven’t, either. It’s located south of San Angelo between Big Bend National Park and San Antonio. It’s definitely on my bucket list to visit.
5. Enchanted Rock
The Texas Hill Country does have something to boast about. While you’re there visiting wineries, why not climb a rock, too!! You don’t have to do rock climbing to enjoy Enchanted Rock. Yes, it’s a popular spot, but have you considered visiting to see the view and maybe climb that rock? Nature lovers will enjoy this area.
6. Hill Country Wineries
Speaking of wineries in wine country. You don’t have to travel to Napa for a great winery or wine. The Hill Country has over 100 wineries offering wine tastings and tours. There are a few new wineries in this area as well, and every year, new wineries pop up.
7. Port Isabel
We all love South Padre Island but consider going a little further down to Port Isabel, which is less crowded and lesser known. You’ll still get the same Gulf Coast and beautiful views, and you may deem this area your favorite. The Port Isabel Lighthouse is a popular attraction that is worth a visit.
8. Texas State Parks
Most hidden gems are right in our state parks …and the Lone Star State has plenty. Have you taken up the hobby of geocaching? I’ve done this fun activity near my home and in several state parks. I have to say that state parks are better because the geocaches are usually there (they haven’t been taken).
A few state parks are lesser-known places than others, such as Hueco Tanks State Park and Boca Chica State Park. I believe there are 86 state parks in Texas. Big Bend National Park and Maples State Park are great parks to visit, yet they are still hidden gems that no one visits. Probably for me, both are so far away. Nab a Texas State Park Pass for $75, and visit as many as possible in one year. That’s how you save money and get your money’s worth from buying the pass.
9. Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve
This nature wonder surrounded by Limestone rocks exists in the Hill Country, but you may not have known about it if you weren’t looking for natural wonders. Hamilton Pool is a natural pool with a beautiful waterfall. The Gateway to the Hill Country, Dripping Springs, houses the Hamilton Pool Preserve. Yes, it’s a known place if you are from that area. It’s open, but you can no longer swim there. Reservations are a must, especially on a weekend, as it does sell out.
10. Historic Dance Halls
Gruene isn’t the only small town with a historic dance hall. Dripping Springs has one, too. In fact, at least 12 dance halls in the Hill Country are still operating – most historical ones.
Texas Hill Country Hidden Gems
11. A Dripping Springs In Dripping Springs
When I visited Dripping Springs early this year, I was taken to a place across the street from the DS Visitor’s Bureau and next to a bed and breakfast inn. We went down a short trail, and there were the dripping springs that the town of Dripping Springs is known for. It’s on private property. But I was told if you want to see it, you can go to the bureau and inquire about it.
12. Krause Springs
Krause Springs is a well-known camping & swimming site located in Spicewood, Texas, 30 miles west of Austin. The 115-acre property is listed on the National Registry of Historical Sites and has been privately owned by the Krause Family for over 50 years. It has 32 springs on the property, yet it’s still lesser known than some other places in the hill country to camp and swim.
13. Hill Country Herb Garden
Formerly known as Fredericksburg Herb Farm, the Hill Country Herb Garden is a restaurant and spa and offers cottages for rent. There’s a lot of competition in the hill country area regarding where to stay. To me, it’s one of the unique places that offer wellness and healthy foods. I do love healthy meals and a good massage!
There you have it – 13 lesser-known places to visit in Texas.
If you’re reading this in the wintertime, you may like to read 15 Winter Trip Ideas In Texas.