These aren’t it. Galveston
Driving time from Houston: Feels like three to 300 hours.
It’s cool to live so close to an enormous swimming pool, but when the water is a staging area for corporate oil, a kiddy pool in the backyard seems like a much better choice than burrowing your feet into Galveston Island’s grotty beaches along the Gulf of Mexico. The Strand isn’t a bad spot, but the supposed-to-be one-hour drive is always much longer because of the congestion and construction and chaos.
Driving time from Houston: It’s also about an eight-hour flight (with layover) to Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
West Texas is best Texas. But not here. Despite its remote location in the Trans-Pecos sticks, the irony-seeking playground of Marfa is basically Austin west and Brooklyn far west.
In this hipster colony, you’ll find a barista wearing a PBR mesh-back cap, visitors gawking over the clean-line architecture, and nothing to do, especially if it’s a weekday, after walking the town’s ten-minute perimeter. If you’re set on a West Texas excursion, swing through Marfa for a minute and then head 30 minutes to pretention-free Alpine. Or just save the eight-plus-hour drive and look at Marfa on Tumblr.
Driving route from Houston: Stay home in your jammies.
Here are the things to do in Dallas:
Shop (if you’re into that)
Get in the car and deal with road-raging freaks
Shop some more
More vehicular indignation
Get fed up with Dallas
For all of its curb appeal, there’s not much substance outside of the bling scene. The exact opposite is true in ugly-on-the-outside, beautiful-on-the-inside Houston.
Besides the State Fair of Texas in October, the best part about Dallas is seeing it in the rearview. So why are they building northbound bullet-train tracks to Big D?
Driving time from Houston: Take the one-hour flight.
NOLA is incredible, but it’s also pain-in-the-ass central. There’s often an obnoxious festival to fend off in both the humanity mass and the increased lodging prices. (Speaking of festivals, Jazz & Heritage Festival 2016? Red Hot Chili Peppers and Pearl Jam? That’s jazz?) Parking is awful and not always safe. And aside from the sweet drive on the Horace Wilkinson Bridge over the Mississippi River, the five- to six-hour jaunt along I-10 is mostly forgettable.
Our advice: Go to NOLA. By plane.
Driving time from Houston: Driving a little more than three hours to eat at the original Whataburger isn’t worth it.
The self-anointed Sparkling City by the Sea must refer to the reflective scraps of plastic, busted glass and other trash shards that are in the water and on the beaches and in the parks. The novelty of the Texas Riviera wears thin shortly after you cruise Ocean Drive (and avoid all the potholes on the way) because if it’s not humid and windy, it’s dry, hot and windy.