Houston Press’s Big Tex Road Trip catalogs hundreds of drop-dead rad music venues, outdoor happenings, food and drink, arts, historical sites, and roadside attractions. For whatever reason – too crowded, mega-lame/sad or way overhyped – these are the spots that don’t need to be dialed into a map app.
Dealey Plaza, Dallas
The entire site of John F. Kennedy’s assassination is a sad mess, and that’s not due entirely to the events of the President’s tragic death. The Sixth Floor Museum (née Texas School Book Depository) is whatever — it’s the unauthorized tour guides and conspiracy-theory psychos, who congregate near the grassy knoll and tell you what “really” happened on November 22, 1963, that make the could-be-informative historical site a waste.
The Hill Country town, especially when you're driving by at night when all the shops are dark, is cute on the outside. Once you're inside the galleries and eateries and curios that are on the stark-white-vanilla side of bland, 20 minutes have passed and it’s all “what’s next?" Not more of Fredericksburg, that’s for certain.
Enchanted Rock, Fredericksburg
When paired with nearby central Fredericksburg, it’s a double down on downer. The oversize pink granite stone might be chill if people weren't hip to the nature site. But there’s usually a long line of cars idling outside of the ranger station in the often-oppressive heat. All to…ascend a rock?
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Barton Springs, Austin
The pay-to-get-in pool at Barton Springs is fine, but the free area, which many people opt for, is almost as gross as a flooded Houston home. For some reason, possibly to appear “cool” to their peers, people in Austin, especially those with gross overgrown chest hair, go insane over this place that’s essentially a swimming hole.
The Strand, Galveston
The Strand Historic District is a cutie, but kind of like with Fredericksburg, all the mediocre attractions are exhausted in what seems like minutes. It’s always surprising how little time it takes to look at the old buildings (which are boss), a tourist shop or two, and that’s pretty much it.
Comal River, New Braunfels
Too many drunk clowns transform the wonderful Comal River into a sump of spilled beer and quarter- and mid-life crises. For a better alternative, park pretty much anywhere up or down river in too-shallow-for-tubing spots, unfold a camping chair and relax. For a more overall enjoyable NB experience, check out the New Braunfels Farmers Market on a Saturday, the superb Landa Park or nearby Canyon Lake.
Interstate 35, Central Texas
Ugh. Driving from Austin to Dallas-Fort Worth has been the worst for, guess, how long? Not your entire life, but close. Answer: Since 2012. It gets better. The latest estimated completion date, per the Texas Department of Transportation, is 2018. At the earliest. Yay. Too bad because we actually like visiting Salado, West and Waco (seriously).