Texas Vacations, From Beaches to Golf to Museums
Port Aransas, TX
Boats dock in a marina in Port Aransas, Texas. Boating is a popular past time in the region.
From the sweeping sunsets of the Panhandle Plains to the gorgeous beaches of the Gulf Coast, Texas offers unbelievable diversity. But beyond impressive scenery, it’s the wide range of culture and activities that makes Texas such a unique experience for visitors.
“Whether you’re interested in exploring the great outdoors or sampling the state’s rich cultural influences, there’s really something for everyone,” says Brad Smyth, deputy director of tourism with the state’s Office of the Governor, Economic Development and Tourism. “There are wide open spaces and Western heritage, exciting cities with world-class museums, shopping and dining, family attractions, golf, birding, culinary experiences. It’s a big list, and it just continues to grow.”
Of course, tourism is big business in the Lone Star State, with total direct travel spending for 2008 reaching $60.6 billion. In fact, 194 million domestic visitors traveled to and within Texas in 2008, and travel spending directly supported 544,400 jobs with earnings of $16.8 billion for that year. Smyth says that major cities such as Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio are extremely popular destinations – not only for personal travel, but also for business meetings and conventions. “Live music, museums, professional sports, history – each city has its own charm and its own story to tell,” he says. “And Texas also offers some great options when it comes to meetings and conventions, including world-class convention facilities and plenty of entertainment options.”
San Antonio offers a prime example. Home to the storied Alamo and the newly renovated River Walk, this bustling city is widely known for its colorful culture and history. Tourism is a mainstay of the San Antonio economy, contributing $11 billion annually and employing one out of every eight workers in the metropolitan area, says Ronnie Price, assistant executive director of the San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The city’s future promises even more with the recent extension of the River Walk," he says.
One of the top attractions in Texas, the River Walk has doubled in size to more than four miles connecting the original stretch of cafes, shops and hotels to the San Antonio Museum of Art and the Pearl Brewery. By 2014, the River Walk will extend to a stunning 15 miles reaching four of the city’s Spanish colonial missions.
The JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa is a new addition to the region's attractions. Set in the Cibolo Canyons countryside, the resort offers two TPC golf courses and a lavish spa.
For those who like the outdoors, the state is chock full of winding roads and wide open spaces. And with adventure waiting in every corner, Texas attracts plenty of visitors looking to take a walk on the wild side.
Scenic preserves such as Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Big Bend National Park and Sabine National Forest offer everything from hiking and mountain biking to camping, boating and fishing. And city slickers can “cowboy up” at one of more than 70 guest and working ranches around the state.
“Many people do not associate beach vacations with Texas, but we have approximately 600 miles of coastline along the Gulf of Mexico,” Smyth says, citing destinations such as Galveston, Corpus Christi, Port Aransas and South Padre Island. “We have more than 800 golf courses, set among rolling hills, pine trees and prairies, as well as four PGA tournaments. And because of our moderate climate, visitors can enjoy year-round adventures and plenty of surprises along the way.” For more on travel and tourism in Texas, go to www.traveltex.com.