There’s a food truck festival going on around South Congress in Austin. Trucks fill the surface parking lot as young men with thick beards that match their black-frame glasses shuffle over to the taco stand. A young woman passes by with her dog, calling out in sweet Spanish, “Venga!” to her four-legged friend. You see the reason why Texan outsiders call Austin “The People’s Republic of Austin.” It feels oddly detached from the rest of the state.
Point is, Texas is a big-honkin’ state — larger than most countries of the world. You’ve already heard about the cities from Houston and Austin to San Antonio and Dallas/Fort Worth. But those of us with a cowboy and cowgirl heart already know that there’s a ton more to discover in between the cities and beyond.
To make weekend plans easier, we’ve mapped out some Texas Road Trips along the Triangle that will help you see a bit more of this piece of undiscovered America.[caption id="attachment_41944" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Photo from Unsplash[/caption]
While Texans are proud of their ‘The Bigger, The Better’ motto, we’ve decided to go the other way and show you the true-to-self corners of the Lone Star State. From its fields of bluebonnets to its local kolache joints, these are the spots around the Texaplex that folks from the local county swear by. trivago data shows that Texans living in the Triangle adore their Lone Star State with seven of the top 10 most-searched US destinations being within the state boundaries!
[caption id="attachment_41945" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] The open road ahead. Photo by Joe Diaz CC BY[/caption]
So what are you waiting for? Crank up the country tunes and see Undiscovered Texas for yourself!
Ready to spread out the map and plot your next Texas escape? See where our Lone Star Weekend Road Trip towns are located by clicking here.
A Treasure Hunter’s Mecca
Houston: 95 miles — Austin: 73 miles — San Antonio: 129 miles — Dallas: 213 miles[caption id="attachment_41946" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Don’t Mess with TX! Turn some “junk” into your next treasure. Photo courtesy of the Marburger Farm Antique Show Facebook page[/caption]
If “one-of-a-kind” is music to your ears, there’s no missing the biggest bargain bash in Texas: the Round Top Antiques Week. For two weeks in the Spring and the Fall respectively, Texas Highway 237 swells with collectors from around the world weaving between the impromptu antique venues.[caption id="attachment_41947" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Pedals for peddlers! Photo courtesy of the Marburger Farm Antique Show Facebook page[/caption]
Highlights dotting Round Top’s curio route include the self-explanatory Original Round Top Antiques Fair, the granddaddy Marburger Farm Antique Show and the enigmatic Zapp Hall Antique Show. For fortune finding fuel, many of the antique tents host their own Texan food stands. In-town, try Royers Round Top Café for their Grilled Shrimp BLT (yes, ladies and gents, that’s ¼ lb. of grilled shrimp in there) and a slice of their divine pies.[caption id="attachment_41948" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Round Top Antiques Week is chock full of hidden surprises. Photo courtesy of the Marburger Farm Antique Show Facebook page[/caption]
When it comes to nightly entertainment, attend a performance of Shakespeare at Winedale which promises a top-notch show staged inside a Round Top barn. Check their website for the season’s schedule to see if your favorite piece is being presented while you’re passing through.[caption id="attachment_41949" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] A performance of King Henry IV in Round Top. Photo courtesy of the Shakespeare at Winedale Facebook page[/caption]
Roadtripper’s Stay: Blisswood Ranch Bed & Breakfast
Collectors and road trippers alike will fall for the charms of the Blisswood Ranch B&B, set in the rolling hills of Cat Spring. Tranquility and a slower pace define life on the ranch and guests are invited to similarly unwind overnight in one of the ten cabins and farmhouses.[caption id="attachment_42734" align="aligncenter" width="704"] Bliss at the Blisswood B&B. Photo via trivago[/caption]
Take the Lehmann House for example, which can comfortably sleep up to eight antique shoppers and comes with a Jacuzzi tub, full kitchen and a swing set amongst the oak trees. All stays include a daily continental spread hand-delivered to your cabin’s doorstep.
The First Shot of the Texan Revolution
Houston: 136 miles — Austin: 66 miles — San Antonio: 75 miles — Dallas: 257 miles
What would later be known as the first spark of the Texan Revolution took place on the banks of the Guadalupe River in Gonzales. On October 2nd, 1835, the townsmen of Gonzales held their ground against Mexican forces bent on taking the town cannon, declaring the now-famous “Come and take it!”[caption id="attachment_41959" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Gonzales, home of the Apaches. Photo by JD Hancock CC BY[/caption]
Read up on your Lone Star State history at the Gonzales Memorial Museum which wonderfully chronicles the city’s importance to the Texan Revolution including the story of the “Immortal 32” who were sent to defend the Alamo. Other spots worth checking out in the Museum District include the Pioneer Village Living History Center and the Gonzales County Jail Museum, both dating back to the 19th century.[caption id="attachment_41960" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] The Gonzales Memorial Museum. Photo by Rain0975 CC BY[/caption]
Fuel your visit with some honest ‘cue from Baker Boys on Sarah Dewitt Drive. In spite of being a recent newcomer to the Gonzales BBQ scene, this understated outpost has already won over locals with its big-time taste. Order yourself a serving of their brisket and pork ribs, and why not grab a Nana pudding to-go?[caption id="attachment_41961" align="aligncenter" width="720"] The “Come and Take It” Cannon. Photo courtesy of the Gonzales Memorial Museum Facebook page[/caption]
Roadtripper’s Stay: The Alcalde Hotel
Over the course of Gonzales’ municipal history, The Alcalde Hotel has served as the lodging of choice for bigwigs passing through town (including Elvis!) After a renovation in 2013, the “grande dame hotel of Gonzales” is back with a new face and proposing a comfortable and budget-friendly stay by Confederate Square.[caption id="attachment_41962" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Photos via trivago[/caption]
Guests can even reserve The Alcalde’s Bonnie & Clyde Room where the famous outlaws once checked in on their run from the law. Their stay in Room 207 included a sudden checkout via the second floor window to evade local police.
Sleepers can look forward to the complimentary breakfast prepared by the Hotel’s Lexington Grill every morning. Guests with a longer stay in mind should consider taking out one of The Alcalde’s suites which come with a kitchenette and luxury showers for optimal comfort.
Looking westward? We’ve got a few Undiscovered Texas towns worth detouring for on our Wild West Texas Roadtrip!
Cast and Cache
Houston: 48 miles — Austin: 148 miles — San Antonio: 234 miles — Dallas: 204 miles[caption id="attachment_41967" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Into Sam Houston State Forest. Photo by Caleb Feese CC BY[/caption]
Lake Conroe has long been a favorite destination for Houstonians looking to hit the water over the weekend. The cottage country tranquility of Conroe, Montgomery and Willis counties are no longer a secret to all other Texans. The sustained biodiversity of this 22,000 acre lake is supported in no small part by its northern neighbor, the Sam Houston National Forest which swims with a variety of catfish and bass as well as the odd alligator. According to trivago, Conroe is the #29 most searched city in Texas for travelers coming from Houston. Conroe’s popularity exclusively with trivago users from Space City points to its former status as a ‘local secret’ of Undiscovered Texas. You got to see this hidden gem for yourself![caption id="attachment_41966" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Early morning sun in April Sound. Photo by Katie Haugland CC BY[/caption]
By way of watersports, Lake Conroe has all of the outfitters for your boating, jet skiing, and paddling needs. Launching points and marinas are conveniently found around the Lake. By land, geocaching (a GPS-aided treasure hunt) is taking off across Texas. Try your hand at the Conroe challenge with the Caching Conroe Passport. After cracking the code using clues from all 12 sites, email your results to the Conroe CVB for a special souvenir![caption id="attachment_41968" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Your Geocache Kit. Photo courtesy of the Visit Conroe, Texas Facebook page[/caption]
Roadtripper’s Stay: La Torretta Lake Resort & Spa
La Torretta Lake Resort & Spa is as close as you can get to a complete family-friendly getaway on Lake Conroe. Placed on the southwest edge of the Lake, La Torretta has plenty of leisure activities to keep the team busy whether it be on the greens of the resort’s 18-hole golf course, seated at one of eight fine dining restaurants or making a splash in one of the five pools (which includes the Mediterranean adults-only pool).[caption id="attachment_41969" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Photos via trivago[/caption]
Whether it’s your first or seventh day of road tripping, it’s always worth checking out the resort’s Spa which offers a full menu of treatments enclosed by their zen-inspired garden. Choose your method of pampering, whether by Body Butter Massage, Island Fresh Scrub or a Flotation Journey (in a soothing Dead Sea-like pool).
With family in tow, be sure to check out La Torretta’s activity guide which include kids and teen kayak relays, S’mores on the Beach, Poolside Bingo and movie nights. With a mini golf course, Aqua Park, beach and tennis courts on the resort grounds, it may be hard saying goodbye to La Torretta at the end of your stay.
Houston: 205 miles — Austin: 173 miles — San Antonio: 251 miles — Dallas: 35 miles[caption id="attachment_42100" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] The blue beauties of Ennis. Photo courtesy of the Ennis Garden Club Facebook page[/caption]
Central European heritage is alive and fondly celebrated across Texas. While Undiscovered Texan towns like New Braunfels, Fredericksburg and Luckenbach trace their roots back to Germany, in Ennis, the community rallies around all things Czech. Czech Music Festival? They’ve got it! National Polka Festival? Ennis has got that too! As for a life-changing kolache (pastry), you got to taste one for yourself at the Kolache Depot Bakery. Though we’ve heard some Texans whisper that Czech Stop and Slovacek’s over in the neighboring town of West are also worth czeching out.[caption id="attachment_42103" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Everyone comes out for Ennis’ National Polka Festival! Photo courtesy of the Ennis Chamber of Commerce, Ennis, TX Facebook page[/caption]
The Ennis Garden Club is out to spread the Bluebonnet Gospel with their up-to-date Ennis Bluebonnet Trail map. Honoring the Bluebonnet’s status as the state flower, the Garden Club publishes their weekly bloom report to guide visitors to the best fields of these true blue beauties. All things bluebonnet are celebrated over the third weekend of April in the streets at the Ennis Bluebonnnet Festival.[caption id="attachment_42101" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] A sunlit Bluebonnet. Photo by Jon Clegg CC BY[/caption]
On Saturdays between April and October, pop by the Ennis Farmer’s Market by Pierce Park for some local produce, kids crafts, and live music. Swing by the Ennis Railroad and Cultural Heritage Museum while you’re in the area too. Then, end your day with a quintessential drive-in movie at the Galaxy Drive-In Theatre whose six screens each show a different set of double features (and at $7 for adults and $3 for kids, there’s no better deal in town!)[caption id="attachment_42102" align="aligncenter" width="960"] The daily harvest. Photo courtesy of the Ennis Farmer’s Market Facebook page[/caption]
Roadtripper’s Stay: The Comfort Suites Ennis
The Comfort Suites Ennis is located off Highway 287, conveniently placed if you’re looking to check out a drag race at the Texas Motorplex while in Ennis. Back at the all-suites hotel, look forward to cooling off at the outdoor pool or stretching out those car-constrained legs and arms in their Fitness Center.[caption id="attachment_42104" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Photos via trivago[/caption]
Suites come in two setups: the King & sofa bed suite (for up to four guests) and the two Queen & sofa bed suite (for up to six guests). All rooms come with a wet bar along with a microwave and refrigerator, as well as complimentary WiFi. A reliable Comfort Suites warm breakfast (that means, eggs, waffles, fruit, etc…) is served every morning.
Cotton on to Undiscovered Texas
Houston: 175 miles — Austin: 46 miles — San Antonio: 38 miles — Dallas: 240 miles[caption id="attachment_42114" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] The musical heart of Gruene. Photo by David B Nash CC BY[/caption]
Founded in the mid-1840s, Gruene (hint for out-of-towners, it’s pronounced green) found on the outskirts of New Braunfels, was once a thriving, fluffy cotton settlement. After laying dormant for close to 45 years, Chip Kaufman, an architecture student at UT Austin, came across the abandoned town’s water tower on a kayak trip which sparked getting Gruene on to the National Register of Historic Places.[caption id="attachment_42121" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Plant yourself out back on the Gristmill’s riverside deck. Photo courtesy of the Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar Facebook page[/caption]
Today, the old cotton gin powered by the Guadalupe River has been converted into The Gristmill Restaurant and the mercantile store is now the Gruene General Store. All the while, Gruene Hall still remains the beating heart of the local music and dance scene, attracting both rising stars and big names in country, Americana and folk.
In spite of being placed midway between San Antonio and Austin, trivago data from the past year indicates that Gruene (along with its big sister New Braunfels) is favored more as an overnight trip for Houstonians, coming in as the 15th most popular short stay destination for those users. Similar data shows that Houston and Dallas users would rather get their taste of German Texas from New Braunfels while Austin and San Antonio users are more likely to book in Fredericksburg.[caption id="attachment_42118" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] George Strait, Hal Ketchum and Willie Nelson have all packed the crowds in at Gruene Hall. Photo courtesy of the Gruene Hall Facebook page[/caption]
If you’re craving some Tex-Mex on your road trip, look no further than Adobe Verde (a punny ode to Gruene’s namesake color). An order of the house enchiladas verdes with a margarita or dos-a-rita could not be a more perfect tasting combination, all in the entitled green coloring. Stop by The Barn’s gallery and studio on your way out of Gruene for a handmade piece of pottery for a souvenir of this one-of-a-kind Texan town.
Photo courtesy of The Barn Pottery Facebook page.
Roadtripper’s Stay: Prince Solms Bed & Breakfast
For accommodation that is historically Texan, spend the night at the Prince Solms Bed & Breakfast in the heart of New Braunfels. Originally commissioned by Emilie Eggeling in 1898, the Prince Solms has been in operation ever since, welcoming travelers since way-back-when guests would arrive by train. No heirloom detail is overlooked at the Inn whose central staircase, patterned wallpapers and antique furniture will make you feel immersed in a bygone era.
The nine double rooms in the main inn are decorated in a Victorian style with the Feedstore rooms decorated in a Texan Ranch motif with enough room to fit larger families. Two detached cottages are perfect for bigger groups and families looking for extra privacy and the benefit of their own kitchen. Those kitchens should be saved for meals later in the day, as the Prince Solms’ breakfasts are legendary.
Tip: If you’d like to keep our Texas Road Trips recommendations handy on your drive, click the ⭐ icon next to the Maps title to save it to your own Google Maps!
Do you have a favorite Undiscovered Texan town?
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