Last Updated on December 5, 2023
Planning a weekend getaway in Texas? Trying to get off-the-beaten path? In this Texas travel guide, discover some of Texas’ top hidden gems and secret places.
From desert towns and state parks to vineyards and swimming holes, escape the crowds in these incredible places few people know about. Whether you are looking for a quiet weekend at the beach, an adventurous camping trip, or anything in between, you will find the best hidden weekend getaway in Texas for you.
HELPFUL WEBSITES TO HELP YOU PLAN YOUR TRIP
HELPFUL WEBSITES TO HELP YOU PLAN YOUR TRIP
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By Ketki from Enchanting Texas
Looking for one of the best hidden gems in Texas that make for an amazing weekend getaway? If so then head to Ennis, Texas.
After all, it’s one of the best places in Texas to see Bluebonnets – a magical blue flower that is the state flower and that blooms annually between late March and mid-May,
However, because Ennis is a bit further north, bluebonnets typically peak here around mid-April.
Ennis also has the added benefit of being just 45 minutes away from Dallas and being home to upwards of 40 miles of mapped bluebonnet trails.
But, if you need a little guidance, you can head to the Ennis Garden Club and join a 2-hour guided tour of the area’s bluebonnets before celebrating the town’s Czech heritage by eating some kolaches.
Next, meander through the historic downtown and check out local highlights like the Ennis Railroad and Cultural Heritage Museum, the National Polka Festival Hall of Fame and Museum, and the Ennis Public Theatre.
Then, grab a book from the charming Ennis Public Library before shopping for delicious local food and goods at the Ennis Farmer’s Market, which is held every Saturday from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm.
Finally, sample some local vino at Sugar Ridge Winery and relax along the shores of Lake Bardwell before spending a comfortable night at La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Ennis.
By Lydia from Lost With Lydia
Dripping Springs is a small Texas Hill Country town known for its swimming holes, wineries, and charming downtown. The town is a romantic place to visit in the Texas Hill Country and is considered the “Wedding Capital of Texas” with several wedding venues within a small radius.
One of the best things to do in Dripping Springs is to visit the Texas Hill Country Olive Oil Mill and Vineyard. Here you can take a tour of the olive orchard, try something new during an olive oil and balsamic tasting, or enjoy a bottle of wine under the shady oak trees. It’s a lovely place to spend an afternoon.
Also very close to Dripping Springs are West Cave and Hamilton Pool Preserve. Both spots include a grotto that overhangs a beautiful Texas spring. West Cave is known for its lush greenery and can only be visited by a guided tour, while Hamilton Pool Preserve can be reached via a short hike. Also near Dripping Springs, you can hike and explore Pedernales Falls State Park.
In downtown Dripping Springs, you can enjoy local coffee at Mazama Coffee and a delicious breakfast from Rolling in Thyme and Dough. For a drink, visit Sidecar Tasting Room, tour the distillery at Treaty Oak or enjoy a wine tasting at Fall Creek Vineyards.
For a unique accommodation, check out Havenwald, a magical storybook cottage. The cabin is themed as Robin Hood’s Hideout and includes stained glass windows, a spiral staircase, and many whimsical details that will make you feel like you’re in a fairytale. If it’s booked on your dates, there are plenty of cute cottages you can rent in the area.
Dripping Springs is an adorable small town that should be on your Texas Hill Country bucket list.
Caprock Canyons State Park
By Lydia from Lost With Lydia
Caprock Canyons is a Texas state park known for its beautiful orange canyons, miles of rugged hiking trails, a free-roaming herd of bison, and a prairie dog town. This West Texas park has similar scenery to Palo Duro State Park, which is a more popular state park about 2 hours away.
However, at Caprock Canyons you will find a lot less people and more wildlife. Overall, the park feels very remote and is perfect for a unique outdoor adventure and a secluded vacation.
When you explore Caprock Canyons, be sure to keep sufficient distance from the bison (at least 50 feet) and be prepared to navigate the park without cell reception.
Some of the best trails in Caprock Canyons are the Haynes Ridge Overlook trail, the Eagle Point trail, and the Canyon Rim Trail. The Haynes Ridge Overlook provides the best views in the park. It is very steep to reach the top of Haynes Ridge, so make sure you are prepared with proper hiking shoes and plenty of water.
The Eagle Point trail is 2 miles and takes you over a unique natural bridge. The Canyon Rim Trail is 3 miles each way and has some great views of a canyon along the way.
If you enjoy camping, Caprock Canyons is the perfect place to do it. There are multiple campground options inside the park. There are a variety of options, from full hookups for RVs to more remote camping sites for backpacking.
If you don’t want to camp, there are limited accommodation options right outside of the park. Some of the closest options include the Back to Basics Bed and Breakfast in Quitaque and Hotel Turkey in Turkey.
By Trijit Mallick from Budget Travel Buff
Whitecap Beach was named after the white sand of Corpus Christi, one of the best beach towns in Texas. The wide and clear sea beach is the perfect beach getaway to spend a few days by the sea. Its picturesque beauty has been mesmerizing people for years.
From walking on the seashore in the morning and discovering the city to exploring local restaurants and stores in the evening, there are plenty of things to do in Whitecap Beach. You will find a lot of restaurants and food stalls where you will get mouthwatering dishes, like Hester’s Café and Coffee Shop, Andy’s Kitchen, Ginger Café & Grill, and others.
Visit Bob Hall Pier and soak your eyes into the mesmerizing beauty of nature. The azure and crystal clear sky give your eye peace. The best time to visit this place is in the early morning. The rising sun will take your breath away.
Don’t miss the local wine shops in Whitecap Beach. The nightlife of this region gets crowded and full of joy with all the wine shops opening at night. One of the best wines you can get is from The Barrel Wine & Tapas Bar. The Pelican Lounge is also a great place to enjoy the nightlife, with jazz and country music playing.
You can also visit Padre Island Art Gallery to know more about the art culture of Whitecap Beach.
If you are visiting with kids, you can spend a few hours in Treasure Island Golf & Games, where you will find plenty of fun activities for children and adults alike.
Here on this beautiful beach, you will find luxurious hotels as well as budget-friendly hotels and vacation rentals to stay in. Just make sure to book your room in advance. Island Resort Corpus Christi-N Padre Island hotel is highly recommended if you are looking for a beachfront hotel with an outdoor pool and all the basic amenities.
By Chrissy from Destined Globe Trotter
Fredericksburg has a unique climate and soil, like the Mediterranean. Because of this, some grape varietals do very well there. In fact, there are over 100 wineries in the area. There are also several breweries and distilleries, including a Texas bourbon distillery that provides a great tour and a delicious slushie on hot summer days.
You can visit wineries on your own, or there is also the 290 Wine Shuttle that visits many wineries and is hop on and hop off. But to really have a magical experience, consider taking a private tour. Private tours usually include 2-3 wineries or 2 wineries and a distillery.
Be advised that it is extremely hard to find an Uber and you should plan alternative arrangements.
For history buffs, the National Museum of the Pacific War is not-to-be-missed. It’s just at the end of the main street and encompasses several buildings.
The city was first settled by Germans in 1846. The German influence is all over town from the sausage houses to the German Restaurants to Dir Küchen Laden, a kitchen supply store and coffee shop. In September, the annual Oktoberfest is centered in the city at the Marktplatz.
Many people choose to rent a house. There are beautiful historic limestone houses and other options that can accommodate small groups. If you have a large group, plan ahead because there are fewer options.
For a truly unique experience, consider the Hangar Hotel. Set straight out of the 1940s, they have oxblood-colored club chairs in the bar area, dark mood lighting, and Frank Sinatra playing in the hallway.
It sits adjacent to the local runway so you can sit on porches on the patio and watch the planes come in. For added fun, there’s a great diner next door where you can eat breakfast with pilots and weekend guests.
By Nikki from Inspired Routes
If you’re looking for a secret gem in South Texas that’s perfect for a weekend getaway, you need to check out Port Aransas. Located near Corpus Christi on Mustang Island, you’ll get front-row access to the wonderful Texas beaches.
This charming town is an alternative weekend getaway destination to busy spots like Galveston or South Padre Island. This quaint downtown is a great spot for a little shopping and dining. When you’re ready for some sunshine, hit the beach! With miles of coast as far as the eye can see, it’s a great spot for swimming or building sandcastles with your little ones.
A popular spot for great views of the coast is to walk out to the Horace Caldwell Pier. It’s 1200+ feet long, and is a fun spot to watch the local surfers catching a wave.
Just south of town is the Mustang Island State Park. There you’ll find hiking trails, untouched shorelines, and recreational opportunities like kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding.
To get to Port Aransas you have two options. The first is renting a car in Corpus Christi and driving south to enter Mustang Island, then back north to the tip which is where Port Aransas is located. Alternatively, you can take the ferry across the Corpus Christ Channel, which is free and can transport your car, too.
There are a variety of hotel options and vacation rentals in Port Aransas to fit your budget. Try the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Port Aransas, which is walkable to the beach. If you’re looking to escape the crowds, a bit south of Port Aransas on Mustang Island is the Lively Beach Resort Condominiums.
Big Bend National Park
By Aaren from What Do You Sea
Big Bend National Park is an amazing weekend getaway to see one of the most beautiful and remote parts of Texas. With over 700,000 acres encompassing the Chihuahuan Desert, Chisos Mountains, and the Rio Grande River, there is no shortage of outdoor adventure here.
Hike the Lost Mine Trail to witness the first golden rays illuminate the park’s vibrant green mountains, take a dip in the Big Bend Hot Springs overlooking the Rio Grande River, or head to Santa Elena Canyon to see the historic natural land border between the United States and Mexico.
What surprises many visitors of Big Bend is the amount of dinosaur fossils that have been found in the park. This region used to resemble the swamp land of modern-day Florida millions of years ago and was home to the largest flying creature to exist, the Alamosaurus, giant crocodiles, and many more amazing creatures that you can read about at the Fossil Discovery Exhibit, an underrated favorite of many people who visit the park.
Because Big Bend is mainly desert, this park makes a great spring or fall weekend trip when the weather is cooler and much more manageable in the daytime. In the summertime heat advisories are common and temperatures reach over 100 degrees by the afternoon. To avoid the heat, head out in the early morning and late afternoon.
Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge
The little-known Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge definitely is a hidden gem and will make a perfect weekend getaway in Texas. With over 400 bird species such as green jays, aplomado falcons, turkey pheasants, and cardinals, the refuge is home to more species of birds than any other National Wildlife Refuge in the US – a true paradise for birders and nature lovers.
Start the day at the visitor center to get a map of the 60 miles of hiking and biking trails available throughout the refuge. Near the visitor center, you’ll find feeding stations and water features.
If you like biking, don’t miss the 14.2-mile loop, Steve Thompson Wildlife Drive, or drive down Lakeside Dr. to Osprey Overlook where you’ll find the start of many trails.
You can spend the night in the nearby town of Los Frenos, Los Frenos Inn and Suites offer basic accommodations with everything needed for a pleasant stay. In town, Harley’s Beer Garden is a local hangout spot with live country music on weekends.
If you want something a bit busier, you can also stay in Brownsville (they have a cute flea market every week on the weekend) where you’ll find plenty of things to do. Residence Inn Brownsville and Quality Inn are both great options when staying in Brownsville.
Caddo Lake State Park
Caddo Lake is one of the few naturally-formed lakes in Texas and offers unique scenery and opportunities to see wildlife such as gators, mink, wood storks, owls… With centuries-old cypress trees draped in Spanish moss, the place has a magical feel that will enchant everyone.
In Caddo Lake State Park, you should rent a kayak and paddle through a maze of bayous, sloughs, and ponds, go hiking one of the park’s many trails, and stay at a historic cabin or camp. You can also go on a guided boat tour to enjoy the scenery and try to spot birds.
If you don’t want to stay within the park, the nearby towns of Jefferson or Uncertain are good options. There, you’ll find more things to do and plenty of bars and restaurants. The Steamboat Inn in Jefferson is one of the top-rated hotels in the area and is perfect for a weekend stay.
The best time to visit the park is in Fall or Spring when the temperature is ideal. Summer can get pretty hot and humid. Make sure to bring plenty of bug repellent and sunscreen.
Known for the Marfa Lights, the small desert town of Marfa (2000 inhabitants) is a must-see in Texas whether you believe in UFOs or not. Since 1883, people have been seeing white, yellow, red, and orange spheres floating above the ground at all hours of the night, year-round. You can head to the official viewpoint at night and test your luck – make sure to ask locals about their theories on the lights’ origin.
The desert town is also known for its vibrant art scene with plenty of exhibits, events, and galleries. There, you can check out Ballroom Marfa, the Chinati Foundation founded by Donald Judd, and the Ayn Foundation.
There are also plenty of handicraft shops to shop at – make sure to stop by Freda for jewelry and vintage clothing, Cobra Rock for custom boots, Moonlight Gemstones for West Texas agates, Wrong Store, deemed the Most Beautiful Independent Store in Texas by Architectural Digest, and Marfa Brands for soaps.
At night, head to Planet Marfa for a drink or two or check out the Lost Horse Saloon which often has live music.
You’ll find plenty of things to do in Marfa, this quirky town is probably one of the best hidden weekend getaways in Texas. The Hotel Saint George is a great option if you want something modern with an outdoor pool. Alternatively, you can book a vacation rental in town.
One of the most famous country music venues in Texas, Luckenbach is probably the smallest town in the state with only two buildings, one of which is a dance hall, and three residents! If you’re a country fan then you should definitely drop by the small town.
Located in the Texas Hill Country, there are plenty of things to do in the area over a weekend. You’ll find a couple of bed and breakfasts and lodges nearby to stay at. Barons CreekSide Resort features cottages in a rustic setting, surrounded by nature, with a beautiful garden. There are also plenty of vacation rentals available in the nearby town of Fredericksburg.
Apart from visiting Luckenbach, you can head to Wildseed Farms where you’ll find over 200 acres of wildflowers and multiple walking trails, with wine tasting activities as well.
You can also walk the half-mile trail in Old Tunnel State Park for a chance to see bats and learn more about the area’s past. Fredericksburg is also nearby, there, you’ll find plenty of restaurants, bars, and activities.
For a unique experience and a weekend getaway you won’t forget, check out the ghost town of Terlingua. Formerly a miners’ town, people left little by little until the town became almost completely abandoned. The few locals who stayed saw an opportunity and turned the town into a fun tourist destination.
You can roam around town and explore the nearby wilderness during a weekend in Terlingua. Some of the top sights in Terlingua include the cemetery, St. Agnes Church, the jail, and Starlight Theatre and Saloon. You will also find plenty of art galleries and street art worth checking out.
Outside of town, you can plan a half-day trip to go kayaking on the Rio Grande River (SUP available too). On the river, you will also find the Boquillas Hot Spring where you can chill for a while after a day of adventures.
As Terlingua is so close to Big Bend Ranch State Park, there are plenty of day-hike options for all-level you can go on as well.
Accommodation options are limited within the town, but you will find plenty of cabins for rent in the area. You can also check out the Lajitas Golf Resort with an outdoor pool and rooms with stunning views.
Located an hour and a half north of Houston, Huntsville will definitely make up for a perfect weekend getaway in one of Texas’s best hidden gems. With plenty of activities and things to do nearby, there are plenty of opportunities to get off the beaten path and discover some secret spots few people know about.
The Blue Lagoon is a must-see and is the perfect spot to cool off on a hot day. It’s also ideal to learn diving and get certified. They organize a weekend certification program for beginners (you will need to do the online certification online first) – certified divers can rent equipment and go on their own or join a tour. You can also go there as a non-diver but space is limited (to avoid overcrowding).
Hikers and outdoor lovers will love to spend a day at Huntsville State Park. There, you will find many hiking and biking trails as well as swimming and boating opportunities. You can also camp there.
Wine lovers can also drive along the Sam Houston Wine trail to sample some of the tastiest wines in East Texas.
Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Huntsville is a top-rated place to stay in. They offer all basic amenities and a seasonal outdoor pool as well as family rooms. You’ll also find a couple of nice vacation rentals around town.
Hueco Tanks State Park
Not far from El Paso, Hueco Tanks State Park might be tiny but it packs in a lot of things to do, it’s perfect for an adventurous weekend getaway off-the-beaten-path. From hiking and rock climbing to bird watching and looking for pictographs or petroglyphs, the park will keep you busy for a few days.
You can either camp there or stay at a vacation rental or a hotel in El Paso if camping is not your thing. The Stanton House El Paso is a beautiful hotel featuring spacious rooms with great amenities and friendly staff.
The park features many trails and activities and is divided into two parts – the self-guided area and the area where you need a guide. If you want to go rock climbing you’ll need to have your own equipment. Many trails will take you to perfect spots to see some of the 200 bird species living around the park while others will take you to beautiful pictographs or petroglyphs carved on the rocks centuries ago.
Entrances to the self-guided area are limited so make sure to book your spot in advance if you don’t want to have to wait your turn. You can also go on a guided tour. but again, you’ll need to arrange it with the park well ahead. Check the park’s website for more details.
The midway point of the iconic Route 66, the small city of Amarillo holds many hidden spots and fun things to do for visitors. Spending 2 days there will be enough to see all of the area’s highlights and some.
The first stop on your trip to Amarillo should be at Cadillac Ranch where you can try your hand at graffiti and leave your mark on some of the cars.
In town, don’t miss the Sixth Street Historic District where you’ll find old buildings, shops, and restaurants. Braceros and the Golden Light Cafe are both popular spots among locals. Head to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum to learn more about Texas history or to the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum – art lovers would also enjoy a visit at the Amarillo Museum of Art.
If you’ve ever dreamt of visiting the Grand Canyon without the crowds, know that only a 30-minute drive away from Amarillo, you’ll find the second largest canyon in the United States in Palo Duro State Park. A 16-mile round-trip drive takes you from the canyon rim down to the canyon floor – with many trails and campsites along the way. Hike the lighthouse trail for stunning views of a towering rock pinnacle.
Pedernales Falls State Park
Whether you want to spend the weekend hiking, relaxing by the river, or a blend of both, Pedernales Falls State Park got you covered. The Pedernales River flows over and around huge slabs of limestone creating a beautiful landscape. With plenty of campgrounds and hiking trails, you’re on for a fun weekend.
From easy to challenging, there are plenty of hiking and biking trails to choose from. The easy and short Twin Falls Nature Trail will take you to a scenic viewpoint above the falls while the challenging six-mile Wolf Mountain Trail will reward you with stunning views and a stop at Arrowhead Pool where you can dip your toes in the cool water.
Cyclists can test their skills on the 10-mile technical Juniper Ridge Trail offering plenty of obstacles and challenges.
From the swimming area or the Trammell’s Crossing Trail, you can also do some kayaking or go river-tubing.
Make sure to book your spot at one of the campsites and get your permit beforehand. If camping is not your thing, you’ll find a couple of nice vacation rentals nearby.