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If you’re searching for a summer adventure in Texas, there are so many options available it can feel a bit overwhelming. This list includes some of the best of the best, helping to narrow down all of those possibilities so that you can plan your ideal trip.
Visit Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, Fredericksburg
What Is It? One of the best things to do in Fredericksburg, Enchanted Rock is a huge dome made up of pink granite that soars 425 feet above the ground.
Why Do It? What makes it one of the state’s top adventures, is that it’s rather mysterious. When a cool night follows a warm day, the rock makes audible creaking noises due to the contraction of the outer surface of the rock. Although we know what makes the sounds, that’s what likely fueled the legends about it – coupled with its sparkling appearance on damp nights when the moon is bright. Native Americans claimed to have heard the rock groaning at night and witnessed bright fires at the top.
Good to Know: You can take a hike to admire the beautiful scenery during the day, and then stick around to see if those claims hold any truth, if you’re brave enough, that is. Exploring nature with mysterious folklore definitely makes for quite the adventure.
Cool Off at Schlitterbahn Water Park, Galveston Island
What Is It? One of the best ways to cool off in Texas in summer, Schlitterbahn is considered one of the world’s best water parks, and without a doubt, it’s the top water park in the state of Texas.
Why Do It? It features three miles of lazy and rushing rivers complete with rapids, as well as speed slides and lots of pools and beaches. The highlights at this unique, enormous park are both world’s first: the Master Blaster uphill coaster that sends passengers racing through the dark for face-to-face encounters with a watery dragon, and the wave-making Boogie Bahn Surfing Ride.
Good to Know: The park is a full-fledged resort with lodging and offers a number of add-ons too, like cabanas, heated pools, and swim-up bars, while horseback riding, fishing, and winery tours can be enjoyed nearby.
Hike to Gorman Falls, Colorado Bend State Park
What Is It? Located in one of the best state parks in Texas, Gorman Falls is a magnificent 60-foot waterfall that cascades into a fern-covered grotto in Colorado Bend State Park.
Why Do It? The water comes from Gorman Springs and cascades down leaving behind calcium deposits from the mineral-rich water, which over time have grown into beautiful formations on the limestone rocks. It can be reached via a rugged 1.5-mile hike, and if that’s not enough, you can embark on more scenic hikes afterward, with a total of 32 miles of trails here.
Good to Know: The park is also home to Lake Buchanan and offers other fun activities like wildlife viewing, caving, fishing, and swimming. Kayaks are available for rent at the park headquarters, and you can camp along the shores of the river too.
Camp at Pecan Flats, Inks Lake State Park
What Is It? Inks Lake State Park, located northwest of Austin, is popular for hiking and camping and offers canoes and kayaks for rent at the park store.
Why Do It? Camping here is one of the best summer adventures, you can get out on the lake early and check out beautiful views, including glimpses of the water snakes that bask in the sunshine on the exposed rocks, and then paddle out to the scenic Devil’s Waterhole on the lake’s east end. This is a perfect spot to tie up your kayak or canoe and enjoy some cliff jumping into the water, or take a hike to search for a hidden waterfall.
Good to Know: Pecan Flats offers secluded, primitive campsites that are ideal for a tranquil more unique escape, set away from park visitors, located about a mile in from the Pecan Flats trailhead. The nine sites are set off the trail for privacy, alongside a creek.
Take a Dip in Hamilton Pool Preserve, Dripping Springs
What Is It? Hamilton Pool Preserve is a magnificent grotto that offers the ideal adventure for the whole family.
Why Do It? The anticipation you’ll feel on the hike along the short, scenic trail that leads through a lush, stream-fed canyon up to the water, will be nothing compared to the scene that awaits here. This jaw-dropping oasis is tucked among cattle grazing lands near Dripping Springs and is considered to be one of the best swimming holes in the entire state of Texas. The natural pool is surrounded by giant slabs of limestone, while large stalactites grow from the ceiling high above.
Good to Know: As it’s just a little over 20 miles from Austin, afterward, you can enjoy all of the city delights too.
Explore the Caverns, Sonora
What Is It? The Caverns of Sonora is internationally renowned as one of the world’s most spectacular show caves.
Why Do It? Located where the Texas Hill Country meets the Chihuahuan Desert, these popular caves in Texas were carved from limestone between one and one-and-a-half million years ago and boast one of the most extensive collections of calcite crystal formations on Earth.
Good to Know: You can take a guided tour to explore the highly decorated cave system in-depth, as well as enjoy activities on the ranch-inspired grounds, like panning for gemstones, hiking, RV, and tent camping, as well as sampling homemade fudge or picking up a souvenir in the gift shop.
Kayak the Guadalupe River
What Is It? While avid paddlers tend to head to the roaring Colorado River, the Guadalupe River offers an ideal, milder whitewater rafting experience, though it still has plenty of rapids and small waterfalls.
Why Do It? This popular river moves along high limestone cliffs, through avenues of bald cypress, and when it is really running, more thrilling rapids too. While the river is 270 miles long, Guadalupe State Park is a great place to go for kayaking with minimal crowds and fabulous cliff views. The river within the park boundaries is fairly calm with a few small rapids, so even a beginning kayakers can enjoy the ride, all while marveling at the lush greenery of the cypress trees and their twisting roots along the banks.
Good to Know: The area is also great for swimming and exploring a multitude of hiking trails.
Play at Six Flags Fiesta, San Antonio
What Is It? Six Flags Fiesta Texas is one of the main reasons San Antonio is the most visited city in all of Texas.
Why Do It? The park is unique with its integration into a quarry wall that serves as its backdrop, but people come because of its wealth of amazing rides.
Good to Know: Six Flags Fiesta hosts world-renowned coasters like Iron Rattler, Superman Krypton Coaster, and Batman: The Ride, as well as other fantastic coasters, including the Road Runner Express and Poltergeist.
Go Climbing at Pedernales Falls, Johnson City
What Is It? If you like to boulder or are an amateur rock climber, head to Pedernales Falls State Park just outside Johnson City in the Texas Hill Country.
Why Do It? This is the home to Pedernales Falls, which is distinguished by gigantic slabs of ancient limestone that have been gouged by the furious floodwaters of the Pedernales River. The falls have served as a filming location for movies like “Boyhood,” “Spy Kids 2,” “The Alamo” and the HBO series “The Leftovers.”
Good to Know: The 5,212-acre park is renowned for its scenic hiking trails as well as its swimming holes, and those who like to climb over rocks will be in heaven. You can head down to the river and climb over hundreds of them, which span its entire length – as far as the eye can see.
Bird Watch at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, Los Fresnos
What Is It? Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge is a 97,000-acre wildlife refuge that lies near the border of Mexico that is home to more documented species of birds than any other National Wildlife Refuge in the country.
Why Do It? There are an incredible 417 species of birds, including green jays, aplomado falcons, turkey pheasants, and cardinals, and in the autumn, a million redhead ducks can be seen on the Laguna Atascosa. It’s also an important habitat for nesting sea turtles, blue crabs, and many other species.
Good to Know: The refuge is open to the public for wildlife watching, education, interpretation, hunting, fishing, and nature photography.