Summer is just around the corner, and we all know what that means: tourists out the kazoo. It’s great to have people visiting our great state, but it can be kind of annoying when our favorite places are so busy we can hardly enjoy them. Lucky for us native Texans, we know of a few off-the-beaten-path destinations that are just as good as their more well-known counterparts. Here are our top 10 picks.
1. Do NOT go to Hamilton Pool...
Sure, it's breathtakingly beautiful - but chances are you've already been there, and it's nearly impossible to enjoy it with the crazy amount of people who frequent it every summer day.
DO go to Krause Springs.
It may not look like a secret underground grotto, but it's still gorgeous in its own way. And I don't know about you, but I'd rather not be packed with other people like a bunch of sardines when I'm trying to peacefully enjoy the water.
2. Do NOT go to Big Bend...
DO go to the Guadalupe Mountains.
There ARE other mountains in Texas, believe it or not. We just don't hear about them as often as the famed Big Bend, but the view from "El Capitan" is indescribable.
3. Do NOT go river tubing...
Yeah, it's fun, and kinda obligatory if you live in Texas, but when it starts looking like this and strangers' feet are in my face, it gets old really fast.
DO kayak on the Medina instead.
Especially in the fall when you can admire the foliage lining the banks and forming a canopy over your head. And you can retain your personal space and actually experience some of the peace and serenity that water is supposed to bring.
4. Do NOT swim at the Barton Springs pool
DO swim at Balmorhea State Park
Much less crowded, and it's the world's largest spring-fed swimming pool.
5. Do NOT go to Natural Bridge Caverns
DO go to the Caverns of Sonora
This cave system is hardly ever mentioned compared to Natural Bridge, and I have no idea why. The stalactites and stalagmites are more abundant than in any other cave in Texas and possibly America - it's actually been voted one of the most beautiful caves in the entire world.
6. Do NOT hike at Palo Duro Canyon
DO hike at Caprock Canyons.
Essentially the same view, fewer people, and the stark contrast between the lush greenery and dry rocks is pretty neat. An all-around winning situation, if you ask me.
7. Do NOT walk along the San Antonio River Walk
Unless it's Christmas. Then absolutely, positively get there as fast as you can. Otherwise, it's just scorchingly hot and too commercialized for my tastes.
DO take a stroll down Main Street in a small town.
Not Fredericksburg or Jefferson; even those have become too touristy. I'm talking places like Alpine or Salado - places where the true Southern charm we're so famous for radiates to the core.
8. Do NOT go to Enchanted Rock
Yeah, yeah, it's a pink blob that supposedly creaks and groans at night. Cool story.
DO go to Balcones Canyonlands Wildlife Refuge
"Balcones" means "balconies" in Spanish, and when you're standing at the top of one of the many hills, you truly feel like you're on a balcony gazing out in front of you as far as the eye can see. The greenery is beautiful and the towering layered rocks are breathtaking. Plus, so many interesting species of animals live here! It's an unforgettable experience, to say the least.
9. Do NOT tour Space Center Houston
DO go camping and see the stars for yourself.
Learning about the history of space travel is cool and all, but spending a night in the desert, unimpeded by city lights, gazing up at the band of our Milky Way Galaxy? I'd choose the latter any day.
10. Do NOT hike/swim at Barton Creek Greenbelt
Those narrow pathways can get pretty dangerous with hundreds of people trying to squeeze past each other. Plus, the waterfalls aren't that impressive.
DO visit Gorman Falls.
It's unknown to many Texans, and it looks like a scene from Tarzan. Need I say more?
Have you ever visited any of these places? Where else in Texas can locals go to escape the influx of tourists?