In Texas, we’re simply spoiled by all the beautiful nature right outside our doors, plus the many wonderful cities and towns we get to explore. However, a lot of places in Texas simply get overlooked due to the sheer size of our state. The Big Bend, Palo Duro Canyon, and the rivers in the hill country often take the spotlight, but there are many other places that deserve just as much attention. Here are 12 underrated places in Texas that you really need to visit.
1) El Paso
This had to be number one on the list, because I have simply heard too many negative things about this city that don't paint a true picture of what it's really like. It's actually one of the safest large cities in the country, and with the breathtaking Franklin Mountains running right through the town, as well as plenty of other nature spots and botanical gardens, I say this city deserves much more recognition.
Many people claim that Galveston has become too touristy, but it still offers plenty of fun and relaxation. You can tour the Historic Strand, visit the Bishop's Palace or Moody Mansion, play a round of mini-golf at Magic Carpet Golf, and much more.
3) Fort Worth
Fort Worth was actually ranked one of the most underrated cities in America, according to a reader poll. However, with the perfect combination of nature trails, nightlife, the awesome art and music scene, and the well-preserved cowboy culture, there's no reason not to visit!
4) Big Thicket National Preserve
The Big Thicket is known for its rich biological diversity, and nine different ecosystems exist here. With 40 miles of hiking trails winding throughout the preserve, there's plenty to see on a visit to this amazing yet underrated forest.
5) Hope Outdoor Gallery
This is one of the largest outdoor art galleries in the U.S., located in Austin. It may not look like much from the picture, but it showcases the artwork of graffiti artists and muralists alike and should definitely be visited if you're in the area.
6) Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge
Here, you'll get to see deserts, wetlands, and prairies all at the same park, and you can't miss the 2.2 mile Rimrock trail, which offers unparalleled 360 degree views of the hill country below.
7) Pedernales Falls State Park
This park doesn't get near enough credit for its overwhelming beauty and wonderful hiking trails. There are several to choose from, including the Wolf Mountain Trail which ascends 1,000 feet, or you can climb over the many limestone rocks at the bottom of the Pedernales River. The water level is usually very low, which makes climbing here easily accessible.
8) Seminole Canyon State Park
Located in Comstock, this state park features some of the oldest Native American pictographs in North America, and is one of the oldest cave dwellings in the country. Be sure to take a tour of the Fate Bell Shelter where you will find many of these pictographs, and hike the trails for spectacular views of the Rio Grande River.
9) Balmorhea State Park
This oasis in the west Texas desert offers much-needed relief from the harsh climate here. Located in Toyahvale, this is the world's largest spring-fed swimming pool. You can swim and scuba dive here, and enjoy the company of fish and turtles as well.
10) National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame
This is the only museum in the world that showcases women of the American West who have displayed great courage and resilience in following their unique paths to success. People who live in Fort Worth know it well, but out-of-towners overlook this incredible museum often, unfortunately.
11) Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve
This preserve sits on 227 acres of wooded hills in Austin with 2.5 miles of hiking trails open to the public. The best time to go is after a heavy rain so you can enjoy the waterfall pictured above.
12) The Greenway Trails
Looking for a way to exercise and get into nature at the same time? Well, the Howard W. Peak Greenway Trail system in San Antonio might be just what you're looking for. There are currently 47 miles of trails open to the public that run through the city and near San Antonio's many creeks.
How many of these have you been to? What other underrated places in Texas would you add to the list?