Another amazing year as a resident of Texas is drawing to a close – but we aren’t sad at all! Our state is so awesome that the reality of a new year, fresh with opportunities to be taken and experiences to be had is exhilarating. We’ve started the ball rolling for ya’ with a list of 16 things you HAVE to do next year in the Lone Star State.
1. If you have guns - carry them openly!
That's right, as of January 1, 2016, you no longer have to conceal your revolver or semi-automatic handgun in public.
2. Go to a music festival - in the live music capital of the WORLD.
If Austin's good for anything, it's music. Two major festivals, SXSW and ACL, happen in our state's capital in early spring and late summer, respectively. The musical diversity means there's something for everyone's ears to enjoy!
3. Take a hike. (No, I don't mean get out of Texas.)
No matter how much of Texas's nature you think you've seen, there's always something new to explore. From the Big Bend to Pedernales Falls, Lost Maples Natural Area to the Palo Duro Canyon, make 2016 your year to traverse the trails of Texas and discover wonders you've never seen before.
4. Sometimes it's about the journey, not the destination - take a road trip.
From the peaceful plains of East Texas to the rolling hills of the Old West to the legendary Route 66, make plans this year to slow down, get in your car, and just drive. Even if you have no idea where you're going, the roads of Texas will never cease to amaze you.
5. Find the thrill-seeker in you.
Make 2016 your year of fearlessness. Six Flags at San Antonio or Arlington has roller coasters that you couldn't imagine in your worst nightmare. Or if water is more your thing, Schlitterbahn's four locations in Texas turn a seemingly peaceful element into a raging force that will make your heart pound with adrenaline.
6. Go underground!
Be an adventurer in 2016. Pictured here are the Sonora and Natural Bridge Caverns in Sonora and New Braunfels, respectively, but Texas is home to at least 6 other cave systems as well. Put on your hardhat and let's go!
7. After you're done at the caverns, go next door and drive through a real safari! I mean, come on, how cute is this little guy?
The Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch is a drive-through safari with rare African wildlife right outside (and sometimes even inside) your window! That's right - if you roll down your windows and hold out pellets of food that are provided to your at the beginning of your journey, the animals will stick their heads inside your car to get it! I once had an ostrich run full speed next to my car and stick its head in my sunroof - an unforgettable experience, needless to say.
8. Visit a bizarre roadside attraction.
Texas has no shortage of obscure landmarks. These are the infamous pair of legs sculpture in Amarillo and the not as well known see-through public bathrooms in Sulphur Springs, but there are so many that you could plan a road trip around weird sightseeing in Texas.
9. Spend the night under interesting circumstances.
The Teepee Motel in Wharton is one of only 4 like it in the entire U.S! It was built in 1942 and has since been refurbished with modern amenities. If you've ever dreamed of living like a Native American, make 2016 your year to experience it!
10. Go to the Texas State Fair!
Big Tex is practically our state mascot - so it's kind of an obligation to go see your mascot in his home territory, right? If you haven't made the trip to this iconic festival, 2016 is your year!
11. Watch the sunrise.
If we know one thing in Texas, it's simplicity. If you haven't taken the time just sit outside and watch the sun make an appearance in the sky, you have to do it in 2016.
12. Push your stomach to its limits in 2016!
Ever wondered how much food your stomach is capable of holding? What better goal for the new year than challenging yourself to 72 oz of steak at Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo? And if you can finish it, the meal is free!
13. Stay in room 505 at the Hotel Galvez...if you dare.
Texas has so much history, it's no surprise that we have an abundance of haunted hotels. "The Lovelorn Lady" haunts this hotel in Galveston after hanging herself in room 505 upon learning of her husband's death at sea. Will you muster enough bravery in 2016 to face her?
14. Visit a small town.
The southern charm that's already present in all of Texas is amplified tenfold in small towns. Pictured above is Luckenbach, a tiny town special enough to be the namesake of a Willie Nelson song. In 2010, Luckenbach only had 25 people - better take a trip there in 2016 before it starts getting crowded!
15. Spend time with family...
We cherish family like nobody's business in Texas. So in 2016, like any other time, don't forget to slow down your busy life occasionally and spend some quality time with your loved ones.
16. And don't forget to thank your lucky stars you live in Texas!
How excited are you for the new year in Texas? Have you done any of these things already, and if not, are they on your 2016 bucket list now? What else should every Texan do next year? Share your thoughts in the comments below!