Texas Travel

The Complete Guide to a Texas Road Trip

By Patrick Reardon 9.14.23

When you hear the open road calling your name, there are no highways with more to explore than Texas’. Between a packed strip of Route 66 in the Panhandle and the FM 170 along the Rio Grande are miles of road with plenty to discover. Here’s everything you need to know for a genuine Texas road trip, from routes to take and roadside stops along the way to crafting the ultimate Texan playlist.

Before You Go…

Queue the Tunes: Is a road trip a road trip without a finely curated playlist? Whether you’re cruising through scenic Hill Country, the rolling West Texas mountains, or the towering East Texas Pineywoods, the experience of a Texas road trip isn’t complete without a queue of truly Texan music. The Lone Star State is the birthplace of classic road songs like Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again” and Kris Kristofferson’s “Me and Bobby McGhee.” Check out our full road trip playlist for a full lineup of country jams.

Ready Your Ride: Stocking the console with beef jerky and your favorite CDs is the fun part of road-trip prep, but getting your vehicle in shape is essential to avoiding roadside misadventures in the middle of nowhere. Make sure your oil is clean, your spare tire has air, and your coolant is topped off — it’s gonna be a long drive! Get our complete car safety checklist for road trips here.

Where To?

The Classic Scenic Highways: There are almost 700,000 miles of road in Texas, more than any other state in the U.S., but no matter which road you take or which direction you head, the highways all offer scenic routes. Farm-to-Market 170 (or FM 170) in Big Bend runs along rivers and canyons. The Lonesome Highway in West Texas is simultaneously flat and mountainous. There are plenty of routes to take, so dig into the collection of our favorite Texas highways for more.

Route 66: Although only about 150 miles of the internationally famous Route 66 cut through Texas, it’s a jam-packed stretch of road in the Panhandle. Along the way, you’ll find a barbed wire museum, one of Elvis Presley’s favorite diners, and the infamous public art installation Cadillac Ranch. Get the full lineup of Route 66 attractions in Texas on our guide.

The Texan Music Venue Tour: A significant amount of American music is rooted in Texas, so it follows that the music venues around the state are just as historic. The variety of stages and locations makes for a great map to plan your road trip around — start at the Luckenbach Dance Hall in Hill Country, swing-dance your way through the world’s largest honky-tonk in Fort Worth, and wind up in Helotes, the birthplace of Texas-music legend Willie Nelson. Pack your dancing shoes and check out our complete list of music venues.

See “Europe”: No need to book an international flight — you can road trip your way from London to Paris to Berlin to Moscow right here in Texas. These are just a few of the “European” cities in the Lone Star State, which together can create a fun tour of Central-to-East Texas. Check out the full list of Texas-Europe towns here.

The Twisted Sisters: A 100-mile loop of two-lane blacktop in the heart of Hill Country and the windiest road in Texas, the Twisted Sisters is not for the faint of heart. It’s a truly awesome drive full of rough terrain, hairpin turns, and steep cliffs — ingredients for a road trip that’s equal parts beautiful and harrowing. If you’re up for the challenge, read up on our guide to tackling the Twisted Sisters.

Best Roadside Stops

The Top Gas Stations: Every Texas road-tripper has pulled off at a Buc-ee’s to join the melting pot of road-weary Texans who congregate here to top off their tanks and load up on brisket sandwiches. But there are several renowned gas stops around the state with famous (and random) road offerings, like Fuel City’s street tacos and Fox Fuels’ laundromat. Stop off at our guide to gas stations in Texas to learn our favorites.

Czech Stop: One of the best gas stations in Texas also offers the best kolaches in the state. Czech Stop is in the small town of West, which is just north of Waco and one of the most Czech-populous areas in the country. They’ve been handmaking kolaches (plus a full menu of authentic Czech pastries) since 1983, and it’s been a haven for hungry road-trippers ever since. Learn all about their delicious history here.

Roadside Fruit Stands: When your Texas road trip gets bogged down with I-35 traffic, keep an eye out for fresh fruit stands along the way. No matter what’s in the season, there are almost always family-run stands along frontage roads hawking peaches and strawberries, jams and jellies, and even Christmas trees. Learn some of our favorite roadside stands in our guide.

Texas Road-Trip Bingo

Any direction your road trip takes you, keep your eyes peeled for these quintessentially Texan things. How many can you find along the way?

Ready to hit the road? Explore even more of our Texas Travel blogs to guide you along the way.

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