Texas can be incredibly surprising. It is at once sprawling yet myopic , wildly diverse but oddly predictable, independent yet dependent on the entirety of its state, the largest one in the U.S.
I’ve been surprised by Texas so many times I’ve lost count. It is nothing like what people think… and exactly like it. I have no desire to rehash the politics, the characters, and the “uh, what?” that tends to come with Texas government. I prefer to speak to its offerings and the people who dominate its landscape – really good people who are welcoming and warm.
I’m based out of Houston, but I’ve been exploring the rest of Texas since I got here. Each time I do, I think I know exactly what I’m going to get, and I’m not entirely wrong, but I’m nowhere near right. West Texas is, indeed, dusty and flat and filled with barbecue joints. But I was blown away by what Lubbock has to offer in the way of the arts, culture, and dining. San Antonio does in fact have a bustling Riverwalk and a Mexican Marketplace, but it also has a Japanese Garden and the best tableside guacamole you’ll ever eat.
My most recent excursion was to Highland Lakes in far north Hill Country. Talk about another surprise! I expected trailers, camps, and guys carrying fishing rods. And yes, all of those three are there. But you know what else you’ll find? A dark sky observatory experience, the quaint boutique-y town of Marble Falls, four distinctive wineries with beautiful vineyards, an award-winning distillery, and lot of choices in accommodations, from a resort to a container room, to a B&B.
Below are links to places I highly recommend when visiting Highland Lakes. The picture above was taken from the Vanishing Texas River Cruise, which is a must-do. Your friendly guide will tell you all about the history of the area, and when you turn a bend and come across this exquisite waterfall, you really will gasp. That’s what I’m telling you – Texas never stops surprising.