Texas Has A Bunch Of Hidden Gems, Here Are The Ones That Don't Cost A Thing
If you're broke as a joke...
Did you know you can drive 13 hours in Texas and still be in Texas? They say everything is bigger in the Lone Star state, and we completely agree. From the food to the land to the state itself, Texas takes pride in everything it has to offer. Included in that are the hidden gems you may or may not heard of before. From a Prada store being plopped down right in the middle of the desert to a replica of England's historic Stonehenge landmark, Texas has it.
Some of these can be found in one of Texas' major cities, like Houston or San Antonio, but some of these are located in small towns with a population of 125. The best part is that all of these won't even cost you a dime. While it might cost you a 13-hour drive to see some of these, we promise the wait is well worth it. Your bank account will think so, too.
Content disclaimer: We strongly advise that before you go swimming or visit a potentially hazardous location, you check for the most recent updates on potential hazards, security, water quality, and closures. The locations listed below may or may not have changed their regulations in regards to what you can or cannot do on site since the article was last updated. Always consult with local authorities. If you do plan to visit a location, know the risks beforehand and respect the environment.
Where: Amarillo, Texas
Pack up your car and head out west! Standing along Route 66 west of Amarillo, Texas is a line of 10 Cadillacs that are free for you to spray paint on. Cadillac Ranch is a unique art installation and sculpture where you are encouraged to leave your mark. This is a definite must-see landmark. There's not an exact address, but the bright and vibrant colors will make it hard to miss.
Float the San Marcos River
Where: San Marcos, TX
Besides Texas State University, people head to San Marcos to float the river. While there are some places that you can rent a tube to float, you can always just get your own at a local store and just plop yourself on the river. This is the perfect place to relax and spend time with your friends while going with the flow of the river. The views are beautiful, too.
Tip: Bring a cooler and tie it to your tube. Fill it up with a few of your favorite brews and float on.
The Green Belt
One of the best things about Austin is that you can live the busy city life and still immerse yourself in nature life. It's the best of both worlds. A lot of those nature hikes are free, too. The Green Belt is probably the most popular of them all. There's not just one location of The Green Belt. There are trails waiting for you behind churches, stores, and houses. From Lost Creek to Rae Dell to Barton Hills Access, as long as you don't mind a little walk, you'll be rewarded with either refreshing waters or beautiful, scenic views. It's a much-needed oasis.
Tip: A lot of the best hike and trail entrances can be found online.
Blanton Museum of Art
Where: 200 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Austin, TX 78712
Located at the University of Texas at Austin, Blanton Museum of Art is one of the largest university art museums in the whole country. On top of the 18,000 works of art housed at the museum, they also showcase year-round traveling exhibitions. So you can discover new and revisit old favorites.
Where: 2100 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704
Right in the heart of downtown Austin is Zilker Park. While the park is home to the annual ACL Festival and Austin Kite Festival, it still offers fun all year round. From Barton Springs Pool to having an incredible view of the Austin skyline, this 361-acre park never disappoints.
Hope Outdoor Gallery
Where: 1101 Baylor St, Austin, TX 78703
Tucked away in the streets of Austin, Hope Art Gallery is three stories of graffiti art spraypainted by local Austinites and visitors. What was originally a space reserved for residential condos, the failed development ended up becoming a space for artists to create. It's one of the largest outdoor galleries in the country.
Austin's Capitol Building
Where: 1100 Congress Ave, Austin
Why not visit the Capitol building in Texas' capital? The building is just as beautiful inside as it is on the outside. Get your camera ready for some much-needed photos. It's also the largest State Capitol in the whole country. Everything is bigger in Texas, am I right?
Just an hour drive away from Austin is the natural wonder that is Jacob's Well. The popular location is a thrill seeker's dream. Many reserve their swimming spot to jump into the 13-foot wide opening. The place has a reputation of being one of the most dangerous places to dive, so be mindful and careful. Have fun, but also be safe!
Tip: If you want to swim in the hole, there is an additional fee. But it's 100% free to enjoy the scenic views of the area.
Where: U.S. 90, Valentine
While you're already out west, make a stop in Valentine, Texas to the small not-open-for-business Prada store. Yes, a Prada store. The Prada store is a permanently installed sculpture and art installation that holds handbags and shoes from an actual Prada collection.
Lady Bird Lake
Lady Bird Lake is a river-like reservoir on the Colorado River in Austin. You can hike and bike around the lake's trail, kayak, canoe, paddleboard, and much more! It's the best (and most beautiful) way to spend a hot summer day.
Four Corners Brewing Company
Where: 1311 S Ervay St, Dallas
Hit up Four Corners Brewing Company during the weekend for a free brewery tour. Learn about the history of the company, tour the brewery, and check out the full selection of beers they have to offer. Cheers!
Dallas Comedy House
Where: 3025 Main St, Dallas
Priding themselves in being THE performance venue for comedy in Dallas, Dallas Comedy House is a hot spot for locals. They regularly host free open-mic and stand up events that are sure to make you laugh.
Klyde Warren Park
Where: 2012 Woodall Rodgers Fwy, Dallas
In the heart of downtown Dallas is 5.2 acres of urban space. Klyde Warren Park is a favorite for locals and there's no surprise why. Whether you want to lay out with your friends, have a picnic for lunch, or attend one of the many group classes, there's always something for everyone to do.
Tip: Check their calendar regularly for fun free events.
Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge
Spanning over the Trinity River, Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge is the perfect bridge to walk across while enjoying the Dallas skyline. It's also pretty dope to look at, right? Can you say Instagram-worthy?
Where: 120 Point Theatre Rd S, Ingram
This place pays homage to the original Stonehenge monument. Next to it is a tribute to the very popular Easter Island Heads. Want to add a fun little 20-minute stop to your next Texas road trip? Here you go. You're welcome.
Where: San Antonio
If you live in Texas and have never been to San Antonio's Riverwalk, add it to your to-do list fast. There's tons of history, beautiful walkways lining a variety of restaurants and stores, and — of course — the river.
You look to the left and there's the city of Austin, then you look to your right and there's the perfect view of the Colorado River. While the height looks intimidating to get to, don't let it fool you. There's a fairly easy staircase to climb that will take you to the very top. Once at the top, enjoy the views. Sit on the pavilion or walk around and find a spot for yourself.
It has been a popular tourist destination since the 1850s. So you know it's a must-do.
Chase Tower in Dallas
Where: 2200 Ross Ave, Dallas
Can you say wow? Chase Tower in Dallas is the fourth tallest skyscraper in the city. Take an elevator up and enjoy the views.
Did you know there's an 'X' that marks the exact location President John F. Kennedy was assassinated? On the West End district of downtown Dallas is Dealey Plaza. Visit the location and make sure to make time to explore The Sixth Floor Museum. The museum showcases the legacy of President Kennedy, and is also the building they found a sniper's rifle the day of his death; hence the sixth-floor reference.
Cathedral of Junk
Where: 4422-4424 Lareina Dr, Austin
This is exactly what it sounds like, a cathedral of junk. But what is your junk can be another man's treasure. The unique space can be found in the backyard of a small house in a suburb in Austin. It's really a one-of-a-kind phenomenon.
These lights, also known as the Marfa ghost lights, have been observed near Route 67 for more than 100 years. It's a strange and unexplained phenomenon that keeps tourists coming back and locals in awe.
While there is still no explanation for why these floating lights appear every so often, the mystery of it all is what makes it exciting. Could it be car lights? A distant campfire? Whatever it is, it's definitely something you have to see for yourself.
Also known as Pennybacker Bridge, this is the perfect spot to appreciate another beautiful Austin view.
Tip: Come for the sunrise or a sunset. You'll thank us later.