9-Day Best of Texas Road Trip Itinerary


There’s no better way to explore Texas than with a road trip. As you (hopefully) know, the state is huge. And it’s full of great cities and places to visit. Even this 9-day Texas road trip itinerary will barely scratch the surface of the Lone Star State. 

But we know that vacation time is often limited. Sometimes you have to just squeeze in a quick trip even if you know you won’t get to see or do everything.

Growing up, Grant lived in Plano (north of Dallas) for a few years. One of the first trips Grant and I took together was to see his dad and stepmom when they were living in the Dallas area. Of course, we turned that into a week-long road trip.

Since then, we’ve done several more road trips to and through many parts of Texas. And we’ve loved them all and are itching to explore even more of the state.

This 9-day itinerary starts along the Gulf Coast, then moves inland to central Texas, ending in Fort Worth. Along the way, you’ll explore sandy beaches, historical missions, Austin’s quirkiness, the Hill Country and Fort Worth’s cowtown.

Texas Road Trip Itinerary At-a-Glance

  • Day 1 – Galveston
  • Day 2 – Aransas National Wildlife Refuge
  • Day 3 – Padre Island National Seashore
  • Day 4 – San Antonio
  • Day 5 – Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park 
  • Day 6 – Fredericksburg & Drive to Austin
  • Day 7 – Austin
  • Day 8 – Waco
  • Day 9 – Fort Worth Stockyards 

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Best Time for a Texas Road Trip

All of our visits to Texas have been in the winter or spring (December – April). As you might guess, it’s just too hot for us in the summer. Generally, temperatures are mild in the winter.

In the summer (June, July, August), average high temperatures in central Texas are in the mid-90s. And those temperatures often soar above 100 degrees.

Also be aware that summer and early Fall is hurricane season, with most activity occurring between mid-August and mid-October. This will mostly affect the coast. But, rain and winds will move often move inland.

For cooler temperatures, late fall, winter or early spring are the best times to visit Texas. 

Winter in Texas

It is important to note, though, that Texas does sometimes get winter weather, especially in the panhandle. In fact, we were in Texas for the great freeze in February 2021 that completely overwhelmed the power grid across much of the state. 

Trying to avoid the winter weather that we knew was coming, we headed to Brownsville and South Padre Island to visit Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park. Even the southern tip of Texas wasn’t far enough south to miss the arctic blast, though. 

During our visit, many businesses lost water and/or electricity. We were ok for a few days, though we did end one lunch in the dark and had to pay with cash. Then, our hotel lost water. Driving north from South Padre Island to get home was eye-opening. We had trouble finding food, a hotel and even bathrooms. 

We learned a lot on that trip about how ill-prepared we were for emergencies while traveling. We’ve since outfitted our vehicle with plenty of supplies in case we end up in a similar situation again!

Despite that experience, we were brave enough to return to Texas in December 2023. Thankfully, we had just about perfect weather. Temperatures were mild and we got first-hand experience as to why so many full-time RVers choose to winter in south and central Texas. 

Don’t let our experience scare you. Texas really is great in the winter. In fact, much of our itinerary will focus on things we did in the winter. In warmer months, you’ll be able to enjoy even more outdoor activities.

Planning Your Texas Road Trip Itinerary

Since everyone has a different starting point, our 9-day Texas road trip does not include driving time from or back to your home. With less time, you can easily focus on just one or two cities. With more time, there is plenty more to add on around the state and I’ve included a few suggestions.

Our book, USA RV Adventures, includes an 18-day route through the Best of the Lone Star State. This 9-day itinerary is similar to the middle portion of that route. If you are traveling with an RV, you will find recommendations for campgrounds and additional RV-specific information in the book. You can also check out all the campgrounds we’ve stayed at and our reviews on RV Life.

If you prefer to fly to Texas, you can easily complete this road trip in a rental car. I suggest flying in and out of either Houston or Dallas/Fort Worth. 

We built this itinerary to mimic the trip we took in December 2023 – January 2024. We started our trip in Galveston so we could take advantage of the resort credit with our Hilton American Express Aspire Card before it expired. You could easily do this trip in reverse order if you prefer to end with a relaxing beach stay.

Moon USA RV Adventures: 25 Epic Routes (Travel Guide)
  • Sinclair, Bonnie (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 560 Pages – 02/28/2023 (Publication Date) – Moon Travel (Publisher)

Day 1 – Galveston

Located about an hour southeast of Houston, Galveston is on the northern end of the Texas barrier islands. It is predominantly a beach town with a growing cruise terminal.

Of course, in the winter it was a little too cold to swim or sunbathe. Still, we enjoyed the sunshine and simply being in a smaller city with less traffic and congestion. At the same time, I liked that the beach town wasn’t completely dead in the winter. Pretty much everything was open, including the amusement park on the pier.

Depending on the weather, you can still enjoy a walk on the beach. Even when it’s cold, there’s something rejuvenating about soaking up some sunshine!

Downtown Galveston is easily walkable with a variety of shops and restaurants. And the main square, Saengerfest Park, holds a couple of unique art pieces which are well worth viewing.

Regardless of the time of year, be sure to visit Moody Gardens. While the tropical gardens are the main draw in the spring and summer, special events make it a worthy stop year-round. During our visit, the Holiday in the Gardens wowed us with a mile-long trail through the Festival of Lights. Additional activities included an immersive ice land, ice skating, an arctic slide and more.

If you are visiting in February, it is important to note that Galveston holds one of the largest Mardi Gras celebrations in the country. We haven’t been but it could be an interesting alternative to New Orleans. 

In the winter, one day in Galveston was long enough for us. I could certainly see staying longer when it’s warmer, though. 

Where to Eat and Sleep in Galveston

For breakfast, we highly recommend the Gumbo Diner, which serves classic American diner fare with a cajun twist. The breakfast entrees were delicious and the beignets rivaled those we had in New Orleans. 

The diner is also open for lunch and dinner but we only had breakfast. Based on our experience, though, I imagine it’s great any time of day!

For lunch, dinner or just drinks, we recommend Texas Tail Distillery. Try a flight with your choice of 5 samples of whisky, vodka or moonshine. If you prefer, you can choose from a wide variety of traditional and seasonal cocktails. 

Unlike most distilleries, this one has a fairly robust food menu, so it’s worth a stop even if you aren’t invested in the whisky. And the outdoor space is fantastic, so it’d be even better when it’s warm outside!

As you might guess, there is a good selection of hotels and RV parks in Galveston.

We spent two nights at the Hilton Galveston Island Resort to use our resort credit from the Hilton American Express Aspire Card. The hotel is located right across the road from the beach. In the winter, you can enjoy the heated pool. In the summer, adults will enjoy the swim-up bar.

The hotel also has a restaurant and bar.

Read the TripAdvisor Reviews | Book the Hotel

Day 2 – Galveston to Port Aransas

Your second day will take you from Galveston to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, then on to Port Aransas (or Corpus Christi). To maximize your time at the refuge, you’ll need to get a fairly early start, especially in the winter when the sun sets early.

From Galveston, we suggest that you take the scenic drive southwest along the island. Yes, it’s about 20 minutes longer than the inland route. And there is a $2 toll road as you cross from Galveston Island to San Luis Island. 

We think it’s worth it, though, as it was a scenic and relaxing drive along the coast.

No Texas road trip would be complete without a stop at Buc-ee’s. And since there aren’t many other options for lunch, today is a great day to stop at one. There are several along the way… Just don’t spend too long shopping! 

Unfortunately, you’ll still have to turn inland at the far end of San Luis Island. From there, you’ll wind through several small towns as you make your way south to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, which is on San Antonio Bay.

So, what makes Aransas National Wildlife Refuge worth a stop? In the winter, it’s home to the last wild flock of endangered whooping cranes. 

It’s also a really nice coastal area with a large variety of wildlife. Sadly, we only saw one pair of cranes. But we saw a plethora of other birds, an alligator, deer and even a glimpse of a couple of javelinas in the distance.

The refuge also has several short and easy hiking trails, an observation tower and a nine-mile, one-way auto-driving loop.

Yes, it’s a bit of a ways “off the beaten path” but we really enjoyed Aransas NWR. And, if you have a National Parks pass, that covers the entry fee.

Where to Stay Near Aransas NWR

From the refuge, continue your drive south to either Port Aransas or Corpus Christi for the night.

Corpus Christi is a much bigger town with many more options for hotels and restaurants. But we stayed in Port Aransas so that we could spend even more time right on the coast (and for a slightly more affordable hotel).

The fastest way to Port Aransas is via the vehicle ferry from Aransas Pass (near Rockport). It’s a free ferry and you don’t need a reservation. We lucked out and drove right on and almost immediately took off for the other side of the channel. 

During peak visitation, you might have a longer wait, but they’ll have more ferries running so it shouldn’t be too long. Once on the ferry, it’s just a 5-10 minute ride to the island.

We stayed at the Hampton Inn in Port Aransas, which was comfortable. It was just a quick one-night stop, which was perfect in the winter. Port Aransas looked like a nice enough beach town if you’re visiting when it’s warmer. But there wasn’t much to do in the winter.

Read TripAdvisor Reviews | Book the Hotel

Day 3 – Padre Island National Seashore

Your third and final day along the coast is spent at Padre Island National Seashore.

As you might guess, the main thing to do here is enjoy the beach. There is one short hiking trail that wanders through the inland dunes. Windsurfing, kayaking and fishing are also popular on both the gulf and laguna side of the barrier island.

In the summer (mid-June through August), you can watch a Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle hatchling release on certain mornings. Check the park’s website for details on the schedule and other information about the hatchlings. 

In the winter, we braved the wind to walk nearly a mile down the beach. Despite the cool temperatures, the sunshine felt great and it’s always nice to get in a little exercise on a road trip.

We made it to the beach camping area, another popular activity at Padre Island National Seashore. Sadly, we didn’t have our RV with us on this trip. We definitely want to return and spend a couple of days doing some primitive (and free!) camping on the beach, though!

From Padre Island, we recommend driving to San Antonio for the night. It’s only about a 2.5 hour drive and that will allow you plenty of time the next day to explore all this great city has to offer.

If you have more time, you could always spend another night in Port Aransas or Corpus Christi to enjoy more time at the beach.

I’ve got more details on this portion of the itinerary in my article on visiting the Texas Gulf Coast.

Day 4 – San Antonio

San Antonio is best known for The River Walk and the Alamo, which are easily explored together.

Most people know the Alamo as the site of a pivotal battle in the Texas Revolution. Before that, it was a Spanish Mission and fort established by Roman Catholic missionaries. In fact, in the 1700s there were many Spanish Missionaries in South and Central Texas. 

San Antonio Missions National Historical Park

Start your day by exploring San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, which preserves four of these mission communities. Each preserves a history that many current San Antonio residents can trace their family heritage to.

The four missions are located south of downtown, along or near the San Antonio River. You can also easily drive between the four locations, which are about 2.5 miles apart from each other. GPS directions are fairly accurate but follow local street signs when you see them! 

A paved Mission Reach Hike & Bike Trail connects the missions as well. With enough time (and good weather), this would be a great way to see the sites.

Each of the four missions are very different and all worth a visit. The park’s main visitor center is located at Mission San José, which is the second closest to downtown. All of them have a ranger contact station and basic information, though. 

You could easily start at Mission Espada, which is farthest south and work your way north. Just a lot a little more time for Mission San José, as it is the biggest and most restored. We also suggest you watch the park movie and check out the exhibits at the visitor center.

It is also important to note that all of the missions are active churches that hold regular services. In fact, at Mission Espada there was a wedding in progress during our visit. Be considerate of these services. 

Downtown San Antonio

After touring the missions, make your way to Downtown and park. Grab some lunch and spend some time wandering along the River Walk. The River Walk is lined with a wide variety of restaurants, most offering waterside dining. 

If you prefer a less crowded meal, walk just a block or two off the River Walk and you’ll find plenty more options.

Spend as much time as you’d like walking around, taking in the sights, people-watching and shopping along the way. 

From there, walk over to the Alamo for a tour of this famed Texas site. You can tour the Alamo Church for free but reservations are required. If you want to spend more time exploring the Alamo, you can choose from a self-guided tour or join a group for a guided experience. There are also other exhibits to see which can easily make for a full day itself. 

Spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing along the River Walk or head back to your hotel for a nap. Or, if you have more time and energy you can visit the Briscoe Western Art Museum, San Antonio Zoo, Japanese Tea Gardens or the Witte Museum. 

Following dinner, make your way to San Antonio’s Main Plaza for The Saga, an epic light show projected onto the facade of San Fernando Cathedral. You can catch the show Tuesday – Sunday at 9:00 pm and 9:30 pm. The 24-minute show follows the history and development of San Antonio, Texas and the United States.

This was a unique and fantastic light show that we both really enjoyed. There are a few chairs in the square but, likely, not enough for all visitors. Bring your own or be prepared to stand or sit on the ground.

Where to Eat in San Antonio

For lunch, we stumbled into La Mexicana, a Mexican restaurant right off Main Plaza. Honestly, we were so hungry we just went to the first place we saw before we both got hangry. Wow, what a great decision that was!

The restaurant doesn’t look like anything special but the food was amazing. Our meals of enchiladas and tortas were spot on. And the tortillas were seriously some of the best we’ve ever had. If you want to avoid the crowds and inflated prices along the River Walk, this is a great option that’s just a couple of blocks away.

For dinner, we headed to Pollo Asados los Nortenos, which we recommended in our book based on research. Thankfully, our research was right and we had a fabulous meal. The idea for the restaurant came following a fundraiser for a new church in the Mexican town of Nueva Rosita. 

The fundraiser was successful and the family started a food truck. Now, there are two restaurant locations not far from downtown.

It’s a small menu consisting of whole and half chicken, burgers and grilled meats. Grant and I split the whole chicken with all the sides and had way more than enough food. 

Don’t worry if there’s a wait – service is quick and you likely won’t have to wait long for a table. And we got our food just a few minutes after ordering.

Where to Stay in San Antonio

You will find a wide range of places to stay in and around San Antonio. You can splurge on a hotel along the River Walk or opt for a budget-friendly stay outside of town. Pretty much every hotel chain is represented in San Antonio and you’ll find a variety of local hotels and RV parks as well. 

If you choose to stay downtown, you’ll be able to walk to many of the places on this itinerary. 

We opted for the latter, staying at the Hilton Garden Inn San Antonio at The Rim.

Read TripAdvisor Reviews | Book the Hotel

The Rim is a suburban shopping area with a wide variety of hotels, restaurants and stores on the north side of San Antonio. The Hilton Garden Inn was comfortable and we enjoyed having the restaurant/bar as an option for breakfast and dinner. 

Check out Grant’s article for more details on visiting San Antonio Missions NHP. 

Day 5 – Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park and the Hill Country

From San Antonio, continue your road trip north to explore the Texas Hill Country. 

Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park

Spend your morning at the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park. The two units of this park preserve the former president’s boyhood home and ranch, where you’ll find the Texas White House. Working in conjunction with the NPS site, the Lydon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site preserves an early 1900s farmstead and controls access to the ranch.

Start your visit at the Visitor Center in Johnson City. View the exhibits, watch the park film and take a guided tour of Johnson’s boyhood home. This modest home still doesn’t have air conditioning and is a stark reminder that LBJ grew up just like many people in the 1920s – without electricity or indoor plumbing. 

From there, continue to the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site right across the river from the LBJ ranch. The state park works in conjunction with the National Park Service so grab tickets to tour the LBJ Ranch here. But don’t run off just yet! At the state park, you will find a historic farmstead with living historians replicating what it was like to grow up in the Hill Country during LBJ’s childhood. At the farmstead, a short trail takes you to a working farm and past the park’s small longhorn and bison herds. 

At the LBJ Ranch, complete the driving tour to see the schoolhouse, birthplace, family cemetery, working ranch, airplane hangar and the Texas White House. The President and First Lady’s house got its name based on how much time they spent there, even while LBJ was in office. Depending on when you visit, you may be able to schedule a tour of the Johnson’s house.

Note: In 2024, the park started major renovations of the Airplane Hangar Visitor Center and Texas White House. Both are closed until the rehabilitation is complete. The remainder of the ranch driving tour is open and available to visitors. The Texas White House Complex is expected to reopen in late 2025. 

The Hill Country

For the afternoon, choose from one (or more) of the many wineries and vineyards along Highway 290 between Johnson City and Fredericksburg. 

Before our December 2023 visit, we knew the area had recently grown into a rather large wine-producing region. We did not fully understand the extent of that growth until we saw it ourselves. 

Seriously, there were too many vineyards and wineries to count as we drove west towards Fredericksburg. There are even a few breweries and distilleries along the way as well.

You can easily spend the rest of the afternoon visiting on your own to sample the region’s production. If you don’t have a designated driver, you can join a tour to make it a safe and enjoyable afternoon.

If wine isn’t your thing, you can drive on to Fredericksburg or take a detour to Luckenbach. This unincorporated community is a modern-day ghost town, though it does have a working saloon, general store and, most notably, one of the best dance halls in Texas. 

The city is widely remembered for its 2006 population of 3 (yes, just 3). According to my research, it now boasts a population of 13. But, up to 1,300 people can flood the city on the weekend for its excellent live music and special events.

Where to Eat and Sleep in Fredericksburg

You’ll find a wide variety of restaurants and hotels in Fredericksburg, making it a great base for your visit to the Hill Country.

For either lunch or dinner, we highly recommend The Auslander, an authentic German restaurant in downtown Fredericksburg. We ended up there for a late lunch and even at 2:00 pm there was a fairly significant wait. Thankfully, it was worth it!

The menu features a variety of traditional schnitzel and sausage, along with a few American favorites for the picky eaters. 

We opted for a traditional lunch starting with spicy pimento cheese and “Old World” potato soup, followed by Kasewurst, a spicy smoked sausage. Everything was absolutely fantastic and hit the spot on a cool winter afternoon.

If German food isn’t your thing, there is a wide variety of restaurants in downtown Fredericksburg, sure to please any palette.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a specific recommendation for a hotel. We intended to stay in Fredericksburg but waited too late to make reservations since we were in town just before New Year’s Eve. 

There are many chain and local hotels in the area to choose from, though. Just make reservations early, especially if visiting around a holiday weekend. Fredericksburg and the Hill Country is a popular destination these days!

Since we didn’t have a hotel, we ended up visiting Johnson City and Fredericksburg as a day trip from San Antonio. As such, we didn’t have time to do everything we suggest on this itinerary.

Day 6 – Fredericksburg to Austin

If you didn’t have time to enjoy the downtown area of Fredericksburg on Day 5, make a point to do that before leaving town. Fredericksburg has a lovely downtown filled with shops, restaurants, breweries and wineries. 

In fact, if you didn’t make it to any vineyards on your drive in, you can find several tasting rooms in town. Some of the restaurants also serve local varieties. 

If you are visiting in the spring, head up to the Willow City Loop. This 13-mile scenic drive is about 20 minutes northeast of Fredericksburg and boasts some of the best wildflower fields in Texas. Bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes are typically plentiful if you time it right. 

Alas, on our first visit to the area in April 2011, we were a bit too early to catch the peak of the wildflower season.

If you want to stretch your legs, the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area offers several hiking trails. The highlight of the park is a massive dome of pink granite. From the top, you’ll have amazing views of the surrounding area.

From here, drive to Austin for two nights.  

Day 7 – Austin

The state capital of Austin promotes itself as “the live music capital of the world.” The unofficial slogan of “Keep Austin Weird,” is a nod to promoting unique local businesses, rather than large corporations. 

If you didn’t catch the wildflowers near Fredericksburg, be sure to stop at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. The center offers a mix of cultivated gardens and managed natural areas with a focus on conserving native plants and resources. 

The Wildflower Center was high on our list of places to visit on our recent Texas road trip. Unfortunately, we were in Austin on New Year’s Eve weekend and it was closed during our visit. Hopefully, we’ll be able to hit it the next time we are in town.

Instead, we made a point to visit the Barton Creek Greenbelt for a First Day Hike. This relatively easy trail takes you to two waterfalls… when there is water running. Again, the time of year meant for a dry creek bed and no waterfalls. Still, it was a good hike and we really enjoyed the exercise. It’s best explored in the spring or summer, though. 

Thankfully, we were able to fully enjoy one of Austin’s best-known sites: South Congress Avenue. Along this pedestrian-friendly thoroughfare, you’ll be able to explore some of the city’s quirkiness and support all kinds of businesses. 

From small independent eateries to local artists and the iconic Allens Boots, you’ll find just about everything including some of Austin’s notable live music.

Austin’s Bat Flight

From late March through early fall, be sure to end your day with Austin’s incredible bat flight. In season, the Congress Avenue Bridge is also a thriving colony of thousands of Mexican Free-Tailed Bats. 

Around sunset, the bats begin to emerge in search of food. The flood of bats pouring over Lady Bird Lake from under the bridge is an event that shouldn’t be missed.

The bat flight occurs nightly around sunset, anywhere from 7:30 to 9:45. But this is a natural event so the bats do what they want when they want. 

There are several prime viewing areas near the Congress Avenue Bridge. One of the best is the grassy hill at the Statesman Bat Observation Center. 

When we return to Austin, we’ll be making sure it’s during bat season so we can catch this spectacular event!

Where to Eat and Sleep in Austin

There is no shortage of great restaurants in Austin. From barbecue to fine dining, you’re sure to find something for everyone.

Close to the Congress Avenue Bridge, Terry Black’s BBQ is an Austin staple that is sure to have a line. If you want to combine dinner and a night out, Stubb’s BBQ has its own outdoor amphitheater and hosts a variety of acts. 

For brunch, lunch or dinner while you’re shopping, Joann’s Fine Foods is a Tex-Mex Diner with a lively patio. Its vintage diner decor provides a modern yet nostalgic vibe. The menu is quite varied and the bar is known for its extensive tequila and mezcal selection.

We popped in for lunch before walking South Congress Avenue and thoroughly enjoyed a couple of sandwiches (Patty Melt for Grant and Tuna Melt for me). Their extensive menu of all-day breakfast, sandwiches, salads, and Tex-Mex specialties made it a difficult decision, though. 

For dinner, we found the Salty Sow through the BILT Rewards Dining program and had a fabulous New Year’s Day dinner. The Truffled Deviled Eggs were the perfect start to the meal. For entrees, I opted for the Genuine Blackened Redfish, while Grant chose the Smoked Pork Carnitas. Both were absolutely perfect.

And a couple of cocktails and it was a great way to start 2024 and wrap up our time in Austin.

Day 8 – Waco

From Austin, you’ll continue your road trip north to Waco. For a relatively small town, there are a ton of things to do so get an early start!

Grant first visited Waco in October 2022, on a solo trip while I was on away for an EF training tour in Paris. But, of course, I had to experience all of the great sights myself. We agreed that it absolutely deserves at least one day on your Texas road trip. Honestly, you could easily spend two or three days here, though.

5 Things to Do in Waco

1) If you are fans of Fixer Upper, you can focus your visit on all things Magnolia, Chip & Joanna Gaines’ brand. But, there are plenty of other things to do in Waco. As much as we enjoy the show, we filled our time otherwise.

2) National Park fans will want to prioritize visiting the Waco Mammoth National Monument. The park preserves a fossil bed of Columbian mammoths, including the country’s only evidence of a nursery herd. 

You can visit the dig site on a guided tour, which are given every 30 minutes throughout the day. Tours last 45 minutes – 1 hour and are available on a first-come basis.

3) To understand more about Texas history, visit the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame. This small museum explains how the frontier law enforcement group evolved into a premier investigative unit. 

A variety of exhibits showcase weapons, notable cases (such as the notorious Bonnie and Clyde), special operations and, of course, Hall of Fame inductees. 

4) For a lighter museum visit, the Dr Pepper Museum showcases the evolution of the iconic soft drink. The museum is located in the original bottling plant. The three floors of exhibits cover the drink’s development, botting, distribution and marketing.

You can also visit the old-fashioned soda fountain for a hand-pulled and mixed soda or float. 

5) For less structure, downtown Waco is filled with shops and is very pedestrian-friendly. You can easily spend the morning or afternoon wandering around and taking in all the city offers. Additionally, the Riverwalk provides a lovely place to walk along the Brazos River. Or, you can get out on the water with a kayak or paddleboard.

Read Grant’s in-depth article about visiting Waco.

Where to Eat and Drink in Waco

After two visits to Waco, we’ve collected several recommendations for food and drink. And even a few places we wanted to visit and didn’t make it to!

Whiskey fans should make a point to visit Balcones Distilling for a tour or at least a drink. After too many distillery tours to count, Grant claims this is the best tour he’s ever taken. And their Brimstone Whiskey, which is smoked with Texas scrub oak, is one of his favorite whiskeys. I’m a fan of some of their less-smokey options and we came home with a bottle of rum on this past trip.

For wine lovers, we recommend Valley Mills Vineyards, which is about 30 minutes west of town. We enjoyed a tasting and brought back a couple of bottles. The only downside for us was that we visited in the winter so didn’t get to see active vines. It would be much more scenic in the summer when the vines are full of almost-ripe fruit!

A few restaurants that we recommend are Our Breakfast Place for, you guessed it… a traditional Texas breakfast. For lunch and dinner, a few options are:

Where to Stay in Waco

There are a variety of hotels in Waco. You are sure to find one that suits your preferences either in downtown or just outside of town. Since we prefer Hilton hotels, we opted for those on both of our visits.

For Grant’s solo trip to Waco, he stayed at the Tru by Hilton on the south side of town. The hotel was comfortable and reasonably priced, especially for one person. While we have stayed a Tru hotels when traveling together, we generally find that they are a bit cramped for two people.

Read TripAdvisor Reviews | Book the Hotel

When we returned together, we stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn, also on the south side of town.  As Diamond Members (thanks to the Hilton American Express Aspire Card), we were upgraded to a great room for anyone who needs to work on the road.

Read TripAdvisor Reviews | Book the Hotel

In addition to a king-size bed with a sitting area, we also had a long desk and work area. Our only gripe is there was only one desk chair, though I’m sure we could have gotten another one if we had asked.

There were a few restaurants within walking distance to the Hilton Garden Inn but we opted to head into town or to the hotel restaurant for all of our meals.

Day 9 – Fort Worth Stockyards

For your final day in Texas, you’ll drive north to Fort Worth to visit the historic Stockyards. Be sure to time your visit to catch one of two daily cattle drives, which occur at 11:30 am and 4:30 pm. 

Since it’s only about a 1.5-hour drive, you can easily spend the morning in Waco if you still have things to see and do. Or, head up early and then start your drive home or make your way to the airport for a late-afternoon flight.

The Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District preserves the cowtown history of the city. There are a variety of restaurants and shops. Additionally, there is a petting farm, historic museums and a weekly rodeo. 

Most notably, Billy Bob’s claims to be the world’s largest honky-tonk. This restaurant also provides entertainment in the form of concerts, country line dancing and a bull riding arena.

You can easily make an afternoon or evening out of a visit to the Fort Worth Stockyards if you have the time. Otherwise, wander around for a bit, check out the museum and catch the cattle drive.

Of course, you’ll find a wide variety of places to stay in and around Fort Worth and the Dallas metropolitan area. 

Final Thoughts on our Texas Road Trip Itinerary

Even with a week-long road trip, we’re barely skimming the surface of all the fantastic places to go and things to do in Texas. We know we’ve left out tons of great stops. 

In USA RV Adventures, the Best of the Lone Star State route starts in west Texas at Big Bend National Park, which is a great park to visit in the late fall, winter and spring. From there, it crosses the state to Padre Island, where it joins this itinerary. 

Leaving Fort Worth, the route continues north to Caprock Canyon and Palo Duro Canyon State Parks, both of which are high on our list of places we still need to visit. 

The book, of course, provides RV-friendly directions and tips, along with campground recommendations. 

With additional time, those are great add-ons to this Texas road trip. Of course, that still doesn’t include El Paso or Guadalupe Mountains National Park (near the New Mexico border and Carlsbad Caverns NP). 

If you don’t have time for the full 9-day itinerary, you could easily shorten it to just the coastal region or just one or two cities along the route. San Antonio, Fredericksburg, Austin and Waco all make great weekend trips if you just have a couple of days. 

With a full week, though, this itinerary takes you to some of Texas’ most beloved cities and into the heart of the Lone Star State. 

Travel Resources
What do you use to find a flight?

We use Skyscanner to find deals on flights. Skyscanner has a great interface and compares tons of airlines for the best pricing and routing. That said, it does not always have every airline and some airlines will have better deals on their website. Still, Skyscanner is a great place to start.
Click here to search for a flight.

What do you use to find a hotel?

We typically stay at Hilton properties, so we use the Hilton website. You can find good Hilton Honors discounts or AAA discounts for a hotel there. We make great use of our free night certificates from our Hilton Honors American Express.
Click here to book a Hilton property.

If there are no Hilton properties available, we use TripAdvisor to read reviews and book the hotel. We find we can get the best price that way.
Click here to search for a hotel.

We recently partnered with Stay22 to add interactive maps to each of our destination posts. This will allow you to see a plethora of hotels and vacation rentals all in one responsive map of the area.

What if I need more space than I can get at a hotel?

We use Vrbo for the times when we have rented a cabin for a weekend getaway, like this cabin in Townsend, TN, or needed to rent a house for a large family vacation. We had a great experience with them in terms of refunding deposits when COVID hit and will continue to use them.
Click here to search for a vacation rental.

Who do you use for rental cars?

As a general rule, we book with Hertz for rental cars. We have had nothing but good experiences with them. Plus, we really like unlimited mileage and not worrying about crossing state lines. We have even rented from Hertz overseas in both Slovenia and Croatia.
Click here to book a rental car.

How about booking a cruise?

We have found some amazing prices for booking a cruise through Cruise Direct. We have saved a lot of money on our cruises compared to what we found elsewhere, making a last-minute Bahamas cruise even cheaper.
Click here to book a cruise.

What if I want to rent an RV?

We highly recommend Outdoorsy for RV rentals. We rented a camper van for a week to visit Rocky Mountain National Park for the elk rut and Custer State Park for the Buffalo Round-Up and had a blast. The program was easy to use and we really enjoyed the freedom of having a camper van for that trip.
Click here to rent an RV.

What do you use for booking tours?

We don’t often book tours. Typically, we like to do stuff on our own. That said, there are some experiences you can’t have any other way. So, when we do want to book a tour, we always check Viator first.
Click here to book a tour.

Do you use anything to get discounts on the road?

We make extensive use of both Good Sam and AAA on the road. Good Sam is normally regarded as a discount card for RVers at campgrounds and Camping World but anyone can use the 5 cents off a gallon at the pump at both Pilot and Flying J.
Click here to get a Good Sam membership.
We have had AAA as long as we have been married and it has more than paid for itself in discounts at hotels, aside from the peace of mind of having roadside assistance. Add in paper maps and the ability to get an international driver’s license and it is more than worth it for any traveler out there.
Click here to get a AAA membership.

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