Start your adventure in Dallas, where glimmering skyscrapers meet tangible history - starting at Dealey Plaza, the birthplace of Dallas and later the location of a significant moment in the USA's history. Learn all about the life and legacy of President John F. Kennedy at the sixth-floor museum before delving into the city's blooming beauty at the 66-acre Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, or its burgeoning creative scene in the atmospheric Arts District.
The old red-brick warehouses of the Historic West End have been transformed into thriving bars and restaurants and across the Trinity River you'll find Trinity Groves, packed with restaurants like the family-run Mexican favourite Beto & Son. Nearby, Bishop Arts District also has a lively local scene: make a beeline for Emporium Pies for a tasty slice (or two).
For a night out on the town, venture east of downtown to Deep Ellum. This neighbourhood is known for its rich musical history and continues to be a hub for live music in the city today. It's the place to be to listen to swinging jazz and moody blues.
A half-hour drive or TRE train ride to the west, Fort Worth lives up to its nickname: the 'city of cowboys and culture'. You can learn about the Wild West's pioneering women at the National Cowgirl Museum, tour the Cultural District's five museums and witness the twice-daily cattle drive at the Stockyards National Historic District. You'll want to spend a few days (at least) to tuck into the city's food scene, with its cowboy-sized portions and BBQ-meets-TexMex menus, and to quench your thirst at its home-grown breweries found on the Fort Worth Ale Trail. Be sure to barrel on down to the Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co. too for a dram of distinctly Texan bourbon whiskey.
Home to rich history and vibrant culture, San Antonio sits 420km to the south. The city's five Spanish colonial missions form the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Texas. Explore the historic Alamo battlefield or experience a mariachi mass at the still active Catholic parish at Mission San Jose.
Follow the River Walk and you'll find the culinary-centric Pearl District, scenic river boat tours, live music and trails for hiking, biking and birding. Take time for shopping at Market Square - the largest Mexican market outside of Mexico or check out the city's art scene at the all-new Ruby City contemporary art centre, exhibiting pieces from some of the state's most exciting artists i a modernist structure.
Houston, Austin, Bandera & Fredericksburg
Houston and its growing list of trendy neighbours makes for a great starting point. Take the time to mingle with the locals and uncover offbeat spots, such as Smithers Park with its abstract sculptures or eye-popping street murals (the outrageous rainbow streaks across midtown store Biscuit are an easy find) then unwind in the 160-acre urban oasis of Buffalo Bayou Park, with its bike trails and beautiful gardens. For an out-of-this- world experience, be sure not to miss the Space Center Houston and then its westward to Austin.
Home to more than 250 live music venues, it's easy to see why Austin has been dubbed the 'Live Music Capital of the World'. Jam downtown to the Sixth Street district and put 'parish' on your playlist as this venue is known as one of the best, staging all kinds of music from rock'n'roll to bluegrass and jazz.
There are some top outdoor activities to enjoy from here too. Mount Bonnell is located in Covert Park and, as the highest point in Austin, a steady climb up its 102-stairs rewards with far reaching views. Alternatively, travel 23 miles west to find the Hamilton Pools Preserve, a swimming hole that boasts emerald waters and a 15m waterfall for a refreshing dip.
Keep making your way out west and you'll soon enter Texas Hill Country to find Bandera and Fredericksburg - two small settlements that promise some bug Texan experiences. Known as the 'Cowboy Capital of the World,' Bandera keeps this tradition alive with Dude Ranches to stay in and authentic hands-on experiences to try; from trail riding to kicking up your heels at a Honky Tonk.
Fredericksburg was originally founded by German settlers so hearty eats and refreshing brews come as standard on its visitor menu. As well as the chance to tour vineyards, breweries and farms, Enchanted Rock is a popular place to hike and, for something unusual, visit the Old Tunnel State Park at sunset to see millions of bats take to the skies on mass.
There's so much to surprise in Texas, you only need know where to look.