Updated: Apr 29, 2021
As a product of the NorthEast USA I hadn't ever given much thought to Texas. As far as I was concerned Texas was a flat frying pan with a bunch of tumbleweeds and big hats. But all the same I was giddy as I drove through Alabama and LA on my way to Texas.
The drive across the LA TX border on I10 was a strange one. The sides of the highway were littered with pieces of semi trailers and metal roofs. There was still a lot of visible destruction and abandoned buildings from previous storms.
Our first night in Texas was projected to be a cold one, below 30F, so we looked for a campsite to plug in and blast the heat. We found a state park with a spot for us on the outskirts of Beaumont. It was rather chilly when we were there but it had a nice swimming area on a river that would be a lot of fun in warmer weather.
Our next stop was Galveston. Its a dull drive down to the barrier island but definitely worth it. The city of Galveston was bright and vibrant and full of colorful buildings, public art, and people ready to strike up conversation. It may have been that it was a Sunday or that none of the cruise ships were running but we easily found a good spot right in the downtown area to park the bus. Walking and electric bikes were perfect for exploring the city and pier.
After exploring the city we headed west down the island and found a good spot to park for a few days. After about Galveston state Park, the big houses and developments thin out and you can pull right onto the beach and as long as you don't cause problems, no one will bother you. There are beach access roads about ever half mile and the beach is plenty big enough to park without getting swept away AND the sand was hard enough to not immediately sink down in a 20k lb bus.
Heading out of Galveston we drove through Houston and stopped to stretch our legs at Hermann Park. We found a spot in a public lot and wandered around the huge reflecting pool and Japanese gardens for a couple hours until sunset. When we got back to the bus the cops were waiting to tell us that she loved the bus but they were getting complaints so we had to get the hell out of there. We did just that.
San Antonio was next on the list. We decided to stay outside of the city in New Braunfels. San Antonio is full of fun things to do with kids and really good food.
Some of our favorites where:
The Japanese Tea Garden
The River Walk
Natural Bridge Caverns (somewhat outside of the city but super cool)
After San Antonio we headed to Pedernales Falls State Park, Park Road 6026, Johnson City, TX, which might have been my favorite.
Really amazing hikes and landscape we will defiantly be coming back- only down side was no cell reception so working was kind of a problem.
Because of the bad services and some medical issues we also ended up staying in Fredricksburg for a few nights. Fredricksburg is a small town a few miles away from Pedernales Falls. You can still really see the influence from the original german settlers. It has tons of restaurants and bars and a great town square with friendly people, a nice playground AND a fairly large picnic area with fast public wifi. It also had nice and clean public bathrooms. We basically lived at that playground for a couple days.
Pepper also convinced us to get her some cowgirl boots in Fredricksburg.
A super cool hike after Fredricksburg was Enchanted Rock hikes. Parking and entry is limited so get there early. It was also quite windy on top of the rock so pack a jacket.
It's also a state park so the state park pass got us in for free.
Caverns of Senora
Really cool cave system- would have been even cooler if my two year old wasn't having a complete meltdown the entire time but cool nonetheless. According to the cave nerds it has some really rare formations. There's really not much else in Senora- its a drive in, caves, drive out sort of deal.
Big Bend is a national park on the Texas/Mexico border. Absolutely a must see in Texas. Definitely out of the way but definitely worth the drive. It's a huge park and from the entrance to the campsites is about 50 miles. Really incredible landscape and rock formations. Additionally Big Bend has been the site of many paleontology digs and still has a couple fossil exhibits dispersed throughout the park. A lot of the hikes are far away from each other so it can be a pain to pack and unpack your rig everyday to drive to a new trail. We got by with our electric bikes but it was a strain. Sunrise hikes on the edge of a cliff and a dip in the rio grande after lunch, its hard to top at Big Bend.
I know there is plenty more to explore in Texas and we will certainly take another pass at it but just this list took us about a month to do. Oh and there are plenty of tumble weeds and big hats. The funniest thing to me was seeing so many guys wearing enormous hats squished into the back seat up pickup trucks and the hats are so big they can't move.
One tip we for camping in Texas is to get the Texas state park pass. If you are gonna be going through Texas its probably worth getting. Its around 80$? For the year and basically cuts the cost of a campsite in half and waives all entrance fees to the parks. We only stayed in a few Texas state parks but it more than paid for itself.