From My Experience: Texas Tourism and the Best of Barbecue

West Texas Sunset

I’m headed to the Mother Land (Texas) this weekend so I thought I would share some of my favorite Texas tourism stops, including barbecue recommendations. Here are five:

Palo Duro Canyon1. “Texas” the musical. It explains a lot about my love of this state and my self-identification as a Texan to know that I was raised crossing the border from New Mexico nearly every summer to attend this celebration of our cowboy heritage. The songs are catchy, filling the natural outdoor amphitheater in Palo Duro Canyon with yeehaws and heart-wrenching moments in equal measure. Plus, they have the best barbecue in the state catered in before the show. Add in a cup of vanilla Blue Bell at intermission and you have the perfect Texas evening.

Brazos with bridge

2. Waco.  I would be an unfaithful Bear if I left my beloved college town off this list. There’s so much to do in Waco for a town of its size, but if you only have a day, I would recommend the Dr Pepper Museum, a walking tour of the Baylor campus, the Mayborn Museum, Cameron Park and at least a meal or two at Waco’s iconic hole-in-the-wall restaurants. Vitek’s Gut Pak is the local go-to meal for barbecue, especially on game day. If you love Fritos and meat, you will leave satisfied. End the day by visiting the suspension bridge at sunset. Toss a tortilla to the concrete pillars in the river. If you land one, tradition says the boy/girl of your dreams is sure to find you.

3.  Fort Worth downtown and stockyards. This lovely area has great restaurants, live music and the friendliest city folk you will ever meet. The small town cowboy culture of yesteryear lives on in this metropolis, and you begin to understand what people mean when they say Dallas and Houston “aren’t really Texas” when you encounter Fort Worth couples in their Stetsons and fancy Wranglers attending a stunning performance in Bass Hall. Before you head off to the symphony, however, the barbecue for this stop is undeniably Riscky’s. Order the chopped beef brisket. You’re welcome.

4. Shopping in Dallas. No matter what you’re looking for or which side of town you’re on, you’ll find it in Dallas. From antiques to IKEA, from outlets to upscale, this is your city for shopping. Hutchin’s BBQ in McKinney is the clear winner for barbecue in the Big D, and that’s saying a lot considering the massive size of this metroplex.

IMG_36605. Houston Symphony Day of Music. If you can plan a trip around this free day of music in downtown Houston, it will be well worth it. For more, see my post on my recent experience. I actually had primarily Tex-Mex and frozen custard on my recent visit, but any of the Pappas restaurants are tried-and-true Houston favorites, so Pappas Bar-B-Q gets the vote for this city.

What are your favorite things to do in Texas? Where is the best Texas barbecue you’ve found? Leave a comment here or reply back at @Jenna_DeWitt on Twitter.

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