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“Texas is a state of mind. Texas is an obsession. Above all, Texas is a nation in every sense of the word.” Author John Steinbeck wasn’t far off the mark with his description of America’s Lone Star State
Texas is big. From the swamps of its eastern borders to the deserts and mountains of the west, the pretty country plains of the north to the tropical Gulf Coast, the sheer size of Texas gives it its great geographical and cultural diversity.
As the nation’s fourth largest city, Houston is a sprawling multi-cultural metropolis. It is home to great ethnic eateries, world-class galleries and museums and more green spaces than any other American city its size. If you can stand the sometimes intense summer heat, take a walk down the road to the beaches of Galveston Island and visit the astronauts at Space Center Houston.
Conversely, trendy Austin revels in an intellectualism found nowhere else in the state. Home to more music venues per capita than any other American city, the Texas capital’s official slogan is The Live Music Capital of the World. Few who have attended the world-renowned South By Southwest music festival would argue with this.
Hispanic San Antonio combines the cultures of its Texas ranchers and Mexican settlers – the two colliding infamously at the city’s most well-known attraction, The Alamo. However, nowhere does the term ‘Tex-Mex’ take on more meaning than on a stroll along the meandering River Walk. San Antonio’s downtown plazas also provide visitors with an insight in to the city’s storied Western past.
Fort Worth, near Dallas, is known as the gateway to the West – its grand spaces matched only by the grand dreams of its inhabitants. Crowds drawn to ‘Cowtown’ can catch a mini cattle drive in the morning and a rodeo on Saturday night. Yee-haw!
From the down-to-earth to the out-of-this-world: the "Marfa Ghost Lights" attract observers from across the globe. Believers insist the lights are of supernatural origins, while sceptics point to more scientific reasons. The lights are best viewed a few hours after dusk. Close Encounters of the Weird Kind? You decide.If Texans weren’t so friendly, their chest-puffin’ pride would bug you. But as their chauvinism is assuaged by a good measure of self-deprecation, it becomes endearing. The ‘Wild West’ may have been tamed here, but behind the dusty trails you’ll still find pockets of traditional Texan culture.