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East Texas

More down-home than Dallas, more buttoned-up than Austin, Houston has money and culture, but wears them like a good ol' country boy come to town. What's that mean? Award-winning, chef-run restaurants where ties are rarely required. Attending world-class museum exhibits followed by cheap beer at patio bars. Enclaves of attractions spread all across the state's largest – and widest – city.

When you get sick of the concrete maze of interstates, it's easy to escape. Within day-trip distance you can visit NASA and the place where Texas won its independence. Washington County entices antique hunters, history buffs and anyone who just loves beautiful, rural countryside. Further afield, northeast Texas is the Piney Woods, with towering forests, winding roads, natural attractions and Southern belle historic towns like Jefferson and Nacogdoches.

As you wander the back roads, keep your nose at the ready to follow the scent of superb barbecue and chicken-fried steak.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout East Texas.