Day 1: Arrive in Dallas-Fort Worth

The Dallas-Fort Worth area is a good starting point for any Texas trip. Rent a car if you don't already have one, and pick lodging accessible to the attractions you want to see in either city and get your bearings. Visit the John F. Kennedy Memorial and the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, and, if you have time, make an excursion to Fair Park. After dinner at Sonny Bryan's Smokehouse or another Dallas dining staple, check out Lower Greenville's nightlife.

Day 2: Explore Dallas-Fort Worth

Split time between the artistic highlights of Dallas and Fort Worth, hitting the Arts District in Dallas (be sure to visit the Nasher Sculpture Center), but leave plenty of time to roam in Fort Worth's incomparable Cultural District, where the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and Kimbell Art Museum are must-sees. In the evening, have dinner in the Stockyards National Historic District before paying a visit to Billy Bob's Texas, a mega-country club, or taking in live music at another one of the city's many honky-tonks.

Day 3: Explore Austin

Get going early for the 200-mile drive to Austin. If it's hot, head immediately to Barton Springs Pool, for a dip to cool off. Visit the new Blanton Museum of Art in the afternoon, then make it to the Congress Avenue Bridge for the sundown bat exodus. Have dinner downtown and explore the famed Austin music scene in the Warehouse District, on 6th Street, on Red River, or in South Austin. Stay either downtown or on South Congress at the Austin Motel or the Hotel San José.

Day 4: Drive to Del Rio & Explore

From San Antonio, it is only 154 miles to Del Rio, so you'll have time to get a late start and spend more time in the former. Or you can get going early, take the scenic drive from Junction to Rocksprings on U.S. 377 to Del Rio, and visit Amistad National Recreation Area, the Whitehead Memorial Museum, or Seminole Canyon State Park in the area before checking in at the Villa Del Rio Bed & Breakfast or another lodging. For dinner, head across the Rio Grande into Mexico for dinner in Ciudad Acuña, one of our favorite border towns.

Days 5-7: Explore Big Bend National Park & Vicinity

From Del Rio, drive west toward Big Bend National Park. There is plenty to see along the way: You can stop at the Pecos River for a dramatic view or visit Langtry and learn a bit about Judge Roy Bean, and the Seminole Canyon is also a worthwhile diversion. Do some hiking and exploring before stopping at the Gage Hotel in Marathon for the night of Day 5. You can also drive to Terlingua or Study Butte as a base for your Big Bend excursions. Another option is camping in Big Bend National Park or staying in park limits at Chisos Mountains Lodge. Make plans to go on day hikes or do a rafting trip on the Rio Grande, a 2-day trip if possible. There are also interesting sights, stores, and restaurants in Terlingua and plenty of cultural history along the river in and outside of the park.

Days 8-9: Explore Big Bend Ranch State Park & Marfa

From Big Bend, drive the Wild and Scenic River portion of FM 170 to Presidio, taking time to get out on a few hikes in Big Bend Ranch State Park. From Presidio, take U.S. 67 to Marfa. Stay and eat in Marfa or Alpine. On Day 9, check out the Chinati Foundation's avant-garde installations (it requires your time 10am-4pm to go on a guided tour) and downtown Marfa while the sun is up. Once it goes down, take U.S. 90 9 miles east to see Marfa's Mystery Lights, or else head north to the McDonald Observatory if there's a Star Party that night. If Marfa's accommodations are booked, Alpine is a great alternative, as it has some noteworthy galleries and the Museum of the Big Bend.

Day 10: Explore Fort Davis & Balmorhea

Spend your final day in West Texas before heading east for the Gulf Coast exploring Fort Davis National Historic Site or Davis Mountains State Park. You can stay in Fort Davis, or continue -- stopping at the oasis of a swimming pool at Balmorhea State Park if it's hot -- and cut down on the drive to the Gulf Coast. After bunking in Balmorhea or somewhere off I-10 for the night, continue to Padre Island for the last 3 days of your trip.

Days 11-13: Explore Padre Island National Seashore

Take your time unwinding from the hectic urban pace of the first 4 days of the trip. Explore Padre Island National Seashore. Take time to wander the beach, surf, fish, swim, or simply read a book and nap in the sun. Stay in Corpus Christi, or -- if you are up for more driving -- head farther down the Gulf Coast to South Padre Island.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.