Big Bend National Park, near Mexican border, USA at sunset
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26 Best Road Trips From San Antonio

By Dianne Titos | Published on 4 January 2023

San Antonio, Texas, is one of the most exciting cities in the Lone Star State. It's also the perfect starting point to visit the incredible destinations, famous cities, festivals, national parks, and stunning landmarks in and around the great state of Texas.

If you're seeking the perfect day trip, a weekend drive, or a long adventure through the USA, there's a road trip from San Antonio that'll fit your wildest dreams. You'll get to visit destinations like Wimberley, Waco, Houston, Dallas, South Padre Island, Amarillo, Santa Fe, Colorado Springs, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, or Los Angeles.

So satisfy your wanderlust by venturing out into Texas and beyond for one of these incredible road trips. Read on for inspiration to plan, book and head out on your adventure.

Best road trips from San Antonio

A selection of our best road trips from San Antonio. Check out our full list of 26 trips below.
Trip typeSome of our favorite road trips
Day tripsEnjoy cowboy culture and heritage in Bandera; or natural splendor in Wimberley
Weekend tripsSoak up the coast in Corpus Christi; or discover modern and prehistoric history in Waco
Long-weekend tripsDiscover natural scenery like nothing else in Big Bend National Park
Longer tripsVisit cultural gems and America's best cities like New Orleans and Santa Fe

San Antonio stands out for its rich Hispanic culture, which are remnants of the Spanish colonial missions. The city houses the continent's largest concentration of Spanish colonial architecture. Because of this the city is a UNESCO Heritage Site.

Other famous attractions include the Alamo, Riverwalk, and Seaworld. Also worth visiting is the San Fernando Cathedral, the country's oldest operating cathedral sanctuary.

Once you've gotten your fill of the city, it's time to explore the surrounding cities, towns, and countryside. Below, we've listed our favorite road trips from this incredible US city.

Day trips from San Antonio (under 3 hours each way)

San Antonio, Texas, is a region of expansive frontiers, historical places, and rich cuisine. There are plenty of one-of-a-kind short drives from the city that will take you to neighboring cities, towns, and natural landmarks.

1. Bandera, TX

1 hour from San Antonio (50 miles)

Why you should visit: Only an hour away from San Antonio, Bandera stands out because of its cowboy heritage and sweeping natural scenery.

Sitting on the Medina River's bank, this city is one of the best places to get an authentic experience of what it is like to be a cowboy.

Autumn River Scene near Lost Maples State Park
A detour to the Lost Maples State Natural Area is worth the journey. Take advantage of the peace and quiet as you explore this landscape.
xradiophotog/Shutterstock.com

How to get there: Take I-10W and then take exit 540. Drive along TX-46W and TX-16N to reach beautiful Bandera.

Our highlights: Make a stop at the Frontier Times Museum. Here, see Bandera County's heritage preserved through exhibits, educational programming, and collections.

Another nod to cowboy culture is the Dixie Dude Ranch. Experience being a cowboy first-hand with activities like hayrides, horseback riding, and cowboy cookout-style meals.

A must-see historic landmark is the St. Stanislaus Catholic Church. The 19th-century place of worship was built out of nearby limestone and displays exquisite window artwork inside. St. Stanislaus Church was originally a nunnery.

If you have about 2 to 3 hours more at hand, you can drive onward to Lost Maples State Natural Area for some further nature viewing.

Bonus: The Frontier Times Museum has pretty interesting curios including a corn cob that is 2000 years old as well as Bandera's first-ever piano.

Our travel tips: Dixie Dude Ranch is best enjoyed with a weekend stay that you can book beforehand.

2. Wimberley and Blue Hole Regional Park, TX

1 hour 10 minutes from San Antonio (60 miles)

Why you should visit: Wimberley's most popular point is its swimming holes fed with fresh spring water. The most famous among them is the Blue Hole. Enjoy the rows of cypress lining the swimming hole while floating by.

The natural beauty of the Texas Hill Country in the small town of Wimberley.
There is so much beautiful scenery to admire in the pretty town of Wimberley.
Fotoluminate LLC/Shutterstock.com

How to get there: Take I-35 North and get off at exit 202 and Ranch Rd 12 to reach Wimberley. Then take Ranch Rd 12S and navigate onto Blue Hole Rd.

Our highlights: Swim at the incredible Jacob's Well. Possibly the most famous of the swimming holes in Wimberley, experience cool and constant 68 degree fresh water in this artesian spring.

Find yourself at Cypress Falls. More of a local's favorite swimming hole than one for tourists, you can get paddleboards and tubes here for rent.

Jump on the Wimberley Zipline. Here, ‌10 ziplines await you, all with stunning views of the Wimberley valley underneath.

Get lost in history in Pioneertown. If you have ever wanted to walk along the central road of an Old Western Town, this is the place to be. Wimberley was originally a settlement surrounding a trading post in 1848.

Our travel tips: You can swim in Jacob's Well between May and September, but it has to be booked as early as possible. The Ziplines have to be booked in advance.

3. San Marcos River, TX

1 hour from San Antonio (65 miles)

Why you should visit: Affectionately known by locals as “San Marvelous” because of its serene nature, the temperature of San Marcos is enjoyable throughout the year, making it one of the most enjoyable natural water activities in the state. The most popular activity here is to float down the river, so visit it for a chill time, relaxing on the water.

Rio Vista Park on a beautiful Autumn day.
Enjoy a stroll around the lush habitat of San Marcos before taking a refreshing dip in the calm, clear waters at Rio Vista Park.
Dana Rasmussen/Shutterstock.com

How to get there: Take I-35 North. Drive along I-35 North and I-10 East. Take exit 625 on I-10. Then, take US-90 East and TX-80 North to reach the San Marcos River.

Our highlights: Visit the Rio Vista Park, a stunning 13-acre area following the central San Marcos River. The park is complete with man-made rapids and a relaxing swimming hole.

Take a tour with the Meadows Center Glass-Bottom Boat Tours. This education center, which is one of Texas' most renowned, also offers interpretive tours that will teach you about Spring Lake's biodiversity. The Meadows Center Tours stick to their schedules tightly, and each tour takes about an hour.

For family fun, check out the Wonder World Cave & Adventure Park. This family-owned and operated attraction centers on a cave that formed naturally.

You can choose to get a glimpse of Canyon Lake and Devil's Backbone, if you take a detour of around 15 minutes on the way to San Marcos.

The Wonder World Cave is the only earthquake accessible cave in the country. It is also Texas' very first show cave.

Our travel tips: You can rent canoes and kayaks at the Rio Vista Park to inject some adrenaline into your river experience!

4. Fredericksburg via Comfort, TX

1 hour 15 minutes from San Antonio (70 miles)

Why you should visit: The heritage of Fredericksburg originates from German immigrants who originally settled in the San Antonio area.

Fredericksburg houses many State-famous attractions, including wineries and museums. Along the way, stop in Comfort and check out its famous wineries and antique shops where you can find beautiful treasures.

The Texas landscape taken just outside of Fredericksburg, Texas
After a hike across the impressive Fredericksburg landscape, head for a relaxing afternoon at one of the many local vineyards.
Jason Squyres/Shutterstock.com

How to get there: Take I-10 West. Afterwards, take exit 524 and drive along US-87 BUS to reach Comfort.

After your time in Fredericksburg, merge with US-87. Drive along US-87 North to reach Fredericksburg.

Our highlights: For delicious Texan wines, visit the Chisholm Trail Winery. Some of Texas' finest home-grown grapes are on offer here as well as a trip through the vineyard.

History buffs should see the National Museum of the Pacific War. Browse through the several thousand pieces of memorabilia from one USA's most defining World War II campaigns. Admiral Chester Nimitz, one of the most famous WWII naval admirals, was born in Fredericksburg.

Another great vineyard on the wine trail is Newsom Vineyards. One of the two top winemakers in the state, this beautiful winery offers a wine tasting room.

You can also choose to take a detour through Luckenbach, in between Comfort and Fredericksburg. The small community makes for a quaint “ghost town” vibe and it will add about 25 minutes to the drive time.

Our travel tips: The Chisholm Trail Winery tour also allows guests to taste the grapes directly from the vineyard.

5. Lockhart, TX

1 hour 15 minutes from San Antonio (70 miles)

Why you should visit: Officially and legally, the city holds the title of being the World's BBQ capital, so expect the most delicious barbecue anywhere in the country.

Barbecue is not the only thing on offer, as the city's antiquities collection and “small town” hospitality will make you reluctant to leave.

The Beautiful and Ornate Caldwell County Courthouse in Lockhart, Texas. Built in 1894.
There are many stunning historic sites to visit in Lockhart, such as Caldwell County Courthouse.
Richard A McMillin/Shutterstock.com

How to get there: Take I-35 North. Drive along I-35, I-10 East, and eventually TX-130 North. Take exit 474 on TX-130 North to reach Lockhart.

Our highlights: Visit the well-known Dr. Eugene Clark Library. This beautiful space is the perfect place to take a relaxing break from the BBQ feasts. There are digital and hard copy books preserved in this beautiful collection.

Take a tour of the Emmanuel Episcopal Church. This 19th-century church is extremely welcoming of visitors and they even print programs for it each Sunday.

Head down to the Kreuz Market. You can't miss out on the BBQ when in Lockhart, and this market has been in the business for well over a century. The Kreuz Market began operations in 1900 and started out as a grocery store with a butcher.

If you are in it for the BBQ, then take a detour through Luling as well on the way to Lockhart. This will take about 10 minutes out of your schedule, but will be well worth it.

6. Pedernales Falls State Park, TX

1 hour 25 minutes from San Antonio (80 miles)

Why you should visit: Indulge in a day of fun outdoor activities (as well as a small but interesting cultural detour) on this trip.

Here in this beautiful park you can ride horses, bird watch, camp, hike, or even search for geocaches at the Pedernales Falls State Park.

Water Fall Pedernales State Park The waters flowing over the falls at Pedernales State Park, Texas
Stop off at Pedernales Falls State Park and enjoy one of many hikes across this expansive park alongside Pedernales River.
Tricia Daniel/Shutterstock.com

How to get there: Take I-10 W and I-35 N. Drive along US-281 N and US-290 E. Take Ranch Road 3232 N to reach Pedernales Falls State Park.

Our highlights: For excellent hiking opportunities, visit the Twin Falls Nature Trail. This half-a-mile hike will take you to one of the most scenic overlooks that you will have of a waterfall.

Another great outdoor excursion is the Juniper Ridge Trail. For the experienced hikers out there, this trail is about 9 miles long and will let you experience the State Park's unique landscape.

For hiking and swimming, head to the Wolf Mountain Trail. If you want to go for a dip, then this challenging trail will be worth it as it takes you through the Wolf and Tobaccos Mountains as well as the Arrowhead Pool.

Stop for dinner or lunch at Johnson City, only a 20 minutes' drive from the park. A significant part of bootlegging history, if you have more time, take the chance to enjoy big-city amusements in a relaxing small-town atmosphere.

Bonus: Johnson City also has the nickname “Little Chicago”. It is believed to have been closely related to Al-Capone's gang.

Our travel tips: Spring is the best time for this trip. Swimming is strictly prohibited on the Twin Falls Nature Trail.

7. Cave Without A Name and Blanco, TX

1 hour 35 minutes from San Antonio (80 miles)

Why you should visit: Visit one of the most magnificent natural limestone caves in the country on the way to take in the fragrances of Blanco. Here, you'll descend 80 feet underground into the famous Cave Without A Name.

The name of ‘Cave without A Name' was decided through a contest when a visiting boy said the cave was too pretty to have a name.

Cave without a name in Texas
The interesting underground world of 'Cave Without A Name' is definitely worth investigating.
B Walther/Shutterstock.com

How to get there: Take I-10 W and FM747 to reach Cave Without A Name. Return and merge with FM747 and take Ranch Rd 473. Take US-281 N and TX-163 Loop N to reach Blanco.

Our highlights: Visit the must-see Cave Without A Name. There are 80 stairs that take you deep beneath the surface in this mesmerizing limestone cave.

For more natural scenery, check out the Blanco State Park. Take a stroll on the beautiful walking trail or find a spot in the greenery besides the Blanco River to simply relax.

Take a walk through the fragrant flowers at Hill Country Lavender Farm. The most spectacular Lavender Farm in Blancos offers a fragrant view of fresh lavender farms, coupled with friendly farm animals and amazing lavender products.

You can drive along I-10 until you reach the town of Comfort to pass through lush farmlands like the Fair Oaks Ranch. This will take about the same amount of time.

Bonus: Blanco is also known as Texas' Lavender Capital.

Our travel tips: Cave Without a Name is open between 10 AM and 4 PM. You will need to book in advance, so make sure you plan ahead.

8. Garner State Park and Rio Frio, TX

1 hour 45 minutes from San Antonio (90 miles)

Why you should visit: This is among the state's most family-friendly state parks and swimming holes, catering to a wide range of outdoor activities.

Choose from any of the activities among camping, hiking, bike riding, seasonal miniature golf, to even taking a dip in the Rio Frio River.

Beautiful Bright Orange Autumn Foliage Surrounding the Emerald Green Clear Frio River, at Garner State Park, Texas.
Enjoy a relaxing weekend at Garner State Park with the opportunity to set up camp in this most beautiful setting.
Richard A McMillin/Shutterstock.com

How to get there: Take I-10 E and US-90 W. Then take TX-127 N and US-83 N. Navigate to Garner State Park. Drive along Ranch Rd 2748 and 1120 to reach Rio Frio.

Our highlights: For something truly unique, visit the Frio Bat Flight. A sight to behold near the Frio Cave, just as the sun is setting, witnesses the flight of the free-tailed bats.

To cool off in the area's most scenic water, visit the Concan Swimming Hole. It's much more than a swimming hole, as there is a concrete river landing for launching kayaks and a place to lie down beside the river's edge.

Make sure to see the Briscoe-Garner Museum. Look at the life and documents of former US President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the home of Ettie and John Garner.

Vice-president John Nance Garner and Governor Dolph Briscoe gave their names to the Briscoe-Garner Museum. Atlee Ayres designed the Museum in 1920.

Get up close and personal to beautiful horses at Elm Creek Stables. Get a ride on a pony (or a horse) as you go on the up-and-down trails through the State Park.

Our travel tips: The Rio Frio River is known for being comparatively colder than others in the area, making it ideal for summer visits.

9. Austin, TX

Via Gruene Historic District, New Braunfels and Barton Springs, TX

1 hour 50 minutes from San Antonio (90 miles)

Why you should visit: While on the way to one of the most famous music cities in the world, take in some historic German scenes and a pretty collection of springs.

Austin is always a place to visit for music lovers. Apart from that, history buffs can experience authentic German immigrant culture at Gruene.

How to get there: Take I-35 N. Then, take exit 190 on I-35 N to reach Gruene. Re-merge with I-35 N and drive along it to reach Austin and Barton Springs.

Barton Creek Bridge spanning across the cold spring fresh clear waters of Barton Creek in Austin Texas skyline cityscape
Take a break from the bustle of central Austin by taking a visit to Barton Creek - you can even take to the water.
Roschetzky Photography/Shutterstock.com

Our highlights: If you're a dancer or a music lover, you must see the Gruene Hall, the state's oldest dance hall, since it was built in 1878.Put on your dancing shoes when you visit the place where Hal Ketchum, Gregg Allman, and Willie Nelson have all performed.

Another Texan natural area to experience is the Barton Springs. Relax and lie back on the banks of this calm spring, perfect to enjoy with the family. Barton Springs is a collection of four springs

See the famous Greetings from Austin Mural. Experience the Austin culture and landmarks on exuberant display at the heart of the city via these colorful murals.

If you take the US-290 route, you will get to drive through several quaint towns such as Johnson City. However, this will take about 20 minutes more than the usual route.

Our travel tips: Similar to most other Southern cities, this area becomes pretty hot in the summer and those sensitive to heat may want to visit in the spring, fall, or winter.

For Barton Springs, make sure to book ahead of time.

10. Seguin and Shiner, TX

1 hour 50 minutes from San Antonio (90 miles)

Why you should visit: This trip offers a unique taste of some of the finest nuts and beers in the state. Texas' most famous pecans are grown in Seguin. In Shiner, experience the well-loved beers from some of the oldest breweries in the state.

How to get there: Take the I-35 N and I-10 E. Take exit 603 on I-10 E and drive along US-90 E to reach Seguin. Then, carry along US-90 Alt W to reach Shiner.

The Central Park Fountain in Seguin, Texas, USA
Head to the landmark Central Park Fountain in the center of downtown Seguin.
Roberto Galan/Shutterstock.com

Our highlights: Check out the Sebastopol House Historic Site. Dating back to the 19th Century, this site has some of the most stunning pieces of decorative antebellum architecture in the state.

Learn about growing food at the Texas Agricultural Education and Heritage Center. Learn all about the intricacies and importance of the art of growing food at this center specially designed to interest the youth.

Visit the exciting family friendly Welhausen Park. Kids can enjoy the playground along with a performance by a historic bandstand at this place, housing several of the city's famous monuments.

You can opt to take a minor detour via Gruene, which will only add about half an hour to the drive time.

And if beer is your thing, be sure to check out Texas' oldest brewery – Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner.

Our travel tips: In December, visitors can see the special “Christmas in the Park” event at Welhausen Park.

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Weekend trips from San Antonio (3-5 hours each way)

A weekend is the perfect amount of time to spend in these locations just a few hours away from San Antonio. From stunning landscapes and natural features to buzzing, lively cities, we've got all the inspiration you could need when planning a weekend road trip from San Antonio.

11. Waco, TX

3 hours from San Antonio (180 miles)

Why you should visit: Thanks to Chip and Joanna Gaines, Waco has become practically synonymous with all things homes and décor, with Magnolia Market and Waco's many antique shops drawing hordes of visitors each year,

Waco is also the perfect place for history buffs as you can encounter mammoth remains as well as some of the oldest structures in the state, all in one place. The Waco Mammoth Monument protects the country's sole nursery herd of Columbian mammoths.

Waco should be at the very top of your list of destinations to explore in spring because it offers unique activities like concerts and a film festival, as well as outdoor activities.

The historic Waco suspension bridge, built in 1870 and located in Indian spring park on the Brazos River.
While visiting Waco check out the historic Waco suspension bridge, with pretty illuminations after sunset.
Hundley Photography/Shutterstock.com

How to get there: Take I-35 N. Take exit 334 A. Drive along S 17th St and S 20th St to reach Waco.

Our highlights: For an experience like nothing else, check out the Waco Mammoth National Monument. This paleontological site and museum houses 24 specimens of one of the largest mammals to have walked on land.

If you're craving a unique shopping experience, visit the Magnolia Market at the Silos. Commonly known as just Magnolia Markets, it is a shopping complex housing some of the most unique exhibits in the state.

Another great shopping destination is Spice Village. It is located in Waco's downtown neighborhood, just a few blocks from the more well-known Magnolia Market and features almost every kind of clothing you can wish for.

You can opt to take a longer route via US-281 N and cross cities like Fredericksburg. This will add about an hour to the drive.

Our travel tips: Austin and Dallas's airports are both about 100 miles apart from Waco. Both airports provide a variety of rental vehicle options. Just arrange one before your journey.

The Magnolia Market provides free delivery on orders over $100. You may stay almost anywhere and remain close to the Silos because Waco is a reasonably easy city to navigate.

12. Port Aransas and Corpus Christi, TX

3 hours 45 minutes from San Antonio (220 miles)

Why you should visit: On Mustang Island, off the coast of Texas, lies a city called Port Aransas. It is renowned for its fish-filled canals and beaches along the Gulf of Mexico.

Over eighteen miles of stunning sandy beaches can be found along the Gulf of Mexico, which forms the center of Port Aransas. Alongside the beauty, experience a plethora of fresh seafood, a variety of animals, historical and cultural events, magnificent sunsets and sunrises, and exciting sports for children.

A Group of American White Pelicans resting around in Padre Island NS, Texas
Make sure to visit the scenic Padre Island, taking a kayak across the waters to wildlife spot.
Cheri Alguire/Shutterstock.com

How to get there: Take I-37 S to reach Corpus Christi. Drive along TX-286S and TX-358 E to reach Horses on the Beach. Carry along on TX-361 N to reach Port Aransas. Then take TX-361S to reach Padre Island National Seashore.

Our highlights: Check out the beautiful natural area of Glow Row. In Port Aransas, enjoy a Glow Row eco-tour in kayaks at night through the canals and shallow waters surrounding the causeway.

Experience Horses on the Beach. In Corpus Christi, experience riding on horses as they stroll across the oncoming waves on the beach, a unique family experience.

Visit the scenic Padre Island National Seashore. The natural beauty and clean beaches make it the favorite for locals. It also features a host of activities like kayaking and camping. South Padre Island is a popular place to visit and is accessible via a bridge.

To avoid the Corpus Christi traffic, you can take an alternate route via Aransas Pass, but it involves a ferry where you can see dolphins. This route will take about an hour less.

Bonus: On Mustang Island, Port Aransas is the sole populated community. Port Aransas occupies 5 of the 18 miles of the barrier island.

Our travel tips: Glow Row trips are scheduled from March to November and are subject to fair weather.

13. Houston and Galveston Island, TX

3 hours 50 minutes from San Antonio (250 miles)

Why you should visit: Houston is a fantastic place to visit and is perhaps among the more well-known places in Texas due to its connection with NASA.

Houston is the fourth largest city in the country and home to several attractions. Houston sprawls near the Gulf of Mexico and has a long history of music and culture that's fun to explore. Also, the city has a ton of excellent restaurants, from gourmet to down-home comfort food.

Houston has a distinctly Texan vibe despite its great variety. The rodeo, Texan music, cowboy attire, and other things may all be found in the city.

Nearby Galveston Island is a close escape from the crowds and home to several Universities. Some of Texas' top tourist destinations are found in the Galveston Bay Area. It's also the perfect place to soak up the sun along the Gulf of Mexico.

Replica Space Shuttle at Johnston Space Center, Houston
There are plenty of interesting sights in Houston. Make sure to stop off at the interactive Johnston Space Center to learn more about recent space exploration.
JHVEPhoto/Shutterstock.com

How to get there: From San Antonio, take I-35 N, I-10 E and I-45 S. On the I-45 S, take exit 47 C to reach Houston. Then carry along I-45 S to reach Galveston.

Our highlights: Visit the Menil Park & Neighborhood. A 30-acre location in the open exhibits 15,000 pieces by some of the best artists in the world, from Picasso to Duchamp.

If you're interested in natural history and science, check out the Museum of Natural Science. This museum will let you travel through the evolution of scientific discovery, from unearthed dinosaur fossils to solar systems that are several light-years away.

Make a stop at the Space Center Houston. See legendary places such as NASA Mission Control and gaze upon humanity's finest machinery that let us travel beyond our planet.

If you love beaches and soaking in the Texas sun, a visit to Galveston is a must. An hour's drive away from Houston, the island is one of Texas' most charming places. Enjoy sandy shores and historic architecture at this commercial hub.

Bonus: Houston has the the State's largest shopping mall (Houston Galleria) - perfect for some serious retail therapy!

14. Dallas and Fort Worth, TX

4 hours 20 minutes from San Antonio (270 miles)

Why you should visit: Dallas is the 9th largest city in the USA and has an exciting urban vibe. Over 12 unique neighborhoods and districts comprise this city, each with a different speciality when it comes to entertainment.

From enjoying the live performances at the Arts District to the vibrant nightlife, people of all ages and interests can find something to do here.

Dallas, Texas, USA downtown cityscape at twilight.
The buzzing social scene in the Arts District of Dallas is certainly worth a visit.
Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com

How to get there: Take I-35 N. Continue along I-35 N and TX-12 Loop W. Take exit 421B on I-35E N and continue on TX-12 Loop W to reach Dallas.

Our highlights: One of the must-see landmarks of the city is Reunion Tower. Enjoy a panoramic view unlike any other over the Dallas skyline from the top of this 561 ft. high observation deck.

Drive over to nearby Fort Worth. This city adjoining Dallas is one of the best places to experience the cowboy and cowgirl culture of the USA.

Football fans have to go to the Cowboys stadium. The Dallas Cowboys stadium (aka the AT&T stadium) is an architectural centerpiece in the NFL.

Shoppers will rejoice in the charming city of Canton. You can choose to drive for an hour more to experience the country's biggest flea market, “First Monday Trade Days”.

Bonus: The AT&T Stadium is the NFL's largest stadium by seating capacity (100,000 at most). Although they officially play in Arlington, the Dallas Cowboys are definitely Dallas' team.

Our travel tips: Dallas's highways can cause major delays due to congestion, so be sure to plan around peak traffic times if you can.

15. South Padre Island

Via Poteet, TX

4 hours 50 minutes from San Antonio (300 miles)

Why you should visit: The bright sun and gentle sound of the ocean breaking down South Padre Island's coastline draws tourists from around the world.

If you have time for only one beach to see in Texas, then South Padre Island is it. Soft sand, beach bars, and endless ceviche await.

South Padre water tower close up
Take a break on the sandy beaches at South Padre Island, for some serious rest and relaxation.
Bradly Hulce/Shutterstock.com

How to get there: Take I-35 S and take exit 149. Follow along TX-16 to reach Poteet. Then, take I-37S, US-281 S, and US-77 S. Continue along I-69 E, TX-550 and TX-48 E to reach South Padre Island.

Our highlights: Our first highlight is the area's incredible eco-tourism. South Padre Island is renowned for its alluring natural ecosystem. It has 34 miles of unspoiled shoreline, excellent temperatures, and accessibility to both salt and fresh seas. There are plenty of activities and events that are run by dedicated companies looking to promote this natural wealth.

Check out the Art Business Incubator, an exciting destination for people of all ages, The Art Business Incubator is an art gallery where some of the brightest talents in the art world get selected, nurtured, and exhibited.

If you love kiteboarding or watersports, make your way to the SPI kite fest. The SPI Kite Fest is held annually on South Padre Island and attracts kiteboarding fans from around the world.

There are plenty of quaint food shops lining the highways that are highly recommended for quick, tasty bites.

Bonus: One of the few high-salinity lagoons on the globe, the Laguna Madre, is situated between the Gulf of Mexico and Padre Island National Seashore.

Our travel tips: Visitors need to understand that wearing a necktie is prohibited on South Padre Island. One of the most well-liked vacation spots in the country is South Padre Island, so expect a crowd.

The months of September through February are the ideal times to travel to South Padre Island. Click here to learn more about traveling to South Padre Island.

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Long weekend trips from San Antonio (5-8 hours each way)

There are plenty of world-class road trips within 5 to 8 hours from San Antonio. From breathtaking mountains and wildlife to classic American cities, there is sure to be plenty to discover for those wanting an adventure through Texas and beyond.

16. Marfa and Alpine, TX

5 hours 50 minutes from San Antonio (410 miles)

Why you should visit: Marfa is a distinctive arts destination with the renowned Marfa Lights, an eclectic mix of art galleries, and the beauty of old Texas.

There are many things happening in this unique desert town, like Prada Marfa and the ghost lights phenomena you will be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.

Water Tower in Marfa Texas
Visit the unique sights of Marfa, including the classic local Water Tower.
Jimack/Shutterstock.com

How to get there: Take I-10 W and US-67 S. Take exit 248 on I-10 W to reach Alpine. Navigate via US-67S/US-90 W to reach Marfa.

Our highlights: Make a stop at the iconic El Paisano Inn. It is worthwhile to stop by or stay a night or two at the El Paisano Hotel. Offering 41 rooms and suites, this lovely and old-fashioned hotel is a genuine haven for tourists.

Check out the Marfa Prada. The colorful and sleek Prada Marfa building is among the hippest sights in the Marfa area. The sculptors Elmgreen and Dragset produced this piece of public art in Oct 2005.

Another iconic building to see is the County Courthouse Presidio. This structure, designed in 1886 by Alfred Giles, mixes Second Empire and Italianate architectural motifs.

You can choose to make these two destinations as an expansion to the Fort Davis trip, as they are all very near to each other.

Bonus: The World Soaring Championship was held in Marfa in 1970. Soaring is where a pilot glides their engine-less aircraft through the skies. This region is renowned for having great soaring weather.

Our travel tips: Weekend trips are best for Marfa! If you visit between Monday and Thursday, you may find it too quiet.

On Monday and Tuesday, most of the stores and restaurants are closed, and many are also closed on Sunday.

You may check out the free displays at the park entrance and take a complimentary self-guided trip of the Hobby-Eberly telescope.

17. Caddo Lake, TX and Shreveport, LA

Via Jefferson, TX

7 hours 25 minutes from San Antonio (450 miles)

Why you should visit: In northeast Texas, Caddo Lake is a nature reserve that is highly recommended for its intriguing swamp land.

Caddo Lake offers a ton of entertaining activities and is located in a stunningly gorgeous and historically significant location. Moreover, enjoy some additional bonuses of culture and history at Shreveport and Jefferson.

Canoeing on Saw Mill Pond at Caddo Lake State Park in Texas
Take a front seat view of Caddo Lake by taking a canoe out to best explore this gorgeous setting.
Daniel Mullins/Shutterstock.com

How to get there: Take I-35 N and I-20 E. Take US-80 E, TX-390 Loop N, and US-59 N to reach Jefferson. Follow US-49 E to reach Caddo Lake. Then, take LA-1 S to reach Shreveport.

Our highlights: Make your way to the beautiful Caddo Lake. Amongst all the water activities, do not forget to take in the views of the rows of cypress trees lining the waterfront.

Spend some time at the State Fair of Louisiana. The largest festival in Shreveport falls short only to the Mardi Gras in sheer size and entertainment opportunities.

Visit the Jefferson Historical Museum. Here, you can walk through four floors of historical ornaments, art, furnishings, and more describing the history of Marion County and Jefferson.

Catch the Sunset at Caddo Lake. Spanish moss drapes over the tops of the cypress trees lining the lake, making an absolutely stunning sunset scene, particularly in winter.

Bonus: After Opelousas and Baton Rouge were taken over by the Union forces during the Civil War, Shreveport briefly served as the state capital of Louisiana.

Our travel tips: Cell phone service can be patchy in this area, so make sure you factor this into your planning!

18. Big Bend National Park via Marathon and Fort Davis, TX

7 hours 20 minutes from San Antonio (500 miles)

Why you should visit: Southwest Texas' Big Bend National Park is home to the stunning Chisos Mountainous Region and a sizable portion of the Chihuahuan Desert. The area was given the name Big Bend because of the river's abrupt turn from a southeasterly to a northeasterly flow.

It provides tourists with some of the clearest night skies in the bottom 48 states, as well as breathtaking beautiful panoramas, hundreds of miles of hiking trails, and roadways for exploration.

A view of the Chisos Mountains in big Bend National Park, Texas
Stand in awe of the beauty of Big Bend National Park and stunning mountain views.
Rusty Dodson/Shutterstock.com

How to get there: Take I-10 W and exit 209 to reach Fort Davis. Drive along TX-118 E and US-90 E to reach Marathon. Navigate via US-385S to reach Big Bend National Park.

Our highlights: Visit the shores of the mighty Rio Grande. Taking a plunge in the 105°F-degree water of the hot springs found on the brink of the Rio Grande is one of the most well-liked activities within the Rio Grande Village region.

Walk through the Chisos Mountains. Several dozen footpaths dot the landscape, letting you hike across the stunning range.

For history buffs, nothing beats a trip to the Terlingua Ghost Town. A former mining tower that dried up with the mines, visitors can explore ruined buildings, mine shafts, and more. However, this detour from Marathon will add about an hour to your trip.

Drive through the beautiful Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. Make a stop just at Homer Wilson Ranch Overlook to visit the historic house and take in the scenery.

Our travel tips: Big Bend's weather is challenging to forecast. In most seasons, the weather may quickly vary from being warm and bright to chilly and wet.

On top of that, Big Bend is renowned for being inaccessible and harsh. Although being prepared is essential, it is not a good idea to pack a lot of equipment.

19. Amarillo and Palo Duro State Park, TX

7 hours 50 minutes from San Antonio (520 miles)

Why you should visit: Amarillo, Texas, is known for its Historic Route 66 sights and is the ideal place to experience the Wild West.

The Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas, is renowned for its mouthwatering steak challenge and is a well-liked rest stop on Route 66 in Texas. Apart from that, Palo Duro State Park offers one of the best dusty reddish rocky landscapes that you can get.

State Highway Park Road 5 passing through Palo Duro Canyon State Park near Amarillo, Texas
Stop off at Palo Duro State Park to explore this canyon. The rocky terrain is perfect for mountain biking across.
Jesse Stephens/Shutterstock.com

How to get there: Take I-10 W and US-84 W. Get on I-27 N and exit 103 to reach Palo Duro State Park. Re-merge with I-27 N.Then, follow along US-87 N to reach Amarillo.

Our highlights: Nature lovers must see the Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Here you can enjoy world-class mountain biking, hiking, horse riding, or take your vehicle through the canyon at Palo Duro Canyon State Park.

Enjoy the iconic Cadillac Ranch. On the outskirts of Amarillo, west of Interstate 40, sits Cadillac Ranch, an art installation that uses the iconic Cadillac to represent the American tradition.

Browse the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum. Texas' biggest historical museum chronicles everything that happened here, from the dinosaurs to the present.

Of course, you can't miss US Route 66. This part of the famous US Route 66 in Amarillo serves as a reminder of the nascent American tradition of road trips.

Bonus: The hue of the soil in the neighboring Amarillo Creek led to the place being named Amarillo, which in Spanish means "yellow."

In Amarillo, several business fronts are adorned with horse sculptures that are part of an ongoing public art project sponsored by the American Quarter Horse Association and Center City.

The Palo Duro Canyon is the nation's second-largest canyon system after the Grand Canyon.

Our travel tips: Spring is the most recommended season to take on this traditional American road trip.

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Longer trips from San Antonio (Over 8 hours each way)

If you want to explore the vast open landscapes of the USA, its iconic cities, and vast wilderness areas, then we recommend using San Antonio as your base. From here, you can head out to many of the country's most famous destinations and encounter unlimited fun and adventure along the way.

20. New Orleans, LA

8 hours 10 minutes from San Antonio (550 miles)

Why you should visit: The city of New Orleans is well known across the world for its unique music, Creole food, unusual accents, and yearly festivities and events, most prominently Mardi Gras.

Jazz music, Cajun cuisine, and extravagant Mardi Gras festivities are all hallmarks of New Orleans and all of which deserve to be seen at least once in a lifetime and this road trip from San Antonio is the perfect occasion.

French Quarter, New Orleans, USA with the pubs and bars with neon lights taken at night.
Head to the French Quarter during the evening for some of the best entertainment and refreshments around!
f11photo/Shutterstock.com

How to get there: Take I-35 N. Get on I-10 E and exit 234B. Drive along Poydras St. Drive to reach New Orleans.

Our highlights: Walk along the historical streets of the French Quarter. This remains a must-do for its significant Creole influence, no matter the season, even if it means missing out on Bourbon Street.

Check out Frenchmen Street. Marigny, which is next to the French Quarter, is among the best areas in the city for music and Frenchmen Street is its lively hub.

To remember the past, head over to the National WWII Museum. A world-class facility, the National WWII Museum features several winning exhibits that tell the tales of people who served during the war and at home.

You can choose to take a major detour at the beginning, using Highway 290 to cross Austin. This will add about an hour to the drive.

Our travel tips: A lot of places in New Orleans only take cash, so be sure to bring it with you.

READ MORE - Road Trip from San Antonio to New Orleans

21. Albuquerque and Santa Fe, NM

11 hours 50 minutes from San Antonio (790 miles)

Why you should visit: These two cities are the best that New Mexico offers, from their exciting year-round festivities to their museums, cuisine, and adobe architecture.

Santa Fe is full of things to do. Visitors can shop around at the world-class markets, take part in festivals, or go on an eating tour through the city's top restaurants and food trucks. Albuquerque offers even more museums and other structural landmarks to enjoy and is a short drive away.

Red chilis hanging in front of an old Santa Fe railway carriage
Wander the markets and sights of Santa Fe for an authentic view of New Mexico life.
Sam Chadwick/Shutterstock.com

How to get there: Take I-10 W and I-25 S from San Antonio. Take exit 224B on I-25 S to reach Albuquerque. Re-merge with I-25 N and take exit 284 on I-25 N to reach Santa Fe.

Our highlights: The highlight of this region is the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. This festival is an internationally acclaimed showcase of humongous hot air balloons and one of the most photographed festivals in the country.

Check out the Sandia Peak Tramway. Behold the natural beauty of the city in all its glory as you rise to the observation deck at the summit of Sandia Peak.

Fans of culture and history should see the Santa Fe Opera. One of the classiest places on this trip, view performances like “The Barber of Seville” in their absolute splendor.

Learn more about the region's history at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. This is the city's way of preserving the roots and cultures of the Native American tribes that originated in this region.

The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture is part of a combined venture alongside the Laboratory of Anthropology.

Our travel tips: The International Balloon Fiesta takes place in October, over a course of 9 days. Even if you cannot visit Albuquerque during the Balloon Fiesta, you can still experience a part of it at the Balloon Museum over the weekend. The Museum is open daily between May and October from 10am until 5pm.

22. Colorado Springs and Denver, CO

14 hours 10 minutes from San Antonio (940 miles)

Why you should visit: Colorado Springs offers a massive wildlife area teeming with biodiversity, ranging from grasslands to mountains. Denver is one of the country's most exciting cities and is full of museums, restaurants, parks, and nightlife.

This area is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts throughout the year. From hiking in the Rockies in the summer to skiing in the winter, there's something for everyone on this road trip from San Antonio to Colorado Springs.

Pikes Peak, Colorado Springs
Hike the impressive Peak Peak in Colorado Springs for incredible views all year round.
CG3/Shutterstock.com

How to get there: Take I-10 W and US-84 W. Then take I-27N to reach Colorado Springs. Continue on I-25 N and Colorado E 470 N to reach Denver.

Our highlights: Check out the incredible Garden of the Gods Park. True to its name, these are some of the most stunning rock formations that you will ever see.

See the diverse species of animals at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. This one-of-a-kind zoo houses several hundred animals on top of a mountain, including many endangered species.

Visit the famous Denver Art Museum. This is one of the few places in the world where you can find Monet's Waterloo Bridge sitting beside fantastic pieces of Native or Western American art.

Stroll through the Denver Botanic Gardens. These gardens are a veritable oasis in the middle of a high mountain, where you can stroll through several dozen distinct horticultural collections set across 20 acres.

Bonus: The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is the country's highest zoo (6,700 ft. above sea level). It is also among the few zoos in the world that are built into a mountain.

Our travel tips: Spring and the end of Summer/Fall are the best periods for taking this road trip.

READ MORE - Road Trip from San Antonio to Colorado Springs

23. Grand Canyon National Park, AZ

Via El Paso, TX and Apache National Forest, AZ

18 hours 50 minutes from San Antonio (1,130 miles)

Why you should visit: The largest canyon complex in the world hardly needs any introduction. The Grand Canyon is a must-see natural wonder unlike anything else on the planet and this road trip will help you tick off one of your bucket list adventures.

El Paso and Apache National Forest make for enjoyable and distinct detours. Here you'll discover amazing cuisine and stunning high-altitude landscapes.

USA, Grand Canyon National Park. View from an helicopter.
The Grand Canyon needs little introduction. Why not take a helicopter to experience the best views possible.
angela Meier/Shutterstock.com

How to get there: Take I-10 W and exit 19B to reach El Paso. Re-merge with I-10 W and drive along US-180 W to reach Apache National Forest. Finally, take US-191 N, US-140 W and AZ-64 N to reach the Grand Canyon Village.

Our highlights: Drive up to the visitor Center & Mather Point Overlook. Here, you'll gain a comprehensive insight into the vast complex before you journey to one of the most famous overlooks in the canyon.

Hike along the amazing Rim Trail. A 13-mile-long paved path for walking that follows the Grand Canyon's rim, offers one of the country's most scenic yet relaxing trails.

Immerse yourself in wildlife at the El Paso Zoo. Not only housing a diverse range of animals, this zoo also has enjoyable Zoo Adventure Programs which are suitable for all ages.

If the longer scenic route is not for you, you can opt to drive via Albuquerque (and Santa Fe). This drive will reduce the time by about 2 hours. For this, you will have to take I-10 W and I-25 S to reach Albuquerque.

Bonus: El Paso is also known as the “Sun City” because it receives an average of 302 days of sunshine every year.

Our travel tips: The Grand Canyon's South Rim and West Rim are open to the public throughout the year, while North Rim is closed in winter. This trip makes you enter through the South Rim.

READ MORE - Road Trip from San Antonio to Grand Canyon National Park

24. Orlando, FL

16 hours 50 minutes from San Antonio (1,160 miles)

Why you should visit: There are more than a dozen theme parks in this city of fun. Also, seven of the 12 theme parks in the city rank among the world's top 10, making it one of the most sought-after destinations for families. Walt Disney World Resort is the world's biggest resort of its kind.

On top of the fun is the amazing weather. You can enjoy Orlando all year round, which makes this road trip from San Antonio even more appealing.

Orlando, Florida, USA downtown cityscape from Eola Lake.
After a busy day sightseeing and thrill seeking, sit back and admire the beautiful cityscape of Orlando.
ESB Professional/Shutterstock.com

How to get there: Take I-35 N. Then take I-10 E, I-12 E, I-75 S, and FL-408 S. Take exit 10B on FL-408 S. Drive along FL-527 N to reach Orlando.

Our highlights: A must-see Orlando landmark is Walt Disney World Resort. This is at the top of the list for most Orlando visitors. The resort actually consists of not one but four theme parks, along with world-class hotels and shows.

Visit the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. This is Orlando's most famous spot for live performances. You can see Broadway shows such as Hamilton and other live music at this incredible venue.

Walk in the Harry P. Leu Gardens. These gardens have 50 acres filled with flora and fauna that are entirely walkable and make for an enjoyable adventure.

You can opt to drive along the Highway 30 route for more of the coastal scenery, which includes places like Destin. This will add about half an hour to the drive time.

Our travel tips: Since the most popular attractions in the city are theme parks, be sure to buy tickets well in advance and avoid major holidays if you can.

READ MORE - Road Trip from San Antonio to Orlando

25. Las Vegas, NV

18 hours 30 minutes from San Antonio (1,280 miles)

Why you should visit: Almost everyone around the world knows of Las Vegas as THE premier destination for all kinds of nightlife. From casinos to clubs, you will find tons of fun in this unique city.

Nightlife is not all there is to do in this glittering city. There are nearby activities and sights for the whole family to enjoy on this amazing road trip.

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Neon Sign. Intentional Blurred Las Vegas Strip In Background
Taking a visit to Sin City and its endless attractions is sure to leave a lasting impression.
somchaij/Shutterstock.com

How to get there: Take I-10 W and AZ-303 Loop N. Follow along US-93 N and I-40 W and take exit 48. Take I-11 and I-515 N. Finally, get off on exit 75 on I-515 N to reach Las Vegas.

Our highlights: Visit the famous Fountains of Bellagio. The trademark dancing fountains at the Bellagio casino is one of the most iconic scenes of Las Vegas.

For lovers of US history, visit the National Atomic Testing Museum. This museum chronicles the development of one of the most horrifying weapons ever developed, the Atomic Bomb.

Take in the iconic view of Caesar's Palace. One of the few properties that are still standing from the beginning of Vegas, you cannot visit the city without playing a couple of games here.

Did you know, the MGM Grand's Bronze Statue is the country's biggest bronze statue? And the immense Bellagio Fountains use recycled gray water from showers, sinks, and tubs, so don't fall in!

Our travel tips: The best free and safe option to explore Las Vegas is by walking along the central strip.

An alternate route via Albuquerque exists that will add about an hour to the drive time. For this one, take US-83 and US-87 after the initial I-10 W.

READ MORE - Road Trip from San Antonio to Las Vegas

26. Los Angeles, CA

19 hours 30 minutes from San Antonio (1,360 miles)

Why you should visit: This cross-country drive from San Antonio to Los Angeles is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You'll drive through some of the world's most famous landscapes as you end up in the star-studded neighborhoods of the rich and famous.

Los Angeles is a city of celebrities, gorgeous beaches, nightlife, and amazing cultural landmarks. The city makes an ideal destination for everyone.

Hollywood Sign, viewed from behind at sunset in Los Angeles, California
There is so much to see once you arrive in Los Angeles, but stop off first to admire the iconic Hollywood sign up close.
Chones/Shutterstock.com

How to get there: Take I-10 W and US-101 N. Take exit 2B on the US-101 N. Take Los Angeles Street to reach the city.

Our highlights: Visit the postcard views of Lake Hollywood Park. Here, you'll get to view the trademark Hollywood sign up close and personal at this small but popular hiking and camping area.

Take a walk through The Broad. Edythe Broad's collection of contemporary pop art is on display at this innovatively styled building.

Check out the historical Bradbury Building. Built for Lewis Bradbury, the famous gold baron, the atrium is an architectural spectacle with marble staircases, open-cage hydraulic elevators, and wrought-iron balconies.

You can choose to drive along I-40, to the Grand Canyon, to add a spectacular sight along the way.

Bonus: The Bradbury Building was featured in movies like Blade Runner (1982), and 500 Days of Summer (2009). Take your own tour of famous filming locations!

Our travel tips: Try to get a LA travel pass as that will let you enter most of the attractions without any hassle.

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