Everything you’ve heard is true. Texas has wide-open spaces, larger-than-life characters, and genuine Southern hospitality everywhere you go. It’s also the perfect place for a romantic sojourn in wine country, a quiet weekend on the coast, or a foodie adventure devoted entirely to barbecue. While it might seem like the horizon in the Lone Star State stretches forever, you don’t have to go quite that far to end up somewhere wonderful. Within just a few hours drive of Dallas, Austin, or Houston you’ll find tiny towns and big cities with lots to offer. Here, the best weekend getaways in Texas.

Abilene

Gone are the days when Abilene was simply a stop along the way to the wonders of West Texas. Cowboy culture still exists, but alongside craft cocktails (see The Green Room and Amendment 21). And at The Grace Museum, you may be surprised to learn how many modern masters—from Ansel Adams to Andy Warhol—have Texas connections. When you’re ready to call it a night, appreciate a different kind of art at Sayles Ranch Guesthouses, where themed accommodations draw inspiration from Downtown Abbey and Mad Men. (About a 3-hour drive from Dallas)

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Jefferson

Drop your bags at the oldest hotel in the state, The Excelsior House Hotel, then take to the red brick streets to hunt for antique treasures, admire antebellum architecture, and enjoy a five cent cup of coffee at the Jefferson General Store. Travel even further back in time with a visit to Caddo Lake State Park. The marshy maze, flanked by Cyprus trees and Spanish moss, feels almost prehistoric. (About a 2.5-hour drive from Dallas)

Clifton

Typically, you’d want to avoid a night in the slammer, but here, it could very well be the key to a good time. The Cell Block, a 1930s jailhouse turned hip one-bedroom rental, comes with a rooftop patio, a record player (Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” is very available to put on heavy rotation), and a bottle of The Cell Block Tempranillo from Red Caboose Winery. When not behind bars, check out the growing art scene or explore a starry sky at Meyer Observatory. (About a 1.5-hour drive from Dallas)

Fredericksburg

Wine tasting and World War II artifacts, Bavarian brews, and a president’s boyhood home—unlikely pairings, but in Fredericksburg, they go together perfectly. Sample full-bodied reds from a variety of Hill Country vineyards, soak in history at the National Museum of the Pacific War or Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, and get your fill of house-made wurst and duck schnitzel at Otto’s German Bistro. For a little R&R, squeeze in a stay at the charming Hoffman Haus. (About a 1.5-hour drive from Austin)

Lockhart

If you’re headed to Lockhart, a.k.a. barbecue capital of Texas, make sure to arrive hungry. A few pointers: The Original Black’s Barbecue is known for its dinosaur beef ribs (just one rib weighs a pound and a half), while the quality cuts at Kreuz Market are meant to be eaten sans sauce. Finally, swing by Smitty’s Market for its brisket and scoops of Blue Bell ice cream. Ellison House is a chic home base where you can strategize each meal. (40-minute drive from Austin)

San Antonio

The Alamo City has long been a steward of history and continues to impress by reimagining forgotten spaces. Spend a day at The Pearl, a former brewery now home to nationally recognized restaurants, a farmer’s market, the Roman and Williams-designed Hotel Emma, and a tranquil stretch of River Walk. South of town, a 15-mile bike path connects the Alamo’s four sister missions and Hot Wells Park, built around the ruins of a turn-of-the-century resort. Before you go, toast to second chances at The Friendly Spot, a converted gas station with more than 70 beers on tap. (1.5-hour drive from Austin)

Galveston

In the late 1800s, Galveston was one of the country’s busiest ports, second only to New York City. Bishop’s Palace, a Victorian mansion, which has been recognized nationally for its architecture, serves as a monument to that prosperous time and is worth a look inside. Another stunner, the century-old Hotel Galvez & Spa, boasts a saltwater pool, swim-up bar, and easy access to 30-plus miles of sand. When it’s time for dinner, the shellfish tower at Gaido’s full of oysters, gulf shrimp and Texas blue crab, can’t be beat. (About a 1-hour drive from Houston)

Round Top

The official population of Round Top is 90, but twice a year, Round Top Antique Days brings thousands to town, including the likes of Joanna Gaines and Matthew McConaughey. That said, you can search for one-of-a-kind finds year-round (a stop at Junk Gypsy is a must), and dreamy accommodations like Rancho Pillow are easier to nab once the crowds during Antique Days dissipate. (About a 1.5 hour drive from Houston)

Corpus Christi

Taking the scenic route to Corpus Christ from Houston along State Highway 35 adds half an hour to your travel time, but the coastal views are worth it. Upon arrival, check in to the Omni Corpus Christi Hotel and make a reservation for a surf-and-turf feast at the upstairs steakhouse overlooking the bay. Two blocks over in an old Greyhound station, BUS serves tropical tipples that taste even better after a day of sea kayaking with a rental from Wind & Wave Watersports. (About a 3.5-hour drive from Houston)

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