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Day 1: Houston
Fun in the Bayou City is easy to find. Houston's downtown has been revitalized with numerous clubs, professional sports facilities and musical entertainment that have helped bring nightlife back to downtown. And that's in addition to the rest of the City's attractions, shopping, and restaurants to fit all budgets. Space Center Houston is the Official Visitors Center of NASA's Johnson Space Center, which is the home of astronaut training and Mission Control.
Day 2: Houston - San Antonio (196 m / 316 km)
Home to not only the Alamo, but also to four other Spanish missions, San Antonio is infused with the history and traditions of the past. The River Walk, also known as the Paseo del Rio, provides relaxing entertainment as it meanders through a truly cosmopolitan city. Take a stroll along the river that winds through the center of downtown, and stop in shops and restaurants along the way. San Antonio's historic Main Plaza, at the heart of the city, dates back to the early 1700s. The city has lovingly restored it. Other attractions include the Tower of the Americas, the King William Historic District, the Witte Museum, the McNay Art Museum, the San Antonio Museum of Art and the Buckhorn Saloon & Museum. There are also two amusement parks to visit, SeaWorld San Antonio and Six Flags Fiesta Texas.
Day 3: San Antonio - Del Rio (155 m / 250 km)
The major attraction in the Del Rio area is Amistad National Recreation Area, where camping, boating, and fishing are available. At Lake Amistad, visitors can also find 4,000-year-old Indian pictographs, which are accessible only by boat at Panther Cave and at Parida Cave.
Day 4: Del Rio - Big Bend National Park (259 m / 417
Sometimes considered "three parks in one," Big Bend includes mountain, desert, and river environments. Cultural resources in the park range from the Paleo-Indian period 10,500 years ago through the historic period represented by Native American groups, such as the Chisos, Mescalero Apache and Comanche. More recently, Spanish, Mexican, and American settlers farmed, ranched, and mined in the area. Any park ranger will tell you that neither desert nor mountains will truly reveal themselves to a motor vehicle. To experience the best of Big Bend, you should get out on foot, if only for a short time, and become part of the landscape. Listen to the desert silence, smell the creosote bushes, and gaze towards a distant mountain range.
Day 5: Big Bend National Park
Drive to the Chisos Mountains Basin to take in the spectacular mountain views. Walk the 0.3-mile self-guided Window View Trail to get a feel for the mountain scenery. A trip along the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive will give you a taste of the Chihuahuan Desert and will lead you to the Rio Grande. There are scenic overlooks and exhibits along the way. Sotol Vista, Mule Ears Overlook and Tuff Canyon are all worthwhile stops. The short walks to the Sam Nail Ranch and Homer Wilson (Blue Creek) Ranch and a visit to the Castolon Historic District will give you a glimpse into Big Bend’s past. A highlight of the trip is the short (1.7-mile round trip) walk into Santa Elena Canyon—one of Big Bend’s most scenic spots.
Day 6: Big National Park - El Paso (337 m / 542 km)
El Paso embodies a blend of cultures intertwined with both American and Mexican heritage. The city’s treasures include historical landmarks that tell tales from 400 years ago where missions were settled, roads were traveled and desperados ran through downtown. Its historic downtown has been transformed into a rejuvenated place to come together and enjoy great entertainment. Juarez, Mexico is only minutes away. Enjoy an international experience as you immerse yourself in traditional music, a kaleidoscope of colors and a taste of Mexico, with authentic food and drink. From markets to missions, Juarez is an exciting day trip.
Day 7: El Paso – Carlsbad (164 m / 264 km)
As you pass through the Chihuahuan Desert and Guadalupe Mountains of Southeastern New Mexico and West Texas, filled with prickly pear, chollas, sotols and agave, you might never guess there are more than 300 known caves beneath the surface. Carlsbad Caverns National Park contains 113 of these caves, formed when sulfuric acid dissolved the surrounding limestone, creating some of the largest caves in North America. All visitors to the park should tour the main section of the cave, the Big Room, on a self-guided tour. The Natural Entrance self-guided tour is also very impressive, but it is also more difficult due to the steepness of the trail.
Day 8: Carlsbad – Odessa (152 m / 244 km)
Legend claims immigrant railroad workers named this 1880s railroad water stop after their home in Odessa, Ukraine. Odessa is home to one of the only museums dedicated solely to the US presidency, the Presidential Museum. Five miles west (8 km) lies one of the world’s most famous meteor craters. Identified in the 1920s, the Odessa Meteor Crater, reportedly the second largest in the nation, is made of several smaller craters formed more than 20,000 years ago by the impact of thousands of iron meteorites.
Day 9: Odessa - Fort Worth (322 m / 519 km)
Known as "Cowtown" for its rough-and-rowdy roots, Fort Worth still celebrates its colorful Western history and heritage today. The Fort Worth Stockyards’ National Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, covers 125 acres — 15 square blocks of tradition, nightlife, and family fun. You can take in a thrilling rodeo, see the world's only daily cattle drive, hear live country stars, sip a cold brew in an authentic saloon, two-step the night away, shop for authentic cowboy gear, and dine on satisfying Texas-style cuisine. If you like, you can even take a guided tour of the entire area. Take a trip back in time on the Tarantula Train (nicknamed as such because an early map of the tracks resembled a large spider) at the Grapevine Vintage Railroad. It makes excursions between Grapevine and the Stockyards National Historic District.
Day 10: Fort Worth - Dallas (38 m / 61 km)
Dallas, the third largest city in Texas is the center of the state's largest metropolitan area, the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Throughout the city, a visitor will enjoy the best shopping in the Southwest, a great selection of restaurants, the largest urban arts district in the nation, 13 entertainment districts and much more. Blend in moderate weather, year-round sports and Texan hospitality for a true “taste” of the Dallas difference. Its pioneering spirit is alive and well, and the philanthropic contributions from its many residents continue to enrich the community and quality of life. A must-see attraction is the Sixth Floor Museum, dedicated to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. It is located downtown in the same building from which Lee Harvey Oswald fired the shots.
Day 11: Dallas – Austin (200 m / 320 km)
Austin is hip and trendy, yet in a vintage sort of way. It's high-tech and laid-back. It's politically charged and culturally rich. It's eclectic by nature and creative by design. Most of all, it's a place where people like to have a good time. A stroll down the city's famous Sixth St between Congress Ave and I-35, places visitors in the midst of some 50 nightclubs and restaurants, with live music offerings of every genre and a host of colorful street characters. Once known mostly for its country and blues music, today Austin's music scene is as diverse as its ever-growing population. The city is a cradle of musical talent, nurturing everyone from the late Stevie Ray Vaughan and Janis Joplin, and is currently home to such music legends as Willie Nelson and The Dixie Chicks.
Day 12: Austin – Houston (163 m / 262 km)
Head back to Houston for your flight home
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