Texas holiday highlights

Houston is the fourth biggest city in the USA, and is well worth seeing. Explore Downtown to enjoy the Museum District as well as the second-biggest theatre district in the USA after Broadway. Visit the world-famous Space Center Houston in nearby Clearwater, where you can handle real lunar rock, climb into a space capsule, experience a Martian sunset and see the replica of the space shuttle Independence and the historic Mission Control.

Dallas is a glitzy economic hub known for its football stars, namesake TV soap opera and shimmering skyline; the Reunion Tower has a viewing platform and a globe on top which lights up at night. The city also has the largest artists’ district in urban USA as well as The Nasher Sculpture Center and the Dallas Museum of Art. Visit The Sixth Floor Museum  to explore the life and legacy of J. F. Kennedy, in the exact spot from where Lee Harvey Oswald fired the fatal shot. Dallas is also excellent for shopping.

Head to Fort Worth and explore the Stockyards district. This historic area celebrates Fort Worth’s long cattle industry tradition; spend time in this district and you’ll feel like you’re on the set of a Western. You can watch the daily herding of cattle along Main Street and stop by for a drink in a saloon. Billy Bob’s Texas, the world’s largest honky-tonk, gives you the chance to try your hand at bull-riding.

Stop off at the charming capital, Austin; it’s at the geographic heart of the state and has the Texas State Capitol which is even bigger than its counterpart in Washington in terms of height. Yet the city is also surrounded by rivers, meadows and vineyards, and hiking and biking are popular ways to explore the parks and trails. Austin is known as the ‘Live music capital of the world’ and is famous for festivals such as Austin City Limits and South by Southwest. Discover an eclectic mix of music venues, from coffee shops, pubs and honky tonk bars to parks, clubs and concert halls. If you’re keen to discover local wildlife, you could stay on a guest ranch nearby and live like the cowboys.

San Antonio has a rich colonial history and some wonderfully picturesque sights. Take a stroll along the San Antonio River Walk, a series of walkways lined with restaurants, bars and shops just below street level on the banks of the San Antonio River. Enjoy authentic Mexican food here accompanied by Mariachi music, and head off towards the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, home to a series of four Spanish missions originally founded to convert the Indians to Catholicism. The fifth and most famous – The Alamo, was the long-defended fortress in the Texan War of Independence; both the Park and The Alamo have recently been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Where is Texas?

Nicknamed the Lone Star State, Texas is in the south-central part of the USA with New Mexico to the west, Oklahoma to the north and Louisiana to the east. It’s the second largest state in America after Alaska; its largest city is Houston and its capital is Austin.

Getting around
Dallas

The DART bus and light railway system is the best way to explore downtown and other suburbs and you can travel on the free M-Line Trolley from downtown to uptown through the Arts District and McKinney Avenue. Trinity Railway Express trains take you from Dallas city to Fort Worth. Most travelers find the easiest way to get around is with car hire.

Houston
The METRORail and buses will take you to most places you need to go in the city. Taxis are also popular and a $6 flat taxi fare has been introduced for all trips in the downtown area. Consider car-hire if you want to explore further afield.

Austin
Downtown is pedestrian friendly and CapitalMetro public transport has buses, rail lines and late evening Night Owls that connect you throughout the city. You can also use Yellow Cabs if you need a taxi ride.

San Antonio
The VIA Metropolitan Transit serves San Antonio city stopping at all the sights, restaurants and hotels. You can buy a day pass for the service online or by phone, which gives you unlimited rides. Route 11 takes you to the Pearl District and Route 40 to the Alamo and missions.

Food & drink
It’s all about breakfast tacos, smoky BBQ flavours and enchiladas in Texas. There’s Mexican street-food, award-winning dining and Austin’s famous Whole Foods flagship store. Expect gigantic beef ribs, New American Creole and Vietnamese-Cajun mash-ups. The James Beard Awards are the foodie equivalent of the Oscars and there’s plenty of nominated and restaurant winners to experience in the state. Houston is rated as one of the best places to dine in America, and Austin is following suit with their legendary hamburgers and world-renowned slow-cooked brisket. Steakhouse restaurants are the piece de resistance in Dallas, but you can also expect seasonal tasting menus paired with rare Texan wines and Wolfgang Puck’s iconic Reunion Tower restaurant, 560 feet up in the air.

Texas key facts

Time difference

GMT -7 hours

Capital

Austin

Currency

US Dollar ($)

Flying time to destination

14 hours

Language

English is the official language, although many other languages are widely spoken in certain cities and communities. America has its own written US English spellings.

Passport & visas

•  Brits must have a full 10-year British Passport that's valid for six months after you return to the UK.
•  You will also need a USA visa or waiver form/ESTA. Apply for your ESTA at least 72 hours before travelling (http://esta.cbp.dhs.gov).

Voltage & electricity

The domestic electrical supply is 110V, 60 cycles AC. Sockets are for plugs with two flat pins.

Texas good to know

Tipping

Tipping is an established and accepted custom in America. For good service, waiters and taxi drivers expect 15-20%, and counter and bar staff 10-15%. Porters can expect from $3-$5 per case, while tour guides can be given the equivalent of £2-£3 per day.

Public holidays

• 1 January: New Year's Day

• Third Monday in January: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

• Third Monday in February: Presidents Day

• Last Monday in May: Memorial Day

• 4 July: Independence Day

• First Monday in September: Labor Day

• Second Monday in October: Columbus Day

• 11 November: Veterans Day

• Fourth Thursday in November: Thanksgiving Day

• 25 December: Christmas Day