Texas has long been a gold mine when it comes to musical talent. Mostly thought of as one of the centers of country & western, it has also produced several legends in rock, blues, and other genres.
As such, it’s no surprise that the towns and cities of Texas are great places to enjoy performances by legends and rising stars alike. Here are some of the best places to go, included not just for the quality of talent but also for the selection of venues.
Known as the Live Music Capital of the World, Austin is one of the best music cities in the country. You can still find good old-fashioned honkytonks here, but blues and indie rock are more dominant now. The yearly highlight is Austin City Limits, a music festival occurring over two consecutive weekends each October.
2. Dripping Springs
Austin’s motto is “Keep Austin Weird,” and Dripping Springs, just 30 minutes from downtown Austin, bills itself as “West of Weird.” This fast-growing town that also hails itself as the Gateway to the Hill Country and the Wedding Capital of Texas still retains small-town charm and spotlights local talent in brewpubs, parks, and bars.
3. San Marcos
Another location in the Hill Country that runs roughly from Austin to San Antonio, San Marcos has had a lively music scene for decades, partly thanks to the thousands of students attending Texas State University there. The city is also home to Cheatham Street, where George Strait, often called the King of Country, played his first few hundred shows.
Waylon Jennings put this tiny, unincorporated Hill Country community on the map with his hit “Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love). Now, it’s a well-known music venue known for its dance hall and the site of Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnics in the 1990s.
5. San Antonio
The third-largest city in Texas and one of the 10 largest in the country, San Antonio has a bustling music scene. You can enjoy music just about anywhere in the city, but two of the best places are the famous River Walk and the Arneson River Theater.
It’s easy to overlook Denton with Fort Worth and Dallas so close, but that would be a mistake. Almost anywhere else, Denton would be a top draw for music lovers. Even so, it has a strong music scene, especially notable for jazz and indie rock.
This city that suddenly rises over the seemingly endless flat grasslands of West Texas has been a virtual breeding ground for artists in country and other genres. Its most famous native son is Buddy Holly, but it’s been home to the rise of many, many other famous names.
When Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and others thought country music was getting too mainstream, they started the movement called “Outlaw Country,” country with a rougher, rawer edge. Abilene embraced the movement, and today, it hosts the Outlaws and Legends Music Festival each year.
9. El Paso
This West Texas town along the Mexican border is surrounded by landscapes that seem to come straight from Western movies. Inside the city, you’ll find plenty of music influenced by traditional country & western and Mexican culture.
The commercial and cultural hub of northern Texas, Dallas has a big music scene with something for everyone, which is only fitting for this large, rapidly diversifying city. Legendary guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan was born and raised in Dallas.
Texas’s largest city has long had a reputation for being welcoming to more experimental music. One tradition that has come from it is lo-fi music, which is something between folk and blues. Famous names that have been part of the city’s music scene include Guy Clark, Lyle Lovett, Townes Van Zandt, and Houston native Robert Earl Keen.
The oldest town in Texas also has its oldest music scene. That music scene is also the dominant one in East Texas. Willie Nelson named an album after the town, and its music scene reflects the multicultural melting pot that the town is. Nacogdoches also hosts the 4-day Nacogdoches Music Festival annually.
12 Best Barbecue Joints in Texas
In Texas, barbecue isn’t merely a meal; it’s almost religion. Dining at a Texas barbecue joint is often as much a cultural experience as it is a religious one, and people leave their differences and their politics behind when they walk through the doors. Texans take their barbecue very seriously, especially when it comes to brisket, pork ribs, and sausage. And they don’t pay short shrift to things like sides and sweet tea, either.
While no one will ever agree to one definitive ranking of the 12 best barbecue joints in the state, a lot of names come up repeatedly, and they’re listed in this article.
Texas Swagger: Unraveling the Lone Star State’s Unapologetic Pride
If you’ve ever been to Texas, you’ll notice, besides all the pickup trucks and the cowboy hats, that Texans take a lot of pride in their home state. There are other places in the country that have a strong sense of regional or local pride, but Texas seems to top them all. In fact, for some Texans, the only thing bigger than Texas is their love of the Lone Star State.
Discover the Lone Star State: 11 of the Best Places to Live in Texas
As inviting a place as Texas may be to live, its vast selection of cities and towns, which number more than 1,200, can make for an overwhelming search. Of course, the whole state offers classic Texas energy and southern charm, but its vast size houses many unique regions and subcultures. To help narrow down the search, consider some of these options for the best places to live in Texas.
The 7 Best Flea Markets in Texas
Texas is home to some of America’s biggest and best flea markets. If you love shopping, getting bargain deals, and meeting people, you’ll want to visit these flea markets. It’s a fun way to shop and discover all the things you need and even more things you didn’t know you needed. Flea markets in Texas offer everything from antiques and collectibles to home furnishings, vintage clothing items, and much more.
The best way to browse a flea market? With your favorite people, of course! Whether you spend an afternoon or an entire weekend, heading out to one of Texas’s best flea markets can be quite a fun adventure!
Best Gas Stations in America Worth Stopping For
Gas stations are typically nothing more than mere pit stops during long journeys, serving the functional purpose of refueling vehicles. However, there are some exceptional gas stations across America that go beyond the ordinary, offering unique experiences and amenities that make them destinations in their own right!
Featured Image Credit: Sterling Munksgard/Shutterstock
Robert Sihler is an educator, freelance writer, and rock climbing guide and instructor living with his family in Driftwood, Texas. In his spare time, he enjoys reading fiction, streaming films, completing crossword puzzles, and rock climbing. When he goes on vacation, he likes to visit the mountains of the West and climb remote, obscure peaks that have seen few or no prior ascents.