The Ultimate Family Bucket List: Texas State Parks


As a native Texan, I am incredibly proud of our great state and all that it has to offer. (That Texas pride is real, y’all.) One of the best ways to experience Texas is to visit any of the 89 state parks across 630,000 acres!

When we started teaching our son about his Texan roots, we decided we should use the Texas State Parks as our Family Bucket List. We have a goal to visit all 89 of the State Parks of Texas before our kids leave for college…we only have 14 years to go!

Tell me more…

There are so many resources to help you explore! We started by getting a State Park guide so we can check our stops off in the book. You can get the Texas State Parks Official Guide PDF here, download the Texas State Parks app, or show your state your pride and take this pledge to receive a free guide in the mail!

Where do I start?

Start with the parks all around DFW! There are more than 15 state parks within a 2-hour drive from Dallas. You can knock those our real quick on weekend drives! Bonus: many of those near us are lakes, so there’s an opportunity for a lake house rental weekend.

Our favorite weekend drive has been to Lake Tawakoni, east of Dallas. The drive to the lake is the perfect distance for afternoon naps for kiddos in car seats. We haven’t stayed overnight, but there is camping and lake house rentals available. There are beaches for swimming and hiking through nearly 5 miles of trails.

Which ones are true Bucket List “MUST SEE” state parks?

Without a doubt, my favorite state parks are along the Texas coast. The lighthouse at Port Isabel near South Padre Island is incredible. It was built in 1852 and is the only Texas lighthouse along the coast that is open to visitors.

Mustang Island, where Port Aransas is located, is my childhood favorite. We just returned from a weekend trip to Mustang Island, and it felt awesome to check that stop off our list! It was our daughter’s first trip to the beach.

I would be remiss if I didn’t say that the ultimate stop is Big Bend Ranch State Park. I think I may shed actual tears when I get to show my children that part of the state. There is so much history and beauty in that part of Texas. Half of the entire state park acreage is right here in Big Bend.

There are COUNTLESS things to do in this part of the country, but please make sure that you couple this stop with Balmorhea State Park. Also, check out the Daytripper episodes for great tips on where to eat and stay. (By the way, set your DVR to record this show on PBS… we are obsessed with it!)

What can I expect when I get to a state park?

Let’s cut to the chase…kids 12 and under are FREE in all Texas State Parks! For adults, it depends on what you choose to do.

There is the possibility for a daily admission fee, an overnight camping fee, then additional activity fees depending on what you’re doing. Admission fees are good for all day in ALL parks, so you can knock a couple out in a day. Or you can get an unlimited annual park pass to all of the state parks for $70 per year. This annual pass is good for one adult, and an additional adult annual pass in the same house can be added for $25.

Now, go explore… Vaya con dios, amigos!

Which State Park is your favorite? What are your tips or Texas Bucket List items? Share them with us!!


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