Texas Hill Country features rolling countryside and a strong European heritage with settlers from Germany and Central Europe. Many of the state's dude or guest ranches are located here. The state capital, Austin, is known for its live music and relaxed atmosphere. Enchanted Rock is a massive 425-foot-high pink granite dome that formed when molten rock solidified beneath the surface. Featuring waterways like the Guadalupe, Pedernales, Medina and Llano, the Hill Country is a land of flowing streams lined with pecan, cypress and oak trees. Winding country roads lead through farm and ranch land. Springtime in Hill Country means wildflowers—from the state flower the bluebonnet to Indian paintbrush—in open fields and along the roadside.
Fifty lakes and reservoirs dot the prairies and farmlands of the Prairies and Lakes region. This area is also home to Big D—Dallas, its sister city, Fort Worth, and many cities between, which grown into a sprawling area called the Metroplex. Dallas offers plenty of glitz with dazzling architecture. Fort Worth has a strong western heritage displayed in the Fort Worth National Historic Stockyards. Outside the Metroplex, communities like Bastrop and Lockhart are built around classic Texas town squares. Waco is the heart of this region and Bryan-College Station is a dynamic college town. Colorful attractions include the Dr Pepper Museum, Blue Bell Creameries, Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, Dinosaur Valley State Park and Fossil Rim Wildlife Center.
The South Texas Plains expand from San Antonio to the Rio Grande River, offering diverse scenery for birdwatchers, bargain hunters and history enthusiasts. In San Antonio, you must remember the Alamo, four more 18th-century Spanish missions, the River Walk, Market Square, SeaWorld San Antonio, McNay Art Museum, Mexican Cultural Institute and San Antonio Museum of Art. The San Antonio weather is warm—more than 300 days of sunshine a year and average winter temperatures of 63 degrees. Home of the World Birding Center, the semitropical Rio Grande Valley is one of the best birding and butterfly-watching spots in North America. Thousands of Winter Texans make The Valley their winter home in communities including Harlingen, McAllen, Edinburg, Alamo and Mission.