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The Best of Texas

What do You, our readers, think is the Best of Texas? Here are your answers, revealed at last!

One thing remains clear: You love San Antonio! That vibrant city won hands down in several categories, and had at least one listing—and sometimes two or more—in 14 of the following 19 categories. With so much to entice folks, little wonder that the Alamo City scores high on both state and national lists of favorite cities to visit. Be that as it may, this poll makes something else perfectly clear: Every corner of Texas offers something of interest.

We conducted our last readers’ poll in 1991. This time around, we added a few new questions (for example, Texas’ Most Romantic Place, which we’ll divulge in February, to spark up Valentine’s Day). As you’ll notice, answers may overlap, especially where some respondents were very specific and others less so.

Our hats are off to each and every one of you who took the time to vote, whether or not your favorites carried the day. Since our job is to tell you about the Best of Texas, we truly appreciate knowing which offerings of the great Lone Star State you love the most. Enjoy!

Top Tourist Attraction

1. The Alamo (almost 1/3 of all respondents)

2. San Antonio

3. Six Flags, Arlington

4. River Walk, San Antonio

5. Big Bend

6. Johnson Space Center, Clear Lake

7. Sea World, San Antonio

8. Austin

9. Schlitterbahn, New Braunfels

10. The Coast

11. TEXAS musical, Canyon

12. Tie: Hill Country

Tie: South Padre Island

13. Galveston

14. Fiesta Texas, San Antonio

15. Corpus Christi

16. Wildflowers

17. Dallas Cowboys

18. Tie: New Braunfels

Tie: State Fair, Dallas

Favorite Vacation Destination

1. San Antonio

2. Big Bend

3. Hill Country

4. South Padre Island

5. Galveston

6. Corpus Christi

7. Port Aransas

8. Fredericksburg

9. New Braunfels

10. Padre Island (If combined with 4th choice, Padre would move to 3rd place.)

Best Annual Festival or Event

1. State Fair, Dallas

2. Fiesta San Antonio

3. Wurstfest, New Braunfels

4. Texas Folklife Festival, San Antonio

5. Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

6. Tie: Dickens on The Strand, Galveston

Tie:: Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo

Tie: TEXAS musical, Canyon

7. Texas Renaissance Festival, Magnolia

8. Mardi Gras, Galveston

9. Tyler Rose Festival

10. Houston International Festival

Best B&B or Historic Inn

1. Stagecoach Inn, Salado

2. Fredericksburg (B&B/inn unspecified)

3. Gage Hotel, Marathon

4. Excelsior House, Jefferson

5. Tie: Indian Lodge, Davis Mountains State Park

Tie: Menger Hotel, San Antonio

6. Tie: Jefferson (B&B/inn unspecified)

Tie: Landmark Inn, Castroville

7. Limpia Hotel, Fort Davis

8. Salado (B&B/inn unspecified)

9. Prince Solms Inn, New Braunfels

10. Tie: Gruene Homestead Inn, New Braunfels

Tie: Gruene Mansion Inn, New Braunfels

Friendliest Town or City

1. San Antonio

2. Fredericksburg (one vote less than San Antonio)

3. Fort Worth

4. New Braunfels

5. Austin

6. Lubbock

7. Houston

8. College Station

9. Amarillo

10. San Angelo

Most Memorable Scenic Drive

1. Camino del Rio, FM 170 (River Road)

2. Hill Country

3. Davis Mountains Scenic Loop

4. Big Bend

5. Leakey-Utopia-Vanderpool area

6. Devil’s Backbone, FM 32, Comal County

7. Willow City Loop, Gillespie County

8. River Road, New Braunfels

9. Palo Duro Canyon

10. Fredericksburg area

Best Cheap Tourist Thrill

1. Floating the Frio and Guadalupe rivers

2. Walking the beach, beachcombing

3. San Antonio River Walk

4. Six Flags (location unspecified)

5. Riding the Bolivar-Galveston ferry

6. Hill Country wildflowers

7. Palo Duro Canyon and TEXAS musical

8. Tie: Galveston (beach, seawall, The Strand)

Tie: Hiking Enchanted Rock

Tie: Padre Island

9. Big Bend National Park

10. Tie: Bat-watching in Austin

Tie: Canton Trade Days

Wish we could include your whole wonderful list here. Also garnering “cheap thrill” votes: West Texas sunsets, looking for the Marfa Lights, surfing on an air mattress in the Gulf, traveling Texas backroads, and border shopping. As much as you like San Antonio, you like small-town Texas, too: You voted for small-town “junking,” walking through small towns and visiting with locals, and attending small-town cattle auctions. Culinary creativity included “buying a coke in the domino parlor on the northwest corner of Hallettsville’s town square,” “drinking two beers in Luckenbach,” and “eating a tuna and purple onion sandwich on German bread at a roadside park.” (Add a small bag of Fritos, and I’m at that park beside you!)

Best Restaurant

1. Gaido’s, Galveston

2. The Mansion on Turtle Creek, Dallas

3. Stagecoach Inn, Salado

4. King’s Inn, Riviera

5. County Line (location unspecified)

6. Pappadeaux (location unspecified)

7. Cattleman’s Steakhouse, Fabens

8. Tie: Luby’s Cafeteria (location unspecified)

Tie: Underwood’s Cafeteria, Brownwood and Waco (location unspecified)

9. Tie: Mi Tierra, San Antonio

Tie: Taste of Texas, Houston

10.Tie: Big Texan Steak Ranch, Amarillo

Tie: Gristmill River Restaurant and Bar, Gruene

Tie: Joe T. Garcia’s, Fort Worth

Tie: Old San Francisco Steak House (location unspecified)

Tie: Pappasito’s (location unspecified)

Best Place to Walk or Hike

1. Big Bend

2. River Walk, San Antonio

3. Enchanted Rock

4. Lost Maples State Natural Area

5. Town Lake trails, Austin

6. Guadalupe Mountains, McKittrick Canyon

7. Palo Duro Canyon

(If next three were combined, “beaches” would move to 6th place.)

8. Padre Island

9. The beach

10.South Padre Island beaches

Best Spot for Swimming

1. Barton Springs, Austin

2. Balmorhea State Park

3. Tie: Guadalupe River

Tie: South Padre Island

4. Padre Island

5. Frio River, near Concan and Leakey

6. Schlitterbahn, New Braunfels

7. Galveston beach

(If next two were combined, New Braunfels would move to 3rd place.)

8. Tie: Landa Park, New Braunfels

Tie: New Braunfels

9. Frio River at Garner State Park

10. Blue Hole, Wimberley

Most Unusual Sight or Site

1. Enchanted Rock, Llano County

2. Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo

3. Tie: Marfa Lights

Tie: Palo Duro Canyon

4. Big Bend

5. Sam Houston statue, Huntsville

6. Dinosaur tracks, Glen Rose

7. Tie: Bats at Congress Ave. Bridge, Austin

Tie: Caverns of Sonora

8. Monahans Sandhills

9. Stonehenge, west of Hunt

10. Natural Bridge Caverns, west of New Braunfels

Best Museum

1. Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth

2. Witte Museum, San Antonio

3. Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon

4. Houston Museum of Natural Science

5. Institute of Texan Cultures, San Antonio

6. Fort Worth Museum of Science and History

7. Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth

8. Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, Waco

9. Dallas Museum of Art

10. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Best Place for a Family Reunion

1. San Antonio

(If next two were combined, New Braunfels would move to top spot.)

2. New Braunfels

3. Landa Park, New Braunfels

4. Any state park

5. Galveston

6. Austin

7. Salado

8. Fredericksburg

9. Bastrop State Park

10. Hill Country

Best Town Square

1. Granbury

2. New Braunfels

3. Waxahachie

4. Georgetown

5. Fredericksburg

6. Marshall, especially at Christmas

7. Garland

8. Mason

9. Weatherford

10. San Antonio

Best Place to View Wildflowers

1. Brenham area, Washington County

2. Hill Country

3. Llano area, Llano County

4. Fredericksburg area, Gillespie County

5. Willow City Loop, Gillespie County

6. Austin

7. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Austin

8. Any highway

9. Mason, Mason County

10. Ennis

Best Camping Spot

1. Big Bend National Park

2. Garner State Park

3. Palo Duro Canyon

4. Inks Lake State Park

5. Guadalupe River State Park

6. Davis Mountains State Park

7. Bastrop State Park

8. Tyler State Park

9. Tie: Lake Texoma

Tie: Leakey-Concan area

10. Lost Maples State Park

Best Zoo

(Top two together received more than half the votes.)

1. San Antonio

2. Fort Worth

3. Gladys Porter, Brownsville

4. Houston

5. Dallas

Best Historic Site or Building

1. The Alamo (almost 7 to 1 over 2nd choice)

2. State Capitol

3. San Jacinto Monument

4. Fort Davis

5. Tie: Presidio La Bahía, Goliad

Tie: San Antonio Missions

6. Washington-on-the-Brazos

7. The Sixth Floor Museum, Dallas

8. Mission San José, San Antonio

9. Fort Worth Stockyards

10. Fredericksburg’s Main Street

Most Beautiful Building

1. State Capitol (almost 10 to 1 over 2nd choice)

2. The Alamo

3. Bishop’s Palace, Galveston

4. Ellis County Courthouse, Waxahachie

5. Tie: Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, Dallas

Tie: Reunion Tower, Dallas

6. Transco Tower, Houston

7. Tie: Mission San José, San Antonio

Tie: San Jacinto Monument

8. Bass Performance Hall, Fort Worth

9. Tie: Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth

Tie: Tarrant County Courthouse, Fort Worth

10. The Ballpark in Arlington

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