The Best Scenic Drives in Texas for Summer 2024

With summer right around the corner, highway nomads are itching to put rubber to the road yet again and make the most of Texas’ big open roads. Whether it’s sweeping coastal plains, majestic mountains, or towering trees, Texas has it all. But with over 270,000 miles of the open road at your disposal, finding a scenic drive for your summer road trip is easier said than done.

If this sounds like a predicament, worry not; you’re in the right company. We’ll highlight some of the most iconic drives in Texas for adventurous and memorable road trips. Let’s get straight into it.

Route 66

We’ll start with the most iconic road in Texas (and maybe America), Route 66. Famously dubbed the “Main Street of America,” this 2,448-mile highway stretch through Northern Texas is a road wanderer’s dream come true. While cruising through Route 66, you’ll enjoy picturesque views of historic landmarks, architectural marvels, and more.

However, you’ll want to be extra careful because the highway attracts plenty of traffic. This greatly increases the risk of accidents, especially hit-and-runs. Just remember, you need a lawyer after a hit-and-run accident to salvage your trip. By hiring one, you can receive treatment and compensation for any injuries and losses. Thus, you can resume your trip ASAP.

Davis Mountains Scenic Loop

The Davis Mountains Scenic Loop is a 75-mile stretch through the Davis Mountains in West Texas that is nothing short of stunning. The road cuts through untouched mountainous terrain and embodies what Texas is really about – unmatched natural beauty.

The trip begins in Fort Davis, where you’ll take Highway 118 to Limpia and then Madera Canyon before turning to Highway 118, which circles back to Fort Davis. You can stop along the way to hike one of the several trails, but remember to carry plenty of water and snacks because Davis Mountain hikes are long and challenging.

If hiking isn’t your cup of tea, you can visit the University of Texas McDonald Observatory. The best time to do so is at night when the stars are in full view. Since the region is far detached from cities and city lights, the skies offer an excellent view of the stars, and you can easily spot constellations and a shooting star or two.

El Camino Real Highway

The El Camino Real Highway, also known as Texas 21, is shrouded in history. El Camino Real translates to “the Royal Road.” Spanish missionaries used this route as early as the 1700s to reach their colonies in the Americas. Nowadays, the 600-mile highway is enrobed in enchanting greenery and is a breath of fresh air away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Driving through the entire route will take you approximately 10 hours. Fortunately, there are plenty of gas and food stops every 15 miles where travelers can eat and rest. Notable places to visit on your drive include Mission Tejas State Park- a great camping and hiking destination. You can also go to the Sam Houston Memorial Museum to immerse yourself in Texas history.

The River Road

Despite the banal name, the River Road is a lot more than just a road to a river. Far from that, this short stretch of highway opens you up to a variety of picturesque sites and attractions. You’ll start your journey in South Texas amidst the thorny shrubs and arid terrain of the region before bursting into the greenery of Rio Grande.

The River Road only stretches 50 miles, but there are plenty of attractions to enrich your journey. You can pop into Fresno Overlook to take in the breathtaking views and go hiking. Next, you can visit Terlingua ghost town, famous for the first chili championship cook-off held in 1967. Lastly, finish off your trip with a visit to Fandango Dom Rock for pictures and a picnic.

Bluewater Highway

The Bluewater Highway is a short 15-mile drive from Surfside Beach to San Luis Beach. Sure, 15 miles isn’t much of a drive, but you’ll undoubtedly enjoy every second of it. Drive through the Gulf of Mexico and take in the beautiful Atlantic Ocean. The drive is great for pictures and taking a break from the usual Texas terrain.

Pineywoods Autumn Trail

Pineywoods Autumn Trail in East Texas is the best place to drive around and take your mind away from the chaos of the modern world. This 150-mile stretch is drenched in beauty as the road unfolds into serene greenery. The trail is especially beautiful in fall as the trees burst into red, yellow, and orange colors of autumn foliage.

You don’t have to go in summer to experience Pineywoods Autumn Trail at its fullest. However, summer is ideal if you want to visit stops like the East Texas Arboretum and Tara Vineyard and Winery for some good old East Texas award-winning wine.

Highway 16

Highway 16 is perfect for those invested in the journey. This 150-mile smooth road traverses the famous rolling hills of Central Texas. It provides scenic views of water bodies like Wichita Falls and gives you a glimpse of Central Texas fauna. You can’t go wrong with Highway 16 if you’re in it for the drive.

The Shady stretch between Bandera and Medina is a spectacle as the highway gently shrinks to two narrow roads along the Medina River.

Scenic Texas Drives for an Unforgettable Summer

If you’re looking for an unforgettable road trip experience this summer, you must explore some of the most scenic roads in Texas. Everything from the legendary Route 66, tracing historic landmarks and architectural wonders, to the Davis Mountains Scenic Loop offers a breathtaking experience.

Whether you’re seeking historic landmarks, natural wonders, or peaceful retreats, these scenic Texas drives will surely elevate your summer adventure. You can stop for a brief lunch at one of the food stops. However, we recommend Keese’s Bar-B-Que for some classic Texas barbeque. Wind up your journey by purchasing a whole apple pie made with fresh apples from the Love Creek Orchards.