A drive across Texas has the slippery, shifting feel of a dream. Things change, and change significantly—from bayous and forests to prairies to bare, windswept plains. But the transformations are subtle. At some point, it will dawn on you that the trees have disappeared, but you won't be able to say exactly when.

Driving will likely be part of your visit to Texas. Unless you're planning to confine yourself to one place, you'll be covering some territory—possibly a lot of territory—and you'll likely be covering it in a car. The trick is to know how much is too much: Texas is a huge place. Unless you've got a lot of time (and a great fondness for road trips), you'll want to set some limits and take the time to enjoy what you're seeing.

One of the state's big cities—Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio—could conceivably fill a vacation by itself. But we suggest you combine one of them with visits to other, less urban areas: The countryside offers so much variety—the wildflowers alone are worth a drive—and the huge blue sky is best appreciated from more-open spaces.

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