1. Caddo Lake

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Caddo Lake. Photo: Thrillist

With Spanish moss casing thick cypress trees and a sprawling labyrinth of lush bayous and wetlands, this lake is one of the most overlooked jewels in the Lone Star; and it’s just begging to be kayaked. One of the only naturally formed lakes in Texas, it was created by the gigantic log jam -- “The Great Raft” -- which began backlogging the Red and Atchafalaya Rivers as far back as 1100-1200 AD.

The lake and state park are currently open, with some limitations and guidelines set in place for everyone’s safety, including the requirement of advance day pass and camping reservations, limitations on group sizing, headquarter and visitor center closures, and more. Check the park website for details, as the Thrillist.

2. Big Bend National Park

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Big Bend National Park. Photo: Planetware

In the Chihuahuan Desert of West Texas, on a huge bend in the Rio Grande River, lies some of the most dramatic and uniquely beautiful scenery in the state. Mountains, canyons, and the river flowing along the border separating the United States from Mexico, offer a diverse range of recreational and sightseeing opportunities for visitors to Big Bend National Park.

While most people simply enjoy touring along the roads, the park offers a full range of things to do. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the extensive network of hiking trails and the beautiful campgrounds. Paddling along the Rio Grande or enjoying a picnic and wading into the water are other popular activities on warm days.

With more than 400 species of birds, birdwatching is another prominent pastime in the park, but even if you are not looking for them, you are likely to see roadrunners darting across the roads or trails, as the Planetware.

3. Gorman Falls

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Gorman Falls. Photo: Thrillist

We don’t even know why you’d visit Colorado State Bend Park without hiking the 1.5-mile trail to this hidden treasure. Complete the trek and you’ll be treated to a misty chill, complete with a breathtaking 60-foot waterfall cascading into a fern-coated grotto and some new Instagram followers. Like most state parks, this one is open with required reservations for day passes and camping. Reserve them online or by calling 512-389-8900. Face coverings are strongly encouraged and other safety measures are listed on the park’s site.

4. The Texas State Capitol in Austin

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The Texas State Capitol in Austin. Photo: Planetware

The Texas State Capitol, built in 1888, is considered one of the finest state legislatures in the US. In Austin's downtown core and now a National Historic Landmark, it certainly impresses with its dimensions, standing 308 feet tall.

Highlights of its 22-acre park include monuments to the defenders of the Alamo and to veterans of the Vietnam War. Guided tours of the building's interior are available and start from the visitor center with its many displays. At dusk, head across to the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge for a chance to witness the spectacle of a million or so Mexican free-tailed bats coming and going from their perches under the bridge.

5. The Fort Worth Stockyards

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The Fort Worth Stockyards. Photo: Planetware

The Stockyards National Historic District remains Fort Worth's biggest draw. Founded in 1866, the area took its name from the cattle industry, as it was here that millions of cattle were rested, sorted, or shipped out to other points across the state.

The last surviving facility of its kind in the US, these historic stockyards have been transformed into a splendid attraction consisting of all sorts of fun things to see, including rodeos, concerts, theatrical performances, and western-themed shopping. Highlights include cattle driving demonstrations and a chance to saddle up for some trail riding.

Be sure to check out the Stockyards Visitor Center and the Stockyards Museum, both of which provide information regarding current events as well as the history of this fun area of Fort Worth.

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