Ten? I can ONLY pick ten "best things about Texas"??? Well, I'll try to restrain myself...
1. Saturday night on the Riverwalk in downtown San Antonio. The mood is always festive. The drinks as icy cold as the music is hot. There's good food, fun little shops, great scenery, fun local tradition, and plenty of people to party with.
2. Austin's music scene. Spend an evening on East Sixth Street where live music is celebrated with a fervor that every city should muster. Chill out in a funky club, try one of the humongous jalapeno burgers in the El Camino, or head over to Stubbs where the barbecue is the best in Texas and the music even draws big name rock, pop, and blues artists coming to pick up a few cues from the masters.
3. Hanging out on the beach in South Padre Island. It may be known as a Spring Break Mecca, but the fall months would be my favorite time to go because the weather is still fabulously warm and the crowds slim enough for the locals to slow down and smile along with the tourists. Take a dolphin spotting cruise out into the Gulf, or catch a few trophy fish. Enjoy a spectacular sun set over Laguna Madre, or come in the winter for the bird watching opportunities, as flocks of northern songbirds come for the warm ambience.
4. Any day in October at the Texas State Fair in Dallas. Maybe it's the thought of seeing the biggest livestock specimens in the Lone Star State that will bring you. Maybe it's the thought of taking a ride on the Texas Star --- biggest ferris wheel in America. Maybe it's the chance to root the UT Longhorns on to victory over those dastardly Oklahoma Sooners. Or maybe it's just putting aside your diet for a while to enjoy a huge greasy deep fried corn dog and a mug of homemade root beer.
5. Celebrating a hot, sunny Texas summer day on the lazy river tube rides and wild wave surfer rides at Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels. Does the world know a bigger, bolder, badder waterpark?? I've never seen it.
6. Rafting down the Rio Grande in Big Bend National Park. The rugged dry backcountry of southwest Texas is sure a far cry from the pine-studded forests of more northerly states, but the dramatic stone formations and the stark desert landscapes have their own natural beauty and drama.
7. Waking up on Sunday morning and having breakfast in a great Tex-Mex restaurant where huge bowls of pozole brighten the morning and the barbacoa tacos with salsa verde taste so spicy you just know you're not in any wimpy state that fears the chile.
8. Ride on a ranch. Texas and cowboys go together like whipped cream on ice cream. The King Ranch in South Texas is bigger than the whole darn state of Rhode Island (and just as full of bull). See the ranch, or maybe experience the XIT rodeo or museum up in the northwest corner of the state. There's dozens of dude ranches you can visit if you want to live the cowboy life yourself for a little while.
9. Blast off for an afternoon of fun with a visit to NASA Johnson Space Center on the south side of Houston. The visitor's center is expensive, but kid friendly, and the guided tour of the space center itself is a fascinating view of America's "can do" attitude when it comes to our future outside the limits of planet Earth.
10. Houston Rodeo. February is a total extravagance in Houston when the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo rides into town. Trail riders come into town from every side of the city and the festival itself kicks off with a fun parade through the heart of the city. A huge midway thrills the kids, the cowboys love their riding events and livestock show, and every night there's a top name performer filling the Reliant Stadium for a live concert (naturally, there's country artists, but there's also rock, pop, and latin music stars to bring something for everyone).