The Best Destinations To Visit In Texas Instead Of These Tourist Traps, According To Reddit

Texas is a big state – the largest in the continental US, and though its size comes with a few places that are primarily rural desert, the state has more tourist attractions and vacation spots than one could feasibly count. Of course, not all these destinations will be worth your time, and some attractions might even be downright problematic. Tourist traps can eat up your funds, waste your time, or give you a disappointing, unauthentic experience. Sometimes, they'll do all three at once — not what you want when you're looking for a yee-haw good time in The Lonestar State unless the idea of a cheesy cowboy experience that you could find at just about any local steakhouse appeals to you.

To prevent you from falling victim to a Texas-sized tourist trap, we went down a rabbit hole comprised mainly of Reddit threads to find precisely which places locals and visitors think you should avoid. Then, we scanned the same sites to find the best replacements to make your Texas vacation worth flight and hotel costs. Hopefully, this will save you from avoidable disappointment.

Avoid Downtown Aquarium in Houston; go to Moody Gardens instead

Downtown Aquarium in Houston, Texas, has some of the features you'd expect from this type of business, such as aquatic wildlife exhibits (though the resident tiger seems like a bit of an off-the-wall choice). It markets itself as a place of adventure; however, it also happens to be a restaurant. According to Redditors, it leans more into the food service aspect of its business model, with one user describing it as "a sub par restaurant with a big fish tank and some sad cats in captivity. It sucks." They then recommended Moody Gardens in Galveston, Texas (less than an hour's drive) as the better destination.

The aquarium at Moody Gardens has around 15 million gallons worth of exhibits for visitors, complete with penguins. However, it features much more than that, functioning as a veritable retreat. With Galveston's location on the Gulf Coast, this destination has the ocean at its disposal, making its paddleboat ride all the more attractive. It also has a rainforest zoo exhibit, theaters, waterslides, a golf course, a museum, and more. So, it might be worth skipping a disappointing trip to an aquarium-themed restaurant to check out this family vacation spot instead.

Avoid the Silos in Waco; visit Waco Mammoth National Monument instead

On the surface, the Silos in Waco, Texas, look like a sight some tourists might want to check out. If you didn't grow up in a farming area or if you just enjoy a nice silo, then the pair of enormous grain storage units could potentially pull you in. However, the area around them contains much more than that, and that's precisely why Redditors want to save people from what they have deemed a tourist trap. These users claimed that the place around the attraction has turned into overpriced shops and eateries where visitors have to wait in line for hours to get a bite or blow their money.

Several Redditors, on the other hand, suggested tourists visit the nearby Waco Mammoth National Monument because, unlike the Silos, it truly is a sight worth seeing without all of the attempts to weasel the money out of your pockets. These users commended the mammoth fossils for their remarkable preservation and the park for keeping admission low. The mammoth fossils were first excavated in the late '70s, but the site has only been a national park since 2015, so in the scheme of The National Park Service, it's still relatively new. The monument seems to have become a local treasure and a visitor "must-see" rather quickly, which is another good sign.

Skip The Breakfast Klub in Houston if you're short on time; visit one of the smaller breakfast restaurants instead

The Breakfast Klub in Texas is a popular joint. It claims to have the best breakfast food in Houston, and maybe it does. The complaints from local Redditors and out-of-towners who have visited the area don't center on the grub. Instead, the users pointed to the ridiculous lines, which form even in the extreme Texas heat. "I have yet to find any restaurant or food item in my life that I'd will to wait in a long line for, especially in this heat, and especially in Houston where there are so, so many options," wrote one individual. This sentiment echoed throughout the thread and on review platforms.

Redditors have presented multiple alternatives to waiting in the absurd lines at The Breakfast Klub, including Fountainview Cafe, Dish Society, and House of Pies. One commenter had been going to Fountainview Cafe for 20 years and still found it just as good as when they first stopped in for a bite. Dish Society seems to be another local gem, as does House of Pies, especially if you're looking for what Redditors claim to be the best pancakes in Houston.

Skip The Alamo in San Antonio; check out the Missions instead

Whether or not travelers should pay a visit to the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, has spawned a great deal of debate. The attraction has plenty of diehard fans who see it as a famous piece of history, representing the American spirit to fight until the end. In contrast, others have described the Alamao as "lame," sparse, and not much more than a small building with a neatly cut lawn and a modestly-sized museum. 

Internet reviews from both Quora and Reddit suggest checking out the other missions on Mission Trail as an alternative if you're one of those who find the Alamo underwhelming since, as one user described it, "They're like time machines transporting you back to the early 18th century at the ragged edge of New Spain." Mission Trails is a hiking system that takes you past four other historic missions besides the Alamo, with a few extra sights and a park on the way. The other missions don't seem to have had the pampered upkeep of the Alamo and look more like the ruins of history you'd expect them to be. They're beautifully aged pieces of history that will likely remind you of the conditions of the times.

Avoid the West End Historic District in Dallas; stick to the local museums instead

The West End Historic District in Dallas, Texas, is a tourist hotspot complete with a movie theater, clubs, and the West End Marketplace, so there are plenty of shops, eateries, and more if you have the money. For the most part, as some Redditors were keen to point out, the area is dying or dead and only serves as a tourist trap. Reviewers on Tripadvisor stated that the area used to hold concerts and other events that anyone without a large budget could enjoy, but the situation has changed. This doesn't mean Dallas or the West End are without places worth visiting, however.

Both Reddit and Quora users suggested the museums in Dallas as good places to experience. A few of these are in the West End, and it might be better to plan your visit around them for a cheaper and more authentic experience. The Holocaust Museum, Sixth Floor Museum – a museum that educates about JFK's assassination – and the Museum of Illusions can all be found on the West End. Some people also point to Ripley's Believe It Or Not! and the Dallas Museum of Art as viable options.

Avoid The Oasis in Austin; eat at Interstellar BBQ

The Oasis on Lake Travis in Austin is a restaurant with four stories of balconies overlooking the beautiful green-blue water of the lake. As you might expect from a view like that, it's popular with tourists. Redditors agree that the view is astounding, but similar views can be had from other places in the surrounding area. The Oasis is still a restaurant, and restaurants are supposed to have food worth dining out for. 

Unfortunately, the consensus is that The Oasis didn't get the memo regarding food quality, with one user going so far as to say, "I used to eat paste off my fingers in kindergarten, we can all learn to grow and change! *except the Oasis, where the food will forever suck, and the cheese enchiladas will always be filled with your choice of EZ Cheese or sliced American." Comments of this kind abound. Another point of agreement on Reddit is that Austin's Interstellar BBQ has food that is good enough to merit skipping the lake view, at least when your stomach's rumbling. You could always drive back and check out the lake on a full belly.

Avoid Fredericksburg; Vacation in Austin instead

Fredericksburg, Texas, is a must-skip destination with Reddit locals and those who've vacationed in the town, though some exceptions in the form of the National Museum of the Pacific War seem to have been made by some. Their justification is that they believe the town and its attractions are too expensive and that the high population (tourists and locals) makes parking difficult and public spaces crowded.

It almost seems odd that Austin would be a suggestion in Fredericksburg's stead, but the city is right next door, and though it has a large population, there's a lot to do there. Lake Travis can be as expensive or cheap as you want to make it, with some Redditors suggesting the free view from Highway 360 Bridge. Others point to the Texas state capital for a historic view, numerous shopping locations for those looking to walk away with souvenirs, and a slew of local restaurants you can't try anywhere else. Austin also has a great selection of chili on offer.

Skip Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier; try fishing 61st pier instead

Texas isn't all cowboys and rodeos. The state has quite a lot of coastline along the Gulf of Mexico, which attracts those looking for a bit of fishing fun. That brings us to arguably the most famous pier in the Galveston area, the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier. This pier, which Redditors were quick to condemn, is a place to be avoided. One reason is that it charges admission just to walk onto the pier, which isn't enough to justify what they believe is a sad selection of rides masquerading as a theme park.

Luckily, Galveston is home to several piers, and multiple Redditors and Tripadvisor users believe the 61st Street pier  down the island coast from Pleasure Pier is the best for dipping a line. And let's face it, the experience of fishing on the Texas Gulf is much more authentic than a makeshift boardwalk you could find on any coast in the country. Don't worry; the pier also has snacks and drinks and a great view over the water.

Avoid the Museum of Ice Cream in Austin; get your sweet treats at Amy's instead

It stinks to find out that the internet advises avoiding a place with as cool a name as the Museum of Ice Cream, located in Austin, Texas, but they do and have some solid arguments against going. "If you don't know what it is—it's basically a place for influencers to get Insta pics or to show other people online that your life is going great," said one Redditor. Others shared that they'd seen the museum's food truck serving Blue Bell, which wasn't exactly what they expected. They also claimed that it's expensive because of the district where it's located

You can avoid all of the potential issues at the Museum of Ice Cream by heading to a local favorite, Amy's Ice Creams. Austin Redditors clarified that Amy's is one of the best ice cream places in the area, if not the best. Even better, it originated in Austin. It can now be found in several other Texas locations, but Austin is home. There's some argument over whether Amy's or Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream is best, but you can try both to decide for yourself.

Avoid Arlington; Visit Dallas instead

Many of you have probably heard of Arlington. It's not as big as Dallas or Houston or Austin. Still, it's known for AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys. This might be the only thing worth visiting in Arlington if you listen to the whispers on Reddit, which claim there's not much to do in the city. Worse, many cited the ridiculous traffic as a good reason to stay away. This, as Redditors pointed out, is at least partially caused by the lack of public transportation. The city certainly has limited public transport – Basically, a rideshare service, a trolly in one part of town, and an autonomous vehicle service. So, no busses running regular routes.

On the other hand, Dallas is right next door and has many attractions for visitors. As mentioned, Redditors and other internet users seem fond of the Dallas museums. They also mentioned a downtown scavenger hunt that sends visitors around the city, the vast collection of local eateries, the Dallas Arboretum (specifically in spring when the foliage is at its peak), and the John F. Kennedy Memorial. And if you still feel like visiting Arlington for its few attractions, it's not very far away.

Skip Santa's Wonderland in Brazos County; check out the local vineyards and wineries instead

Santa's Wonderland is a Santa-themed theme park that takes Christmas to a new level. If you're really into Christmas, you might enjoy it. If not, you might want to try something else entirely because Redditors said the place is packed and overpriced to the point where it's not worth visiting anymore. Some shared it was a fun place to go once upon a time, but those years have come and passed. And though it might seem like quite the hop from Christmas, the local wineries are championed for those looking for a more adult theme to fancy up your holidays with a classy date instead.

Yes, Texas wine is a thing, and there are several wineries and vineyards within driving distance of Brazos County since it sits directly between Austin and Houston. You'll probably have to go to the mountainside of Austin to find them, but it'll be worth it. Some of the more revered local wineries, as pointed out by internet users, include Inwood Estates Vineyard, Calais Winery, and Kuhlman Cellars. There are many options to choose from, so you'll likely find a new gem that wasn't already on your list.

Skip The Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo; grab a burger at Coyote Bluff or Golden Light instead

Going to the Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo would definitely let people know you're a tourist. The restaurant screams cowboy hats and lassos, but it does so in a kind of tacky way, which can be fun. Or it might be if the locals and visitors on Reddit didn't think they had lousy food. Comments like "Big Texan's steaks seem to be just meat warmed up on a grill with little flavor to them," "The food isn't good, people," and "I just visited Amarillo for the first time this summer and went to the Big Texan. Gimmicky tourist trap? 100%" battle with handfuls of comments stating that the place is okay. However, the original comment calling it a tourist trap and saying it wasn't great had some of the highest upvotes on the list.

If you don't mind missing out on the gimmicky cowboy-Texas stuff, Coyote Bluff Cafe and Golden Light Cafe and Cantina are two local places worthy of your attention. Both of these joints are local to Amarillo, both have received praise on Reddit, and both have been argued to have the best burgers on the planet. Sure, you'll miss out on the cowboy hats, but if the Redditors know their stuff (and they usually do), the food will be to die for.

How we decided which tourist traps and attractions to go with

The Texas tourist attractions to avoid were primarily pulled from Reddit comments on threads discussing tourist traps in Texas and, more specifically, from those with the top votes that weren't heavily contested in the replies or on other websites. If one location had several recommendations on Reddit or sites like Tripadvisor that collect user reviews of attractions and destinations, they were skipped over to ensure only destinations with a majority disapproval were chosen as the places to stay away from.

Regarding which tourist attractions we chose as alternatives to the tourist traps, we found review threads boasting about great places to visit in Texas. We chose those highly rated by multiple users and within reasonable proximity to the tourist traps we nixed. We primarily used Reddit for these decisions, but other online reviews were occasionally considered for additional confirmation that our choices for this list made sense.