The panhandle and central Texas are at the southern end of Tornado Alley. The tornado season is from early spring to late summer, but tornados are not uncommon in November. Texas springs are pleasant, even with thunderstorms, heavy rains, and flash flooding in the Hill Country. Texas summers are hot and humid with the exception of Dallas where it’s hot and dry. Autumn, throughout the state, tends to be pleasant. Winters in Dallas can get quite cold, even icy, with generally about seven cm (three inches) of snow. Houston winters are usually mild, with an occasional cold snap. Winter in San Antonio tends to be mild with perhaps a dusting of snow or an ice storm. Austin’s winters are typically mild.
When to fly to Texas
The peak seasons are autumn and spring. Dallas hosts the Texas State Fair in September/October, and San Antonio’s Fiesta is in April. Austin is busy with visitors in the summer too, and the city can be quite full during legislative sessions and events at the University of Texas.
Except for San Antonio and Austin, visitors booking flights to Texas avoid the summers. On the plus side, nearly everything is air conditioned in Texas - and this may be the perfect time to find the cheapest flight.
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Getting around Texas
Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin all have city centres that are manageable on foot, and all have good public transport systems. Many of Houston’s hotels also provide shuttles to common destinations, and Austin’s free Armadillo ('Dillo) Express routes take you to tourist sights.
Driving is not recommended in these cities; traffic can be heavy and parking very hard to find or nonexistent. If you do drive in a city, pay sharp attention to where you are. San Antonio has a pattern of one-way streets that is confusing at best, and driving in Austin can be frustrating. Its street signs are hard to read and often obscured, and the streets branch into turn-only lanes with little, if any, advance warning.
Cabs are another option for getting around. You can find them at hotel taxi stands or you can call for one. As for highway driving, pay attention. Watch the signs and be prepared to make lane changes to make sure you don’t end up in an express lane headed somewhere you don't want to go. Depending on the distance you’re covering, the number of airports in Texas makes flying an option and catching a cheap flight fairly easy.
Texas insider information
- Visitors to Dallas are greeted with Texas hospitality and plenty of activities — museums, amusement parks, gardens, and historic sites. Probably the best-known site is the Texas Schoolbook Depository that houses exhibits examining the life, times, death, and legacy of President Kennedy. Dallas is also a sports town and one of the few US cities that supports teams in six professional sports. The city’s biggest event is the annual Texas State Fair in September/October.
- A town of sophistication and friendliness, Houston has a top-level art collection and an accomplished culinary scene. The largest city in Texas personifies the Texan spirit with its friendly people and juxtaposition of the elegant and mundane, functional and whimsical. Houston is the country’s biggest oil and gas centre and has the largest concentration of medical institutions in the world. NASA, the Astrodome, and the museum district are just a few of the sights waiting for you in Houston.
- San Antonio is a popular destination for Texans, Mexicans, and out-of-state visitors. Founded before the state won independence from Mexico, San Antonio was settled by Spanish missionaries and militia, German merchants, Southern plantation owners, Western cattle ranchers, and Eastern architects. Many visitors go to see the Alamo, but San Antonio still has five original Spanish-Colonial missions within its limits, aqueducts that carry water to farmers, and a rich history.
- The Live Music Capital of the World doesn’t have as many tourist attractions as other cities, but that’s the charm of Austin, which is not to say that it doesn’t have attractions. It does: live music around every corner, museums, the University of Texas, bat flights at sunset, haute cuisine, and down-home barbeques. The Texas capital consistently ranks high on lists of the best places to live, work, and play in the US.