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Texas city breaks: An urban adventure through Houston, Antonio and Austin

Simon Calder’s Travel

Most travellers will associate Texas with cowboys, ranches, sprawling plains and the flavours of Tex-Mex. And although the Lone Star State certainly excels in all these areas, there are now plenty of cityscapes vying for attention.

It may not be the obvious choice for a city break, but Texas, venerated for its rugged outdoors, artsy boutiques and barbecue, has mastered urban cool around its upscale high rises.

State capital Austin dances to live music, San Antonio buzzes with bars on the river bank and Houston rides the rodeo and space travel. These three cities offer a very different taste of urban Texas and can be visited individually for a long weekend, but work particularly well as an extended city-hopping break – Austin and San Antonio are around one hour 30 minutes from each other by road, and the drive from either to Houston is around two to three hours.

With perennial sunshine and boutique bed and breakfasts as hospitable as the locals, it’s not hard to while away a weekend or longer in the USA’s most populous state. So polish your cowboy boots, brush up on your Beyoncé and roll up your sleeves for finger-sullying smoked brisket, on charming city breaks to these Texan metropolises.

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San Antonio

Spanish-influenced San Antonio is a foodie favourite (Getty Images)

As Texas’s leading tourist hotspot and the USA’s seventh largest city, San Antonio is a firm favourite among travellers. Best known for its Spanish mission, The Alamo, the Spanish influence on local architecture is widespread, as exemplified by San Fernando Cathedral, the oldest standing church building in Texas, founded in 1731 by a group from the Canary Islands.

What to do

There’s a perceptible stillness in the air and a haunting beauty that hits on entering The Alamo’s hallowed grounds. Echoes of the bloody battle that took place here nearly two centuries ago in 1836 resonate throughout.

The main draw at the Alamo Collections Center is the antiquities generously bequeathed by Genesis singer, Phil Collins. The collection comes from a near lifelong obsession borne when Collins saw Disney’s “Davy Crockett: King of the World Frontier” at five years old.

Former brewery turned culture hub, Pearl, has injected life north of downtown, with its shops, restaurants and award-winning farmer’s market. Swing by

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