Don’t miss these 5 Texas road-trip stops

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The Big Texan steak house is an Amarillo institution. If you can eat the 72-ounce steak in an hour, it's free.

It’s about the journey, not the destination, right? With spring just around the corner, there’s no better time for a Texas road trip, and no matter where you’re going, there’s a roadside attraction to consider. Here are five favorite road-trip stops around the state.

Weikel’s Bakery, La Grange

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Susan Hurry holds a tray of pastries at Weikel’s Bakery in La Grange. credit: Alberto Martínez/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Texans are passionate about their kolache shops – and even the use of the word itself – but if you’re heading to Houston, Weikel’s is a sure bet. They’ve been cranking out made-from-scratch Czech pastries in La Grange for decades, with flavors that include blueberry cream, lemon and poppy seed. The bakery also serves pigs-in-a-blanket, cinnamon rolls, cakes, pies, cupcakes and muffins. weikels.com

The Big Texan Steak Ranch, Amarillo

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The 72-ounce steak from Amarillo’s Big Texan Steak Ranch. credit: Bill Tucker

You’ve seen videos of people attempting to finish this famous restaurant’s 72-ounce steak, and if you’re a true Texan, you’ve even put it on your bucket list — after all, if you finish the entire thing in under an hour, you get it for free. Anyone driving to New Mexico would be remiss not to stop here, especially once the current renovations — which include a 1,000-capacity music hall and an indoor water park and hotel — are complete. bigtexan.com

Animal World and Snake Farm Zoo, New Braunfels

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Animal World and Snake Farm in New Braunfels features a variety of animals. credit: Deborah Cannon/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

You may think you want to see the Alamo, but before you get to San Antonio, make a pit stop in New Braunfels to take in the nothing-like-it Animal World and Snake Farm Zoo. This fascinating property just off I-35 offers a surprising variety of animals, including lions, porcupines, alligators, zebras, sloths, peacocks and, of course, snakes. awsfzoo.com

King’s Inn, Riviera

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The fried shrimp at King’s Inn is worth a detour on the way to the beach. credit: Helen Anders/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

No trip to South Padre Island is complete without a meal at King’s Inn, a seafood restaurant where there’s no printed menu and the tartar sauce recipe is a closely guarded family secret. You may have to wait for the succulent shrimp, oysters and sliced avocado salad, but trust me, it’s worth it. There’s no website, but call ahead to make a reservation if you can. 361-297-5265

Waco Mammoth National Monument, Waco

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Waco Mammoth National Monument is worth a stop on your way to Dallas.

Like dinosaurs? You’ll love Waco Mammoth National Monument. Next time you head to Dallas, plan to take a quick detour at this site, which features sub-fossil remains of six Columbian mammoths and several other Ice Age animals. Also recommended in Waco: Cameron Park Zoo, a Health Camp shake and Magnolia Market. nps.gov/waco/index.htm


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