We’re from Texas. You’re Not.
Leah Walker March 5, 2013

Arrogant. Boastful. Proud. These words have been used to describe Texas and her people for centuries.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m guilty of acting arrogant, boastful, and proud of being a Texan; it’s my identity. As much as I love to travel, I always am happy to come home to Texas. I feel lucky to be born in a state with such lore and pride. Texas is known the world over and that’s not a coincidence. We are a state that has etched out a unique persona; there’s no other place like it. Also, Texans are some of the best people you’ll ever meet. Yeah, we may be a bit braggadocios about the grandness of our state, but it’s a reputation that’s well deserved.

Texas State Line

So, what’s so great about the Lone Star State? I asked five Texas-bred travel writers and one Nobel Prize winner for literature {kind of} that very question. Here’s what they had to say.

John Steinbeck on Texas

I have said that Texas is a state of mind, but I think it is more than that. It is a mystique closely approximating a religion. And this is true to the extent that people either passionately love Texas or passionately hate it and, as in other religions, few people dare to inspect it for fear of losing their bearings in mystery or paradox. But I think there will be little quarrel with my feeling that Texas is one thing. For all its enormous range of space, climate, and physical appearance, and for all the internal squabbles, contentions, and strivings, Texas has a tight cohesiveness perhaps stronger than any other section of America. Rich, poor, Panhandle, Gulf, city, country, Texas is the obsession, the proper study, and the passionate possession of all Texans.

Planet Texas

John Steinbeck was an American writer. He is widely known for the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden, and Of Mice and Men. Steinbeck also received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962 and truly understood what Texas is about.

Robert Schrader on Texas

Texas gets a lot of flack for being a “fat” state. I won’t attempt to refute that notion – let’s face it, waist sizes are among the many things that are bigger here in the Lone Star State – but I will provide you with the reason: Our food is incredible.

Texas Food

Whether you take advantage of international cuisines from Indian to Vietnamese to Filipino in Houston’s ethnic neighborhoods, prime Texas beef at steakhouses from Dallas all the way to the Rio Grande, or killer Mexican and down home southern food all around the state, it’s difficult to imagine going hungry in Texas.

Austin-Food-Trailer

Texas is also at the forefront of many national culinary trends: Dozens of food trailers dot the quirky capital of Austin, for example. And let’s not even talk about all the fresh fruits, vegetables and prime cuts of meat we grow right here – it would take an entire article.

When Robert Schrader isn’t at his pad in East Austin (which is chock full of pants-tightening dining options!) he’s traveling around the world, scouting stories for his travel blog Leave Your Daily Hell. Read Leave Your Daily Hell regularly – or alternatively, “Like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter – to get inspired, plan your trip and go!

Amy Moore on Texas

Alamo

I love Texas because it is so diverse.  You can go easily go from skyscrapers to a field of cattle in minutes.  Desert, mountains, beaches, farm fields, forests and canyons can all be found just over yonder. And don’t y’all discount the beauty of a field full of bluebonnets in the spring!

panhandle-sunrise-over-irrigation-sprinklers-in-a-farm-field[3]

It is not just the land that is diverse.  Although six flags have flown over this land in modern times, you can feel the flavor of more than a dozen different cultural influences throughout the state.  They are apparent in the architecture, the language, and the food.  Oh, the food!  That’s a reason I love Texas all wrapped up in four letters.  Czech-influenced kolaches, Tex Mex and pit barbecue… I could eat Texan cooking for the rest of my life and die happy.

fort-worth-cowboy-in-stockyards[7]

Amy Moore is a native Texan, and returned to her hometown of Fort Worth after a stint in the Midwest.  Amy is general manager of the popular travel blog Everything-Everywhere and blogs about family travel and Texas.  Find her on Twitter.

Erica Kuschel on Texas

When I get asked the cliche question, “Where are you from?” I reply,“Texas!” before saying the US. The thing I love about Texas and Texans is how incredibly proud they are of where they live. We fly our state flag. We drink our local beers. We eat our beef. I have an“ode to Texas” tattoo on my chest full of stars, guns, and yellow roses. I carry around a Texas flag koozie when I travel. Not only is it a conversation starter but I meet other Texans abroad!

Overyonderlust

Erica Kuschel, along with her husband, Shaun, run the adventure travel site, OverYonderlust.com. She traded her ‘normal’ existence in Austin, Texas for a life of new experiences around the world. Erica, who is a photographer by trade, likes to view the world through her lens.

Lauren DiMarco on Texas

I love that when I’m in Texas practically everyone is friendly. People say hi or good morning just because. You don’t have to know the person or be someplace where it might be expected for someone to greet you like a store or restaurant. Nope, I’m talking about just walking down the street or, say, putting sugar in your coffee at Starbucks. People in Texas are just plain ole friendly. In fact, some take it a step further and might add a term of endearment like honey or darlin’. I love that! And even better, people in Texas seem confident in giving compliments to strangers, too. Not as some kind of come on or to get something from you. Just because.

Lola Cowboy Boots

These are the little things I miss about living in Texas that you really take for granted when it’s a normal everyday part of your life. It is also these things, having grown up in Texas, that I think make me a charming person and friendlier than most. It’s always a welcome treat to return to my home state and be greeted by smiles and warm salutations.

Lauren DiMarco is the writer-in-cheif-travelista of Lola’s Travels. A sassy, fun-loving, and flirtatious traveler, Lola has a flair for finding adventure and making new friends. A typical Lola trip is only a few days, so she’s a master at getting the most out of her getaway. A Frommer’s guide this is not, but Lola does spotlight exceptional places to stay, eat, shop and play in a playful, yet informative way.

Paul Thompson on Texas

State Fair

When asked what I like most about Texas, it’s not a decision easily reached. There is so much about Texas to love, from the geographic and social diversity to the BBQ and Tex-Mex cuisine. But the best part of being Texan is the state pride–a pride that is rooted back nearly two hundred years.

The motto of the Texas Tourism board is “Texas – It’s like a whole other country.” Looking way back in the history of the state, Texas has actually been part of colonies ruled by France, Spain and Mexico. Texas history is so important that all school students are required to take a class about it in 7th grade.

The most epic and famous events in Texas history were battles at the Alamo {in San Antonio} and San Jacinto {just southeast of Houston} against Mexico in 1836 during the fight for independence. At the Alamo, a group of less than 200 Texian settlers defended themselves for 13 days against an attack of over 1,500 soldiers from the Mexican army.

Palo Duro

All Alamo defenders were killed during the battle, and as word of the defeat spread, “Remember the Alamo” became the rallying cry as a new group of volunteers assembled at San Jacinto to avenge the Alamo raid. At San Jacinto, the Texians launched a surprise ambush on the Mexican army led by General Santa Ana, who, as legend has it, was literally caught with his pants down while in the company of an “indentured servant” who was later dubbed the “Yellow Rose of Texas.” That account may or may not all be true, but Texans will have you believe it is. What matters most, is that the rag-tag band of volunteer Texian soldiers won that day, which led to independence from Mexico, and eventual statehood for Texas in 1845.

“Texan” is a state of mind, and it brings with it a reputation unlike any other found in America. Texans are known for being friendly. After all, the name Texas was derived from a Spanish word, Tejas, which means friendship. Chivalry still exists here. Outsiders might mistake Texan pride as cockiness, but did any other states fight for independence from three other countries? Texans like things big, from our vehicles to our meals.

Bluebonnet

You may know that Texas is the 2nd largest state in both population and geographic size. But here are a few other fascinating facts you may not know about Texas. The term “maverick” came from a man named Samuel Maverick, an early Texas lawyer. Cattle theft in Texas is still punishable by hanging. The Bowie knife was named for a famous Alamo defender, James Bowie.

Texas is home to the most airports in the country, and a hub for three of the world’s largest airlines. Texas has a single county the size of Connecticut, and three times the size of Delaware. Texas is the only state to enter the country by treaty. All others entered by territorial annexation. “Houston” {my birthplace} was the first word spoken from the surface of the moon. I could go on, but it’s pretty obvious to most that Texans have a lot to be proud of. We fought for those bragging rights.

Texas Flag

Perhaps the famed Alamo fighter Davey Crockett said it best when he told his congressional peers in Tennessee,

“Y’all can go to hell. I’m going to Texas.”

Paul is a native Texan, who currently lives in Dallas with his wife and two daughters. He has 11 years of experience in the airline industry, and contributes as a writer for Airline Passenger Experience Magazine. He also enjoys photography, craft beer, and all forms of travel. You can view his blog at seepaulgo.com.

Leah Walker

Leah's a luxury travel and food writer who has as many stories as she does shoes. She documents her experiences whether that's in the lap of luxury or riding through a swamp in an airboat. Leah freelances and has contributor/editor roles with The Daily Meal, The Daily Basics, Bonjour Paris, France Today, Luxe Beat Magazine, Four Seasons Magazine, Forbes Travel Guide, and is a travel ambassador for Atout France USA. Leah's thrilled to call Paris home after being awarded the coveted three-year Compétences & Talents visa from France, though her talents don't extend to speaking French. Yet.

51 Comments

    1. Uh oh…you’re going to have a whole legion of BBQ fans from the rest of the country thinking you’re crazy. I happen to agree with you though.

  1. It’s true! Everything is bigger and better in Texas. The food, the space, the smiles and the people (in a good way, haha!). We drove through Texas when we did a xcountry road trip and loved it so much, we kept turning around and going back through Texas different way. Great write-up (and PS, please send me some bbq).

    1. Oh, I’m so happy you had such a great experience in Texas. I’ve been here my whole life and there still are a few parts that I’ve not explored. One day I’m just going to do a Texas road trip and hit all those nooks and crannies I’ve missed. BBQ is on the way!

  2. And if things are not really bigger and better here for the rest of the world, we are (I am already a Texan, excuse me!!!) the most optimistic people with a very positive attitude, that help us to see the bright side of anything around us.

    1. I agree, Jose. What other place takes defeat (Alamo) and turns it into millions of dollars in tourism per year? Now, that’s being an optimist!

  3. Everyone I’ve met from Texas has been lovely – my grandparents have been spending Canadian winters in San Antonio for quite a few years now, and I went down to visit them on my spring break in 2008 – I had a ball! Got a feel for just how big it is, when we drove from San Antonio to Dallas, where my aunt and uncle now live and love it there too!

    1. Ahhh…your grandparents are Snowbirds! Yes, we get lots of retired folks that come down and stay for the winter. I’m glad you got a chance to experience Texas. I do hope you got out of the cities a bit. There’s so much to love there too.

    1. Ha! Yeah, that’s an iPhone pic on the Texas/Louisiana border. I’m glad you enjoyed your time in Texas. I do hope you’ll come back.

  4. one of my best friends from new york is texan, and it cracks me up to hear the american history lessons he got in school compared to what we learned in the northeast. he knew virtually nothing about the 13 colonies and revolutionary war, but can talk me through the texas war of independence as if he lived through it.

    1. Ah, come on. I’m sure there’s something exciting about Illinois, although I can’t quite come up with anything but Chicago. 😉 Yes, Erica’s tattoo is awesome!

  5. This is a really cool idea for a post – always interesting to see how different people perceive their hometown -I think you’ve managed to show all of its personalities:)

    1. Thanks, Fiona. You should do one for Ireland/Dublin. Y’all are pretty proud of where you’re from, too. It rivals Texans.

    1. Hell no, airports don’t count. You and Gerard come on down to Texas. I’ll throw y’all an engagement party.

  6. Leah, I always thought YOU were a hardcore Texas evangelist. Fun to get a snippet from the other Texas bred writers about the Lone Star State, I’ve only driven through it and didn’t get a chance to stop, but seems like I’ll need to take a trip dedicated to finding out about this state different than the others and all the awesomeness you (and these others) rave about. And I love a lady in cowgirl boots…so maybe it’s time to visit =)

    1. Not enough can be said about a lady in cowgirl boots, if I do say so myself. Bring your Chucks to Houston, Ryan.

  7. Great post! I’ve only been to Texas once – Dallas and outside it – but, I’ve always wanted to go back. There’s no place like Texas!

    1. Yes, going to Dallas and saying you’ve seen Texas is like saying you’ve seen California, but you’ve only been to LA. Come on down and I’ll show you around.

    2. Dallas is great, but Leah is so right; it’s only a small representation of Texas. Dallas is compact in size and personality, meaning people there are similar to one another. Right “next door” is Fort Worth, the people there are very different from their neighbors.

      Now, Houston is distinctly unique because of the continuing influx of people from around the state, country, and world. It’s so big that go can’t see a difference when you change from Houston city limits to surrounding cities like Friendswood, Sugarland, Missouri City, Pasadena, Katy, and up I-45 through Spring, The Woodlands, Oak Ridge, and Conroe. You’ll never know you left Houston.

      The small towns with big personalities in the west and Panhandle are filled with warm-hearted people. The east side has more trees and down-to-earth people that you are almost family immediately.

      Anywhere you visit, you’ll meet amazing, but uniquely different, people.

  8. I love the claim for “killer Mexican” food… makes me smile, Texas claims good food from another country as part of a reason to go there…. Ah, Texas. It makes me smile.

    stay adventurous, Craig

    1. Craig, we do claim “killer Mexican” food as a great reason to visit, but we can do that because we also claim the creators of that amazing cuisine. We have Mexican-American, Latino, and Hispanic citizens of Texas. We have African-American, Asian, Oriental, European, British, German, and Polish Texans. That’s one of the beauties of Texas: we have so many ancestors in our family-tree. We blended some of the best qualities of many cultures as well as preserved the most special, tasty, and honorable ‘as is.’ So, yes, come try OUR Mexican and Tex-Mex – they’re not the same. (I even know of a terrific Italian place in a small town named Conroe where the New-Yorker-with-Italian-parents chose to settle and make his father’s recipes for us.)

        1. So, the next time Craig is in Mexico, I hope he eats his feel of the wonderful cuisine. I then invite him to Brownsville or Houston or San Antonio to compare. I’m not saying the Texas version will be better, but it will be as good. Craig, post your dinning plans, and Leah and I will make sure you are visiting the best in the state.

  9. Texas! The state that I feel the most regret about not being able to visit when I head to the USA next week…well, along with Louisiana (New Orleans! gumbo!) and Alabama (To Kill A Mockingbird!). Texans are a proud bunch, you’re right about that, and one of the great classics of cinema is set there and focuses on Texan pride. That’s right, I’m talking about that Piper Perabo classic, Slap Her! She’s French.

    1. Ahhh…you had me at To Kill a Mockingbird, my all-time favorite book in the whole wide world. What I don’t know about is the classic film, Slap her! She’s French. Perhaps you’ll come to Texas and we’ll rent it. OK?

  10. When people ask me where I am from, I say “The U.S.”, and when they say where I say “Saint Louis”. It is interesting how some states have so much more pride in their state than their particular hometown. Ohio, California, and Texas seem to spring to mind. I have no real loyalty to Missouri and have a hard time relating to such “state-pride” that you guys have, but on the flip-side I have fierce pride regarding Saint. Louis on par with what you have with Texas. Odd phenomenon, and one that my girlfriend from England finds especially curious. Never been to Texas, but definitely will be visiting soon though.

    1. You’re so right about how some states have more state pride than others. I do find that Californians and New Yorkers, especially those in NYC, are especially proud. The ‘show me state’ does have one awesome motto. That’s something to be proud of!

    1. The “Texan” mentality is bred into us without us realizing it’s happening or that we’re doing it to our kids, but it’s similar to the “Southern” mentality. Texans fought round and round for their existence and and never let descendents or outsiders forget it; we’re a proud group.

      We don’t mean to be rude about it although it comes across that way to many; we just don’t always remember that other people don’t automatically feel the same way that we do.

  11. Born in Dallas, lived in Austin and now we are raising our boys in Bastrop on five acres. I love Texas! No place in the World I would rather be!

  12. Would love your perspective on the phenomenon that is the Texan TV show “Fixer Upper” Chip and Joanna Gaines seem to be putting Waco on the map. Wondering if Waco is worth a visit?

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