March 26, 2019 at 09:52AM by CWC
I’ve lived in New York City for a long time now, and I love it, but every spring, without fail, I miss my home state of Texas with surprising intensity. And so, I turn the dial to Outlaw Country crooners like Willie Nelson, Robert Earl Keen, and the Texas Tornados, where it stays, as I dream about fields of blue.
Yes, the super bloom of wildflowers in California is too pretty for words—as are the swarms of butterflies they’ve attracted this year. But Californians (and New Yorkers, and everyone else), hear me out: The reason to visit Texas is not Austin. It’s not SXSW. It’s not even Marfa, with its fake Prada store and its art colony-on-the-moon vibe. It’s the bluebonnets, which, like clockwork each March, blanket the Texas roadsides from Big Bend over to Brownsville all the way to Beaumont.
This year, thanks to higher-than-average rainfall this past autumn and some well-timed winter showers, the Lone Star State is having a “bumper crop” of bluebonnets, according to NBC Dallas-Fort Worth. In fact, it’s the best since 2010, which was called a “once in a lifetime” season at the time, according to Austin’s KVUE.
So, here’s your twice-in-a-lifetime chance. Think of it like forest bathing, but with the cool-toned calm that the Texas state flower brings. You’ll get all the health-boosting, cortisol-lowering benefits of being in nature, with breakfast tacos awaiting you each morning. If I’ve convinced you—great. Book that ticket. If trekking down to Texas isn’t at the top of your healthy travel to-do list, here’s why you should change that—and quick.
1. People go nuts for for the bluebonnets
Nature in Texas is…tricky. There are few purely enjoyable things. Beautiful sunny days have a way of reaching triple-digit temps that can kill you if you don’t get enough water (or shade), but in the spring, things are generally peachy, and the wildflowers are there to remind you of that. Texans get giddy with excitement. It’s a party atmosphere that goes beyond spring fever—you’ll see yogis doing crow pose, musicians breaking out their guitars, and brides and grooms striking poses. Frolicking in the wildflowers (and making your kids pose for pics from ages 0 to 18 in the process) is a statewide obsession. In fact, I can’t wait until @mstinalawson shares an old photo of Beyonce-Solange sitting in a bed of bluebonnets—I know one has to exist.
2. Taking a bluebonnets photo is free…but priceless
You don’t have to visit a national park or state park to see these beauties. They are everywhere. You’ll even see them when you’re sitting in traffic, thanks to the efforts of Lady Bird Johnson, the former First Lady, who spent decades getting wildflowers planted along highways across the state. Even tiny Farm Roads become scenic drives overnight when the bluebonnets bloom—so wherever you’re going, check with locals to find out their favorite spots. I guarantee they’ll have strong opinions on this.
3. There are more than enough to go around
Because of Texas’ size, and because of Johnson’s efforts to cover the state in blooms, you have a lot of destinations to choose from: Whether you’re flying into Austin, Houston, Dallas, or one of the smaller airports, you won’t have to travel far to find flowers. The further north you go, the later they tend to bloom, and while you might find a stray bluebonnet here or there, bluebonnets don’t sprawl in the northernmost areas of the state the way they do elsewhere. As a guide, there are a lot of locals documenting the best spots: Wildflowerhaven.com offers updates on the best places to see the blooms across the state. (Or, check out photographer Jason Weingart’s insider advice on the most photogenic locations.) Or just throw a dart at the map and head out to find your own bluebonnet bliss—and hey, you can’t go wrong if you focus on spots that have a Velvet Taco location.
If you’re still into the super bloom, here are some rather amazing glimpses of it, and wherever you’re heading, don’t forget to grab a tennis ball for the flight there.