US Map Series – Part 2: Southwest or Bust!

Continuing on our AurTravel virtual road trip across the states, we’re taking a little dip into the Southwest. Full of rich historical culture and some of the best food you’ll find in the lower 48, you can’t go wrong with any of these Southwestern states.

Arizona: “The Grand Canyon State”. When most people think of visiting Arizona their first thought is the Grand Canyon (is it their state slogan after all), but that’s not all that this gorgeous state has to offer.
Arizona has more certified Dark Skies than any other state in the country. Check out Flagstaff (the first designated Dark Sky Community), Sedona, Fountain Hills, Camp Verde, and many more to see some of the most beautifully preserved dark night skies. These communities do everything they can to prevent light pollution so you can see the night skies in all its natural glory. Or you can check out the annual Colorado River Crossing Balloon Festival. It’s a free event held every fall in Yuma and is a great chance to see some of the most colorful and unique air balloons.

New Mexico: “Adventure That Feeds the Soul”. There is a lot of New Mexico to see and explore and one of the easiest and most relaxing ways to do so is via train. Cumbres & Toltec offers full day and half day trips with various routes with a meal included in most fares. They even offer special train events depending on the time of year, boasting an extra special “Santa Train” in December which acts as a fundraiser to help collect toys and food for families in need. Or if you want to relax in a more stationary setting, check out Sunrise Springs in Santa Fe. With the natural spring-fed Repose Pool, saltwater pool, and hot tub, there is something for everyone to enjoy. You can stay on site at the resort for a week long relaxation getaway, or just purchase a day pass if that’s all you need. They offer so many activities to partake in like yoga, gardening, and expressive arts; they even have animal interactions on site that include puppy and kitten snuggles (they partner with Española Humane so you can even adopt if you find a special little one).

Oklahoma: “Native America”. If Vegas isn’t your cup of tea but you want to give gambling a go, Oklahoma might be just the place for you. With more than 70 casinos across the state, you’re sure to find the right one for you, whether you’re looking to play poker, blackjack, or just sit at the slot machines. Many casinos throughout Oklahoma are even full resorts that include golf courses, fine dining, and lavish pools. Or if you’re looking to experience some authentic Southwestern Culture, there is no shortage of that in Oklahoma. Take a trip to one of the premier rodeos like Will Rogers Memorial Rodeo in Vinita, OK or the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City to find your inner cowboy or cowgirl.

Texas: “It’s Like a Whole Other Country”. Texas is the largest state in the lower 48 so there is plenty to see and do and more importantly, eat! Texas Pit Barbecue and Tex-Mex should be high on your list of must-eats when visiting the Lone Star State. You can check out local Yelp reviews to see which might be the best location in town, but the better option would just be to ask the locals what their favorite place is. The people in Texas are so friendly and love to talk so this is a sure fire way to find some of the best local hidden gems. Texas is so big that different parts can sometimes even feel like you’re in a different state or country. Austin, TX was “weird” way before Portland so if you’re looking for something unique or dare I say hipster, this is the place for you! Or if you want a cowboy feel with a modern twist, there is plenty do in the DFW area like the Fort Worth Stockyards or Billy Bob’s while still being close to more modern attractions like Six Flags or Reunion Tower. If you’re looking to dip your toes in the sand, check out Corpus Christi or South Padre. And of course if you’re a history buff, you’ll want to check out San Antonio. It’s not just The Alamo you’ll want to remember though-the iconic River Walk in San Antonio is one of the best dining and shopping locales in the state. Being a native Texan myself though, I have to give one of my favorite recommendations and that is San Saba, TX. Located in the Hill Country about halfway between San Antonio and Fort Worth (you’ll have to really look for the signs if you’re driving) is home to some of the nicest human beings I’ve ever met and it’s the Pecan Capital of Texas! You’ll have to stop at Alamo Pecan & Coffee and try the Butter Pecan coffee. It is to die for!

If you want to give any of these states a try, please give AurTravel a call at 402-891-6909 to let us help you book your trip. And, if you need any other Texas recommendations, I think the author of this blog might have a few more suggestions if you ask…she is a Texan after all and like she said, they love to talk!



Rebekah Swerczek, AurTravelGrowing up in a small Texas town, Rebekah always had the desire to travel and discover as much of the world as possible. After high school, she took her chance. Rebekah joined a performing arts group based out of southern California called The Young Americans. She had the opportunity to perform, teach, and mentor young kids all around the world. With this group Rebekah was able to travel to 11 different countries. She also met her husband while performing with this group and eventually they settled down in Nebraska, but they still love to travel together any chance they get. So far their favorite places are Riviera Maya, Mexico and Northern Michigan, but they still have a few big ticket bucket list items they’d like to mark off their list including: New Zealand, Hawaii, and Scotland. Rebekah is also a huge animal lover and an avid Harry Potter fan. She is the newest addition to the AurTravel team and so happy to be here.


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