Voters in this year's Readers' Choice Awards tell us that there's a lot to love about Texas.
Les Thomas

Folklorist J. Frank Dobie liked to say that every Texan has two hometowns--his own and San Antonio. Maybe that's why the urban oasis with the beloved River Walk got top votes as every Texan's favorite Southern city and family vacation destination. (It feels like home to me too.)

Other voters ranged across the vast expanse of the Lone Star State to pick winners, from family restaurants (Babe's Chicken Dinner House and the Blue Bonnet Café) to the rugged mountains of Big Bend.

Drive This Way
In a state where the roads go on forever, you ranked some of the most scenic highways (Route 66, State 7, and U.S. 281). "What I like best about Route 66 is the historical aspect of the highway," says LaDonna Ratliff of Amarillo. "It usually goes through an older part of a town that always seems to be lined with antiques shops, lots of trees and flowers, old nostalgic buildings and trendy cafes and coffee shops."

Shoppers adore Dallas, San Marcos, and Houston. Bonnie Schoonover of College Station says you can't beat the outlet capital. "San Marcos has both a Tanger Factory Outlet and a Prime Outlet mall, and between them there is such a wide variety of high- end stores, with quality items at discount prices, from china to baby clothes," she says.

Flowers Galore
In spring, Texans love to hit the road to search for wildflowers, but bluebonnets aren't the only blossoms you're partial to. If you've seen the legions of tulips and azaleas that dazzle visitors during Dallas Blooms at The Dallas Arboretum, it's easy to understand how it's your favorite public garden. The Fort Worth Botanic Garden has many fans too.

Readers love to stay in Texas-size places, such as the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa, The Westin La Cantera Resort (both in San Antonio), and the wide-open spaces of the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center (near the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport). (I've stayed at all three, but I wouldn't be surprised to see the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa, near Austin, rank higher in years to come, when more people get to know it. I'm looking forward to seeing how you vote on all the categories next time.)

When you head to the beach, Galveston and South Padre Island are top choices, and Gaido's Seafood Restaurant (in Galveston) gets your vote again for seafood.

Watch Our Pages
I hope you find these results as helpful as I do. I'm looking forward to seeing what's new at some of your favorite places. I can't wait to try some of the things I haven't done--such as dining at III Forks in Dallas or driving the whole route of State 7. It's surprising to me as a lifelong Texan to find so many things we agree on. Just think of us as a very, very big family. Click here to enter the 2008 Readers' Choice Awards.