Ask any Texan, and they will tell you loud and proud that Texas is the best state in the United States. They will probably also proclaim that there is so much to see and do in Texas that you could stay busy for a very long time! I mean, Texas is larger than a lot of countries in the world!
Let us help you get the most out of your time in the Lone Star State by providing you with some awesome experiences to start checking off of your Texas bucket list!
So grab your road trip essentials and head out to start exploring all that the great state of Texas has to offer!
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Awesome Texas Bucket List Experiences
Meet Big Tex at the Texas State Fair
Located in Dallas, Texas, the Texas State Fair knows how to do it up big. I mean, what else would you expect from Texas, right.
Here you can view lots of livestock, get your adrenaline rush on the rides, or try your hand at the midway games.
Once you have worked up an appetite, then you have to sink your teeth into some of the amazing fried delicacies that the Texas State Fair is famous for.
Of course, no trip to the Texas State Fair is complete without taking a picture of the iconic Big Tex. Big Tex made his fair debut in 1952 and has been delighting fairgoers ever since. Wearing size 96 boots, Big Tex towers above fair goers welcoming them with a Texas “howdy”.
Tour Palo Duro Canyon
Taking a tour of Palo Duro Canyon should definitely be on your Texas bucket list. Palo Duro Canyon is the nation’s second-largest canyon, second only to the Grand Canyon.
Palo Duro Canyon covers 30,000 acres with over 15,000 acres of trails for you to explore. Located in West Texas about 30 minutes outside of Amarillo, Palo Duro Canyon is beautiful but its environment can be harsh.
Be sure to take the necessary precautions to protect yourself if you are planning to visit. Take plenty of water and always be aware of weather conditions while visiting.
See the Marfa Lights
While you’re in west Texas, take a quirky trip and see the Marfa Lights….or try at least.
What are the Marfa Lights you ask? Well, the Marfa Lights are mysterious glowing orbs that appear in the desert outside of the small town of Marfa. Witnesses say that the orbs are colored. They appear, hover, twinkle, split in two, and then float up in the air before disappearing.
While there is no guarantee that you will see them, you can head out to the Marfa Lights Viewing Area located about 9 miles out of town to try your luck.
Hike Big Bend National Park
The beautiful Texas terrain continues when you visit Big Bend National Park. With beautiful limestone cliffs, an entire mountain range, and the slow running Rio Grande river, Big Bend is a great place to spend some time outdoors.
With more than 800,000 acres of desert and mountain terrain, Big Bend can be a harsh and unforgiving environment. Maybe that is why it is one of the least visited U.S. National Parks?
Well, that combined with the fact that Big Bend National Park is located in one of the most remote parts of Texas there is.
Nonetheless, Big Bend is a place that you must visit at least once and has to be on anyone’s Texas bucket list.
See a Rodeo
When you mention Texas, most people immediately think of cowboys and horses. Why not get a taste of the cowboy culture and see a rodeo in Texas.
Fans come from far and wide to see barrel racing, bull riding, and bronco busting. One of the largest in Texas is the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
Welcoming over 2.5 million visitors, the Houston Rodeo is much more than just a rodeo. Their festivities include a parade, concerts, and a carnival for all to enjoy.
Of course, I have to mention my hometown of Fort Worth also. The rodeo is one of the many things to do in Fort Worth that we love. Fort Worth is home to an annual 23-day event, the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo that is rich in cowboy culture.
If you aren’t visiting during the Stock Show, then you can always catch a rodeo by visiting the Fort Worth Stockyards where the rodeo is in session year-round every Friday and Saturday night. This makes for a great Date Night in Fort Worth.
Remember The Alamo
You can’t have a Texas bucket list without The Alamo. If you are interested in history at all, then you have probably heard of the battle of the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas.
What was once a Catholic missionary became home to one of the most historic battles in Texas history when less than 200 defenders battled the Mexican Royalists for over 13 days.
The Texians that were fighting for their independence chose to lose their lives rather than surrender to the Mexican army. Today, the Alamo is one of the most popular tourist sites in the state and a shrine to Texas independence.
The Alamo isn’t the only mission in San Antonio. There are actually four other missions that makeup Mission National Historic Park, all of which are well worth a visit.
While there are several great festivals in Texas, none compare to the epic South by Southwest (SXSW) held annually in Austin. Boasting numerous concerts, film features, and cutting edge interactive media, SXSW is a must-visit at least once.
Every March, thousands of people from all over the world descend upon Austin, Texas to participate in this event. Spread out to over 50 venues throughout the city, SXSW has numerous hosted events for guests to participate in.
Float the River
Let’s face it, the Texas heat can be unbearable. One of the many ways to beat the Texas heat is to float the river. When choosing where to float, keep in mind that no two places are the same. Floating the river in Texas can range from calm and serene to a full-on party.
One of the most popular floats in Texas is to float the Guadalupe River. The Guadalupe River is a great place if you are looking for a little bit of a party. Here you will find groups of friends floating with cooler in tow having a party on the river.
If you are looking for a calm float, then head to the Comal River. This short stretch of the river is usually calm and is always nice and cold. The best part of this float is that the Comal feeds into Schlitterbahn, one of Texas’ top waterparks located in New Braunfels, Texas.
There are numerous more river floats in Texas, just do a little research and find the perfect one for you.
Explore the San Antonio Riverwalk
The San Antonio Riverwalk is one of the many free things to do in San Antonio and a great addition to your Texas bucket list.
The San Antonio Riverwalk is boasting with things to do. Visitors can enjoy a great meal on the river’s edge while listening to the sounds of a mariachi band before strolling hand in hand while exploring this great Texas tourist attraction.
You can also take a boat tour to learn more about the history of the river and to see all of the great attractions that await you in this area.
You can also shop at the many local shops located in this area before making your way to The Pearl for a fun night out.
Make a Soda in Dublin
One of the favorite soft drinks in Texas is definitely Dr. Pepper. Originally bottled by Dublin Bottling Company in Dublin, Texas, Dr. Pepper quickly became a Texas favorite.
This is probably because the treat from Dublin was made with pure cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. True Dublin Dr. Pepper existed until 2012 when Dr. Pepper Snapple sued the Dublin Bottling Company for breach of contract.
You see, Dr. Pepper originated in Waco, but it was Dublin’s pure can sugar version that people loved. After entering into a deal to only sell their Dublin Dr. Pepper in a small area around their town, Dublin Dr. Pepper was allowed to continue manufacturing this sugary drink.
This all halted with the lawsuit in 2012 saying that Dublin Bottling Company violated their agreement when they started selling their version of Dr. Pepper online. The suit ended with Dublin Bottling Works agreeing to no longer sell Dublin Dr. Pepper or anything like it.
While you can’t get “Dublin Dr. Pepper” anymore, you can still enjoy a visit to the fun soda plant where it all started. Take a tour and make your own pure cane sugar soda before bullying up to the 1950’s style soda shop for a custom creation and a delicious hamburger.
Eat Kolaches in West
The small town of West, Texas is known as the “Czech Heritage Capital of Texas”, meaning they have some delicious Czech food just waiting to be explored! One of the most popular food experiences in West is to make a stop at the iconic Czech Stop to get your fill of kolaches.
Located right off of Interstate 35, the Czech Stop has been welcoming visitors for years. They serve up delicious kolaches, sandwiches, and specialty bread. One of our favorites is the Hot Chubbie with Cheese, but you can’t go wrong with anything from this iconic Texas eatery.
Hike Enchanted Rock
Enchanted Rock state park is one of the great things to do in Fredericksburg, Texas that is worthy of being on your Texas bucket list.
This pink granite rock has been mesmerizing visitors for years. The area was believed to be the site of a historic Indian fight where many Native American Indians lost their lives. This is why many people believe that the area is haunted as well.
While visiting, you can hike the trail that makes the 4-mile loop around the rock, or choose to take the more direct route to the top of the rock.
Camping is allowed but note that the area is pretty remote and the campsites are primitive.
Jump Into Jacob’s Well
Another cool place to find some relief from the Texas heat is Jacob’s Well. Jacob’s Well is an artesian spring located in the Texas Hill Country.
What makes Jacob’s Well so unique is that it is a fully submerged cave, with the deepest part of the cave measuring 140-feet deep. Here, the water temperature stays a constant 68 degrees Fahrenheit, making it cool and refreshing on a hot Texas day.
This natural area of Cypress Creek is a popular swimming hole during the summer months, so reservations are required. If you would like to visit Jacob’s Well Natural Area to hike then you may do so free of charge and without reservation.
Learn to Two-Step
The popular country and western dance, the two-step, is most commonly called the “Texas two-step”. That is because it was made popular in the many dance halls throughout Texas.
The dance is pretty easy once you learn the basic steps. You can follow a YouTube video to teach yourself, or head out to most any Texas dance hall to learn.
Spray Paint a Cadillac at Cadillac Ranch
Cadillac Ranch is a roadside attraction that has been welcoming visitors for years. You have probably seen the quirky Cadillacs standing on end in the middle of nowhere.
Found along the iconic Route 66, Cadillac Ranch was started by Amarillo billionaire, Stanley Marsh III. He wanted a piece of art that would attract the hippies and baffle the locals. That’s when the ten Cadillacs were driven in and buried nose-first into the Texas dirt.
They are said to be buried at the same angle as the Great Pyramids of Giza, but I don’t know if that is entirely true.
What I do know is that you are welcome to bring a can of spray paint and leave your make at Cadillac Ranch if you would like.
Kayak at Caddo Lake
Caddo Lake is a state park located on the border of Texas and Louisiana. Known for its mysterious beauty, Caddo Lake is the perfect place to add to your Texas bucket list if you are a nature lover.
Encompassing over 225,000 acres of Cypress swamps, Caddo Lake offers many bayous and channels for you to explore. Caddo Lake is a great place to spot wildlife. Wildlife abounds in this area, consisting of numerous birds, deer, raccoons, turtles, and even alligators!
Another quirky feature of this area is the Texas Bigfoot Research Center. It is said that the critter is said to have inhabited this area in the 1970s. Whether you believe this or not, it is a fun place to check out.
Try Out the Many Distilleries in Texas
Craft distilleries are a large and growing trend in the United States and Texas is definitely in on the trend. Texas is home to many distilleries including national brands and small mom and pop crafters. They churn out some amazing moonshine, vodka, whiskey, and rum here in the Lone Star State.
Many of the distilleries offer tours and tastings on a regular basis. Some of our favorite distilleries include Firestone and Robertson Distilling, Garrison Brothers, and Western Sons.
If you would like to explore more, consider checking out the Texas distillery trail.
Swim at Hamilton Pool
A true Texas treasure, Hamilton Pool Preserve is a favorite among all Texans. This natural pool was created when the dome of an underground river collapsed years ago.
Today, this is a popular hot spot to cool off from the Texas sun. You will find Hamilton Pool about 23 miles west of Austin. While the 50-foot waterfall here never dries up, it does dry to a slow trickle during if there is a drought occurring in this area of Texas.
Take a Picture in the Bluebonnets
Every spring, people all over the state look forward to the fields coming alive with the beautiful blue color of the Texas state flower. While the bluebonnets only last for a couple of months in the spring, you have to seize the moment while they are here.
There are so many great places to see bluebonnets in Texas! Just take note that the field that you are looking at might be private property, so take note before you head out to get your photo.
Attend a Friday Night Football Game
Friday night lights, aka high school football, are like a religion in Texas. People all over the state flock to the stadiums to watch the Friday night games.
If you are from Texas, take this time to head back to your home town and enjoy reliving your high school days. If you aren’t from Texas, then just pick a local small town and go enjoy the game!
Eat Some Tex-Mex
Texas is known for having fabulous food! One of the favorite local cuisines is Tex-Mex. This Texas spin on Mexican cuisine can be found all over the state.
But what exactly is Tex-Mex? Tex-Mex developed when Texas restaurant owners started combining more “gringo” elements in their dishes.
Things like beef in enchiladas, burritos, cheese covered nachos, etc. Needless to say, it is a regional cuisine that is delicious and has to be included on your Texas bucket list!
Drink a Frozen Margarita
You can thank Texas for this great invention. Don’t believe me, it’s true. Read all about it this and more in the facts about Texas post that we created. While visiting one of our awesome Tex-Mex restaurants, be sure and grab one of these tasty frozen concoctions.
Catch Some Live Music in Austin
Austin, Texas is known as The Live Music Capital of the World so you have to add this to your Texas bucket list!
There are so many live venues in Austin that you are sure to find one that suits your music style. Matter of fact, there are even venues that offer free live shows in Austin. T
hat is why we have also added this to our list of free things to do in Austin.
Eat at Whataburger
Whataburger is a Texas icon. This fast-food burger joint has been serving up hamburgers for generations.
Since the opening of the first Whataburger in Corpus Christi in 1950, the chain has become a Texas legend. The joy of Whataburger is that each burger is made to order and is fully customizable to your liking.
Try out the different topping to find your perfect combination. While checking this off of your list, be sure to visit for breakfast also to try out their amazing honey butter chicken biscuit.
Buy a Pair of Boots
People far and wide love the cowboy culture of Texas, and nothing screams cowboy more than a good pair of boots.
I’m not talking about “fake” cowboy boots from your local department store. NO way! Head to a good Texas bootmaker to find your perfect pair of boots or to get yourself a pair custom made!
Learn to Ride a Horse
Once you have the perfect pair of boots, continue to enjoy the cowboy culture in Texas by learning to ride a horse.
There are several places throughout the state where you can accomplish this task. You never know, you might find yourself a new passion!
Make a Stop at Buccee’s
Every Texan will tell you that you have to take a Texas road trip at least once in your life, and no Texas road trip is complete without a stop at Buccee’s.
Buccee’s is a Texas chain of convenience stores that are much more than your average convenience store!
Buccee’s with its iconic Beaver mascot is known for impeccably clean bathrooms, an incredible choice of fun food choices, and all kinds of Buccee’s themed merchandise.
While here be sure to try the Beaver Nuggets, a delicious one of a kind treat only sold at Buccee’s locations.
Eat Some Texas BBQ
Texas is known far and wide for its fabulous BBQ. BBQ traditions run deep here in The Lone Star State.
Here in Texas, beef is the king when it comes to BBQ. We love our brisket! Not only that, our BBQ is always cooked over wood never charcoal.
Keeping the fires low and slow allows the BBQ to become moist and tender.
Celebrate the Day of the Dead in San Antonio
San Antonio is rich in Mexican heritage and culture that we love to celebrate. Visit in November and join in San Antonio’s Day of the Dead celebration.
This festival takes place in San Antonio’s La Villita Historic Arts Village and kicks off with a lighted parade on the famous San Antonio Riverwalk. The holiday is centered on the belief that spirits of those who have died come back to visit their loved ones on this day.
People dress up as skeletons in brightly colored clothes to welcome their loved ones. The day consists of various festivities including performances, art and crafts stations, and a 5K run.
Head to Space at NASA
The Nasa Space Center in Houston, Texas is an awesome way to learn about space explorations. Here you can explore hands-on exhibits that showcase the journey we have undergone to learn more about space.
Exhibits include a rocket, starship gallery, astronaut gallery, and a Mission to Mars. You can also take a tram tour that allows you to see behind-the-scenes at Johnson Space Center touring the astronaut facilities, Mission Control, and so much more!
Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas
A piece of Texas history known worldwide was the unfortunate assassination of President John F. Kennedy. This unfortunate incident took place in Dallas, Texas and must be part of your Texas bucket list if you are a history buff.
Visitors today can visit Dealey Plaza, the site of the shooting before going to the Sixth Floor Museum includes information not only about the assassination of President Kennedy, but also many artifacts from his life.
While here you can also explore the Zapruder Films, and the Jack Ruby Collection to try and determine for yourself what happened on that tragic day in history.
Try Out One of the Many Craft Breweries
Craft breweries have also seen a recent spike in popularity in The Lone Star State.
Of course, the trend might have started years ago at Spoetzl Brewery when they started making the Texas legend, Shiner Boch beer. Today you can find craft breweries all over the start pumping out some awesome brews.
See a Cattle Drive on Main Street
Where in the world can you watch a cattle drive down Main Street? Well, in Fort Worth of course.
The Fort Worth herd is one of the many free things to do in Dallas-Fort Worth that visitors love! Every day in Stockyards Station, visitors line the streets to see the cowboys drive the herd down Main Street.
Hike to Gormon Falls
Located in the beautiful Texas Hill Country, Colorado Bend State Park is a great place to go hiking for the day. Follow the trail to Gormon Falls for an extra special treat.
Once scaling down the side of the ravine, you are greeted with a site that makes you feel as if you have been transported to another land.
Gorman Falls looks like a waterfall that you would find in Costa Rica, not Texas. This gorgeous area is a great place to relax with an afternoon picnic.
See a Castle in Texas
Yes, you read that correctly, there are castles in Texas. Several of them actually!
There is a castle in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, called Lake Worth Castle. It is said that there is even a spirit that haunts this castle. It is privately owned though, so while you can drive by, you can’t do much else.
Just outside of Fredericksburg, you can enjoy a castle and wine tasting at 290 Wine Castle. This fun place even offers a “Dungeon Experience” where you can do a food and wine pairing in their dimly lit dungeon.
Head to Bellville, Texas to take a tour of Newman’s Castle. This castle features a moat with a 3,000-pound working drawbridge! The castle is available for rent for special events and they offer tours as well, reservations required.
Drink Some Texas Wine
Did you know that Texas is the fifth-largest wine-producing state in the United States? It’s true! Texas boasts over 400 wineries and over 5,000 acres of wine grapes are in Texas.
While you can find wineries all over the great state of Texas, there is a large concentration of wineries in the Texas Hill Country and specifically some great wineries in Fredericksburg, TX.
In our experience, Texas wineries are laid back and easy going. Most offer a variety of wine and many have wonderful food to pair with it. Spend some time tasting our amazing Texas wines and find your favorite.
Conquer the Texas King
Head out to Amarillo to find the legendary Big Texan Steak Ranch located on historic Route 66 and see if you have it in you to conquer the Texas King.
What is the Texas King? This is the food challenge to top all food challenges. This challenge consists of you eating shrimp cocktail, baked potato, salad, roll, and a 72 oz steak. If you can eat all of that in one hour, then you get the meal for free. If not, then you have to pay.
Oh, and did I mention that no one can help you and you cannot stand up once you get started.
I mean, this sounds like a fun challenge to put on any Texas bucket list!
Cruise Route 66
Granted Route 66 is not what it was in its heyday, but it is still an iconic part of American history. You can experience the approximate 180 miles of Route 66 that runs through the Texas Panhandle between Shamrock and Adrian.
Although this is a small stretch of the highway, it is littered with some of the most iconic spots on Route 66. For it is in this stretch that you can enjoy the iconic Midpoint Cafe, which marks the halfway point from Chicago to Santa Monica.
You can also try your luck at the Big Texas Steak Ranch challenge mentioned above and visit Cadillac Ranch, all of which are on our Texas bucket list.
Watch Bats Emerge in the City
That’s right, you can watch bats emerge for their nightly feeding in one of the largest cities in Texas, Austin. Head down to the Congress Street Bridge just before sunset to see this awesome spectacle take place. This has become a huge tourist attraction for kids and adults.
See an Alien Gravesite
The small town of Aurora, Texas is home to an extra-terrestrial encounter. For it is said that it is in Aurora that a UFO pilot crashed in the 1800s.
You can head to the local cemetery to see where that alien pilot is buried.
The story says that the locals witnessed an unidentified flying object fall from the sky, crashing into Judge J.S. Proctor’s windmill before falling to the ground. The locals were said to have dragged out what was described as a “petite” and “Martian” body from the wreckage.
It’s up to you to decide if you believe it or not.
Hang Out at Pleasure Pier in Galveston
One of the highlights of the Texas coastline is the charming town of Galveston, Texas. Galveston is a laid back seaside community that is big on family fun.
One of the highlights of Galveston is the Pleasure Pier. Here you can play carnival-style games and ride rides until your heart is content.
After you get your fill of Pleasure Pier, be sure to explore the historic Strand area of Galveston and discover some of the great places to eat in Galveston.
Go Underground at the Natural Bridge Caverns
Leave it to Texas to have the largest known commercial caverns in the United States. Located just outside of San Antonio, the Natural Bridge Caverns got its name from the 60-foot natural limestone bridge that spans the cavern’s entrance.
Visitors to Natural Bridge Caverns can enjoy the cave experience where they are taken on a guided tour to view this incredible natural structure.
They can also enjoy the many surface-level attractions that Natural Bridge offers including gem and fossil mining, a maze, zip-lines, and a twisted trails climbing course.
Taste Whiskey on the Texas Whiskey Trail
Like we mentioned above, distilleries in Texas have become very popular. So popular that Texas even has its own whiskey trail now. The Texas Whiskey Trail consists of several distilleries that honor whiskey making in Texas.
They invite you to come taste and learn all about this awesome distilling process.
Experience Oktoberfest in a German Town
Granted, all of us can’t make the trip to Germany to experience Oktoberfest. What if I told you that you could experience Oktoberfest right here in The Lone Star state?
One of the largest and most authentic Oktoberfest celebrations is held right here in Addison, Texas. Addison welcomes over 45,000 fans a year to celebrate the German culture. Here you can enjoy all things German including some great polka bands, German food, and the sam Paulaner beer that is served in Germany.
If you are interested in a smaller Oktoberfest then you might want to consider Fredericksburg. The Marktplatz in downtown Fredericksburg is transformed for this festival annually the first weekend in October. They host four stages of bands, arts, crafts, shopping, and of course, they have a great wine and beer selection.
Eat Some Blue Bell
Blue Bell Ice Cream is a Texas favorite. You see, it all started back in 1907 when Brenham Creamery Company was started to churn out butter. A few years later, the creamery expanded and started producing ice cream. Ultimately changing their name to Blue Bell, after the Texas state flower, the bluebonnet.
Today Blue Bell is legendary in Texas. We love our Blue Bell Ice Cream so much that you will see it advertised everywhere in The Lone Star State. Despite only being in a few stores nationwide, Blue Bell still ranks as one of the top-selling ice creams in the country. That tells you how much is purchased in Texas!
So grab your favorite flavor and try it out. One more thing to mark off of your Texas bucket list!
Get Your Adrenaline Rush at Six Flags
Six Flags Over Texas is a must-do if you are an adrenaline junkie. While this amusement park originated right here in Texas, the Six Flags brand has expanded all over the country. But in our humble opinion, the Texas park in Arlington, TX is the best!
The Texas theme park is over 212-acres and includes entertainment for all ages. There are some amazing world-class roller coasters like the Texas Giant and The Titan as well as calmer rides like the Chaparral Antique Cars or the Mini Mine Train. In addition to the great rides, the park offers carnival-style games, live entertainment, and lots of food choices.
Visit a Texas GhostTown
Home of the historic Chisos Mining Company, the ghost town of Terlingua has been attracting visitors for generations. With a population of a few dozen, Terlingua is a great place to visit while touring Big Bend as well.
There are also many quirky roadside attractions including a pirate ship and the Statue of Liberty. Keep in mind that this is an extremely small town. I mean it is a Texas town without a Dairy Queen….enough said.
Tour the Painted Churches
The Painted Churches in Texas are a hidden gem in the Texas Hill Country. While they might look simple outside, they are a beautiful surprise on the inside.
Each is decorated with bright colors and ornate designs celebrating the heritage of those that settled in this area of Texas from Europe. The intent was to replicate the beautiful churches that they had in Europe.
You can find the churches sprinkled all over the Texas Hill Country including the towns of Fredericksburg, Giddings, La Grange, Flatonia, and Schulenburg just to name a few.
See the Eiffel Tower
Yep, you can see the Eiffel Tower right here in Texas. Well, a replica that is, and what makes this even better? The tower is wearing a red cowboy hat!
You can find this beauty located appropriately in Paris, Texas!
Final Thoughts on Texas Bucket List
As you can see The Lone Star state is full of fun, awesome, and even quirky things to see and do. While our list isn’t ALL of the things you can do in Texas, hopefully, it has given you a good start as to the type of items you can start checking off of your own Texas Bucket List!
We would love to hear from you. What would you like to add to the Texas Bucket List? Comment below and let us know. Until then…..happy travels, friends!!!
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About the Author
Michelle Snell is a travel writer, history buff, wine lover, and enthusiast of different cultures. While she is a professional educator by day, her passion for travel has her jet-setting all over the world during her free time.
Michelle enjoys bringing places to life through her informative writing style on her blog, That Texas Couple. Her practical tips and suggestions help make travel dreams a reality while immersing her readers in the history, culture, and food of a region. She is happiest sipping wine in Italy or chilling on a beach with her husband, Marty.