If you’ve ever wanted to visit the Deep South and the American Southwest yet can’t find time to do both trips – go to Texas. There you’ll find both. Even though it is often associated solely with the cowboys and red dust of the Southwestern deserts, less than 10% is desert. The southern coastal swamps, piney woods, rolling plans and rugged hills are straight out of the Deep South. Cultural diversity also reigns here, brought by rule by different countries. Spain was the first to claim it and Texas went to Mexico when it declared independence from Spain. France even had a short-lived colony here, before Texas became an independent republic. The state joined the United States in 1845, only to secede in 1861 with the Confederacy. And just when things seemed to be settling down, oil was discovered in 1901. Each of the Texas Trails tells a different part of this story. The Tropical Trail features lush coastal towns, the Plains Trail was strongly influenced by Native Americans. The Forts Trail illustrates the bravery of the American military on the frontier. On the Pecos Trail, you’ll find the true grit it took to tame the desert. The Forest Trail was the home of Sam Houston. The Brazos Trail shows how Germans, Czechs, Norwegians and Swedes blended into Texas culture. Today, Texas has more Fortune 500 companies than any other state, and the economic has diversified significantly. Austin’s music scene is known worldwide and a number of world class museums with renowned cultural performances are regular events. The major cities are sophisticated and some of the fastest growing in the country. It’s a diverse place, and one that warrants a number of visits to really grasp it all.