Editor's note: As we look back at the most-read travel stories of 2022, we can see that readers were eager to overcome high gas prices and airport headaches and escape for some fun. Our most popular stories featured a surprising new hot spot northeast of Dallas; easy one-tank getaways; news for fans of surfing and spa-ing; a getaway to a tiny house in East Texas; and a peek behind fixed-up castle walls in Waco.
1. Surprising place northeast of Dallas could be ‘the next Austin,’ says Bloomberg. For years, cities around the country have competed for the banner of “the next Austin.” In hopes of replicating Austin’s astounding success as a much-admired economic hub, fans have touted their cities as the next incarnation of Austin. Bloomberg Opinion columnist Conor Sen made the case for the mountainous Northwest Arkansas region to be the Austin-in-waiting.
2. 7 spectacular surprises inside Chip and Joanna Gaines' new Fixer Upper castle in Waco. For the first time ever, Texas’ king and queen of renovation, Chip and Joanna Gaines, unlocked the doors and let the public into one of their famed fixer-uppers before it was featured on their Magnolia Network show. We went to Waco for a tour and discovered seven surprises behind the castle walls.
Photo courtesy of Magnolia
3. American Airlines introduces new way to breeze through security at DFW Airport. As airports experienced a crush of travel delays over the summer, American Airlines made it easier to get through security checkpoints at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. American rolled out its new Mobile ID feature at DFW. Anyone with a mobile phone, TSA PreCheck membership, AAdvantage number, and either a driver’s license or U.S. passport could now verify their identity with facial recognition at DFW’s security checkpoints.
4. Rad new surfing lagoon paradise rides into Texas promising ocean-perfect waves and beachy fun. A new, world-class surf destination is coming to Houston. HTX Surf will ride into Generation Park in fall of 2024, per an announcement by creators Beach Street Development, the company that pushes the barefoot life with its man-made surfing lagoons.
5. New Omni PGA Frisco Resort hotel aims to be biggest golf destination ever. The city of Frisco is due to get a new Omni with a big dose of golf on the side: Called Omni PGA Frisco Resort, it's slated to open in spring 2023, at 4341 PGA Pkwy., at the southeast corner of the Dallas North Tollway and University Drive. Described as the country's largest resort currently in development, it's aiming to be "the cutting-edge home of American golf" with a host of golf-related features
6. Fuss-free hop-on jet service JSX launches new nonstop flights from Dallas to Destin. With summer vacation on the horizon, Dallas-based JSX relaunched its popular seasonal hop-on jet service to a favorite Florida beach destination — Destin. Nonstop flights from Dallas Love Field to Destin Executive Airport ran May 12-October 31.
7. Texas legends Willie Nelson and ZZ Top team up for concert at iconic Hill Country venue. "Shotgun Willie" may sit around in his underwear, but next April, he'll be a "Sharp Dressed Man." Taking the iconic stage at Whitewater Amphitheater in New Braunfels, Willie Nelson and ZZ Top will perform together on April 14 and 15, 2023.
8. 5 fantastic summer escapes from Dallas-Fort Worth on one tank of gas. High gas prices, expensive airfare, airport headaches, and pricey car rental fees made travel planning a little more difficult last summer. But a postcard-worthy family vacation was just one gas tank away thanks to picturesque resorts and parks located within a short road trip from Dallas-Fort Worth.
9. 2 happy campers unplug to recharge at a tiny cabin Getaway in East Texas' Piney Woods. Getaway Outposts are “resorts” of about 40 trendy tiny homes that let city folk escape into nature in a slightly upscale way — to turn off digital devices, relax, and recharge internal batteries — “rustic without having to rough it,” they advertise. One city couple drove an hour-and-a-half east of Dallas into the Piney Woods to check it out.
10. Texas' dreamiest destination spa unwraps exclusive $1,000 Swiss facial for 25th anniversary. When the Lake Austin Spa Resort went shopping for a 25th-anniversary gift for guests, it aimed higher than traditional silver and picked treatments that incorporated gold, diamonds, and caviar. As a result, the dreamy destination introduced some of the most opulent, exclusive, and — at upwards of $1,000 — most expensive facials in the world.