Texas is a big state. No seriously, it's really big (for you European tropers, it's about the size of the entirety of France). So big, in fact, that there are several cities with very large populations, none of which are within 50 miles (80 km) of each other, some of which get mentioned in fiction. Texas is so big that back in the 1950s through the 1970s when it was nearly impossible to get a license to operate an airline at the Federal level (the major airlines already in business did not want new competitors), there were several smaller airlines which managed to make enough money to operate by serving cities within the state of Texas, which meant they did not need a federal license. After the government deregulated the airline industry in the late 70s, one of those carriers, Southwest Airlines, began expanding outside the state, and now carries more domestic passengers than any other U.S. airline. California was the only other state big enough to have successful intrastate airlines.
Abilene and SweetwaterNamed for a town in Kansas that it has surpassed in population, Abilene is a mid-sized city in the west-central portion of the state. Though somewhat similar to San Angelo (see below), inasmuch as they're both mid-sized college towns with an Air Force base within 90 miles of each other (not far by Texas standards), Abilene is the city equivalent of Always Someone Better — the population is a little bigger, the city has more universities (three to San Angelo's one), they have a zoo, and they have many chain stores and restaurants that San Angelo lacks.note This growth is due largely to the fact that Abilene is located right on Interstate 20, which connects directly to the DFW Metroplex to the east, whereas San Angelo is on its own without an interstate connection. Naturally, this has led to a bit of a friendly rivalry between the two cities, most frequently on display come high school football season. Despite this, Abilene loves its frontier roots, and prides itself on its educational merits. It's also very active in the energy industry; it's very close with the petroleum industry, and is not far from a plateau of wind turbines to its immediate south that is based out of nearby Sweetwater. Speaking of Sweetwater, this smaller town shows up from time to time in media as a stereotypical Old West town, mostly due to its distinctive name.note Nowadays, it's best known for its annual rattlesnake roundup, and for the 1993 Sweetwater All-Stars.
AmarilloThe second-largest city in the Texas Panhandle, and the largest city between Oklahoma City and Albuquerque. The center of Texas' massive beef industry, and home to the largest reserve of helium in the world, wrestler Terry Funk, and actress Carolyn Jones.
AustinThe capital of Texas. Home of the University of Texas (or texas university to the Aggiesnote ), which is the state's largest in terms of enrollment, as well as a traditional powerhouse in all of the Big Three sports (American football, basketball, baseball; although nationally it's most known for the former). Primarily due to the presence of the university, Austin is famous for being a notorious pocket of liberalism and counterculture in what is otherwise one of the most conservative states in the country; Patton Oswalt referred to it as "a bubble of sanity", while the rest of the state (including Austin itself) calls it the People's Republic of Austin with either derision or Self-Deprecation. This actually sums up Austin quite well; it's a city of contradictions and quirks. A progressive city with conservative roots, a hub for cutting edge research with a thriving art and culture scene, a thriving local economy operating side by side with international coorperations. For starters, it's well known for all kinds of colorful characters. For instance, the late Leslie Cochran, who had become something of a beloved city mascot toward the end of his life. While many cities have flamboyant transvestites who run for mayor from a public shelter, in few cities do said individuals have a well-reasoned campaign platformnote ; have a fully staffed volunteer campaign team with a respectable budget; participate seriously in public debates; and receive a small but noteworthy percentage of the city's votes in each of several mayoral campaigns. Austin is also notable for its rapid growth; highly unusual for a state capitol. Since 1940, its population has been increasing by roughly 40% every decade, and it has grown from a fairly modest government/college town to one of the largest Cities in the United States; the 11th largest as of 2013. This leads to another notable part of the city: traffic. In terms of "most-congested traffic", Austin ranks 16th in the United States, and 25th in the Western Hemisphere. If there's such a thing as a city-wide Berserk Button, traffic can definitely be considered one for Austin. Biking has become popular not merely for health reasons, but because it is sometimes faster to bike somewhere than to drive there. There are a number of festivals and events for just about anything in Austin year-round. Kite Festival? Check. Hot Sauce Festival? Yep. Bat Fest?note Oh yeah. You name it, and Austin is very likely to celebrate it. The city is also home to many musicians, actors/actresses, and political figures, both mainstream and underground, and the two frequently intermingle. A related claim to fame is that the city is known as the "Live Music Capital of the World". Describing Austin's live music scene as "massive" would be an understatement: it's possible to walk around several blocks downtown on any given night, and find at least four bands/artists of four different genres playing in four different clubs at the same time- on weekend evenings, its hard to find a restraunt, pub, bar, or club that doesn't have some sort of live performance going on. As previously mentioned, Austin is a place where the mainstream and underground mix, and the music scene is no exception. A number of bars have become especially known as places for huge name acts to get back to their roots- it isn't unheard of for groups like Coldplay, ZZ Top, or The Rolling Stones to drop into a sixth street bar for a one night performance with little to no fanfare. This is further augmented by multiple annual music festivals, including but not limited to Austin City Limits, Fun Fun Fun Fest, and Chaos in Tejas. The biggest of all, however, is South By Southwest (or more simply, SXSW; locals typically refer to it as "South By"). This massive annual music festival shuts down several parts of the city for the duration, and parts of the rest become next to impossible to navigate for days on end thanks to the pedestrian and auto traffic. City officials and local businesses are more than happy to put up with this, however, thanks to the amount of money it brings into the city: unless you're attending free shows or hitting up the back of the line hoping to get into shows where people with badges/wristbands have priority, you're going to be shelling out hundreds of dollars for the badge alone. If you can't find a couch to crash on, good luck - almost all area hotels sell out months in advance, and places just outside of city limits jack up the prices...a lot. Austin also has a thriving business side. Organic supermarket chain Whole Foods Market may be one of the quintissential emblems of Austin: what started here as that grocery store where you could get the "hippy" vegetables like kale has become an international cooperation without quite ever changing its basic premise. A host of high-tech companies such as Dell, 3M, and Google have sites in Austin, making it something of Texas's Silicon Valley — Austin and the surrounding area are sometimes referred to as "Silicon Hills". Combined with Austin's rich creativity-friendly culture, this has led to it becoming especially known as a hotspot for Video Game developers: Retro Studios (known for the Metroid Prime and Donkey Kong Country Returns series) is based in this city. A number of other AAA game developers have Austin branches, as well, including such names as BioWare, Electronic Arts, and Blizzard Entertainment. In all, Austin has a level of offbeat quirkiness not commonly associated with Texas, and the residents are known to proudly Keep Austin Weird. Oh, and those guys behind Red vs. Blue, RWBY, Achievement Hunter and whatnot are here too.
College StationThe home of Texas A&M University, the Aggies, and the George Bush Presidential Librarynote , which has a statue of horses leaping over a real chunk of the Berlin Wall, depicting the fall of the wall when Bush was President.
Corpus ChristiSeaport city, and hometown of the ever multiracial Lou Diamond Phillips (bet you didn't know he was Asian). Also notable for its significant Mexican-American population, and for being the hometown of slain Tejano singer Selena. Home to a branch campus of the aforementioned Texas A&M
El PasoTexas's answer to Sacchin — it rarely gets mentioned in fiction, probably due in part to its isolation (at least from anything American; the closest major non-Mexican city is Albuquerque. Houston, Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio are all 8-10 hours away by car.). El Paso is in the Mountain Time Zone, while the rest of Texas keeps Central Time. It's a very large city that's right across the border from the even bigger Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico, known to anybody who reads/watches the news as one of the most violent cities on earth due to all those drug cartels fighting for control of cross-border smuggling channels. For what it's worth, crime rates in El Paso itself do not seem to be too far above the norm for an American city its size; if anything, reports suggest that crime (violent crime especially) is unusually low in El Paso. In addition to its geographical isolation, it also has a noticeable lack of suburbs (Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth have a ton of suburbs, and Austin and San Antonio are very close to each other). Eddie Guerrero's hometown. Also home to the University of Texas at El Paso, most famous for being home to the 1966 NCAA basketball championship team (back when the school was Texas Western College). They were a little known team famous for defeating the all-white Kentucky with the first all-black staring line up in NCAA history. This "Cinderella story" was famously depicted in the film Glory Road and made them the only college men's team to ever be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.note The Jaime Reyes version of the Blue Beetle is based here, a rarity for DC comics (who tend to base their superheroes in fictional cities). Due to its elevation, it's also a lot colder than what most people think of when they think of Texas, regularly getting snowfall in winter.
Fredericksburg and LuckenbachThe smaller counterpart to New Braunfels (see below), Fredericksburg shares much of the of the Texas German (or Texasdeutsch) heritage as its larger counterpart, as reflected in the town's architecture, and is also just as active in the trendy San Antonio/Austin tourist scene. World War II Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz is from here, as is a museum about the Pacific War that bears his name. It serves as a gateway to the Hill Country wine scene, and hosts several wineries within the city limits itself.note And be sure to visit during the early-to-mid summer, when Fredericksburg's famous peaches are in season. Nearby Luckenbach (population 3), which was once also a rural German settlement, is notable today as a tiny (but popular) Country Music venue. Outlaw country singer Jerry Jeff Walker's live album ¡Viva Terlingua! was recorded here, and the town got a very famous Shout-Out in the popular Waylon Jennings song "Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)."note It consists of a general store selling souvenirs, the dance hall, and not much else, but is a nice little destination for country fans and native Texans alike.
GalvestonOceanfront resort town located on a narrow island about forty miles south of Houston. It was once one of the largest cities in Texas, and one of the busiest ports on the Gulf of Mexico, until it was destroyed by a hurricane in 1900 four times as destructive as Katrina. Although the city was rebuilt, development shifted north to Houston and Southeast Texas' economy shifted from cotton to oil and the city never really recovered its former glory. It later became a Mafia controlled Vice City from 1920 to 1957, when it lost the title to Las Vegas. The city is also known, in Texas at least, for being chock full of honestly nice people.
The Golden TriangleNot what you may think if you're not from Texas—it's not DFW, Houston, and San Antonio. In Texas, this refers to the conurbation of Beaumont, Port Arthur, and Orange in the southeast corner of the state, whose metropolitan area borders metro Houston. The term dates back to the early 20th century, originally referring to the enormous wealth that flowed from the monstrous 1901 Spindletop oil strike in what's now the southern part of the city of Beaumont. In more recent decades, the "golden" part is literal in a different way, as gas flares from the numerous oil refineries in the area give off a orange-gold glow at night.
Just let me know if you wanna go
to that home out on the range.A real life Quirky Town that can't seem to stop getting attention for the oddest reasons. For instance, somebody went and made a play and a film about that little "restaurant" that used to be just outside town. ZZ Top described the town as one of their favorite places in the worldnote , so much so that they wrote a song about it. You might have heard it once or twice.
La Grange, ZZ Top