Having lived in Texas for many years, I can say that my favorite area is east Texas. Longview, Kilgore, Tyler, Marshall...and my personal favorite- Arp (near Kilgore)--30 years ago, it was just a post office and general store....you blink, you miss it.
While none of these towns have any grand tourist attractions, what they do offer is a realistic taste of down-home life in a small Texas town...Ya'll.
Kilgore is known for a few famous people such as Van Kliburn the pianist and the Kilgore Rangerettes Drill team.
Go to any of these towns on a Friday night during football season and enjoy one of the local high school games. You will think you have stepped on to the set of "Friday Night Lights"...no kidding.
If you want the touristy feel for Texas- Amarillo is the place to explore.
Things to eat in while in Texas-(In CA we call this heart attack on a platter):
Fried catfish, Hush puppies and Green Tomato relish
Hickory Smoked BBQ of any kind
Chicken Fried Steak and Gravy
Biscuits and Gravy
Fried Pies- Apricot is my favorite
Deep Fried Turkey
Fried green tomatoes
Red Beans and Rice with a dash of hot pepper juice
(are you seeing a pattern here?)
Best time of the year in East Texas is dead of summer when it is so hot and humid you never stay dry. The sudden rain storms are amazing. The lightening bugs light up the sultry nights. Sometimes you will experience a lightning storm that is fantastic. Tornado warnings can happen too- its all very exciting! I look forward to going back someday.