Editor’s note: As 2022 comes to a close, we’re looking back at the stories that defined Austin this year, and that includes travel — in and out of the Capital City. Austinites were most interested in getting out and seeing the world, whether that was through expanded air routes or reasons to visit the rest of Texas. Here are the top 10 travel headlines of 2022.

1. Texas’ largest crystal lagoon dives into summer with floating cabanas and more. Lagoonfest Texas returned for its third year with crystal-blue water, white beaches, and the favorite aquabanas — the floating cabanas. The festival ran Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day in the Houston suburb of Texas City. Visitors saw cabanas on the beach and on the water and the largest inflatable obstacle course in the nation located on a crystal lagoon.

2. Texas airport lands first coveted 5-star rating in North America. William P. Hobby Airport scored a prestigious 5-Star Airport status in the Skytrax World Airport Star Rating for 2022. That makes Hobby the first airport in Texas, the U.S., and North America — and one of just 16 airports across the world — to land the rating. In the new survey, Hobby soared in all 29 rating categories.

William P. Hobby Airport ascended beyond the basics.
Photo by Nash Baker

3. Austin lands first nonstop flight to hot Caribbean destination this summer. American Airlines added two international beach destinations — both in the Caribbean — to its Austin route map. Beginning in June, American launched year-round, once-a-week nonstop service from Austin to Montego Bay, Jamaica, and from Austin to Cozumel, Mexico. American became the first airline to fly between Austin and Jamaica.

4. Austin airport flies away with new nonstops to 2 popular events this spring. American Airlines added temporary nonstop service this year to Louisville, Kentucky, for the Kentucky Derby and to Augusta, Georgia, for the Masters golf tournament.

5. $36 million waterfront hotel splashes into charming Hill Country town. The $36 million project will feature an upscale 123-room Tapestry Collection by Hilton hotel and more than 14,000 square feet of meeting and event space, including a main ballroom and junior ballroom. A rooftop venue measuring about 4,000 square feet is sure to be a major highlight. The nearly three-acre property is expected to open in early 2024, close to the banks of Lake Marble Falls.

6. Buc-ee’s art installation mysteriously appears in the West Texas desert. In April, a tiny Buc-ee’s — with no gas pumps, sparkling bathrooms, or Beaver Nuggets — showed up in a remote spot along U.S. Highway 90 about 20 miles east of Marathon. It was reminiscent of the permanent Prada store replica, dating back to 2005, that stands about 25 miles northwest of Marfa. Visit Marathon, Texas announced via social media that the tiny Buc-ee’s had been removed

7. 6 Austin hotels check in among country’s best in prestigious U.S. News ranking. Several Austin properties — including the historic Commodore Perry Estate, Auberge Resorts Collection — ranked among the best, according to U.S. News & World Report’s new list of the best hotels in the country. Commodore Perry Estate was named the No. 2 Texas property, the top Texas resort, and the 40th best hotel in the U.S.

Commodore Perry Estate exteriorThe Commodore Perry Estate is one of the best hotels in the world.
Courtesy of Commodore Perry Estate, Auberge Resorts Collection

8. Austin lands first nonstop flight to top Colorado destination this winter. In December, American Airlines started nonstop service between Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and Eagle County Regional Airport in Vail. No other airline offers nonstop service between the two cities.

9. Austin airport flies away with 2 new nonstops to popular summer playgrounds. The seasonal flights were from Austin to John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, California, and Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport in Bozeman, Montana. In addition, American relaunched nonstop service from Austin to Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport, along the Florida Panhandle.

10. Texas’ Big Bend named one of the world’s must-see destinations for 2023. National Geographic Travel included the vast natural wonder in its recent Best of the World 2023 list. The annual list rounds up 25 global destinations “under the radar, ahead of the curve, and ready for you to start exploring,” according to the article. National Geographic editors framed the list within five categories: Community, Nature, Culture, Family, and Adventure.


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