By Ann Shields
August 07, 2014

In Richard Linklater’s new Boyhood—a masterful film documenting twelve years of a boy’s life—little happens but everything seems monumental and emotionally charged. The same could be said for the film’s cinematography by Lee Daniel and Shane F. Kelly. Texas has never looked so good, so colorful, so inviting.

From an Austin dawn seen through the bleary eyes of up-all-night high school kids, to a sparkling swimming hole at Pedernales Falls State Park; from a peyote-enhanced sunset in Big Bend National Park to a family visit to a working ranch, the Lone Star State is observed through a loving and nostalgic lens. There are myriad reasons to see the movie (really), but it almost works as an extended Texas travelogue. The porch of an old stone house, a broad alley running behind small-town shops, the lacquered pine panels of an historic ranch cabin, every frame takes on the kind of atmospheric magic that state tourism boards dream of creating. The kind of magic that makes a person start planning a trip.

Opening shot: a seemingly blissed-out New Yorker drives a lonesome West Texas highway in the cramped cab of a Toyota pickup, the Sir Doug Quintet on the radio…

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure. You can find her on Twitter at @aegisnyc.