Texas is the second largest and second most populous state in the country but it probably has the biggest reputation of any state. When you think of Texas phrases like “Don’t mess with Texas,” or “Everything is bigger in Texas,” come to mind, and these two phrases are actually very appropriate descriptions of the state. Texas is a vast land with long stretches of rural land, enormous mountains, and even bigger cities. Spend a little time in the cities, whether big or small, and you’ll get a dose of that fiercely independent Texan pride shaped by a rich culture and complex history.
The most popular attraction in Texas is the Alamo, a location that helps visitors to understand the fascinating history of Texas and what shapes this proud state’s identity. In the state’s big cities like Houston, Austin, and San Antonio, some of the popular attractions include museums, SeaWorld and Six Flags, and the waterfront area of San Antonio. Even though Texas has three of the country’s largest cities, this massive state is still covered in wide open spaces and exploring one of the state’s National Parks or the National Seashore is a great way to experience the wild side of Texas.
“Remember the Alamo,” is probably a saying that most Americans have heard, but to truly appreciate and perhaps “remember” this important battle, a visit to the Alamo should be at the top of your list for Texas. The site called “the Alamo,” is the Mission San Antonio de Valero, a former mission and fortress where the Battle of the Alamo took place in 1836. The battle marked a pivotal moment in the fight between Mexico and Texas in the Texas Revolution, or war for independence. The battle was catastrophic for the Texans, but the tragedy served as inspiration for more to join the fight and eventually help the Texans to win independence.
Today visitors can see the original compound which dates to the 18th century. Over four million visitors come to the Alamo each year to tour the chapel, view the museum, and see artifacts from the battle. It is also the site of special events and annual ceremonies.
Six Flags Over Texas
The first theme park in the legendary Six Flags chain is Six Flags Over Texas located in Arlington since 1961. The park features rides suited for all ages, with an excellent selection of thrill rides. The parts of the park are themed after Mexico and Spain, Texas, Old South and France, and the U.S.A., each representing one of the six flags. Other popular parts of the park are Gotham City a Batman-themed area, Boomtown named after the oil boom era, and Goodtimes Square which is 1950s themed.
Padre Island National Seashore
This island located on the northern edge of Texas’ coast is high on the list of locals’ and visitors’ favorite destinations. The seashore is located on what is called North Padre Island, which has a peaceful and serene atmosphere compared to the party life of South Padre Island. North Padre Island is known for its spectacular landscape and excellent beach. The park is almost entirely primitive with access only to four-wheel drive vehicle, which has made it a popular camping spot. North Padre Island features pristine beaches on undeveloped land and it is well known for its windsurfing and its population of endangered sea turtles.
State Capitol Texas
The Texas State Capitol, located in Austin, was built in 1885. In comparison to other capitol buildings the Texas capitol is considered to be magnificent in design and scale; at the time of its construction it was even thought to be the world’s seventh largest building. The building is designed in the Italian Renaissance Revival style and is considered to be one of America’s most stunning architectural accomplishments.
Big Bend National Park
In southeastern Texas, on the border of Mexico you’ll find Big Bend National Park, a park that is known as the largest protected area of Chihuahuan Desert, an ecosystem of Mexico, in the United States. The park is home to more than a thousand native plant species, 450 bird species, 56 species of reptiles, and 76 mammal species.
Due to its remote location, it is one of the U.S.’s least visited National Parks, but for travelers who make the journey, the park is well-worth a visit. The most popular activities in the park are hiking and backpacking along the many trails of varying lengths. The park is also in close proximity to the Mexican village of Boquilllas and crossing the border to visit the town is quite common.
Top Things to Do in Texas
Bullock Texas State History Museum
The mission of the Bullock Texas State History Museum is to tell “the Story of Texas,” and it does so with an enormous collection of artifacts, informative displays, and multimedia forms. The three floors of the museum are each dedicated to the themes of land, identity, and opportunity.
Paseo del Rio
The Paseo del Rio, also known as the San Antonio River Walk is a popular attraction along the banks of the San Antonio River. The River Walk is a boardwalk with bars, shops, and restaurants lined up at its edges as it winds under bridges and along the river. Because it is located near the Alamo site and other famous attractions, the River Walk has become a popular destination for leisurely strolls and dining riverside.
Sea World San Antonio
This 250 acre complex is the largest of the Sea World chains three parks and one of the most popular destinations in San Antonio. Sea World San Antonio, which was formerly known as Sea World of Texas, is comprised of a marine mammal park, an ocenarium, and an animal theme park.
The theme park features roller coasters and other thrill rides, as well as a section of rides for young children at Sesame Street Bay. Some of the major attractions at the marine mammal park include exhibits with killer whales, dolphins, and belugas. Other popular activities at Sea World include live-action boat and waterskiing stunt shows, and water light shows.
Space Center Houston
The Space Center Houston is the official visitor center for the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center and an excellent destination for visitors interested in learning about space exploration or just for an exciting afternoon in Houston. The center includes several artifacts that are parts of former space missions including the Mercury 9 and Gemini 5 capsules, a Lunar Rover and Lunar Module, and the Apollo 17 command module. The space center also features temporary exhibits with some of the world’s most significant and interesting space artifacts on display. Visitors to the center can enjoy guided tours, ride on the tram tour, and enjoy informative films in several theaters. A popular attraction for children is the Martian Matrix, a play space for young children.
The small town of Fredricksburg in central Texas is a popular tourist destination known for its unique heritage and historic buildings. The town was founded in 1846 by Baron Otfried Hans von Meusebach of Germany and named after Prince Frederick of Prussia. Today, the town’s German history is reflected in its unique buildings and the Texas German dialect, which was spoken by the first generation of settlers. The town is also known for its agricultural tourism, drawing crowds of tourists to sample the areas peach trees and other fruits.
Things to Do in Texas
The attractions in Texas are almost as independent as the people of Texas, with a little bit of everything for everyone. Whether your perfect vacation involves sandy beaches, shopping and club hopping, diving into the past, or flying through the air and making your heart race, Texas has something for every taste.