Texas is a state spanning an area larger than many countries. It covers an area larger than the UK, Germany, Netherlands and Belgium combined, has 367 miles of coastline and three mountain ranges top more than 7000ft.
The Lone Star State spans from big city lights to desert canyons and allows visitors to experience endless fiestas in San Antonio or hike along the Rio Grande’s “Big Bend”.
There is a lot to learn about this state’s past and a lot to experience in the present.
This list of things to do in Texas could consist solely of the top 25 walking routes, or museums or even the top 25 things to eat but, with great difficulty, I have managed to narrow the list down to an even mix of the best culture, history and natural beauty to be found in the giant state of Texas. Here’s the best things to do in Texas:
1. The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
The Sixth Floor Museum is located on the sixth floor of the Dallas County Administration Building in downtown Dallas.
It is home to many exhibits telling the tale of John F Kennedy’s life, legacy and assassination.
Visitors to the museum are able to examine artifacts, photographs and eye witness accounts.
The museums collection is ever expanding and currently holds around 45,000 items.
2. Six Flags Over Texas
Situated on 213 acres of land in Arlington Texas, this theme park is the state’s largest.
It is also one of Texas’ most popular attractions and is home to the infamous Batman The Ride.
There is something for all ages at the theme park including live shows paying homage to the country music of Texas.
Throughout the year the park also hosts a number of events which are well worth looking out for.
3. The Alamo
Situated on the outskirts of San Antonio, The Alamo is one of the most important historic buildings in the USA.
It was built by the Franciscans in 1744 and by 1834 it had been transformed into a fort.
The Alamo was made famous when a small force barricaded themselves within during the Texan War of Independence in order to defend against a Mexican army of around 3,000 men.
Nowadays, the site is visited by more than two million people annually who come to see the memorial honouring falling Texans and the buildings interior.
4. Houston Space Centre
Another contender for the most popular tourist attraction in Texas is the Houston Space Centre.
The centre is home to Mission Control, where NASA monitors its manned flights into space.
Visitors to the Space Centre are spoiled with a large array of artifacts including objects collected on the Apollo and Mercury missions and even have the chance to dress up as astronaut.
5. San Antonio River Walk
This spectacular walk along the San Antonio River stretches for several miles and takes visitors right through the heart of the city, passing some of the best restaurants, shops and hotels along the way.
The walk is worth undertaking twice, once at night and once in the day.
It is positioned below street level and provides a unique way to see San Antonio for locals and tourists alike.
6. Big Bend National Park
The name of this national park comes from the great bend in the Rio Grande river upon which it is located.
The park occupies altitudes between 1,870 feet and 7,875 feet, making it a varied landscape for wildlife including bald eagles and over 1,000 varieties of plant.
Within the park, visitors are able to trek over 200 miles of hiking trails and visit the parks three great canyons: the Mariscal, Boquillas, and Santa Elena Canyons.
River trips can also be taken through the park and offer a truly memorable perspective of the area’s wild and rugged beauty.
7. Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Some of the most spectacular desert terrain can be found within the Guadalupe Mountains National Park located about 100 miles west of El Paso.
Despite its hostile looking scenery, the park is home to a wide variety of wildlife and various areas of lush woodland and natural hot springs.
The visitor centre in Pine Springs is a great place to pick up information on the park’s hiking and cycling trails.
8. Padre Island National Seashore
The undeveloped barrier island is the longest in the world stretching 70 miles from end-to-end.
Its 130,000 acres of beach and grassland habitats are home to rare animals such as turtles and countless birds. It is a renowned spot for birdwatchers as the island serves as a resting spot for more than 350 species of bird making their annual migrations.
Padre Island is also served by an informative visitor centre, which offers a wealth of information on the wildlife and routes available.
9. The Texas State Capitol
This building, set on 22 acres of land in Austin, was built in 1888 and stands at over 300 feet tall.
Tours of the grounds are available and offer guests information on several monuments, including a memorial to veterans of the Vietnam war, as well as an insight into the history of the building and its functions past and present.
In the evening, thousands of bats take to the skies after leaving their perches under the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge.
10. The Fort Worth Stockyards
This area, which was founded in 1866, owes its name to the cattle industry here that was involved in the logistics, administration and transportation of cattle to all corners of the United States.
The facility is one of the last of its kind in the USA and is now home to various attractions such as rodeos, concerts and Wild West shopping.
The stockyards also provide visitors with access to several exhibits on its past and information on the part the yard and cattle played in the country’s history.
11. The Moody Gardens and Aquarium
The Moody Gardens is one of Galveston’s top attractions and is known for its three spectacular glass pyramids.
The Rainforest, Discovery and Aquarium Pyramid all have very different themes to offer guests.
In the Rainforest pyramid, visitors will find a wide assortment of plants and wildlife from the tropics.
The Discovery Pyramid is a great place to get hands on with a selection of science exhibits and finally, the Aquarium Pyramid is home to one of the largest aquariums in Texas and boasts a variety of marine life from the planets oceans.
12. Natural Bridge Caverns
This impressive underground network boasts more than 10,000 different stalactite formations and is the largest accessible cave in the country.
The caverns are just a short drive from the city of San Antonio and offer visitors tours and attractions such as the lantern tour which offers the opportunity to see the cave as the original discoverers did many decades ago.
Back above ground, there are a host of other activities including an open-air maze and treetop canopy challenge.
13. The Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum
This drilling rig and museum offers an interesting insight into the important oil industry within the Gulf of Mexico.
It is located just a short walk from Downtown Galveston and provides a unique up close look at the equipment used to drill for oil as well as information on exactly how the substance is obtained.
14. Dallas Museum of Art
Established in 1903, the Dallas Museum of Art hosts over 24,000 pieces from all over the globe.
It is one of the largest art galleries in the US and can be found in the Art District of Downtown Dallas. The exhibitions range from period art from Europe to more modern and contemporary works. General admission to the museum is free.
15. Barbecued Food
A visit to Texas would not be complete with sampling some of the state’s famous cuisine.
Barbecue brisket is one of the states most well known foods and involves cooking meat (usually beef) over a wood-fire for a painstakingly long time.
There are many Texan theories on which cut of meat is best and which spice rub brings out the best flavor or how long it should be cooked for but all will agree that the end product is a taste sensation like no other.
16. Hamilton Pool
On a hot day (most days in Texas) there is no better place to cool off than in a natural swimming hole.
The most impressive of these is probably Hamilton Pool, a spectacular naturally shaded pool fed by Hamilton Creek 50 feet above.
The pool is occasionally closed due to adverse weather conditions and don’t forget to bring a towel and sunscreen.
17. Bullock Texas State History Museum
The museum, which is located in Austin, Texas is a division of the Texas State Preservation Board and has a straightforward mission: to tell “the Story of Texas.”
The museum was found by Texan Bob Bullock and hosts a large number of artifacts from the state’s past as well as an interactive timeline of its history.
The museum offers several special events and exhibits throughout the year and also contains a modern Imax cinema.
18. Dallas Zoo
Located in Marsalis Park, 3 miles south of Downtown Dallas, Dallas Zoo is a 106-acre zoo. It was established in 1888 and is the oldest and largest zoo in Texas It is a non-profit attraction and is managed by the Dallas Zoological Society.
The zoo currently houses over 2000 animals and is best known for its children’s area and African themed enclosures, which are viewed from a monorail.
19. Texas State Fair
If you are visiting Texas in Autumn, the state fair which is held for three weeks in Houston, is a must see event.
Set in the 277 acres of Fair Park, more than three million visitors attend this event each year.
Welcoming the visitors since 1952, is the 52 foot mechanical cowboy Big Tex. Entertainment is abundant and varies from puppet shows to military parades.
There is plenty of tasty Texan food on offer as well as live music performances.
Fair Park is also home to nine museums including the African American museum and the Age of Steam museum.
20. San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
This national park preserves four out five of the Spanish Frontier missions in San Antonio. In the early 1700s, South Texas was under attack from Apache, disease and drought.
The only chance for survival for the Texans was in the missions, which required newcomers to forswear their traditional life and become Spanish, accepting a new religion and an unseen king in the process.
Nowadays, the missions offer a chance to learn about the past through exhibits and actors telling the story of this period in history.
21. Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden
The Dallas Arboreterum occupies 66 acres of land in East Dallas. It features 66 acres of flower beds, pristine lawns and lush trees.
The gardens here house over 2400 types of azaleas.
The property also showcases the spectacular DeGolyer Mansion, a beautiful Spanish style hacienda commissioned by Texan oil baron Everett DeGolyer in 1940.
The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden also hosts a number of events and festivals such as live music throughout the year.
22. Nasher Sculpture Centre
The Nasher Sculpture Centre is located just across the street from the Dallas Museum of Art and boasts 55,000 square feet of sculptures.
Developed by Raymond Nasher and his wife Nancy, this collection is considered one of the most extraordinary assortments of modern and contemporary sculptures in the world.
More than 300 significant works of art from artists such as Rodin and Picasso can be found here as well as an additional twenty-five sculptures dotted around the lush 1.4-acre garden surrounding the complex.
23. Perot Museum of Nature and Science
It may be Dallas’ newest museum but the Perot Museum of Nature and Science has a lot to offer visitors. It combines three renowned museums, The Science Place, the Dallas Museum of Natural History and the Dallas Children’s Museum.
Located conveniently near the Arts District between Downtown and Uptown, it opened its doors for the first time on December 1, 2012.
The museum offers a huge variety of exhibits and attractions, including an IMAX theater; a one-acre science park, giant leap frogs and musical instruments; and a Texas-inspired landscape design.
24. Haunted Mayfield Manor
Tucked away in historic shopping district in The Pleasure Pier Galveston, Haunted Mayfield Manor offers 12 terrifying rooms of terror guaranteed to have you screaming.
As well as copious amounts of horror, the manor also gives visitors some history and background into the area.
From time to time paranormal investigations take place in the Mayfield Manor and visitors are offered the unique experience to take part in the supernatural studies.
25. The Pleasure Pier
After devastation caused by Hurricane Ike, Galveston locals redeveloped this pier to resemble a bygone era of boardwalk amusements.
A wristband will get you unlimited rides on the 16 attractions including The Pirate’s Plunge, guaranteed to please on a hot day in Texas, and the 200-foot Texas Star swing.
At night the pier is transformed entirely into a spectacular array of lights and often live music.