20 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Texas
Texas, the Lone Star State of the United States of America, is famous for two things: beautiful weather and people. From sprawling cattle ranches to amazing museums, the charms of this desert oasis are everywhere.
More than that, though, Texas is a country in its own right, rich in sights, activities, and historic treasures, which makes it one of the most rewarding and enjoyable vacation destinations in the world.
Brought to you by the Texas Tourism Office, this Travel Guide covers every sight, neighborhood, and point of interest worth visiting in the state. We include the best places to visit, where to stay, what to do, and more. So prepare yourself for an unforgettable vacation and plan your visit using this Travel Guide.
Situated in San Antonio's downtown Alamo Plaza, The Alamo is one of the city's must-see attractions. Built in honor of Mexican Texas independence, the convention-center-size museum centers on a life-size reproduction of the 1836 San Antonio jail. It is an engaging if slightly cheesy display of how soldiers of the Texas Army lived and fought. Though much has changed since the American Civil War, the life-sized model of the jail retains its crumbling brick exterior and is an evocative representation of the 13-day Siege of Bexar (1836). It also offers visitors a chance to come face-to-face with a pair of horses captured at Goliad, during the Texas Revolution. The Alamo Mission is a National Historic Landmark and the most intact of more than a dozen Spanish Colonial buildings remaining in Texas. Also on display is a small museum devoted to the Mexican War of Independence and the Battle of the Alamo, a seven-day battle that resulted in the death of more than 200 Texans. Although the Alamo's defenders won the battle, the Texans lost the war.
Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park is located in the southern end of Texas, on the United States-Mexico border. The park is centered around an impressive mountain range called the Chisos Mountains, but it's not just the landscape that sets it apart from other national parks. It is one of the few national parks where native species of plants and animals thrive in abundance, providing the opportunity to see large mammals such as bison, deer, coyote, bobcat, wild boar, and rattlesnake. Although many species of reptiles and amphibians inhabit the parks' water, it is also home to hundreds of birds and small mammals, some of which live in unique environments. The tiny monarch butterfly, for example, can only be seen in springtime. For wildlife enthusiasts, there are also opportunities to see birds such as golden eagles and red-tailed hawks and other wildlife such as mule deer and black bears.
Six Flags Over Texas
Six Flags Over Texas, located in Arlington, Texas, is the country's largest theme park. It is made up of six theme parks, two hotel resorts, and numerous other attractions. However, the heart of the park is the world's largest wooden roller coaster, The Texas Giant, which weighs more than 200 tons and covers 7,000 square feet of concrete. Adults can join in the thrills and spills in the multi-level Texas Giant or the Boomerang, which can send riders flying from zero to 62 mph in just over five seconds. Then there's the Free Fall, which takes you above the world's largest drop tower at 127 feet. Other rides include the Amazing Flip, which shows how the Free Fall would work if you were flying down, the Shockwave, the wild Texas Twister, the Crash and Bustle barrel loop and the Incredible Hulk, which is based on the 2003 film version. Then there are the restaurants. Probably the most famous is Funhouse, which does classic American dishes including hot dogs, hamburgers and barbecue, all with a twist. You can finish with a piece of cheesecake or a coffee shake in the Food Court. Texas Giant is open daily from 10 a.m. until midnight.
Texas State Capitol
The Texas State Capitol building in the heart of Austin is one of the country's finest examples of Neoclassical architecture. The architectural setting is especially stunning at sunset when floodlights illuminate the stately building against the sky. Inside the building are the Texas Legislative session chambers, as well as the office of the governor and the office of the lieutenant governor. Visitors are admitted to the Capitol's rotunda from 7am-11pm, but a guided tour is available every day except Sunday. Located in central Austin, the Capitol was designed by I.M. Pei and construction began in 1979. There are five wings of the building, four of which are open to the public. For those who are interested in Texas politics, this is a must-see. The Capitol is open from 8am to 5pm, every day except Sunday.
Six Flags Fiesta Texas
A theme park for adults and children alike, this Texas park has fun attractions for thrill seekers. Attractions include a roller coaster that takes its riders over the Golden Gate bridge, a stunt show that performs high-flying tricks, and a stunt show that performs high-flying tricks, and a stunt show that puts you inside the swings at the theme park. The park is huge, covering over 17 square miles of land, and has countless rides and activities for visitors of all ages.
Houston Museum District
Houston's Museum District is home to the Texas Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Sam Houston National Historic Site, as well as the modernist Children's Museum, Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Guggenheim, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, one of the world's great museums. The Museum District lies within walking distance of the city's central business district and surrounding neighborhoods such as River Oaks and the Museum District itself.
San Antonio River Walk
The San Antonio River Walk is a very different kind of American city to wander through. Its origins are as an embankment dating back to the late 18th century to divert flooding from the San Antonio River to the west of downtown. Although the river is now confined to a course on a concrete channel, making for very narrow sidewalks and a steep grade, the route has been kept much as it was, with not a lot of tourist attractions on the path itself. Despite this lack of tourist activity, the River Walk is very popular. The easy to access path along the water's edge runs from a historic downtown bridge and ends with a wide and leafy boulevard which continues for 3 miles, with shops, restaurants, a university, and plenty of historic buildings. The best places to eat are in the establishments lining the embankment as well as a number of street cafés, and the atmosphere is similar to that of a little French bistro. Highlights of the River Walk include the Rivercenter mall, the KLRN Art Gallery, and the nearby Alamo. Also within the River Walk is the Alamodome, where the San Antonio Spurs play their basketball games. Fitting into the park-like surroundings, San Antonio Zoo and Botanical Gardens is an excellent place to spend some time, while the San Antonio Missions National Park is home to two excellent sites, Mission Concepcion and Mission San Jose.
The Lone Star State, Texas, is known for big business, big oil, and big things--notably the Houston Zoo, the world's fourth-largest zoo. Opened in 1936, the zoo has everything from zebras to jaguars and alligators to polar bears. It's open 365 days a year, from 8 am to 8 pm during the summer months, and 7 am to 5 pm in the winter. While the zoo doesn't open during the winter months, the city hosts fun activities for children and families during the holidays. And there are no crowds, so you won't have to wait in line to see any of the animals. The zoo is also home to its own network of hiking trails where you can view the creatures and nature surrounding the zoo. There are also over 1,500 tree species that are found in Texas, making the zoo home to one of the most diverse natural environments in the United States. A journey through the zoo will take at least 90 minutes. While admission is free, donations are encouraged.
If you're looking for a convenient beach getaway from Houston, you won't find much better than Galveston Island, which is connected to the city of Galveston by bridges and car ferries. Located just off the coast of Texas, Galveston is the largest barrier island in the country. During its heyday as a hot spot for the wealthy in the late 19th century, Galveston hosted a glamorous party scene, which culminated in the infamous 1900 hurricane. Thankfully, the islands of Galveston were spared serious damage and now serve as a prime getaway for families looking for affordable fun. Top activities for visitors include whale-watching from the Galveston Seawall, kite surfing in Galveston Bay and sailing on Galveston Bayou, all of which can be done by renting a kayak, a pontoon boat, or a yacht. Those with more time in the area can explore museums and galleries, which include the Institute of Texan Cultures in downtown Galveston and the Menard Memorial Gallery in the historic business district.
Dallas Museum of Art
Dallas Museum of Art is a terrific art museum in downtown Dallas, and one of the top art museums in North America. It's so superb that several art critics have said that it is the best art museum in America. Art lovers who make a visit to Dallas Museum of Art must not miss the magnificent collection of Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Etruscan and Native American objects. Such icons of beauty as the Great Sphinx, Obelisk of Pharaoh Cheops and other Egyptian treasures are among the collection's highlights. Greek art from the 5th and 4th centuries BC and Roman statues and art, are also impressive. After touring the museum, visit The Bob W. Clampett Collection and enjoy a video presentation of Clampett's works while visiting the Robert and Virginia W. Clampett Family Collection of Figurines and Sculpture.
For a hip and energetic mix of Americana and European-style living, there's no better place to be than Austin, Texas. Texas' capital and second-largest city is justifiably famous for its live music and burgeoning arts scene, the delicious food, a vibe that's all-Texas barbecue, awesomeness and culture-lite. Visitors can't help but notice the way the Lone Star State has put its modern-day face on ancient times. Go and see the Old Town and the Pioneer Settler's Museum, and you'll see that the state's Founding Fathers came up with a clever way to emulate the Spanish crown's creation of the Alamo and Old San Antonio as their own tradition in fitting with their conservative values. In today's U.S., the city is now reminiscent of Europe's Renaissance heartlands in the age of the American Confederacy, with grand architecture and a bazaar of unique boutiques, artisan studios and cafes.
Museum of Fine Arts
Museum of Fine Arts was founded in Houston in 1876 and is one of the premier fine arts museums in the US. It is home to approximately 3.7 million works, including paintings, sculpture, photography, prints, and drawing. Located in the city's Museum District in the Adolphus and Neartown areas, the museum is open Wednesday-Sunday from 11am to 5pm and admission is free. There are over 300,000 visitors each year and with the museum hosting the prestigious Prix de West award in 2003, attendance has increased. With new light and airy galleries, more than 90 exhibitions are featured every year and the museum is home to the popular permanent exhibition Tanya Krinsky: Life in Color.
San Antonio Riverwalk
The beautiful San Antonio Riverwalk runs along both sides of the Rio Grande for a 3-mile length through downtown San Antonio. This historic and beautiful riverfront stroll runs along an old levee from the San Jose Mission to the Alamo. On the north side it is built on the remains of the old and now vanished river channel which once supplied water for the Alamo mission, some 100 years before the creation of the present San Antonio River. On the south side it is built on the location where the river flowed through what was later known as the original mission town of San Antonio. San Antonio Riverwalk offers a variety of bars, restaurants and shops, including an elegant historical hotel, the historic La Villita Spanish Colonial section. The city also includes a Museum of Art, two universities and a fine performing arts center.
San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
Founded in 1718, this famous UNESCO World Heritage site was the site of a large number of Alamo and Mission Purísima missions. Some are open to the public, while others are used as churches, museums, and restaurants. The mission area was made famous by Henry Kitrell, who authored and illustrated a collection of historical poetry describing the area as a beautiful and idyllic wilderness, where Christians came to worship God. Among the highlights in the mission area are: Mission Purísima (one of the oldest missions in Texas), Mission Concepción and the ornate San Francisco Xavier de Bacalar church, built in 1832. The missions are 15 miles from the town of San Antonio and can be reached by car or public bus from the central bus station in San Antonio.
This beautiful lake in the Texas hill country is the state's deepest lake, rising 75 meters, and is the second largest of its type in the world. Canyon Lake is linked by hydroelectric power with Amarillo, Texas, US, the principal city of Texas's second largest state. It is easy to reach by car and there is excellent fishing in the area. The Little Wichita River runs through the lake, and the world-class Canyon Lake Golf Course is in the park, designed by Rex Bowman, one of America's top golf architects. In 2003, Canyon Lake was also designated a National Natural Landmark and was named the deepest lake in North America.
USS Lexington Museum
USS Lexington is an aircraft carrier, the last remaining in the US Navy, now a museum. This impressive ship was sent to Vietnam in March 1968 to support the war effort, and the carrier was continually hit by enemy small-arms fire. Today, this massive warship is one of the most visited attractions in San Diego. The USS Lexington is the last ship in the US Navy that was built in the 1950s and carries a museum display of over 20 aircraft, dozens of vehicles, and various pieces of military equipment from World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars. A large outside wall shows some of the aircraft that flew off the carrier and on land.
Space Center Houston
Space Center Houston opened its doors in 2000 and was re-designed and re-invented in 2004 to provide its visitors with an unforgettable experience. Located about 60 miles north of Houston, Space Center Houston is the largest permanent science-based theme park devoted to space exploration in the United States. With an interactive park which includes the shuttle Endeavour; the world's most advanced astronaut training facility; exhibits and displays; and a film and television museum, Space Center Houston is the ultimate science adventure! The center is home to many different live presentations such as the Air Force's Space Command Center; the NASA Space Flight Museum with a full-sized replica of the space shuttle Discovery; the Hall of Space Medicine where visitors learn about the realities of space flight; the John Young "Magnificent Seven" Theater which presents authentic video tapes of history in space; and a wide variety of daily events and programs for children and adults.
Lone Star Flight Museum
Texas is a state of contrasts. It is the biggest state by landmass in the USA. It is big enough to have amazing attractions like this flight museum. This museum boasts the largest collection of aircraft in the US. The museum boasts four aviation hangars housing over 150 aircraft that are displayed for the visitor to see. The airplanes on display are all restored and operating full time with volunteer pilots who fly them in regular air shows for the visitor's entertainment. The museum is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission is $13 for adults, $11 for seniors and $8 for kids. Children under 12 and active military personnel are admitted free.
Vibrant and fun Dallas, Texas was voted the city with the best quality of life by the American Institute of Culinary Politics and Test Kitchen Awards. "The Big D" claims the world's largest urban park, called Deep Ellum, which is also one of the best places in the USA to go shopping, eat, and stay. The following is a brief description of Dallas' attractions. To experience the cowboy culture, visit the Cowboys Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys. Located north of downtown, the stadium is the largest in the NFL. It is a newer stadium with a retractable roof and enough seating for 76,000 people. There are also numerous rodeo events here throughout the year, and you can even enjoy "Sliced Bread Bob" Bob's Bar-B-Que and, of course, plenty of live Texas country music. If sports isn't your thing, check out the Championship Park, where major-league sports are played year round. The home of the Texas Rangers and FC Dallas, the stadium, a 7,000-seat, $400-million facility, is only one of the finest soccer stadiums in the country. Another thing to do in Dallas is visit the Dallas World Aquarium, a 300,000-gallon wonderland where you can see sharks, stingrays, and so much more. The aquarium has some amazing interactive exhibits including the Sharks Edge where you can get up-close-and-personal with these amazing animals. If you're looking for some shopping, then visit NorthPark Center, a shopping mall with over 800 stores, as well as food, movie theaters, and a big bowling alley.
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The dominant landmark of Houston is the city's skyline, which consists of the sharp spires of many skyscrapers that reflect the sun to form a glittering backdrop for the city. Designed in the 1950s, the city's sprawling shape makes it one of the largest in the US, but it isn't vast enough to support more than one airport. Houston's economy is reliant on energy, and the city's historical business connections, especially in the oil industry, were a major factor in its development. The city's other big industry is homebuilding, and buildings are among the tallest in the country, matching New York's. The area's temperate climate and rich scenery, including the hills and prairies of Houston and surrounding Harris County, were influential in the development of the city's residential areas. Texas State Historical Association Houston Tour
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