25 Best Things to Do in Texas
With over 260,000 square miles and 35 cities with over 100,000 residents, there is no shortage of things to see and do in Texas. Visitors could spend a month in the Lone Star State and still not experience everything. There are many great places to see in and around major cities like Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin.
With its beautiful desert and mountain scenery, historical sites, lakes, beaches, train rides, science museums, family fun parks, romantic castles, breweries, waterparks, wedding venues, mountains, amusement parks, caves, and botanical gardens, Texas offers something for everyone. Photo: kbose/Fotolia
» Space Center Houston
Children and adults alike can take a trip through the world of space exploration at the Space Center Houston. This Smithsonian Affiliate is dedicated to the history of space exploration and to foster a love of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) in its visitors.
The museum features a large collection of moon rocks and other space artifacts, theater experiences, and fun shows and attractions. View a Saturn V rocket, explore the real NASA Mission Control, and learn what it is like to live in space. Ticket prices vary. Next read: Things to Do in Houston, TX beaches
Contact: 1601 NASA Parkway, Houston, TX 77058, Phone: 281-244-2100
Photo: Mark Scott/Fotolia
» The Alamo
In 1836, 200 men took a stand for Texas in a fierce battle at the Alamo, a mission that had been converted into a fort. Some of them were famous American frontiersmen such as Daniel Boone, Davie Crockett, and Jim Bowie. Though they ultimately lost the battle, Texas went on to win the war for independence from Mexico. Today, the Alamo draws more visitors than any other historic landmark in Texas.
Guests can tour the fort, church, long barrack, arcade, and the museum/gift shop. Tours are self-guided, but audio accompaniment is available for an additional fee. Things to Do in San Antonio
Contact: 300 Alamo Plaza, San Antonio, TX 78205, Phone: 210-225-1391
» San Antonio Riverwalk
The San Antonio Riverwalk is the most visited tourist attraction in all of Texas. The river channel was originally developed as a means of flood control to protect the city. Today, guests can sample the best of food, shopping, art, museums, and lodging at the dozens of businesses that line the 2.5-mile walkway along the San Antonio River.
The Riverwalk also hosts special events such as parades, artisan shows, food and drink festivals, and the beautiful Ford Fiesta de las Luminaries, held each December. The Riverwalk is open 365 days a year. Individual business hours vary.
» The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
On November 22, 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald fired three shots from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository, assassinating President John F. Kennedy and changing the course of American history forever. Today, the sixth and seventh floors of the former depository have been converted into a museum.
The sixth floor chronicles the life and death of the 35th president within the context of American culture in the 1960's. The seventh floor hosts special exhibits and programs. A gift shop, bookstore, and café are also located on the premises. More about The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza or Things to Do in Dallas
Contact: 411 Elm St, Dallas, TX 75202, Phone: 214-747-6660
» Houston Museum of Natural Science
The natural world and all its wonders are on display at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. The museum features 16 permanent exhibits that cover a wide range of topics. Guests can see real dinosaur skeletons, tour the Hall of Ancient Egypt, and view beautiful gemstones and jewels from around the world.
Other exhibits showcase Native American culture and history, North American wildlife, and the ecology and wildlife of Texas. The museum also contains an observatory, butterfly center, and large-screen theatre.
Contact: 5555 Hermann Park Dr, Houston, TX 77030, Phone: 713-639-4629
Photo: Houston Museum of Natural Science
» Places to go near me: Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden
Since 1984, the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden has been dedicated to preserving and showcasing the history and nature of Texas. The 66-acre property contains two historic houses and sixteen different gardens that feature a variety of colorful flowers, beautiful trees, shrubs, and ferns from around the world.
There is even a children's garden with over 150 activities to engage and educate children about nature and plant life. The Arboretum and Botanical Garden is also available to rent for weddings, corporate retreats, and social events. The facility is open daily except on major holidays.
Contact: 8525 Garland Rd, Dallas, TX 75218, Phone: 214-515-6615
»Texas State Capitol
The Texas State Capitol is more than just the legislative center of the state. This massive complex sits on approximately 22 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds and contains the Capitol Building, the Visitor's Center, and the Governor's Mansion.
Visitors can learn about the legislative process by taking a guided tour of the capitol or view the graves of Texas heroes in the nearby Texas State Cemetery. Three blocks away, the Bullock Museum showcases the history and culture of Texas. The museum contains three floors of exhibits, an IMAX theater, and a cafe and gift shop. All of the sites are open daily except on major holidays. Things to Do in Austin
Contact: 1100 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701, Phone: 512-463-4630
»Texas Attractions: Mission San Jose
Mission San Jose is both a state and national historic park. The mission was built in 1720 and became known as the "Queen of Missions" for its beautiful carvings, stone walls, and church. Mission San Jose acted as an important social and cultural center, and it is still an active mission today.
Visitors can tour the mission, church, convent, granary, and the original stone walls that protected the property. A visitor center sits adjacent to the mission as well. Read more
Contact: 6701 San Jose Dr, San Antonio, TX 78214, Phone: 210-932-1001
» Fort Worth Zoo
The Fort Worth Zoo, founded in 1909, is the oldest continuously operating zoo in Texas, and USA Travel Guide ranks it as the 5th best zoo in the United States. The zoo features 542 species of animals, birds, and reptiles, as well as exciting attractions such as a splash park, petting zoo, carousel, theater, and zoo train.
They are dedicated to animal education and wildlife conservation and host many summer camps, field trips, educational classes, and seminars for children and adults. The Fort Worth Zoo is open 365 days a year and features half-price admission on Wednesdays. Things to Do in Fort Worth
Contact: 1989 Colonial Parkway, Fort Worth, TX 76110, Phone: 817-759-7555
Photo: balloon dude/Fotolia
» Texas Attractions: Museum of Fine Arts Houston
Houston's Museum of Fine Arts is a showcase of art from a variety of time periods and countries. The museum has existed since 1900 and has been renovated and expanded many times throughout the years. Exhibitions feature paintings, drawings, sculpture, photography, and pieces from cultures such as African-American, Chinese, and Native American.
Exhibitions vary throughout the year, so there is always something new to see at the museum. The museum also contains a movie theater that plays movies, documentaries, and foreign films. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday. Some exhibits require a separate admission fee.
Contact: 1001 Bissonett, Houston, TX 77005, Phone: 713-639-7300
Photo: Museum of Fine Arts Houston
» South Padre Island Dolphin Research and Sealife Nature Center
Get a view of the world through the eyes of a dolphin at the Dolphin Research and Sea Life Nature Center. The center is dedicated to protecting the inhabitants of the oceans through education and conservation. The Sea Life Center offers many aquariums and "touch tanks," where guests can get up close and personal with creatures such as fish, crabs, octopus, and sea stars.
They also offer dolphin tours, where visitors can take a chartered boat out into the Laguna Madre Bay to view dolphins in the wild. Read more
Contact: 110 N Garcia St., Port Isabel, TX 78578, Phone: 956-299-1957
» Texas Attractions: Kimbell Art Museum
The Kimbell Art Museum was established in 1965 in Fort Worth at the request of Kay Kimbell, a wealthy art collector in the area. The goal of the museum is to foster appreciation for art in the Forth Worth area. The museum features several permanent collections of art, sculpture, and antiquities from around the world.
The collections contain works by masters such as Monet, Rembrandt, Picasso, and Matisse, as well as art and artifacts from Asia, Europe, and Africa. The museum is made up of two buildings designed by celebrated architects Renzo Piano and Louis I. Kahn.
Contact: 3333 Camp Bowie Blvd, Fort Worth, TX 76107, Phone: 817-332-8541
Photo: Kimbell Art Museum
»Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail, Austin
Named for former first lady Ladybird Johnson, Lady Bird Lake sits in the middle of Austin. Surrounding it is the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail. This ten-mile trail goes around and, in some points, through the lake by means of a boardwalk completed in 2014.
The trail is a haven for walkers, runners, and bikers, and it provides an alternate means of transportation in the downtown Austin area. It is the most popular outdoor recreation area in Austin and draws over 1.5 million visitors annually.
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» Schlitterbahn Waterpark and Resort
Beat the Texas heat at the Schlitterbahn Waterpark and Resort in New Braunfels, Texas. Schlitterbahn contains a variety of attractions that both children and adults will love. There are fast tube slides, downhill racing slides, a water coaster, a lazy river, and a heated lagoon. Smaller slides, pools, and splash parks are available for younger visitors.
Schlitterbahn is also a resort with lodging and available add-ons such as cabanas, heated pools, swim-up bars, and directions to nearby horseback riding, fishing, and winery tours. The resort is open year-round, though the outdoor water park is closed in the winter months. New Braunfels Things to Do
Contact: 400 N. Liberty Ave., New Braunfels, TX 78130, Phone: 830-625-2351
Photo: Schlitterbahn Waterpark and Resort
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AT&T Stadium is one of the largest and most technologically advanced stadiums in the world. The venue is open year-round and provides guests with an unparalleled entertainment experience. The stadium is best known as the home of the Dallas Cowboys professional football team. However, the stadium hosts other events such as concerts, boxing matches, rodeos, and college sporting events.
The stadium also contains a restaurant, art work, and luxury suites. Guests can take a VIP or self-guided tour of the facility year-round. Tours are subject to black-out dates and limitations because of scheduled events. Things to Do in Arlington
Contact: One AT&T Way, Arlington, TX 76011, Phone: 817-892-4000
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» Fort Worth Botanic Garden
Spanning 110 acres, the Fort Worth Botanic Garden is the oldest botanic garden in Texas. It contains 22 individual gardens with a variety of beautiful flowers, trees, shrubs, ponds, and gazeboes. The botanic garden is also dedicated to preserving rare species of plants. Their collections include over 350 species of orchids and 1700 species of begonias.
Because of the large variety of plants, there is always something new in bloom during every season of the year. Self and guided tours are available. Admission to the main garden is free, but admission to some other gardens requires separate ticket purchase. Read more
Contact: 3200 Botanic Garden Blvd, Fort Worth, TX 76107, Phone: 817-392-5510
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»Fort Davis National Historic Site
In 1854, Fort Davis was established to protect settlers travelling along the San Antonio-El Paso road from raiders. It was abandoned during the Civil War but re-established in 1867. Today, the fort serves as a National Historic site.
Guests can tour the restored building of the fort, watch costumed actors reenact a day in the life of a Fort Davis soldier, and hike trails to the nearby Davis Mountain State Park. The park also offers a "Junior Ranger" program for children. They can earn a patch by following a map and decoding clues. The park is open year-round.
Contact: 101 Lt. Flipper Dr, Fort Davis, TX 79734, Phone: 432-426-3224
Photo: Zack Frank/Fotolia
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» Things to do in Texas: Dallas World Aquarium
Explore the oceans of the world at the Dallas World Aquarium. The aquarium contains an amazing collection of fish, plants, birds, and animals from both the sea and the rivers of planet Earth. Guests can walk through the 20,000-gallon tunnel aquarium, view the birds of the Yucatan Peninsula, or get up close and personal with the reptiles and amphibians of South Africa. T
here are opportunities for guests to feed a variety of the animals as well. The venue hosts three on-site restaurants and can be rented for weddings and catered events.
Contact: 1801 North Griffin St., Dallas, TX 75202, Phone: 214-720-2224
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»Japanese Tea Garden
Located in San Antonio, the Japanese Tea Garden has been a labor of love for the community for the past 90 years. A former rock quarry, the site was converted and re-shaped into a garden full of walkways, arches, and an island. Local residents and plant nurseries donated plants and bulbs to make the quarry into a beautiful work of living art.
Today, the garden is a sanctuary for local residents and visitors year-round. There is a café on-site that serves Japanese and American cuisine. Interested parties can also rent out the gardens for weddings and other gatherings and ceremonies.
Contact: 3853 North St. Mary's, San Antonio, TX 78212, Phone: 210-73-JINGU
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»Meyerson Symphony Center
The Meyerson Symphony Center is the home of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Each year, the orchestra presents a variety of musical works for the Dallas area. They perform pieces from classical masters such as Beethoven, Mozart, and Bach, as well as contemporary works and pieces from movies and popular culture.
The Symphony Orchestra also provides education and orchestral opportunities for young musicians in the Dallas area. Two on-site restaurants provide concert-goers with delicious meals before each concert, and there are several high-end hotels near the center. Tickets can be purchased online.
Contact: 2301 Flora St, Dallas, TX 75201, Phone: 214-849-4376
Photo: Meyerson Symphony Center
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Take a trip through the heavens at the McDonald Observatory. The McDonald Observatory is part of the research department of the University of Texas. The dark night skies of Western Texas make this a perfect location for studying space phenomena. The observatory contains a variety of large telescopes, including the Hobby-Eberly, one of the largest telescopes in the world.
The McDonald is dedicated to public outreach and education, and it provides daytime tours of the telescopes, star parties, and special nighttime viewing events. The observatory's visitors center is open daily except for major holidays. Dates and times of special events vary. Read more
Contact: 3640 Dark Sky Drive, McDonald Observatory, TX 79734, Phone: 877-984-7827
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»National Museum of the Pacific War
The National Museum of the Pacific War was first established in 1967 as the Chester W. Nimitz Museum. Over the years, it has been expanded and upgraded to better tell the story of the 8 million Americans who served against Japan during World War II.
The museum now covers a 6-acre complex and contains exhibits such as the George H.W. Bush Gallery, the Memorial Courtyard, and the Japanese Garden of Peace. The Pacific Combat Zone is a one-of-a-kind indoor and outdoor display of weaponry and vehicles. The museum sits in the charming town of Fredericksburg. Shops, restaurants, and hotels are all nearby. Things to Do in Fredericksburg TX
Contact: 340 E Main St., Fredericksburg, TX 78624, Phone: 830-997-8600
Photo: National Museum of the Pacific War
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» Cockrell Butterfly Center
Part of the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Cockrell Butterfly Center is home to hundreds of species of butterflies, insects, and plants. Guests can walk through three-story Rainforest Conservatory and see beautiful butterflies and exotic plants in a simulated rainforest habitat. The Brown Hall of Entomology teaches visitors about the world of arthropods, insects, and bees.
Admission is $9 and discounts are available for children, students, and seniors. The Butterfly Center is part of the Houston Museum of Natural Science.
Contact: 5555 Hermann Park Dr, Houston, TX 77030, Phone: 713-639-4629
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» San Antonio Botanical Garden
Come see what's in bloom at the San Antonio Botanical Garden! The mission of the botanical garden is to showcase the plant world and its importance in our lives through education, entertainment, and conservation efforts.
Guests can take a leisurely walk down the Texas Native Trail or through the formal gardens, or they can tour the indoor displays of plants from around the world. Guided tours are also available and must be scheduled in advance. The facility can also be rented for weddings, receptions, birthday parties, and corporate retreats.
Contact: 555 Funston Pl, San Antonio, TX 78209, Phone: 210-536-1400
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» Sea Turtle Inc
Sea Turtle Inc is a non-profit organization dedicated to rehabilitating and releasing injured sea turtles and to education and conservation efforts. The organization was started in 1977 by Ila Fox Loetscher. Loetscher became known as "The Turtle Lady" for her efforts in rescuing and protecting sea turtles.
Guests who visit Sea Turtle Inc can hear educational talks, see turtles in their large water tanks, and tour the group's outdoor facility. Groups of more than 10 must make arrangements for tours in advance. Things to Do in South Padre Island
Contact: 6617 Padre Blvd, South Padre Island, TX 78579, Phone: 956-761-4511
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25 Best Things to Do in Texas
- Space Center Houston, Photo: Courtesy of Mark Scott - Fotolia.com
- The Alamo, Photo: Courtesy of dfikar - Fotolia.com
- San Antonio Riverwalk, Photo: Courtesy of philipus - Fotolia.com
- The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, Photo: Courtesy of Melastmohican - Fotolia.com
- Houston Museum of Natural Science, Photo: Houston Museum of Natural Science
- Places to go near me: Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, Photo: Courtesy of Melastmohican - Fotolia.com
- Texas State Capitol, Photo: Courtesy of kbose - Fotolia.com
- Texas Attractions: Mission San Jose, Photo: Courtesy of steheap - Fotolia.com
- Fort Worth Zoo, Photo: Courtesy of balloon dude - Fotolia.com
- Texas Attractions: Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Photo: Museum of Fine Arts Houston
- South Padre Island Dolphin Research and Sealife Nature Center, Photo: Courtesy of blue - Fotolia.com
- Texas Attractions: Kimbell Art Museum, Photo: Kimbell Art Museum
- Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail, Austin, Photo: Courtesy of Photosbyjam - Fotolia.com
- Schlitterbahn Waterpark and Resort, Photo: Schlitterbahn Waterpark and Resort
- AT&T Stadium, Photo: Courtesy of digidreamgrafix - Fotolia.com
- Fort Worth Botanic Garden, Photo: Courtesy of teesixb - Fotolia.com
- Fort Davis National Historic Site, Photo: Courtesy of Zack Frank - Fotolia.com
- Things to do in Texas: Dallas World Aquarium, Photo: Courtesy of bluehand - Fotolia.com
- Japanese Tea Garden, Photo: Courtesy of w108av22 - Fotolia.com
- Meyerson Symphony Center, Photo: Meyerson Symphony Center
- McDonald Observatory, Photo: Courtesy of neutronman - Fotolia.com
- National Museum of the Pacific War, Photo: National Museum of the Pacific War
- Cockrell Butterfly Center, Photo: Courtesy of eduardoa - Fotolia.com
- San Antonio Botanical Garden, Photo: Courtesy of photojo88 - Fotolia.com
- Sea Turtle Inc, Photo: Courtesy of Elya.Q - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of kbose - Fotolia.com
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