The Lone Star State is a puzzle of many diverse pieces.
Maybe you’re familiar with some common sayings about the Lone Star State—
“Everything’s bigger in Texas.”
“Don’t mess with Texas.”
These quips are more than catchy bumper sticker slogans. As America’s second largest state by both land area and population, Texas is indeed a big and mighty place.
The Lone Star State is home to a rich blend of people, culture, and history. The geography, ranging from beaches to mountains to deserts, is almost as diverse.
In a nutshell, Texas must be seen to be believed.
So with a tip of our proverbial 10-gallon hats, we present these seven must-visit attractions in Texas. Some are historic, and some are a little whacky, but they are all uniquely Texan.
San Antonio River Walk – San Antonio
Built below street level, the San Antonio River Walk is a paved network of walking paths in the heart of Alamo City along the San Antonio River. The pedestrian walk is 15 miles long and spans a five-mile distance.
Charming restaurants with patio seating, quaint shops, trendy bars, and hotels line the River Walk, making this San Antonio’s most photogenic intersection of recreation and commerce.
For a special experience, enjoy an evening riverboat dinner cruise through the River Walk area—it’s a little touch of Venice done Texas style!
Padres Island National Seashore – South of Corpus Christi
Situated on the Gulf coast south of Corpus Christi is Padres Island National Seashore; it is a 70-mile stretch of undeveloped barrier island (the longest of its kind in the world) managed by the National Park Service.
The coastal geography of this conserved area is breathtakingly undisturbed. Over 130,000 acres of beach, grasslands, and dunes provide refuge to sea turtles and some 350 species of migratory birds—well, at least temporarily during their stopovers on the Central Flyway migration route.
Start your journey through Padres Island National Seashore at the Malaquite Visitor Center, where you’ll find a wealth of information and a warm welcome.
Minute Maid Park – Houston
Baseball is America’s pastime, and states don’t get any more American than Texas.
As such, you could argue that baseball in Texas is the most American experience possible. We’ll leave that debate to the internet, but Texas really is a great place to watch baseball, and nowhere is better than Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros.
This state-of-the-art stadium opened its doors in 2000 and boasts one of the few retractable roofs in MLB. The game is on rain or shine here, and the temperature always ballgame-perfect.
And when you step inside Minute Maid Park for a game, you’re not watching any ordinary ball club. The Astros won the 2017 World Series and the American League West in 2018, and they currently stand at the top of the World Series odds this year.
Related post: Catch the Buzz at SRP Park in Augusta, Georgia
Dr. Pepper Museum – Waco
Pop quiz time!
Did you know Dr. Pepper is America’s oldest major soft drink brand?
Now you do, and it was invented in 1885 by Charles Alderton, a Waco pharmacist.
A hundred years later, the soft drink had become a fizzy national institution, and the Dr. Pepper Museum opened in 1991 to pay homage to the history of this syrupy, carbonated concoction.
Housed in the same building that served as an early Dr. Pepper production facility, the museum boasts a giant collection of namesake memorabilia and curated items from other soft drink brands. Visitor favorites include a green 1940s Dr. Pepper delivery truck and rare advertising signs.
Once you’ve earned a doctorate in Dr. Pepper touring the museum, visit the W.W. Clements Free Enterprise Institute—an on-site, non-profit organization dedicated to education about the history of good old American capitalism. And yes, the Dr. Pepper story is the main reference point.
Admission to the Dr. Pepper Museum costs $10 for adults and $6 for children.
SXSW – Austin
Looking for an awesome reason to visit Texas? This is it!
For ten days each March, the annual South by Southwest Festival (SXSW) transforms Austin into the figurative world capital of media, music, technology, film, and any other cultural form of expression you can conjure. Since 1987, this Ted Talk-meets-Coachella-meets-Tribeca Film Festival has served as a launching pad for new music, new products, and new ideas.
These days, SXSW regularly draws over 400,000 visitors who come for the concerts, film screenings, tech displays, presentations, and discussions with thought leaders. With more than 2,000 bands and artists, SXSW is the largest music performance event on the planet.
The rise of social media has shaped SXSW in recent years, making the festival a top-attended event for influencers.
The Fort Worth Stock Yards – Fort Worth
Cattle are synonymous with Texas, and the Fort Worth Stock Yards in Fort Worth, Texas (Dallas’ westerly neighbor) have long served as the Lone Star State’s Grand Central Station for cows.
Beginning in 1866, cattle were brought to the Stock Yards for sorting and shipping out across the state. The operation here is alive and well today, making the Stock Yards that last remaining facility of its type in the nation.
When you arrive in Fort Worth, check out the Visitor Center and Stockyards Museum for city information and a current events schedule.
Cadillac Ranch – Amarillo
Perhaps the quirkiest, and definitely most irreverent, destination on our list, Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo is a public art installation featuring a row of ten vertically-upended Cadillacs with their front sides buried in cow pasture dirt along Interstate 40.
Created in 1974 by an architect and two art students as an iconoclastic demur of corporate America, the Cadillacs here span the 1949-1963 model years—an era made famous by the marque’s tailfin design.
The vehicles at Cadillac Ranch have received countless coatings of graffiti art over the years. The public is encouraged to bring spray paint cans and contribute their own creativity to this interactive art.
Have you ever been to Texas? What was your favorite thing to do? Let me know in a comment below.
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