Best things to do in Texas

21 Best Things to do in Texas (original!)

Texas is one of the most culturally and historically rich places in the United States. 

Famed for its hearty cuisine, historical monuments, thriving art scene, and much-loved rodeo culture, there is plenty to see, do and experience when visiting the Lone Star state. 

Whether you’re visiting Texas for a few days or a few weeks, you won’t be short on things to do in this larger than life charming corner of the country.

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Looking for more locally approved Texas guides? Check these out!

Here are 21 best things to do in Texas.  


With 71 pages of helpful travel tips and the “best of” Texas lists, this is your ad-free key to your Texas trip.

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How to get around Texas

Everything is bigger in Texas, so having a car will be the easiest way to explore the Lone Star State.

If you’re visiting and need to rent a car to get to your Texan activities, we highly recommend Discover Cars where they find you the best car rental deals from all of the competitors (has saved us so much money!).

Click here to check out Discover Cars.

1. Visit the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza 

Exterior of the Sixth Floor Museum
Image: Sixth Floor Museum, Dallas. Per-Olof Forsberg. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza is one of the most historically significant places to visit in Texas.

Located in downtown Dallas, this museum tells the story of President John F Kennedy’s life and assassination through various artifacts, photographs, rotating exhibits and commentary. 

The museum overlooks Dealey Plaza, the site where the president was assassinated in 1963.

A monument honoring the fallen president is located one block away from the Plaza. 

2. See The Alamo Mission 

The Alamo
Image: The Alamo, San Antonio, Texas. Ken Lund. [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

On the outskirts of San Antonio is one of the most important historic buildings in the USA, The Alamo Mission, commonly called the Alamo.

This original Spanish mission and fortress was the site of the Battle of Alamo, during the Texan War of Independence. 

A journey to the Alamo will give visitors a fascinating insight about the Texas Revolution as well as an opportunity to see the memorial built to honor the soldiers who perished in the war. 

3. Visit the Houston Space Center 

Houston Space Center rocket
Image: Houston Space Center. Thank you. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

One of the most popular Texas attractions is the Houston Space Center, home to Mission Control, where NASA monitors its flights in space. 

There are a number of educational exhibits and artifacts, including objects collected from the famous Apollo and Mercury space missions. 

Astronaut training also takes place here, and visitors have the chance to dress up as astronauts to experience the thrill for themselves. 

4. Big Bend National Park 

Big Bend National Park
Image: West Texas – Big Bend National Park. G Lamar. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

On the border of Mexico in West Texas lies one of the most popular natural attractions in Texas, as well as the largest protected areas of Chihuahuan desert topography and ecology. 

The park includes dramatic and changing terrains, from the rushing river Rio Grande, the great canyons of Mariscal, Boquillas and Santa Elena, the unforgiving stark desert and an abundance of wildlife inhabited woodlands and natural springs. 

For hiking, photography and outdoor enthusiasts, the Big Bend National Park is an unmissable place to see in Texas. 

5. Guadalupe Mountains National Park 

Guadalupe Mountains
Image: El Capitan, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas. Ken Lund. [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

Another mountain range with spectacular scenery and exhilarating hiking and cycling trails is the Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Located approximately 100 miles west of El Paso, this park plays host to a number of historically important landmarks.

From the highest point of Texas which can be found at Guadalupe Peak to the mountain of El Capitan which was used as a historical navigational landmark by travelers, there is much to experience at the park. 

Visitors should stop through the Pine Spring Visitors Center, which still contains the ruins of a historical stagecoach stand. 

Further in the park, the Frijole Ranch contains a museum showcasing the local history of the nearby area.

6. Visit South Padre Island 

South Padre Island Beach
Image: Seagull at Sunset. G.Lamar. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

There are an abundance of water and land based activities to enjoy on South Padre Island and its surrounding coastline. 

These include riding horseback along the foreshore, bird and turtle watching, visiting crocodiles and other wildlife that live in the animal sanctuaries and taking a day trip to see the famed, working lighthouse. 

You can also take a trip to visit Padre Island National Seashore, an undeveloped stretch of remote coastline and natural wilderness not far from the busy resort community of South Padre Island.

7. The Texas State Capitol

Texas State Capitol

One of the most historically and architecturally significant buildings in the state is the Texas State Capitol. As the seat for the government, the landmark houses the offices of the Texas legislature and governor. 

Tours of the Capitol are free and once inside, visitors can see various public exhibits and artworks that line the walls. 

The Texas Travel Center is also housed at the Capitol, so makes for a practical early stop during your visit to Texas. 

8. The Fort Worth Stockyards

Texas Stockyards

Rodeo culture is an important part of Texas’ identity and one of the most unique places to learn more about the rich cattle industry in the state is at the Fort Worth Stockyards. 

The stockyards have been operating since 1866, and have been amongst the main administration sites of the cattle industry.

A visit here will give you the opportunity to learn about the importance of cattle in the USA as well as the role that Fort Worth played in this industry. 

The facility also hosts a number of attractions such as rodeos, concerts and locally run shops selling unique, Texan souvenirs. 

9. Natural Bridge Caverns

Natural Bridge Caverns
Photo credit: Natural Bridge Caverns Facebook Page

The Natural Bridge Caverns are located a short drive away from San Antonio and are a jaw dropping underground network with over 10,000 stalactite formations. 

Visitors can join a guided lantern tour and explore the underground trail, including a chance to explore the largest accessible cave in the USA.

On ground level, there are additional activities including an open-air maze and a treetop canopy walk.

10. Visit the Dallas Museum of Art 

Photo credit: Dallas Museum of Art Facebook Page

Texas is renowned across the country for boasting an impressive collection of art from world leading artists.

The Dallas Museum of Art has been operating for over a century and showcases approximately 25,000 pieces of art on a temporary and rotating basis. 

Not only is this museum one of the largest galleries in the USA, it is also free to visit for general admissions.

11. Take a dip in Hamilton Pool 

Hidden Pool
Image: Hidden Pool gg. Kenneth Hagemeyer. [CC BY-ND 2.0] via Flickr

Texas is known for its scorching summers and both locals and tourists flock to watering holes to cool off during the hottest months. 

Whilst there are a number of naturally formed swimming holes, one of the most famous and stunning is Hamilton Pool, a large naturally shaded pool that is filled by Hamilton Creek, running some 50 feet above. 

The pool area can get crowded and can sometimes be closed in case of adverse weather or falling rocks, so be sure to check the latest guidance before you go.

12. Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum 

Exterior of the Bob Bullock Texas Museum
Photo credit: Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. Jordan Hatcher. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

Located in Austin a short stroll away from the Capitol, the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum was formed with the defining goal of telling ‘the Story of Texas’. 

Named after the 38th Lieutenant Governor of Texas, Bob Bullock who encouraged the preservation and telling of Texas history, the museum aims to educate visitors about the various movements and events of historical significance that have shaped Texas.

Whilst a fee is charged for admission, there are a number of days during the year where visitors can enter for free, including the second Sunday of July, in honor of Bob Bullock’s birthday

13. Dallas Zoo 

Dallas zoo
Image: Giraffe Father and Son. Eric Kilby. [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

Just outside of downtown Dallas, Dallas Zoo is the oldest and largest zoo in Texas. Spanning over 106 acres and housing over 2000 animals, the zoo is home to over 400 species of wildlife. 

Some of the most popular attractions include the endangered tiger habitat and the Wilds of Africa, recreating all the major habitats of Africa, from mountains, rivers and bushland. 

Managed by the Dallas Zoological Society, this non-profit attraction is focused on species preservation and conservation through various initiatives with animal protection programs around the world.

14. Texas State Fair

Texas state fair ride
Image: spin. Glenn Harper. [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

If you happen to be visiting Texas in October, you should definitely plan to spend some time visiting the Texas State Fair in Houston. 

Attended by millions of visitors each year, the Fair takes place in the aptly named Fair Park. 

This tradition from the 1950s includes family friendly entertainment, such as games, rides and military parades as well as a special appearance by the 52 foot high mechanical cowboy known as Big Tex.

You can also sample local Texan specialities and catch live musical performances. 

15. See a show at the Toyota Music Factory 

People at a concert
Photo credit: Toyota Music Factory Facebook Page

As one of the largest entertainment venues in the southern half of the country, seeing a show at the Toyota Music Factory is one of the most popular things to do in Texas.

The venue is made up of over 200,000 square feet of entertainment, retail and food outlets. 

Shows are performed across a number of venues, including the Pavillion which typically hosts smaller performances and the Lottery Plaza, which is an outdoor stage that hosts larger scale events.

If you’re seeing a show in the outdoor spaces, you can even bring a blanket to set up your own picnic area. 

16. Ride up to the top of the Reunion Tower

Reunion tower in Dallas

You’ll likely have seen images of the giant skyscraper topped with a golf ball style dome when planning your trip to Texas. 

As one of the most recognisable landmarks and popular attractions of Dallas, a ride up to the Reunion Tower will give visitors a spectacular view of both downtown Dallas and miles across the state. 

The viewing deck is located on the fiftieth floor and visitors can simply enjoy the scenery alone, or you can book in a drinks package to make an evening of it. 

17. Explore the vineyards of North Texas

People drinking red wine

One of the country’s best kept secrets, the vineyards of North Texas are a great way to explore the region’s highly decorated cellars and winemakers. 

There are a number of vineyards open to the public, including some with full dining options and tasting rooms. 

The North Texas Wine Country online directory lists over forty member wineries that are open to the public, and is a great resource for planning your trip. 

There are also a number of tour operators which can guide visitors through a relaxed and informative journey through the stunning wine country of North Texas. 

18. Watch a race at the Texas Motor Speedway

Texas Motor Speedway
Image: IMG_5881. rgbRandomizer. [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

One of the most fun things to do in Texas is watching a NASCAR race at the Texas Motor Speedway. 

Located in Fort Worth, the Speedway is the home of motorsports in the state, hosting a number of races from NASCAR to the Texas INDY events. 

Visitors can also take a tour of the race track outside of the main season days and book into go-karting experiences on selected dates. 

19. Visit Lake Mineral Wells State Park

Lake Mineral Wells State Park
Image: Lake Mineral Wells State Park, Texas. David Black. [CC BY-ND 2.0] via Flickr

Under an hour away from the center of Fort Worth is Lake Mineral Wells State Park.

This expansive park is home to a vast number of activities, from horse riding, rock climbing and fishing. 

If you enjoy camping, there are also over twenty campsites and screened shelters that you can book into. 

The park also includes several museums to help teach visitors about the unique history and rock formations that can be found inside the park.

One of the most interesting is the Mineral Wells Fossil Park, where you can spot well-preserved Pennsylvanian Period fossils.

20. Visit Dinosaur Valley State Park 

Dinosaur State Park
Image: DSC_5701. Dill Tom. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

If you’re searching for what to do in Texas with kids, a trip to Dinosaur Valley State Park should definitely feature on your list. 

Just a short drive away from Fort Worth lies the Paluxy River, a waterbed where dinosaurs once roamed freely and where their footsteps can still be seen. 

Whilst the dinosaur tracks are generally found in the waterbed, there is lots more to explore in the wider state park.

You can hike, camp or bring your horse to go riding around the 20 miles of trails.

21. Go stargazing at McDonald Observatory

McDonald Observatory University of Texas
Image: McDonald Observatory University of Texas. lns1122. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

For outdoorsy yet relaxing Texas things to do, one of the most popular activities is to go stargazing at the McDonald Observatory

Situated on the peak of Mount Locke and Mount Fowlkes in the Davis Mountains, the McDonald Observatory gives visitors an opportunity to see some of the clearest and darkest skies in the country.

The Observatory offers an Evening Sky Viewing program from its cavernous amphitheater, along with workshops and special viewing sessions to help you make the most of your visit. 

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