Wondering what activities and attractions you can’t miss in the Lone Star State? Our guide to the best things to do in Texas is just what you need!
Nowhere can we replicate Texas’s genuine passion and zeal with its big and bold friendliness and distinctive cowboy culture.
The Lone Star State is full of world-class Texas activities and popular tourist attractions featuring world-class theme parks, renowned botanical gardens, nationally acclaimed museums, and impactful historical sites, like the Alamo, the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, and the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.
You can check out the big cities of Dallas, Austin, and Houston, or head out to remote national parks and historic locations around the state.
We’ve carefully crafted this list of the best things to do in Texas so you can get started adventuring the culture, history, and impact of the Southwest.
Table of Contents
The 25 Best Things to Do in Texas
If you’re searching for what to do in Texas, we have compiled a list of all the best attractions, natural sights, fun activities, and more.
Featuring the most popular tourist attractions, like the San Antonio River Walk or the tallest waterfall in Texas at Colorado Bend State Park, traveling to Texas is guaranteed to be rewarding!
1) Adventure The 15th Largest National Park In The U.S. At Big Bend National Park
Home to a majority of the Chihuahuan Desert and the whole Chisos mountain range, Big Bend National Park is a favored natural attraction in west Texas. In addition, it holds other notable features, such as the Langford Hot Springs and the Santa Elena Canyon, which the Rio Grande River carved.
Over 150 miles worth of hiking trails is available in Big Bend National Park for all levels and ages. The trails traverse through scenic landscapes of mountainous deserts, limestone outcrops, and riverside terrain.
Other popular activities to take part in at Big Bend National Park include wildlife watching, horseback riding, fishing, kayaking, river rafting, and biking.
Enjoy the serenity of nature in this gorgeous national park!
2) See Where Astronauts Train At The Space Center Houston
A Smithsonian Affiliate museum, the NASA Space Center Houston, or Space Center Houston, is a science museum and official visitor center for NASA Johnson Space Center.
Nearly 1.25 million visitors walk through the doors of Space Center Houston to explore and learn more about the impact of science, engineering, and technology.
In addition, the center’s renowned education programming guides all ages through space exploration, inspiring curiosity and appeal in math and science.
More than 400 space artifacts and exhibits to adventure at Space Center Houston, with engaging experiences and significant features like the world’s most extensive collection of moon rocks and lunar samples welcome for viewing.
This is easily one of the most fun things to do in Houston!
- Address: 1601 E NASA Pkwy, Houston, TX 77058, United States
- Hours: 9 am – 5 pm
3) Bask In The Pristine Landscape Of Padre Island National Seashore
Near Corpus Christi, Padre Island National Seashore is the world’s largest undeveloped barrier island, dividing the Gulf of Mexico and the Laguna Madre.
It connects two islands, North Padre Island and South Padre Island. North Padre Island contains the Padre Island National Seashore, while South Padre Island is a popular resort destination.
The Kemp’s ridley sea turtles use the Padre Island National Seashore’s 66 miles of coastline as a secure nesting ground.
People come to Padre Island National Seashore for camping, bird watching, and kayaking, surrounded by untainted landscape features of sandy beachlines, impressive sand dunes, and prairies.
4) Tour The Largest Capitol Building At The Texas State Capitol
The Texas State Capitol in downtown Austin, Texas, is a prevalent historical landmark that acts as the capital and seat of the government for Texas.
As the largest capitol building in the United States, larger than the U.S. Capitol Building, the Texas State Capitol remains an impressive landmark featuring stunning architecture, giant brass door hinges, sparkling chandeliers, and intricate handrails.
The grounds of the Texas State Capitol rest on nearly 22 acres, homing 22 monuments, pristine lawns, and historic buildings to adventure.
Tours of the Texas State Capitol are free. Visitors are taken throughout the building to learn about the structure’s history and the Texas government.
- Address: 1100 Congress Ave., Austin, TX 78701, United States
- Hours: 7 am – 8 pm weekdays, 9 am – 8 pm weekends
Check out our 3 Days in Austin Itinerary for more inspiration!
See the largest capitol building in the USA in downtown Austin!
5) Pay Your Respects At The National Museum of the Pacific War
The National Museum of the Pacific War honors all who served in the Pacific War in World War II.
Recognized as the fifth-best history museum in the nation by USA Today readers, the museum has gone through extensive renovations and upgrades to be established as a premier museum.
The impactful interactive exhibits showcase different parts of history and stories of the Pacific War.
For example, the George Bush Gallery of the National Museum of the Pacific War presents artifacts, memorabilia, and educational information from the war.
One interactive exhibit includes animatronic WWII soldiers surrounded by bombarding grenades and scurrying rats as a step into the venture of the Pacific War.
- Address: 311 E Austin St, Fredericksburg, TX 78624, United States
- Hours: 9 am – 5 pm, Closed Tuesdays
6) Witness The Discovery Of Ice Age Fossils At The Waco Mammoth National Monument
The Waco Mammoth National Monument is a paleontological site and museum where 24+ Columbian mammoths and other impressive fossils were discovered.
The site where the fossil specimens were found represents an impact in history. It is the nation’s first and only recorded findings of a nursery herd of Columbian mammoths from the Ice Age.
The completed fossils stand at 14 feet, weighing in at 20,000 pounds. A camel and tooth from a saber tooth cat were also found on the grounds.
Take your adventure in Waco to the next level by booking a horseback riding tour with a cowboy guide!
- Address: 6220 Steinbeck Bend Dr, Waco, TX 76708, United States
- Hours: 9 am – 5 pm
7) Explore Dallas
One of the best things to do in Texas is to spend some time in the grand city of Dallas! Your first stop should be the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden on the shores of White Rock Lake.
Walking through the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden presents an impactful experience filled with various points of interest, stunning displays, unique gardens, and more!
Next head to the Dallas Museum of Art. As one of the largest art museums in America, the Dallas Museum of Art is home to over 25,000 unique works of art from a wide range of different time periods and cultures.
Other top attractions to include in your sightseeing of the city include the Dallas World Aquarium, the Dallas County Administration Building, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, and more.
Check out our complete list of the best things to do in Dallas here!
Dallas is one of the most vibrant cities in Texas!
8) Check Out The Authentic Mummies At The Houston Museum of Natural Science
The Houston Museum of Natural Science homes numerous attractions like the Cockrell Butterfly Center and the Burke Baker Planetarium.
The museum is renowned for its exhibits that explore science, astronomy, chemistry, history, paleontology, and other exciting topics.
Dedicated to sharing the intrigue of natural science with all ages, the Houston Museum of Natural Science is one of the most famous museums in the United States.
Explore the numerous exhibits, including the Hall of Ancient Egypt, which houses mummies like Ankh Hap, one of Ramses II’s tax collectors.
Also, check out the Cockrell Butterfly Center, full of vibrantly colored and diverse-shaped butterflies fluttering around various habitats. The options are endless at the Houston Museum of Natural Science!
- Address: 5555 Hermann Park Dr, Houston, TX 77030, United States
- Hours: 9 am – 5 pm
For more ideas in the area, check out our 3 Days in Houston itinerary!
9) Prepare For An Abundance Of Fun At Moody Gardens and Aquarium
Moody Gardens and Aquarium, located in Galveston, Texas, is a favorite tourist destination with an aquarium, hotel, theme park, convention center, and golf course.
All ages in the aquarium are welcome to explore the impressive exhibits, like the penguin exhibits, featuring four species of penguin” Macaroni, Gentoo, Chinstrap, and King.
See the vibrant and exotic jellyfish gently floating in the water, then visit the sea lions and seals as they toss their flippers and nose dive through the water.
After scouring the aquarium, check out the rainforest zoo, zip line, ropes course, wave pool, lazy river, and more available for loads of fun during your visit.
And once you’re done, witness the revelry of Galveston on this adults-only walking tour that dives into the history of Galveston’s past while stopping at significant points of interest like Moody Mansion and the 1892 Bishop’s Palace.
- Address: 1 Hope Blvd, Galveston, TX 77554, United States
- Hours: 10 am – 4 pm
Read Next: Check out this post to find out more great things to do in Galveston!
10) Remember The Alamo
One of the most well-known Texas attractions, the Alamo is a historic Spanish mission and fort established in the 18th century.
The Alamo was initially a Spanish mission, built in 1718, the first to be established in Texas. It was originally known as San Antonio de Valero and used by the Spanish to spread the Roman Catholic faith to the native peoples of the region.
However, ownership was passed to the Mexicans in 1821 and was used as a garrison for the Mexican forces until 1835, when it was surrendered to the Texian Army.
During the Battle of the Alamo of the Texas Revolution, the Texicans were severely outnumbered, losing the battle to surrender the Alamo to the Mexican military. Once the Texas Revolution ended, the Texians retook the Alamo.
It was used again in 1876 by the U.S. Army before eventually being transformed into a historical tourist attraction, shrine, and memorial for those who died in the Battle of the Alamo.
- Address: 300 Alamo Plaza, San Antonio, TX 78205, United States
- Hours: 9 am – 5:30 pm
After seeing the Alamo, find more things to do with our 3 Days in San Antonio itinerary!
Texas is full of interesting historic sites!
11) Experience The American West At The Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District
The Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District is a historic district. In the district are 98 acres listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Fort Worth Stockyards was once full of outlaws and cowboys, and visiting this historic spot is one of the best things to do in Texas.
Now, the district welcomes visitors from across the globe to experience the American West with popular attractions like the Fort Worth Herd, the only twice-daily cattle drive in the world, and the Stockyards Championship Rodeo, where cowboys face off against bulls and broncs every week.
The Fort Worth Stockyards offers favored Texas activities, whether shopping for authentic cowboy boots and hats, experiencing country music in the Southwest or dining like a Texan.
Go on a history tour and pub crawl to learn more about the history and culture of the area while visiting saloons and drinking some local brew!
12) Learn About The Impact Of The Breed At The American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum
Founded in Amarillo, Texas, the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum preserves the history of the American Quarter Horse, the cowboy’s horse.
The American Quarter Horse is one of the world’s most popular horse breeds, having played a crucial role in American history. The breed is renowned for its unreal intuition and talent for working with cows, termed “steel dust” by cowboys in the 19th century for their lightning speed that lasted a quarter mile.
The distance of a quarter mile, and where the breed got its name, refers to the most popular run in Colonial racing which frequently occurred in villages. And out of anywhere in the world, Texas tops all others by holding the largest population of Quarter Horses.
The museum’s exceptional exhibits offer a chance for visitors to learn about the impact of the American Quarter Horse on shaping the United States.
- Address: 2601 E Interstate Dr, Amarillo, TX 79104, United States
- Hours: 10 am – 4 pm, Closed Sundays and Mondays
Read Next: Check out this post to find out more great things to do in Amarillo!
13) Hike The Serene Landscapes Of Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Well-known for its shocking white Salt Basin Dunes, the Guadalupe Mountains National Park homes Texas’s highest summit, Guadalupe Peak.
Full of captivating natural beauty, the park holds the world’s most extensive Permian fossil reef and impactful history.
Eventually, the Mescalero Apaches moved to the local area for its thriving wildlife. In addition, historical artifacts have been discovered on the park’s grounds and preserved at a museum at Frijole Ranch.
Hikers and campers love traveling to Guadalupe Mountains National Park to explore its luscious forests, serene landscapes, and wildlife-watching opportunities.
There is some incredible hiking to be done in Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
14) Visit The Texas State Aquarium
The largest aquarium in the state, the Texas State Aquarium, is one of the top ten aquariums in the United States to witness the unique world of marine life.
Explore the Western Caribbean Sea and Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula at the Texas State Aquarium for an extraordinary interactive experience.
Watch the otters play, the sharks prowl, and the American bald eagle’s majestic appeal earned it the title of the national symbol for the United States.
Located in Corpus Christi, this is one of the top things to do in Texas for families with kids!
- Address: 2710 N Shoreline Blvd, Corpus Christi, TX 78402, United States
- Hours: 10 am – 5 pm, Closed Mondays
15) Stroll Through World-Class Gardens At The Fort Worth Botanic Garden
The oldest botanic garden in the state, the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, was built in 1934 in the cultural district of Fort Worth.
Fort Worth Botanic Garden houses the world-renowned Japanese Garden, featuring mastered stonework, koi ponds, the Moon Bridge, the Moon Viewing Deck, and roaring waterfalls. In addition, there are other noteworthy themed gardens, including the Rose Gardens.
The Rainforest Conservatory is also a glass-enclosed conservatory filled with plant life sourced from the world’s rainforests, like the Traveler’s Tree, grown native to Madagascar.
- Address: 3220 Botanic Garden Blvd, Fort Worth, TX 76107, United States
- Hours: 8 am – 4 pm
Read Next: Check out this post to find out more great things to do in Fort Worth!
16) Wander Along the San Antonio River Walk
The San Antonio River Walk is one of the highlights of the charming southern city of San Antonio, TX.
The River Walk is often considered the heart of the city, and no visit here would be complete without a long, leisurely stroll along the pedestrian riverside path.
Lined with shops, cafes, and local restaurants, the San Antonio Riverwalk is a beautiful place filled with attractions, twinkling lights, and various parades and festivals depending on the time of year.
Make sure you stop off at the San Antonio Botanical Garden and the San Antonio Japanese Tea Garden, which is a magical destination brimming with natural life and history.
Hop on a riverboat cruise that sails along the San Antonio River Walk, featuring the educational narration of the city’s top historical and cultural sites.
You can’t miss this famous Texas attraction!
17) See The World’s Tallest Cowboy At The Texas State Fair
The Texas State Fair, or State Fair of Texas, is annually run in the historic Fair Park in Dallas, Texas.
The longest-running fair in the nation and one of the largest, the State Fair of Texas has continued operating since 1886, except for lull periods during World War I, World War II, and the COVID-19 pandemic. The State Fair of Texas starts near the end of September and continues for about a month.
Fair Park became a designated National Historic Landmark, serving as the State Fair of Texas’s home for over a century. The fair’s iconic feature, Big Tex, is the world’s tallest cowboy at 52 feet tall, wearing size 70 boots and a 75-gallon hat.
- Address: Fair Park; 1300 Robert B Cullum Boulevard; Dallas, TX 75210
Check out our Ultimate 3 Days in Dallas Itinerary for more ideas!
18) Step Back In History At The Fort Davis National Historic Site
Fort Davis National Historic Site is an important historical site, representing an example of an Indian Wars’ frontier military post in the Southwest that played a crucial role in the history of the Southwest.
Named after the Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis, the fort was used from 1854-1891 to protect emigrants, freight wagons, and mail coaches from attack as they traversed the Trans-Pecos and Chihuahua Trail.
Currently, over 100 ruins and 24 buildings are preserved at the Fort Davis National Historic Site, some of which have been refurbished so visitors touring the grounds can picture what it was like to live during this time in history.
- Address: 1504 State St, Fort Davis, TX 79734, United States
- Hours: 8 am – 5 pm
19) Hike To The Breathtaking Hamilton Pool Preserve
Hamilton Pool Preserve in Dripping Springs, Texas, is a unique nature preserve home to the Golden-cheeked Warbler and various other birds, making it a hot spot for birdwatching.
A 50-foot waterfall falls over the impressive box canyon, sourced from the Hamilton Creek water that drifts over the limestone cliff sides.
Part of the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, the Hamilton Pool Preserve hosts rare plant species, like the chatterbox orchid, and other endangered species.
The historical site was once home to the Tonkawa and Lipan Apaches before the 1800s. Then, the property was bought by Morgan C. Hamilton, the brother of Andrew Jake Hamilton, the 10th governor of Texas, who frequently visited the breathtaking grotto.
Travis County bought the Hamilton Pool Preserve in 1985 to preserve and restore the pool, making it more attractive for visitors to come hike, bird watch, and explore!
The Hamilton Pool Preserve is a stunning location in Texas.
20) Trek To The Tallest Waterfall In Texas At Colorado Bend State Park
A haven of prospering wilderness, Colorado Bend State Park offers 35 miles of hiking and biking trails.
There are plenty of fun things to do in this national park. Gorman Falls is one of the most popular points of interest.
The 70-foot waterfall is the tallest in Texas, rushing over limestone formations. The rewarding hike to the falls is three miles roundtrip with Gorman Falls at the end.
Visitors journey to Colorado Bend State Park to go on cave tours, take a dip in Spicewood Springs, witness the nature-made beauty of Gorman Falls, fish, kayak, camp, and more!
21) Watch The Bat Show At Richards Congress Avenue Bridge
Arcing over Lady Bird Lake in Austin, Texas, Congress Avenue Bridge is famous for bat-watching at sunset.
This top Austin attraction is a must-see in the city! The Mexican Free-Tailed Bats made the Congress Avenue Bridge a favored bat cave.
The bats are welcomed by Austin residents for their work in handling bug mitigation in the city, as well as offering the spectacular show every night where hundreds and thousands of bats exit from under the bridge to fly out over Lady Bird Lake to find their nightly meal.
Read next: The 21 Best Things To Do In Austin, Texas
Lady Bird Lake is a highlight of Austin, Texas!
22) Visit the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
Easily one of the top tourist attractions in all of Texas, the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza is a prominent museum in Dallas.
This fascinating museum tells the story of President John F. Kennedy and his tragic assassination. The main exhibit is called John F. Kennedy and the Memory of a Nation, and here you can learn all about the historic man and how he died.
The Sixth Floor Museum is located inside the former Texas School Book Depository building, and it takes about 90 minutes to pass through the entire museum.
Check out the exhibits, events, visitor center and gift shop, all of which are dedicated to this important piece of US history.
The museum can get extremely busy, so it’s a good idea to book your tickets online in advance!
- Address: 411 Elm St, Dallas, TX 75202, United States
- Hours: 10 am – 5 pm, Closed Mondays and Tuesdays
23) Tour the Natural Bridge Caverns
The Natural Bridge Caverns is a collection of underground caves, bridges, and passageways, covered in stalactites and stalagmites.
Named after the 60-foot limestone bridge that formed completely naturally near the entrance, Natural Bridge Caverns is a natural phenomenon that has been converted into a top tourist attraction.
Follow the underground walkways through massive caves, and take on the zip lines and ropes courses if you’re feeling adventurous.
This fascinating natural attraction can be found just outside San Antonio, TX.
- Address: 26495 Natural Bridge Caverns Rd, San Antonio, TX 78266, United States
- Hours: 10 am – 5 pm Monday & Tuesday, 10 am – 4 pm Wednesday – Friday, 9 am – 5 pm Saturday & Sunday
Check out our complete list of the best things to do in San Antonio, Texas here!
24) Test Your Courage With Unreal Views At The Reunion Tower
Located in downtown Dallas, the Reunion Tower is an impressive landmark and observation tower stretching 561 feet in the sky.
Offering up panoramic views of Dallas, this observation tower is not for the faint of heart or anyone who fears heights. Standing at an imposing 561 feet, the observation deck, termed the GeO-Deck, rests at 470 feet above street level to avail spectacular city scenery from an indoor and outdoor point of view.
You don’t want to miss these views that were voted the best in the world in 2014!
- Address: 300 Reunion Blvd E, Dallas, TX 75207, United States
- Hours: 12 pm – 7:30 pm Monday – Thursday, 1 pm – 8:30 pm Friday – Sunday
25) Visit The #1 Zoo In The Nation, The Fort Worth Zoo
Founded in 1909, the Fort Worth Zoo protects more than 7,000 exotic and native animals in specially designed indoor and outdoor habitats.
Nationally acclaimed and voted the #1 zoo in the nation by USA Today, all ages are welcome to explore world-class exhibits and thousands of unique species at the Fort Worth Zoo.
Visitors can peer at the four great ape species in the World of Primates, study endangered reptiles and amphibians at the Museum of Living Art, and stop by the petting zoo to get up close and personal.
- Address: 1989 Colonial Pkwy, Fort Worth, TX 76110, United States
- Hours: 10 am – 4 pm
See some fascinating wildlife at the Fort Worth Zoo.
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