Texas is a huge state—America's second largest. So it shouldn't be a surprise to learn that its cities are vastly different. The state has both deserts and coastlines; rural regions that hearken back to the days of the cowboy and cosmopolitan towns. You'll find a wealth of history here, as well as space shuttle launching us into the future. There's plenty of art and culture too - you'll find museums dedicated to Native American arts as well as symphonies and operas. It's all here for you to discover among these Texas cities.
Austin is the capital of Texas, and one of the things you can do in the city is take a guided tour of the state capitol. The city even offers historic themed tours focusing on Hispanic heritage, women in Texas history, and heroes of the Texas Revolution. Everyone knows how stifling it can get in the summer, so it's a good thing that one of Austin's hot spots is Barton Springs Pool. This natural watering hole is popular with locals because the water stays a pleasant 68 degrees all year. You can't possibly visit Austin without checking out the world-famous Congress Bridge bats which take flight from underneath the bridge each evening. There are well over a million bats swooping into the air nightly, making them Austin's number one tourist attraction. Austin is known for being "weird," and the birthplace of the weird movement was South Congress Avenue, so be sure to do some shopping and dining there after checking out the bats.
November 22, 1963, was a tragic day in American history, and it is one that is forever tied to the city of Dallas. Here, President John F Kennedy was fatally shot from the Texas School Book Depository. Today, people can come to the Sixth Floor Museum in the depository to pay their respects to America's thirty-fifth president. Another president with ties to Dallas is George W. Bush, whose presidential library and museum are also in the city. To take in the panoramic views, visit the top of Reunion Tower, one of the city's tallest buildings. There you can not only enjoy the vista but dine a Five Sixty, one of Wolfgang Puck's famed eateries. Dallas has plenty of green space too, including Klyde Warren Park, White Rock Lake Park, the Katy Trail, and Pioneer Plaza, with its life-sized statues cattle drive sculptures. Just outside of Dallas is Southfork Ranch, which includes the Ewing mansion, made famous on the TV show Dallas.
While Dallas and Fort Worth are often considered one giant metroplex, the cities retain their individual personalities. As an important outpost at the start of the Chisolm Trail, Fort Worth's history is deeply rooted in cowboy culture. It's most famous destination is the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District, where you can find daily cattle drives as well as rodeos. To further immerse yourself in the city's history and culture, check out the Log Cabin Village, a living history museum. You can also visit the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, which showcases famous women like Dale Evans, Patsy Cline, and Reba McEntire.
Named after General Sam Houston, who won the Battle of San Jacinto and gained Texas independence from Mexico, the city of Houston is mission control for both NASA and the international space station. It's also home to the Cockrell Butterfly Center and Brown Hall of Entomology. With a variety of butterflies and bugs, this is the perfect place to learn all about the creepy crawlies living in our backyard. You'll also find the Health Museum in Houston, which focuses on the anatomy and physiology of human beings. You can walk through a life-sized replica of the human body, observe real organ dissection, and participate in a cell lab.
If all you think about when you hear Galveston is cruise ships, you're missing out. Far more than just a departure point for the Caribbean, Galveston is a destination in its own right. Check out Moody Gardens, a multi-sensory, multi-attraction indoor playground for all ages. Inside you'll find an aquarium, a tropical rain forest, a zip line, and a ropes course, among other exciting offerings. At Pleasure Pier, you'll discover an iconic, idyllic boardwalk, complete with amusement rides and fabulous fair food. You can also take the free Galveston Ferry to Point Bolivar. While you're out on the water, you're very likely to spy dolphins cavorting near the boat.
Stroll along the San Antonio River, via River Walk, to really get to know the city. You'll find quaint pedestrian bridges and various forms of water transport. During the springtime Fiesta San Antonio, you'll find colorful floats dotting the river. San Antonio is famous for The Alamo, the location of a critical battle during the Texas Revolution. Then a mission, the site was seized by Mexican General Santa Anna. His actions spurred Texians to join the army, which won independence a few short months later. Several other missions are of historic significance, and together, four of them comprise the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park. All of them are still active Catholic parishes. If history isn't your passion, San Antonio offers many other attractions including Six Flags Fiesta Texas, an impressive botanical gardens, SeaWorld San Antonio, and the San Antonio Zoo.
In the furthest western corner of Texas lies the city of El Paso. It hugs the RíoGrande, and much of its history has been shaped by the river. In fact, the Chamizal National Memorial is a reminder of the peaceful resolution of a border dispute that arose between the US and Mexico after the RíoGrande changed course. You can also visit the Pershing House, where John Pershing resided during his time overseeing the Army's 8th Brigade at Fort Bliss. The brigade was there to secure the border while the Mexican Revolution was underway. To learn about another issue critical to El Paso, take time to learn about water management in the Chihuahuan Desert at the Carlos M. Ramirez TechH2O Water Resources Learning Center.
Tucked along the Gulf shore is the coastal city of Corpus Christi. Known for its sandy beaches and excellent bird watching, the city, is a delightful spot to get away from it all. You can visit Padre Island National Seashore, and if you time your visit just right, you'll be able to join in as park rangers release endangered baby sea turtles. You can also visit one of only six hypersaline lagoons in the world at Laguna Madre, which plays host to a huge population of redhead ducks and other waterfowl. Given the area's relationship to the water, it's altogether surprising that you'll find a surfing museum in Corpus Christi as well. The Texas Surf Museum details the history of the sport in general, as well as Texas' unique contributions to surfing. You'll also find a museum in Corpus Christi dedicated to Selena, the celebrated Tejano singer who lost her life at the hands of a former manager.
Located on the iconic Route 66, Amarillo is located in the panhandle section of Texas. It is a quintessential Texas town, and its attractions represent that. Here you'll find the American Quarter Horse Association Museum, and The Big Texan Steak Ranch, which boasts as 72-ounce steak-eating challenge. And naturally, there's a district focused on the famed Route 66 as well. Just outside Amarillo is the Palo Duro Canyon, second in size only to the Grand Canyon. Here you can go horseback riding, biking, hiking, or ziplining. For a quirky stop, visit Cadillac Ranch, a famous roadside attraction featuring ten Cadillacs half-buried in the dirt. The site manages to evoke both Stonehenge and the Cheops Pyramid.
Situated on the border, the city of Laredo shows obvious Mexican influences. From its brick-paved streets to its architecture, the city is like nothing else in Texas. The country's largest inland port, the city is one of the oldest border crossings and has a rich and colorful history. You can learn more about by visiting the Republic of the Río Grande Museum. You'll also want to check out the historic district of San Agustin with its eclectic mix of Mission, Spanish Revival, and Greek Revival architecture.