Things to Do in Texas - page 4
Mexic-Arte Museum in downtown Austin showcases contemporary Mexican and Latino art and educates visitors through a variety of educational and hands-on programming. The small, nonprofit museum is one of the few in the country with a focus on emerging artists from Texas, the Southwest, and Latin America.
Welcome to history on the big screen—that is, a six-story IMAX screen, with an all-encompassing sound system and seats that recline while you settle in for your film. This theater’s long-running feature, “Alamo: The Price of Freedom,” tells the story of the Alamo for San Antonio visitors before or after they visit the real thing.
Outdoor enthusiasts, hikers, walkers and bikers love the popular San Antonio Mission Trail. With 15.2 miles of well-kept paths it’s easily accessible year round. And while this scenic loop attracts those who prefer to have their fun in the sun, history-lovers find their way to the trail, too, since it connects San Antonio’s missions in an easy-to-follow route.
Travelers can explore the winding river, bike over picturesque paths, and make stops to Mission Concepcin, Mission San Jose, Mission Espada and Mission Capistrano along the way. These historic complexes once served as centers of the Catholic faith and today, some still have active congregations. Visitors will learn about the history of both San Antonio and the Catholic Church while wandering these structures.
Easy-to-follow trail maps and guides make navigating the San Antonio Mission Trail a breeze, but it’s also possible to check out the missions as part of a trolley tour or San Antonio sightseeing tour for visitors who want the chance to see it all.
When you think of theater in the United States what cities come to mind? New York? LA? Chicago? Vegas? Maybe Washington DC? While all those cities definitely share an abundance of performing arts, it’s actually Houston that has the most second-most theater seats of any city in the country. In fact, between the 12,948 seats for live theater performances and the 1,580 movie seats that are also in the city’s theater district, there are enough seats to treat 89% of Texas towns to a show.
By every professional and statistical measure, Houston’s theater district is one the world’s most culturally rich destinations. Ballet, music, theater, and opera all have permanent, professional companies, and the actors, musicians, dancers and performers are among the best in the world. When visiting Houston’s theater district, enjoy a play at the Alley Theater, a longtime Houston icon. Or treat yourself to the sounds of a Symphony that was founded in 1913. The Houston Opera has won countless awards including a Tony, two Emmys, and two Grammys, and the Houston Ballet is the fifth largest company in the United States. Combined with the wealth of dining options within walking distance of the shows, the Houston Theater District is the ultimate night out for culture, food, and the arts.
Got expensive taste but limited budget? This is where Tanget Outlets come in. The real estate company has a branch just south of Houston and is committed to bringing its customers the best shopping experience possible by offering the best deals from preferred designers and brand-name stores, through strategic alliances with brands such as: Liz Claiborne, Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Polo Ralph Lauren, Reebok, Tommy Hilfiger, Nautica, Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister, Eddie Bauer, Brooks Brothers and Nike. Originally founded in North Carolina in 1981, Tanger Outlets have now spread to 24 states as well as Canada. The company currently owns 46 outlet centers across North America and attracts over 185 million bargain hunters every year.
The Wells Fargo skyscraper has won awards for its design—twice. Not only a designer’s masterpiece, Wells Fargo Plaza is also the tallest all-glass tower in the western hemisphere, the 16th tallest building in the U.S. and the second tallest building in Houston, making it one of the highlights of modern American skyscraper architecture. Its unique construction offers visitors to Houston an unparalleled look at the city's fabulous skyline, and from high atop one of the plaza’s two sky lobbies, one can see all of Houston.
Outlaid with fine Italian marble, stainless steel and glass, the Wells Fargo Plaza is an inimitable take on the modern skyscraper and one stop your visit to Houston shouldn’t be without. Connected to the famous Downtown Houston Tunnels, the Wells Fargo Plaza building encompasses an entire city block and features the area’s only sunken plaza.
North Texas’s largest outdoor water park offers activities for everyone, including a lazy river, family rides, options for small children and a dozen thrill rides for the daredevils in the group. Toboggans, surf riders, wave simulators, beaches, tree houses and smaller slides are just a few of the other activity options at Six Flags Hurricane Harbour Arlington.
The park is designed to offer both relaxation and adrenaline rushes at all levels. Whether gliding down a speed slide or lounging by the pool, there’s nothing like cooling off in the water on a hot day. Dining and shopping are also available.
Enchanted Springs Ranch is an Old West theme park designed to immerse visitors in the cowboy culture of early Texas. Nestled just outside of San Antonio and located on an 86-acre working ranch, the park has everything from an old 1800s Western town to an active Western movie set.
The name comes from a description Native Americans used for the area, with its flowing springs, rolling hills and abundant wildlife. Staff members in period clothing tell the history of the area, including the fight for land ownership between cowboys, Native Americans and vaqueros. These actors maintain the distinct old Western feel for visitors touring the site, as does a walk down the streets of the town.
There are also various animals to see, from a herd of Texas longhorns to horses, buffalo and deer, while two lakes, several streams and a waterfall provide beautiful views on the ranch.
The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth(The Modern) houses a collection of over 3,000 items dated from 1945 to the present and includes paintings, sculptures, photographs, videos and prints. It is one of the largest exhibitions of postwar art in the central United States, and while all major, international artistic movements are represented in the museum, there is an emphasis on pop and minimalist art, as well as German art of the 1970s and 1980s.
Educational programs, exhibits and curations vary throughout the year, while lectures, tours, workshops and classes are offered in honor of modern art. There are also films and performances. Designed by the Japanese architect Tadao Ando, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth was named one of the “world’s most beautiful art museums” by Travel + Leisure magazine.
A Smithsonian affiliate museum in San Antonio, the Institute of Texan Cultures celebrates the indigenous people and immigrants from many different cultures who have helped shape Texas through the years. Exhibits on race, military history, and folklore help visitors understand the region’s rich cultural heritage.
More Things to Do in Texas
Midway Island is over 4,600 miles from the hills of Fredericksburg, Texas, but you’d never know it from visiting the Admiral Nimitz Gallery at the National Museum of the Pacific War. This is the town where Chester Nimitiz was born in 1885—a man who go on to lead the Pacific Fleet and accept the symbol of Japanese surrender at the end of World War II. Though the Texas Hill country looks nothing like the blood-stained atolls and islands of the Pacific, the museum that bears the Admiral’s name is the closest thing civilians get to feeling like they’ve actually been there. Set inside the refurbished walls of the historic Nimitz Hotel, the Admiral Nimitz Gallery is part of the National Museum of the Pacific War that spans seven of Fredericksburg’s acres.
The Conning Tower of the USS Pintado sits right outside the building, and a Japanese tank and miniature submarine accompany a collection of over 5,000 items that were used in the War of the Pacific. In 1976, in a symbol of friendship between the two nations, the Japanese government gifted the museum with the Japanese Garden of Peace—and it provides a calming sanctuary from the intense wartime exhibits. The museum is the nation’s only spot dedicated exclusively to the War in the Pacific, and as it continues to grow each year with exhibits, documents, and donations, has gradually become one of America’s best and most comprehensive military museums.
Home to some of the world's most unique modern art depicting Christianity, the Christian Arts Museum of Forth Worth has both excellent permanent and visiting collections. The pillar of its permanent collection is a life-size depiction of Da Vinci's famous paintingThe Last Supper, created in wax by sculptor Katherine Stubergh. The wax display has been in Fort Worth since the 1960s, though it was restored before being placed in the museum. Similarly to those in wax museums around the world, the figures are noted for their lifelike appearance. There is also a superb collection of paintings and handmade bronze crosses.
The exterior of the museum is grounded by two columns and an arched entryway that leads to its foyer and galleries. During the holiday season, the museum features rotating exhibits such as the Ark of the Covenant and nativity scenes from around the world.
Calling all thrill seekers! The Zero Gravity Thrill Amusement Park in Dallas is the only amusement park in the US exclusively dedicated to extreme thrills. With five different adrenaline-pumping adventures, the park offers free falls, high-speed drops, and spinning at four g-force for those who dare.
Described by visitors as more zoo than aquarium, the quaint Dallas World Aquarium provides a unique experience attractive to families. Feel like you’ve entered a real rain forest at the aquarium’s re-creation of the South American Orinoco Rain Forest, home to colorful birds and the only three-toed-sloth exhibit in the US.
Just minutes from the city but seemingly ages away, the Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens is a 14 acre estate that serves as part of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Once owned by Houston philanthropist Ina Hogg, the striking house is surrounded by beautiful gardens and manicured hedges and welcomes visitors year-round. Several ornamental gardens showcase both a classical attention to detail and an integration with the natural, wild woodlands. Many of the individual gardens are in fact named for a classical statue of a goddess within.
The house itself reflects changes in American architecture and style from the colonial to the Victorian era. It demonstrates both Southern/Spanish Creole and Northern influences in design. Inside, the stately collection of antiques furnishings, ceramics, paintings, textiles, and silver is one of the finest in the country. Nearly 5,000 objects on display collectively tell the story of American decorative arts from 1620 to 1870.
The sheer size of World War II era aircraft carrier USS Lexington is impressive, and yet the “floating museum” has even more to show once you step inside. At sixteen stories high, it is one of the larger ships available to tour in the world. Military artifacts and a dozen aircraft await in its interior, where exhibits tell the wartime stories from this period of history. There is also a flight simulator, 3D theater, and virtual battle stations to bring experiences to life.
The vessel was first commissioned in 1943, and ended up serving the United States longer than any other carrier in US naval aviation history. It played a major role in many battles, including the Battle of the Philippine Sea and the Battle of Leyte Gulf. After being decommissioned in 1991, the USS Lexington became a training vessel until designated as National Historic Landmark and becoming into the museum it is today. It is the oldest remaining in tact aircraft carrier in the world.
The Texas State Aquarium is a nonprofit organization devoted to wildlife conservation, educating visitors about the fish and other sea life—including dolphins, sharks, stingrays, and sea turtles—that are native to the Gulf of Mexico. The Corpus Christi attraction is the largest aquarium in Texas and one of the biggest in the United States.
With more than 33 attractions spread across 26 acres (10.5 hectares), Schlitterbahn Waterpark Galveston ranks among the biggest and best water parks in Texas. Among the thrills and chills are MASSIV (the world’s tallest water coaster), a wave pool, three river areas, white water rapids, heated pools, water slides, and a surf simulator.
An art deco building with floor-to-ceiling windows, rising up in the middle of Texas plains, unassumingly contains a renowned history museum. Having been called “the Smithsonian with a Texas accent,” the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum is the largest in the state with more than two million artifacts in its collection.
The site’s exhibits largely feature items of the American West, including pieces and historic artifacts of agriculture, geology, decorative arts, antiques, and textiles. There are athletics, transportation, and firearm artifacts, as well as an extensive collection of Native American art.
The museum does an excellent job of presenting and preserving the area’s unique history and culture to the visiting public. Permanent exhibits tell the story of early settlement of the Texas Panhandle, as well as the state’s oil boom and life of the American Southwest’s first pioneers. Originally formed to preserve the natural history and pioneer heritage of West Texas, the museum is maintained in partnership with Texas A&M University.
Transport to a time of knights, kings, and queens at Medieval Times in Dallas, a unique dining and live-action experience that’s entertaining for the whole family. Enjoy a four-course feast included with your ticket while you watch sword fights, jousting from horseback, and even falcons in flight.
With the capacity to hold over 180,000 spectators, Texas Motor Speedway is a massive oval of adrenaline, horsepower, octane, and energy just 30 minutes from Fort Worth. Home to some of America’s largest NASCAR and INDYCAR races, the Texas Motor Speedway hosts professional drivers who race at over 200mph (321 km/h) on the 1.5-mile (2.4 km) track. On days when there aren’t any professional races, travelers can experience the thrill of driving around the speedway’s banked turns, by signing up for a driving session where a professional instructor sits right by your side for six or eight laps around the track. Learn tips on how to race like the pros, and get a driver’s seat view of the famous speedway while roaring around the track.
Take a step back in time to 19th-century Texas at Fort Worth’s Log Cabin Village. Explore authentic log homes, a blacksmith shop, a one-room schoolhouse, a smokehouse, and a water-powered gristmill from the mid-1800s. Along the way, meet costumed interpreters that help bring history to life.
For a fun and educational family-friendly activity, head for the Austin Aquarium. Highlights include interactive exhibits and diverse animals on view—from stingrays and macaws to coatimundis and sharks. Nature enthusiasts shouldn’t miss the reptiles in the “rain forest,” and young scientists love watching the daily feedings.
Immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and smells of the Battle of the Alamo at the interactive Battle For Texas: The Experience. Learn about the epic battle as it comes to life through multimedia reenactments and a comprehensive collection of artifacts related to the Alamo.
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