Texas, our second largest state, offers great attractions for vacationing families. The Lone Star State features a wealth of natural assets and cultural attractions. Texas’ world-class cities are packed with family-friendly tourist attractions. And Texas is filled with friendly faces, brimming with down-home hospitality, and is as gracious as a Southern belle.
Geographically, its south central location offers a diversity of landscapes, from desert regions to mountains, canyons, and cave systems. Texas offers something for everyone in the family. With so much to see and do it is hard to narrow the must-see attractions down to only 10. But here are my selections.
The Alamo Texans take the Alamo seriously! This shrine of Texas liberty in San Antonio is not only a must-see Texas attraction but is also one of the most popular historical attractions in the US. There is fun for the whole family – living history, firing demonstrations, tours – all free!
The official site for The Alamo
The San Antonio RiverWalk The Paseo de Rio also known as the River Walk is a public park that is open 365 days a year. It is a 15 mile treasure lined by stores, museums, restaurants, and other attractions. There’s always something going on. The River Walk offers something for everyone.
Texas State Capitol The public face of Texas, the Texas Capitol in Austin, is widely recognized as one of the most distinguished state capitols in the US. Just like the state itself, the sheer size of the building is impressive. It is free, open to the public, and offers tours every 15 minutes. These tours offer a mix of history and architecture. There is also a self-guided tour of the 20 monuments found in the 22 acre park.
For more information on the Texas State Capitol
Dallas World Aquarium Technically a zoological park, the Dallas World Aquarium is for kids and adults alike. You’ll get the aquarium experience but also an incredible indoor zoo experience. This makes a nice family afternoon stop on your tour of must-see Texas attractions.
The Sixth Floor Museum/Texas School Book Depository November 22, 1963 – the day President Kennedy was shot in Dallas – is a significant date in Texas history. The Sixth Floor Museum is another must see destinations especially for history fans. Formerly the Texas Book Depository, the museum is named Sixth Floor because that’s where the assassin Lee Harvey , Oswald fired the lethal shots at JFK. The museum is extremely popular and is always over-crowded so it’s best to visit early in the day.
An interesting alternative and possibly more appropriate for families with younger children is a cell phone tour of Dealey Plaza. It includes a dozen stops including the grassy knoll and JFK Memorial Plaza. It’s available in the museum’s bookstore for a small price.
For more information on the Sixth Floor Museum
Padre Island National Seashore Padre Island National Seashore is a national park located just outside of Corpus Christi that includes about 70 miles of undeveloped beaches and natural habitat. It offers a wide variety of opportunities for everyone to enjoy its natural beauty and wonder. Take a ranger tour while you’re there. Click Here for More Information
Space Center Houston This is an amazing place for adults and children. The museum is just one building in this NASA facility. For a good way to see more of the campus, take one of the tram tours (both is better.) The Space Center is extremely popular, over 800,000 tourists visit it annually so do these tours early in the day to avoid some of the crowds. There is so much to do and explore here – 100’s of exhibits, interactive games, tours, galleries and theater! Visit the Space Center website here.
Fort Worth Stockyards Historical District For a Texas cowboy experience try the Fort Worth Stockyards Historical District. There are cattle drives twice a day and a rodeo every Friday and Saturday night. Yes, it touristy but so much fun. While at the Stockyards you can have your picture taken on top of a live bull, visit the Cowboy Hall of Fame, dance at Billy Bob’s Texas, the world’s largest honky-tonk, shop in Stockyards Station (huge outdoor mall structure with railroad tracks, restaurants, shops), or get lost in the Cowtown Cattlepen Maze. There is a full day of activities for the whole family!
Big Bend National Park This US national park is home to more than 1,200 species of plants, more than 450 species of birds, 75 species of mammals and 56 species of reptiles. Big Bend is named after a stretch of 118 or so miles of Rio Grande River, one part of which forms a large bend in the river at the Texas-Mexico border. Majestic sunsets, deep canyons, scenic vistas, diverse wildlife, historic sites, and border culture are among some of the features your family will enjoy in Big Bend.
USS Lexington In Corpus Christi, your family can visit the oldest remaining aircraft carrier in the world. The USS Lexington was commissioned in 1943. It arrived in Corpus Christi in 1992 and has since served as a naval aviation museum, educational facility and popular area tourist attraction. See the Lexington from the inside out – walk under the wings of over 20 planes, from WWII Warbirds to Blue Angels, take on the challenge of the Virtual Battle Stations, ride the Flight Simulator, eat in the mess hall. Be prepared for a lot of walking and a lot of stairs in this 33,000 ton city at sea.