Things to Do in Texas - page 3
The signature weather of Houston is something to write home about – it’s hot. Really hot in the summer, and as Houston is a do-something city, the powers that be decided to do something about it – they built the Houston Downtown Tunnels. A series of interconnected and, bless them, air-conditioned tunnels running 20 feet below the surface of the street, the Downtown Tunnels connect restaurants, shops and office buildings and provide some much-needed respite from the Houston heat. A feat of engineering that connects 95 city blocks, the tunnels themselves are an attraction for the Houston visitor.
While you might expect a city of two million people to offer a downtown scene full of bustling people, you may find Houston’s streets oddly deserted – but that’s just because the real life of the downtown scene is happening underground. See it for yourself, and enjoy one of the most unique attractions in the entire southwest.
The oldest and largest zoo in Texas, the Dallas Zoo is home to hundreds of animals, including a herd of elephants, giraffes, cheetahs, ostriches, gorillas, and penguins. On the zoo’s 106 acres you’ll also find the Lacerte Family Children’s Zoo, a highly rated reptile and amphibian exhibit, and the only koalas in Texas.
Beyond anything you’d expect inside a mall, atSEA LIFE® Aquarium Dallas you can immerse yourself in the oceanic environment filled with sharks, sea turtles, stingrays, clownfish, jellyfish, touch tanks, and more. Visitors of all ages will love walking through the 360-degree ocean tunnel, watching fish swim overhead.
Mission Concepción, built in Spanish colonial style and dedicated in 1775, stands as the oldest unrestored stone church in the nation. Originally built to help convert local indigenous communities to Christianity, the mission is one of several that comprise the UNESCO World Heritage-listed San Antonio Missions.
The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum explores the two terms of the United States’ 43rd president. Several exhibits tell the story of American history from 2001 to 2009, including the terrorist attacks of September 11, while the nation’s second-largest presidential library welcomes visitors to peruse official records and artifacts from Bush’s presidency.
The famous roadhouse-style barbecue steak, brisket, and ribs are only part of the story at Billy Bob’s Texas, dubbed the world’s largest honky tonk. More than 6,000 people can squeeze into the Fort Worth venue to watch country music concerts, hit the dance floor, dine at the restaurant, play arcade games, or watch a bull riding contest.
AT&T Stadium (previously named Cowboys Stadium) is a top attraction for sports fans visiting Dallas. Located in Arlington, Texas, the stadium is most famous for its resident Dallas Cowboys football team and giant retractable roof. In addition to football games, the venue hosts concerts and other events year-round.
Marking the southern border of Houston’s Museum District, Hermann Park offers 445 acres (180 hectares) of urban parklands just minutes from downtown. With a lake, golf course, gardens, and plenty of space for outdoor activities, the park is an idyllic spot for city dwellers to escape the crowds or spread out a picnic blanket.
Built in 1782 out of Texas limestone and stucco, Mission San Jose is the largest mission in San Antonio, earning it the nickname Queen of the Missions. While portions of the church and its gristmill and granary have collapsed over the years, much of the structure has been fully restored to its original design.
Since Houston is known as “Space City” for its affiliation with NASA, it only makes sense that a downtown park commemorates the day that U.S. astronauts first landed on the moon. Named after the lunar Sea of Tranquility—a basaltic plain on the surface of the moon where the Apollo astronauts landed—the park today features a replica of a footprint that Neil Armstrong left on the moon.
The first words that the astronaut transmitted from up there are posted in 15 languages, so nearly everyone who visits can read the phrase: “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The eagle has landed.” Most impressive is the park’s fountain, which is designed in large, cylindrical formations to resemble the rocket boosters used on Apollo to get the men to the moon. The park also features craters and mounds meant to mimic the moon’s topography. Although, all lunar connections aside, this is a peaceful place for a pensive moment in the middle of bustling, downtown Houston, just steps from City Hall.
More Things to Do in Texas
Based in downtown Dallas, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science offers a variety of exhibits at its Victory Park campus. The museum features 60,000 square feet (5,574 square meters) of hands-on activities, interactive displays, games, and activities. Special events are planned throughout the year for both kids and adults.
Fort Worth, once known as Cowtown, is a city that never forgot its roots. You can see those roots still honored at the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District, where a Texas longhorn cattle herd takes to the streets daily. This festive ritual is exemplary of how the city continues to embrace its Cowboys and Culture brand.
Since 1993 the Alamodome in downtown San Antonio has been hosting sporting events like football and baseball games, conventions and concerts for crowds from around Texas and across the globe. With more than 65,000 seats the super-sized stadium has been home to the famed Alamo Bowl, Corps Classic and the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. It is the top destination for sports in San Antonio and is the perfect place to check out a soccer game or indoor football match.
Travelers can tailgate in the vast parking lot outside the Alamodome and tuck into classic Texas fare once inside.
Visitors who want to make the most of their trip to the Alamodome can check out the Institute of Texan Cultures, the HemisFair Urban Park or the popular River Walk, which are all nearby the center.
A prime example of southwestern architecture of the late 1930s, Houston’s City Hall was built to house the local government and state officials who do business within the city of Houston – but its long history doesn’t stop there. Originally built above a crowded fish market, City Hall has always entertained a lively commercial market, and today the towering structure sits relatively small among downtown's massive skyscrapers. Remnants of that long and lively history can be seen at the City Hall Farmers' Market located just outside the City Hall Reflecting Pool on Wednesdays in the spring from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., where local farmers sell everything from coffee to broccoli.
Inside Houston City Hall you’ll find various notable items all harkening back to the great lawgivers that came before us. From the aluminum medallions featuring Julius Caesar, Moses, Charlemagne, Thomas Jefferson and more, to the great marble stairways and specially cast aluminum doors, City Hall is both a step back in time and a contemporary look at modern law making.
J. Riely Gordon designed this iconic historical sandstone courthouse that’s stood in downtown San Antonio since 1896. The Romanesque Revival-style building has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1977.
Despite numerous renovations and reconstructions, travelers say the Bexar County Courthouse has managed to maintain its original charm. The courthouse remains a fully functional operation, with a network of tunnels connecting offices below the surface. But visitors say its external beauty is worthy of photographing—especially during the evening, when nearby streetlights cast a holy glow. Visitors may also enjoy photographing the courthouse during winter months when holiday displays offer a festive touch.
If wine, history, and culture served up with a landscape of spring-fed rivers and scenic rugged cliffs sounds divine, go to the Texas Hill Country. The lovely region, near Austin and San Antonio, includes historical Fredericksburg and oozes with Texas hospitality, sophisticated cuisine, outdoor adventure, and Lyndon B. Johnson stories.
Austin’s South Congress Avenue (SoCo) comprises a slew of hip, funky restaurants and boutiques south of the Congress Avenue Bridge. Stroll down the main drag, people-watch and window-shop, and marvel at the retro neon signs including the Austin Motel and Jo’s Coffee (home of the iconic “I love you so much” mural).
Known for "keeping it weird," Austin is home to impressive street art all over the city, but the HOPE Outdoor Gallery—a once abandoned construction site turned community park—is a special point of interest. The largest outdoor graffiti wall in Texas, the HOPE Gallery attracts muralists and artists from around the world, and has become an important part of city culture.
Layers and layers of color, words, and design make for interesting views throughout the park, and serve as a vehicle for expression of modern Austin life. Locals agree the park has taken on a life of its own with the often impermanent wall art constantly changing and evolving. Visit the park on any street art tour of the city to take in the views and learn more about this important community space.
Please note: The HOPE Outdoor Gallery (HOG) has closed its Baylor Street location. It will reopen across from the Austin Airport in 2020.
Some 23,500 gallons of water per minute gush over a silver semicircular 64-foot (20-meter) wall known as the Williams Waterwall. The sculptural fountain sits in Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park, a 3-acre (1.2-hectare) green area shaded by more than 100 Texas live oak trees. It’s become a popular backdrop for both Houston locals and tourists.
San Antonio’s Historic Market Square is filled with the wonderful sights, sounds, smells, and tastes you might typically associate with life south of the border. Stroll the indoor/outdoor malls filled with more than 100 vendors selling handcrafted pottery, leather goods, clothing, toys, and jewelry in the largest Mexican marketplace outside of Mexico.
The Hard Rock Café San Antonio has been a staple of the city's River Walk since its opening in 1995. The café provides three floors of patios from which you can enjoy signature food and drinks, listen to rock n’ roll classics, and look out over the tourist boats on the San Antonio River from Texas’ No. 1 tourist destination.
Like other Hard Rock Cafes around the world, the Hard Rock Café San Antonio features music memorabilia on the walls. Be sure to tour the restaurant and see various guitars, platinum records, and more. The Hard Rock Café San Antonio features Ozzy Osbourne’s black velvet jacket, Eddie Van Halen’s Charvel guitar, and a brick wall spray painted by Aerosmith during the 1994 groundbreaking ceremony.
The Hard Rock Café San Antonio offers space for large events of up to 400 guests as well, so is a perfect spot for a wedding reception or conference. You can reserve a patio, space inside the café, or even their private dinner barge.
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.
Like everything in Texas, the Natural Bridge Caverns are big. In fact, they are the largest known caverns in the state. Discovered near San Antonio in 1960, the Natural Bridge Caverns’ name is taken from the 60-foot (18-meter) natural limestone slab bridge that spans the entrance. During excavations, artifacts dating back to 5000 BC were unearthed. While the caverns are still being explored today, visitors can enjoy adventures ranging from underground cave tours to an enormous outdoor maze.
Housed in an imposing concrete building at the heart of Houston’s Museum District, the Holocaust Museum Houston is dedicated to the six million victims of the Holocaust. Reopened after extension renovations in 2019, its focus is to educate visitors about the Holocaust, honor the legacy of the victims and survivors, and offer hope for the future.
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- Things to do in Dallas
- Things to do in Houston
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