There’s no better state to explore during your summer vacation than colorful and lively Texas; just be prepared to narrow down your options. Holding the distinction of America’s second largest state at 262,015 square miles, Texas features several metropolitan areas, including Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin, and quaint small towns to enjoy on your Lone Star getaway. You might feel overwhelmed by the state’s sheer size and variety of festivals, fairs and distractions, but don’t let this stop you from enjoying one of the America’s most thrilling and breathtaking areas. The following options are just a handful of the sights, sounds and oddities to explore on your Texas summer vacation.
Explore the Waters
Texas boasts an impressive 367 miles of shoreline along the Gulf of Mexico’s northwestern arc. This doesn’t even include the additional thousands of miles stretching across the bays, rivers and islands found along the Gulf Coast and throughout the state. Each year, millions of tourists flock to Texas to relax on the beach, picnic on the sand or simply take in the sheer variety of birds and other sea life, many of which are native to Southern Texas. Book a hotel in Corpus Christi, and spend your days exploring the beach, or if fishing is your sport of choice, several of lakes found throughout Texas, including Falcon Lake, Lake Fork and Lake Amistad, produce trophy caliber large-mouth bass.
Theme and Water Parks
No family friendly Texas retreat is complete without a visit to one of the state’s numerous theme and water parks. You cannot throw a dart at a map of Texas without hitting a town or city that boasts an amusement park. Featuring a variety of rides and attractions for children of all ages, Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio is home to the state’s only “floorless” rollercoaster and several other rides to satisfy your thrill-seeking children. For the younger members of the brood, the park offers milder Looney Tunes-themed attractions, a parade and kid friendly shows.
There’s no getting around the oppressive summer temperatures in Texas, making a trip to one of the state’s numerous water parks the ideal, wet and wild distraction. Located on the “chilly” Guadalupe River, Schlitterbahn Waterpark is the state’s oldest aqua-centric theme park. The park is notoriously busy during the summer, but don’t let that stop you from visiting that unique sight nestled in Germanic Hill city of New Braunfels.
Texas State Capital
Located in the picturesque city of Austin, the Texas State Capital is a must-see if you traveling through the state’s central region. Walking tours are offered daily and take visitors through not only the main bulk of the Capitol building itself, but also the legislative chambers, Governor’s office, State Library and the offices and courtroom of the original Texas Supreme Court.
Space Center Houston
If you leave early from your hotel Houston Texas has a full day’s worth of exciting tourist attractions. One of Texas’ most visited is the Space Center Houston, and allows you to relive your childhood aspirations to be a full-fledged astronaut. While there, take in the history of America’s space program before joining in on one of the numerous interactive displays and activities, most notably the “Feel of Space.” It’s an experience that’s akin to the weightlessness astronauts feel in space. Allow your child to immerse himself in the space program by enrolling him in one of the space center’s many day camps, which frees to you explore the restaurants, bars and shopping centers in around your hotel.
Visited by over two million tourists annually, the Alamo is a window into Texas’ past and on the state’s most significant historical landmarks. Originally a mission and open for more than 100 years before the famous 1836 “Battle of the Alamo,” the sight is a place of reverence that allows parents to teach their children about this country’s varied and complicated past.
Step off the beaten track to explore some of the notoriously odd attractions Texas has to offer. Among them are the Marfa Lights. The lights are generally witnessed along stretches of U.S. Highway 67/90 near the small town of Marfa, and appear as a strange glow across the barren and windswept lands. There are many theories, but the light’s true cause is still a mystery today. You might even notice the red eyes of a famous Texas werewolf, if you stare into the dark night as well!
The oddities don’t stop there and if you’re looking for an all-inclusive, spooky experience, visit one of the state’s dozens of haunted mansions and hotels. Visit during the light of day, but if you have the intestinal fortitude, bunker in for a night of spooks, specters and chills.
This article was written by Charles Watkins, a Texas native who enjoys traveling and exploring the United States.