Being new to Texas, we are slowly discovering our new home state, and loving all of the new adventures. During quarantine our family decided to create a list of things to do in Texas once we are ready to travel again. Here’s everything we have on our Texas bucket list.
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The Texas Bucket List
When you are looking for the best things to do in Texas, the sheer size of options can be overwhelming. Use this ultimate bucket list of Texas to help plan your next vacation and find new things to do in Texas!
Things to do in Amarillo
1. Learn about the history of aviation at the Texas Air & Space Museum located at the Amarillo International Airport.
2. You’ll find the second largest canyon in the world located in the great state of Texas. The Palo Duro Canyon in Canyon Texas is part of the state parks system. There is a wealth of outdoor recreational activities throughout the park.
3. Spend time learning about the history of Texas through the visual experience of the Texas Outdoor Musical, located within the Palo Duro Canyon. It is a family friendly musical portraying the struggles and triumphs of the settlers of the Texas panhandle in the 1800s.
4. Take a walk on the weird side when you visit Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo. This stop along Route 66 is an art installation of old Cadillac cars that have been partially buried in the ground from their hood standing upright. Over time they’ve morphed and changed with each visitor as each one leaves their own graffiti art on the cars. Bring your spray cans!
5. Find yourself on the famous Route 66? Be sure to stop at U-Drop Inn in Shamrock to see the iconic visitor’s center that was made famous by the Disney Pixar movie, Cars.
Things to do in Austin
6. Built in 1888, the Texas State Capitol located in Austin, is a marvelous architectural building that houses the offices of the governor and the Texas legislature.
7. Just east of the state capitol is the Texas State Cemetery. Since 1851 this site has been the burial place of many of Texas’ government officials.
8. Named after the first lady of the US namely Lady Bird Johnson, Lady Bird Lake is located in Austin Texas. The lake is a great place to enjoy boating and kayaking along with hiking around the lake.
9. The largest bat colony in North America is located in the heart of Austin. Following a 1980 renovation of the Congress Avenue Bridge the Mexican free-tailed bats migrated to and made their home beneath the bridge. Annually from March to early fall these bats take to flight each evening and watching them is breathtaking. This is one of our favorite things to do with kids in Austin.
10. Country music fans should head to the Broken Spoke in Austin for live music, great dancing and delicious Texas food. It bills itself the “last of the great Texas dance halls”.
11. Visit the town of Luck Texas, an Old West town that was built as the backdrop of a movie called The Red Headed Stranger. Located on the outskirts of Austin, in the backyard of Willie Nelson, it frequently hosts music and food festivals.
Things to do Near Austin
12. Enjoy a luscious slice of pie at the Blue Bonnet Cafe in Marble Falls, serving comfort food since 1929.
13. Take a walk beneath the ground in the Inner Space Cavern outside of Austin. The cavern was discovered in 1963 and opened to the public in 1966. With cathedral sized rooms, halls and a few tight spaces the area maintains a constant temperature year-round. Don’t be surprised if you spot a few ancient animal bones on your tour.
14. Everything’s bigger in Texas they say and that’s what you’ll discover at Round Rock Donuts. Their world-famous Texas sized donuts sure do live up to the name.
15. The Hamilton Pool Preserve in Dripping Springs Texas is a natural spring in the limestone fed by underwater rivers. It’s the perfect place to cool off in the summer, but be sure to make a reservation in advance.
16. Take a drive across the last standing, and drivable wooden suspension bridge in Texas. The Regency Bridge in San Saba was built in 1939 and crosses the Colorado river.
17. Don’t miss Gorman Falls in Colorado Bend State Park in Bend. This 70 foot tall spring fed waterfall is one of the tallest in Texas!
18. Lockhart Texas is a meat lovers mecca. This town boasts some of the best BBQ in Texas and will challenge you to discover it all. Will you take the Lockhart Challenge by eating at their four BBQ joints in one day?
Things to do in Dallas/Fort Worth
There are so many things to do in Dallas with kids, and it’s often overlooked. Don’t miss these fun options in DFW.
19. Visit the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealy Plaza, located in downtown Dallas. This museum features the life, legacy and assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
20. The Nasher Sculpture Center hosts both contemporary and modern artwork. Works are housed in the center and outside in a sculpture garden. Located in downtown Dallas it is considered to have one of the finest sculpture collections in the world.
21. Experience breathtaking views of the Dallas Skyline at Reunion Tower from the 470 foot GeO-deck with 360 degree panoramic views of the city.
22. Get your picture taken with Big Tex at the State Fair of Texas.
23. Catch a game at AT&T stadium and watch the Dallas Cowboys take on their opponents. In the off season you can book a tour of the facilities.
24. The Fort Worth Stockyard is an iconic National Historic District which epitomizes the history of Texan culture. You will enjoy taking a stroll along the original brick paved walkways and watching the twice a day cattle drive.
25. The architecturally designed Fort Worth Water Garden is an amazingly engineered oasis located in the heart of downtown. With three water pools visitors will be amazed as they take a stroll through this incredible urban feature.
26. Your heart will thrill as the engines roar when you watch a race at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.
Don’t miss our favorite Dallas day trips!
Things to do near DFW
27. Grapevine Texas is known as the Christmas Capital of Texas. The town turns into a Christmas wonderland for forty day span each season and schedules a myriad of Christmas events, and every one shouldn’t be missed!
28. Take a fun walk through digital time by touring and interacting in the National Videogame Museum in Frisco near Dallas Texas.
29. Don’t be embarrassed to use this first of its kind Glass Bathrooms in Sulphur Springs Texas. The restrooms have everything you need to relieve yourself with windows that allow you to see the panoramic view. Don’t worry, they’re designed so that you can see out, but no one can see in. Or so they say. You’ll have to find out for yourself.
30. Take a tour where the dinosaurs once roamed. The Dinosaur Valley State Park located in Glen Rose, TX boasts visible dinosaur tracks in the river valley. Don’t miss the nearby Fossil Rim Wildlife Center where you can feed wild animals from the comfort of you car!
31. Fans of the famous television show Dallas can visit the ranch where the show was filmed. South Fork Ranch features the Ewing mansion, tours, and memorabilia from the 13 seasons of the show.
33. Visit the Eiffel Tower just two hours north east of Dallas in Paris, Texas. This 65-foot-tall replica of the original features a giant Texas sized cowboy hat at the top.
34. The Texas state flower is the Bluebonnet, and each spring the state comes alive with this amazing floral display.
You won’t want to miss having a picnic in a bluebonnet field. And like all true Texans, get your photo taken among the little blue buds. Start in Ennis, the “Official Bluebonnet City of Texas” and take this ultimate bluebonnet drive.
Things to do near El Paso
34. The Wyler Aerial Tramway at Franklin Mountains State Park near El Paso will take you on an adventurous ride on Swiss style gondolas. The cable spans 2500 feet, and takes riders 5,000 feet above sea level and 240 feet over a Texan canyon. You’ll be able to observe the vast Texan plains and see for thousands of miles when you read the peak.
35. Discover the four highest peaks in Texas at the Guadalupe Mountains National Park located about 100 miles east of El Paso. It contains a diverse environment of mountains, canyons, and deserts.
36. The scenic drive in El Paso will wow you as the sun sets and the lights of El Paso lights up.
Things to do in Hill Country
37. When traveling in Texas a little two-step is in order. And there is no better place to two-step than at Gruene Hall, the oldest dance hall in Texas.
38. Plan a visit to Bavaria. Um, I mean Fredericksburg Texas where German settlers built a beautiful town that is a perfect mesh of old world Germany and Old West style. You’ll enjoy meandering through shops and discovering the local food scene.
39. An 81 acre nature preserve surrounds the artesian spring known as Jacob’s Well located in Wimberley. The spring is fed by an underground aquifer which sits in a cave system that is about 140 feet deep and a mile long.
You can swim the creek and spring but cave diving is only for permitted research professionals. The surrounding nature preserve offers hiking, bird watching and other recreational activities.
40. The Twisted Sisters in the Texan hill country is three connected roadways that has over 200 twists and turns that make for a thrilling ride no matter the form of transportation.
41. At Enchanted Rock State Natural Area you’ll discover a giant pink granite natural dome formation. You’ll be able to go camping, geocaching, stargazing, hiking and more when visiting this Texas state park in Fredericksburg.
42. The Painted Churches will take your breath away from the moment you step in the doors. These elaborate gothic churches were built by German and Czech immigrants who brought their old-world culture to the Hill Country of Texas.
43. Take a tour of President Lyndon Johnson’s ranch near Stonewall Texas, his birthplace and lifelong home. He died there in 1973 and is buried on the property.
44. The Mayan Dude Ranch in Bandera gives you a taste of cowboy life. Take horseback rides, learn to rope, and watch a rodeo. You’ll be able to feast on a home cooked ranch meal and learn to talk like a real cowboy.
45. Have a meal at the Old Spanish Trail Restaurant in Bandera to learn about the rich Spanish, Native American, and cowboy history of the region.
46. Stop to have your photo taken in McCulloch County where the geographical center of Texas is located. Be sure to check out the Heart of Texas Historical Museum while you’re there.
Don’t miss our favorite Texas state parks!
Things to do in Houston
47. Space Center Houston is home to NASA’s Mission Control center and where visitors learn about the history of the space program. There are rockets, shuttles, and a behind the scenes look at space exploration.
48. Washington on the Brazos is where Texas became Texas. This location is where Texas’ first 59 delegates met to declare their Independence from Mexico.
49. About 20 feet below the streets of Houston you’ll discover the Lamar Tunnels which are 6 miles long. You’ll enjoy shopping and dining in this cool underground world.
50. The Children’s Museum of Houston is a science based museum featuring hands-on activities, puzzles and learning opportunities for kids of all ages.
51. The Kemah Boardwalk located in Houston is a classic American boardwalk situated on the Gulf of Mexico. You’ll discover restaurants and rides to explore as you walk along the waterfront.
52. Nothing says cowboy quite like a rodeo. That’s why you’ll want to see the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
Things to do near Houston
53. Really step back in time when you visit the Texas Renaissance Festival. Experience an authentically recreated village of the 16th century at this ultimate gathering in Todd Mission Texas.
54. You’ll want to go antique shopping at Round Top with its picturesque buildings, old homes, and miles of antiques to peruse.
55. Take the whole family to enjoy the Texas sized steak and the best burger in Texas at Mel’s Country Cafe.
56. Discover how the Lone Star state came to be as you learn about the San Jacinto Battle when you visit the monument in La Porte Texas.
57. Give a wave to Sam Houston, or his 67 foot tall statue in Huntsville. Mr. Houston was the governor of both Texas and Tennessee, as well as first President of the Republic of Texas.
Things to do in San Antonio
58. One of the most popular tourist attractions in Texas is surely The Alamo in San Antonio. This will forever be remembered as the site where Texans took their last stand against the Mexican army as they fought for independence. After a visit, be sure to visit the other missions around San Antonio, including our favorite San José.
59. Stroll along the San Antonio River Walk, in San Antonio, Texas. You’ll enjoy the historical ambiance coupled with modern restaurants and shopping. We highly recommend Christmas in San Antonio and a ride on the river to see the carolers.
60. Since 1891 San Antonians have celebrated the memory of the Alamo heroes with a parade and fiesta. You’ll love joining in the fun of Fiesta San Antonio.
61. Sea World San Antonio is a 250-acre marine mammal sanctuary and water park. You’ll be awed by amazing animal shows, water slides, and roller coasters.
62. The Natural Bridge Caverns in San Antonio are natural geological caverns that can be explored. Take guided tours of the caverns and also enjoy many other attractions such as ziplining and fossil hunting.
Things to do near San Antonio
63. The Gonzales Memorial Museum pays tribute to the people who died gaining Texas independence. You’ll see the “Come and Take It” cannon that was used to fire the first shot of the battle.
64. Any true Texan will tell you that chili doesn’t have beans. Discover true Texas style chili at the Phoenix Saloon in New Braunfels where chili powder was invented.
65. Visit the most famous ice cream shop in Texas, Blue Bell Creamery in Brenham. They’ve been making ice cream since 1907 and have long been a favorite of Texans and non-Texans alike.
66. The Lost Maples State Natural area is beautiful year round, but it’s especially gorgeous in the fall when the leaves start to change. Plus, it’s a great place to view the vast Texas night sky in Vanderpool.
67. Visit the Spanish Colonial Presidio La Bahia in Goliad, Texas. Built in 1749 to protect the Spanish missions in South Texas, the fort was the site of the Goliad Massacre, one of the most infamous events of the Texas Revolution.
Things to do in Waco
68. Hidden in the heart of Texas is a little-known pastry treat which originates from the Czech Republic. This pillowy soft treat has become a local favorite. What is it? It’s the Czech Kolache. When driving between Austin and Dallas don’t miss the Czech Stop near Waco. It’s worth it to enjoy this delectable treat for breakfast or an after-dinner treat.
69. Learn about Texas’ favorite drink at the Dr. Pepper Museum in Waco. Take a tour and experience the “King of Beverages.”
70. With the popularity of the tv show “Fixer Upper” came the development of all things Chip and Joanna Gaines. Magnolia Market at the Silos is their shopping complex in Waco, complete with shops, food trucks, a garden shop, and bakery.
Things to do in East Texas
71. Hot air balloons as far as you can see ascend into the sky at Longview’s Great Texas Balloon Race each July. It is a world class event that attracts competitive pilots from around the world.
72. When you discover the Tyler Rose Garden Center in Tyler Texas you’ll be visiting the country’s largest public Rose Garden with 32,000 bushes and 600 varieties of roses.
73. Visit Pittsburg Hot Link Restaurant to experience their Texas famous hot links. Pittsburg Texas is the hot link capital of Texas and hosts an annual Texas hot link festival!
74. Caddo Lake State Park has a marvelous swamp with towering cypress trees draped in Spanish moss. You can hike, canoe, fish, and even stay in historic cabins.
75. The Davy Crockett National Forest is named for the legendary pioneer. The forest covers over 160,000 acres of East Texas and has excellent trails, horseback riding, and wildlife.
Things to do in South Texas
76. Discover the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, a 100 acre nature preserve of cultivated gardens and wild landscapes. It is home to over 200 species of wild and naturally occurring butterflies and nearly 300 species of wild birds.
77. Big Bend National Park is full of rugged mountains, steep canyons, and amazing views. There are several scenic drives, hiking trails, and even river trips through Santa Elena Canyon. Don’t miss the opportunity to see the night skies here since light pollution is minimal and it is an International Dark Sky Park.
78. Visit the people of the desert in the ghost town of Terlingua Texas and experience a walk on the unique side. Enjoy food and fun at the Terlingua Starlight Theater, an adobe that once had only the stars for a ceiling.
79. Padre Island National Seashore is located between the Gulf of Mexico and Laguna Madre along the southern coast of Texas. There are seventy miles of coastline with dunes and prairies filled with wildlife.
The area is a safe zone for the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle and during the summer, you can help release turtles that have hatched along the beach. South Padre Island is a wonderland of nature, history, and beauty.
80. Visit the first capital of the Republic of Texas in West Columbia and take a tour through history.
81. You might not think about exotic birds when you think about Texas, but in the Rio Grande Valley and the town of Brownsville you’ll find wild parrots along with about 500 species of tropical birds who flock to the area.
Things to do in West Texas
82. The Desk of Hancock Hill is a Texas bucket list must. Discover the history of its installation in the beautiful surrounding countryside and be sure to leave a message in the notebook documenting your visit.
83. In MacKenzie State Park in Lubbock Texas you’ll discover Prairie Dog Town. It’s the first protected prairie dog colony established in the 1930s.
84. Sledding in the summer, or anytime of the year, is a must in Texas when you visit Monahans Sandhills State Park.
85. Discover the ancient rock art in the Seminole Canyon State park. The pictographs are a testament to the ancient tribal community that lived here many millennia ago.
86. The Marfa Lights of Marfa Texas are often called Mystery Lights. This spectacular night sky phenomena draws visitors from around the world. No one knows what causes they mysterious lights to appear in the night sky and they appear as white, red, and even blue randomly throughout the night.
87. Take a cruise on the winding mountain roads of West Texas in Big Bend County and you’ll find yourself at the Davis Mountains State Park. Stay at Indian Lodge (an historic motel within the park), enjoy hiking and explore all that the region has to offer.
88. Just how brave do you think you are? Since 1958 Sweetwater Texas has hosted the world’s largest Rattlesnake Roundup each March. Are you brave enough to enter a hunt?
89. In Southwest Texas get a glimpse of the clear, spring fed waters of Devil’s River State Natural Area. You’ll start out with a one-mile hike from the parking lot, and after that you can enjoy swimming, paddling a canoe, or fishing the river.
Must Visit Places for Your Texas Bucketlist
90. If there is one thing Texas is known for in the culinary world it is BBQ. Be sure to experience mouthwatering good brisket or fall-off-the-bone ribs. Of course there will always be debate about what is the best place to find the best Texan BBQ, to help Texas Monthly has this list of the Top 50 Barbecue Joints in Texas.
91. No visit to Texas is complete without a stop at a Buc-ees convenience store. I know, you’re thinking why would a convenience store be on a Texas bucket list? Believe me, once you stop, you will understand why.
92. Every Texan knows that when it comes to fast food Whataburger is the place to get a quick meal. If you have a chance check out their double decker flagship store in Corpus Christi.
93. Every day is taco day in Texas. From morning breakfast tacos at Torchy’s to late night tacos at Chicos. I’ve never had a bad taco in Texas.
94. Visit the three Presidential libraries in Texas: George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas, the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum located in College Station, Texas and the LBJ Library in Austin.
95. Texas boasts some gorgeous beaches and you’ll find this list of the 10 Best Beaches in Texas to be a good way to find the ones you want to visit.
96. Go Tubing on the River at many of Texas’ great rivers.
97. There’s nothing more refreshing on a hot summer Texas day than jumping into one of the state’s many Swimming Holes.
98. Check out the Texas water parks because everything is bigger in Texas! Some favorites include: Schlitterbahn (New Braunfels, Galveston, and South Padre Island), NRH20 Family Waterpark (North Richland Hills), and Splash Town (San Antonio).
99. Get your fill of delicious food at one of the state’s many food halls. We recommend: Legacy Food Hall (Plano), Bravery Chef Hall (Houston), and Fareground Food Hall (Austin).
100. Go fruit picking! Texas is the perfect place to find the juiciest peaches, blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries. Find the closest one to you at PickYourOwn.
Hopefully this list has provided plenty of ideas to help make a bucket list of Texas. We think the state is pretty great, and we can’t wait to get out an explore!
Book Your Flights
You can find discounted fares using sites like Momondo or Skyscanner. If you want to keep an eye on discount fares, we suggest signing up for Scott’s Cheap Flights, a daily newsletter with flight sales around the world.
If you travel frequently, consider investing in a Priority Pass for airport lounge access. It’s nice to have a space where you can relax before your flight.
Book Your Accommodation
We regularly use Hotels.com and Expedia.com to find lodging when we travel. It’s a great way to compare vacation rentals, hotels, and resorts.
If your family knows they want to stay in a vacation rental, we recommend looking at VRBO and Plum Guide.
Book Your Transportation
For rental car agencies, try Rentalcars.com. We tend to use Hertz simply for the quality of service.
Book Your Tours and Travel Photos
We regularly used companies like Viator and GetYourGuide to book tours when we travel. Both have great communication and a large variety of activities that work for all ages.
If you’re visiting a city with multiple attractions, be sure to check out a discount pass, such as CityPASS or Go City. Tiqets is another place to purchase tickets for attractions.
Context Travel is another option and they offer more educational based activities. The former teacher in me loves their tours.
One of our favorite things to do annually is take photos with Flytographer. They have photographers around the world and we’ve used them on four separate occasions. This is our favorite travel souvenir.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
With the state of travel these days, it’s important to have some type of travel insurance to cover any unforeseen accidents, illnesses, threat or cancellations. We always travel with insurance and would recommend SquareMouth, Travelex, or Medjet as good options. And if you want to compare different insurance options, use Travel Insurance Master to find the best policy for your group.