The second largest state in the USA, the state of Texas – aka the “Lone Star State” – has a wealth of natural assets and cultural attractions.
Geographically, its south-central location offers a variety of landscapes, from desert regions and cave systems to mountains, canyons and magnificent coastal landscapes along the Gulf of Mexico. Its world-class cities are also big draws and filled with tourist attractions. Highlights include a superb river walk in San Antonio (not to mention the famous Alamo); galleries and museums in Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston; the State Capitol in Austin; and the Space Center in Houston. Texas is also one of the most multicultural states, and Spanish influences in particular are still evident due to its status as a former colony of Spain.
The Alamo is one of the most important historical sites in America. Part of the mission station, established in 1718, was built by the Franciscans in 1744 and by 1836 had been converted into a fort. He became famous during the Texas Revolutionary War after a small force barricaded itself against an overwhelmingly superior Mexican army of about 3,000 men. While the defeat showed that all 187 defenders were killed – including such famous names as Davy Crockett – the cry of “Remember the Alamo!” rallied the state to eventually defeat the Mexicans. Today, more than two and a half million people visit this landmark annually to see the restored mission buildings and the cenotaph dedicated to the memory of the fallen Texans.
2 President Kennedy and the Sixth Floor Museum, Dallas
It was from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas that the fatal shot that led to the life of President John F. Kennedy was fired. Currently it houses the Sixth Floor Museum, this tall red brick building contains a detailed account of the assassination, as well as the Kennedy legacy. Highlights include reports on his presidential campaign and term as president, all supported by historical footage, photographs and artifacts. Also worth a visit is the nearby John Fitzgerald Kennedy Memorial, a huge monument dedicated to President Kennedy, unveiled in 1970.
3 Houston Space Center
The Space Center, just a 30-minute drive from downtown Houston, is not only one of the state’s most popular tourist attractions, but is also home to NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center and Mission Control Center for monitoring manned spacecraft flights. This is a fascinating insight into the activities of the world’s largest space program with many exhibits, film screenings, models, artifacts related to astronauts, and samples of moonstone on display in the Visitor Center. Other highlights include objects collected during the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space programs, as well as the opportunity to dress up as an astronaut, experience a space simulator and see real rockets.