Parents will also drag their own feet along to whatever hellacious and exhausting petri-dish of a torture chamber that their kids like to go. Sometimes, when you become a parent, you realize that the things you found to be endlessly entertaining as a child are actually awful places for adults, and so you’ll end up boring your own children at the same places your parents tormented you, thereby completing the circle of disappointment.
Fortunately, in Texas, we’ve got some pretty unique adventures that span the chasm between what parents and kids enjoy. So if you’re raising some little Texans and don’t want to have to choose between something you will like and something they will like, check out this list of 15 things no Texas kid should miss. These are places you’ll enjoy whether you’re bringing your own kids, or you’re just a kid at heart.
Take a ride on a steam train
Take a trip into the past with Austin Steam Train Association! You can take one of several historic steam trains to many different destinations across the Lone Star State. The original cars are refurbished to their former glory and you can purchase tickets in different classes just like in the old days.
Go to the Texas State Fair
There is no better state fair than the Texas State Fair. Kids will love the rides and treats, as well as the live music and livestock shows. The Texas State Fair is a great place to make memories, since no one ever forgets seeing Big Tex for the first time.
Watch a meteor shower
There’s a reason that the stars at night are known to be big and bright deep in the heart of Texas. There is ample countryside around here to find a dark place and watch the stars shoot across the sky. To find out when the next meteor shower will be, check stardate.org, or similar astronomy sites.
Visit the original Schlitterbahn
Schlitterbahn may have expanded to three new locations across the state of Texas but the best is definitely the original in New Braunfels. The hill country location spans 70 acres and boasts world-famous waterslides and attractions.
Go to the Texas Folklife Festival
Where else in the state can you learn about every culture that has come together to form the melting pot of Texas? At the Folklife Festival in San Antonio you can watch native dances and sample native dishes from all around the world! Take the kids to see a clog routine and then try some international fare for lunch! The kids will have so much fun that they won’t even realize they’re learning until it’s too late. MUAHAHAHA!
Go to a rodeo
You don’t have to go to a big city to participate in this Texan tradition, here in the lone star state there are exceptional rodeos in pretty much every town no matter how small. Roping and riding events are super exciting for kids to get to witness, and childhood is when heroes are made.
Camp at Big Bend National Park
Camping anywhere is fun for kids, but camping in Big Bend just takes the cake. Nowhere else in the state can you see such massive geological formations among unspoiled landscape.
Swim at Hamilton Pool
What do you get when you combine a cave and a lake? An incredible place to swim and keep cool in the summer! Hamilton Pool is absolutely magical, and is so picturesque that it has been featured in National Geographic among other publications.
Go to one of the Six Flags theme parks
Even though AstroWorld is no more, Texas is still home to some other Six Flags theme parks, such as Fiesta Texas in San Antonio and Six Flags over Texas in Arlington. No Texas childhood is complete without a visit to one of these parks.
Go to South Padre Island
Let’s be honest, y’all. With all the sediment from the Mississippi River washing onto Texas’s beaches, South Padre Island is pretty much the only place you can see blue waters in our state. Don’t just make the eight hour drive for the water though, South Padre is also home to plenty of marine life that is absolutely captivating for children.
If you want to really amaze your kids, take them to one of Texas’s many underground caverns. The delight in simply venturing deep into the earth alone is enough to make kiddos excited, and inquisitive adults as well. The caverns are geological wonders and pretty remarkable. Natural Bridge Caverns and Innerspace Caverns are two of the most prominent caverns systems in Texas.
Speaking of caves...check out some bats
Between Summer and Autumn, Texas is an ideal place to view the Mexican Free-tailed Bats as they depart their dwellings for the evening. There are large colonies in Austin and San Antonio, and it’s an awe-inspiring sight for any animal-loving kiddos.
Visit one of the state's large zoos
Image via Elizabeth Abrahamsen
Texas is home to several first-rate zoos. Houston, Fort Worth, Dallas and San Antonio may come immediately to mind, but there is also a zoo in Waco, the Cameron Park Zoo. And in Corpus, though it’s not a zoo, the Texas State Aquarium is no less impressive.
Visit the Renaissance Fair
Okay, so maybe this one won’t be as palatable to many adults, but it’s the closest thing your kids are ever going to get to visiting Camelot. There are several fairs and festivals across the state, but the most well-known is probably the seasonal Renaissance Festival in Magnolia, Texas.
Visit the Dr Pepper Museum
Texas’s answer to the fictitious Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory, the Dr. Pepper Museum is a living monument to the Lone Star state’s favorite soft drink. Located in Waco, the museum is open for tours or even available to rent.