You can throw a rock in Texas and hit a worthy landmark, but you'd need a pretty good arm to hit them all. We narrowed it down a bit. From the deserts of West Texas to Texas' eastern shores, here are 13 places in Texas to visit before you die.
Palo Duro Canyon
Palo Duro Canyon is the Texas Panhandle equivalent to the Grand Canyon. It's rocky limestone cliffs jut up from the Texas plains and form a ruggedly handsome backdrop for horseback riding, hiking, camping, bike riding, not to mention star gazing!
Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park covers over 800,000 acres of mountain and desert topography on the Texas/Mexican border. Scarcely populated, and ripe with wildlife, Big Bend is a true Texas treasure. Go here for the primitive camping experience of a lifetime. Or, just bring the kids along for a windy ride through the mountains.
Gruene Hall, Gruene
The 6,000-square-foot Gruene Hall was first erected in 1878 and has pretty much kept folks dancing in their boots ever since. Gruene Hall hosts national and regional acts every night. It is believed to be the oldest dance hall in Texas, and it is a must-visit destination if you love live country music and dancing.
The Frio River, Texas Hill Country
The Frio is a cool, crystal clear oasis of a river that flows through the Texas Hill Country. You can't really call yourself a Texan until you've floated a tube down the most relaxing river in Texas.
Padre Island Seashore
This beautiful stretch of the beach runs for miles along the Gulf Coast near Mexico and is a go-to spot for Texas beach lovers, surfers, windsurfers, sea kayakers, and fishermen. On the sandy shore, campers often light bonfires or simply rely on the bright Texas stars for overnight visits. Plus, a few times a year, you get to help release sea turtles into the ocean.
The U.S.S. Lexington, Corpus Christi
The Lexington, a.k.a the Blue Ghost, is the oldest surviving aircraft carrier in the world, and a world class museum. Commissioned for use in WWII, the Essex-class behemoth ship is a fine example of our nation's superiority in naval engineering. That the ship is permanently docked overlooking the gorgeous Corpus Christi Bay is only an added bonus.
AT&T Stadium/The Ballpark, Arlington
Home to the Texas Rangers and the Dallas Cowboys, respectively, the Ballpark and AT&T stadium are two must-see sports venues in Texas. The Ballpark exudes an atmosphere of traditional Texas charm with its red bricks and roomy breezeways. Next door, AT&T Stadium is like a massive spaceship rising from the earth. It's sleek, modern, and home to America's Football Team.
Schlitterbahn, New Braunfels
Nothing beats the Texas heat like a trip to Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels. With epic water slides, a killer lazy river, rollicking wave pool, and more than enough poolside bars, Schlitterbahn isn't just the finest water park in Texas. It's the finest water park EVER!
Fort Worth Stockyards, Fort Worth
It's hard to get more Texan than the Fort Worth Stockyards. Here, guests can saddle up at the local saloon and watch a live cattle drive, or boot-scoot on over to watch weekly rodeos and livestock shows.
Six Flags Over Texas, Arlington
Six Flags in Dallas is the flagship park for the Six Flags franchise. Divided up into parks that reflect the state's historical origins, and boasting such Warner Brothers characters as Bugs Bunny and Batman, Six Flags is a fun-for-the-whole-family park with roller coasters galore, water rides, and enough adrenaline to keep Superman himself excited!
Texas State Capitol, Austin
The Texas State Capitol building was the seventh largest building in the world at the time of its construction in 1885. The Capitol houses the Governor's office as well as the Texas Legislature. The Italian-Renaissance style main building is a true work of beauty, as is the 4-story underground expansion that sits below the surface.
Nasa Space Center, Houston
Texas might be called the Lone Star State, but to the folks at NASA Space Center in Houston, reaching for millions of other stars in our galaxy and beyond is just another day on the job. The Space Center in Houston is home to a large collection of space travel artifacts, like the Apollo 17 command module and the Lunar Rover, and is also a museum that highlights the accomplishments of the NASA Space Program.
The Alamo, San Antonio
Come on, this is an obvious front-runner! The Alamo all at once represents the romantic plight of the early Texan, the steadfast endurance of the Texas Spirit, and the sacrifices made in order to make Texas the Great State it is today. The Alamo is now a museum highlighting the Battle of the Alamo and its heroes, including William B. Travis, James Bowie, and Davy Crockett.