Texas is the USA’s second-largest state, with an area of 268,820 square miles (696,240 kilometres squared), making it larger than any European country. Known as the Lone Star State, Texas’ lone star flag replicates the red, white and blue shades used in the American Flag. The colours of the state flag represent bravery, purity and loyalty. Texas is famous for cowboys, rodeos and, of course, big barbecues.
Food in Texas takes inspiration from its Mexican history, as well as Native American and American cuisine. Aside from tasty dishes, Texas is also famous for its role in the Apollo 13 mission where the world-renowned line “Houston, we’ve had a problem here” was received. Texas is fast becoming a cultural destination not to be missed with a wide variety of museums, theatrical performances and live music available.
Texas’ natural landscape is highly varied due to its vast size. Texas has 367 miles (591 kilometres) of coastline, giving it many spectacular beaches, often unknown by visitors. Its coastal regions create lush green plains, marshlands and estuaries. The central plains feature prairies, hilly pine forests and beautiful hiking trails. Hot, dry deserts see little rainfall but are populated with diverse species of flora and fauna. Texas is filled with variety and should be at the top of anyone’s USA itinerary. Here are 20 incredible landmarks in Texas not to be missed in this southern state.
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- Landmarks in Texas
- Natural Landmarks in Texas
- Historical Landmarks in Texas
Landmarks in Texas
Natural Landmarks in Texas
1- Caddo Lake
Caddo Lake is a maze of bayous and ponds on the Texas Louisiana border.
The area is covered in cypress trees overgrown with Spanish moss.
The lake was created by a logjam and is between 8 and 10 feet (2.44m and 3.05m) deep, depending on rainfall.
The bayous lead away from the lake and are around 20 feet (6.1m) deep.
Within the lake are more than 70 species of fish, making its waters popular with fishermen.
Caddo’s 50 miles (80 kilometres) of waterways also makes it a must-visit landmark for canoeing or kayaking in an area of staggering natural beauty.
Caddo Lake is at 245 Park Road 2, Karnack, TX 75661.
2- Caverns of Sonora
The Caverns of Sonora are some of the most beautiful show caves on earth.
The caverns have been open for the public to explore since the 1960s.
Discovered in the 20th century when a dog belonging to the Mayfield family chased a raccoon into a hole, the Caverns of Sonora were first explored in the 1920s.
Jack Burch, an Oklahoma caver, noticed in 1956 that the cave was damaged by human interference and had the vision to protect and preserve this beautiful natural landmark for future generations.
The caves are accessible through guided tours, where knowledgeable guides walk you through the caves explaining the history and work Burch carried out to preserve them.
Caverns of Sonora is at 1711 Pvt Rd 4468, Sonora, TX 76950.
3- Gorman Falls
Gorman Falls is in the Colorado Bend State Park and accessible by hiking over rocky paths for three miles (five kilometres).
Gorman Falls is a 70ft (21.34m) high waterfall and is fed from a spring.
Unlike many waterfalls, Gorman Falls is wide but is broken up by trees and rocks, creating the impression that multiple falls are streaming over the rock face.
There are several viewing decks at different heights to allow visitors the best possible view over this incredible natural landmark.
Gorman Falls is at Bend, TX 76824.
4- Palo Duro Canyon
Palo Duro Canyon is the United States’ second largest canyon and a must-visit landmark in Texas.
The 800ft (243m) deep canyon was formed over millions of years through water erosion and covers a large area of over 30,000 acres.
Within the canyon are viewing platforms offering the most spectacular vistas across the gorge and surrounding state park.
To encourage visitors to stay longer and make the most of this beautiful region, Palo Duro has a range of camping, glamming and cabin retreats available.
When visiting, look out for mule deer, horned lizards and bobcats who frequent the canyons dry and rocky landscape.
Palo Duro Canyon is at 11450 State Highway Park Road 5, Canyon, TX 79015.
5- Medina River
The Medina River is in the Medina Valley in South Central Texas.
Sourced from the Edwards Plateau, the river flows over 120 miles (193 km).
The river was named after Spanish cartographer Pedro de Medina in 1689 and is lined with cedar trees, oak trees and limestone cliffs.
The river is highly popular with kayakers and tubers who want to explore its lazy currents and rushing rapids.
Along the river are two small waterfalls; Chamblee Falls, a 10ft (3m) fall and a baby waterfall of 4ft (1.22m) which add to the scenery.
There are many companies in the areas surrounding the river that offer rentals of both kayaks and tubes.
Medina River is at TX 78055.
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6- Devils Waterhole
Devils Waterhole is nestled inside Inks Lake State Park and is an extension of the lake itself.
There are many conflicting tales surrounding how Devils waterhole got its name.
Some believe it came from a local landowner who would loudly curse when his wagon got stuck along the trail.
Others prefer the Native American story that the waterhole’s warm waters were heated from the underworld.
This natural swimming area is accessible only after hiking along a 1/4 mile (0.4km) trail.
The waterhole is also popular for diving and canoeing.
Devils Waterhole is at Inks Lake State Park, 3630 Park Road 4 West, Burnet.
7- Jacobs Well
Jacobs Well is known as one of the most dangerous diving spots in the world.
The waters surrounding the well are warm year-round at 20 degrees Celsius, which attracts many to its shores.
The well itself is a spring that stretches for more than a mile underground, eventually opening out into an intricate cave system.
The spring is millions of years old and for centuries was revered by Native Americans.
The spring water is crystal clear, which is a large part of its allure to divers who are willing to brave a dangerous dive that has claimed many skilled divers’ lives.
Jacobs Well is at Texas 78676.
8- Enchanted Rock
Enchanted Rock is one of the largest rock formations in the United States, the domed shale rock reaches 425ft (129m) high and has stunning sunset views from over Hill County.
Many Native American legends are associated with the Rock and linked to the mysterious sounds the Rock makes as the temperatures on its surface drop from scorching hot to icy cold as the sunsets.
There are also tales of ghost fires burning on the Rock during the night.
Enchanted Rock is at 16710 Ranch Rd 965, Fredericksburg, TX 78624.
9- Natural Bridge Caverns
Four college students, in the 1960s, discovered Natural Bridge Caverns, which is a must-visit natural landmark in Texas.
The caverns are formed from limestone and include a spectacular 60ft (18.29m) natural limestone bridge.
An underground river created the caverns as the water pushed through and widened tiny cracks in the limestone, gradually leading to the creation of large passageways and caverns.
The caverns consist of several underground passages, with the potential of more currently hidden beneath areas of heavy rubble.
Natural Bridge Caverns is at 26495 Natural Bridge Caverns Road, San Antonio, TX 78266.
10- Blue Lagoon
Blue Lagoon is loved by scuba divers from all over the United States.
The waters of Blue Lagoon get their hue from the spring that feeds it.
The lagoon is hidden behind a 30ft (9m) high limestone wall and thick forest, making it a tranquil and secret swimming location.
If scuba diving isn’t for you, the lagoon is also open to swimmers, hikers through its forests, and those simply seeking a relaxing location away from the hustle and bustle.
The lagoon is privately owned, and divers must pre-book scuba diving slots.
Blue Lagoon is at 649 Pinedale Rd, Huntsville, TX 77320.
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Historical Landmarks in Texas
11- The Alamo
The Alamo has more than 300 years of history tied to it.
Spanish missionaries founded The Alamo, then known as Mission San Antonio de Valero, in 1718.
The Alamo is famous for the eponymous 1836 battle that was part of the Texas revolution when Tejas, a Mexican state, became independent.
Following the battle, the Alamo remained a military stronghold and was home to the US Army.
During the American Civil War, control of the Alamo switched between the US army and the Confederates.
The Alamo is at 300 Alamo Plaza, San Antonio, TX 78205.
12- San Jacinto Battlefield
The San Jacinto Battlefield is a must-visit historical landmark in Texas.
The towering Texas monument marks the Battle of San Jacinto in 1836.
The short 18-minute long battle won Texas its independence from Mexico.
Texas state bought the battlefield in 1890 and transformed the once bloodied fields into a monument to the victory and a museum commemorating its history.
The museum includes manuscripts from early Texas and Mexico.
San Jacinto Battlefield is at 3523 Independence Parkway South, La Porte, 77571.
13- Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge
The 288m (945ft) Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge crosses Lady Bird Lake in Austin.
The bridge is named after Ann W. Richards, the 45th Governor of Texas and a life long resident of the city.
Following extensive renovations in the 1980s, migrating Mexican free-tailed bats made the bridge their home.
The bridge bats are part of the largest urban bat colony in North America, with between 750,000 and 1.5 million bats living there.
Each night the bats fly across Austin, with hundreds of locals turning out to see them.
Congress Avenue Bridge is at 100 S. Congress Avenue, Austin, TX 78704.
14- Texas Capitol Building
The Texas Capitol building is the largest state capitol in the United States.
The Capitol was completed in 1888 and features design inspiration from Renaissance Revival and Victorian interior design.
Many of the Capitol’s decorative items date back to the 1930s, including a curved sofa, grand chandeliers, and marble tables.
The Rotunda is worthy of landmark status in itself as its floor features the Great Seal of the state of Texas, surrounded by six seals, each representing one of the countries whose flags have flown over Texas.
Texas Capitol Building is at 1400 Congress Avenue, Austin, TX 78711.
15- Mission San Juan Capistrano
Mission San Juan Capistrano dates back to 1716, before being moved to a new location in 1731, where the mission stands today.
In 1756 the church was completed, and an autonomous community blossomed around it.
Within the gardens, melons, peppers and grapes were grown.
The farm has continued today and now has partnerships with local food banks, which offers a lifeline to the local communities.
The mission and its farmlands are open to the public.
Leisurely hiking trails also surround the mission.
Mission San Juan Capistrano is at 9101 Graf Road, San Antonio, 78214.
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16- Space Centre
Space Centre in Huston is an important landmark for science and space exploration.
The Space Centre opened to the public in 1992 after being used as NASA’s mission control.
The centre is still used as a location to train astronauts.
Within the centre are more than 400 space-themed artefacts, and the centre often welcomes travelling exhibits and experiences.
The centre’s key focus is on America’s space history, with an emphasis on human space-flight.
Space Centre is at 1601 NASA Parkway, Houston, TX 77058.
17- Fort Worth Stockyards
Fort Worth Stockyards is an incredible historical landmark in Texas.
Fort Worth is where the West begins, and its stockyards tell the story of Texas’s livestock history.
Fort Worth was an important rest stop for cattle drovers during the mid to late 1800s.
During its heyday, Fort Worth would see more than 4 million cows moving through the city.
Today, twice daily, a cattle drive is held to give visitors an insight into what life was like for the drovers.
Fort Worth Stockyards also has traditional Texas BBQ restaurants which serve up authentic Texan fare and exhibition halls that share artefacts from Fort Worths history.
Fort Worth Stockyards is at 2501 Rodeo Plaza, Fort Worth, TX 76164.
18- Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park
An important landmark for both Texan and American history is the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park.
The park tells the story of America’s 36th president, as he was born within its boundaries and was laid to rest at his LBJ ranch.
The LBJ Ranch was opened to the public following the death of Johnson’s wife in 2007.
Visitors can tour the home independently or with an organised group to take in the former Presidents home’s sights, with original furniture and objects from his life displayed.
Lyndon B, Johnson National Historical Park is at 1048 Park Road, Stonewall, TX 78671.
19- Dealey Plaza
Dealey Plaza has long been an important landmark in Dallas’ history.
Considered to be the gateway to the city, Dealey Plaza has had strong links with the United States presidents since President Roosevelt.
Dealey Plaza was rocketed into mainstream consciousness in 1963 when President Kennedy was assassinated in the plaza.
The site soon became an unofficial memorial site following the assassination.
The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza is an important landmark within the plaza.
The museum is inside the former Texas School Book Depository building from which the fateful shots were fired.
The museum showcases the assassination and legacy that followed the JFK shooting and other significant events in the plaza.
Dealey Plaza is at 411 Elm Street, Dallas, TX75202.
20- Deep Ellum Historic District
Deep Ellum is a must-visit location when in Texas.
The district began as a commercial area for African-American and European immigrants.
The area was established in 1873 and today has more than 20 historically recognised buildings.
One such building is the Continental Gin Company.
Robert S. Munger built the factory in 1888, and during its operational history, it became one of the largest manufacturers in the US.
Deep Ellum has always been an open neighbourhood, mainly when much of the south was segregated.
Deep Ellum was regarded as the first intentional desegregated area in the city, making all welcome.
Head into Deep Ellum today for incredible music venues, vibrant arts scene and community-driven vibe.
Deep Ellum is in Dallas.