When it comes to historical landmarks in Texas, both natural and human-made, you won’t find any richer state in the US. Being the second-largest one and bordering Mexico, the history is rich and the national landmarks are scattered throughout. In this post, I will share all the major ones that you should not miss
There is something for everyone to discover in Texas, whether an artist, history buff, or outdoor enthusiast. These 31 famous Texas landmarks will enrich your travels in Texas.
Traveling Texas is no easy task as driving from top to bottom can take 16 hours. Known for its cute beach towns on the coast and its year-round warm weather you can find sunflower festivals and lavender fields throughout the state. While discovering its beautiful landscape make sure to explore the state’s history.
National Landmarks make it easy to know exactly what you want to see on your trip to the Lone Star State and this guide will help you decide which famous Texas landmarks are a top priority for you.
You can easily spend a few months in the state and still not see them all. Many of the historical landmarks that define the independence of Texas are in the South, while events that changed the history of the United States, such as the assassination of President Kennedy are in the North.
Escape to Austin for natural landmarks or to El Paso for plenty of art exhibits.
Strap on your boots and your cowboy hat and get ready to explore the great state of Texas with this guide to 31 famous Texas landmarks.
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Famous Texas Landmarks – Historical sites
South Congress Bridge
If you are wondering what makes this bridge one of Texas’ great landmarks it is not necessarily the bridge itself, but what resides in the bridge.
South Congress Bridge is located in Austin Tx. Starting in late March until mid-fall you can see thousands of Mexican free-tailed bats fly out for the night creating a dark cloud flying around Lady Bird lake.
Locals and tourists will flock here every single night to watch these nocturnal animals take flight.
They begin escaping the bridge around 6:30 for sunset. Make sure to get there early as there will be a crowd. My favorite place to watch from is on a paddleboard under the bridge itself!
Remember the Alamo! One of the most famous sayings in Texas History. The Alamo mission is a must-visit when in San Antonio, Texas. In 1836, the Battle of the Alamo took place and was where Texas fought for its independence from Mexico.
The siege lasted 13 days led by Davy Crockett. Around 200 men fought under the command “Victory or Death”. On the final day, March 6th, all the defenders perished in the 90-minute battle giving victory to the Mexicans.
Fear not! This was the start of the Texas revolution that led to the rest of Texas coming together against Mexico. Sam Houston led Texas to victory over Mexico a few months later at the Battle of San Jacinto.
The rallying cry at San Jacinto was “Remember the Alamo” helping those at the battle to forge on and gain independence from Mexico.
San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site
This famous landmark is located right outside of the city of Houston. The San Jacinto Battleground is where the San Jacinto Battle took place and where Texas won its independence.
The site was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960.
On-site, the museum of history will take its visitors through the timeline of Texas winning its independence over Mexico and what led to the San Jacinto Battle.
View the 567-foot national monument that celebrates the sacrifice and victory the “Tejanos” had in 1836.
Ever wanted to sleep in Teepees and see Prada on full display? I know I know, those two things don’t really go together, but that’s exactly what the small hippie town of Marfa is.
A little town in far west Texas that brings people and artists from all over the world to see the Prada Exhibit.
This commission is a permanent land art project that was done in 2005, it houses real pieces from Prada’s 2005 collection and continues to bring visitors from around the globe to take pictures and explore this little town.
Marfa is very far west, making it the perfect weekend getaway. I recommend staying in the teepees at El Cosmico for the full small-town experience and making sure to eat a famous burrito at Marfa Burritos!
Also, check out some of the most amazing hot springs in Texas nearby.
Cadillac Ranch is not much of a ranch but a public art installation from 1974 by Chip Lord, Hudson Marquez, and Doug Michels.
Just west of Amarillo on the famous route 66 you will see some eclectic Cadillacs sticking straight out of the ground, this is Cadillac Ranch.
The installation is 10 Cadillacs that have been buried deep into the ground with the back ends of the cars sticking up. They have now been in the ground longer than they were driving on the road.
Make sure to bring your can of spray paint as it is now encouraged to leave your mark when visiting the art installation. It is free to visit and open 24/7, making it an easy pitstop on any road trip in the panhandle of Texas.
Mission San Jose
Mission San Jose is the largest mission in San Antonio, Texas. The Spanish missions are where communities would live and hold church ceremonies.
Most of the missions were founded around 1716. San Jose was once a fully self-sustained community and the church was a place of refuge for the Native Texans.
Artisans sold and traded artifacts, farming equipment, and fruits and vegetables.
Join a walking tour and visit the missions that are still standing and learn how the indigenous people were forced into Europeans ways of living for survival.
The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
One of Dallas’ most historic landmarks, the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, houses John F. Kennedy and the memory of a national exhibit.
The exhibits explore the 35th president’s life, assassination, and the legacy left in America. The museum presents different programs on a weekly basis that look deep into one of the most public deaths to happen in the United States.
Tickets are $18 dollars and the museum is open Wednesday-Sunday 10 am-5 pm.
The Capitol Building
The Capitol Building in Austin was established in 1888 and has since been recognized as one of the nation’s most distinguished state capitols and was stated as a National Historic Landmark in 1986. The Capitol played a vital role in the history of the American legislature.
They hold a 1-hour long tour every day at 1 pm and take you through the history and legislature of Texas. Once the history of the tour concludes you will be able to explore the inside of the building as well as the outside.
You are able to see the whole city from the capitol building, as it has one of the highest viewpoints in all of Austin once you reach the dome.
San Antonio RiverWalk
Right in the heart of San Antonio and known as the #1 tourist destination in San Antonio, The Riverwalk is a must-see when in Texas.
The Riverwalk is currently 2.5 miles long and the city of San Antonio is continuously expanding it. Every year the city throws a river parade during the week-long Fiesta celebration in the Springtime.
This is the perfect time to visit as the weather is cooler and you will be able to experience all of the different floats and maybe even catch some bead necklaces.
The main part of the river has plenty of hotels to stay at and restaurants to eat a nice meal. If you walk the whole thing you will be guided to many different tourist hotspots in San Antonio, including the Pearl brewing company, the Alamo, and 5 Spanish colonial San Antonio missions.
Fort Worth Stockyards
The Fort Worth Stockyards is a historic district in downtown Fort Worth. In the late 1800s this area operated as a stockyard that was a market for private sellers to sell their cattle to individuals. Now it is known for its funky bar scene and late-night bull riding.
As the last operating stockyards in the US, you will still see some Texans driving cattle through the area every now and then.
Enter the stockyard museum to learn the Texas history of how cattle drives brought so much business to north Texas. This is a fun area to spend a Friday or Saturday night. Make sure to stop by M.L. Leddy’s for a pair of real cowboy boots and keep your eyes peeled for a cattle drive.
John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza
Located in West Dallas, near The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza you will find the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza. A tribute to the former president who was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.
The memorial was constructed in 1970 and consists of a 30ft high and 50ft wide block with an open center that appears to be floating.
It has become a statement piece in the Dallas architectural landscape.
Dallas has arguably one of the best skylines in the United States. One of the best places to see it is from Reunion Tower.
A famous Dallas landmark with plenty of educational activities for the whole family and an incredible outdoor viewing platform to take in the whole city.
Join a yoga class on the weekends or painting with a view for a fun activity. A ticket to the observation deck is $18 dollars, make sure to stop by the bar for a glass of bubbly as you watch the sun go down!
Galveston East End Historic District
In the South of Texas in Galveston, you will find 50 blocks of the largest historic homes in all of Texas. Constructed in the 1800’s and were the homes to the rich and famous in the south of Texas.
This district was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1976 and is protected by the city and continues to host special events throughout the year welcoming visitors from all over.
Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park
Just outside of Austin is the birthplace of our 36th president, Lyndon B. Johnson. In Johnson City, Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park protects the birthplace, ranch, and grave of the late president.
The park is open to visitors free of charge Tuesday – Sunday from 10 am-5 pm and is the perfect place to explore the life of Mr. Johnson and how he went from a small-town farm boy to the 36th president of the United States.
While in Texas you may see an interesting flag flying with the words “Come and Take it” on it with a big black cannon.
This flag was created to fly high during the Battle of Gonzales when the Texas colonists were tempting the Mexican army to come and “take” their cannon back.
This battle is reenacted at Pioneer Village in Gonzales Texas each year as this was a defining moment in our separation from Mexico.
While at Pioneer Village you can see how they used to live in the 1830’s and walk amongst actors dressed in colonial clothes.
Casa Navarro State Historic Site
San Antonio is home to so many Texas Historic Landmarks that you could spend a week here and still not see them all.
One of my favorites is the Casa Navarro State Historic Site. It feels like a personal experience as you walk through the home of Jose Antonio Navarro.
He was one of only two native Texans to sign the Texas declaration of independence.
He was a rancher and merchant in South Texas. The Historic Site allows you to explore his adobe home that was constructed in the 1850s and learn about his life under the rule of the Republic of Texas, Mexico, Spain, and lastly the United States.
Fulton Mansion State Historic Site
As one of the earliest empire-style homes in the United States, the Fulton Mansion State Historic site is the perfect place for fans of architecture to explore.
The mansion was built in 1877 by one of the most affluent families in Texas, the Fultons.
Walk the corridors, and have tea in the garden before heading to the back of the house where an interactive museum is located and the historic center.
Discover the ways the Fultons lived and how the city continues to preserve this detailed mansion.
Port Isabel Lighthouse
What once was a lookout point during the civil war is now one of the only operating lighthouses along the Texas coast.
Built-in 1852, this allowed for commerce to take place from Louisiana to the Rio Grande and brought loads of business through the Texas border.
The lighthouse is open Monday- Friday from 9 am to 5 pm. Learn about the early settlers that used the lighthouse as a guide and climb to the top for an outstanding view. This is one of the best ways to see the Texas coast.
National Museum of the Pacific War
While Texas has a variety of museums, the National Museum of the Pacific War is one of the best. It was named the 5th best historical museum in the United States in 2020.
This museum takes its visitors through the history of the Pacific War and is dedicated to all those who served.
The museum holds thousands of transcripts, documents, and written interviews with the veterans of the war. The museum focuses on Admiral Nimitz as the Commander-in-Chief of Allied Forces, Pacific Ocean Area.
In Corpus Christi, Texas the USS Lexington is a must-visit. As one of the world’s oldest aircraft carriers, this ship was commissioned in 1943 to join the 5th fleet at Pearl Harbor.
During that period, the ship was referred to as the “blue ghost” as the Japanese reported the boat to have sunk at least 5 times, but as we can see, each time it returned to battle as if it were a ghost haunting them.
The ship survived all of the attacks until the war was over and remained in commission for a few more years.
The museum has a self-guided tour that will take you to their flight deck. This allows you the chance to get up close and personal with 20 aircraft as well as lets you test your aviation skills in their interactive flight simulator. The museum is open every day from 9 am-6 pm and costs $18.95.
Space Center Houston
As a kid I always dreamed of becoming an Astronaut, and Space Center Houston makes that almost a reality with their immersive interactive learning center.
The Houston Space Center has over 400 things to see and do and is full of science and space collaboration. The center has a connecting tram to NASA headquarters where you can discover the inner workings of the Johnson Space Center and the Apollo Mission Control Center.
Look into the world beyond us in their “becoming an astronaut” interactive exhibit or learn how NASA put the first man on the moon!
As one of the best landmarks in Houston, the center is a must-visit in South Texas. Open every day from 10 am-5 pm and tickets cost $29.95.
The most Popular Natural Landmarks in Texas
Palo Duro Canyon
The second-largest canyon in the United States is a historic landmark in Amarillo Texas. Palo Duro Canyon is just 30 minutes away from the city and is full of adventure.
The Canyon is 120 miles long and can get as wide as 20 miles in some places. The Canyon is typically explored by foot but also welcomes cars, mountain bikes, and even horses. The park’s entrance fees are $8 a day.
If you have a few days to explore the rugged canyon I recommend trying the newest addition to the state park, glamping. Perfect for those that love the outdoors but don’t want to give up their comfy bed.
Padre Island National Seashore
In the South of Texas, near Corpus Christi, you will find one of the few hypersaline lagoons in the world at Padre Island National Seashore.
This natural national landmark is where the Gulf of Mexico turns into the Laguna Madre Bay and protects 66 miles of the natural landscape and untouched beautiful beaches.
During the springtime you can witness the releasing of protected sea turtles back into the ocean. The National Seashore is one of my favorite places to explore by kayak as motorized boats are not allowed to preserve the marsh.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Texas is full of natural beauty and the best way to see it is from the highest peak in all of the state. The Guadalupe peak will give you insane views of deep canyons, high points, and views for miles.
The national state park is located in West Texas in the Chihuahuan desert.
The best time to visit is in the fall when the weather has cooled down a bit and the fall foliage is on full display.
Make sure to hike the McKittrick Canyon Trail for the best views in the Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Discover the local history and visit the world’s most extensive Permian fossil reef at the visitors center.
Colorado Bend State Park
Discover one of Texas’ most popular natural waterfalls in Colorado Bend State Park.
The 65ft Gorman Falls flow continuously down into the Colorado River and bring a serene sound to the expansive park.
Deep into this part of the hill country, you will discover sinkholes, caverns, and river activities all within your campsite.
This famous Texas landmark is located about 2 hours from Austin and has 35 miles worth of hiking trails. This is also a great park to stop by for an afternoon and enjoy a picnic by the water.
Located about 17 miles north of Fredericksburg Texas, you will find one of Texas’ most well-known hiking areas.
Enchanted Rock, 11 miles of pink granite rock in the Texas Hill country. In 1971 it was designated as one of the natural national landmarks in the United States.
Grab a tent and spend the night in the park to experience a glorious sunrise and get on the trails before the Texas heat makes it too unbearable to reach the top of the granite dome.
The best time to visit is in the spring or fall as the weather can easily reach 100 degrees before noon in the summer.
Big Bend National Park
In the South of Texas, Big Bend National Park is calling all nature lovers. The national park has over 800,000 acres and encompasses many different terrains from mountains, rivers, deserts, and canyons.
Many hikers start in the south and spend 3-5 days hiking the terrain and sleeping under the starry night sky.
Big Bend is home to Chisos mountain. It is the only national park in the United States to have a complete mountain range.
If you only have a day in this incredible park I recommend taking the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. You will be able to see most of Big Bends’ terrain as well as get out and explore a bit.
Garner State Park
My personal favorite state park in all of Texas is Garner State Park! This natural Texas landmark is located in Concan, in the Texas Hill Country.
With its winding clear river and its incredible hiking trails, it is easy to spend a full week here. Bring your tube to float down the 2.9 mile Frio River and enjoy some Texas sun.
The park holds a dance every night in the summer, bring your boots and jump in the line dance for a night under the Texas stars.
During the day you can hike up Mount Baldy for a panoramic view of the whole park and the Frio River.
Right in the middle of Downtown Austin, you will find a national natural landmark, Barton springs.
A swimming area that is filled with water from natural springs in the surrounding area. In the summer this is the best place to be in Austin.
The water is refreshing as it has a year-round temperature of 72 degrees.
Before it became popular it was a sacred spring to Native Americans where they would hold cleansing ceremonies. Make sure to stop by to swim when you’re in the city.
Hamilton Pool was named a natural preserve in 1990 as the limestone ridge creates a 50 ft waterfall over the swimming hole. This is one of my favorite parks in lone star state. Just a 30-minute drive from Austin.
The park has plenty of hiking and bike trails, and knowledgeable guides to lead you through the natural landscapes as some of the trails are a bit steep and rocky. I recommend having good shoes with some ankle support.
You need a reservation every day of the week, so make sure to check their website before heading out there as a limited number of people are allowed in the park at a time.
Natural Bridge Caverns
One of my favorite places to visit in the hill country is the Natural Bridge Caverns.
Located right outside of San Antonio these caverns are one of Texas’ most famous natural landmarks. The caverns were discovered in 1960 by 4 college students.
The deepest part of the cavern is 180ft below the ground and remains a cool 70 degrees year-round.
You will be able to explore ancient rock formations and large underground chambers.
Tickets to the caverns range from $20 to $30 depending on when you buy them. The further in advance, you purchase them the cheaper they will be.
I hope you enjoyed reading about the most popular landmarks in Texas and this article helped you organize your trip in this amazing state.
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About the Author
Carae is a born and raised Texan and a lover of new places and adventure. She has been traveling around the world solo for 3 years now. She moved to West Africa in hopes of seeing the world and has not been disappointed. She has met the coolest people and believes to have seen the prettiest places and never wants it to stop. You can follow her travels at caraeofsunshine.com