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The best tourism spots in Texas for the whole family

As the second-largest state in America, with a rich cultural and historical legacy, Texas has long been a popular tourist destination for family vacations.

From rugged mountains and plains in the west, to a lengthy coastline with famed beaches along the Gulf of Mexico, Texas has something that everyone in the family can enjoy. 

It also boasts some of the nation’s best museums, historical sites and cultural attractions.

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Its major cities include Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth, San Antonio and the state capital, Austin.

As these cities are located in a triangular pattern on the eastern side of the state, it is entirely feasible to conveniently visit them all on a family road trip. Transport is made even easier by the state’s excellent highway system.

Downtown Houston, Texas

Skyline of Houston, Texas (John Coletti via Getty Images)

Space Center Houston

Houston is the largest city in Texas, and Space Center Houston is arguably its premier tourist attraction.

It is a science museum and official visitor center for the NASA Johnson Space Center. It features three spacecraft, Mercury 9, Gemini 5 and the Apollo 17 command module. In Independence Plaza, you can find the world’s only space shuttle replica.

A Mission Mars exhibit offers an opportunity to learn about future planned travel to the red planet, while a virtual reality wall and real-time Mars weather forecast provide an other-worldly sensation.

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Space Center Houston’s tram tours are the most popular way to see all the attractions, and also feature visits to Rocket Park and astronaut training facilities.

San Antonio River Walk

In nearby San Antonio, the city’s famed River Walk has long been popular with tourists of all ages.

It’s a 15-mile complex of canals, biking and hiking trails, and walkways, packed with history museums, fine dining and shopping. It also features the historical site The Alamo.

River Walk is broken down into three sections: Museum Reach, Downtown and Mission Reach, and they can be toured on foot, on bicycle or by boat.

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Top attractions include The Pearl, a complex of Second Empire-style buildings, the Grotto, where you can walk into a jaguar’s mouth, and the San Antonio Museum of Art, featuring impressive Greek, Roman and Egyptian collections.

The Alamo

The Alamo is a family-friendly museum located on the site of a former Spanish mission and fortress, which commemorates 1836’s famous Battle of the Alamo.

It excels in engaging children of all ages in history, with scavenger hunts and worksheets designed to make learning about history enjoyable. Make sure to allow time for the church and the gardens.

The Texas State Capitol

The impressive Texas State Capitol, in Austin, is a must-see on a family vacation.

It features a wealth of history, with a wide variety of statues and monuments, including the Heroes of the Alamo Monument, and the Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument.

Texas State Capitol

The exterior of the Texas State Capitol on Sept. 5, 2023, in Austin. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

The structure, built in the Italian Renaissance Revival style, features a 302-foot dome and a massive open rotunda. 

It was modeled on the design of the U.S. Capitol, but, true to the local geology, features an exterior clad in local red granite.

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden

Dallas is located in the state’s northeastern corner, and one of its most family-friendly and popular attractions is the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden.

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Here, you can stroll amid acres of beautiful, vibrant flower gardens, and view the largest collections of cacti and succulents in the Southwest. The famous color garden is 6.5 acres, while the site includes numerous varieties of azaleas as well as many types of daffodils, tulips and pansies.

Located on the shores of White Rock lake, it is best viewed in spring. Children will enjoy the eight-acre Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden, which is designed to bring earth sciences and nature to life.

Pinnacle Trail in the Chisos Mountains

The Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park in Texas (U.S. National Park Service/CA Hoyt)

Big Bend National Park

Finally, for nature lovers who are up for a drive further west, approximately 6 and a half hours from Austin, Big Bend National Park is arguably the state’s finest.

Featuring the rugged Chisos mountain range and the Chihuahuan Desert, its hiking trails delight. Make sure to see the Santa Elena Canyon, which features steep limestone cliffs, and the Langford Hot Springs, where you can relax in the 105 degree mineral water.

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There are ample opportunities for hiking, boating and outdoor camping abound.

For more Lifestyle articles, visit www.foxnews.com/lifestyle.

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