Howdy! On my month-long trip in Texas, I not only found out that the real Texans don't even say that but also learned a lot about the second largest state in the United States. I have collected my travel highlights and tips for Texas in this article in a bucket list for you.
My Texas Bucket List
While preparing my trip I was amazed again and again how diverse the US state is. Cities that never sleep, moon missions, freedom wars, national parks, wondrous antiquarian bookshops, … Texas is an underestimated destination. Here are the highlights on my Texas bucket list:
Experiencing history on the USS Lexington in Corpus Christi
I spent most of my one-month stay in Texas on the Gulf Coast in a city with a somewhat unusual name: Corpus Christi. It's also the eighth-largest city in the state.
High up my Texas bucket list is the aircraft carrier USS Lexington, which was already in use during World War II. After 40 years of active service for the US Navy, the nearly 266-metre-long ship is now in Corpus Christi Bay. It has been open to visitors since 1992 and gives an interesting insight into the history of the country and the ship.
The aircraft carrier was nicknamed The Blue Ghost and accommodated 80-100 aircraft on deck. By the way, this one is so big that you could play three football matches or fourteen basketball matches at the same time. Simply mind-blowing! Today you can still see some planes on deck and in the entrance area and learn about their stories. Although most planes are pure exhibits, there are a few selected planes that you can actually sit in.
Further information about the USS Lexington
Website USS Lexington | Open daily 9 am until 5 pm except for Thanksgiving and Christmas | Ticket fee 16.95 US$ | Parking 4 US$
More Bucket List Highlights in Corpus Christi
If you're travelling to Corpus Christi, make sure you stop by the Texas State Aquarium, walk along the promenade in the harbour and visit the statue of Tejano singer Selena, who was very popular in Mexico and the USA.
My tip: Padre Island is located outside of Corpus Christi and is ideal for a day trip. In the summer months, you have the amazing opportunity to watch recently hatched baby turtles on their first way into the sea. The park will inform you when and where on its website or on Facebook.
Where to stay in Corpus Christi
Travel to the moon in Houston
Can you even travel to Houston and not visit the Space Center? Have you then really been to Houston?
One thing's for sure: Visiting the Space Center Houston is an amazing experience! Every year, more than a million visitors marvel at the exhibits of US space history.
Be sure to plan a full day for the Space Center and let yourself be taken to other spheres and galaxies. Even in a full day, you won't be able to grasp the full extent of the NASA Johnson Space Center Visitor Center for manned spaceflight. So maybe even plan a whole weekend for it?
The Johnson Space Center is home to Mission Control and trains the astronauts of today and tomorrow – and with a bit of luck, you'll meet a real space pilot in one of the guided tours through the halls of Building 9.
My tip: The main building with more than 23,000 m² is impressive on its own, but make sure to hop on the tram to visit the Rocket Park with the Saturn V rockets, the training building with space mock-ups and the Apollo Mission Control Center, from where NASA's Gemini and Apollo missions were directed. In the Control Center, the first moon landing was also observed and commanded. Incredible, isn't it?
Further information about the Space Center Houston
Website Space Center | Open from 9 am until 5 pm; weekends until 6 pm except for Thanksgiving and Christmas | Ticket fee 29.95 US$ | Parking 5 US$
Where to stay in Houston
When visiting the Space Center, stay somewhere close to it. We recommend the Hilton Houston NASA Clear Lake, when your main priority is to visit the Space Center. Find hotels for Houston downtown at great prices here.
Walking on the Riverwalk in San Antonio
San Antonio is probably the city I liked best in Texas. Especially the Riverwalk in the centre of the city has impressed me – a green oasis along the San Antonio River, which is open to everyone. Along the 24 km long riverwalk you can do boat trips, kayak and bike tours. Stroll in the centre of San Antonio along the promenade and maybe you are lucky and are in the city while a special event takes place – it never gets boring at the Riverwalk.
Even if you only have a short time, it's worth visiting the Riverwalk in the Old Town area. You can start at the Convention Center or near the Alamo.
Further information about San Antonio Riverwalk
More Bucket List Highlights in San Antonio
In San Antonio, past and present are clearly visible, especially in the city centre. Historically, San Antonio is one of the most important places in Texas. The former mission The Alamo played a tragic key role in the war of independence against the Mexicans. Today the building is a museum dedicated to the historical treatment of the battle and the freedom associated with it.
Where to stay in San Antonio
On our visit to San Antonio we stayed at the Best Western Plus Downtown North. To be honest it's not very special, but the parking was included. Find more hotels in San Antonio in a central location on booking.com.
Find what you're looking for in Austin Antique Shop Uncommon Objects
A treasure chest of truly unusual things can be found in Austin in the one of a kind antique shop Uncommon Objects. Even if you have no intention of buying anything, I recommend a visit. Uncommon Objects seems like a lovingly curated museum that travels through time. Since 1991, the antique shop is a collective of 24 dealers who according to their own statements sell transcendental junk.
Further information about Uncommon Objects
Website Uncommon Objects | Open daily from 10 am until 7 pm | No ticket needed | Free parking available
More Bucket List Highlights in Austin
The capital of the state is also a good place to spend some time. How about a walk through the park of the State Capitol? Or go in search of the most beautiful street art walls in the city. A hotspot for this is the Hope Outdoor Gallery, where new works are created every day and where you can watch the artists create new colourful walls.
Where to stay in Austin
Great hotels in central Austin are Austin Proper Hotel & Residences as well as DoubleTree Suites by Hilton. In case you are looking for something a bit fancier and outside of the city, then The Arrive Elevated Estate on Lake Austin apartments might be the right choice for you.
More Highlights on my Texas Bucket List
Now that I have been able to get a good impression of the cities in Texas on my trip, although I haven't been able to visit all of them yet, the following cities are still on my Texas bucket list:
- Amarillo: Marvel at the Cadillac Ranch and the colourful cars that have been put into the ground.
- El Paso: Take a trip into the past of Old Southwest and explore the El Paso Mission Trail.
- Galveston: Walk along the Pleasure Pier and listen to live music in one of the bars. And then, of course, go scuba diving in the Gulf!
- Dallas: Spend an afternoon at the Dallas Museum of Art and get to know the artistic side of Texas.
- Fort Worth: Explore the surreal installation of the Water Gardens and the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District.
- Fredericksburg: Founded by a German settler in 1846, the city cannot deny its roots today. At the beginning of November, a kind of Oktoberfest takes place here – only they call it Wurstfest (sausage festival). Beer, Dirndl, Lederhosen and sausage are of course part of the party.
In any case, I have to go back to Texas to visit the cities and the beautiful – and in Europe quite unknown – national and state parks. At the top of my Texas bucket list are the parks:
- Guadalupe Mountains Nationalpark: This national park is said to be magical especially in autumn. How I would like to do a long hike through the colourful forests and enjoy nature there!
- Big Bend Nationalpark: A unique landscape with desert, mountains and the Rio Grande is what distinguishes the Big Bend National Park.
- Palo Duro Canyon State Park: Also known as the Grand Canyon of Texas, Palo Duro Canyon State Park is a paradise for outdoor junkies! Almost 50 kilometres of hiking and biking trails wind their way through the State Park.
Want some more Texas inspiration? On Travel Texas you can find more cities and regions to visit on a trip to Texas.
Travel tips and information for Texas
Best time to travel: Summer can get very hot and humid in Texas. For this reason, the other seasons and especially spring and autumn are perfect for a road trip through Texas.
Rental car: Even in larger cities like San Antonio and Austin it is relatively difficult to get from A to B without a car. If you only visit Houston, you will make quite good progress with public transport. Thus, a rental car is essential for a trip in Texas. For years I have been booking my rental cars via cardelmar, because they always have affordable all-inclusive insurance without a deductible. A must for every road trip adventure.
SIM card with data: Although there is free WLAN in most restaurants, bars, shopping malls and museums, a SIM card with data is of course super practical. It's best to get them before your trip, for example from providers such as Tourisim.
Travel inspiration Texas: On Travel Texas, you'll still find lots of destinations throughout the state – wanderlust guaranteed!
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