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Texas is the second largest state in the United States, and it is also the second most populous behind California. This means that there are any number of places to visit and explore in this state, located in the south central portion of the country. The fourth largest city in the entire U.S. can be found in Texas, Houston, with San Antonio being listed as the seventh largest in the country. With summer months kicking into high gear, vacations and adventures are to be expected, and if one happens to be in Texas, there are any number of interesting and unique places to visit, the following is a list of just 15 of those locations.
Up first is Bishop’s Palace in Galveston, Texas. This Victorian mansion was completed in 1892, and has approximately 17,420 square feet of living space. It was the home of Colonel Walter Gresham. He was a soldier in the Civil War, an attorney, a Texas Legislature member, as well as an entrepreneur. Seven days per week there are tours held through the mansion.
The River Walk in San Antonio is another top attraction in the state, with a history that dates back to the 16th Century. There are river boats for hire, museums, restaurants and parks that visitors can explore. The area is considered to have a vibrant cultural and social scene. This scene draws in both visitors and residents alike to the area.
Probably one of the most obvious places that needs to be included on a list of 15 unique places to visit in Texas, would have to be the Alamo. Although the battle that was held at this location has an immense amount of significance in history, not only for the state, but also for the country, the location itself is small and rather unassuming. Sitting in the south central portion of Texas, is a white chapel made of stone, which acts as the entrance. From there, visitors get to see the Long Barracks, plus a number of artifacts that chronicle the history of this landmark location.
For history buffs, there is Lyndon B. Johnson’s childhood home, in Johnson City. The former home of the President of the United States is part of the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park. Visitors can take part in a free guided tour every 30 minutes. These tours run daily.
Another presidential birthplace can be found in Denison, Texas. To commemorate the 34th President of the United States, visitors can take a tour of the Eisenhower Birthplace State Historic Site. There are tours with guides of this location that occur Tuesday to Sunday.
The Texas State Capitol in Austin was once known as the seventh largest building in the world. The grounds are open to the public and there are monuments to commemorate significant moments in the state’s history. This includes the monument, Heroes of the Alamo. There is also the rotunda which is known as a “whispering gallery.” Even a whisper can be heard on the other side of the room.
Sticking to Austin, there is also the Governor’s Mansion. Since 1856, this historic home has housed all of the state’s governors. Although reservations are required, there are free guided tours offered Wednesday’s through Friday’s from 2 until 4 p.m. local time.
In Dallas, there is the Dallas World Aquarium. Not only does the aquarium house a number of endangered species and educate visitors about conservation efforts, but there is also a replica of the Orinoco Rainforest on location. Here visitors can see toucans, three-toed sloths and ibises. Combined with the aquarium, the rainforest offers people a chance to witness a number of awe-inspiring wonders.
Orange, Texas offers visitors the chance to visit the W.H. Stark House. Stark was an influential businessman who moved into the house in 1894 with Miriam M. Luchter. The two lived there until 1936. The Victorian home houses a large variety of unique and rare finds that the two collected over the course of their time there. Visitors can see these pieces from around the globe every week from Tuesday to Saturday.
The Padre Island National Seashore is a national preserve stretching 70 miles over undeveloped coastline. The park contains prairies, beach scenes, dunes and tide pools. Due to the nature of the area, it is virtually a glimpse into the past with the undeveloped nature of the land.
In Houston there is the Space Center which allows visitors a chance to experience the golden age of space travel. One can see the equipment and spacecrafts that were part of the race to space for the United States. Among the spacecrafts that people can view are one’s from the Apollo and Gemini missions, and there is even a Mercury 9 capsule.
In Fulton, Texas there is the George Fulton Mansion, one of the first Second Empire style buildings to be built in the state. Completion of the mansion occurred in 1877 and was owned by Colonel George Ware Fulton, who was a pioneer in both the meatpacking and ranching industries. Although there is currently preservation work going on, which has halted tours until later on in 2015, visitors may still enjoy just driving by to see the unique architecture of the mansion.
The Spanish Governor’s Palace in San Antonio is a National Historic Landmark. It is one of the last real visual reminders of the Presidio San Antonio de Béjar. It is also the only example of a Spanish Colonial townhouse that is still standing. Tours are offered of this slice of history at any time during the week, from Tuesday to Sunday.
The Moody Gardens in Galveston, Texas offers visitors a place that is unique and special. There are three distinctive pyramids that separate the gardens. There is the Rainforest pyramid which offers visitors a chance to see the flora and fauna that can be found within the ecosystem, as well as highlighting the importance of conservation. Then there is the Aquarium pyramid. This pyramid offers seals, sharks and penguins as a highlight. The third pyramid is the Discovery pyramid. Here traveling exhibits are hosted and displayed. On top of the attractions of the pyramids, there is also the Moody Gardens zip line, the Palm Beach water park and even a ropes course.
Speaking of Galveston, Galveston Island rounds out the 15 unique places in Texas to visit. This island which can be found off the shores of the eastern part of Texas offers visitors any manner of activities to partake in. There is bird-watching, hiking, fishing, camping, and any other manner of outdoor activity to enjoy. Visitors can take a driving tour of the island to see the sites and what this location has to offer.
While this list of 15 unique places to visit in Texas offers visitors to the state a number of locations to visit, there are a number of other interesting places that can also be included. From the Woodland House in Huntsville which was the home of Sam Houston for a number of years, to the McFaddin-Ward House in Beaumont, which is possibly one of the last Beaux-Arts Colonial style buildings left in the U.S., to the Moody Mansion in Galveston, which is a Romaneque style mansion that was once owned by the family that helped establish the cotton industry, the state of Texas has a lot to offer. If one is looking for something to do in Texas over the summer, there are many options for the adventurous soul.
By Kimberley Spinney
Only In Your State – You’ll Want To Visit These 15 Houses In Texas For Their Incredible Pasts
attractions of America – Texas Top 10 Attractions
TSHA – The Handbook of Texas Online
Featured Photo Courtesy of Jimmy Emerson, DVM’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
River Walk Photo Courtesy of V.T. Polywoda’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Moody Gardens Photo Courtesy of Galveston.com’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Governor’s Mansion Photo Courtesy of J. Stephen Conn’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License