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Combine a trip to South Padre Island with a visit to the Rio Grande Valley and what do you get? Sun, sand, and surf -- not to mention sombreros, shopping and sightseeing. These destinations in the southern tip of Texas promise not just fun in the sun but plenty of educational sites, family fun, and ecotourism activities as well.
For many air travelers, their first look at this region is the Brownsville/South Padre International Airport. With a quick flight from San Antonio, you'll soon be on your way traveling this region (it's just a 30-minute drive from South Padre Island), but don't miss a look at Brownsville itself.
Brownsville, Texas's southernmost city, offers families a wild time--at the zoo, that is. Children love the Gladys Porter Zoo, one of the country's top 10 small zoos and home to over 1500 species ranging from African animals to local reptiles. If you visit the zoo on a Sunday afternoon, you can hop a ride on the Safari Express, a small train that tours the zoo from 1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m., weather permitting.
Nature lovers also find plenty of birding sites in the Brownsville area. Locally, you can grab your binoculars and bird guide and head to Camp Lula Sams, Boca Chica wetlands, and the Sabal Palm Audubon Sanctuary. Many sites are part of the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail and local guides are available for tours.
Ready to shop 'til you drop? Brownsville is known as a gateway to Mexico's Matamoros. In Brownsville, follow TX 48 downtown to the convention center and park at the municipal lot, then take a quick five-minute walk across the International Bridge. A short taxi ride will transport you to the mercado for silver jewelry and other Mexican crafts....read more »
Art and Culture in Texas
Texas is full of art and culture, from the ancient Native American limestone pictographs, to World War II memorabilia, to modern day theatre and opera. It would be impossible to list all of the Texas attractions worth visiting, but here is a small collection of some of the best things to see.
One Texas attraction visitors will not want to miss is the Alamo in San Antonio. Only a short distance from the famed San Antonio Riverwalk, which is also a great tourist spot, the Alamo is the site where a small group of Texans stood against the Centralist army in 1836. With 4.2 acres of rich American history and special exhibits, this is one attraction that showcases true Texan pride.
In Fort Worth, The Kimbell Art Museum holds a wide variety of masterpieces from ancient times through the 20th Century. Notably, the Kimbell Art Museum also possesses Asian, Mesoamerican, Mediterranean, and African pieces of art, which is more rare for museums in the Southwestern area of the United States.
An exciting and unique destination is the Old Jail Center, in South Albany. This is an art exhibit located in a former 1878 county jail. The jail has been restored, and holds Chinese tomb contents, pre-Columbian pieces, Indian artifacts, Renoir, Picasso, modern art, and much more. There is also a courtyard, which houses contemporary Italian and American sculptures.
If you are looking for quality art exhibits, the Dallas Museum of Art is another outstanding place to spend time. More than a century old, this museum has over 23,000 works of art, which come from all over the world and range from antiquity all the way through our modern times. There are also many programs and special exhibits happening at any given time throughout the year.
Other art worth seeing includes Robert Glen's Mustangs sculpture in Irving, and The Trail Drive, which is a bronze monument by Robert Summers. The Trail Drive is located in Dallas, and is 450 feet high.
Ancient and mysterious art can also be found in Texas. Paintrock, in Concho City, is presumed to be the largest display of Native American pictographs in Texas. There are many ancient and interesting paintings on the limestone walls.
If you are interested in space, The NASA Johnson Space Center, located in Clear Lake, is another Texas jewel. It has seven featured attractions. The Mission Status Center, Starship Gallery, Space Shuttle Mock-up, Space Centre Theatre, The Feel of Space and Space Center Plaza. Everything you could possibly want to know about space can be found here!
The Southwest Dairy Museum, in Sulphur Springs, aims to educate the public about the current dairy industry, and preserve and showcase different aspects of the history of the dairy industry. There are many interactive learning opportunities that are ideal for families, such as separating cream and making butter. Also, a main exhibit of the museum shows the life of an American dairy farming family before the days of electricity.
Another exciting destination for families is Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glenrose. Some of the most well-preserved dinosaur tracks in the world are contained in this park, and it is also an excellent place to observe various types of wildlife. Biking, hiking, camping, picnicking, swimming in the river, and fishing are other activities that may be enjoyed here.
The National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in Fort Worth is the only museum of its kind, focusing on the history of courageous pioneer women of the American West. It holds many rare photographs, as well as a cowgirl research library and many interesting exhibits. Additionally, some cowboy-related art is worth seeing at the Amon Carter Museum of Western Art in Fort Worth, and the Cowboy Art Museum in Kerrville.
If you enjoy the Symphony, you can catch the Dallas Symphony Orchestra performing in the Meyerson Symphony Center, which has become a Texas landmark. Another notable area for excellence in the arts is the Theatre District in Houston. The Houston Theatre District holds such attractions as the Houston Grand Opera, the Houston Ballet, and Houston's own Theatre Under the Stars.
Another destination of interest is The Commemorative Air Force Museum, formerly the Confederate Air Force Museum. It is located in Midland. This museum holds an extensive collection of World War II combat aircraft in flying condition, as well as valuable history and information on the people who built, maintained, and flew these aircraft.
Other places worth visiting are the Austin Children's Museum, the Children's Museum of Houston, the Texas Oil Museum in Gregg County, and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in Waco.
Without having to search for very long, one can always find plenty of places to experience the rich history and culture of the Southwest. There is something for everyone in Texas!