Guide To Historic Sites In Texas
- Historic Forts, Battlefields & Buildings »
- Indian, Spanish & Mexican »
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Back to TopIndians, Spanish & Mexican
In March 1836, the 18th-century mission served as the site where James Bowie, William Travis, and 200 Texan freedom fighters withstood Mexican general Santa Anna's 13 days siege. A 20-minute presentation by docents recounts the story of the site's origin as a Catholic mission, its role as a hospital and cavalry post, and its tactical role during the siege. On the four-acre grounds sits the Long Barracks Museum, which features weapons and letters from Alamo defenders and an 18th-century well with a courtyard.
Chamizal National Memorial
The 55-are park commemorates the Chamizal Convention of 1963, which resolved a century-old border dispute with Mexico. Three museum galleries feature displays on U.S.-Mexican culture and local wildlife. Two miles of walking trails circle the site. Visitors can cross the border on the Bridge of the Americas and see the memorial's Mexican counterpart, Parque Chamizal.
Mission Espiritu Santo State Historic Site
Located within Goliad State Park, the 1749 Franciscan mission was Texas's first large-scale livestock operation and an important supplier for American troops during the Revolutionary War. Visitors can take self-guided tours of the stone church, the adjacent museum with exhibits on the mission's history, and the surrounding grounds.
San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
This 819-acre park encompasses four 18th-century Franciscan missions—San José, Concepción, San Juan Capistrano, and Espada. Visitors can see the film, Gente de Razón, depicting 18th-century life in south Texas, and take a 60 minute park-ranger guided tours of any of the four missions. The park also contains a working 270-year-old grist mill and Espada acequia, or irrigation system, with its original dam and aqueduct.
San Fernando Cathedral
Completed in 1749, the San Fernando Cathedral became Texas's first church parish and the first Cathedral in the United States. The Cathedral was expanded in the Gothic-Revival style in 1873 to accommodate its growing congregation after being designated the center of the San Antonio diocese by Pope Pious IX. On 45-minute guided tours, visitors can see the original Cathedral walls lining the sanctuary as well as the buried tomb of Texas heroes Davy Crockett, William Travis, and Jim Bowie.
(210) 227 -1297
Socorro (15 miles southeast of El Paso)
Founded originally in 1632 by Franciscan monks as a haven for Piro, Tano, and Jemez Indians fleeing from the Pueblo Revolt, their mission now features an 1840 adobe-and-stucco building with 18th-century wood-timbered ceiling, and restored with 20,000 new hand-crafted adobe bricks. The El Paso Mission Trail Association offers guided tours that include nearby missions, San Elizario and Ysleta.
Spanish Governor's Palace
Currently under renovation, this adobe mansion, which dates from 1749, served as the headquarters and residence of the captain of the Presidio of San Antonio de Béjar, a military post to protect the Mission San Antonio de Valero, before becoming the seat of Texas government in 1772. Three-foot-thick stuccoed stone walls enclose 10 period furnished rooms, including the parlor, dining room, and bedrooms. Located in the Main and Military Plaza Historic District, the Governor's Palace is a short walk from the San Fernando Cathedral and San Antonio's 19th-century Italian Renaissance Revival City Hall.
Back to TopHistoric Forts, Battlefields & Buildings
Located in the center of Galveston's historic Broadway Street, this castellated limestone and granite mansion was built in 1887 by Victorian architect Nicholas Clayton for attorney and railroad entrepreneur Walter Gresham. Sixty-minute guided tours through the ornate home showcase a Santo Domingo mahogany fireplace, a silver-lined fireplace, and bronze dragon sculptures.
Casa Navarro State Historic Site
Located in downtown San Antonio, this half-acre site features the restored home of tejano merchant and statesman, José Antonio Navarro (1795—1871). Guided tours lead through the limestone main house, office, and store, containing period antiques and copies of Navarro's history of Texas, and the detached caliche-block and adobe kitchen featuring typical early-Texan front and rear porches.
Fannin Battleground State Historic Site
On March 27, 1836, General Santa Anna executed Col. James Fannin, Jr. and his 342 Texans following his victory at the Battle of Coleto during the Texas War of Independence. This 14-acre site commemorates the battle and massacre with a 28-foot grey-granite obelisk and museum containing artifacts excavated from the site, such as cannonballs.
Fort Concho National Historic Landmark
Built in 1867 to protect frontier settlements from Indian raids, this fort served as the headquarters of Benjamin Grierson, William "Pecos Bill" Shafter, and the commanders of all four Buffalo Soldier regiments. Deactivated in 1889, the fort today includes 23 original structures, including the enlisted men's barracks, post headquarters, hospital, and chapel, which house exhibits on Texan frontier history.
Fort Davis National Historic Site
In 1854 companies from the Eighth U.S. infantry established this fort, named after Secretary of War (and future Confederate president) Jefferson Davis, to protect the San-Antonio-El Paso road from the Kiowa, Comanche, and Apache tribes. Visitors can tour 24 original buildings on the 474-acre site, including the Commander's Quarters, Lieutenant's Quarters, Kitchen, Commissary, and Barracks.
Fort Griffin State Historic Site
Between 1867 and 1881, this fort, which overlooks the Clear Fork of the Brazos River, protected travelers from Kiowa and Comanche raids during the Texan-Indian wars. Self-guided tours of the 506-acre site lead through the restored senior officers' quarters, powder magazine, library, and bakery.
This 1906 Beaux-Arts-style mansion, once home to wealthy cattle and oil baron William McFaddin and his wife, Ida Caldwell, now contains a collection of more than 20,000 manuscripts, photographs, and period literature representing the 150 years the family lived here. Ninety-minute tours through the period-furnished parlor, music room, kitchen, breakfast room, and carriage house are preceded by a 10-minute video on the history of the McFaddin family.
Mission Tejas State Park
Located in this 364-acre park, the reconstructed, pine-timber Mission San Francisco de los Tejas, established in 1690, was the first Spanish mission in Texas and a stopover on the El Camino Real de los Tejas, the "Royal Road" that ran through San Augustine, Austin, and San Antonio during the 18th and 19th centuries. A half-mile walk southwest of the mission leads to the restored three-room 1828 Rice Family Log Home, used in the late 19th century as stagecoach depot. Park interpreters are available year round upon request.
Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park
On this site in May 8, 1846, Brig. Gen. Zachary Taylor's 2,400 troops defeated Gen. Mariano Arista's 3,400 Mexicans in the first battle of the Mexican War. The visitors center, located on southwest corner of the 300-acre park, features a 15-minute introductory video, War on the Rio Grande and exhibits that reveal both U.S. and Mexican perspectives. A half-mile walking trail winds past the battlefield and contains interpretive panels describing the battle.
Port Isabel Lighthouse State Historic Site
This 72-foot, 1852 lighthouse on Texas's southernmost tip operated until 1905. During November 1863 both Union and Confederate soldiers used it as an observation tower. A replicated keeper's cottage houses the on-site visitors center and features an exhibit on the building's history.
San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site
Founded in 1823 by Stephen Austin and the 297 American families that followed him, this town was the social, economic, and political center of Texas, and site of the heated conventions of 1832 and 1833 and the Consultation of 1835 that led to the 1836 Texas Declaration of Independence. Visitors can see monuments, historical markers, a replica dog-trot cabin, and exhibits in the J. J. Josey Store Museum.
San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site
The 570-foot-tall commemorative stone monument sits on the site of the decisive 18-minute battle of April 21, 1836, during which General Houston's Texans routed Santa Anna's Mexican army and paved the way for Texan independence. The 1,200-acre site also encompasses the San Jacinto Museum of History, which houses more than 400,000 books, documents, and artifacts. Visitors can tour the 1911 New York class battleship Texas, the only remaining battleship to have served in both World War I and II.
Texas Civil War Museum
This 15,000-square-foot museum houses three interpretive displays and a 75-seat theater that shows the film, Our Homes, Our Rights—Texas in the Civil War. Costumed docents guide visitors through the exhibit spaces, which feature artifacts, such as a first edition Uncle Tom's Cabin, the Victorian dress collection, weapons, and Texas regimental flags.
Back to TopCowboys & Old West
Buffalo Soldiers National Museum
The two stories of exhibit space in this museum honor the African-American units that served on the western frontier. Exhibits cover the buffalo soldier's 150 years of combat history and include artifacts such as saddles, uniforms, and a 9th Cavalry buffalo soldier's discharge papers from the state of Texas in 1873.
Chisholm Trail Outdoor Museum
Named for Scottish-Cherokee trader Jesse Chisholm, this 220-mile-long trail stretched from Texas to Central Kansas, providing a route for cattle drivers and merchants from 1867 to 1884. The Chisholm Trail Outdoor Museum contains replica Indian tipis, and a restored 1854 log Courthouse.
Devil's Rope Museum
This 12,000-square-foot museum of barbed wire history features several exhibits including the Warwire Exhibit, which details the damaging wire used during combat, a demonstration of barbed wire manufacture, and late 18th-early 19th-century tools used to make the specialty fences of western farms and ranches. Visitors can also see cattle brands used by ranchers as far back as the Spanish missionaries, as well as 45 sculptures made from barbed wire. The adjacent Texas Route 66 Museum contains an old-time theater, which features videos of Old Route 66, and more than 700 objects, including original road signs.
This 825,000-acre ranch, the "birthplace of American ranching," was originally purchased by riverboat captain Richard King in 1853 and became the first Western ranch to develop beef cattle. Located in a nearby historic Kingsville ice factory, the museum contains exhibits on ranch life during the 1940s, a collection of decorative saddles, and several antique carriages and automobiles, such as Congressman R. M. Kleberg's custom 1949 Buick hunting car. Ninety-minute guided tours begin at the visitors center and pass by a historic commissary, carriage house, horse cemetery, and Longhorn cattle barns.
National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame
This new 33,000-square-foot art deco building presents the history of the American cowgirl with three interactive exhibit spaces, a theater, and research library. Videos and displays showcase the cowgirl's influence on fashion, pioneer spirit, and a woman's daily experience in the west. Visitors can ride on a simulated bucking bronco, view the horse and barrel-racing displays, and see the 12 glass-tiled murals inside the rotunda.
Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum
Located one mile from the site of the famous Lucas gusher of 1901 that started Beaumont's oil boom, this five-acre outdoor museum contains 15 replica buildings of the old Gladys City boomtown, including the oil derrick, saloon, stables, and carriage works. Self-guided tours begin at the visitors center and feature a seven-minute video on the gusher's impact on the surrounding area and a water-spout reenactment of the moment oil was discovered.
Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame
Housed in the former horse and mule barn of the Fort Worth Stockyards Historic District, this museum currently honors 85 men and women for their contributions to the rodeo and western lifestyle in Texas. Highlights include the Sterquell Wagon Collection, which contains more than 60 wagons, carriages, and sleighs, such as an 1898 Back-to-Back Wagon and a 1912 Standard Oil Tank Wagon. The John Justin Trail of Fame contains boots, photographs, and medals honoring the wall's namesake, manufacturer of the standard cowboy boot.
Back to TopPresidential & State Government
George Bush Presidential Library and Museum
This 20,000-square-foot facility displays artifacts from George H. W. Bush's life and presidency, including the 1944 TBM Avenger he flew in World War II, a 12-foot-tall recreation of a section of the Berlin Wall, and a replica of the While House Situation Room in which he directed the Persian Gulf War. Guided one-hour tours are available by reservation.
Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park
This 718-acre site, which contains Lyndon B. Johnson's boyhood home and the ranch on which he retired, commemorates the achievements of the former president. The onsite visitors center features ranch artifacts and exhibits detailing his life in Texas and the White House. Thirty-minute ranger-guided tours of President Johnson's boyhood home are available as well as 25-minute tours of the Texas White House, where President Johnson lived from 1951 until his death. The 14-acre Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum is located in downtown Austin on the University of Texas campus.
Sam Houston Memorial Museum
This 18-acre park contains 10 buildings, including the "dogtrot" house, Woodland, home of the famous general and politician Houston, who lived there between 1847 and 1853. The 12,082-square-foot Memorial Museum displays Houston's leopard skin vest, walking cane, saddle, and sword. Houston and his family rented the Steamboat House in 1861 after his dismissal as governor after he refused to pledge his loyalty to the confederacy. An exhibit hall features a collection of early carpentry tools and firearms. Ninety-minute guided tours begin at the visitors center and travel through six of the historic structures.
Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
From the window of the 1901 Texas School Book Repository warehouse, Lee Harvey Oswald shot and killed Pres. John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. This museum contains exhibits on Kennedy's 1960 campaign, the Abrahman Zapruder and Orville Nix films of the assassination, and an oral history collection of more than 500 first-hand accounts from those near Kennedy on that fateful day.
Texas State Capitol
This 1888 Renaissance Revival sunset red-granite building has been meticulously restored to resemble how it looked in the early-20th-century condition. Forty-five-minute guided tours begin in the lobby and travel through the rotunda, legislative chambers, and the House of Senate. Located across the lawn, the 6,500 square-feet of exhibition space in the visitors center features interactive exhibits, including Beyond the Dome, a movie that takes viewers into secret spaces of the Capitol building.
Back to TopAviation, Space & Military
American Airpower Heritage Museum
On the grounds of Midland International Airport, this 40,000-square-foot facility features 20 vintage military aircraft, including a B-29 Fifi Superfortress bomber, a P-40 Warhawk, an F6F Hellcat, and a B-24 Liberator. Tours lead from the American Combat Airmen Hall of Fame through exhibits highlighting World War II with battle-scene dioramas, uniforms, photographs, and weapons.
Frontiers of Flight Museum
Located on the southeast corner of Love Field in Dallas, formerly the base for the Fifth Ferrying Wing, this 100,000-square-foot museum features exhibits that explore aviation history from the early 20th century until today. Visitors can view artifacts, such as the radioman's chair from the LZ-129 Hindenburg, which crashed in New Jersey on May 6, 1937, propellers from the USS Shenandoah and U.S.S. Los Angeles, and a World-War-I Sopwith "Pup" biplane.
NASA Space Center Houston
This 180,000-square-foot facility showcases the history of space travel through interactive exhibits that simulate riding across the moon in the Lunar Rover, retrieving satellites, and landing a space shuttle. The open-air tram transports visitors to the center's historic Mission Control Center and Johnson Space Center, site of the current mission control and Buoyancy Laboratory.
National Museum of the Pacific War
This newly-expanded, 64,945-square-foot facility features the Plaza of Presidents, an outdoor tribute to the 10 American presidents who served in the military during World War II. The hour-long guided tour takes visitors through a series of interactive exhibits and the Admiral Nimitz Museum, dedicated to the Texan Naval Academy alumnus who crafted the Allied "island-hopping" strategy in the pacific theater. The new 32,000-square-foot George H. W. Bush Gallery contains a B-25 bomber flown during the 1942 Doolittle raid. The surrounding six acres feature a memorial courtyard and the Japanese Garden of Peace.
Silent Wings Museum
Located in Lubbock where many World War II "silent wing" glider pilots trained, this 40,000-square-foot museum contains one of the only four fully restored Waco CG-4A gliders in the world, an engine-less Aeronca L-3 trainer, historic photographs, and three galleries filled with weapons such as the M1 Garand infantry rifle, original and authentic reproduction uniforms, and battlefield souvenirs. Visitors can also watch curators restore a British Horsa glider and a 15-minute video on the U.S. WWII glider program.
USS Lexington Museum on the Bay
During World War II, aircraft launched from the 910-foot-long Essex-class carrier destroyed more than 1,000 Japanese planes and sank more than 300,000 tons of shipping. Tours of this ship-turned-museum begin on the Hangar Deck and travel through the flight deck, the foc'sle, which contains the officers' state room and the Pearl Harbor exhibit, and the Gallery Deck with the admiral's quarters and library. Visitors can also watch films in the 193-seat MEGA theater, such as Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag documenting combat pilot training.
Back to TopMuseums & Living History
Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum
Two blocks north of the Capitol sits the 175,000-square-foot, three-floor museum that celebrates Texas heritage with multimedia displays, including a 60-foot-long timeline of Texas history, and recreated Native American villages. The Spirit Theater shows The Star of Destiny which depicts momentous events in Texas as the 1900 Galveston Hurricane and the takeoff of a Saturn V rocket.
Buffalo Gap Historic Village
This four-acre living-frontier history site features 21 relocated 19th-and-20th-century buildings, including a courthouse, doctor's office, railroad depot, and print shop. The on-site museum contains a 19th-century Western Cottage Organ and two 1915 Model T Fords. Visitors can also view the museum's extensive collection of early 20th-century medical equipment, maps, and wheeled toys.
Burton Cotton Gin & Museum
This nine-acre site contains a 1914 cotton gin, the only of its kind still in use. Ninety-minute guided tours visit the gin and include a 20-minute video on the revolutionary technology of ginning and baling. Visitors can also pick cotton and view the restored 1925 Bessemer Type IV diesel oil engine used to power the gin from 1925 to 1968.
Dallas Heritage Village
This 13-acre living history museum interprets frontier life at the time of Texas's War for independence. Costumed interpreters lead guided tours through 38 restored 19th-century structures, including a train depot, barbershop, and schoolhouse. Visitors may also tour a recreated working Civil War Farm and a traditional 1901 kosher Jewish home.
George Washington Carver Museum & Cultural Center
This 36,000-square-foot facility, devoted to the life, times, research, and experiments of scientist George Washington Carver, contains four galleries and an 134-seat theater. Exhibits include a Juneteenth gallery highlighting the evolution of the holiday commemorating African-American emancipation, a children's gallery on inventors, and a families gallery highlighting 10 African American families and their contributions to the community.
Institute of Texan Cultures
This 182,000-square-foot museum explores the contributions of 26 European, Native American, Latino and Asian cultural groups that significantly influenced Texas history. Exhibits include the Dome Show Theater's "Texas One and All" and the three part, " Salute to Military Flight." An onsite research library houses an extensive archive of 3.5 million photographs and more than 600 oral histories. The surrounding 22 acres enclose the "Back 40" living history museum, which features replica adobe huts and log cabin houses.
Millard's Crossing Historic Village
This 37-acre site features 17 relocated 19th-century structures, including a Methodist parsonage from 1900, county store, and two-story double house furnished with an eclectic antique collection. Visitors can take a 90-minute tour, listen to an antique pump organ demonstration, and attend a 19th-century school-house session.
Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum
This 285,000-square-foot museum is the largest in Texas, interpreting more than 500 million years of history in exhibit areas including, western heritage, petroleum, agriculture, and transportation. The museum's more than two million artifacts include antique tractors, a 1903 Ford Model A serial #28, cowboy clothing, a war bonnet and lanced owned by Comanche war chief Quanah Parker, and a vast collection of historic firearms such as flintlocks, early percussion guns.
Texas Seaport Museum
Located at the historic port of Galveston, the "Ellis Island of the West," this 10,000 square-foot museum contains a computer database of more than 133,000 immigrants who crossed into the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries and an 80-seat theatre featuring the panoramic documentary The Great Storm about the 1900 hurricane, still considered the most devastating natural disaster in U.S. history. Visitors can also tour the fully-restored 1877 tall ship Elissa, a 205-foot-long barque docked outside.