Article Overview: Historic Sites In Texas
Historic Sites In Texas. More Than Just Parks has 15 incredible must-see sites for you.
I’ve been to so many of these amazing places since retiring from teaching in 2018. Did I mention that I taught history? I spent a lifetime teaching about the history behind these momentous sites. Then I got to see them firsthand. And now I’m sharing the stories of these incredible places with you. It doesn’t get any better than that!
I’m going to give you my list of the Top 15 Historic Sites in Texas that you’ll want to see. These are our top 10 sites which we will provide in reverse order. We’ve got amazing monuments, fascinating exhibits, historic museums, legendary battlefields and so much more.
To be clear, this list includes national park sites (as in sites managed by the National Park Service) as opposed to national parks. Now Texas has two wonderful national parks and you can learn all about them by accessing our wonderful article on Texas National Parks.
Since we’re about more than just parks (and that means more than just park sites) we’re also including some amazing places to visit that aren’t managed by the National Park Service. After all, we’re more than just parks!
Without further ado, let’s dive into our top 15 list of historical sites in Texas.
Table Of Contents: Historic Sites In Texas
Historic Sites In Texas
- Top 15 Historic Sites In Texas
- Top 10 Historic Sites In Texas
- Top 5 Historic Sites In Texas
- 5. Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park
- 4. The San Jacinto Monument
- 3. San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
- 2. Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park
- 1. The Alamo
- The Eyes Of Texas Are Upon You So Why Not Take A Deeper Dive With These Great Books
- List Of Historic Sites In Texas
- About the Folks Behind More Than Just Parks
- Related Links
Top 15 Historic Sites In Texas
15. Pioneer Village
The Village in Gonzales is a living history museum located in Gonzales, Texas.
The village is a collection of historic houses from the 1800s and early 1900s, which have been preserved and restored to give visitors an idea of what life was like during the time when the area was first being settled.
The museum’s tour guides dress in period costumes and demonstrate skills and crafts from the past such as cooking, blacksmithing, weaving, etc.
This allows visitors to gain a deeper understanding of the lifestyle, culture, and daily activities of the pioneers who lived in the area.
The village includes several houses, a church, a school, and other buildings that are typical of a rural community from that period.
Visitors can take guided tours of the village and see how the pioneers lived, worked, and played. The Village in Gonzales is an educational and entertaining experience for the whole family.
14. Deep Ellum Historic District
Deep Ellum is a historically and culturally significant neighborhood in Dallas, established in 1873 as a residential and commercial area.
The neighborhood is named after the pronunciation of “Deep Elm,” as much of the activity centered around Elm Street east of downtown Dallas.
It boasts over 20 historically recognized buildings, including the Continental Gin Company, which was once the largest manufacturer of cotton-processing equipment in the United States.
The Gin building has been converted to a mixed-use space for office, food and beverage, and retail use.
13. Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site in Texas
Historic Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site is located in Texas is the site of the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence in 1836.
The park includes the Star of the Republic Museum, which tells the story of the Republic of Texas, and the Barrington Living History Farm, which offers visitors a glimpse into the lives of early settlers in Texas.
The park also includes the Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed, and a replica of the first Capitol of the Republic of Texas.
It’s a popular destination for history buffs and offers a variety of educational programs and events throughout the year.
12. Dealey Plaza Historic District
Dealey Plaza Historic District is a historic site located in Dallas, Texas. It is most well-known as the location of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.
The district includes Dealey Plaza, which is a city park located at the intersection of Elm, Main, and Commerce Streets, and is the site of the assassination.
It also includes the Texas School Book Depository Building, which is now the Sixth Floor Museum, and the Grassy Knoll, which is a small hill located behind the Texas School Book Depository building.
The district is also home to several other historically significant buildings, including the Dallas County Administration Building and the Dallas County Records Building.
The site is open to the public and offers a variety of exhibits and tours, including a self-guided tour of the assassination site and a guided tour of the Sixth Floor Museum.
11. NASA Space Center Houston
NASA Space Center Houston is the official visitor center for NASA’s Johnson Space Center, located in Houston, Texas. The center offers a variety of exhibits and tours that showcase the history and ongoing work of NASA and the U.S. space program.
Visitors can tour the historic Mission Control Center, which was used for the Apollo and Space Shuttle programs, and see the original consoles used to control the historic Apollo 11 moon landing.
The center also features a full-size replica of the Space Shuttle Independence, a tram tour of the Johnson Space Center, and an exhibit on the International Space Station.
It also has a variety of interactive exhibits, such as a space suit experience and a Mars habitat, as well as a planetarium and an IMAX theater.
The center is a popular destination for both tourists and school groups, and it is a great place to learn about NASA’s past and present space missions.
Top 10 Historic Sites In Texas
10. Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument
As a retired history teacher, I can’t get enough of Texas history. Not to mention all of the incredible places where nature comes to life as the Great Southwest puts on its best face for visitors from across the world.
A great place to start your “Texas Adventure” is at the Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument. What makes this place so special you might ask? Well, it all begins with the flint.
As an old history teacher, I’m always thrilled with interesting old stories. And they don’t get much older than 13,000 years ago when this site was well-known by mammoth hunters as a source of flint for tools.
If you love rocks then you’re in for a real treat. Alibates Flint is agatized dolomite, or silicified dolomite. Many archeologists refer to it as Alibates chert because of its vibrant colors.
The colors in this type of flint include red, orange and yellow. They’re created by iron; blues and deep greens are usually created by manganese. At this national monument, you’ll have the opportunity to explore these magnificent rocks. (Source: NPS)
Visitor Center at Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument
If you’re a first-timer then I always recommend beginning your visit at the Visitors Center. The Alibates Visitor Center is open Saturday through Wednesday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (Except on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day)
The Visitors Center offers a variety of different activities. These include: Museum Exhibits, Ranger-guided quarry tours, an award winning film about Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument, Jr. Ranger Program\Activities and access to the Mesquite Trail which is a self-guided trail.
While you’re there, I also recommend taking the self guided tour of the Alibates Gardens and visiting the Monarch Butterfly Waystation.
9. Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail | Historic Sites In Texas
The El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail extends 404 miles between El Paso, Texas to Santa Fe, New Mexico At one time, the historic trail extended all the way to Mexico City.
This trail tells that story of 300 years of conflict, cooperation, and cultural exchange between a variety of empires—European and non-European alike.
There are a variety of wonderful activities for you to choose from along this trail. They include:
- A variety of hiking opportunities across the full length of the trail.
- A visit to the missions along the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro.
- Museums along the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro featuring interpretive exhibits, information, and programs.
- Historic sites along the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro.
For specific information pertaining to sites in New Mexico, please check out this interactive map provided by the National Park Service.
8. Historical Fredericksburg
Not to be confused with the town of the same name located in Virginia, this Fredericksburg was founded on May 8, 1846 by German immigrants under the Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas.
John O. Meusebach chose the location for the second of the Society’s colonies four miles north of the Pedernales River between two creeks. He named the settlement Friedrichsburg (later changed to Fredericksburg) to honor Prince Frederick of Prussia. Settlers received lots in town with an additional 10 acre lot outside of town.
The colonists planted corn, built storehouses to protect their provisions and trade goods, and prepared for the arrival of more immigrants, who came throughout the summer. By 1850, census records stated that the town had 754 residents, and Gillespie County had 1,235 residents. (Source: City of Fredericksburg, Texas)
Things To Do
The Pioneer Museum located in downtown Fredericksburg offers a glimpse into the nineteenth and twentieth century settling of this region of Texas by German immigrants.
The museum complex covers a little over three acres and houses multiple buildings to tour. The grounds contain a historic homestead, an old schoolhouse, a barn, a bathhouse, and a smokehouse.
7. Fort Davis National Historic Site
Fort Davis is one of the best surviving examples of an Indian Wars’ frontier military post in the Southwest.
From 1854 to 1891, it was strategically located to protect emigrants, mail coaches, and freight wagons on the Trans-Pecos portion of the San Antonio-El Paso Road and on the Chihuahua Trail.
This national historic site offers some wonderful hiking trails. These include:
- Photographers Trail-This is the only trail on Sleeping Lion Mountain, a short hike offers great photographic opportunities without the commitment of a long hike.
- Tall Grass Loop Trail-This hike is steep and strenuous along the trail switchbacks of the trail there are stairs on certain portions. Along the northern route of the trail, can become slick after precipitation. This trail is 0.8 mi (1.3 km) long one way.
- Scenic Overlook Trail-This hike is steep and strenuous along the switchback portion of the trail utilizing stairs with rails. The trail offers panoramic views of Fort Davis NHS. The trail is 0.4 miles (0.6km) long one way.
- Hospital Canyon Trail-This trail is strenuous along the switchback portions and there are sections without shade.
- North Ridge Trail-This hike allows you to walk between Rhyolite boulders and experience the 360° views of the Davis Mountains.
- Cemetery Trail-The Cemetery Trail is .2mi (.3km) long one way, this short hike takes you to the location of the post-Civil War Cemetery. (Source: NPS)
6. Waco Mammoth National Monument
Now if you love history as much as I do than imagine a history before humans roamed the earth. At the Waco Mammoth National Monument, you can walk in the footsteps of creatures as tall as 14 feet and weighing 20,000 pounds.
The park is named after the discovery of the remains of mammoths and other Ice Age animals that lived approximately 68,000 to 70,000 years ago. The discovery of the fossil remains in 1978 led to the establishment of the monument, which has since become an important destination for scientists, students, and visitors interested in learning about the natural history of the region and the creatures that lived there.
Since its discovery, museum staff, students, and volunteers have worked tirelessly to excavate and preserve the fossil material, spending thousands of hours on the effort.
In 1990, some of the fossils excavated from the site were transferred to the Baylor University’s Mayborn Museum Complex, while others remain in their original position within the bone bed. These specimens are now protected by a climate-controlled Dig Shelter, which allows for both public viewing and further scientific study.
The Waco Mammoth National Monument is an important piece of America’s natural history, and its preservation and protection is essential for future generations to understand the story of the earth and the creatures that lived on it.
Top 5 Historic Sites In Texas
5. Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park
I spent almost 30 years teaching high school students about the history of America and the world. One of the topics we covered was the Mexican American War which became part of America’s Manifest Destiny. This war helped the United States to expand its territorial holdings from sea to shining sea.
Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park is dedicated to preserving the site of the first battle of the Mexican-American War, which was fought on May 8, 1846.
The park provides visitors with a glimpse into the events that led to the war and the role that this battle played in shaping the history of the United States.
Visitors can explore the park’s visitor center, which contains exhibits about the war and the battle, as well as a picnic area, trails, and a scenic drive.
The park also offers educational programs and special events throughout the year, making it an ideal destination for history buffs and anyone interested in learning more about this important moment in American history.
Step Back In Time At Palo Alto
I recommend that you begin your visit at the Visitor Center and pick up a park brochure and trail guide. From there you will discover outdoor adventures which include:
- Hiking the battlefield trail which is a half-mile walk. Along the way you will see a landscape very much like the one experienced by soldiers in 1846.
- From Palo Alto you can also explore the Brownsville Historical Trail which includes historic sites and attractions.
- Bird watching is highly recommended too. All you have to do is bring a pair of binoculars with you and keep a watchful eye out as you traverse the trail.
- Visit the Resaca de la Palma Battlefield which features a half-mile circular trail with interpretive waysides.
4. The San Jacinto Monument
The Battle of San Jacinto was the concluding military event of the Texas War for Independence. On April 21, 1836, the Texas militia under Sam Houston (1793-1863) launched a surprise attack against the forces of Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna (1794-1876) at the Battle of San Jacinto, near present-day Houston, Texas.
The Mexicans were thoroughly routed, and hundreds were taken prisoner, including Santa Anna. In exchange for his freedom, Santa Anna signed a treaty recognizing Texas’ independence.
To learn more about this conflict I recommend The Mexican-American War: A Captivating Guide to the Armed Conflict between the United States of America and Mexico Along with the Impact of the Texas Revolution by Captivating History.
RELATED: 15 MUST-SEE Historic Sites In Ohio
Things To Do
The San Jacinto Monument, located in Deer Park along the banks of the San Jacinto River, commemorates the final battle in Texas’ fight for independence from Mexico.
The star topped monument commemorating this even stands 570 feet tall, taller than the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C.
The Jesse H. Jones Theater at the base of the monument tells Texas’ story along with the evolution of its history as part of the wild west. The monument has several permanent exhibits as well as rotating and online exhibits.
3. San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
The San Antonio Missions National Historical Park is dedicated to preserving the history of the Spanish missions in the area.
The park encompasses four of the five Spanish missions that were established in the early 18th century in order to spread Christianity among the native populations and to create a Spanish colonial presence in the region.
These missions, known as the Alamo, Concepción, San José, and San Juan, were an important part of the cultural and religious heritage of Texas and the American Southwest.
The missions were in use for over 70 years before being abandoned in the late 18th century. Over time, the buildings fell into disrepair and were eventually restored and preserved as a National Historical Park in 1978.
Today, visitors to the park can explore the well-preserved ruins of the missions, which offer a glimpse into the everyday lives of the Spanish colonists and the indigenous people who lived there.
The park also provides educational programs and special events, making it an ideal destination for history buffs, families, and anyone interested in learning about the Spanish missions and their role in shaping the cultural heritage of the American Southwest.
2. Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park
The Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park is dedicated to preserving and interpreting the life, career, and legacy of President Lyndon B. Johnson, who served as the 36th President of the United States from 1963 to 1969.
The park includes several sites related to Johnson’s life, including the Johnson Family Ranch, where he was born and raised, and the Johnson Settlement, which includes the boyhood home of President Johnson, his grandparents’ home, and other associated buildings.
Visitors to the park can tour the Texas White House, which served as the President’s informal office during his time in office, and see exhibits about his life and presidency, including his role in the Civil Rights Movement, the Great Society programs, and the Vietnam War.
The park also offers a variety of educational programs and events, including ranger-led tours, special events, and living history demonstrations, making it an ideal destination for history buffs, families, and anyone interested in learning more about one of America’s most important leaders.
His Presidency Began & Ended With Tragedy
As Kent Germany, associate professor of history at the University of South Carolina notes, Lyndon Johnson’s presidency began and ended with tragedy. He came into office after the death of a popular young President and provided needed continuity and stability.
He advanced the Kennedy legacy, obtaining far more than Kennedy would likely have gotten out of Congress, and then won a huge landslide victory for himself and his party.
President Johnson’s administration also extended the New Deal of Franklin Roosevelt, including aid to education, Headstart, Medicare, and Medicaid—programs that are still significant today and that command bipartisan support for their effectiveness.
While his programs kept untold numbers of Americans out of poverty, gave others basic health care, and ensured the fundamental rights of citizenship for minorities, in Southeast Asia, millions of Vietnamese lost their lives and homes, more than 58,000 American military personnel lost their lives, and hundreds of thousands more would have their lives permanently altered.
Take A Deeper Dive Into The Life & Times Of Lyndon Johnson
As a retired history teacher who’s fascinating with the life and times of America’s 36th President, I would recommend what I (and a lot of other folks) consider to be the best biographical series ever written on LBJ.
Robert Caro is an American journalist and biographer. He is best known for his multi-volume biography of former U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson. Caro’s work on Johnson is widely considered to be one of the most comprehensive and insightful biographies of a U.S. President.
Caro has won numerous awards for his writing, including two Pulitzer Prizes and several National Book Awards. He is widely regarded as one of the best biographers of his generation, known for his meticulous research, in-depth interviews, and vivid writing style.
I recommend the following books by Robert Caro:
The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Path to Power; Means of Ascent; Master of the Senate; The Passage of Power. This four volume collection which won the coveted Pulitzer Prize.
The fifth and final volume of this series, now underway, will presumably cover the 1964 election, the passage of the Voting Rights Act and the launch of the Great Society, the deepening of America’s involvement in Vietnam, the unrest in the cities and on college campuses, Johnson’s decision not to seek reelection, and his retirement and death—enough material, it would seem, for four additional volumes.
1. The Alamo
Remember the Alamo? Few Texans will ever forget it! The Alamo is to Texans what the Statue of Liberty is to Americans. It’s a historical landmark which symbolizes the struggle for liberty.
The Battle of the Alamo during Texas’ war for independence from Mexico lasted thirteen days, from February 23, 1836-March 6, 1836.
In December of 1835, a group of Texan volunteer soldiers had occupied the Alamo, a former Franciscan mission located near the present-day city of San Antonio.
While the Mexican Army under the leadership of Santa Anna prevailed slaughtering all of the soldiers inside of the fort, it was an important event in the Texas Revolution and American History because it rallied the rest of Texas to fight against the Mexican army eventually leading to a victory over Santa Ana at the Battle of San Jacinto.
To learn more about this important conflict I recommend H.W. Brands Lone Star Nation: How a Ragged Army of Courageous Volunteers Won the Battle for Texas Independence.
Things To Do At The Alamo
The Alamo complex houses a museum and artifacts from the revolution. The chapel houses the national or state flags of all the defenders, along with personal artifacts and memorabilia.
Visitors can explore the walls inside and outside the chapel which still bear witness to the shots fired during the battle.
What once was the barracks for priests and troops now houses a museum telling the story of Texas’ history from the original colonial settlement through the Texians’ battle for independence and victory.
The Eyes Of Texas Are Upon You So Why Not Take A Deeper Dive With These Great Books
To learn more about the Lone Star State before visiting, I recommend reading the following books:
- The Great Book of Texas: The Crazy History of Texas with Amazing Random Facts & Trivia by Bill O’Neill.
- History of Texas: A Captivating Guide to Texas History, Starting from the Arrival of the Spanish Conquistadors in North America through the Texas Revolution to the Present (Captivating History) by Captivating History.
- Lone Star: A History Of Texas And The Texans by T.R. Fehrenbach.
List Of Historic Sites In Texas
- The Alamo
- Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park
- San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
- The San Jacinto Monument
- Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park
- Waco Mammoth National Monument
- Fort Davis National Historic Site
- Historical Fredericksburg
- Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail
- Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument
- NASA Space Center Houston
- Dealey Plaza Historic District
- Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site in Texas
- Deep Ellum Historic District
- Pioneer Village
About the Folks Behind More Than Just Parks
You should probably know that we don’t just make this stuff up out of thin air. My sons have spent their entire adult lives exploring and filming America’s national parks and public lands.
As for me, I’m a retired lifelong educator and a proud dad of these two wonderful guys who are hopelessly obsessed with the national parks. I taught history for over a quarter of a century. Now I enjoy researching and writing articles for the More Than Just Parks website. I’m always on the hunt for topics where nature and history intersect so please feel free to share any ideas that you might have with me.
We’ve worked with the National Park Service, the Department of Interior, and the U.S. Forest Service for years creating films on important places and issues. Our work has been featured in leading publications all over the world and even some people outside of our immediate family call us experts on the national parks.
Meet The Parks Brothers
We’re Jim Pattiz and Will Pattiz, collectively known as the Pattiz Brothers (and sometimes the Parks Brothers) and we absolutely LOVE the national parks.
Our goal here at More Than Just Parks is to share the beauty of America’s national parks and public lands through stunning short films in an effort to get Americans and the world to see the true value in land conservation.
We hope you’ll follow our journey through the parks and help us to keep them the incredible places that they are. If you’re interested in joining the adventure then sign up below!
To learn more about the difference between the various National Park Service designations check out our article that explains everything!
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