Think you’re a Texan? In honor of Texas Independence Day, 10 must-do experiences
By: Kristin Finan
Mar 2, 2021

March 2 is a special day in the Lone Star State because it’s Texas Independence Day, when we celebrate the adoption of the Texas Declaration of Independence, which was signed in 1836 and marked Texas’ separation from Mexico and the creation of the Republic of Texas.

In honor of Texas Independence Day, here are 10 quintessential Lone Star State experiences that every Texan should do at least once.

1.     Hit the dancefloor at Gruene Hall

Little Gruene has become a tourist darling in recent years thanks to its penchant for “gently resisting change,” and the heartbeat of this town is Gruene Hall. Built in 1878, Gruene Hall is the state’s oldest continually operating dancehall – it’s even hosted regular COVID-19-safe shows throughout the pandemic. Upcoming performers include Cory Morrow, Roger Creager and Blue Water Highway. Gruenehall.com

2.     Make your mark at Cadillac Ranch

The sight of 10 brightly painted Cadillacs spiking out of the ground is fascinating enough, but you can also grab a spray can and leave your own mark on this Amarillo art installation, which has been stopping traffic since 1974. While you’re in town – even if you’re just pitstopping on the way to Colorado — see if you can complete the 72-ounce steak challenge at Big Texan Steak Ranch. If you can eat the whole 72-ounce steak, you get it free. Visitamarillo.com

3.     Spy a gator at Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center

There are so many reasons to head to the quaint Texas beach town of Port Aransas, but perhaps the most unexpected is to spot alligators in the wild at the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center, where they roam freely (and somewhat frighteningly). This is also, not surprisingly, a wonderful place for birders to brush up on their knowledge of coastal species – a birding group meets at 9 a.m. each Wednesday. Portaransas.org

4.     Be part of a cattle drive at the Fort Worth Stockyards

Craving a taste of the Old West? Look no further than the Fort Worth Stockyards. Every day at 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., a herd of Texas longhorns driven by actual Texas cowhands makes its way through the Stockyards to the delight of wannabe cowfolk everywhere. While you’re in Fort Worth, don’t miss the famed honky tonk Billy Bob’s, or the world-class Kimbell Art Museum. fortworthstockyards.org

5.     Take in the mysterious Marfa Lights

Are they ghost lights or simply the atmospheric reflections of cars and campfires? To visit Marfa and take in the mysterious Marfa Lights is to join an ongoing conversation about what makes blue, red and white orbs appear randomly each night – regardless of the weather – in this West Texas town. visitmarfa.com/marfa-lights

6.     Salute the flagship Whataburger

Yes, there’s a flagship Whataburger located in Corpus Christi. Yes, it has an elevator. And yes, it has oceanfront views. This two-story tribute to Texas’ favorite burger chain – and its founder, Harmon Dobson – sits right along the water in downtown Corpus Christi, not far from another must-see attraction: the Mirador de la Flor statue, which honors Tejano music queen Selena Quintanilla-Perez. Visitcorpuschristitx.org

7.     Climb to the top of Texas at Guadalupe Peak

The 8,751-foot Guadalupe Peak in Guadalupe Mountains National Park just so happens to be the highest natural point in the state, so if you make it to the top, you can tell all of your friends that you’ve been to the top of Texas. If that’s too high, no worries – the park has many other standout attractions, including the beautiful McKittrick Canyon. Nps.gov/gumo

8.     Float on at the Dr Pepper Museum

Waco has experienced a renaissance in recent years (thanks, Chip and Joanna Gaines!) but it’s also home to many classic attractions that have been courting visitors for decades. Perhaps the greatest example of this is the Dr Pepper Museum, where you can learn all about the state’s beloved soft drink, sample an original Dr Pepper Float or even make your own soda. drpeppermuseum.com

9.     Tour tree sculptures in Galveston

Galveston has seen its share of devastation thanks to hurricanes that frequently ravage its shores, but rather than lamenting their losses, a group of homeowners joined together to create incredible tree sculptures out of that devastation. You can view the sculptures across the island, with many being centered in the city’s East End Historic District. Galveston.com/treesculpturetour

10.  Bike the missions in San Antonio

San Antonio is home to nearly a half-dozen historical missions, and one great way to see them is by bike. A hike and bike trail along the San Antonio River connects all of the missions, which are each about 2.5 miles apart. nps.gov/saan

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