12 Must-See Spots for Student Groups in Texas
Few places are able to offer students the countless adventures and opportunities that Texas can. Whether they’re learning about the history of trains and planes, wandering through a replica of the rain forest, exploring graveyards or remembering the Alamo, they’re sure to be seeing the very best attractions that Texas has to offer. The state’s sheer size can make planning a trip for your students overwhelming but just remember: they can always come back for more!
Texas Through the Ages
Walk through 100 years of history at George Ranch Historical Park, a living history park in Richmond that chronicles the story of one Texas family over the course of four generations. While the park is exciting year- round, visitors who come during October can take part in the Texian Market Days Festival. Meet livestock, cook up food that early ranch families would have eaten, see battle reenactments and cowboy demonstrations, ride in vintage vehicles and interact with costumed actors.
No trip to Texas would be complete without visiting San Antonio and the Alamo to see where the brave defenders took their last stand against the Mexican forces at the iconic Alamo Mission church. Students can tour the structure, read the names of the defenders and browse through many other historical artifacts. Before your group leaves make a stop at the Long Barrack Museum, the oldest building on the site and the location where some of the most brutal fighting took place.
Pay your respects to the old souls of Texas at Old Settlers Cemetery. Created in 1894, the graveyard remains in impeccable condition and is one of Pearland’s most important pieces of history. See the grave of Echolean Ackerly, a pioneer who was the cemetery’s first resident, then move on to discover the tombstones of Civil War soldiers. The site contains everything from simple stone markers to elaborately carved tombstones, and offers students a unique way of exploring the past.
What was Texas like during the Dust Bowl? How were early log houses built? The Panhandle Plains Historical Museum in Canyon contains the answers to these questions as well as a myriad of exhibits dedicated to paleontology, art and Panhandle history. Students can sit in a 1930s house and experience the Dust Bowl through photos, videos and stories, or venture out to the very first log house ever built in the Texas Panhandle and learn about its uses throughout the years.
Take part in the Texian Time Machine program at the Fort Bend Museum and experience what life in colonial Austin was like. The program immerses students in the 1820s using role-playing, hands-on activities and a troupe of costumed presenters. Learn how Texans survived on the frontier. Discover what it took to build a cabin. Join a militia, tour a print shop and explore the art of textiles before coming back to the present day.
Flora and Fauna
Spend a day in Austin at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and experience the natural beauty of the Texan meadows. The center lets students embark on self-guided tours, connecting them with over 600 native plants that are cultivated year round. In addition to enjoying unique flowers, trees and other plants, the facility offers visitors the opportunity to go on picnic lunches and browse through galleries of wildflower photography. Aspiring artists are encouraged to sketch or paint on site.
Head to Lewisville and discover the wilderness of LLELA Nature Preserve, a 2,000-acre park just outside the downtown area. Step into a kayak and fish in the Trinity River while looking for bobcats, coyotes and beavers. Hike the Bittern Marsh Trail and explore two miles of forest, marshes and ponds, or take the Cottonwood Trail and see a log home built in the late 1860s. Other opportunities include guided night hikes, moonlight kayak trips and bird-watching tours.
Come face-to-face with bison, snakes, turtles, hawks and alligators at Pasadena’s Armand Bayou Nature Center. Explore the Martyn Farm and see what life was like in the 1800s or board the Bayou Ranger and explore the preserve by way of an electric pontoon boat. Go bird-watching in the wetlands, hike through the forest and marshes or take part in an EcoExplorations program that goes behind the scenes to show visitors what makes Armand Bayou Nature Center unique.
Introduce your students to environmental conservation at Galveston’s Moody Gardens, home to one of Texas’ largest aquariums and a tropical rainforest replica. The Aquarium Pyramid offers interactive touch tanks, tide pools and exhibits teeming with sharks, penguins, seals and other marine life. The newly redesigned Rainforest Pyramid boasts exotic plants and animals from Africa, Asia and the Americas, and gives your students the opportunity to see free-roaming monkeys, sloths and tropical birds.
Planes, Trains and Beyond
History is given wings at the Lone Star Flight Museum in Galveston, home to one of the finest collections of restored war aircraft in the world. Through video, stories and photos, meet the men who flew these planes during both world wars and Vietnam. Go on a guided tour of the museum and learn about the pioneers of flight and Texas’ place in aviation history. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a few of the WWII planes taking off.
Take your students on a trip through our solar system and beyond at Space Center Houston. Immerse yourself in the Starlab and learn about celestial motions. Travel 100 million light-years without ever leaving your seat as a live presenter takes you on a tour of the night sky, the galaxy and the depths of the observable universe. Learn about lunar cycles, rediscover the relationship between the earth and the moon and enjoy a variety other programs.
Visit the Galveston Railroad Museum and see firsthand how locomotives built the nation we know today. Take a tour and learn about the history of trains or peruse one of the largest restored railroad collections in the United States. Explore the museum’s collection of railroad cars that ran during the early to mid-1900’s, and end your trip with a ride on the Harborside Express.
As one of country’s largest states, Texas has a lot of expectations to live up to as far as entertainment and attractions are concerned. Luckily for student groups like yours, it happily rises to the occasion. Whether you’re looking to travel back in time or to other galaxies, explore old Spanish missions or wild marches, the Lone Star State has it all. Come to Texas, and have the journey of a lifetime.