10 Larger-Than-Life Student Experiences in Texas
With influential presidents, a history rich with music legends and battle fields significant in the fight for Texas independence, the Lone Star State proves that everything really is bigger in Texas.
Made in Texas
National Historic Landmark
The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas’ most visited National Historic Landmark, is an ideal destination for history buffs. The 300-year-old former Spanish mission turned fortress was the site of the Battle of the Alamo in 1836, a critical turning point in the Texas Revolution. Teachers are provided lesson plans for student groups pertaining to the history of the Alamo, such as “A Civics Lesson from 1836” and “Lorenzo de Zavala and José Antonio Navarro: Their Contributions to the Independence of Texas.”
National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame
Strap on your boots and saddle up at the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth. Celebrating women that helped shape the American West, the 33,000-square-foot museum includes interactive exhibit galleries, a traveling exhibit gallery, two theaters, a rare photography collection, a research library and archives. Women featured in the Hall of Fame include Annie Oakley, Georgia O’Keeffe and Sacagawea. Other honorees include pioneers, businesswomen, educators, ranchers and rodeo cowgirls. The museum provides lesson plans including “How to Measure a Horse,” “How Does a Horse See?” and “Calf Roping Relay.”
East Texas Oil Museum
Discover Texas’ intriguing oil history at the East Texas Oil Museum in Kilgore. During the Great Depression, rural life in East Texas radically changed when oil was discovered in 1930. The museum recreates oil discovery and production during the ʼ30s at the largest oil field in the U.S. Dioramas, movies, sound presentations and antiques donated by East Texas citizens depict the region’s people, towns, habits, tools and pastimes. Students can enjoy an interactive elevator ride that travels 3,800 feet below earth’s surface where oil deposits can be found.
Music is All You Need
Texas Music Museum
Devoted to preserving and presenting a wide range of Texas music history, the Texas Music Museum in Austin is a great destination for music lovers. Since 1984, volunteers have collected early photographs, artifacts, documents and reference materials from Texas musicians and transformed them into exhibits and educational programs displayed throughout the museum. Exhibits include “Texas Country Classics,” “Tejano and Conjunto Music,” “The Many Faces of Texas Blues” and “Songs of the Lone Star State.”
Buddy Holly Center
The Buddy Holly Center in Lubbock, a visual and performance arts center, is dedicated to the life and legend of influential rock and roll musician Buddy Holly. Exhibits showcase artifacts and documents from Holly’s childhood, his professional career and the Texas Musician Hall of Fame. The museum strives to uphold Holly’s legend, along with the music of Lubbock and West Texas. Students can enjoy taking photos atop an enormous sculpture of Holly’s distinguishing horn-rimmed glasses.
Heart of Texas Country Music Museum
For country music aficionados, visit the Heart of Texas Country Music Museum in Brady. Established in 2000, the museum features artifacts, photographs, stage costumes, posters, instruments and other memorabilia from over 100 country artists. Students can gaze at country music legend Rose Maddox’s gold and rhinestone dress designed by Nathan Turk, a wax figure of American Western swing musician Bob Wills and “Big Blue,” the first tour bus owned by singer-songwriter Jim Reeves.
George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum
Established in 2013, the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station offers student groups endless educational opportunities. Students can sit at the Resolute Desk in a full-size replica of the president’s Oval Office, participate in the “Path to the Presidency” interactive activity or check out the “Responding to Sept. 11” exhibit where the bullhorn President Bush used at Ground Zero and his impromptu speech notes are on display. Student groups can also make a pit stop at the George W. Bush Childhood Home in Midland to see where the president spent his early years.
Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
Situated in the exact location where Lee Harvey Oswald shot and killed President John F. Kennedy, the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas examines the life, death and legacy of JFK. Filled with captivating educational experiences, exhibits include “A Time for Greatness: The 1960 Kennedy Campaign” and “John F. Kennedy and the Memory of a Nation.” Student groups can also visit the nearby JFK Memorial Plaza.
Eisenhower Birthplace State Historic Site
Tour former President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s childhood home at the Eisenhower Birthplace State Historic Site in Denison. Born on October 14, 1890, Eisenhower was the first president to be born in Texas. A Recorded Texas Historic Landmark, Eisenhower’s childhood home is filled with antique furnishings that depict his working-class family. The neighboring visitor’s center contains memorabilia and exhibits highlighting his accomplishments as president and World War II war hero.
Lyndon B. Johnson Ranch District
The Lyndon B. Johnson Ranch District, located within LBJ National Historic Park in Stonewall, is a great destination for student group travelers. While visiting the ranch district, students can explore the Texas White House, LBJ’s birthplace, Johnson family cemetery, the one-room Junction School and LBJ’s grandparents’ home. The park includes a visitor’s center with exhibits and films on LBJ and First Lady Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson, the “Boyhood Home,” an education building and the historic Johnson Settlement.
By Ally Mahoney