The Lone Star state has many preserved landmarks to offer history lovers. Texas has been under the rule of several governments, the point of convergence for several cultures, and the location of countless historical events. Texans and history buffs alike deserve to explore the iconic monuments that make the state what it is today.
Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list of all the historic landmarks and museums Texas has to offer. Check out this interactive map of over 300,000 historic sites collected by the Texas Historical Commission to find pieces of Texas history near you. Here are just nine amazing historical sites in Texas you should visit:
- The Alamo
- San Jacinto Monument
- Battleship Texas
- Sabine Pass Battleground State Historic Site
- San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
- Sam Houston Memorial Museum
- Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park
- Galveston East End Historic District
No list of historical sites in Texas is complete without the famous Alamo. It was originally established in 1724 as the Mission San Antonio de Valero where it still stands today in downtown San Antonio. In 1803, the Catholic mission was converted into a military fortress occupied by Spanish soldiers until 1835. The Alamo is remembered as the location where Texan defenders stood their ground against the army of General Santa Anna for 13 days in 1836 in their fight for independence from Mexico. An estimated 2.5 million people visit the Alamo each year, and for good reason. The Alamo offers free guided tours, private tours, and monthly events open to anyone wanting to learn more about the Texas Revolution.
Speaking of the Texas Revolution, Washington-on-the-Brazos was the site of the General Convention in March 1836. 59 representatives collaborated to sign the Texas Declaration of Independence from Mexico and draft the constitution for the Republic of Texas. Located on the Brazos River south of Navasota are 293 acres of historic property “where Texas became Texas”. Guests can visit Independence Hall and Barrington Plantation, the home of Republic of Texas President Dr. Anson Jones and his cotton farm. Washington-on-the-Brazos also features the Star of the Republic Museum with artifacts, original documents, and murals demonstrating life in the Republic of Texas.
San Jacinto Monument
Along the San Jacinto River, the last battle of the Texas Revolution was fought solidifying Texas’s independence in April 1836. Today, commemorating the Battle of San Jacinto is the San Jacinto Monument in La Porte built in 1939. Did you know that it is the world’s tallest monumental column at 567 feet? It is approximately 12 feet taller than the Washington Monument in Washington D.C. Inscribed on the base of the monument is the story of the Texas Revolution including the sacrifice at the Alamo and the signing at Washington-on-the-Brazos.
La Porte is home to other significant historical sites in Texas, namely the Battleship Texas. She is the only remaining battleship to have seen service in both World Wars. The ship is also known for its technological achievements such as being the first US ship to be mounted with anti-aircraft guns in 1919 and having commercial radar installed in 1939. In 1948, the Battleship Texas was decommissioned and transformed into the first permanent battleship memorial museum it is today. At the time of writing this article, Battleship Texas is temporarily closed for repairs.
Sabine Pass Battleground State Historic Site
Historical sites in Texas also hold history from events of the American Civil War. Port Arthur served as a major supply port for the Confederate army that the Union army had attempted to infiltrate multiple times. On September 8, 1863, the Union Navy sent 4,000 soldiers on approximately 20 vessels to invade Texas through the Sabine Pass. Confederate Lt. “Dick” Dowling led 46 men to defend the port, destroying two gunboats and taking approximately 350 Union soldiers as prisoners. The Second Battle of Sabine Pass has been credited as the most lopsided Confederate victory of the Civil War. Today there stands a pavilion and a 14-foot statue and monument with historical knowledge. Locals also love the historic site for fishing and watching ships pass through Port Arthur.
San Antonio Missions Historical Park
The San Antonio Missions Historical Park is the first and only UNESCO World Heritage Site to be located in Texas. This historical site in Texas is comprised of four 18th-century Spanish missions built along the San Antonio River. The four missions from north to south are Mission Concepción, Mission San José, Mission San Juan Capistrano, and Mission Espada. Each mission is built 2.5 miles apart and has its own unique history and beautiful architecture. Visitors have the option to drive to each mission (and park for free) or to take the Mission Riverwalk Hike and Bike Trail which spans approximately 10 miles.
Sam Houston Memorial Museum
Located inside Sam Houston State University is the Sam Houston Memorial Museum which comprises multiple properties owned by the university’s namesake. The properties span 15 acres of the original farm of over 200 acres owned by General Sam Houston and his family in the mid-1800s. In 1936, the Texas Centennial Commission built the distinct Rotunda which houses artifacts on 19th-century Texas history and Sam Houston’s personal life. Visitors can also explore Houston’s law office and the beautiful duck pond on the premises. The museum hosts periodic historical demonstrations as well as the annual beloved General Sam Houston Folk Festival.
Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park
This historical park reveals the life story of the 36th US president and Texas native Lyndon B. Johnson in a compelling manner. At Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, guests can visit Johnson’s restored boyhood home, the Johnson settlement and cattle ranch, and the former president’s relocated car collection. The focal point of the LBJ Ranch is Johnson’s gorgeous former residence better known as the Texas White House. Johnson purchased the home in 1951 from his aunt and renovated the home to operate as senator and president from the Hill Country. At the time of writing this article, the Texas White House is closed for repairs until further notice.
Galveston East End Historic District
Last but not least is the East End Historic District on Galveston island. Galveston’s first residential neighborhood lies north of Broadway Avenue near the city’s downtown area. The neighborhood is over 50 blocks full of majestic Victorian-style homes that survived both the 1885 Great Galveston Fire and the 1900 Galveston Hurricane. One building that stands out is Bishop’s Palace built for lawyer and former US Representative Walter Gresham. Another striking building full of history is the Moody Mansion which housed the family of entrepreneur William Lewis Moody Jr. for almost a century. Everyone is bound to appreciate the variety of grand architectural styles and unique tree sculptures along the way.
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