Texas History Texas Travel

USS LEXINGTON Museum on the Bay – Corpus Christi, Texas

USS Lexington

Families, school classes and scout troops won’t want to miss visiting the vintage WWII naval aircraft carrier that is now situated as a floating museum in Corpus Christi, Texas. The USS Lexington has had an illustrious career, and holds the distinction of having the longest term of continuous use and longest list of records set, more than any other aircraft carrier in the US Navy since it was commissioned in 1943.

The USS LEXINGTON was de-commissioned when the USS FORRESTAL replaced it as the Navy’s training center in 1991; it was brought to Corpus Christi and opened as a naval aviation museum for the American public in October, 1992. The USS LEXINGTON Museum has always been self-sufficient, receiving no funds from local, state or federal government agencies, but relying on revenues from grants, donations, admissions, ship’s store sales, special events, and the youth overnight program.

Now known as the USS LEXINGTON Museum on the Bay, popular tours on the carrier include the hangar deck, officer’s quarters, sick bay, galley, flight deck and bridge. And visitors will see the Quad 40 millimeter anti-aircraft guns up close, as well as a restored F-14 fighter plan and a Huey Cobra helicopter.  Camping is available on board by advance reservation.

Besides the original and restored carrier equipment, there’s a high-tech flight simulator and an IMAX theater for real-life, thrilling flight deck  experiences.


USS LEXINGTON Museum on the Bay

2914 N. Shoreline Blvd

Corpus Christi, TX 78403

800-LADY LEX • 361-888-4873


Visit the USS Lexington’s website here



Texas Culture Texas History Texas Travel

Texas Ranger Hall of Fame – Waco, Texas

The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame

No, we’re not talking about a baseball team, we’re talking about the historic Texas Ranger Division, the world-famous law enforcement agency that has been solving crimes in the State of Texas since 1823. Texas Rangers provided protection in the Republic of Texas from 1836 – 1845, and with a brief exception immediately following the Civil War, have done so since Texas became a state. At the present time there are approximately 144 Texas Rangers serving the Texas Department of Public Safety as the State Bureau of Investigation from their present headquarters in Austin, Texas.

Since the beginning, Texas Rangers have been dispatched to investigate murders, squelch riots, make fugitive apprehensions, and serve as paramilitary forces when necessary. Two famous Texas Ranger apprehensions in the Old West include gunfighter John Wesley Hardin and the infamous bank robbers, murderers, and car thieves, Bonnie and Clyde.

The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame in Waco, Texas is located near the site of the original Texas Ranger Fort Fisher, established in 1837. Here visitors will see guns, rifles, Indian artifacts and western art on display. The entire Museum compound includes the Homer Garrison, Jr. museum gallery, the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame, the Texas Ranger Research Center and the Headquarters of Texas Rangers Company “F”. Students, authors and movie producers use the Research Center to portray authentic Texas Ranger and Old West garments and munitions.

Texas Ranger Hall of Fame

100 Texas Ranger Trail

Waco, TX 76706


Museum Hours: Open 9 am – Close 5 pm Monday-Sunday; last Guest Admitted at 4:30 pm; Closed for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years & snow and ice.

Vist the Texas Ranger’s website here


Texas Culture Texas History Texas Travel

The Story Of Texas Museum – Austin, Texas

The Story of Texas Museum

Named after a former state Lieutenant Governor, The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum opened in April of 2001. Funded by the Texas State Legislature and reviewed and approved by respected state historians, the high-tech museum offers numerous interactive exhibits, special effects and an IMAX theatre to provide a Texas experience that is larger than life.

The museum facilities have been thoughtfully and thoroughly designed to encourage use by school teachers and other groups of young people. Educators will find lesson plans and other helpful materials, as well as tour scheduling information


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Families and school groups alike can benefit by advance planning, since there is so much to see and do on all three floors of the museum. The first floor exhibits feature the landscape and native inhabitants of the area long before it was known as Texas, through the time period of the Spanish and French explorers, through the year 1900 when the entire area known as Texas was had been completely mapped out.

The second floor of The Story of Texas Museum traces the adventures of many people and nations in the process of Texas becoming an independent nation. Military battles and political accomplishments are all depicted on a 60-foot video wall with continuous showings. And the third floor points to the economic opportunities throughout the years, and pointing towards the future of the State of Texas. Naturally, the importance of cattle ranching, oil production, space exploration, medicine and technology are featured. Visitors see and hear digital presentation of real people talking about their accomplishments and encouraging us all to our own accomplishments today.

The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum — The Story of Texas

1800 N. Congress Avenue

Austin, Texas

(512) 936-8746 in Austin or toll free (866) 369-7108

Plan your family or school visit here

Texas Travel

Texas State Aquarium – Houston, Texas

In 1969, the Junior League of Corpus Christi and the local Junior Chamber of Commerce got together to form  the Gulf Coast Zoological and Botanical Society with the intention of building an aquarium. The organization changed its name in 1978 and then again in 1986 to the Texas State Aquarium Association. Working throughout the years to promote the idea, the group opened its first exhibit in the summer of 1990. Although the Texas State Legislature gave its blessing as the “Official Aquarium of Texas” in 1986, the group did not receive state funding.  Presently, the Texas State Aquarium receives federal dollars for the purpose of animal rehabilitation after accreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in 1995.

Exhibits include various geological and climactic conditions, and include the Amazon exhibit with piranhas and poison frogs; a 400,000 gallon saltwater exhibit called Dolphin Bay, where trained dolphins perform for the crowd several times daily;  rehabilitated raptors, including a bald eagle named Grace, are exhibited in Eagle Pass;  jellyfish from the Gulf of Mexico float in an 800 gallon exhibit called Floating Phantoms;  stingrays inhabit the replicated coral reef where the Diver In The Water show takes place in the Flower Gardens exhibit; trained parrots, hawks, owls and falcons perform and provide wildlife education in the Hawn Wild Flight Theatre;  and the largest indoor exhibit replicates an oil platform and replicates the natural habitat surrounding real oil platforms in the Gulf, featuring sharks, barracudas and tarpons.  This is just a partial list of the remarkable diversity to be seen at the Texas State Aquarium during the following hours:

Open daily 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (Labor Day through February 28)
Open daily 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. (March 1 until Labor Day)
Closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

Texas State Aquarium
2710 N. Shoreline Blvd • Corpus Christi, TX 78402 • 1.800.477.GUL

See the vibrant website and make your travel plans here

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Texas State Capital – Austin, Texas

Texas State Capital

It was back in 1839 when five mounted scouts rode across the Republic of Texas, looking for the perfect spot for a new capital city.  On the north bank of the Colorado River, in a central location, was a little settlement of four families called Waterloo. In September of 1839, fifty ox-drawn wagons hauled all the official furniture and records up from Houston and established the new capital called Austin among those original families in Waterloo.  Stephen F. Austin is known as the Father Of Texas because he took on the colonization efforts initiated by his father, and brought hundreds of families into Texas in the 1820s -1830s before he died, so it was a fitting honor to name the new capital in his honor.

The Texas State Capitol complex sprawls over 46 acres of landscaped grounds, and the centerpiece is the statehouse itself, constructed of native Texas Sunset Red granite. When the original capitol building that was built in 1853 burned to the ground in 1881, the existing granite building began construction in 1882 and completed in 1887. But when the zinc Goddess of Liberty statue was finally installed on top the capitol dome in 1888, the time had come to officially dedicate the new capitol building.

Visitors to the Texas Capitol are welcome on weekdays from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and weekends from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.  Hours are subject to change. Please call 512.463.0063 for extended hours during legislative sessions which occur for 140 days every odd numbered year beginning the second Tuesday in January.

The Capitol Information and Guide Service is open weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and weekends from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The helpful guides furnish information and conduct free 30-45 minute tours of the building.  Capitol tours are conducted every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Easter. Tours are given during the following hours:

Monday through Friday: 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Saturday: 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Sunday: Noon – 3:30 p.m.

A thorough visitors guide can be found online here

Texas History Texas Travel

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center

Established as the Manned Spacecraft Center in 1961, the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center (the Center) was named in honor of the late President. It is the primary facility charged design, development, and operation of human space flight in the United States. For nearly fifty years now, the Center can claim world-wide leadership in human space flight operations for NASA.

Beginning in 1963, Gemini IV was the first flight controlled from Houston, and then the Gemini program ended and the Apollo program began, having the original goal set by President Kennedy in 1961, of landing men on the Moon and returning them safely to earth prior to 1970.

The entire world watched television on July 20, 1969 as Neil Armstrong transmitted from the surface of the moon, “Houston, the Eagle has landed.” And then, a few hours later, he stepped down the ladder of the Lunar Module Eagle and spoke the now-famous words, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind,” as he took those historic first steps on the surface of the moon.

In 1973, the Manned Spacecraft Center was renamed the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center and has functioned as the heartbeat of the United States’ manned space flight program since that time. Controlling flights for the Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and the Apollo-Soyuz programs through the current Shuttle program, resident scientists, engineers, astronauts and dedicated staff members continue to operate the historic and cutting-edge facility.

The Center is the base of training for all the astronauts, and it is the site of Mission Control, where world-class flight controllers monitor all the operations in space, including development, production and delivery of the Space Shuttle orbiters; the testing of spacecraft associated systems; the development and integration of experiments for human space flight activities; supporting scientific engineering and medical research; and the selection and training of astronauts and the operation of human space flights.

The Center and NASA had no real public educational presence before Hal Stall, the director of Public Affairs at The Center, jump-started the Manned Space Flight Education Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization. Stall and his group wanted to provide a world-class facility where the public could come for a hands-on experience of the NASA space program, and they wanted to do so without using tax dollars to fund it. So, the Foundation got support from many corporate sponsors, and eventually $68.4 million in tax-exempt bonds were sold to the public to complete the financing endeavor.

The Foundation hired Walt Disney Imagineering, the design and master planning arm of the Walt Disney Company. In conjunction with BRC Imagination Arts as a collaborating designer, the Disney team generated the initial concepts that would become Space Center Houston.

The goal was for reasonable admission fees to fund the day-to-day operation of the Center, as well as provide for the Center’s massive educational program. Another goal was to create an environment that would appeal to visitors emotionally as well as intellectually, through their hearts and not just their minds.

Thousand of school-age students benefit from these programs every year, all designed to entertain and excite young visitors, while telling the true story of space exploration in a realistic way, not as science fiction.

Get connected with the Johnson Space Center here

Texas History Texas Travel

The Alamo

Built as Mission San Antonio de Valero, the landmark now known as The Alamo in downtown San Antonio was the first of five Spanish colonial missions that were established in San Antonio in the early 1700s. The goal was to Christianize and educate Native Americans. As was customary, a fort was built to protect mission activities, and the accompanying fort was named San Antonio de Bexar.

In 1718, the Spanish Viceroy of Mexico authorized Father Antonio de Olivares to establish the mission that would play a major role in Texas history as it became known all over the world as The Alamo. The church structure began construction in 1755, and less than a century later, in 1836 it became the “Cradle of Texas Liberty”.

One of the most heroic struggles in history took place in the old mission from February 23 to March 6, 1836. Outnumbered by the better-equipped and better-organized Mexican army led by General Santa Anna, the famous defenders of Texas died to the last man. Now their names adorn street signs all over Texas as well as the nation as a whole.

All that remains of the original fort is the Chapel and the Long Barrack. The Alamo museum contains relics from the fort and offers tourists narrations of Alamo history.

The Alamo Cenotaph is a monument erected to memorialize the 189 heroes of the Alamo, and it stands in Alamo Plaza, with the names encircling it, carved into the marble; William Travis, Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, and Sam Houston, to name a famous few.

See the live Alamo Cam and other historic and current information here

Texas Travel

Texas Travel Books and Guides

Texas has something for everyone and these travel books will help you do Texas your way! Whether you are a history buff, love to get off the beaten path or are just looking for new and fun attractions – these Texas Travel Books will help you plan your next vacation, day trip or weekend getaway.


Texas Off the Beaten Path Travel Book

Texas Off the Beaten Path: A Guide to Unique Places
If you’re planning to travel at all throughout the Lone Star State, this book will be an indispensable guide for your travels! This guide helps you discover the hidden places in Texas that most tourists miss as well as Texas trivia and tidbits of Texas history.


Backroads and Byways

Backroads & Byways of Texas: Drives, Day Trips & Weekend Excursions
With natives as your guides, this new series steers you down the most scenic and historic byways in the areas they cover, with plenty of intriguing points of interest and places to eat, stay, and shop along the way.


Why Stop Texas Travel BookWhy Stop?: Texas – A Guide to Texas Historical Roadside Markers
Have you ever wondered what all those Historical Markers were as you went driving past? Or if you should go back and check it out? This book helps you decide with the location and actual inscriptions on many of Texas’ most prominent and interesting roadside markers.


Texas Old Time Restaurants and CafesTexas Old Time Restaurants and Cafes
Tired of eating at Dennys? Author Sheryl Smith-Rodgers scoured the state to find the best old time restaurants and cafes, making this an excellent gift and travel guide! Divided geographically, this book takes a look at cafes and restaurants that have been serving Texas for 20 years or longer. Each of the restaurant entries includes a history of the cafe along with directions and nearby attractions.


Touring Texas Gardens Travel GuideTouring Texas Gardens
This directory spotlights the best of Texas gardens. Many are hard to find treasures that are great destination spots, or ideal travel breaks while driving through the state. This book includes the best times to visit, how to get there, what to expect in bloom, what birds and butterflies you’ll see, how to arrange group tours, and children’s activities.


Ghost Towns of TexasGhost Towns of Texas
This is the kind of book you want to take in your car always! You never know in Texas when your going to be near a ghost town! The book has a map and is indexed, with good information on the towns , how to get there and what you will find. Although, by their very nature, the Texas ghost towns featured in Baker’s book have deteriorated even more – or disappeared altogether – since the publication of this book in 1986, it remains a classic reference and a “must have” for the ghost town hunter’s library.


The Best Tent Camping in Texas Travel GuideThe Best in Tent Camping: Texas: A Guide for Car Campers
The campgrounds selected for The Best in Tent Camping: Texas had to meet three criteria: they had to be accessible by car but not overrun with RVs; offer great scenery; and be as close as possible to a wilderness experience.  Divided into the state’s major geographical areas, the book is based on the author’s 30 years’ experience in following the back roads of Texas. Along with a detailed profile and useful at-a-glance information, clear maps show campground layout, individual sites, and key facilities.


Doin Texas with your Pooch Doin’ Texas With Your Pooch
If you are traveling with their pets, this book is the ultimate dog owner’s guide to the beautiful Lone Star State. Doin’ Texas with Your Pooch provides readers with everything they need to know about dog friendly travel in the state including 1,500+ pet-friendly accommodations in every price range.

Texas Travel

Port Mansfield Manatee

Port Mansfield, just north of Padre Island, has received a rare treat the past few years – a visit from a Florida Manatee!

These gentle creatures normally live in the warm waters of Florida and seldom venture to the Texas Gulf Coast. This Manatee is about 8 feet long and has been in Port Mansfield for about a month, playing and eating sea grasses.

Manatees live to be about 50 yrs and can get as large as 12 feet in length. Boats are the main threat to Manatees because of wounds from propellers. The problem is that there are too many boaters in the coastal waters that Manatee prefer. Loss of habitat, fragile sea grass being destroyed by boaters and water pollution are diminishing their numbers. Manatees are Federally protected and on the Endangered Species list.

US Fish & Wildlife officials will monitor the Manatee. They don’t want people feeding it or coming too close. “Our biggest concern is trying to keep the public from interfering with its movement, when Wildlife becomes dependent upon people, they quit being wild.”

The last Manatee to visit the Texas Coast was “Sweet Pea” who in 1995 made quite a splash at a water treatment plant in Houston. I was able to take my 2 boys to see her and we fondly remember her playing in the water. Sweet Pea had to be rescued when the temperatures got cold. Manatees get hypothermia in water below 68 degrees. “Mattress Mack” of Gallery Furniture volunteered one of his vans to help transport the Manatee to the cargo plane that flew her back to Florida.

Wildlife officers will also keep a close eye on the Port Mansfield Manatee when waters starting getting colder. We sure enjoy their visits but want them to be safe and go back to Florida when the Summer is over.

Texas Travel

Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens

Mercer Arboretum
Mercer Arboretum<br>Bluebonnets

Just north of Houston is the Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens. Set along the banks of Cypress Creek, the park offers 250 acres of native woodland trails, color gardens, koi ponds and more.

Thelma and Charles Mercer purchased the original 14 acres with dreams of establishing a public garden. They later sold the property to Harris County and more acreage was added to the park.

Upon entering the park you will be greeted by a koi pond and the beautiful color beds surrounding the original home site. There you will always find flowers in bloom throughout the year, with an ever-changing display of annuals and perennials. Further into the park are endangered plants, old fashioned gardens, herb gardens, tropical plantings as well as native wildflowers. Stroll along the pathways to natural plantings under a canopy of trees. Across the road are picnic areas, outdoor classrooms and nature trails.

Mercer is a perfect place to just stop by for a morning stroll or all afternoon nature walk. There are wonderful monthly programs and guided tours.

Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens is just a mile north of FM 1960 on 22306 Aldine Westfield Road. Admission is free!

Stop by anytime, something is always blooming!!