The 7 Best Texas Historic Landmarks That Your Kids Need To See ASAP

Having given birth to my first-born on Texas Independence Day, March 2nd, it’s only natural that I’d be somewhat of a Texas history buff.

But alas, I am not.

History buff? Yes. Texas history? Meh.

I really only know about these historic sites because my dad IS a history buff - all the history, and I grew up being dragged around the state to visit these places, and they were always accompanied by a long and mind-numbing lecture, which I only now can appreciate.

 
7 Best Texas Historic Sites Your Kids Need To See ASAP | Bring Mommy A Martini
 

Below are Texas’s historic site must-visits for you to share with your kids, no matter how old or young they are.

And because my dad would also use a stop into an ice cream shop as bribery for the trip, I’m including the best nearby ice cream shops, so you and your kids can have the same type of experiences I had growing up.


Alamo

Photo by    Haley Phelps    on    Unsplash

We’ll start with the king of all historic sites in Texas - the site of the Battle of the Alamo, where about 200 Texians, as they were called back then, and 600 Mexicans died during a 13-day series of skirmishes, during which a small faction peeled off from the group, met up for some drinks, and signed a declaration of independence from Mexico*. 

Today, the only original buildings still standing are the main mission building - the part that’s most recognizable as being The Alamo - and the barracks, which is now a museum. 

The grounds are gorgeous, with an incredible Live Oak tree and lush landscaping, and it’s set right in the bustle of busy San Antonio streets. 

*This “meeting up for drinks” part is embellished by yours truly. I don’t know what that day looked like for this group of guys who met up while a series of battles were going down at The Alamo. I only know that on March 2nd, that declaration was signed, but battles were raging back at The Alamo from February 23rd through March 6th.

Ice Cream Pit Stop

Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream Shop is located just a block away, on the south side of Alamo Plaza, just off E. Crockett Street. The address is 214 Alamo Plaza St, San Antonio, TX 78205. Click here for directions.


Apollo & Gemini NASA Mission Control Center

Photo by    NASA    on    Unsplash

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

This is the facility where NASA monitored nine lunar missions - including the most famous one, the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969. In fact, it’s the room where full control of Apollo’s splash landing into the Pacific was orchestrated.

Located at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, the room still has the original monitors and rotary dials, creating a feeling of a sort of time capsule for its visitors.

The Space Center is a must-visit for astronomy buffs, but be aware that some of the tours may not be open if weather doesn’t permit, and - just like Texas weather - plans can change at a moment’s notice. Check here for more information.

Ice Cream Pit Stop

There’s a Baskin-Robbins about a mile west of NASA, just down East NASA Pkwy. It’s located at 1051 E. NASA Pkwy, Houston, TX 77058. Or click here for directions.

Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza

Photo by kconnors on    Morguefile

Photo by kconnors on Morguefile

The entire sixth and seventh floors of the former Texas School Book Depository building have been converted to a museum and gallery memorializing the assassination of President Kennedy in November of 1963. 

The building’s got a fascinating history, even aside from the assassination - although that is certainly its most noteable event. Maybe I’ll write a post about the other stories this building holds. 🤔

Until then, I’ll share with you that this building is just a few blocks from Union Station, making it a fun day adventure with the kids for locals, and one that I “enjoyed” with my two boys a few years ago. You can read about that train wreck - oy vey - poor word choice - right here, over on NBC’s Today Show Parenting Team.

If you can’t make it to the museum, their website is worth a visit. It’s very well done, with an interactive map of the motorcade’s route that day, including eyewitness accounts.

Ice Cream Pit Stop

Kokopelli Candy is a cute little candy shop in the historic West End, serving old fashioned candies and gourmet ice creams. They’re at 1718 N. Market Street, Dallas, TX 75202. Click here for directions.

Fort Worth Stockyards

Photo by    David Anderson    on    Unsplash

Back in the day - I’m talking mid- to late 1860’s - cowboys would drive herds of cattle up through Texas, passing through Fort Worth, on up across the Red River and into Indian Territory. 

Things really got crackin’ when the railroad arrived in the area in 1876, turning Fort Worth into a major shipping point for livestock, and eventually becoming one of the wealthiest areas in the world. 

After WWII, and with the decline of the railroad industry and the increase of paved roads, the meat processing industry changed, and along with that came a decline in livestock and a decline in area wealth.

In the mid-1970’s, the North Fort Worth Historical Society was formed to help preserve the area’s rich livestock heritage. 

To this day, Fort Worth is host to the world’s only twice-daily cattle drive - right through the streets of the city - and every other week, thousands of head of cattle are still sold at the Exchange Building in downtown Fort Worth.

A visit to the Stockyards, including watching the cattle drive at either 11:30 a.m. or 4:00 p.m. is a must for all ages. It’s a glimpse at what “real Texas” is and was, and it’s a great way to end a day after visiting area museums and walking through the shops, with their old wood floors and the rich smell of leather.

Ice Cream Pit Stop

The Longhorn General Store is located in the Stockyards, so you won’t have to walk far to get your fix of Texas’s own Blue Bell Ice Cream. They’re at 140 E. Exchange Ave., #24, Fort Worth, TX 76164. Click here for directions.


Port Isabel Lighthouse State Historic Site

Photo by Sparkle819 on    everystockphoto

Photo by Sparkle819 on everystockphoto

Located way down at the tippy-tip of Texas, overlooking Mexico, the beautiful beaches of South Padre Island, and the Gulf of Mexico waters, is the only lighthouse - of the 16 originals along the Texas coast - that’s open to the public.

The lighthouses were built along the Texas coast to help alleviate the dangers for ships travelling along the low-lying terrain, but then - just like everything else - as technology advanced, the need for this little cutie declined, and its light was extinguished in 1905, then it fell into disrepair.

Fully restored in 2000, the lighthouse now looks just like it did in its glory days of the late 1800’s, and features an exact replica of the keeper’s cottage and decorative fence.  


Ice Cream Pit Stop

Davey Jones Ice Cream Locker is so close to the lighthouse, you could just lie down in front of it and roll right across the street for your ice cream. It’s at 116 N. Garcia Street, Port Isabel, TX 78578. Click here for directions.

Seawolf Park

7 Best Texas Historic Sites Your Kids Need To See ASAP | Bring Mommy A Martini

This historic park is located in one of my favorite Texas cities: Galveston. Home to the USS Seawolf, a United States submarine that was sunk by friendly fire - along with its crew of 83 - during WWII, Seawolf Park is also home to the USS Stewart and the USS Cavalla, as well as the remains of the USS Selma, which can be seen from the Park.

The park is located on Pelican Island, one of the country’s former immigration stations, and is now one of the island’s most popular fishing piers. It’s a great place for a family picnic, kite flying, fishing, and playing on the playground. 

We visited the park last year when my family and my brother’s family had a Galveston vacay. You can read about that trip here.

Ice Cream Pit Stop

I’m giving you two for this one, although neither are the closest to Seawolf Park, but these are the places I recommend.

La King’s Confectionery and Ice Cream Parlour is one of my favorite places to visit in Galveston. The building is more than 150 years old and it’s still got a lot of equipment and fixtures over a century old, that they still use to this day to serve sodas, milkshakes, malts, floats, and sundaes.

They also make their own salt water taffy, which they’ve been doing since the confectionery’s beginning in 1927 by founder Jimmy King. You can go and watch the taffy being made, which is a fun afternoon treat after visiting Seawolf Park. 

Plus, they toss out warm, fresh samples of their taffy to visitors who watch the candymakers. La King’s is located at 2323 Strand St., Galveston, TX 77550. Click here for directions from Seawolf Park.

Waco Mammoth National Monument

Image by    Roy Buri    from    Pixabay

Image by Roy Buri from Pixabay

Back in 1978 a coupla fellas were hiking and and looking for arrowheads, as one does, and they came upon an area of ground that was eroding away, revealing an enormous bone. They dug it up and took it to nearby Baylor University’s Strecker Museum for identification, where it was identified as a Columbian mammoth.

The site was immediately closed off to the public until 2009, when it was opened as the public park, Waco Mammoth Site.

During those more than 30 years, bones to more than 22 Columbian mammoths were discovered, but researchers to this day still don’t know how they died. Their best guess is that they were trapped in flood waters from the Bosque River, and couldn’t escape because of the slippery slopes of the channel. 

The site was designated a National Monument in 2015 and now conducts daily guided tours from the Welcome Center down to the dig site, where the bones are located in their original location.

There are other fun things to do in Waco, by the way, and I’m not just talking about visiting Magnolia Market (which is actually a fun visit when the weather’s nice). Here’s a post I wrote about what to do in Waco besides Magnolia.

Ice Cream Pit Stop

It’s not the closest, but the ice cream shop I recommend visiting after your trip to the Mammoth site is Heritage Creamery. They are a craft homemade ice cream shop, making their small batch ice creams with locally sourced ingredients and never, ever use preservatives or additives. 

They were also featured on an episode of HGTV’s Fixer Upper, when Chip and Joanna had a day-date there to discuss one of their clients’ projects.

Heritage Creamery is at 1125 S. 8th Street, Waco, TX 76706. Click here for directions for the Mammoth National Monument.

Did I miss any of your family’s favorites? Let me know in the comments!


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7 Best Texas Historic Sites Your Kids Need To See ASAP | Bring Mommy A Martini