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Texas Icons

Some of the most iconic moments in American history took place in the Lonestar State. From the hallowed sites of unforgettable battles and national tragedies to the inspirational places embodying American spirit and innovation, Texas has it all.

This east Texas itinerary begins in Dallas, then takes groups south with stops in Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio before heading east to Houston.

The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza


November 22, 1963, the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, stands out in the collective American memory. The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza chronicles Kennedy’s life and legacy, as well as the aftermath of the assassination. The museum is housed in the former Texas School Book Depository building, from which the shots that killed Kennedy were fired. The window where the shots originated is marked, as well as the exact spot on the street where Kennedy was hit in his motorcade.

The museum tells the story of the assassination and expands on Kennedy’s life with its collection of more than 90,000 artifacts, including art, oral histories, political memorabilia, photographs and home videos. Museum visitors can go through the exhibits as part of a self-guided experience. They can also explore the rest of Dealey Plaza, which is now part of a National Historic Landmark District. This includes the Grassy Knoll, a small hill where assassination witnesses first suspected the shots came from.

While You’re There: There’s more than one presidential attraction in Dallas. Other great stops include the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, Museum of Biblical Art, the Dallas Museum of Art, and the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens.

 Fort Worth Stockyard National Historic District

Fort Worth

To step into the Wild West, groups need only head to Fort Worth. At the Fort Worth Stockyard National Historic District, they’ll find everything about the West that’s been romanticized, from John Wayne to saloons to rodeos. Horses are welcomed in the streets of this historic district, and twice-daily cattle are driven through town. Groups can go behind the scenes with the Fort Worth Herd Experience, a weekend-exclusive outing that can include photo ops, chuckwagon stories and demos.

Another popular activity is a visit the Stockyards Museum, located in the livestock exchange building. Film enthusiasts and history buffs alike will enjoy the exhibit John Wayne: An American Experience, which boasts over 400 pieces of memorabilia related to the Hollywood icon. For some true Texas fun, a visit to a photo parlor for a Western-themed photo shoot or one of the district’s many saloons is in order. The district is also home to many barbecue restaurants, steakhouses and Tex-Mex restaurants.

While You’re There: Fort Worth has plenty of additional attractions, Western-themed and otherwise. The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, Fort Worth Zoo, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art and the Fort Worth Botanic Garden each make noteworthy stops for groups.

Texas State Capitol


The Texas State Capitol, completed in 1888, was designated a National Historic Landmark and is considered one of the nation’s most stately capitol buildings. Guided and self-guided tours are offered for groups, though groups larger than 10 will need to make a reservation. These tours take visitors through the building to see historic courtrooms, exhibits and legislative chambers (as long as the legislature is not in session).

Groups will learn about the building’s extensive history, from its construction at the hands of over 1,000 people to the 1993 addition of its underground extensions. Inside, the capitol contains prominent Texas artwork, such as “Dawn at the Alamo” and “Battle of San Jacinto.” It also features historic artifacts, including vintage furniture and a 19th century newspaper found in a time capsule within the capitol. Just a few blocks north, groups can visit the Bullock Texas State History Museum, which further expands on the city’s history.

While You’re There: Austin is known for its thriving music and arts scene, so finding a way to hear live music is a must. Groups can do so at any of the city’s dozens of live music venues, from theaters to breweries. They can also visit the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum or see a variety of historic, architecturally significant buildings, such as the Driskill.

The Alamo

San Antonio

Inextricable from Texas and American history — and collective memory — is the Alamo. Originally a Spanish mission, the Alamo became a symbol of liberty and bravery in 1836, during the Battle of the Alamo. During the Texas Revolution, the war fought for Texas’ independence from Mexico, roughly 200 Texas rebels barricaded themselves inside the Alamo compound. Though they were surrounded by thousands of Mexican soldiers, the Texans refused to surrender and held the Alamo for 13 days. Eventually, the Mexican soldiers breached the Alamo, and the rebels were defeated. However, the stand they made came to represent the bravery of Texans. The battle cry “Remember the Alamo!” became popular in later wars in the region.

Groups can learn more about this iconic moment in American history with a guided or self-guided tour of the Alamo. The site offers a variety of experiences, from after-hours private guided tours of the complex to audio tours for visitors to follow along. They can explore the historic church, the barrack, the collections center and the gift shop. There are also more immersive tour options, such as getting a hands-on demonstration in the living history encampment or watching a musket-firing demonstration.

While You’re There: In San Antonio, groups can enjoy shopping, historic architecture, dining and water views along the San Antonio River Walk. Several historic missions in San Antonio can also be toured by groups.

Space Center Houston


Drawing in 1.25 million visitors annually, Space Center Houston has been one of Texas’ most iconic attractions since it opened in 1992. This Smithsonian affiliate chronicles a critical time of innovation in American history, from the “space race” to modern-day space exploration programs. It’s also the visitors center for the NASA Johnson Space Center, and groups can opt for a 90-minute tram tour of the NASA center as part of their visit.

Space Center Houston’s exhibits and experiences cover a wide range of topics to explore on a self-guided tour, including flown spacecraft that have orbited the earth; moon rocks that visitors can touch; a collection of spacesuits worn by astronauts during their exploration of space; a gallery exploring the intricacies of the International Space Station; and an exhibit dedicated to the possibility of traveling to Mars. In addition to many other exhibits and artifacts, the center also offers two films, three virtual-reality rides and four live shows for groups to enjoy. Add-ons such as meeting an astronaut or a VIP tour of NASA’s Johnson Space Center can also be arranged.

While You’re There: The Houston Museum District has an impressive collection of museums for groups to explore, including the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Houston Zoo.