The second-largest U.S. state, Texas has something for every type of visitor—but many of its natural wonders and historic sites are particularly special for kids and families. Whether you’re toting around toddlers or trying to impress a teen, here are some family-friendly spots in Texas.
Natural Bridge Caverns in New Braunfels
Texas’ underground caverns are awe-inducing every month of the year and perfect for a visit no matter the outdoor weather conditions. Seven of the state’s 3,000 documented cave networks are open to the public daily, and the Natural Bridge Caverns are a can’t-miss experience if you’re traveling with kids. Ideal for all ages, these are the largest commercial caverns in Texas. The well-lit limestone formations and pools connected by footpaths will wow everyone in the family.
Route 66 Historic District in Amarillo
Get your kicks…well, you know where. Nothing personifies the American West quite like historic Route 66—and Amarillo, Texas. Peruse vintage shops, see public art like Cadillac Ranch and eat at retro diners and lounges along the way.
NASA Space Center Houston
The home of NASA’s Historic Mission Control, Houston is one of the only places kids can get hands-on experiences with the astronauts and engineers who spearhead American space exploration. Interactive exhibits, educational in-theater films and the original Mission Control that monitored Apollo 11’s trip to the moon are just the beginning of what families can discover.
Dude Ranch in DFW
Families fit in perfectly at classic Texas dude ranches like Wildcatter Ranch in Graham, just a 90 minute drive from the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Kids will love horseback riding and jeep tours, and the infinity pool. On an extended stay, parents can enjoy sport clay shooting, archery and the on-site spa.
Moody Gardens in Galveston
Texas has plenty of adventures to pair with unique wildlife, especially at Moody Gardens, an educational amusement park complete with an aquarium, indoor rainforest, seaside ropes course and outdoor zip line. Seasonal events like a water park, ice sculpting and a festival of lights mean families are sure to experience rare animal exhibitions and outdoor amusements here any time of year.
Beach & Backwater Adventures in South Padre Island
Do islands come to mind when you think of Texas? They should. There are plenty of idyllic beaches along the Gulf of Mexico. South Padre Island is a narrow strip of land off the Texas coast that offers tropical waters for surfing, kayaking, paddle boarding and kite surfing. Families dominate the area year-round, especially when local sculptors take to the shoreline in fall to build structures during Sandcastle Days, an event that highlights coastal conservation every fall.
Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountains National Parks
Celebrating the National Park Service is easy in Texas, which has 14 NPS-managed areas, including two national parks: Guadalupe Mountains and Big Bend. Experience the Rio Grande’s glassy waters and towering canyon walls on a boating, biking or hiking adventure for all ages in Big Bend—a West Texas escape with far-flung views you’re unlikely to forget. Or, witness spectacularly colored fall foliage and prairie wildlife at Guadalupe Mountains National Park, which has public campsites perfect for both tents and RVs.
Pick Your Own Berries or Pumpkins: Texas Hill Country
Just north of trendy Austin’s delicious food trucks and boisterous music scene, kids can pick their own strawberries in spring or pumpkins in fall at Sweet Berry Farm. But that’s just the start—learn about animals at the farm’s petting zoo, taste homemade ice cream, buy local veggies and frolic in a massive kid-friendly maze shaped like Texas.
Museum of South Texas History: Edinburg
If a sea dinosaur and a 14-foot mammoth skeleton sound like they’d captivate your kids, the Museum of South Texas History is certainly worth a stop. This museum has artifacts and exhibits that cover prehistoric times all the way up to 20th-century Texas. Learn about the formation of the nearby Rio Grande, industrialization-era locomotives and a 100-year-old jail that’s now part of the museum’s structure.