18 Fun Facts You Never Knew About Texas but Should Before You Travel There

You’ve probably heard that Texas is the second-largest state in the United States. This robust region is a melting pot of cultures and rich with adventure. From the Panhandle plains to the wildflower fields to the cypress forests, this state beckons you to try something new. 

Because Texas is so large (it can take a whole day just to leave the state), it’s a nice challenge to experience places that are more widely unknown. When I returned to the Lone Star State this spring, I found much of the fun to be a bit off the beaten path. 

While there are plenty of things to do, sometimes it’s the hidden gems and lesser-known facts that make the adventure worth seeking. Here are 18 fun facts I learned while traversing the bountiful state of Texas.

1: Sleep Where Bonnie and Clyde Slept

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Notorious duo Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow stayed at this Old West haunt. In 1933, the bank robbers checked into The Stockyards Hotel. 

This historic hotel was recently restored to its cattle baron-era grandeur. Today, guests can stay in the Bonnie & Clyde Junior Suite, which has memorabilia and a poem written about the outlaws. 

2: Discover the Sunday House 

Sunday houses in Texas.
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Resting in Texas Hill Country, Sunday Houses are historic homes, both practical and charming. Traditionally, farmers and ranchers would travel from their rural homes into town where they’d stay at their Sunday Houses. In town, they’d stock up on supplies, socialize, and attend church.

These historic homes typically have just two rooms, with a lean-to kitchen and an outside staircase that leads to a small bedroom upstairs. You can still visit them today and stay in originals and replicas like the Hill Country Herb Garden, Ololo, and Outlot 201 Guest Houses. 

3:  Wildflowers Galore 

Bluebonnet field in Texas.
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At Wildseed Farms, a husband-and-wife duo runs 1,000 acres of cultivated wildflowers, making Wildseed Farms one of the biggest wildflower distributors in the United States.

While there are many different varieties, I recommend visiting in early April to experience the gorgeous blankets of Red Poppies and fields awash in Bluebonnets. It’s an Americana moment.

4: Experience Mark Rothko’s Murals 

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American painter Mark Rothko created an immersive art experience in Houston. The Rothko Chapel welcomes everyone to experience fourteen murals created by the modern artist. Starchitect Philip Johnson helped design the building in 1971. 

Located in Houston’s Museum District, the non-denominational chapel has an outdoor plaza, where there is a reflecting pool and a sculpture dedicated to The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

5: World’s Largest Honky Tonk

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Built in 1910, Billy Bob’s Texas used to be a cattle barn, and during World War II, it was an airplane factory. It wasn’t until the early 1980s that Billy Bob’s reopened as a 100,000-square-foot country music nightclub with a grand dance floor and bull riding ring. 

Billy Bob’s has hosted some of music’s biggest stars, like B.B. King, Willie Nelson, Toby Keith, The Doobie Brothers, and Ray Charles. Swing by and sing your heart out. 

6: A Kaleidoscope of Butterflies 

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The Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge provides shelter for half of North America’s butterfly species. You’ll likely never see as many butterflies as when you visit this conserved land.

Located at the southernmost tip of Texas, the refuge offers fourteen miles of trails. See the cypress trees deep in the Rio Grande Valley. Adventurers can experience all the beautiful colors as butterflies drink nectar from the flowers. 

7: WWII Museum Focusing on the Pacific

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Founded in 1967, The National Museum of the Pacific War spans six acres in Fredericksburg, Texas. The museum offers a trove of information and artifacts, while taking care to highlight multiple points of view.

A family friendly museum, the Children’s Exhibit is free and open to the public. It showcases different aspects of American life during the war, through the eyes of kids. There are over 1,000 artifacts for museum visitors to check out, including an HA-19 midget submarine that was involved in the attack on Pearl Harbor.

8: Rev Your Engines 

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Texas has the fastest road in America. Along Texas State Highway 130, you can speed at 85 miles an hour. Legally.

Head east of Austin and enjoy the long open road to Seguin. But drive carefully, wild deer and hogs roam free. 

9: Peaches for Everyone 

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Before grapes became the main crop of Texas Hill Country, peaches ruled. Today, there are still peach farmers who tend to their multi-generational farms. 

When the season hits in May, locals and tourists alike dig into the fresh peaches, pies, and jellies. Some family-run peach operations worth popping by are Vogel Orchards, Burg’s Corner, Jenschke Orchards, and Fischer & Wieser’s Das Peach Haus. 

10: The Nation’s First Vineyard 

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North America’s first vineyard launched in Texas, according to the Texas Wine & Grape Growers Association. Franciscan priests started the vineyard in 1662. 

Today, Texas has over 400 vineyards and wineries among its 4,000 acres of wine-producing farmland.

11: Dia de los Muertos

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A vibrant mix of pre-Hispanic and Catholic rituals, Dia de los Muertos is a festive holiday that pays homage to one’s ancestors. Austin’s Mexic-Arte Museum has a wonderful annual festival, which is kid-friendly.  

Corpus Christi, San Antonio, San Angelo, and Victoria also have big celebrations, where costume precessions and lively festivals parade through the streets.

12: Texas Joined the U.S. by Treaty 

Texas flag.
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Unlike other states that were annexed, Texas joined the United States of America via a treaty

Before joining the United States, Texas was independent. Known as the Republic of Texas, it was a sovereign nation and lasted as its own republic from 1836 until 1845. This is why it’s nicknamed the Lone Star State.

13: Frozen Margaritas

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In 1971, Dallas restaurateur Mariano Martinez invented the frozen margarita machine. Texas became home to this tangy slushy drink.

It’s still up for debate who makes the best margarita in Texas. Some say it’s San Antonio’s Liberty Bar, others name Joe T. Garcias in Fort Worth. The jury’s still out. 

14: World’s First Indoor Rodeo 

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From Elvis Presley to President Jimmy Carter, many famous people came to watch the bulls and bronc riders at the Cowtown Coliseum. Originally called the Grand Coliseum, this indoor rodeo was built with $250,000. When it opened its doors in 1908, it became the world’s first indoor rodeo. 

The Cowtown Coliseum attracted people far and wide and experienced many notable events and performers. It later became the first to be broadcast on the radio. Today, Cowtown Coliseum hosts the world’s only year-round rodeo. 

15: Don’t Need a Law Degree To Be a Judge

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At the constitutional county court level, the judge is appointed through election. 

According to Texas law, these county judges should be well informed of the state law. However, these judges don’t need a law license to be elected. 

16: The Most Bird Species 

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Birdwatchers, gear up. Texas is home to more bird species than any other state in the U.S. This includes flamingos, mockingbirds, screech owls, and hummingbirds.

Great places to watch Texan birds include Live Oak Wilderness Trail and Enchanted Rock State Park. 

17: The Fort Worth Herd

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The City of Fort Worth has its own Texas Longhorns. To be exact, the city owns one Texas Longhorn for each decade of the city’s 170-year history. 

Every day, Fort Worth hosts its impressive cattle drive, where real-life cowhands guide the herd through town. Its claim to fame is this is the only twice-daily cattle drive in the world. 

18: Spain Landed in 1519 

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The Spaniards were the first Europeans to colonize what is today Texas. In 1519, Spanish explorer Alvarez de Peneda traced and mapped the coastline of Texas. From this, Spain claimed this as part of their territory.

Spain established missions throughout Texas, in places such as El Paso and Presidio. Some of these marvels can still be experienced today, while other missions are ruins. 

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If your teacher taught it in history class, it’s normal to assume it’s true. Ask any historian, though, and you might be surprised to learn the stuff of school history lessons is often riddled with inaccuracies. 

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Too many people have a monolithic view of Native Americans, but they’re hardly a single-minded group. Tribes vary in language, tradition, and culture. As these facts reveal, there’s a lot more to Native Americans than what you learned in school. 

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