17 BIG Texas Attractions
The world’s largest livestock show... the biggest state capitol... the largest urban bat colony in North America -- we’re just getting started. See what else is really, really big in Texas.
Texas State FairGet ready for 24 days of excitement... and lots of fried food: deep-fried Oreos, deep-fried s'mores, deep-fried pork ribs, deep-fried peanut butter… did we say “fried”? But first, hop aboard this 212-foot-high Ferris wheel, the largest in North America, at the Texas State Fair -- a tradition since 1886 that takes place every fall at Dallas’ historic Fair Park. 960 1280
Texas State CapitolWhen the Texas State Capitol was unveiled in 1888, it was billed as the “Seventh Largest Building in the World.” It’s still pretty spectacular: Surrounded by 22 acres of grounds and monuments, the capitol in Austin, Texas, has nearly 400 rooms and over 900 windows, making it the largest state capitol in the U.S. 960 1280
Congress Avenue Bridge BatsBats, bats and more bats. Every spring, hundreds of thousands of mostly female, pregnant Mexican free-tailed bats migrate north to give birth; the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge in downtown Austin is their favorite hangout. See this spectacular sight for yourself -- it’s the largest urban bat colony in North America. 960 1280
Cowboys StadiumGo Cowboys! Venture inside the Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, and prepare to be wowed: With a seating capacity of 85,000 spectators, it’s the third-largest stadium in the NFL. It’s also home to the world's largest column-free interior and the fourth largest high-def video screen. Plus, it’s the world’s largest domed structure.
Houston RodeoCheck out heart-stopping action like this at the Houston Rodeo, the world's biggest live entertainment and livestock exhibition, held each March. The annual 20-day show attracts between 60,000 and 150,000 people each day. 960 1280
The AlamoRemember the Alamo! Visit the Alamo, a Roman Catholic mission and fortress of yore near modern-day San Antonio that saw 13 days of battle between Mexican and Texan forces in 1836. Each year, more than 2.5 million people visit the 4.2-acre complex, which endures as a dramatic symbol of Texas’ independence from Mexico.
San Antonio River WalkTalk a stroll along the San Antonio River Walk, a lively pedestrian walkway along the banks of the river lined with shops, bars and restaurants. Or glide along in an open-air taxi. Quieter stretches of the river walk await along its northern section, known as Museum Reach; a river taxi stop is located here, near the San Antonio Museum of Art. 960 1280
SchlitterbahnSplish-splash, plunge into fun at Schlitterbahn, a family-owned-and-operated waterpark with several locations throughout Texas. Take your pick: the 26-acre Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark, the 15-acre Schlitterbahn Beach Waterpark on South Padre Island, and in summer 2013 Schlitterbahn Cedar Park, an entertainment resort eventually slated to span 95 acres. 960 1280
Barbecue in Lockhart, TexasDon't leave Texas without tearing into a rack of BBQ ribs. THE place to go is Lockhart, Texas. Billed as the “Barbecue Capital of Texas,” this small city 25 miles southeast of Austin is home to four major barbecue restaurants (including Kreuz Market), which attract roughly 250,000 BBQ-lovers each year. 960 1280
SeaWorld San AntonioWhat kid wouldn’t love this? Find these adorable bottlenose dolphins at SeaWorld San Antonio’s Dolphin Cove. The 250-acre marine mammal park, oceanarium and animal theme park is the largest of the three waterparks in the SeaWorld chain; it is also home to the world’s largest marine-life park. 960 1280
Texas Hill CountryIn a state second only to Alaska in size, take time out for a Texas day trip to a place refreshingly... mall. Kick back in the tranquil town of Fredericksburg, Texas. Located in the heart of Texas Hill Country, the town still retains the personable touch of its early settlement days, in 1846 by 120 German immigrants. Explore quaint shops like this, big on small-town charm. 960 1280
Palo Duro CanyonPut your pedal to the metal with a mountain-bike trek through Palo Duro. Known as the “Grand Canyon of Texas,” this sweep of rock and mesa walls in the Texas Panhandle is the second largest canyon in the U.S. For more natural wonders, head south to Big Bend National Park, the largest protected area of Chihuahuan Desert in the U.S. 960 1280
South by SouthwestThe largest music festival of its kind in the world, South by Southwest attracts more than 2,000 performers each year, playing in 100 venues. Recent headliners have included Lee Ann Womack and Lucinda Williams, along with conference guests like Al Gore, author Neil Gaiman and... Grumpy Cat. 960 1280
Rio Grande ValleyIf it’s bird-watching you’re after, head to the Rio Grande Valley. Situated in the southernmost tip of South Texas, the valley is home to more than 500 bird species, including many tropical bird species -- found nowhere else in the U.S. -- that don’t stray far from the tranquil Rio Grande River (pictured). 960 1280
Billy Bob’s TexasTexas and honky-tonk go hand-in-hand, and the place for all the boot-stomping action is Billy Bob’s Texas. This country-and-western nightclub in the Fort Worth Stockyards, near Dallas, bills itself as the “world’s largest honky-tonk -- and with more than 127,000 square feet, that’s no exaggeration. 960 1280
Johnson Space CenterThink you have the right stuff? Find out at Johnson Space Center, a 1,621-acre complex where NASA astronauts and international partners train for space missions. Take a tram tour past sites such as Historic Mission Control, where NASA once monitored space programs. 960 1280
Dallas ZooIf you’ve got kids, they’ll want to see this zoo. Spanning 106 acres, the Dallas Zoo ranks as the largest of its kind in Texas. It’s also the oldest (established in 1888), with an impressive list of exotic creatures: Find them in the “Giants of the Savanna,” an 11-acre expanse home to giraffes, impala, zebras, lions, cheetahs, elephants and more. 960 1280
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Macy's Thanksgiving Day ParadeHead to the Big Apple for Macy’s annual Thanksgiving Day Parade. The three-hour event starts at 9 a.m. Thanksgiving Day, but better come early (and wear warm clothes); crowds start arriving hours earlier to stake out a spot. If a 5 a.m. wakeup call’s not your thing, these NYC Hotels offer great views of the parade’s lineup of floats, clowns and more. 960 1280
Breeders' CupWondering where to travel in November? Start by taking in two days of action-packed thoroughbred horse races. The annual Breeders’ Cup World Championship kicks off this month at California’s oldest racetrack, Santa Anita Park. Better grab your tickets fast, though; attendance is usually much higher than other stake races in North America. 960 1280
MovemberBros! Ditch the razor for a month-long celebration of some fierce facial hair. Movember (the month formerly known as November) unfolds with dozens of runs and gala parties nationwide to raise awareness of men’s health issues. That spells one perfect excuse to finally try out that wicked handlebar ’stache.
The Day of the DeadFamilies decorate the graves of loved ones throughout Mexico as part of this annual national holiday. A blend of pre-Columbian and Catholic traditions, Day of the Dead may sound notoriously spooky to outsiders. But to those who celebrate it, the day offers a way to reflect and share in treasured memories of loved ones through acts of commemoration, including making altars like this.
Black FridayAmerica at its finest, folks. Yes, you too can trample over terrified cashiers in pursuit of a bargain HD TV. If you prefer something a little more orderly this Black Friday, head to some of America’s best shopping malls. Our top pick: Mall of America, home to more than 180 retailers. Bring your ID and some good walking shoes. Plus better remember where you parked! 960 1280
Busiest Travel Days, Start Planning!Notoriously long lines and long waits: The day before Thanksgiving ranks as the busiest travel day of the year. Drive, fly or take the train -- we don’t care how you get here, just as long as you arrive in notorious aplomb and style (no fugly Thanksgiving sweaters, please). 960 1280
NYC MarathonLace up your sneakers for the New York City Marathon. More than 50,000 people compete in the world’s largest marathon. Cheer on the participants as they race through the city’s five boroughs and head to the finish line if you’re not competing in the 26-mile run. 960 1280
NASCAR Sprint for the CupFeeling the need for speed? NASCAR enthusiasts will feel it in droves at one of the country's best NASCAR racetracks, the Homestead-Miami Speedway. This month, the motor racing track hosts the annual NASCAR Sprint for the Cup, in which racing’s top drivers will compete for the championship trophy – it all unfolds in the Ford EcoBoost 400 season finale. 960 1280
Native American Heritage MonthHeroic resolve in the midst of often notorious treatment defines Native American Heritage Month. Kick off this special month of commemoration -- and appreciation -- with a visit to this dazzling waterfall, tucked in a land in the heart of the Grand Canyon that’s been home to the Havasupai American Indian tribe for nearly 1,000 years.
San Diego Bay Wine + Food FestivalNotoriously passionate wine and food lovers descend on Southern California each November for the region’s largest festival of its kind. How notorious are we talking? Well, let’s just say any festival that lures some of the best national chefs, local culinary stars, and celebrated winemakers and brewmasters means serious gastronomic pleasure is in order. 960 1280
Fun Fun Fun FestThe darling of independent festivals for music lovers and music-makers alike, Fun Fun Fun Fest has some notoriously serious creds. Ever since its launch in 2006, this annual festival has skyrocketed beyond its downtown Austin roots to world-renowned status, attracting artists and their fans from around the globe.
Deer Hunting SeasonNotorious to some, delectably yummy to others, deer-hunting season begins with a bang -- sorry, Bambi -- come November. That’s because the month is prime deer-mating season: Male bucks are often so distracted by the urge to mate they may not detect the sound of Grandpa Earl’s carbine locking and loading off in the distance. Head to states like Kentucky, New Hampshire and Minnesota for the hunt.
Arlington National CemeteryOn a sunny autumn day in November 1963, America’s love affair with Camelot came to a shattering end. Just weeks before his assassination, JFK visited Arlington National Cemetery and, standing atop a hill, said he could spend eternity there. Today, he is one of two presidents buried on the 600-acre grounds, an eternal flame placed by his widow Jackie to outshine one of the most notorious moments in U.S. history. 960 1280
Chicago’s The Food Film FestivalFood in the theater?! The sight may be a notorious no-no to crabby old docents, but at this annual festival, the paired enjoyment of food and film -- from the comfort of a theater seat -- is a must. The annual event, now in its third year, invites audience members to actually taste some of the dishes they see before them on the big screen.
ThanksgivingMmm, mmm, good! Perfectly succulent (when baked right), the turkey takes center stage at many holiday tables. America cooks up more than 45 million turkeys for Thanksgiving, plus another 22 million come Christmastime, which adds up to a whole lotta post-meal sleepiness.
The RockettesLet’s go girls! Those sky-high kicks, those naughty smiles -- oh, it certainly wouldn’t be a notoriously fun November without the Rockettes. During the holiday season, the legendary dance company kicks it into high gear with five shows a day, seven days a week. See the grand show unfold in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, presented at Radio City Music Hall. 960 1280
16 Things to Do in November 16 Photos