What is Texas Known For? (21 Things Texas is Famous For!)

Texas is the second-largest state in the United States. Celebrated by Texans as the Lone Star State, it is the only state in the continental US that was once its own country–as Texans will be quick to tell you! Curious about what Texas is known for?

Here are 21 things Texas is famous for–both in and outside the Lone Star State!

Tex-Mex Food

This unique blend of traditional Mexican and Texan flavors creates a true Texas-style meal. Texans love their Tex-Mex, and you will find a huge variety throughout the state. Whether you opt for fajitas, tacos, or a cheesy stuffed avocado, your taste bud will want to return to this delectable cuisine.

The joke says that Texans judge the quality of a restaurant by their salsa. Well, that is certainly an essential element of the Tex-Mex and Mexican restaurants.

When referring you to one of their favorite places, it is not uncommon to hear that it has the “best salsa” or “best queso” as the influencing factor in the recommendation. 

Chile con queso and frozen margaritas were also both invented in Texas, and when asking what is Texas known for today, you can’t leave them off!

green plate with a texmex burrito and sides. what is texas known for includes lots of texmex dishes

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Barbecue

The perfect food for every occasion, Texans love their barbecue. This cuisine shows up for all phases of life – marriage, graduations, birthday parties, funerals, and block parties. Every enthusiast has their own special blend of spices and they will spend lots of time discussing the nuances of creating the perfect barbecue meat.

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Whether it is brisket, ribs, chicken, or sausage, nothing brings people together like good barbecue. Add a baked potato, coleslaw, or potato salad to your plate and you have a delicious, filling meal everyone will love.

plate of texas barbecue as shot from above on a checkered table cloth. food is one of the best reasons to visit texas

Ranching and Cattle

One thing Texas is known for far and wide is its longhorn cattle. Several museums along the old cattle trails celebrate the tradition of the cattle drives of the late 1800s. Grazing cattle are still a common sight throughout the state.

Texas has several dude ranches, like the Mayan Ranch, where visitors can explore ranching and get a little taste of the cattle life. Guests can ride horses, learn to rope, and learn about the creation of cattle brands.

At the Fort Worth Stockyards, visitors can still see a demonstration of a traditional cattle drive twice a day.

man on horseback driving a herd of cattle in west texas, a common sight in western texas movies

The Friendship State

The native Caddo people of today’s East Texas used the word teyshas which was then pronounced tejas by the Spanish settlers. In the Caddo tongue, the word means friend or ally.

While this word would eventually give the name to the region and the state, Texas adopted this state motto in 1930 as a reflection of both its history and the general connotation known worldwide as being friendly, warm people.

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Spindletop Oil

The discovery of oil in 1901 at the Spindletop field in Beaumont, Texas, was the beginning of Texas’ oil boom that stretches to today. Visitors to the Gulf Coast region of Texas can’t miss the large refineries which are an enormous economic driver in the region.

No matter what part of the state you visit, seeing oil wells pumping is a common sight in pastures and fields.

two oil rigs framed by a bright orange sunset. texas is famous for its oil production

Country Music

Country music is popular throughout the entire state. The state is famous for traditional singers like George Jones, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Barbara Mandrell who were household names in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, often referred to as classic country.

George Strait, referred to as ‘King George’, has been the lead figure in Texas country music from 80s into the twenty-first century. Modern female singers like Miranda Lambert, Lee Ann Womack, Kacey Musgraves, and the Dixie Chicks have made an impact on country music in the twenty-first century. 

Texans are loyal to their home state, and with the global image of the cowboy as an idealized image of Texas, it’s not surprising that so many songs have been written about this great state.

Many places in Texas have inspired songs like Austin, Dallas, and Luckenbach. Other nostalgic songs honor the state such as Take Me to Texas, God Bless Texas, Yellow Rose of Texas, If You’re Gonna Play in Texas, Blame it on Texas, and Texas on My Mind.

country music concert with crowd in the foreground

JFK Assassination

Undoubtedly one of the saddest things that Texas is known for, on November 1963, all eyes were on Dallas, Texas as the announcement spread through the airways of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

While the presidential cavalcade traveled through Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas, shots rang out from the Texas School Book Depository killing the president and seriously injuring Governor Connally of Texas.

Kenney was declared dead in Parkland Memorial Hospital and Vice President Johnson was sworn in as president on Airforce One at Dallas’ Love Field Airport. 

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The Alamo

“Remember the Alamo” is a famous cry from the Texas Revolution against Mexico. Nestled in the heart of San Antonio, this famous Spanish mission has several museums spanning the history of the area from the original Spanish explorers through the revolution and is one of the most famous Texas historic sites

The main chapel holds the native state or country flags of all the Alamo martyrs along with personal artifacts. The former barracks area holds the timeline and history of the former Spanish and Mexican colony.

Before you leave, take a stroll through the beautifully kept grounds. 

The front facade of the Alamo in San Antonio Texas as seen from the ridge side of the building

San Jacinto Monument

The San Jacinto Monument is located on the site of the last battle fought in the war for Texas Independence and stands taller than the Washington Monument in Washington, DC. The battleground and monument are located near the Houston Ship Channel in La Porte, Texas.

The battlegrounds have markers labeled identifying troop and artillery locations and timelines from the days of the conflict. The monument itself can be toured and has a small internal museum along with the names of all the troops who fought in the 

On the weekend around April 22nd, San Jacinto Battleground hosts a live reenactment of the battle. 

San Jacinto Monument in Texas as seen from across a refletion pool. This monument is one of the best Texas attractions

US Presidents from Texas

Three presidents have called Texas home, and all have served during time periods of intense social and political change.

Lyndon Baine Johnson was the Vice President of JFK and served as president during the Vietnam War. George H.W. Bush served as Vice President under Ronald Reagan and held office from 1988-1992. George W. Bush, also formerly the governor of Texas, was president during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and led the United State during the initial stages of the resulting War on Terror.

Each president chose to house their presidential library in Texas, and you can visit all three of them in Texas today.

LBJ Presidential Library

Located on the campus of the University of Texas in Austin, the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library gives visitors a real sense of the conflicts and history in the 1960s.

Visitors can see the actual presidential vehicles, White House furnishings, both personal and political photographs, and hear recordings of Johnson’s phone conversations from the sixties. 

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George H. W. Bush Presidential Library

Texas A&M University in College Station houses this dynamic presidential library. It includes many artifacts from the end of the Cold War, like a piece of the Berlin Wall, as well as the Desert Storm conflict with Iraq.

George W. Bush Presidential Library

This beautiful architectural building is located at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. The library houses many historical documents including presidential records as well as handwritten letters and telegrams from the days of the 9-11 terrorist attack.

Artifacts from the four terrorist plane crash locations are on display along with maps and materials from the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

State Fair of Texas

The State Fair in Dallas is a huge venue with so many attractions.

Big Tex, a giant statue standing over three stories tall, greats all visitors as they enter the gates. The State Fair has rides for every age group, ranging from the children’s teacups to fast roller coasters.  games, vendors, and great food.

Come early for good parking and plan to spend the whole day for great family fun.

sign for corn dogs and a ferris wheel in the background lit up at night on a fairground

NASA

Webster, Texas is home to the Johnson Space Center and has the air-flight control center for the NASA space program, hence the famous Apollo 13 line, “Houston, we have a problem.”

Exploring the Johnson Space Center Museum will take a full day. On display are the spacesuits, structures, and materials covering the history of America’s space program. 

Listen to guides tell the story of space and demonstrate life on the international space station. This is a great place to capture the kids attention and explore the wonder of our nation’s space exploration.

NASA sign with logo against a blue sky. The Houston Space Center is one of the best things to do in Houston TX

The Land and its Regions

Texas is a land of contradiction in climate and landscape. There are several geographic regions that make up the state. 

The southern and eastern part of the state runs along the Gulf of Mexico and has a wet, coastal climate. The industries in this part of the state include oil and refining, rice farms, and fishing. The weather is generally warm with high humidity.

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The eastern part of the state is known as the Piney Woods. This is a heavily forested area with lots of timber industries. The soil is also good for growing crops and hay, so there is also a lot of agriculture in the region.

The central part of the state is referred to as the Texas Hill Country. This area is drier with mesquite trees and lots of great hiking opportunities. Many state parks, along with the Austin and San Antonio, are in central Texas. The many rivers and lakes make for great tubing, boating, and fishing.

Guadalupe River in Texas lined with cypress trees

The north and panhandle area is part of the Great Plains. This has a lot of flat land with cattle ranching and wind turbines. The panhandle has the most variety of climates as it experiences both hot summers and commonly experiences snow in the winter.

West Texas has beautiful views of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. This is the driest climate in Texas and also has the highest elevation. Fort Stockton, Midland, and Odessa line the northern and eastern border of this region.

Big Bend State and National Parks make up a large portion of the southern part of West Texas. El Paso is the largest city in the region, and borders both Mexico and New Mexico.

View of Big Bend National Park from above with dramatic hills and rocky landscape, one of the best road trips from Austin

Professional Sports Teams

Of all the things that Texas is known for, one of the most enduring is definitely its many sports teams!

Here are a few of the best-known professional teams in Texas.

Dallas Cowboys

This football team is known worldwide. The Cowboy Stadium is located in Irving, Texas, in the heart of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Make your hotel reservations early and grab a seat for a great show.

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Houston Texans

The Houston Texans have a large fan base in the coastal part of the state. Playing out of NRG Stadium on the south loop of 610, this team has grown their fan base in the last decade and capitalized on the popularity of their players. Bring the family, grab some food, and cheer on the red and blue.

football on a field

Dallas Stars

The only major-league hockey team in the state, the Dallas Stars are in the Central Division of the National Hockey League. Having made the playoffs several times in the twenty-first century, the Stars’ green and black colors are worn by hockey fans across the state.

San Antonio Spurs

Basketball is a popular sport in Texas, and a favorite team in central Texas is the Spurs, who have won five NBA championships in recent decades.

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Houston Rockets

Named for the local space program, the Rockets have won several national basketball championships and has had many players achieve national renown. The court is located in the heart of downtown Houston near restaurants and parking.

group of peope cheering on a sports game at a bar, what is texas known for includes famous sports teams

 

 

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