Don't Forget the Gift Shop
Take a tour of Texas' world-class, wondrous, and wacky museums
Some things you just have to see in person. From history-making locations like the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas to Claude Monet's Water Lilies at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, art and history abound across Texas.
Whether the museums are showcasing our state's prehistoric history or displaying works from contemporary Texas artists — plus chronicling a president or two — there's an exhibition for everybody.
Here's where to while away a few hours in five top Texas cities:
Stroll around the largest arts district in the country by area and you'll find the heavy-hitters: Dallas Museum of Art, Nasher Sculpture Center, Crow Museum of Asian Art, and Perot Museum of Nature and Science, the last one complete with a giant dinosaur skeleton towering over the Woodall Rodgers Freeway.
Nearby in the city's West End, you can spend a few reflective hours in the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum and then cross the street to Dealey Plaza, the site of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The Sixth Floor Museum — named for the perch in the Texas School Book Depository where Lee Harvey Oswald camped out — chronicles the shooting, conspiracy, and legacy of the 35th U.S. president.
In Fair Park, visit the African American Museum of Dallas for one of the largest African American folk art collections in the U.S., or head north for the Museum of Biblical Art, which is also home to the National Center for Jewish Art.
On the Southern Methodist University campus you'll find the Meadows Museum, nicknamed "Prado on the Prairie" for its impressive collection of works centered on the art and culture of Spain.
The George W. Bush Presidential Center is also on the college campus, and looks at the life and career of No. 43 through 43,000 artifacts, gifts, and documents collected during his presidency.
On the southeastern corner of Love Field airport, the Frontiers of Flight Museum displays the collection of noted aviation historian George Haddaway along with more than 40 air and space vehicles. The Apollo 7 Command Module, a model of the 1903 Wright flyer, and the V-173 “Flying Pancake” are just a few examples of aerocrafts found within the hangar.
If you're looking for something a little more niche, duck into the Harwood District restaurant St. Ann and head upstairs to see nearly 1,000 examples of Japanese samurai armor at the free Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum.
Likewise, a trip to Frisco can bring out the kid in everyone with a stop at the National Videogame Museum to learn about the industry's history and play the games of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
The Fort Worth Cultural District is where you'll find the city's major museums, from the architecturally striking Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and Kimbell Art Museum to the towering orange building that holds the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History.
The Amon Carter Museum of American Art is also a stone's throw away, as is the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, the only building in the world dedicated to honoring trailblazing women of the American West.
In Sundance Square sits the Sid Richardson Museum, which holds a comprehensive group of works by Frederic Remington, Charles Russell, and more depicting the American West.
The big one here is the Blanton Museum of Art, but you can also visit The Contemporary Austin and the UMLAUF Sculpture Garden + Museum for more incredible art.
Named after the state’s 38th Lieutenant Governor, Bob Bullock, the Bullock Texas State History Museum traces the Lone Star State's history from its first inhabitants through to the 21st century.
Located on the grounds of the University of Texas at Austin, the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum walks visitors through choices and decisions made by the 36th president. Insider tip: Anyone with “Lyndon” anywhere in their name gets free admission.
Boasting 19 museums in four walkable zones, the Houston Museum District is easy to navigate.
Zone 1 contains the Menil Collection, while Zone 2 has Asia Society Texas, the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, Czech Center Museum Houston, Holocaust Museum Houston, and the Houston Museum of African American Culture.
Head over to Zone 3 and find the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, which houses Claude Monet's famous Water Lilies.
Zone 4 is home to the Houston Museum of Natural Science, Children's Museum Houston, and the Health Museum, where you can get an up-close look at the human body from wild angles.
Browse the most comprehensive collection of ancient Roman, Greek, and Egyptian art in the southern U.S. at the San Antonio Museum of Art, or hit up the first modern art museum in Texas, the McNay Art Museum. Ruby City is another contemporary must-stop.
The San Antonio Art League & Museum is the oldest arts organization in the Alamo City and focuses exclusively on Texas artists.
Villa Finale Museum & Gardens contains a vast collection of oddities, especially an excess of 19th- and early 20th-century Napoleon Bonaparte artifacts — 843 to be exact — including a bronze death mask.
Cowboys and Western art abound at the Briscoe Western Art Museum, while a massive collection of taxidermy animals and proud Texas narratives about the Texas Rangers awaits at The Buckhorn Saloon & Museum and The Texas Ranger Museum.
At the Texas Transportation Museum, you can take a train ride and ogle retro train carts, model trains, old cars, and more.
The San Antonio Fire Museum, operated by the San Antonio Fire Museum Society, displays artifacts and photos dating back to the 1800s. Kids can even climb on a 1953 International fire truck, built by the Simms Fire Equipment Company.
The DoSeum also lets kids get hands-on with interactive exhibits.
The Witte Museum spans dinosaurs to cowboys and explores the history, culture, and natural science of South Texas, with several rotating exhibits.
No matter where your next adventure takes you, a Hilton hotel is waiting for you.
With over 550 Hilton hotels spanning across the state of Texas, the possibilities to earn more while exploring the Lone Star State are endless.