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The nation’s second largest state, Texas covers 258,000 square miles in the American Southwest. Visitors to the Lone Star State find its allure is as wide as its borders; the state overflows with a rich, conflicted history, paired with world-famous annual events and sites that evoke pure Texas hip.

A must-see is the Alamo, site of one of the most notorious battles in North American history. Located in San Antonio, the Alamo is revered as a tribute to Texans who, in 1836, held off a much larger force of Mexican troops. Also in San Antonio travelers find the city’s famed River Walk, which follows the live oak-lined path of the San Antonio River past elegant and casual dining, eclectic shopping, and all manner of hotels.

Houston, in southeast Texas, is home to another top attraction, NASA’s Johnson Space Center and its visitor center, Space Center Houston. Would-be astronauts can take a NASA tram tour and visit the original Mission Control or spend a more hands-on, activity-filled day with Space Center Houston’s interactive exhibits.

In Austin, the capital city and the live music capital of the world, music lovers descend on the city for Austin City Limits in early fall. The city is likewise home to SXSW, a huge film and music festival held across multiple venues. Austin also boasts an up-and-coming culinary scene, along with eclectic neighborhoods and four blocks of entertainment bliss in the Warehouse District.

Texas offers a huge choice of annual events, all embraced as purely Texan. Outside of Austin, travelers head to Houston’s Livestock Show & Rodeo (March), the world’s largest livestock exhibition. Fiesta San Antonio (April) is a 10-day celebration with more than 100 events citywide. Grapefest, the biggest wine festival in the Southwest, arrives in Grapevine every September. And perhaps the most essential Texas event? The State Fair of Texas, held each September in Dallas, is home to tallest Ferris wheel in North America, the largest new car show in the Southwest and the iconic 52-foot-tall cowboy figure, Big Tex.

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