There’s no shortage of things to do in Texas. Known for the slogan “Everything is bigger in Texas,” the second-largest state in the union often proves this to be true.
Texas is proud of its big attractions, from the biggest state fair, with the biggest cowboy, to the biggest steak. In fact, it offers plenty of strange and quirky things to do as well.
Saddle up and join us as we explore unusual things to do in The Lonestar State.
Let’s giddy up!
The Interesting History of Texas
The Lone Star State has a complicated history that bears some examination. Before Europeans arrived in the early 16th century, several Native American cultures populated the area.
For 200 years, the Spanish controlled modern-day Texas, but the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 changed everything. The United States government said that the territory included Texas, but Mexico (under Spanish control) swore it didn’t.
Rather than accept the border at the Sabine River, settlers moved into the territory uninvited. When Mexico declared independence from Spain in 1821, Texas became a Mexican state.
Comanche raids in the state encouraged Mexican Texas to open immigration to settlers from the U.S., Europe, and other parts of Mexico. Land grants brought settlers in, and one name stands out, Austin.
Moses Austin passed his land grant to his son Stephen F. Austin who sold land to the “Old Three Hundred.” These men created a colony along the Brazos River.
By 1832 the Texan settlers were unhappy with Mexican rule and itching for a change. The Texas Revolution began in 1835 at the Battle of Gonzales.
The Battle of the Alamo is the most famous moment in Texas history. Santa Anna defeated the Texian defenders after a thirteen-day siege.
Texian General Sam Houston defeated Santa Anna’s forces at the Battle of San Jacinto in 1836, and the Republic of Texas was born. In 1845, Texas achieved statehood under James K. Polk.
Texas is known for six flags: Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, The United States of America, and The Confederate States of America.
This is just scratching the surface here of how Texas came to be. With its extensive history, it shouldn’t surprise you that Texas has plenty of things to do within its borders.
Let’s take a look at some of the stranger adventures.
#1 Alien Gravesite, Aurora
First, we have a spot that is other worldly. Everyone knows about the Roswell, New Mexico, link to UFOs, but did you know about the connection in Texas? In 1897 outside of Aurora, Texas, a UFO destroyed a windmill on the property of Judge J.S. Proctor.
Army officer T.J. Weems declared the deceased pilot to be “not of this world.” Shortly after the event, a traveling pastor buried the body in the Aurora Cemetery.
While some claim the crash was a hoax drummed up to bring tourists, others say differently. A well filled with the debris from the collision caused a mysterious case of arthritis in the property’s new owner.
You can still visit the gravesite in the Aurora Cemetery. But don’t try to figure out if this is real or not. Strange radiation from the gravesite makes ground-penetrating radar inconclusive. Do you believe?
#2 Barney Smith’s Toilet Seat Art Museum, The Colony
Next up is a unique destination nestled in the northern part of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex we can’t close the lid on. Master plumber Barney Smith has amassed a collection of decorated toilet seats that you can’t miss.
Seats painted with everything from license plates to maps to the Virgin of Guadalupe cover the installation. The artist himself takes care of Smith’s collection of artwork on unusual canvas.
Smith’s daughter is sworn to protect the exhibit after he passes. If you want to see this wonder, head over to The Truckyard in The Colony. You can get food and drinks, enjoy live music, and take a front seat for one of the stranger things to do in Texas.
#3 Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo
If you ever wondered where good cars go to die, wonder no more. In far west Texas, Stanley Marsh 3 and The Ant Farm (a San Francisco art collective) gave us his answer.
Ten classic Cadillacs are half-buried just off of I-40, west of Amarillo. The Ant Farm installed the cars facing west at the same angle as Cheops’ pyramid.
Graffiti covers every inch of the Cadillacs. Visitors wishing to add their own artwork may do so. In 2005, Marsh painted the cars all pink in honor of breast cancer survivors.
But don’t try to take anything other than photos. If you swipe a sign, you might end up in Marsh’s chicken coop for the day.
Pro Tip: Plan your trip to Cadillac Ranch with our guide on how to visit it!
#4 Cathedral of Junk, Austin
You know the phrase “Keep Austin Weird?” Well, Vince Hannemann does his level best to keep things as weird as possible. Sixty tons of mostly bicycles cover his property in towers of unwanted items.
Hannemann started his art installation in 1989 while in his twenties. The Cathedral of Junk seems to be a constantly evolving art project, with Hannemann rebuilding sections over the years.
The pyramid of televisions is the only display permanently defunct after nearby neighbors complained. Instead of a landfill, the TVs found their way into Hannemann’s Zen garden.
If you want to check out the Cathedral of Junk or get married there, just check in with Vince first. For a $5 entry fee, you can find yourself among more repurposed items than you could have ever imagined.
All this makes the Cathedral of Junk one of the quirkiest things to do in Texas.
Pro Tip: Use our tips on how to visit The Cathedral of Junk on your Texas adventure.
#5 Congress Avenue Bridge Bats, Austin
Not far from the Cathedral of Junk is the Congress Avenue bridge. Austin may be famous for music, tech, and food. But the Congress Avenue bridge bats have notoriety all their own as well.
Each night around twilight, beginning in March, tens of thousands of bats fly out searching for food. In 1980, a renovation made the bridge the ideal habitat for Mexican Free-tailed bats. Shortly after the city finished the renovation, the bats came in droves.
Now, it can take up to forty-five minutes for all bats to fly out. If bird watching isn’t your thing, check out the bats in Austin. In central Texas, this is one of the things you can’t afford to miss.
#6 Futuro House, Royse City
Things to do in Texas are sometimes a little strange. That is to say, in a state with an Alien Gravesite, it’s not surprise the Futuro House in Royse City exists.
In the late 1960s, architect Matti Suuronen designed a portable ski chalet. The Futuro House is a perfect example of a unique prefabricated home.
The latest information from the Futuro House website suggests it’s up for sale for only $20,000. The landowner needed the current site for something much more critical, a parking lot.
#7 Kettle House, Galveston
Beaches attract some of the most exciting people, and Galveston is no exception. The Kettle House is a one-of-a-kind structure created as part of a bad deal. Additionally, it now can be your house for a day or two while you visit Texas!
Graver Tank & Manufacturing Company made a giant steel ball for a client in the 1960s. The client ended up not wanting a big hollow ball, but Clayton Stokely decided he did.
Originally meant to be a store, Stokely suffered a stroke shortly after construction began. In 2017, Kettle House went on the market, and local couple Michael and Ashley Cordray purchased the house.
The couple renovated the home for their TV show, Save 1900. You can book Kettle House on Airbnb for $300 a night during the off-season to enjoy this unusual thing to do in Texas.
#8 National Museum of Funeral History, Houston
If the macabre is more your style, you can always check out this weird thing to do in Texas. The death industry is booming. Due to this, the National Museum of Funeral History digs deep.
Want a visual history of embalming? Who wouldn’t! Have a fascination with fantasy coffins from Africa? They’ve got them! There’s even an exhaustive exhibit on presidential funerals dating back to the country’s beginning.
The NMFH is a one-stop-shop! The museum also houses an embalming school. Just mind the steps on the way out, or you may never leave.
While you’re in the area, check out the Big Bubble. A red button on the Preston Street Bridge begs you to push it. In this case, you actually can. The button agitates the Buffalo Bayou, and this eco-art installation sets the whole thing in motion.
#9 Superconducting Super Collider, Waxahachie
Just south of Dallas, Waxahachie is home to the Superconducting Super Collider. To clarify, it’s home to what was supposed to be the SSC.
In 1976, scientists proposed the SSC, and by the mid-1980s, the Department of Energy accepted the proposal. The DOE completed its survey in the early 1980s.
However, in 1993, after 17 shafts were bored and miles of tunnel drilled, things went south. Unfortunately, the government cut funding for the project and abandoned the area.
Once a promise for advanced research, the site is currently owned by the Magnablend Chemical Factory. The company renovated the previous SSC buildings and reopened the area for business.
The Munster Mansion is nearby if you want a two-for-one experience while in the area. Charles and Sandra McKee created this replica of the popular television series in 2001. You can tour with three friends for $120 or participate in a murder mystery dinner.
#10 The Traveling Man, Dallas
Deep Ellum is one of the funkiest neighborhoods in Dallas. The area is full of bars, music venues, and art museums. Not all of the art is inside, though.
The Traveling Man, built by sculptor Brad Oldham, took the place of murals that welcomed visitors to the area. When city transit put in the light rail, the statues became the ambassadors for Deep Ellum. Each of the three figures is just part of the story for the Traveling Man.
As the lore goes, when someone spilled some gin in the street, an abandoned train car transformed into a man. You can see the Traveling Man emerge, crawl, and walk through Deep Ellum.
Texas Keeps Things Weird and Unusual
Texas is such a big state that you’ll never run out of things to do. Firstly, make sure to check out some unique otherworldly attractions. Secondly, check out some unusual art exhibits. Our list should be enough to get you started on your bucket list of things to do in the Lone Star State. But above all, take some time to enjoy all the unique sites Texas has to offer.
Have you visited any of these unusual Texas sites? Tell us about your experience in the comments.
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