Texas Travel for Tykes; Big Adventures for the Littlest Visitors to the Lone Star State

AUSTIN, Texas, April 8 /PRNewswire/ — Texas’ wide open spaces are matched in size only by the imaginations of its young travelers. Future astronauts, zoologists and wannabe cowboys can explore their biggest dreams here — or just get lost in the thrill of a theme park or the warm sun shining down on the Gulf of Mexico.

“Texas is a great family vacation destination,” says Julie Chase, Director of Tourism for the office of Texas Governor Rick Perry. “There are so many adventures for kids of all ages from the Gulf Coast to Big Bend and everywhere in between.”

Cowboy for a Day

Lil’ pardners looking for a taste of the Old West will find saddles to hop in all over the state. Almost 100 working Texas ranches cater to guests, with cattle, cowpokes and authentic chuckwagon dinners. The famous King Ranch along the Gulf Coast, scenic Bandera (aka “The Cowboy Capital of the World”) just northwest of San Antonio and the breathtaking sunsets and vistas of West Texas are just a few of the spots offering equine adventures and rustic relaxation.

Families vacationing in more urban areas can still add a dose of cowboy flavor to their trips — in Texas, an evening at the rodeo or a two-step lesson at an authentic dance hall are part of the fun in even the largest Texas cities.

Pioneer New Fields

Horseback riding is one way for young travelers to experience pioneer territory — but Texas’ world-class museums, zoos and aquariums also bring exciting new adventures all under one roof. The Lone Star State houses everything from renowned natural history and children’s museums to a tribute to Dr Pepper.

Kids can discover the past at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin. Or they can blast to new worlds entirely at NASA/Johnson Space Center in Houston or at the McDonald Observatory in West Texas, home to the darkest night skies in the continental United States. Another can’t-miss night wonder is the famous Marfa lights.

“One of the great things about Texas is that we have three of the country’s 10 largest cities and all the world-class attractions that go along with them, but we still have the spirit of the Old West and its wide open spaces,” said Chase. “Families who come to vacation can easily combine the urban and rural in one trip.”

Dive Into Fun

More new worlds await underwater in the Lone Star State. Along the more than 600 miles of Texas beaches, the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico meet the state’s 80 degree median temperatures, making Texas beaches among the most calming and beautiful in the nation. There are countless sandcastles to build, unrelenting surf to tame and infinite shells to find. Activities perfect for families include parasailing, boating, dolphin watching, bird watching, deep sea fishing and just lazing on the pristine beaches.

Those who prefer freshwater are in luck, too. Texas has hundreds of old- fashioned swimming holes scattered throughout the state, from Barton Springs Pool in Austin to San Solomon Springs in Balmorhea State Park. The state is also home to numerous lakes perfect for swimming, boating, jet skiing and fishing.

Sleeping Under Lone Stars

Another fun, affordable outdoor activity for the whole family has a simple recipe — a tent, a cooler and beautiful Texas scenery. Texas has plenty of parks, RV sites and cabins to set the stage for enjoying ghost stories and gooey marshmallows under a blanket of stars. Beginning and experienced campers alike can enjoy hiking, backpacking and rock climbing adventures everywhere from Palo Duro Canyon to the Piney Woods of East Texas.

Animal lovers are in for a treat, too — 600 species of birds have been spotted in Texas, more than any other state. Little travelers can have hours of fun adding new feathered friends to their checklists.

Wild Rides

Those needing a little more than ghost stories to get the adrenaline pumping need look no further than Texas’ three Six Flags theme parks, each with monster roller coasters and other exciting rides, stunt shows featuring DC Comics Super Heroes, musical productions and even fun rides for very young children. Texas is also home to SeaWorld San Antonio and some of the nation’s best water parks, including the famous Schlitterbahn.

But not all water rides are for the thrill seekers. Families can spend lazy days floating along Texas’ many lush rivers, including the Comal, San Marcos, Frio and Guadalupe. Some of the rivers, being spring fed, remain crystal-clear and refreshing all year long.

“Whether your family seeks a heart-pounding adventure or a laid-back getaway, and whether your tastes run to the natural or manmade attractions, you can find what you’re looking for here in Texas,” said Chase.

About Tourism In Texas

Tourism is one of the largest industries in Texas, employing 477,000 Texans. In 2003, travelers spent more than $41.2 billion in Texas. Travel expenditures generated $2.2 billion in state taxes and $661 million in local taxes. For more information on Texas travel events and vacation destinations, visit http://www.traveltex.com/ or for a free Texas State Travel Guide call 1-800-8888-TEX.

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