Rodeos, Tex-Mex food, and the Alamo are a few things we instantly correlate with Texas, but besides these, what is Texas famous for?
Texas is the second largest, both in terms of land area (behind Alaska) and population (after California). It’s easy to understand why it’s such a popular and well-known state. Located in South-Central USA, it borders Mexico to the south, New Mexico to the West, Oklahoma to the north, Arkansas to the northeast, and Louisiana to the east.
With more than 250 million visitors per year, Texas is one of the most visited states in the union, with several famous monuments and landmarks to visit and explore.
So, without further ado, let’s explore what is Texas famous for?
What is Texas famous for?
#1 Huge state
Texas is famously big. With 268 596 square miles, it is the second-largest state of the union, only after Alaska. If Texas was an independent state, it would be the 39th biggest country in the world, bigger than France or Spain, almost twice the size of Japan, and more than doubling the size of the United Kingdom. If we want to measure it in time, it takes roughly 14 hours to drive across Texas.
Though there are long stretches of land with very few people, it is also the second in terms of population, with 29.1 million residents in 2020. Only California has a bigger population. Some of the main cities in Texas are also among the biggest in the USA. With 2 304 580 people, Houston is the 4th, while San Antonio is the 7th, Dallas the 9th, and Austin the 11th.
The catchphrase “Everything is bigger in Texas” exists for a reason… It’s a cliché, but it’s also kind of truth.
#2 Oil and gas
Oil and Gas is the main industry in Texas – it is the biggest contributor to the GDP and the most famous export in the state. Oil transformed the state’s culture deeply, and Texas became a place where fortunes could be made, attracting more and more people.
Drilling started in the 19th century, but in 1901 in Spindletop, everything changed when a great gusher erupted in the oil well being drilled by a mining engineer, Capt. A. F. Lucas. This was the first salt dome oil discovery, and thousands of barrels of oil flowed, creating a sensation throughout the world and encouraging exploration and drilling in Texas. Texas oil production exploded from less than 1M barrels in 1900 to almost 20M in 1902.
With 5.9M barrels per year, today, Texas is the biggest oil and natural gas-producing state, accounting for more than 40% of the total oil and 25% of natural gas production. No matter where you are, large refineries or oil wells are one of the most common sights in Texas.
What is Texas known for? Cowboys, and Cowboy culture, for sure. When one thinks about texas, Cowboys, and everything that comes with it is one of the first things to come to mind. Texas culture and tradition are very associated with the cowboys’ legends and symbols. Particularly the skillful, brave, adventurous, and independent man who represents many of the founding values of the USA.
Texas, and San Antonio in particular, are considered the birthplace of the American cowboy culture, with everything that comes with it, bull riding, rope steering, rodeos, country music… It all dates back to the early days with vaqueros on the Mission ranches. When Spain ruled Texas, the “vaqueros” (literally Cowboys in Spanish) filled the mission ranges.
Today, this cowboy culture is still part of the Texan spirit, and it’s possible to see and explore it in the old-time dance halls in the Texas Hill Country and the ranches throughout the state. There are plenty of opportunities for visitors to immerse themselves in a truly authentic Western experience.
An American-style rodeo usually comprises tie-down roping, team roping, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, bareback bronc riding, bull riding, and barrel racing contests. The events are generally divided into two basic categories the rough stock events and the timed events.
More than a thing that Texas is famous for, the American rodeo has been the official state sport of Texas since 1997. But also from Wyoming and South Dakota. It’s no surprise that every small town in Texas holds annual rodeos, drawing thousands of cowboys from across the country to compete against each other.
Cattle ranching in Texas goes back to the Spanish period when Spain established the missions with priests, soldiers, colonists, and 4,800 head of Spanish cattle. Historically, it became one of the most important industries in the state’s economy, a major economic driver that created the traditional image of the Texas Cowboys.
Even today, ranching is an important part of Texas’ economy, grossing about 10 Billion USD. Texas is the biggest producer of beef cattle in the US and home to almost 250 000 farms and ranches. Among these ranches, the most famous is King Ranch, considered the biggest ranch in the world and a Texas Landmark. King Ranch is so big that it sprawls across 825,000 acres of South Texas, an area larger than Rhode Island.
#6 Country music
Cowboys and Cowboy culture also led to the spread of country music in Texas, and even creating the subgenre Texas country music. This subgenre is known for combining traditional country with a more carefree outlaw country music. Texas country blends the common working man theme with witty undertones and stripped-down music.
Some of the most famous traditional singers include Wilie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, George Jones, and George Jones more recently. There are also a few modern female singers impacting country music, like Miranda Lamber or the Dixies Chicks.
The Texan country music is ofter inspired by places like Austin, Dallas, or Luckenbach; others are nostalgic and/or are written about the state and its culture in general like Texas on my mind, Take Me to Texas, God Bless Texas, Yellow Rose of Texas, If You’re Gonna Play in Texas, and Blame it on Texas.
#7 Live Music performances
Live performance is at the very root of the Texas Country scene, so it’s no surprise that Texas is also famous for its live music scene. Both the bands and the crowds at a live texas country music performance are enthusiastic. A common sight in the Texan clubs where this music is performed includes girls and boys in cowboy hats and Wranglers two-stepping next to the mosh pit.
Another important factor is the frequency of live performances per year in the state – one band can have more than 200 dates in a year. Moreover, Austin is famous for being the live-music capital of America, with over 100 venues in the city. Many of these are naturally country music, but you can find a huge variety of genres, too, from jazz to country, indie rock to blues.
#8 Gun-friendly culture
Texas is famously known for being an extremely gun-friendly state. Owning and carrying a gun is part of this cowboy culture, independence, self-defense, and self-reliance. We will not enter the guns / any guns debate, but it is a big deal in Texas. Recently, Texas has been loosening up, even more, its laws, and now Texans can now openly carry guns in public without a permit or training.
On the other hand, we should note that despite this huge reputation of being gun-friendly, Texas is not even the most gun-friendly state, as there are a few others with even more loose laws about owning and carrying a gun. Texas has the most registered guns, with 588 696, though it’s not even close to being the highest per capita due to its size. That trophy goes to Wyoming with an unbelievable 229 guns per 1 000 people.
“Houston, we have a problem” – do we really need to explain much more than remind you of these famous words…? We do. That’s what we are here for.
One of NASA’s most important infrastructures is located in Houston, Texas. The Lyndon Johnson space center is NASA’s center for human spaceflight, where training, research, and flight control are conducted. It has the lead center for U.S. space missions involving astronauts. It’s where mission control is located, So when we hear the expressions “Houston…” or “Mission Control” in the movies, they are talking to Texas!
From the early Gemini, Apollo, and Skylab projects to today’s International Space Station and Space Shuttle Programs, the Space center continues to lead efforts in human space exploration. The visitors center is also one of the best things to do in Houston, featuring actual spacecraft, like the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo capsules, and a walk-in space through state-of-the-art simulators.
Fun fact: The original quote from the Apollo 13 movie was actually: “Houston, we have had a problem,” but in popular culture, what really stayed was “Houston, we have a problem.”
#10 Texas Barbecue
What is texas known for? Some amazing food and, in particular, the Texas Barbecues. The smokehouses are an element of the state’s landscape as the rodeos, and they won’t go anywhere any time soon. There are more than 2200 BBQ joints in Texas, more than double of any other American state.
When most people think about a Texas barbeque, they think of slow-cooked brisket with low indirect heat. Despite Being clearly the star, Texas-style barbecue also includes pork ribs, sausages, turkey, beef ribs, pulled pork, among other dishes.
Texas Barbecue has a long history as it was developed by German and Czech settlers that brought their meat-smoking traditions during the 19th century. Typically, butchers had lots of meat, and at that time, refrigeration wasn’t available. This meant that the only way of storing the leftovers without spoiling them was by smoking them. As these leftovers became popular, meat markets started to specialize in smoked meats, and the legend was born…
#11 Tex-Mex food
If Texas barbecue is well-known across America, what can we say about Tex-Mex food? Tex-Mex cuisine is the blend cuisine of Texan and Mexican cuisines, deriving from the Tejano culture of Texas and Mexican migrants. It’s obviously hugely popular in Texas and other southern states, but it has spread to the rest of the USA.
Tex-Mex is often confused with Mexican food, which is understandable because they share many ingredients, dishes, and techniques. Though there are some differences, Tex-Mex is characterized by the heavy use of cheese, cumin, chili powder, and beef.
Some of the most typical and popular dishes of Tex-Mex food are chili con carne, steak fajitas, queso (or yellow cheese dip), nachos, and refried beans. As you can see, these are some very well-known and beloved dishes worldwide.
#12 The Texas Rangers
Not the Baseball team (though they are pretty famous too), but the law enforcement agency! The Texas Rangers were created unofficially in 1823, and in 1835 it became an official agency. They have taken part in many important events in Texas, such as the assassination of US President William Howard Taft and Mexican President Porfirio Díaz. It was also involved in some of the best-known criminal cases in the Old West, such as those of gunfighter John Wesley Hardin, bank robber Sam Bass, and outlaws Bonnie and Clyde.
The Rangers are one of the most culturally significant to Texas and are even legally protected against disbandment. Naturally, they have been depicted numerous times in books, TV series, and movies. Both in fiction and non-fiction. Some of the most famous include the lone ranger, Tales of the texas rangers, and Walker, Texas Ranger. All of them made the Texas Rangers notable participants in the mythology of the Wild West.
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