- Posted by Charley Rogulewski
Get Yourself a Rockin' Pair of RocketBuster Boots
El Paso, Texas | Mapify it!
While there are a million great places to get yourself a pair of Texan kicks, RocketBuster's designs are the most extraordinary. Imagine everything from New York City landmarks to a Texas sunset and a Dallas Cowboy throwing a pass stitched onto a shoe. Rocketbuster is even home to the Guinness Book's World's Largest Boots, which measures up at about five feet tall. The company offers tours where you can see bootmakers at work, but fittings are by appointment only.
Stay Up to Spot the Marfa Ghost Lights
Marfa, Texas | Mapify it!
The legend of the Marfa Ghost Lights dates back 150 years, countering theories that these mysterious and inexplicable sightings are caused by refracted car headlights traveling down nearby Route 67. Said to be everything from paranormal behavior to natural phenomena (i.e., swamp gas, atmospheric electricity), the floating colorful lights appear without warning and tend to "dance" laterally whenever they do. No one has officially solved the freaky U.F.O.-like activity. For the best view, head over to the Official Marfa Lights Viewing Area.
Channel the Lone Ranger in Big Bend National Park
Alpine, Texas | Mapify it!
Nestled along a bend of the Rio Grande, this national park is where the original Lone Ranger roamed. Called the Land of Much of Nothing, Big Bend is so remote and not on the way to anything that Apollo astronauts went there to prepare for their moon missions between 1964 and 1971. Despite its remoteness, Big Bend offers three worlds in one -- river valley, mountains and desert. Take the South Rim day hike through the Chisos Mountains, and if you get tired take a dip in the Langford Hot Springs.
Visit a 'New' Ghost Town
Toyah, Texas | Mapify it!
When you think of ghost towns, abandoned shanty-lined streets from the Gold Rush era come to mind, but it turns out the ghost town epidemic is still thriving in Texas. One of the latest is Toyah, Texas, which is Native American speak for "flowing water." Not much is flowing in Toyah these days: In 1952, the red brick eyesore of a high school had only two graduating seniors. By 2000, the US Census listed the town's population at under 100. The old bank was taken down by a tornado in 2004. Once a thriving community thanks to the railroads, Toyah is now a dust bowl wasteland that is not to be missed!
Take a Picture Wearing Roy Orbison's Glasses
Wink, Texas | Mapify it!
If you ever roll through Wink, Texas, the childhood home of Roy Orbison, you'll understand why the rock 'n' roll legend wrote songs like 'Only the Lonely' and 'Crying' -- because there ain't much there. On the town's main strip, next to defunct store fronts, you'll find the tiny Roy Orbison Museum. Its prize possession are glasses that Orbison wore during his final concert, which you can take a picture wearing. Wink hopes to get a grant soon and move the operation over to the Rig Theater, a now defunct venue that Orbison performed in as a kid.
Tour an Old Texas Brothel
San Angelo, Texas | Mapify it!
ZZ Top pay homage to 'The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas' in 'La Grange,' and though the infamous Chicken Shack they sing about is no more, there is one bawdy house you can still visit (as a tourist, mind you). Miss Hattie's Bordello was built in 1898 by a Mr. and Mrs. H.A. Hatton. When the couple divorced, they split the building, with Mrs. Hatton, now Miss Hattie, converting the upstairs into a classy bordello in 1902. Today, it's a museum that offers tours of its velvet-and-lace-lined rooms. "It was a very upscale place in 1920 and '30s," says current proprietor Mark Triest. "We know Miss Goldie charged two dollars for her favors." The house of ill repute was shut down by the Texas Rangers in 1946.
Learn Everything There Is About Buddy Holly
Lubbock, Texas | Mapify it!
Buddy Holly was born in Lubbock, Texas, in 1936, and his life was cut short at 22. His remains were taken back to the City of Lubbock Cemetery, where the headstone is engraved with his trademark Fender Stratocaster and the correct spelling of his last name (Holley). Lubbock also honored their most famous resident with The Buddy Holly Statue and Walk of Fame, as well as the Buddy Holly Center, where you'll find Holly's famous thick-rimmed glasses, recovered from the Iowa site of his plane crash, along with his guitar and other memorabilia.
Leave Your Mark on Cadillac Ranch
Amarillo, Texas | Mapify it!
Amarillo billionaire Stanley Marsh lived by the motto "Art is a legalized form of insanity." So in 1974, he hired a hippie art collective to create a public installation off legendary Route 66. The result was Cadillac Ranch -- 10 colorful Caddies half-buried hood-first at the same angle as the Great Pyramid of Giza. The site has been immortalized in the Bruce Springsteen track of the same name and can be spotted in Cage The Elephant's music video for 'Ain't No Rest for the Wicked.' (Bring a can of spray paint and leave your own mark. It's allowed.)
Visit a Martian Pilot's Grave
Aurora, Texas | Mapify it!
Do you belief in aliens? Well, now you do because there's a Martian pilot buried in Aurora, Texas. In 1897, it goes, an alien spacecraft crashed into a local windmill, killing the extraterrestrial inside. Townsfolk decided it'd be a good idea to bury the E.T. among the the Civil War vets at the Aurora Cemetery. Nobody's been able to locate the tombstone, and some suspect the US government has scooped up the alien remains, but a plaque outside the graveyard confirms "the legend that a spaceship crashed nearby in 1897 and the pilot, killed in the crash, was buried here."
See Bullriding at 'World's Largest Honky Tonk'
Fort Worth, Texas | Mapify it!
"If you took everything out of a Walmart and put in two stages, a dozen pool tables, a casino and a rodeo arena, then you'd have Billy Bob's," says its marketing director, Pam Mince. But get ready to drink: Ted Nugent brought in a record $100,000 in bar sales one night, and Hank Williams Jr. sold 16,000 bottled beers during a concert. And when Ringo Starr returned for a gig, Mince remembers him saying, "My bandmates don't believe that you've got bulls right here in the club." Every Friday and Saturday night, cowboys step into Billy Bob's intimate rodeo arena, and you can get so close you'll have dirt kicked on you.
Go Streaking Across the JFK Assassination Site
Dallas, Texas | Mapify it!
But first note what happened to Erykah Badu when she artistically ran naked through Dealey Plaza -- the site of John F. Kennedy's assassination in 1963 -- for her 'Window Seat' music video: The neo-soul singer was fined $500 fine for disorderly conduct. A lone "X" marks the spot where JFK was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald, who was stationed at the nearby Texas Book Depository, now the site of the Sixth Floor Museum, which holds "one of the world's largest and most important sources of visual, audio, documentary and artifactual documentation of the assassination and legacy of President John F. Kennedy."
Cut-N-Putt With Willie Nelson
Spicewood, Texas | Mapify it!
Willie Nelson doesn't seem like the golfing type, but in 1979 the country legend bought himself a country club 30 miles west of Austin. Among the wacky rules you must abide by on Willie's nine-hole Pedernales Cut-N-Putt: "Gambling is forbidden, of course, unless you're stuck or you need a legal deduction for charitable or educational expenses." He also converted the clubhouse into a recording studio that has hosted Neil Young, Wilco, Robert Plant, among others. With advanced notice, a tour can be arranged of the facility. The rest of the property also boards Nelson's family, friends, staff and roadies.
Tube the Guadalupe River
Canyon Lake, Texas | Mapify it!
They call it "a paradise in the middle of the Texas Hill Country": The Guadalupe River spans 230 miles across Texas, but it's the famous Horseshoe Loop between Canyon Lake Dam and New Braunfels that's become Texas' tubing mecca. More tubing outfitters rest along the Guadalupe than anywhere else in Texas, including Shanty Tubes, which not only boasts a beer garden on site but also a sign that reads "Elvis Tubed Here." And while The King was stationed in nearby Fort Hood, Texas, during his Army stint, the tube company's website is quick to point out that Elvis' tubing days are "not a lie, just a rumor."
Record an Album in Room 414 of the Gunter Hotel
San Antonio, Texas | Mapify it!
When it comes to San Antonio, forget the Alamo. Legendary Delta blues guitarist Robert Johnson recorded only 29 songs before his curious death in 1938 at age 27. Sixteen of those songs would come out of a three-day recording session in 1936, held in Room 414 of the Gunter Hotel. Johnson famously played facing the wall, too shy to face the session players. In 2009, John Mellencamp -- on a mission to record his 25th album, 'No Better Than This,' in mono, around one microphone, at various landmarks -- stayed in Room 414 of what is presently a Sheraton and laid down the verses of 'Right Behind Me.'
Eat Delicious BBQ and Tex-Mex
Everywhere in Texas | Mapify it!
We didn't feel like getting our head chewed off for picking the best BBQ or Mexican restaurants this side of the Rio Grande. We know there's a lot of them. Truth is, if you're in Texas it'd be sinful not make one (or seven) barbecue or hot tamale pit stops. Quite frankly, when in Texas, one should eat like a Texan, which includes a steady intake of queso. So we decided to take a page from the folks over at Texas Monthly, who have a little bit more knowledge in this area. Check out their 50 Best Mexican Restaurants and Top 50 BBQ Joints in Texas lists.