It’s springtime in Texas, y’all, and whether you’re spring breaking or just hitting the road for a weekend getaway, the Lone Star state has many vacation destinations to choose from. This year, why not make a pitstop or two? Geek out over some of the best showcases of Texan innovation our state has to offer. From Houston to west Texas to north Texas, there are great and entertaining examples of why we at the State Fair of Texas are celebrating Texas Innovation this year. Check out our list of innovative places to visit – some all the way across the state, some close to home, but all of them uniquely Texan.
Space Center Houston
Location: Houston, Texas
This may or may not be the most obvious destination on this list, but it just might be the brightest star in our state’s showcase of Innovation. If you’ve never been to this massive museum, the Space Center Houston is a must stop for any traveler, but especially for those interested in Space exploration. Directly across the street from the NASA Johnson Space Center, the Space Center Houston features more than 400 space artifacts, permanent and traveling exhibits, special springtime attractions and theaters related to the exciting future and remarkable past of America’s human space-flight program. Even if you’ve visited before, now is the time to go back: Space Center Houston is the first of four stops for the brand-new exhibit “Destination Moon”, featuring the historic Apollo 11 spacecraft.
Roscoe Wind Farm
Location: Roscoe, Texas
Heading out to west Texas this spring? Check the horizon and there is a good chance you’ll catch a glimpse of the Roscoe Wind Farm, one of the largest capacity wind farms in the entire world. Roscoe has a total of 634 wind turbines that produce 781 Megawatts of power – that’s enough power for more than 250,000 average Texan homes. What’s perhaps most interesting about this wind farm is that over 400 different landowners all share property together to make up the Roscoe Wind Farm. A great example of Texans banding together to create sustainable energy while reviving the local economy in west Texas and the Texas Panhandle.
Location: Dallas, Texas
Not all Texas Innovation has to be serious business, but thankfully this invention was serious business for Mexican-American entrepreneur Mariano Martinez who developed the world’s first Frozen Margarita Machine in 1971. Martinez operated a Tex-Mex restaurant in Dallas at the time and needed a way to serve margaritas quickly but with a similar quality in each pour. After famously being inspired by 7-11’s Slurpee machine, Martinez designed his first frozen margarita machine out of a used ice cream machine. In 2005, this same frozen margarita machine was inducted into the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. In September 2010 it was named one of the “Top Ten Inventions” from the National Museum of American History’s Collection. There are several Mariano’s around the Dallas/Fort Worth area now but you can see where it all began at their original location on Skillman in northeast Dallas.
Dublin Bottling Works
Location: Dublin Texas
Dublin is a small Texas town with a large cultural community and a unique piece of historical innovation: its home to the oldest soda bottling facility in the country. For more than 120 years, Dublin Bottling Works has been crafting and bottling fizzy, carbonated drinks that are now distributed around the world. Dublin Bottling Works was the first facility to bottle Dr Pepper – another Texas invention. Until 2012, Dublin Bottling Works was the only remaining bottling company that bottled Dr Pepper using real cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. While they don’t bottle Dr Pepper any longer, the bottling facility is still a fun and educational place to visit. Just make sure to come thirsty.
Texas Instruments Engineering and Innovation Hall
Location: Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Dallas
If you’re reading this on a computer or mobile device then you can thank Texas Instruments for that convenience. Besides inventing the handheld calculator, Texas Instruments also created the first integrated circuit that eventually led to the invention of the microchip. That’s some Texas-sized innovation if you ask us! Together with the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, Texas Instruments allows you to show off your own innovating skills in the Texas Instruments Engineering and Innovation Hall. In this fun-filled innovation wonderland, visitors can experience what it’s like to build a better building, program movements in a 3D animation lab, and even build a robot to race through a maze, pick up objects, or go head to head with other robots! There is much more to see and do in the Perot Museum but make sure to spend some time creating a little bit of your own Texas innovation in the Texas Instruments Engineering and Innovation Hall.