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Fun things to do in Texas

Illustration by James Gulliver Hancock

A curated list of the best upcoming events in Texas.

Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West

FREE! Through August 3 This exhibit features original pictorial quilts that tell the story of Black history in the West from the 1500s through the civil rights movement. The quilts illustrate Blacks’ achievements in society, religion, education, and the arts, disproving the myth they were mostly just cowboys in the Old West. Stark Museum of Art, Orange.

The Perfect Shot: Walter Iooss Jr. and the Art of Sports Photography

FREE! Through August 11 See 60 photographs by longtime Sports Illustrated contributor Walter Iooss Jr., known for capturing Olympic history, the first Super Bowl in 1967, and portraits of legends like Michael Jordan and Serena Williams. Ellen Noël Art Museum of the Permian Basin, Odessa.

Survival of the Fittest

Through September 8 Prior to the 1900s, artists rarely depicted wild animals in their natural surroundings. This changed with a pioneering group of painters dubbed the Big Four. Now you can see 45 of their prized works, sourced from the Netherlands’ Rijksmuseum Twenthe and the National Museum of Wildlife Art. Four works by American wildlife artist Robert “Bob” Frederick Kuhn will also be on display. General admission, $14. Kids 12 and under are free. Briscoe Western Art Museum, San Antonio.

Night Creatures

Second Friday of each month through October Join a master naturalist on a sensory evening hike through the rolling prairie and woodlands north of Dallas. Keep your eyes peeled for owls, fireflies, scorpions, bats, and other nocturnal critters. General admission, $4. Kids 12 and under are free. Bonham State Park, Bonham.

Jefferson Salutes America

FREE! July 4 A homemade ice cream contest, a big brass band playing John Philip Sousa classics, a rubber-duck race—this East Texas Independence Day celebration has all the small-town Americana activities you’d expect and a few that will keep you guessing. Don’t miss the fireworks over the Big Cypress Bayou. Otstott Park, Jefferson.

Rock’n Riverfest

FREE! July 6 One day a year, the Llano River relaxes its “no watercraft” rule and becomes a rollicking arena for a “Jet Ski rodeo.” Bring a lawn chair and watch from the riverbank as competitors attempt high-speed, gravity-defying tricks. Stick around for a fireworks show come nightfall. Robinson Park, Llano.

Rockport Art Fest

July 6–7 Browse coastal-inspired paintings, sculptures, jewelry, and more handmade items by 120-plus makers. Proceeds help support year-round programming at the Rockport Center for the Arts. $10 for a single-day pass. Rockport Texas Festival Grounds, Rockport.

Cool Canyon Nights

FREE! July 11, 18, 25; August 1 Whether you like mariachi music or prefer ’80s power ballads, this outdoor concert series set in a canyon at the base of the Franklin Mountains has something for everyone. Gates open at 6 p.m. and seats go quickly. To guarantee a spot, purchase a VIP ticket in advance (starting at $20) at kisselpaso.com. McKelligon Canyon Amphitheater, El Paso.

Bastille on Bishop

FREE! July 14 Get your Francophile fix at this family-friendly Oak Cliff neighborhood block party featuring berets, macarons, and French wine. Patrons 21 and up can purchase a package in advance that includes an official glass and drink tokens. Package prices vary. Bishop Avenue, Dallas.

National Lifeguard Championships

FREE! August 6–9 Professional and youth lifeguards showcase their skills and vie for individual and team awards in a series of aquatic challenges such as relay races and surf skiing. Isla Grand Beach Resort, South Padre Island.

Summer’s Last Blast

FREE! August 8–10 Car lovers big and small will enjoy this Panhandle bash that includes a Power Wheels obstacle course for kids, an antique tractor show, a burning rubber burnout contest, and—the main draw—a night parade consisting of more than 750 classic cars. Various locations, Vernon.

International Geocaching Day

August 17 In honor of the growing craze that is geocaching (following GPS coordinates to locate hidden containers in the great outdoors), go on a self-guided treasure hunt in the Hill Country. Bring your own GPS device and pick up a list of coordinates at the park’s Discovery Center. Park entrance fee, $7. Kids 12 and under are free. Guadalupe River State Park, Spring Branch.

Galveston Island Wine Festival

August 30–September 1 Drink pinot with the penguins and sip syrah while surrounded by sharks. Tastings can be paired with multicourse meals and a tour of the renovated Aquarium Pyramid. Tickets start at $125. Moody Gardens, Galveston.

Xtreme Hummingbird Xtravaganza

September 14 and 21 Every year, ruby-throated hummingbirds migrate south up to 1,300 miles, stopping in Texas before journeying on to Central America. In addition to learning about conservation efforts, watch the tiny birds get tagged by scientists, take part in hummingbird-themed games, and purchase plants to create a bird-friendly habitat in your backyard. Adults, $5. Kids 12 and under are free. Gulf Coast Bird Observatory, Lake Jackson.

Antique Alley Texas

FREE! September 20–22 Eight towns, more than 150 vendors, and 30 miles of antiques and collectibles—this biannual flea market has grown so much through the years that it’s no longer referred to as “Little Round Top.” Start in either Grandview or Cleburne, then mosey along Highway 4. Johnson and Ellis counties.

Austin Museum Day

FREE! September 22 Explore more than 30 cultural institutions across the capital city, from the Blanton Museum of Art to Jourdan-Bachman Pioneer Farms, a living-history museum that details the stories of the area’s earliest settlers. Austin.

Mermaid Capital of Texas Fest

FREE! September 28 Stake out a spot and wave to the mermaids (and mermen) in a downtown parade dedicated to the historic Aquamaids of Aquarena Springs. Afterward, shop an artisan market while listening to live R&B music. Downtown San Marcos.

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