Day Trip from Rice: Immerse Yourself in Texas History

By Bohan Zhang, PhD Student in History

Sam Houston

Looking for a day off from your studies but don’t know where to go? If you're fascinated by Texas history, particularly the Texas Revolution and the Republic of Texas, you’re in for a treat! Houston and its surrounding areas are home to numerous historic sites that offer a deep dive into the Lone Star State’s rich history.

1. Sam Houston Statue and Sam Houston Memorial Museum at Huntsville (1.5 hour drive from Rice University)

Have you ever wondered about the figure Houston is named after? If so, this is a must-visit destination for you. At the Sam Houston Statue, you can stand in awe of “Big Sam,” the highest-ranking general in the Texas Revolution and the first president of the Republic of Texas. The statue itself is a testament to his towering legacy.

But the history trip doesn’t stop there. Just a few miles away, you’ll find the Sam Houston Memorial Museum, built on 15 acres of the Houston family’s original homestead. Here, you can immerse yourself in the life of Sam Houston, exploring his journey as a general, president, senator, governor, and more. The museum’s exhibits and artifacts offer a captivating glimpse into the man behind the legend.

2. San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site (35-minute drive from Rice University)

After an enriching visit to the Sam Houston Museum, it’s time to delve even deeper into Texas history at the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site. This ground is where General Sam Houston captured General Santa Anna, the President of Mexico, marking a turning point in the Texas Revolution. The victory at the Battle of San Jacinto was undeniably one of the most pivotal moments in Texas history, leading to the Lone Star State's independence and the birth of the Republic of Texas. 

Inside the State Historic Site, you can explore the San Jacinto Museum, located within the base of the iconic San Jacinto Monument. Don’t forget to take an elevator ride to the Observation Deck atop the monument, where you will enjoy the breathtaking panoramic views of the historic battleground and its surroundings.

3. San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site (1 hour drive from Rice University)

If you are eager to expand your knowledge of the key figures of the Texas Revolution beyond Sam Houston, a visit to the San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site is a must. This historic site is located on the very grounds where Stephen F. Austin, after whom Texas’s capital city was named, established his colony headquarters in Mexican Texas in 1823.

Immerse yourself in the rich history of this site, which played a crucial role in Texas’s early development. Explore the various attractions within the site, including an informative museum, scenic trails, a bronze statue of Stephen F. Austin, and an obelisk commemorating the legacy of the “Father of Texas.”

These are just a few of the remarkable historic sites in the Houston area that are great for a day trip. More are waiting for your exploration. Enjoy!