This is no dusty old historical museum. Big, glitzy and still relatively new, it shows off the Lone Star State's history, all the way from when it used to be part of Mexico up to the present, with high-tech interactive exhibits and fun theatrics. Allow at least a few hours for your visit.

Ground-floor exhibits re-imagine the Native American experience and later arrival of French Jesuits, Spanish conquistadores and other frontier settlers. Upstairs, visitors trace the revolutionary years of the Republic of Texas, its rise to statehood and economic expansion into oil drilling and space exploration, even Western movies and home-grown music from Bob Wills to Buddy Holly to the Big Bopper.

The museum also houses Austin's first IMAX theater (check website for listings; adult/child four to 17 years $9/7) and the Texas Spirit Theater (adult/child four to 17 years $5/4), both of which offer discounted combination tickets when bought with a museum admission. The Texas Spirit Theater is where you can see The Star of Destiny, a 15-minute special-effects film that's simultaneously high-tech and hokey fun.

Museum parking is $8.