Texas is big and there are a lot of interesting small Texas towns often overlooked by people on vacation or driving through the State. These small towns offer some of the best experiences, are full of history, hidden gems that escape the average tourist and the kind of eateries that have you telling friends back home about your great discovery. Here are some often overlooked Texas small towns that you should check out.
If you have never been to Georgetown, Texas, then you are missing out. Often overlooked by people racing down I-35 headed either to Austin or Dallas, sits Georgetown Texas, home of the “Most Beautiful Town Square in Texas”. Only 30 miles north of Austin, Georgetown is a world away. Yes, there are modern shopping centers and upscale subdivisions but the downtown area beckons to a time when things moved a little slower.
While you are there look around the historic courthouse, take in a live play at the theater or browse the shops lining the town square. The San Gabriel River runs through town and the” Blue Hole” make a great swimming spot. Inner Space Caverns is only a couple of miles outside of town and make for a great cave tour.
Granbury Texas is another place with a great town square. In fact, it was the first courthouse square in Texas to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Granbury also won the USA Today Readers’ Choice Award for Best Historic Small Town in America.
Surrounding the town square are over 40 different stores and shops located in historic buildings. The Granbury Opera House, built in 1886, has been completely renovated to period and produces 8-10 productions throughout the year. Tour the Hood County Jailhouse Museum or the historic Courthouse, take a nigh time ghost tour, check out one of the several wineries, breweries or distilleries around town or jump on the Granbury Trolley for a tour of the town.
Located 35 miles southwest of Ft Worth, Granbury makes for a great small town to visit and explore.
Those traveling between Houston and Austin might know Brenham as a place to stop, get gas, grab a bite and get back on the road. Those that stop and explore Brenham discover a great place, with historic sites both in town and nearby. Check out the fire museum in downtown that tells the history of the Brenham Fire Department and check out the cool old fire trucks they have.
If you are traveling with kids, stop by the flying horse antique carousel, built in the early 1900s, for a ride. Take a walking tour of downtown and you have to stop by Blue Bell Creameries and have a sample of their ice cream. Brenham has a live theater venue that attracts people to their productions along with craft breweries, wineries, museums and whole lot more.
There are some other great things to see and do near Brenham within a 15-20 minute drive, such as Independence Texas, Washington on the Brazos, Chappell Hill and more so do some exploring.
Bandera labels itself as “The Cowboy Capitol of The World”, named as such because Bandera became a staging area for the last of the great cattle drives in the late 1800s. Located 54 miles northwest of San Antonio on the banks of the Medina River, Bandera offers year-round fun at area dude ranches, Saturday afternoon old west gunfights, the Lost Maples Winery and craft beer at the Bandera Brewery.
There are several rodeos in the region throughout the year, several boutique and western shops line downtown and there is a lot to offer in the way of outdoor activities. You can go tubing and kayaking on the Medina River, enjoy the day at Bandera County Park and Medina Lake, check out the 5,400 acre Hill Country Natural Area or visit Lost Maples State Natural Area on the Sabinal river.
Stop by the Lone Star Motorcycle Museum while you are there, and don’t forget to check out the great eateries in town as well.
Located in northeast Texas near the Louisiana border, Jefferson was once a bustling riverboat town. During the mid 1800s, Jefferson was the largest and most significant river port in Texas. Steamboats plied the river from Shreveport and New Orleans carrying passengers and goods.
Jefferson makes for a great walking town with over 100 historic markers in town, all the old buildings and great shopping. Take a historic tour of downtown or go on the ghost tour. Jefferson is said to be the most haunted place in Texas. The oldest continuously operating hotel in Texas, The Excelsior House, is in Jefferson and has welcomed many people over the years including President Ulysses S. Grant, President Rutherford B. Hayes, Lady Bird Johnson, Steven Spielberg and others. It is said Spielberg wrote the screenplay for the Poltergeist after spending only one night at the Excelsior and encountering a ghost.
Jefferson is a great small old town to visit and get a glimpse of what life was like in early Texas.
Next time you head out on a road trip or just find yourself near one of these small Texas towns, do yourself a favor and book a little extra time to stop and check them out. Better yet, plan a trip to one of them.
Read more by Destination Expert Bob Bales of The Traveling Fool at: