Well, folks, it’s about that time again. We’re hitting the road, and this just might be our best trip yet. It’s no secret that Texas is home to a plethora of charming small towns, so why not stop talking about them and start visiting some? As usual, we’ve done the leg work and put together the Google Map, so all you have to do is sit back and drive. The entire trip is 774 miles and just under 13 hours, so you’ll want to spend the night in a few towns to lessen the load a bit and really enjoy your time in each place. Start in the town nearest you and work your way through the list. I guarantee you’ll absolutely fall in love with these 10 small towns.
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Jasper definitely deserves more credit. It's such a charming little East Texas town! My family and I used to take Sunday drives here on 96 from Beaumont, and boy, those towering pine trees lining the road are breathtaking to look at. Pack a picnic lunch and head to Lake Sam Rayburn to enjoy the solitude and stillness of nature with the ones you love.
Hemphill is pretty much the definition of a quaint, charming Southern town. There's a town square with shops, restaurants, and the Old Sabine County Jail that's now a museum. Although tiny, the town played an important part in the history of the entire world. A huge piece of the Space Shuttle Columbia was found here after it crashed, and you can visit the Patricia Huffman Smith Museum that commemorates the tragedy and features the real remnants of the shuttle. I'll never forget the little cafe my family and I ate at there. I forget the name, but the image of a sweet old lady serving us baked potatoes, fried chicken, and pie is forever etched in my memory.
Jefferson is easily one of the most historic towns in Texas. The general store has been around for nearly a century, and stepping inside is the ultimate dose of nostalgia. There are also tons of charming bed and breakfasts to stay in and a town square to leisurely stroll. If you're brave, you can stay in the Excelsior House Hotel, which is rumored to be extremely haunted.
This is another one of those towns that doesn't get mentioned enough. Although it has a population of only 700, it has that unmistakable Texas feel that you can practically smell - or maybe that's just the famous Chicken Fried Steak from Mary's (hands-down the best in the state). The locals are friendly and the living is slow, and I guarantee you'll enjoy your time in Strawn.
Fredericksburg is on the higher end of the small town spectrum with a population of about 11,000, but that doesn't mean it's any less charming than its tinier counterparts. You can do some shopping and eating downtown, pick ripe peaches at Marburger Orchard, visit the largest wildflower farm in America, and, of course, drive the famous Willow City Loop, the most scenic route in Texas.
Time to head to Luckenbach! I believe it's the least populated incorporated town in the state. Even after the popular Willie Nelson song made it known to the world, it still can't attract permanent residents. But that's okay - the amount of tourism it sees makes up for that tenfold. There might only be a post office, corner store, and dance hall, but the Old West spirit that envelops the town makes it seem a lot bigger.
Our last four stops are all in the beautiful, beloved Texas hill country. Wimberley is a nature lovers paradise - Blue Hole and Jacob's Well are crystal-clear swimming holes that are perfect on a hot summer day. You can also climb Mount Baldy or explore the shops and restaurants in the quaint town square.
Although Gruene is technically part of New Braunfels, it's a community of its own and definitely deserves a visit. It's home to the oldest dance hall in Texas and one of the best restaurants in the hill country, The Gristmill, which overlooks the picturesque Guadalupe River. There's a lot of history packed into this small area, and I'd say it's one of the high points of this road trip.
I'll be honest...I didn't include Lockhart for any reason other than the barbecue. But hey, barbecue is pretty picturesque, right? The town is home to both Black's and Kreuz Market, so you'll be eating GOOD here. And the courthouse is the most photographed in Texas, so that counts for something, right? No? Okay, well at least there's food.
This little German town of less than 3,000 residents is mostly used as a stopping point between Houston and Austin, but it's a destination for us. It's home to the Texas Polka Music Museum, Frank's restaurant, which is famous for its delicious pies, and the Potter Country Store that sells fresh pecans in all different flavors.
Have you been to any of these towns? Which one is your favorite?
- Katie Lawrence | July 23, 2016