“I saw miles and miles of Texas, all the stars up in the sky, I saw miles and miles of Texas, gonna live here ’til I die,” — “Miles and Miles of Texas” by Bob Wills
Traveling the state of Texas you can see the skyscrapers of Houston, the music of Gruene Hall in New Braunfels, the beaches all along the Gulf of Mexico, visit the “Big D” (that’s Dallas to you non-Texans), get a taste of Mexican culture in San Antonio or get weird in Austin.
But if you’re only hitting the big cities, you’re missing a lot of what Texas is really about. Don’t drive out to El Paso without taking a detour to Marfa, Alpine or Terlingua. Don’t head to Waco without getting a kolache at the Czech Stop in West, and if you must go to Oklahoma, don’t pass up Seymour on the way. Check out these 15 tiny Texas towns you don’t want to miss on your next road trip.
READ MORE: The Ultimate Small Town Texas Road Trip
Granbury, Texas is full of old Texas history. The Granbury Opera house was established just after the Texas revolution, and if you’re interested in old west outlaw history, you probably thought Jesse James was buried in Missouri. But a Granbury legend says the outlaw survived until 1954 and is buried in Granbury.
If you want to go a little further back in history, check out Dinosaur World, a 20-acre attraction that features life-sized models of dinosaurs where you can take your own hilarious pictures like this one:
If you’re looking for accommodations in Granbury, why not stay in the Nutt House? No straight jacket required. While you’re there take the ghosts and legends tour, or maybe go fishing in Lake Granbury or the Brazos River.
Granbury is also home to the family-owned Revolver Brewing company, one of Texas’s fastest growing microbrews. The brewery is open to customers for tours and tastings.
Nestled deep in the lush greenery of the Texas hill country sits Wimberley, a small town that is anything but quiet. Every Friday night for as long as most folks can remember, Wimberley has hosted what they call “Bluegrass Jam” in a vacant parking lot, as is true Texas small-town style. Bluegrass Jam is just what it sounds like, an informal gathering of incredible bluegrass musicians and bluegrass lovers who sit, pick and sing together late into the night. You can also catch some live music and incredible views on the patio at Ino’z:
Wimberley is also home to Blue Hole, a particularly picturesque swimming hole surrounded by a beautiful park where you can spend all day in the shade of bald cypress trees swinging into the cool water from a hoop and chain.
“The little town that beer built” is mostly known as the home of the Spoetzl Brewery, makers of Shiner beer. The brewery is certainly something to see, but there is more to Shiner than just beer.
The historic Gaslight Theatre hosts local productions three times a year, and if you don’t get your fill of history there, you can check out the cigar factory or the Wolters Museum. And, like any self-respecting small Texas town, one of the local hangouts is a gas station. Howard’s isn’t just any gas station however, it offers Shiner historical memorabilia, live music, and has nine beers on tap.
Situated on I-10 half way between San Antonio and Houston is the small town of Schulenburg. Schulenburg is home to the famous “painted churches” with their intricately designed and ornate statuary.
While visiting, check out the supposedly haunted Von Minden Hotel and theatre. Schulenburg was settled mainly by German and Austrian pioneers, and is the location of the Texas Polka Music Museum.
Located along Highway 290 between Brenham and Hempstead, the historic town of Chappell Hill is home to only about 600 residents. Don’t let its size fool you though, Chappell Hill is rich with history and industry. Situated not far from the Brazos River, Chappell Hill was part of Stephen F. Austin’s original colony.
Today, the tiny hamlet boasts a meat market called Chappell Hill Sausage Company that sells incredible sausage and homemade canned goods. Every April the town bursts into activity for the Bluebonnet Festival, which includes live music, antiques, crafts and every good thing small town Texas has to offer.
Just about an hour south of the Texas/Oklahoma border is the tiny town of Seymour. This blink-and-you-missed-it whistle stop is definitely a place you shouldn’t miss if you’re interested in paleontology. Seymour and the surrounding area of Baylor County are a hotbed archeological activity. “Seymour and Baylor County is the best place in the world to find lower Permian reptiles and amphibians,” said Paleontologist Chris Flis. Flis is also the Museum Director for the Whiteside Museum of Natural History in Seymour.
The land around Seymour is currently being excavated by Flis and Anthropologist Mallori Hass to unearth a Dimetrodon they’ve christened “Mary”. Seymour even has a Permian reptile named after it, Seymoria, a small, reptilian, lizard-like creature. The first one discovered (found in 1875) is currently on display at the Smithsonian.
Want to see the best live music show in Texas? Of course, you do! The tiny town of Liberty, northeast of Houston claims to have just that at the Liberty Opry on the Square. The Liberty Opry in a traditional old opry house and hosts a variety style show, including several music acts and some wholesome country comedy.
Liberty is also the location of some other interesting attractions, including a full-size replica of the original Governor’s Mansion and a few other homes with historical significance that were built in the 1800’s.
Made famous as the inspiration behind the book “The Last Picture Show”, Archer City is still as captivating as it was when renowned Texan author Larry McMurtry was growing up there. In 2014, the town elected an 18-year-old high school student as its mayor in an uncontested election.
Archer City is now also almost as well-known for the two labyrinthian bookstores that surely house more volumes than the library at Alexandria. If you’re looking for a rare first edition of any particular book, this would be an ideal place to start.
Georgia doesn’t have a monopoly on peaches; we have plenty right here in the lone star state. Just a short trip down Highway 290 west of Austin, you can walk through verdant orchards picking your own peaches when they’re in season. While you’re in town, check out Wildseed Farms to get your hands on some beautiful native Texas flowers and plants.
Far from a one-trick pony though, Fredericksburg is also home to many historical museums including the National Museum of the Pacific War, which commemorates the heroes and events of World War II in the Pacific Theater. You can also visit several wineries in and around the Fredericksburg area.
The tiny hamlet of Gruene sits on the eastern edge of the Texas Hill Country along the Guadalupe River. Gruene is home to the oldest dance hall in Texas, Gruene Hall. They regularly host some of the best national and regional country and American music talent.
The picturesque dance hall is surrounded by quaint shops and restaurants like the Gristmill, which has delicious German food and an unbeatable view of the river.
“Tough to get here, tough to explain, but once you get here, you get it,” say residents of Marfa, Texas. To most, the tiny west Texas town might seem an odd choice for an art installation, much less several art installations by world-renowned artists. Yet there they stand for all to see.
If you ever want to achieve any real sense of understanding of what makes Texans the way we are, study the Texas revolution. It’s a fascinating history, and part of it took place in this small south Texas town. Even if you’ve never heard of Gonzales, chances are you’ve seen its historical flag, or heard the phrase made famous when Gonzales became the site of the first battle of the Texas Revolution, “Come and take it!”
Gonzales still has its original jail, built in 1887, that is now a museum open for tours. In addition, Gonzales has several Texas-themed annual events such as the Come and Take it Day, the First Shot Cook Off and color run, and the Come and Pull It tractor pull.
If you’re wondering about the Czech heritage many Texans claim, a great place to learn more about it is in West, Texas. Located about half an hour north of Waco on I-35, West has an incredible culture handed down from its original settlers that still endures today.
West is home to the Czech Stop, a local bakery famous for its kolaches. Also, every year the town hosts “Westfest” which is a celebration of Czech culture and heritage.
Out west, settled near the Rio Grande and just a stone’s throw from Big Bend State Park lies the little community of Terlingua, Texas. Home to fewer than 60 residents and the location of a storied ghost town, Terlingua bursts into life every November to host one of Texas’s biggest chili cook-offs. Every year hundreds of people descend upon the tiny town en masse to prove their chili is the best in the state.
“Population: 3” reads the famous city limits sign in Luckenbach, Texas. Immortalized by Waylon Jennings in his song “Luckenbach, Texas”, the town is really not much more than a general store, post office and a dance hall. What more do you really need in Texas?