Anyone who's a fan of classic romantic comedies from the '90s has seen Hope Floats (if you haven't, stop what you're doing and watch immediately). Long story short, Birdee Pruitt (Sandra Bullock) gets humiliated and dumped on reality television and takes her daughter back to her tiny home town where she was once queen bee in high school. She may or may not fall for Harry Connick Jr. along the way (and who wouldn't?). But did you know that small town wasn't a movie set or fictionalized town, its very real and located in central Texas? That town is Smithville, Texas.
Where Was 'Hope Floats' Filmed?
The city of Smithville is about as charming as it gets. Located around an hour outside of Austin in Bastrop County along the Colorado River, it has been the site for multiple films over the years. Visitors are able to stop in and see the large house where Birdee (Bullock) stays with her mother at the end of Olive Street in Hope Floats. Dating back to 1908, the house was built for J. H. McCollum who owned a local store on Main Street. The house was purchased by Dr. Phillip Chapman in 1917 and is currently maintained by his grandnephew.
Other downtown Smithville Hope Floats sites include 108 NE 2nd St., which served as the Employment Agency, and the fictional Honey's Diner, which is now the very real Honey's Pizza (109 NE 2nd St).
The faded Star Biscuit Co. mural, which was painted specifically for the film, can still be seen in the small downtown area.
The Back Door Cafe, located at 117 Main St, was also featured in the film.
Movies Filmed in Smithville, Texas
After Hope Floats, Smithville became known as one of the premiere filming locations in Texas. The Terrence Malick drama, Tree of Life was also filmed here as well as Bernie starring Jack Black. Miranda Lambert even filmed the music video "Vice" in the town, paying homage to her home state. Another claim to fame for Smithville is they baked the largest gingerbread man that made a Guinness World Record. You read that right. This cookie was so large it actually made the 2009 book of records. After that, the city and the Chamber of Commerce turned the cookie sheet into a monument that you can go visit today. You'll be shocked because that gingerbread man was 20 feet tall. That's a lot of ingredients. It took over 70 dozen eggs.
Despite its small size, Smithville is honestly a great location if you want that small-town life while being close to large cities. Don't worry, they have a post office, fire department, Smithville Public Library and City Hall (it's not that small). They even have their own paper, The Smithville Times.
Down the street from Austin and less than two hours from San Antonio, the Smithville area is in a pretty central little pocket along Highway 71. You also have access to Buescher State Park right outside of town. Smithville is the perfect day trip for anyone in Central Texas wanting to get a glimpse of an incredibly charming small town and see some film locations along the way.
This article was originally published in 2019.