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Best Small Towns in Texas (+ why you’ll want to visit them!)

Texas is known for its larger-than-life personality, but it’s the small towns in Texas that truly capture the heart and soul of the Lone Star State! You’ll find charming Main Streets, scenic natural beauty, rich history and culture, adorable cafes, and beautiful holiday events.

One of the best things about small towns in Texas is their unique character. Each town has its own distinct personality, shaped by its history, geography, and local culture. Gruene, a small town established by German farmers in the 1840s, is known for its historic dance hall, while Fredericksburg is a charming escape for foodies and history buffs in the heart of Texas Wine Country.

We live in smack dab in the middle of Texas and absolutely love to explore all the small towns surrounding us! My personal favorite currently is beautiful Wimberley with its artsy cowboy boot street décor and stunning swimming holes. If the holidays are near, then you will find me in festive Boerne or charming Johnson City!

Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or natural beauty, there’s a small town (or three!) that’s sure to capture your heart. From scenic drives to local festivals, there’s always something happening in small towns in Texas!

Hye | A charming stop from Austin to Fredericksburg road trip

Best Small Towns in Texas

Whether you’re interested in history, art, or outdoor adventure, these small towns in Texas are perfect for next day trip or Texas road trip itinerary. We love each of them for their uniqueness, activities, tasty food, small town charm, and beautiful views!

You’ll find that many of these towns are in the beautiful Hill country, and that’s because it is a gorgeous area of Texas and Hill Country has so many things to do!

In no particular order….drum roll, please!

Fredericksburg

  • Location on the Map
  • Closest Big City: Austin (1.5 hours) + San Antonio (1 hour)
  • Known for: German history + tasty peaches + wineries

While we often say “located in the heart of Texas Hill Country,” Fredericksburg is a quaint town actually located right in the middle of Hill Country. With it’s German heritage that is reflected in its architecture, food, and festivals, you can soak up some deep Texas history on a relaxing getaway here.

Fredericksburg Historic Library - one of the best small towns in Texas

No doubt, Fredericksburg is one of the most popular small towns in Texas on our list. Everyone we know (including us!) has been there numerous times to wine taste, shop, relax in a beautiful hotel or cottage, and discover the history.

Stroll along Main Street, which is lined with shops, restaurants, and galleries, or explore the town’s historic sites, such as the Pioneer Museum and the National Museum of the Pacific War. Fredericksburg is also known for its wineries, which offer tastings and tours, as well as beautiful views.

During peach season, early to mid summer, the peach orchards around Fredericksburg are bursting with ripe fruit ready to offer you a juicy snack! Stop by a roadside stand for some fruit or homemade ice cream, or better yeast, head to Jenschke Orchards and pick your own!

Fredericksburg Peach farm

Wildflower season is the most beautiful time of year to visit this Texas small town. The hills are covered in Texas bluebonnets, among other gorgeous blooms, so a scenic drive and a picnic is definitely in order. Willow City Loop is a popular path, and Wildseed Farms (with free entry!) will be bursting with color and photo spots. This is also the perfect time of year to explore the state parks near Fredericksburg, such as Enchanted Rock or Lyndon B. Johnson Historic Site.

>>> Read More about Fredericksburg:

Wimberley

  • Location on the Map
  • Closest Big City: Austin + San Antonio (1 hour away from both)
  • Known for: Blue Hole + Jacob’s Well + natural beauty + charming downtown

Wimberley is a charming town also in the Texas Hill Country that is known for its natural beauty and outdoor activities. You can swim in the clear waters of Wimberley’s Blue Hole (this natural spring is our FAVORITE summer spot!), hike along the trails in Jacob’s Well Natural Area (currently closed for swimming), or browse the shops and galleries in the town square.

Wimberley's beautiful Blue Hole with rope swing and swimming area
My adventurous son enjoying the Blue Hole to the fullest!

We also LOVE the nature paths along the water at Cypress Creek Nature Preserve! This hidden gem is beautifully green and there are picnic tables available as well.

Wimberley is also home to the EmilyAnn Theatre and Gardens, which hosts outdoor performances and events throughout the year. During the holiday season, they host the most beautiful Trail of Lights – one of the best things to do in Wimberley!

Wimberley Texas Street Art

Johnson City

  • Location on the Map
  • Closest Big City: Austin + San Antonio (1 hour away from both)
  • Known for: LBJ history + peaches + waterfalls

Johnson City is a charming, picturesque small town that is one of my favorites on this list. Every time I visit or just drive through on beautiful Highway 71, it makes me smile!

In this Texas small town, you will find true hospitality and a rich historical legacy. The rolling hills and clear blue skies provide a stunning backdrop to a town that has managed to preserve its small-town charm. Quaint, locally-owned shops line Main Street with unique treasures and local flavors. The town is also home to the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park which pays tribute to one of America’s most notable presidents.

Johnson City silos at the Science Mill near Lyndon B. Johnson State Park

Johnson City’s natural beauty, with the Pedernales River and Falls nearby provides hiking, bird-watching, swimming, and wildlife. Historic oak trees that grace the town square and light up during the holidays as Johnson City becomes the “Twinkliest Town in Texas.”

Children will love the interactive Science Mill museum and don’t ever forget to come by during peach season for a box fresh from the peach picking farm!

Pedernales Falls
Pedernales Falls in Johnson City – one of the best Texas small towns for history and nature!

Jefferson

  • Location on the Map
  • Closest Big City: Dallas (three hours away)
  • Known for: historical homes + museums + beautiful lake

Located in East Texas, Jefferson is a charming, historic town that was once a bustling river port. You can take a stroll through the historic downtown area, which is home to over 70 historic buildings. The town is also has several museums, including the Jefferson Historical Museum and the Museum of Measurement & Time.

Pop into the General Store for some old-fashioned candy or a drink from the soda fountain. Plan to lodge at a bed and breakfast in one of the beautifully restored Victorian mansions.

Jefferson is located near Caddo Lake which is a great place to head if you love the outdoors. You can take a guided boat tour of the lake, go fishing, or explore the surrounding wetlands on foot. Keep your eye out for alligators – yes, really!

Gruene

  • Location on the Map
  • Closest Big City: San Antonio (1 hour away)
  • Known for: History + Dance Hall + Proximity to the River

Gruene (pronounced “green,” you’re welcome :))is a small historic district located in New Braunfels. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The town was founded in the 1800s and was once a thriving cotton-producing community.

Today, you can take a stroll through the historic district, which is home to several restored buildings, including the Gruene Hall, which is the oldest dance hall in Texas. If live music is your jam, definitely head to Gruene where you can find it 7 days of the week.

In addition to its historic district, Gruene is also known for its wineries, which offer tastings and tours. You can also explore the the opportunity for Guadalupe River tubing, which is a popular spot and Texas bucket list activity!

Granbury

  • Location on the Map
  • Closest Big City: Dallas (1.5 hours away)
  • Known for: history + lake activities

Located southwest of Fort Worth, Granbury is a small town that is known for its historic downtown area. Take a stroll down the town’s main street, which is lined with historic buildings and shops. The town is also home to several museums, including the Hood County Jail Museum, which is housed in a historic jail that was built in 1885.

Nearby Lake Granbury is a popular spot for boating and fishing. You can also take a scenic drive through the nearby Brazos River Valley and soak up the stunning views and rugged terrain.

Bandera

  • Location on the Map
  • Closest Big City: San Antonio ( 1 hour)
  • Known for: cowboys + dude ranches + nature

Known as the “Cowboy Capital of the World,” Bandera is a great destination for those who love horseback riding and other Western-themed activities. For a extra special stay, book a couple of nights at a dude ranch and immerse yourselves in life on the ranch from sun up to sun down with horses, delicious, campfire meals, archery, lasso lessons, and more.

The town is surrounded by beautiful hill country, making it a great place to hike, bike, or go on a scenic drive. The nearby Medina River offers a spot to kayak, tube, and fish, while the Hill Country State Natural Area is a beautiful state park in Hill Country for camping and hiking.

Bastrop

  • Location on the Map
  • Closest Big City: Austin (30 minutes)
  • Known for: pine trees + state parks + charming downtown

Located just 30 minutes from Austin, Bastrop is a charming small town that offers plenty of outdoor activities. The town is surrounded by the beautiful Bastrop State Park, which is home to miles of hiking and biking trails, as well as opportunities for fishing and camping. This is the best place to see pine trees in the Central Texas area – my favorite for a winter hike!

The Colorado River runs through town, offering opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. The town is also home to the Lost Pines Golf Club, which is considered one of the best courses in the state.

Hyatt Regency Lost Pines

For an amazing place to stay we highly recommend a stay at the beautiful Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa in Bastrop. This resort is less than an hour from our hometown, but is our favorite getaway spot at a family resort near Austin! From nightly s’mores to a lazy river and water slide to daily activities and complimentary bikes, this is a great spot to get out in to the country with just a few minutes’ drive from the city.

Burnet

  • Location on the Map
  • Closest Big City: Austin (1 hour)
  • Known for: caverns + lakes + bluebonnets

Burnet is a Texas small town that is a great destination for those that love nature and everything there is outdoors. The town is not only home to one state park, but two. Inks Lake State Park is beautifully blue with opportunities for camping, hiking, fishing, and swimming. The nearby Longhorn Cavern State Park is a great place to explore underground caves and rock formations.

Inks Lake State Park

Check out Highland Lakes Air Museum which houses a collection of vintage aircraft. For a taste of Texas life years ago, head to Fort Croghan for their history museum and to explore their historic cabins and property.

Burnet is also the official Bluebonnet Capital of Texas. I highly recommend visiting in April when the bluebonnets are at peak and Burnet is hosting their annual Bluebonnet Festival!

>> Read More about Burnet:

Marble Falls

  • Location on the Map
  • Closest Big City: Austin (1 hour)
  • Known for: beautiful lake + adorable downtown + holiday fun

Marble Falls is a charming town that we drive to and through often. This gem attracts visitors with its warm Texan hospitality and a ton of of activities that showcase the beauty of this picturesque town.

Whether you’re strolling along the banks of the serene Lake Marble Falls, eating freshly baked pie at the iconic Bluebonnet Café, or exploring the historic Main Street lined with boutique shops and quaint cafes, Marble Falls offers a beautiful blend of nature and culture.

Falls on the Colorado Museum in small town Marble Falls, Texas

Falls on the Colorado River is an informative museum that you will give you some background on the history of the town. Wine enthusiasts can savor the local wineries and vineyards that dot the surrounding landscape.

When it comes to Texas Christmas towns, Marble Falls is one of the best! Their holiday calendar is loaded with merry activities from ice sculpting to lights to ugly sweater contests.

>> Read More about Marble Falls:

Port Aransas

  • Location on the Map
  • Closest Big City: San Antonio ( 2.5 hours)
  • Known for: beaches + fishing + seafood + golf carts

Along the Texas Gulf Coast, is beautiful Port Aransas – one of our very favorite Texas beach towns. You may hear this coastal small town referred to as “Port A” by the Texans who know and love it well.

You’ll find beautiful beaches that are perfect for unwinding, swimming, and even some fishing by boat or from the shore. If you’ve ever dreamed of conquering the waves, Port Aransas is the perfect place to take surf lessons near the popular pier.

Port Aransas, Texas - Whitecap Beach
Whitecap Beach – North Padre Island

Whitecap Beach is our family favorite for some great boogie boarding and soft sand (we stayed in this condo nearby on our last trip over Memorial Day- it was fantastic!).

A short drive down the island will bring you to the majestic Padre Island National Seashore, a sprawling stretch of natural beauty, where you can observe sea turtles, go birdwatching, and explore the dunes. A few times a year, typically summer months, you can even observe a sea turtle release at sunrise.

To immerse yourself fully in the island’s charm, rent a golf cart in Port Aransas. It’s the town’s unofficial mode of transportation, and check out the colorful beach town streets cute boutiques, art galleries, souvenir shopping, and seafood shacks that offer the freshest catch of the day.

Port Aransas Golf Cart Rentals

Boerne

  • Location on the Map
  • Closest Big City: San Antonio (1/2 hour)
  • Known for: caverns + shopping + holiday fun

Boerne is a captivating small town just north of San Antonio that is filled to the brim with charm and sweetness. With its historic Main Street, you’ll find boutique shops, art galleries, and tasty restaurants, making it perfect for an afternoon of browsing.

The Cibolo Nature Center and Herff Farm offer the perfect place to explore for nature lovers, with hiking trails, wildlife observation, and educational programs that highlight the region’s natural beauty. Don’t miss a visit to Cave Without Name and Cascade Caverns to explore the stunning underground formations.

Boerne also hosts a variety of amazing annual events, like the Hill Country Mile Rod Run, where classic cars line the streets, and the charming Dickens on Main, a festive Boerne Christmas celebration that transports you back to the Victorian era with food, entertainment, costumes, and music.

Concan

  • Location on the Map
  • Closest Big City: San Antonio (1.5 hours)
  • Known for: beautiful river + tubing + state parks

Concan is a hidden gem with a tiny population, but incredible beauty. With its breathtaking Frio River winding through the town, it’s a a great spot for outdoor activities and nature lovers. Spend your days tubing or kayaking down the crystal-clear waters, or simply relax by the riverbanks and soak up the sun.

Garner State Parkoffers hiking trails, camping spots, and evening dances under the stars during the summer. Concan is also known for the popular Neal’s Lodges, a family-owned and operated retreat that has welcomed generations of visitors to its rustic cabins and provides easy access to the area’s natural beauty. C

Come enjoy the vibrant local music scene, experiencing the annual Fourth of July fireworks display, epic summer floating the Frio, or mouthwatering BBQ at the various local eateries.

Beautiful Frio River running through small town of Concan, Texas in the  fall
Different Colors of Fall Foliage on Trees Lining the Crystal Clear Frio River in Texas.

West

  • Location on the Map
  • Closest Big City: Dallas (1 hour)
  • Known for: farms + kolaches + Czech history

The Texas small town of West is a warm and welcoming place with a taste of Czech culture, small-town charm, and true farm life.

Flower Farm in West, Texas

One of the town’s most cherished highlights is the iconic Slovacek’s West Bakery, where the aroma of freshly baked kolaches, a Czech pastry delight, fills the air. These treats, a nod to the town’s Czech heritage, are a must-try, and you’ll find an array of flavors to choose from. If you want to bakery hop – we highly recommend it! – you’ll also love Gerik’s Ole Czech Bakery & Deli, West Donuts & Kolaches Shop, and Oak Street Bakery.

Western Belle Farm in West, Texas

As you stroll through the town, don’t miss a short drive to Western Belle Farm, a picturesque farm that showcases the beauty of the Texan countryside. Here, you can enjoy hayrides, explore their friendly petting zoo, take plenty of photos at their themed areas, travel the corn maze, try the zipline, and more. Pick your own flowers and strawberries in the spring and pumpkins in the fall.

Luckenbach

Luckenbach, population 3, wraps up this list of the best small towns in Texas. Yep, Luckenbach is the tiniest of towns but it packs a big punch! Stop by the old post office that that still hosts regular events with live music, dancing, and a rich history of the area.

Most afternoons, and weekend evenings, you’ll find a great line up of musicians and a relaxing good time under the oak trees. Check out their event calendar here.

Texas Small Town Festivals and Events

Texas is known for its vibrant and unique festivals, but many people don’t know about the charming small-town festivals that take place all around the Lone Star State. Here are some of the most popular small-town festivals in Texas.

Texas Blueberry Festival

The Texas Blueberry Festival is held annually in Nacogdoches, Texas, in the heart of the East Texas Piney Woods. This festival, which is usually held in June, celebrates the blueberry harvest with a variety of activities for the whole family. Visitors can enjoy live music, a car show, a 5K run, a pet parade, and more. Of course, there are also plenty of blueberries to sample, including blueberry ice cream, blueberry pancakes, and blueberry lemonade – seriously delicious!

Texas Mushroom Festival

The Texas Mushroom Festival is held annually in Madisonville, Texas, in October. This festival celebrates the unique and delicious mushrooms that grow in the area. You can enjoy a variety of mushroom-themed activities, including a mushroom cook-off, a mushroom-growing workshop, and a mushroom hunt. There are also plenty of other activities for the whole family, including live music, a carnival, and a parade.

Texas Rose Festival

The Texas Rose Festival is held annually in Tyler, Texas, in October. This festival celebrates the beautiful roses that grow in the area, and visitors can enjoy a variety of rose-themed activities, including a rose show, a rose parade, and a rose garden tour. There are also plenty of other activities for the whole family, including live music, a carnival, and a craft fair.

Fredericksburg - one of the best small towns in Texas!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some affordable small towns in Texas?

Texas has a plethora of affordable small towns that offer a great quality of life without breaking the bank. Some of the most affordable small towns in Texas include Pecos, Monahans, and Kermit. These towns have a low cost of living, affordable housing options, and plenty of amenities to make life comfortable.

What are the best small towns to retire in Texas?

Texas is a great place to retire, and there are plenty of small towns that offer a great quality of life for retirees. Some of the best small towns to retire in Texas include Fredericksburg, Georgetown, and Boerne. These towns have a low cost of living, plenty of amenities, and a relaxed pace of life that is perfect for retirees.

What are some underrated small towns in Texas?

Texas has many small towns that are underrated and often overlooked by visitors. Some of the most underrated small towns in Texas include Burnet, Wimberley, and Granbury. These towns offer a unique charm, beautiful scenery, and plenty of activities to keep visitors entertained.

What are the best small towns in central Texas?

Central Texas is home to many charming small towns that offer a unique Texas experience. Some of the best small towns in central Texas include Fredericksburg, Wimberley, and New Braunfels. These towns offer beautiful scenery, great food, and plenty of activities to keep visitors entertained.

What are some small towns near Dallas, Texas?

If you’re looking for small towns near Dallas, Texas, you won’t have to look far. Some of the best small towns near Dallas include McKinney, Grapevine, and Denton. These towns offer a relaxed pace of life, great food, and plenty of activities to keep visitors entertained.

What are some good small towns in Texas to explore in winter?

Winter is a great time to explore small towns in Texas, and there are plenty of towns that offer a unique winter experience. Some of the best small towns in Texas to explore in winter include Fredericksburg, Wimberley, and Boerne. These towns offer beautiful scenery, great food, and plenty of winter activities to keep visitors entertained. Grapevine is the perfect small town for Christmas festivities.

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