The Best Small Towns in Texas If You're Looking for Lone Star Charm

The Dienger Trading Co. in Boerne, TX
Photo: John Davidson

Texas—all 270,000 square miles of it—has no shortage of travel appeal. Between the bustling cities to the tiny honky-tonk towns, it'd be nearly impossible to see and do it all—but you can certainly try. In our opinion, the spirit of the Lone Star State can best be found through its charming small towns where friendly smiles and Southern hospitality are still the norm, and you're rarely far away from a Tex-Mex taco or piled-high barbecue sandwich.

While there's an innumerable amount of places and sights worth giving a visit, we've rounded up our favorite Texas towns to help make the 270,000 square miles feel a little bit smaller. (Fun fact: That's roughly the size of France.) Here are the best small towns in Texas.

01 of 08

Fredericksburg, Texas

fredericksburg, texas
Getty Images

Located in the thick of Texas Hill Country, Fredericksburg still holds true to its German heritage with biergartens on its Main Street (which also has plenty of galleries, restaurants, and boutiques for all-day perusing) and an annual Oktoberfest celebration each fall. Plus, this part of Texas is known as "wine country," and there's over 100 wineries and tasting rooms in and outside town for entertainment and education of Texas grapes. Read more about Fredericksburg, Texas.

02 of 08

New Braunfels, Texas

Gruene Hall (New Braunfels, Texas)
Rush Jagoe

Gruene has long been a favorite family destination for Texans for more reasons than one, starting with its position along the Guadalupe River, which is a popular route for floating on rafts and innertubes during warm months. It's also home to the oldest live music dance hall in Texas, known as Gruene Hall, which can be found in the historic district near beloved rustic eatery, the Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar. (Tip: Get the chicken-fried steak. It's as authentic as it gets.)

03 of 08

Boerne, Texas

The Dienger Trading Co. in Boerne, TX
John Davidson

If you're looking for old-fashioned fun, Boerne (pronounced BUR-nee) is the place to grab a Coke float and feel like you've been transported back in time. Located only about half an hour from San Antonio and less than two hours from Austin, the town is largely centered around a lively downtown district known as the Hill Country Mile, which consists of the Main Street drag lined with dozens of antiques shops and specialty stores, including The Dienger Trading Co. Read more about Boerne, Texas.

04 of 08

Round Top, Texas

Royers Round Top Cafe in Texas
Wynn Myers

It's easy to get distracted by the twice-yearly antiques fair extravaganza in Round Top, where you can score all sorts of unexpected goodies, but this town has much more to it than just shopping. Visit Royer Round Top Café, a family-run institution since 1987, for a slice of one of their famed pies, such as the Original Buttermilk Pie and the Texas Trash Pie. There are even converted silos where you can have your first glamping experience.

05 of 08

Port Aransas, Texas

This beloved family beach town on Mustang Island known affectionately and proudly as Port “A” has done a remarkable job of recovering in the wake of the devastation of Hurricane Harvey in 2017, and its 6.3 miles of broad, flat sands remain a great place t
Olga Melhiser / Getty Images

We'd be remiss to ignore Texas' Gulf Coast, and Port Aransas—a town of around 4,000—can be found on Mustang Island, a barrier island just off the mainland. Known for the abundant fishing nearby, it's a treasure trove of boating charters and fresher-than-fresh seafood restaurants located just steps from the marina. Not to mention, you're rarely ever further than a quick walk or golf-carting traipse away from the beach. (Golf carts are the main transportation around town.)

06 of 08

Grapevine, Texas

Downtown Grapevine, TX at Christmas
Robbie Caponetto

It's almost impossible to get bored in this nostalgic town located just 30 minutes from Dallas via car. In the historic downtown, you'll find winery tasting rooms and plenty of shopping. Take a ride on the Grapevine Vintage Railroad, a unique experience on authentic 1920s Victorian coaches, or plan a visit to the kid-friendly LEGOLAND Discovery Center. You can even catch a Christmas Wine Train in December. Read more about Grapevine, Texas.

07 of 08

Marathon, Texas

Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park in West Texas
Tara Donne

This West Texas town is just a short jump away from Big Bend National Park, one of the country's most majestic natural areas. Back in town, Marathon's center of gravity is undoubtedly the Gage Hotel, a carefully restored historic property opened in 1927 by wealthy local rancher Alfred Gage, which is the perfect spot to wind down after a day of hiking. Read more about Marathon and Big Bend National Park.

08 of 08

Johnson City, Texas

Johnson City Lights
Art Meripol

Johnson City usually rings a bell in Texans' minds for one of two reasons. First, it's the hometown of the former U.S. President, Lyndon B. Johnson. Secondly, it is famous for throwing one of the biggest holiday "lights spectacular" in the South—with over one million twinkling lights draped across the town square and streets for visitors to stroll through or drive through with hot chocolate. To top it off, come summertime the local peaches are delightful.

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