Small towns in Texas make for great summer vacations, winter holiday destinations, weekend getaways, and romantic escapes in the Lone Star State.
An epic road trip through these small Texas towns is a great way to see the state.
Fishing towns along the Gulf Coast attract families looking for beaches and surf while the charming towns and wineries of Texas Hill Country make great honeymoon destinations for couples.
The Old Wild West towns appeal to those seeking Texas history, excitement, and adventure.
Also Read: 17 Best Texas honeymoon destinations
In some of them you can step back in the days of cowboys and drink moonshine at a saloon.
You can see a gunfight or cattle ranching in action.
Also Read: 10 Best German Towns in Texas
Texas also has many ghost towns: places that were once thriving but were abandoned due to the Great Depression, natural disasters, end of the railroad era, and changing routes.
Their shuttered shops and derelict homes are perfect for exploring.
Here is our list of best small towns in Texas that you can visit now!
Best Small Towns to Visit in Texas
From unique cultures to delicious local cuisine, you will find a lot of things to do in Texas small towns.
Most of the best towns in Texas have their own free local history museums, county parks, excellent antiquing, and plenty of outdoor attractions.
A recent awareness of public art campaigns is bringing art walks, arts & crafts festivals, beautiful public art pieces, murals, sculptures, and intriguing architecture to many of these Texas small towns.
For those who love slow travel and local travel, these Texas small towns provide the best experience and bang for your buck.
So fasten the seatbelts and let’s take the backroads to our favorite small towns in Texas!
Also Read: Best Texas Winter Vacations
Fredericksburg is a picturesque Hill Country town in central Texas, known for its German heritage and charming Main Street.
The city is also home to a number of museums, including the National Museum of the Pacific War.
There are numerous German restaurants and shops in the city, as well as a Bavarian-style brewery.
In addition to its German heritage, Fredericksburg is also known for its wine industry.
It is located in the Texas wine country and there are over 40 wineries located in the Fredericksburg area.
Want to feel like you’re walking through a ghost town in the old west?
Well, strap on your boots, cowboy, ‘cause Luckenbach is your kind of rodeo.
This small town is famous for country music and over hundreds of people gather to listen to concerts any given weekend.
The town has a very small population of just 3 people and is only about an hour north of San Antonio which makes it a great place to stop for a day trip.
The general store is a cluster and culmination of all things Texas with cowboy hats, boots, leather, and hides dangling in all corners of the old wood building.
Besides the general store, Luckenbach also has a post office and a dance hall.
There are also a few vineyards nearby offering wine tours.
South Padre Island
Want to find an awesome Texas beach town for your trip?
Look no further than South Padre Island.
Situated just off the tip of Texas’ southeastern coast, South Padre is about 3 hours from Corpus Christi and 4 and a half from San Antonio. It is very close to the Mexican border.
The island has a few beaches for you to choose from, the best of which is probably Isla Blanca Park located on the southern part of the Island.
Here you can do some snorkeling, relax on the beach, or visit El Christo de Pescadores, a giant metal statue that speaks to the rich history of fishing in the area.
The town also has great hikes and nature trails, a theme park, and even aquarium activities with sea turtles and dolphins.
A great seaside experience that exemplifies the Texas coastline!
The town is located on Mustang Island, a little under three hours from San Antonio, and only 45 minutes from Corpus Christi.
For activities, you can take a trip over to Port Aransas beach for swimming or surfing.
Be sure to visit the Leonabelle Turn Bull center for a birding tour along a boardwalk in the Texas wetlands or do some camping in Mustang Island State Park.
For good seafood in the area try Fin’s Grill and Icehouse to sample the catch of the day.
One of our favorite charming small towns in Texas!
It is located within the city limits of New Braunfels, Texas about an hour south of Austin.
Founded in 1845 by German immigrants, Gruene was once a thriving cotton-producing community.
It flourished with a cotton gin, Gruene general store, and a gristmill – all of which are on the National Register of Historic Places today!
Gruene (pronounced like “Green”) has preserved its rich history and unique culture in the Gruene Historic District.
Visitors can step back in time as they stroll down Main Street, lined with Victorian-style buildings housing antique shops, boutiques, and ice cream parlors.
Gruene is also home to the oldest dance hall in Texas, where visitors can enjoy live country music by popular artists.
The Gristmill Restaurant, located in the town’s original cotton gin, is another must visit attraction.
Spend some time on the Guadalupe River or Comal River for some fun rafting, fishing, or river tubing while you are visiting Gruene.
Jefferson, Texas is a small town with a lot of character.
Founded in 1836, it was one of the earliest towns in Texas and served as the capital of the Republic of Texas for a brief period of time.
Today, Jefferson is known for its historic downtown, which is full of quaint shops and restaurants, oodles of small town charm, as well as excellently preserved Victorian architecture.
Visitors can explore the historic buildings – many of which are on the National Register of Historic places, shop for antiques, and enjoy a meal at one of the many restaurants.
This old brewery town is a great place to visit if you’re a fan of local beers and wines.
Shiner, also the name of a popular beer produced in the area, is about an hour and a half from both Austin and San Antonio.
One of the best places to stay in the town is a bed and breakfast called Spoetzl Haus.
This lovely little residence has dark hardwood floors and a complimentary breakfast with every stay.
It’s also decorated with little pieces of Shiner’s history, so you can ask your host for interesting tidbits about the town.
Other popular locations in Shiner are Spoetzl Brewery, Saints Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church, and Edward Wolter’s Memorial Museum and Licorice and Lemon Drop’s old fashioned candy shop.
The town is full of character and is definitely fun for a couple of day’s trip.
Want to see and experience life on the Mexico/Texas border?
Laredo is a beautiful Spanish-villa style town that was built 258 years ago.
The small texas town is on the Mile 1 marker of Interstate Highway 35 and about 2 and a half hours from Corpus Christi.
Beyond exploring the unique location and eating some awesome tex-mex, there are several other activities available in Laredo.
Visit the Republic of the Rio Grande Museum to see an authentic Laredo home for the 1830s.
Go to the reservoir in Lake Casa Blanca State Park, hike the trail along Zacate Creek (a famous battle site during the Civil War), or even learn something about space in the Lamar Bruni Vergara Planetarium.
With countless other activities, there is a ton to do in this border town.
Boerne, Texas is a nature lover’s paradise.
The town’s Main Street shopping district is called the Hill Country Mile.
It is full of quaint boutiques, antique shops, art galleries, and delicious restaurants.
The Guadalupe River runs through the center of Boerne and is perfect for swimming, fishing, canoeing, and tubing.
There are also several riverfront parks where you can picnic or take a leisurely stroll.
The Cave without a Name is one of Boerne’s most popular attractions.
The cave is a stunning example of Mother Nature’s handiwork and offers tours for all ages.
The cave is approximately 3 miles long and features beautiful stalactites and stalagmites.
Be sure to bring your camera so you can capture all the beauty that this attraction has to offer.
A town in northeastern Texas with a ton of small-town flavor.
West has some of the prettiest prairies, mountains, and rock formations in the whole state right on its doorstep.
The town is a little under 2 hours north of Austin and just north of Waco.
Book a room at the Holiday Inn or the Bed and Breakfast on Whitecreek rock, and stay for a couple of days to enjoy great open Texas outdoors.
One famous hiking trail runs through this town: the Kolache trail.
Although, it’s not really a trail at all but a food tour sampling the famous Czech pastry the Kolache.
Texas has a rich Czech immigrant history and it is exemplified in their baking of this delicious dessert.
Situated just outside of Austin, Dripping Springs is a small town with a lot to offer.
From hiking and biking trails to wineries and breweries, there’s something for everyone in Dripping Springs.
Popular attractions include the Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve, Reimers Ranch, Dreamland, and the charming downtown.
There are also plenty of opportunities to shop for handcrafted goods, listen to live music, and take in the breathtaking scenery.
Georgetown, Texas is a charming town located just north of Austin.
This small town in Texas is known for its beautiful Victorian architecture, quaint shops, and a beautiful town square.
Georgetown is home to a variety of different attractions, including the Georgetown Palace Theatre and the Williamson Museum.
There are also plenty of places to eat and drink in Georgetown, from local cafes to upscale restaurants.
Marfa is an artistic, quaint town located in the high desert of far West Texas.
In recent years, it has become a popular destination for artists, musicians, and other creative types.
The city is home to a number of art galleries, studios, and performance spaces.
It is also home to the Marfa Lights, mysterious orbs of light that have been spotted in the night sky for centuries.
Marfa makes a perfect stop on the Big Bend National Park road trip.
Whether you’re drawn to Marfa for its creative vibes or its inexplicable phenomena, there’s no denying that it’s a truly unique place.
Known as the Irish capital of Texas, this central Texas small town has a robust and diverse population with a number of great local artisans and history to explore.
It is 2 hours southwest of Dallas and two hours northwest of Austin.
While you’re there make sure to stop at the Dublin Bottling Works and Old Doc Soda shop, the birthplace of the famous brand of American soda Dr. Pepper.
You can wander through the cute and tiny shops of downtown or even take a tour of a local farm!
Head over to De Leon Inn if you’re looking for a cheap place to stay and grab a bite at Woody’s Place to sample some awesome American Barbecue.
Just outside of the Texan city of Amarillo is a comfy little North Texas town with a special charm and frontier feel.
Canyon is actually closer to major cities outside of Texas than inside.
It is a little over 4 hours from Albuquerque and Oklahoma City.
The tiny town is actually located inside of the Palo Duro Canyon, which is nicknamed the Grand Canyon of Texas because it is the second-largest Canyon in the U.S.
Nearby, you can go camping or enjoy the hiking trails in Palo Duro Canyon State Park.
Or, you can go downtown to do some shopping, take a gander and a few historic buildings, and see the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum.
Welcome to the Cowboy Capital of the World.
Historically, the town was the site of several bloody battles between the Apache and the Comanche Indian tribes and gained relevance as a cypress logging community in the mid-1800s.
Located only one hour from San Antonio, Bandera is close to two state natural areas and has great trails for hiking, bicycling, or even horseback riding.
When you come in from a rough day on the saddle take a trip over to the local museum, check the event calendar for some live music, or lay your head down to rest at the River Oak Inn.
On the western edge of Texas, this small town’s isolation will give you a brightly lit image of the night’s sky.
The nearest big city is El Paso and that is more than 3 hours away.
Alpine is also very close to the Mexican border and is popular for its proximity to Big Bend National Park.
This desert town is a great place to visit if you like peace and quiet and spending time outside.
Take a walk along Hancock Hill Trails where you can see “the desk” a metal desk dragged out into the wilderness by college students so they could have a scenic place to study.
North of Alpine is the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center, also a great place to go for a stroll and learn about the local desert critters.
You can also take a historic walking tour of the town to help you better understand its history.
Come here to see the birthplace of the Texas Revolution.
The town’s motto, “Come and take it,” speaks to the defiant history where Texas’ fight for independence from Mexico and their annexation by the U.S. began.
It is conveniently located a little over an hour from Austin and about 2 and a half from Houston.
There are multiple museums in the town that speak to both Texas and frontier history including Gonzales Memorial Museum, Living History Farm, Pioneer Village, and Gonzales County Jail Museum.
The town is also close to Palmetto State Park where you can enjoy some outdoor activities and is home to many restaurants like the Gonzales Food Market, Baker Boys BBQ, and Cow Palace.
Love coastal towns? Port Isabel is a small town located on the Gulf of Mexico in southeastern Texas.
The town is home to a number of historic sites, including the Historic Port Isabel lighthouse and the Port Isabel Museum.
The town is also a popular destination for fishing and birdwatching.
Visitors to Port Isabel can enjoy a number of activities, including swimming, kayaking, and windsurfing.
The town is also home to a number of restaurants and cafes, as well as shops selling souvenirs and local arts and crafts.
Talk about remote, this West Texas town is over three hours from the nearest major city of El Paso.
This town used to be a popular stop for cowboys and other old west folks and today serves as a pleasant reminder to a time once forgotten.
Take a walk through Fort Stockton’s historic district to see Pecos County Courthouse, the “Old Jail” from 1884, and the “Oldest House” believed to be built in 1855.
The town is also home to an Authentic old west saloon: Grey Mule Saloon.
This is a great place to unbuckle your spurs and have a whiskey or root beer.
You’ll probably be tired from all the driving so lay your head down to rest at the La Quinta Inn, it is very central within the town.
Want to go off the beaten track?
Terlingua, Texas is a unique ghost town located in the Chihuahuan Desert.
Founded in the 1880s as a mining town, Terlingua later became known for its position on the Rio Grande and its proximity to Big Bend National Park.
Terlingua Ghost Town was once home to more than 2,000 people.
However, the miners left in the early 20th century, and the town was largely abandoned.
Visitors can explore the abandoned mines, visit the old cemetery, or take a hike through the surrounding desert.
This is actually one of the bigger towns on our list, with a population of 12,000.
However, that does not subtract from its warm and quaint atmosphere.
At just 30 minutes outside of Austin, it is a must-visit for anyone who is curious about the smaller towns within the state… and has a taste for BBQ.
Lockhart has been dubbed the “BBQ Capital of Texas,” and rightfully so.
Their potent trio of BBQ restaurants (Black’s, Smitty’s, and Kreuz) have been highly awarded and BBQ lovers make the pilgrimage to Lockhart annually to have another taste of their delicious meats.
Beyond the food, the town also has a lot of beautiful, colonial-style buildings like their courthouse and county jail museum in the town square.
Want to see a town with an extremely small population?
Take a trip over to Uncertain in East Texas.
In the 2010 census, it was recorded to have a population of just 94, down from 150 in 2000. In 2018 it was believed to have only 59 people.
While it may not be the best town for clubbing, there is still plenty of fun to be had in Uncertain.
It is located in the northeastern corner of the state, almost three hours from Dallas.
The town is located right on the banks of Caddo Lake.
The gnarled and enormous cypresses of the lake/swamp form beautiful scenery for walks around the town and the surrounding area.
It also has a number of water activities like boat tours and lakeside hiking/walking trails for you to choose from.
If you want to really spice up your accommodation, try renting a cabin with Moonglow Lodges, they will set you up in a fully wooden hut situated on stilts in the lake.
Uncertain makes the perfect base to explore Caddo Lake State Park.
Granbury was voted the “Best Historic Small Town in America,” – primarily because of its Historic Downtown Square!
The buildings that line the square date back to the late 19th century, and the original brick paving stones are still in place.
The courthouse, which anchors the historic town square, was built in 1893 and is still in use today.
The town has a rich culture and deep southern hospitality that will make your heart warm.
Go to the Acton Nature center for a look at some wildlife and flora, then head over to the Granbury historic Railroad Depot to learn about the iron horses of the old west.
Spend some time on the banks of Lake Granbury.
It is about an hour and 15 minutes from Dallas and only 48 minutes from Fort Worth.
Founded in 1716, Nacogdoches is the oldest town in Texas and has a rich history.
The streets are lined with beautiful old buildings, and the residents are friendly and welcoming.
There is a lot to do in Nacogdoches, from shopping and dining to visiting museums and exploring the great outdoors.
Downtown Nacogdoches is full of unique shops and restaurants, and the city hosts several festivals throughout the year.
It is undoubtedly one of the most charming small towns in Texas!
Nestled in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, Marble Falls is a charming small town with a big personality.
From its scenic location on the shores of Lake Marble Falls to its rich history and vibrant arts community, there is much to love about this special place.
Visitors can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and swimming, or explore the many shops and galleries downtown.
And no trip to Marble Falls would be complete without sampling the famous pies at Bluebonnet Cafe!
Hidden Falls Adventure Park is perfect for biking and ATV enthusiasts.
Take a peek at some of the German cultures hiding in Southeastern Texas.
Schulenberg is also very easy to reach as it is in between and almost equidistant from Houston, San Antonio, and Austin, no more than an hour and thirty minutes from each.
You won’t want to miss the painted churches, Model Airplane Museum, and homemade German sausage and schnitzel.
Saint Mary’s Catholic Church is known as the Queen of Painted Churches, but St. John the Baptist Church and Sts. Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church are close seconds.
The Stanzel Model Aircraft Museum is owned by the Stanzel Family; model aircraft royalty who was inducted into the Model Aircraft hall of fame.
Finally, for some great German cuisine try to visit the City Meat Market or Mama’s at Sengelmann Hall for some of the best Schnitzel and Sausage dollars can buy.
Come here to see some gorgeous open vistas in the Davis Mountains.
People have compared the scenery here to New Mexico, Chihuahua, and even Australia due to the intricate rock formations and wide-open spaces.
Like most of West Texas, the biggest city nearby is El Paso at about three hours away.
While you’re here trying to do some bird watching, West Texas has 17 of the 18 species of hummingbird native to the state.
You can also do a trip hiking or camping in the Davis Mountains, or cycle through them on a ride through the “Scenic Loop.”
The town also has glider flying, the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center and Botanical Gardens, and Fort Davis National Historic Site.
Johnson City is a city in the Hill Country region of Texas about an hour away from Austin.
It is the county seat of Blanco County and is located on the Pedernales River.
This town is named after the 36th president of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson.
Johnson City is known for its quaint downtown area, which features a variety of shops and restaurants.
The city is also home to the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historic Site.
Visitors to the park can tour the Johnson family home, as well as see exhibits on LBJ’s childhood, his time in Congress, and his presidency.
The LBJ Ranch is the most popular site in the park. It served as Texas white house for President Johnson.
This primarily historic town has several buildings from the late 1800s. It is a little under three hours from Fort Worth.
Some of the historic sites you can visit in this town include an old railroad depot, an authentic book store in the town square,…..
…..a restored Aztec Theatre and Art Center in the Old Jail and….
….a massive colonial-style courthouse from 1883 that still has the original clock and bell!
It can get hot in Texas, so after you finish with a long day of walking go and eat ice cream at the Albany Ice Company, established in 1926.
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay try stopping at the Albany Inn and RV campground, a perfect pit stop for a long road trip across Texas or the U.S. in general.
Located in one of the hilliest parts of Texas, Llano is awesome for travelers who like hiking, sightseeing, and relaxation.
This historic town was the last stop on the railroad for adventures traveling west into the wild frontier.
It is a little under two hours from San Antonio and about an hour and a half from Austin.
If you’re planning on staying for a night or two, try and book a room at the Dabbs Railroad Hotel, a fully operational railside hotel in business since the times of the old west.
If you want to see an interesting rock formation check out the Llano uplift, where unusually shaped stones emerged when granite pushed itself to the Earth’s surface.
Located in the beautiful Texas Hill Country, Wimberley is a charming small town with a thriving arts community.
The town is home to several art galleries, as well as the Wimberley Players, a community theater group.
There are also several excellent restaurants, cafes, and shops.
In addition to its arts and culture scene, Wimberley is also popular with outdoor enthusiasts.
The town is surrounded by hiking and biking trails, and there are several lakes and rivers nearby for swimming, fishing, and canoeing.
Another one of its most beloved attractions is the Blue Hole.
This natural swimming hole is spring-fed and consistently stays at around 68 degrees, making it a perfect spot to cool off on a hot summer day.
Rockport is a small town located on the Gulf of Mexico coast.
The town is known for its mild climate, beautiful beaches, and variety of outdoor activities.
Rockport is also home to a number of art galleries, shops, and restaurants.
Visitors can enjoy fishing, swimming, kayaking, and bird watching.
Goose Island State Park, located near Rockport, is another major attraction.
We hope you liked our post on best small towns to live and visit in Texas.
Did we miss out on any amazing small town in the Lone Star State? Let us know in the comments.