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Full of natural beauty and rich culture, Texas boasts a range of picturesque towns that are just begging to be explored. While the big cities in Texas typically get the state-wide fame, there are also a handful of underrated small towns that offer everything from tranquil beaches to cascading waterfalls, and an abundance of scenic valleys, canyons, rivers and lakes. Nestled in every corner of the Lone Star State, visitors who appreciate history and the outdoors will find that these Texas towns offer a range of stunning landscapes and attractions that offer insight into the state’s diverse past. Perfect for a weekend away from the tourist crowds, here are some of the most beautiful towns in Texas.
Located in the heart of the Texas Hill Country near its big-city counterparts Austin and San Antonio, Fredericksburg boasts a pleasant, small-town ambiance with plenty of things to do to fill up your weekend itinerary. The city has a unique German heritage and offers attractions for those interested in the area’s history, from a working farmhouse from the 1900s to the National Museum of the Pacific War. The city of Fredericksburg is known for its award-winning wineries, in addition to the charming array of shops and cafes that line its Main Street. Shopping is a favorite pastime in this town, where antiques, home decor, and jewelry make the perfect souvenir. Outdoor enthusiasts will delight in the pink granite dome landscapes at Enchanted Rock, where a short hike offers rewarding views.
A perfect town to relax and unwind, Jefferson is nestled in the heart of the Piney Woods region of Texas. Steeped rich in history, visitors can explore over 70 historic landmarks in Jefferson, from well-preserved homes to notable museums. Take a carriage ride through the charming streets past the quaint bed and breakfast accommodations and historic churches that line the city, go on a leisurely cruise along the Big Cypress Bayou or visit the Jefferson Historical Society Museum. Life moves a bit slower here than the big city, so it’s easy to appreciate its beautiful outdoor areas. Visitors looking for a day soaking in natural landscapes should head to the 17,000-acre Lake O’ The Pines just west of the city, or drive east to find plenty of opportunities to fish, canoe and hike at Caddo Lake.
Boasting small-town vibes and beautiful landscapes, Wimberley is one of the most picturesque towns in Texas. Located where the Cypress Creek and the Blanco River meet, the city is just an hour outside of Austin. The biggest appeal to the town of Wimberley is its array of natural attractions, including the Blue Hole Regional Park and Old Baldy Mountain. Perfect for a hot summer day, Blue Hole and Jacob’s Well are popular spots to take a plunge and cool off, while the city’s weekly markets are always bustling with activity. The city of Wimberley has been a haven for creative types for many years, so exploring the local artwork at the local galleries, shops and performing arts venues is definitely a recommended activity.
A Panhandle town in Texas that is known as the gateway to the beautiful Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Canyon is unlike any other city in Texas. Nicknamed the “Grand Canyon” of Texas, Palo Duro is known for its hiking, biking, horseback riding opportunities, and pleasant outdoor recreation. While the state park has garnered most of the attention, Canyon is also known for its internationally-acclaimed outdoor music drama TEXAS. It’s also home to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the largest history museum in Texas. Meander through the vibrant Historic Downtown Square to find an array of quaint businesses, from specialty shops to historic buildings and a restored courthouse.
Home to the only town square with a lighthouse in Texas, Port Isabel is one of the state’s oldest cities. Nestled in South Texas, the city has a rich history that dates back to 1519 when it was chartered by Spanish explorer Alonzo de Pineda. Separated by the shores of South Padre Island by the 2.6-mile-long Queen Isabella Causeway, it is an excellent family-friendly destination. Reflecting the city’s history, the Port Isabel Historic Museum, the Treasures of the Gulf Museum and the 1852 Port Isabel Lighthouse are a great place to start for history buffs. Climb the lighthouse for a stunning panoramic view of Port Isabel, go on a dolphin spotting cruise, or try your hand at fishing along the pier. Just don’t leave without indulging in the area’s famously fresh seafood.
Known for its spectacular sunsets, Rockport offers a coastal enclave away from the hoards of tourists. Flanked by Copano and Aransas bays, this 15-square-mile town is the perfect beach destination. With its pedestrian-friendly streets, enticing waters and fresh seafood, the scene here is laid-back and welcoming. The Downtown area on Austin Street is like a picture-perfect postcard with its brightly colored shops and restaurants and locals engaging in friendly conversation. Rockport Beach is a long crescent of sand with calm shallows, while those who rather try fishing can head to Goose Island State Park. Emerging as an art town, visitors would be amiss to not explore the area’s charming local galleries and shops.
A laid-back escape where creativity is encouraged, Salado is full of artists ready to share their passion for what they create. Explore eclectic shops with local artwork or attend one of the numerous festivals throughout the year, as this town is the perfect choice for the weekend traveler. Here you can learn how to blow glass, enjoy live music and performing arts, or indulge in a tasting at one of the local craft breweries. Visit the Central Texas Area Museum to learn about the town’s past, set up a picnic at nearby Pace Park, or take a self-guided tour of the picturesque Salado Gardens. Make sure to bring home a one-of-a-kind souvenir, from handcrafted jewelry to a range of home accessories.
Just 45 minutes west of Austin, Marble Falls is a true must-visit Texas Hill Country destination and a great launching point for some of the best scenery in the area. A popular getaway due to its premier location, Marble Falls is within arms reach of five picturesque lakes and some of the best wineries in the state. Boasting plenty of opportunities for an outdoor adventure, a weekend away in Marble Falls means you can go boating, camping, swimming, and fishing. The Lake LBJ Marina is a local favorite, as it is home to a water park and has boat docks and rentals for those wanting to get out on the water. Spoiled for choice, nearby you’ll also find outdoor recreation at Lake Marble Falls and Krause Springs, while Pace Bend Park offers hiking, biking, and camping opportunities.
A small town that is known for its vibrant displays in spring, Willow City is just 12 miles northeast of Fredericksburg. Steeped in rich history, the area was settled before the American Civil War and was the meeting place for English-speaking settlers, emerging as a lively city in the 1880s. Offering one of the most scenic driving destinations, the Willow City Loop is a popular 13-mile drive where you traverse hills and creeks and spot a kaleidoscope of blooming flowers and beautiful meadows and valleys that are so pretty they feel like they should be on a postcard. After a drive through the area and you’ve worked up an appetite, indulge in one of the city’s delicious BBQ joints where you’ll find live music and tasty cuisine. Here you’re also only 25 minutes away from the majestic views and outdoor recreation at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area.
A remote hidden gem, Alpine is nestled in the tall hills of West Texas. Natural beauty highlights the city and offers a tranquil getaway far from big city stressors. A sprawling open wide escape, it is considered the jumping off point for day trips to Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park. Take a 20-minute hike to the top of Hancock Hill to take in panoramic views of the town, catch a local baseball game at Kokernot Field, and learn about mercury mining and buffalo soldiers at the Museum of the Big Bend. With a backdrop of high desert mountains and colorful murals adorning the city, spend your days strolling the downtown shopping area and soaking in views of the historic avenues.