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With a population of just over 2,000 people, Jefferson, Texas offers a peaceful getaway destination in the far eastern part of the state. This Marion County town is a wonderful place to visit if you enjoy old haunted houses, quaint B&Bs, riverboat rides, and Civil War sights. Come here for outdoor fun on the Bayou, to learn about history, and to keep the whole family entertained for a weekend. Here are a few fun ways to get to know the small town of Jefferson, Texas.
To get yourself acquainted with the town and kick things off in an old-fashioned and nostalgic way, take a carriage ride through Jefferson with your sweetheart or family. Since 2008, the Lone Star Carriage Company provides carriage tours to visitors that are narrated to tell the history of the town. You can take a tour for 30 minutes or one hour on Fridays and Saturdays either by reservation or just stopping by. One-hour rides are also available on the other days of the week by appointment. Some popular tours to book are the historic tour, the grand adventure tour, a romantic ride, and a moonlight excursion.
Another fun way to take a step back in time is to visit the Jefferson General Store. This local store dates back to the 1860s and was owned by the same family for many years. It originally served as a hardware store and served riverboats passing through the area. The store still retains much of its original look and charm with a jukebox, ice cream, and lots of tempting candy. Come here to experience an old-fashioned soda fountain, buy delicious pralines, and stock up on delicious souvenirs to take home with you. The store’s website displays photos and prices of many of the jams, jellies, salsas, relishes, mugs, toys, and other items for sale. The Jefferson General Store is open from 9am to 7pm Sundays through Thursdays and from 9am to 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
Many first-time visitors to Jefferson like to start their exploration of the town at the Jefferson Historical Museum. This museum is in a red brick building and has artifacts that tell the story of the town and county’s history. The building it is in used to be the town’s post office and courthouse. There are four floors inside to explore the various antiques and exhibits with furniture, dolls, guns, and more. The museum admission cost is $7 for adults, $5 for the model train only, and $10 for a combo ticket. It’s open from 9:30am to 4:30pm daily, except for major holidays. Also, check the museum’s schedule before your trip to see if any lecture series or other events are going on.
A great way to experience the outdoors and nature of Northeastern Texas is to visit the Big Cypress Bayou reservoir of Lake O’ the Pines. Here you’ll find plenty of tall pine trees, as well as superb fishing opportunities, places to camp, beaches, and swimming spots. This lake is situated on 16,919 acres of nature and a great way to escape the hustle of city life. There are several nice marinas to launch your boat from and camping accommodations for both tents and RVs.
In a small town like Jefferson, you might feel like time is slowing down or even standing still. To take this sensation to the next level, stop by the Museum of Measurement and Time to see the historic artifacts and private collection. This is a rare and unique museum that has lots of clocks, salt and pepper shakers, vintage maps, and other collectible items on display. The exhibits range in age from the 1700s to 1900, and the museum has been in operation since 2010. Stop by on Sundays from 1-5pm or Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10am to 5pm.
Definitely make a point to spend some time at the beautiful Caddo Lake State Park while you’re in Jefferson, Texas. This is a wonderland of swamps, bald cypress trees, and Spanish moss that is unlike anywhere else in the state. There are lots of fish in the lake here, which makes it a popular spot for boaters and fisherman. It’s also fun to canoe or kayak on the lake’s paddling trails and go for a hike on the scenic trails. Since this is a state park, you can also camp here in a tent or rent out a cabin for your weekend getaway. Be mindful that alligators live in this area, so ask the park staff about alligator safety tips if you’re unfamiliar with these animals.
Various sites around the town of Jefferson are believed to be haunted, so get in this spirit of mysticism by taking a ghost walk tour. Books and TV shows have featured Jefferson as one of the most haunted places in America, and you can learn about some of the haunted tales and sites when you follow a local historian around town for a little while. Jodi Breckenridge is the local expert in ghost tours, and you can join her tour at 8pm on Friday or Saturday nights. Buy your tickets in advance online or stop by the Sandwich Shop to pick up yours in-person. Tours last about 1.5 hours and are available on other days for groups upon request.
It’s also fun to visit the Historic Jefferson Railway while you’re in town and take a ride along the Big Cypress Bayou. This is a unique way to experience the nature of Northeast Texas and is fun for the whole family. On the train ride, you’ll likely see historic sites, natural wonders, and perhaps even some wildlife. Train rides are offered on Saturdays at 12:30pm, 2:30pm, and 4:30pm. You can call or email the attraction in advance to buy your tickets for the ride, which cost $12 for adults and are free for children under six.