People walking around downtown Fredericksburg, Texas along the main street, via Peter Blottman Photography /

9 Picturesque Small Towns in Texas for a Weekend Retreat

Texas is vast and beautiful, and as the second-largest state in the US, its size ensures a diversity of landscapes to explore, including coastal treasures. While Houston and San Antonio often capture the limelight, the smaller towns enchant those who venture beyond the urban centers. These towns offer picturesque settings and a plethora of free activities for a weekend adventure. Some serve as gateways to the country's most renowned attractions, such as the Palo Duro Canyon, while others boast stunning beaches and waterfront dining. For an unforgettable weekend getaway, these charming Texas towns are unmatched.


Davis House in Salado, Texas
Davis House in Salado, Texas, By Renelibrary - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons 

Salado is a captivating village nestled along Salado Creek, inviting weekend visitors into its quaint charm. Here, guests can enjoy the village's picturesque atmosphere by strolling along the 1.5-mile Main Street, which is enhanced by the serene Salado Creek. Make a stop at the sculpture garden to admire the timeless beauty of 28 different sculptures from across Texas. Venture beyond the main thoroughfare to the Gault Archaeological Site, which offers a glimpse into the lives of the Clovis People, with artifacts dating back 14,000 years. After exploring, relax with a picnic at Salado Creek and Pace Park, surrounded by cottonwoods, take a swim in the creek, or discover more historical sites. Top accommodations in Salado include the Inn on the Creek and Holiday Inn Express.


Street view in Gonzales, Texas
Street view in Gonzales, Texas, via Philip Arno Photography /

Gonzales provides an eclectic weekend getaway, merging historical charm with the splendor of nature. Visitors will find attractions such as Independence Park on the banks of the Guadalupe River, which is perfect for water activities like kayaking, fishing, and swimming. The park also features picnic tables, BBQ pits, a playground, and a scenic overlook for picturesque river views. Palmetto State Park, another highlight for nature enthusiasts, features the San Marcos River running through it, surrounded by diverse trees and wildlife. The river is ideal for swimming, canoeing, and fishing, while Oxbow Lake offers opportunities for kayaking and paddleboarding. For a dose of history, explore the First Shot Monument Historic District, commemorating the location where the first shot of the Texas Revolutionary War was fired. Prime accommodations in Gonzales include the Belle Oaks and Dilworth Inns, perfect for a weekend stay.


Downtown Canyon, Texas
Downtown Canyon, Texas, By Renelibrary - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, File:DowntownCanyon1 (1 of 1).jpg - Wikimedia Commons 

Canyon is a town that leaves visitors awestruck with its dramatic and rugged landscapes. Serving as the gateway to Palo Duro Canyon, it's the quintessential destination for those seeking adventure in a mountainous setting. Palo Duro Canyon, the second-largest canyon in the United States, is often referred to as the Grand Canyon of Texas. It's a must-visit, offering miles of hiking trails, historical markers to discover, and picnic areas for relaxation. Within the town itself, visitors can enjoy the Canyon Aqua Park for swimming and fun, or delve into history at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, which spans from the prehistoric era when dinosaurs roamed the area to the days of the Old West. Top accommodation options in Canyon include the Holiday Inn Express and the Best Western Palo Duro Canyon.

Port Isabel

Aerial view of Port Isabel, Texas
Aerial view of Port Isabel, Texas 

Port Isabel, nestled in Cameron County, is a picturesque town surrounded by the natural splendor of Laguna Madre. A visit to the Port Isabel Lighthouse is a fantastic way to start exploring the town's coastal charm. Guests can buy tickets to explore the lighthouse's interior and climb to the top for breathtaking views of the Queen Isabella Causeway and South Padre Island. Even without a ticket, the area around the lighthouse offers beautiful lake vistas and picnic spots. The Pirates Landing Fishing Pier, the longest-lighted pier in Texas, invites for fishing adventures day and night. The experience is complemented by dining at the Pirates Landing restaurant, known for its seafood menu. Notable lodging options include the Lighthouse Boutique Hotel and the Casa Rosa Inn.

Port Aransas

Sunset over Port Aransas, Texas.
Sunset over Port Aransas, Texas.

Port Aransas, located on Mustang Island, offers an unforgettable island vacation with 18 miles of beautiful shoreline. Known as the fishing capital of Texas, this town by the Gulf of Mexico shines with marine beauty. Fishing in Corpus Christi and Aransas Bays is exceptional, with other activities including kayaking, parasailing, surfing, and jet skiing. The stunning shoreline provides perfect opportunities for sunset views, sunbathing, and picnicking. A visit to the Port Aransas Museum and a historic tour of Chapel on the Dunes, the island's oldest church, enrich the experience. The best places to stay are the Seaside Boutique Hotel and the Best Western Port Aransas.


Rockport Texas waterfront
Rockport Texas waterfront, By BrianGrunberger - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, File:Rockport, Texas.jpg - Wikimedia Commons 

Rockport, situated on the shores of Aransas and Copano Bays, boasts captivating coastal scenery. The town's Rockport Beach Park, located along Aransas Bay, is a haven for visitors looking to enjoy the serene blue waters and pristine white sands through sunbathing or leisurely walks. The park is equipped with a saltwater pool, a boat launch ramp, and beach pavilions. Nearby Goose Island State Park is home to the Big Tree, one of the oldest and largest live oak trees in America, and provides a habitat for diverse flora and the rare Whooping Crane. For those interested in hiking and biking, the Tule Creek Hike and Bike Trail offers a scenic one-mile route. Accommodations such as the Lighthouse Inn at Aransas Bay and the Hampton Inn and Suites are recommended for a comfortable stay.

Dripping Springs

Aerial view of Dripping Springs, Texas.
Aerial view of Dripping Springs, Texas. 

Dripping Springs is a bastion of natural beauty, where a single weekend may not suffice to fully experience its charm. The town is renowned for the Hamilton Pool Preserve, a 200-acre natural wonder featuring a picturesque pool formed by erosion, dramatic canyons, a scenic waterfall, and a collapsed grotto. Although swimming might be restricted at times due to safety concerns, the preserve offers breathtaking views and photography opportunities. Additionally, Dripping Springs is dotted with parks such as Dripping Springs Ranch Park and Charro Ranch Park, which connect visitors with nature through extensive forested areas, trails, and diverse wildlife. For those seeking accommodation, the Best Western Johnson City and Sleep Inn & Suites are excellent choices.


Wimberley, Texas: The small shops at Wimberley Square
Wimberley, Texas: The small shops at Wimberley Square

Wimberley is a charming, small village that captivates every visitor with its array of natural attractions. One such gem is the Blue Hole Regional Park, centered around a picturesque swimming area known as the Blue Hole. Visitors can enjoy a weekend here hiking the surrounding trails, picnicking, or swimming during the designated swim seasons in May and September. Another breathtaking spot is Jacob's Well, a pool within a cave located in the Jacob's Well Natural Area, northwest of Wimberley. For hikers and nature enthusiasts, the town offers the Cypress Creek Nature Trail and Preserve—a 7.24-acre area along Cypress Creek perfect for hiking. The Wimberley and Square Inns provide excellent lodging options for a weekend stay.


Main Street in Fredericksburg, Texas.
Main Street in Fredericksburg, Texas. Image credit ShengYing Lin via Shutterstock 

Fredericksburg is a prime example of small-town charm and natural allure. This is exemplified by Enchanted Rock, a pink granite dome located north of the town, within the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. Activities here include rock climbing, hiking along 8.4 miles of trails, and climbing to the summit at 1,825 feet for an exceptional weekend adventure. For a more relaxed experience, visit the 330-acre Lady Bird Johnson Park, where Live Oak Creek and its cascading surrounding hills offer breathtaking scenery. Enjoy a one-mile hike along the creek, followed by a swim in the outdoor pool. Additionally, a short drive from Fredericksburg is the President Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site, the birthplace and country home of the 36th president of the United States. The Hoffman House and Trueheart Hotel come highly recommended for weekend stays.

In Conclusion

Texas transcends its cowboy and ranch stereotypes, offering a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and making weekend getaways memorable. Its small towns and villages are brimming with vast, untouched landscapes ready for exploration, providing a peaceful escape from city life and drawing visitors closer to nature. With such remarkable features, these towns have the potential to turn weekend visitors into lifelong residents.

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