I love to road trip to small Texas towns. Each is unique, just like the variety of topography in the Lone Star State. From the coast to West Texas, these are four of my favorite small Texas towns that should be on your travel radar. They are Port Aransas, Burnet, Concan and Fort Davis.
Port Aransas: Coastal Haven
I’ve been to Port Aransas, also called Port A, many times. It was hit hard by Hurricane Harvey in 2017, but has come back even better than before. You go for vitamin “sea” and for some fun in the sun. But, there’s more to Port A than just relaxing on the beach or fishing.
Visit the Chapel on the Dunes. It was built in 1937-1938 and has survived Hurricanes Carla, Celia and Harvey. Open for tours on first and third Saturday of the month. Even if it’s not open, it’s a nice quiet place to visit. You do have to walk up some sandy stairs to get to the chapel.
Take the short ferry ride, which is only a couple of minutes, to uninhabited St. Joseph’s Island, also called St. Joe’s. Legend has it pirate Jean Lafitte buried treasure on the barrier island and his ghost continues to protect it. Spend a morning or day on the expansive beach, fishing or looking for wildlife like crabs and turtles. Check out my blog Fall Weekend in Port Aransas, Texas for more on St. Joe’s. My blog Girls R&R Weekend in Port Aransas, Texas has great suggestions for where to eat.
Stay: Sunflower Beach Resort and Residences – condos and homes
Eat: Donut Palace – drive-thru always has an early morning line of pickup trucks, golf carts, and walkers.
Burnet: Lake Town Respite
Burnet, pronounced BUR-knit, is your gateway to Lake Buchanan, which is pronounced Buck-CAN-nun. It’s the northernmost and second largest of the seven Highland Lakes in Central Texas.
Stay: Canyon of the Eagles Nature Park and Resort – guest room cabins, RV and camp sites.
It’s on northeast shoreline. It’s been named best nature-based resort in Texas. It’s a birders paradise. You can rent kayaks, do a private guided hike or hike on your own in nature preserve.
See waterfalls while hiking at Colorado Bend State Park, about an hour drive from resort. Check out my blog on hiking the Spicewood Springs trail. Longhorn Cavern and Inks Lake State Parks are nearby too. After hiking, go wine tasting at Fall Creek Vineyards in tiny town of Tow is on northwest side of lake. It was the first winery in Texas to plant Tempranillo grapes. After wine tasting, enjoy the scenic drive around lake from vineyards to resort.
Eat: Overlook Restaurant (on resort)
*Canyon of the Eagles has an observatory with twilight and dark sky programs. It will be in the central path of solar eclipse on April 8, 2024. You can book starting Jan 1, 2023.
Concan: Hill Country Holiday
Concan is in the Texas Hill Country River Region. Concan is nestled along the banks of the Frio River flanked by huge cypress trees. When I need a R&R weekend to decompress, this is one of the places I go.
Stay: Frio Country Resort – cabins, homes and RV sites
Hike in nearby Garner State Park. Old Baldy trail is short and steep with great views of the Frio River and surrounding Hill Country.
At sunset go see 10-12 million Mexican free-tailed bats heading out for their nightly flight. It’s one of the largest colonies of bats in Texas. Check out my blog on the Frio Bat Flight for more information.
Eat: Neal’s, especially for breakfast
Fort Davis: West Texas Exploration
I visited Fort Davis with my dear friend Carroll as we did a 5 days, 2 chicks, 1001 mile road trip in West Texas. This was one of my favorite spots.
Fort Davis National Historic Site is one of best surviving examples of a frontier military post in the Southwest. Troops were stationed here 1854-1891 and it became a national historic site in 1961. Take a self-guided tour through 5 restored and refurnished buildings to see what it was like in 1880. There’s another 100 ruins, foundations and buildings you can wander in and around. Hike up from fort into Davis Mountains State Park for a panoramic view.
McDonald Observatory was built in 1939 by University of Texas. It’s home to the Hobby-Eberly Telescope, one of the world’s largest optical telescopes and currently being used to create the largest map of the cosmos ever. Evening star parties on Tues, Wed, Fri and Sat nights to see constellations, planets, satellites and other celestial objects. You must make reservation in advance. The star parties are very popular. Even before the pandemic, you needed to make reservations well in advance.
Stay: Hotel Limpia – Historic main building dates back to 1912. Orchard House Suites are my favorite and date back to circa 1920.
Eat: Fort Davis Drug Store (breakfast/lunch) and dinner at Blue Mountain Bar and Grill (only restaurant in Fort Davis with a liquor license)
*Balmorhea State Park including the world’s largest spring-fed swimming pool is currently closed because of COVID.