Even though Houston or Dallas may be the first destinations that come to mind when you think of Texas, the entire state is sprinkled with amazing small towns and villages that are worth considering in your itinerary, especially if you’re the type of traveler who prefers exploring lesser-frequented spots.
In this post, we share a few of the best places in Texas to visit that aren’t large cities, including towns with under a hundred residents to ghost villages standing in the middle of the desert so you can take your pick and explore the Lone Star State in a super unique way!
Set in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, Fredericksburg is the ideal destination to base yourself in to explore the best this alluring area of the state has to offer.
Fredericksburg’s German heritage can be seen in every step you take across this quaint town. During your visit, you’ll get to feel as though you traveled across the Atlantic by exploring its top-notch wine culture, going in search of breweries, or spending a day under the sun at an authentic beer garden!
Fredericksburg is also the starting point for one of the prettiest scenic drives in Texas, the Willow City Loop. Particularly during bluebonnet season, you won’t want to miss this incredible drive from your small-town Texas road trip itinerary!
2. Round Top
Home to just under a hundred residents, Round Top is a tiny village in Texas you may overlook if you don’t know about it!
Despite its super small size, Round Top is home to a fabulous art scene, an amazing culinary scene, and a super unique antique show that actually put it on the map. Moreover, the town loves hosting festivals, including the Shakespeare at Windedale Festival.
Thanks to its location right between Houston and Austin, Round Top is a great pit stop to make if you’re driving from one city to another or on your way Houston to Big Bend National Park. Make sure you check out Royers Café, a classic coffee shop famed for its scrumptious pies!
Rockport is everything you could as for in a seaside escape, especially if you’re the type of traveler who likes to combine beach fun with cultural happenings.
This quirky coastal town in southern Texas is perfect for a beach vacay, with activities like swimming, boating, fishing, waterskiing, and more being a part of its menu. If you’re into seafood, you’ll find yourself in heaven here.
For a bit more adventure, you can head over to the nearby Goose Island State Park, where you can spend a day hiking under the shade of the largest oak trees in the country.
For a cultural break, you can stroll through the town’s historic center, which is lined by historic buildings, museums, and local art galleries. A can’t miss stop during your visit is the Fulton Mansion as well as the Hoopes-Smith House!
Festivals are also a thing here, so make sure you check Rockport’s calendar to see if there’s anything happening during your visit. The Wine Festival and the Oysterfest are simply amazing!
Located on the Mexican border, Terlingua is a ghost town that was abandoned after mining operations ceased and its population left.
Today, Terlingua is an amazing place to explore. Boasting incredible panoramic views of the Chisos Mountains, this ghost town is as quirky as its gets, especially when it comes to its desert-inspired architecture and art all over.
If you love nature, you’ll also be able to explore the town’s surroundings by kayaking the Rio Grande River or going on a hike around the mountains.
As a tip, Terlingua is located pretty close to Big Bend National Park, making it an easy stop to make on your way there.
Sitting north of Dallas and Fort Worth, Grapevine is an amazing place to visit if a little bit of everything is what you’re after, including activities out in nature, a spectacular wine culture, museums galore, and spas to relax your muscles in.
Grapevine’s perfectly preserved Historic Main Street is as Instagrammable as it can get. You can easily spend your entire visit strolling through it, especially when you consider it’s dotted with locally-owned restaurants, wine tasting rooms, several art galleries, and lots of boutique shops.
Nature, art, and wine – that’s Boerne in a nutshell.
This Texas small town sits right in the heart of the Texas Hill Country and provides the perfect opportunity to explore some of the best nature centers and state parks in the state.
Moreover, it’s also a haven for wine and beer tasting, with tons of vineyards, breweries, and distilleries dotting its streets.
For some serious eye candy, make sure you dedicate several hours to strolling Boerne’s historic district – Hill Country Mile – where you’ll find gorgeous buildings, eclectic eateries, tons of local art galleries, and antique shops, as well as cozy cafés to spend a few hours in!
You’ve probably seen Marfa’s Prada Marfa pop-up store on Instagram and Pinterest a thousand times already. Yep – even though it looks almost like a painting (because who would expect to find a Prada store in the middle of nowhere?!), it actually exists and it’s just one of the many quirky pop-up projects in this incredibly artsy town.
If you’re into minimalist art, Marfa is bound to please your creative eye. A can’t miss sight during your visit is the Chinati Foundation, which is home to amazing (and somewhat whacky) pieces.
Another sight you can’t miss is the Presidio County Courthouse, a building that dates back to the 19th century and is famed for its pink facade!
You can find more unique and usual places in Texas for your road trip itinerary here.
What are some other smaller destinations worth checking out in Texas? Let me know if you know of any others in the comment section below!
Further Tips & Inspiration for Road Tripping in Texas
- Remember Texas is BIG! Driving distances can be long, and fuel stops can be few and far between once you leave the major cities.
- Stay up to date with traffic information before you set out on a scenic drive with drivetexas.org.
- Watch for tolls near big cities – if you are renting a car in Texas, consider pre-paying for peace of mind.
- By law in Texas, Children 1 to 7 must be secured in a child passenger safety seat.
- Never forget an important family road trip item again! Download our family road trip essentials checklist ready for your next family road trip.
© Family Road Trip