We can all name the most popular summertime activities in Texas off the top of our heads: hitting the beach at Galveston or South Padre, visiting the Hill Country to splash the day away at Schlitterbahn and float the river, maybe heading out west to do some hiking, and a select few other destinations. Notice a trend? It’s no secret that bigger cities tend to see the most tourism this time of year, but there are so many smaller towns that celebrate the season just as enthusiastically. Here are 10 tiny towns in the Lone Star State that are criminally overlooked because of their size, but know exactly how summertime is supposed to be done.
Just in case it wasn't obvious by looking at their water tower, Luling takes everyone's favorite summertime fruit pretty seriously. The annual Watermelon Thump is a four day event full of music, a parade, and - of course - events like seed-spitting and watermelon-eating contests. Festivities begin on June 21 at 110 Walnut Ave, Luling, TX 78648.
Although many pictures you'll find online depict the park's stunning fall foliage, don't be fooled - Concan is at its liveliest this time of year. With 2.9 miles of the Frio River and 11 miles of scenic trails winding through the grounds, families return summer after summer to partake in the endless outdoor activities. you absolutely can't miss the nightly jukebox dance underneath the pavilion: with snacks, nostalgic tunes, and the cool evening air blowing through the trees, it's undoubtedly an experience for the books.
3. Dripping Springs
This tiny down of less than 2,000 is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the state during summertime. Dripping Springs is home to Hamilton Pool, a mystical limestone grotto with gorgeous blue-green water, a mini waterfall, and a natural beach with sand white as snow. It's no secret why so many people flock here as soon as the first semblance of warm weather is felt, and you'll definitely want to add it into your plans for this season.
Much like Dripping Springs, Wimberley seems like a much bigger town than it actually is given the large amount of visitors that this time of year brings. Jacob's Well, a 200-foot deep underwater cave surrounded by a pool of crystal-clear, spring-fed water is the reason for the community's popularity. If you've never taken the plunge, there's no reason to wait any longer...unless you're too scared, that is.
The Panhandle deserves some love, too! Although Palo Duro Canyon is breathtaking year-round, summer is an extra special time at the park because of the famous outdoor musical, "TEXAS." The play, performed every Tuesday-Sunday night of the season at the beautiful Pioneer Amphitheater, is a moving drama about the rich history of our state. It's family-friendly and features a fireworks show as well as authentic Texas BBQ, and it's absolutely worth watching.
You could spend your summer sitting on a ferry for hours or fighting traffic in a popular beach town...or you could just visit Rockport instead. One of the best fishing and bird watching destinations in Texas, this coastal city of less than 9,000 is everything you love about the beach with none of the summertime chaos. A day spent here will leave you relaxed and rejuvenated like the ocean is supposed to.
Right after July 4th, the celebrating continues at Llano's Rock N Riverfest. Starting at 11 a.m. on the 7th, there'll be jet ski races, tons of vendors, face painting, a bounce house and zip line, washer tournament, pet parade, horseshoe pitching, and more followed by a massive fireworks show at dusk. It may not be one of the most well-known rivers in the state, but it sure promises a good time for all who attend.
Summer is the season for hot air balloon festivals, and there are several that take place throughout the state. The tiny town known for its quirky Eiffel tower wearing a cowboy hat hosts one of its own on July 20 and 21, and it promises to be fun for the whole family. Starting at 6:30 a.m. both days, there'll be balloon glows and rides, live music, food trucks, a fun zone for kids, monster truck rides, vendors, and prize drawings. Come out and watch the morning sky get illuminated in the coolest way possible.
The people of Addison are crazy about summer - so much so that they celebrate it every week during the season! Friday nights in June, July, and August from 7-9 p.m. in either Beckert or Addison Circle Park are all about great music and food under the North Texas stars. We can't think of a better way to enjoy the season.
We kicked off the list with a watermelon festival, so it's only fitting that we end with one as well. On July 20 and 21 at Hempstead Gazebo and Hempstead Depot Parks, this town of less than 6,000 pays homage to the mighty fruit with a parade, seed-spitting and melon-eating contests, watermelon auction, royal court, BBQ cook-off, vendors, a street dance, and more.
Have you ever been to any of these towns during the summer? What’s your favorite small town in Texas to visit this time of year.
If you’re still scratching your head trying to plan an unforgettable family vacation, check out
this article for some inspiration.