If you’re having trouble deciding on a vacation spot for 2017, your plight stops here. We’ve compiled a list of the 14 best towns we featured last year, complete with links to the original articles so you can learn more about these amazing places. Visiting any of these charming towns is a surefire way to make 2017 your best year yet.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
Canyon is one of the most unique towns in Texas. When you first arrive, it looks like a normal small town - however, it's anything but. It's home to the nation's second largest canyon, Palo Duro Canyon. The towering red rocks will take your breath away, and you can even spend the night in a cabin at the very top that provides a panoramic view unlike any other in the world.
Bartlett has been deemed a "living ghost town," meaning it's just empty enough to evoke an eerie feel. Several families still reside here, but the once-thriving town square is now boarded up and shut down. If sparsely populated towns and abandoned buildings are your thing, Bartlett is definitely worth a visit.
A sleepy little town on 290 near College Station, Brenham has managed to not industrialize too much with the changing times. From endless acres of eye-popping wildflowers to the factory where our beloved Blue Bell is made, this town is a true gem that shouldn't be passed up.
Wharton was our pick for the quirkiest town in the state. Despite being only 60 miles away from Houston, it's a whole different world. Life is slow, architecture is old-fashioned, and some of the things you'll come across are downright strange. There's a random life-sized dinosaur statue in Riverfront Park, and you can spend the night in a realistic Tee Pee at the Tee Pee motel. At times, you might wonder if you're still in Texas, but your experience will be one for the books.
Barbecue is a huge part of being Southern. We're well versed in every aspect of it and can rattle off a list of the best joints around in a heartbeat. That being said, a town can't be "perfectly Southern" without having some incredible barbecue. Lockhart, home to two of Texas' most iconic barbecue restaurants (Kreuz Market and Black's), was the obvious choice for such a title. If you've never gotten your hands on its delicious grub, you're missing out.
Although more of a tourist attraction than an actual ghost town these days, Terlingua is still obligatory for every Texan to visit. It'll transport you back to the Old West and days of saloons, high-noon duels, and Bonnie & Clyde. Plus, the annual International Championship Chili Cookoff is held here every November - and you know we Texans take our chili very seriously.
Alpine was one of the first towns we ever featured, and we still regard it as one of the best. Its undeniable West Texas spirit is larger than the state itself and truly sets it apart from other small towns. Next time you vacation in Big Bend, take a little detour to experience this oasis in the desert that you probably never knew existed.
Unfortunately, many old towns and settlements across Texas fizzled out after their heyday was over. Somehow, the very oldest town in the state, Nacogdoches, has managed to not only survive but thrive. It's now a college town with a unique charm that can't be found anywhere else.
Fredericksburg is one of the most charming towns in Texas, especially during the fall. Its antique shops, beautiful vineyards, German festivals, and grandiose cathedrals make it the perfect place to spend a breezy October day.
Being that we have such a long coastline, it's no surprise that Texas has a plethora of fishing towns - however, none are quite like Fulton. It has its roots in fishing and hasn't changed to a higher revenue-earning industry. The people are friendly, shops and restaurants charming, and nostalgia heavy and bittersweet.
If you live anywhere that isn't under a rock, you've heard about Marfa. Maybe good things, but probably quite the opposite. You'll seldom pass another car on the street or see residents out and about, and for one good reason in particular: the Marfa Lights. This ghostly phenomenon draws a few brave souls to the town, but most people stay far, far away. Which side are you on?
Seguin is one of the oldest towns in the state, so naturally there are plenty of things to see and do here. Its town square has a preserved village complete with an old church, jail, and pioneer home. Seguin is also home to the world's largest pecan, and every October, the town goes nuts (pun intended) with pecan pies, ice cream, pralines, and more at the Pecan Fest. You don't want to miss that, y'all.
Marble Falls is one of the best kept secrets in Texas, although it's hiding in plain sight. Since it's so close to Austin, it's often overlooked or just driven through - but it's definitely worth a stop. Between Balcones Canyonlands, numerous vineyards, a lake, a berry farm, and the famous Blue Bonnet Cafe, Marble Falls is full of activities for the whole family and deserves much more recognition than it gets.
I know we just had Christmas, but it's never too early to start planning for this year! I highly suggest spending a few days in Grapevine, the self-proclaimed "Christmas Capital of Texas." You'll truly feel like you've taken a trip to the North Pole between the decked-out Main Street, ice sculpture exhibit, 100+ foot-tall Christmas tree, mailboxes for Santa letters, and more. It's a winter wonderland deep in the heart of Texas.