For the 50+ Traveler

A rich history, vast landscapes, warm weather -- that’s Texas in a nutshell. While it’s known for thriving large cities like Dallas and Houston, the Lone Star State is also home to many charming small towns. I feel blessed to live in a state with so much diversity and so much history -- and, of course, lots of small towns that I never get tired of visiting.

I have many good memories of driving through Texas with my family in our green station wagon, playing games in the car. The most memorable times were when my dad would help me find that horse for 20 points, the next word in the ABC game, or that slug bug for a slap. I'll also never forget the jokes he would tell us while on the road. The funny thing was that he always told us the same jokes over and over, but we loved them every time.

While Texas is full of small towns, my list here consists of towns I've visited a time or two and remember fondly. For a real Texas experience, take in a few of these small towns with big charm on your next road trip through the state. Don't be surprised if you hear the word "howdy" a hundred times!

Granbury, a small town near Fort Worth, Texas.

1. Granbury

Granbury is a short drive from Fort Worth and has a wonderful lake to play on. It’s also home to many award-winning bed and breakfasts that are packed with charm. When visiting this small Texas town, walk around the historic town square, especially if you like to shop for unique gifts, antiques, and food items. This is one town I can’t pass without checking out the local antique shops! You can even catch a Broadway production at the old opera house.

The historic small town of Jefferson, Texas.

2. Jefferson

Jefferson is a small East Texas town you won't want to leave! The town is home to some great history museums and a charming downtown. Whether you’re interested in history, shopping, or hanging out in nature, you'll have countless activities to choose from. If you're an outdoor enthusiast, check out these outdoor activities near Jefferson that are available all year long, such as kayaking and lake tours. There are a vast number of very nice bed and breakfasts in town in case you want to extend your stay. But be sure to find one that serves breakfast each morning -- some do not offer this option.

Shops in downtown Grapevine, Texas.

3. Grapevine

Grapevine never stops growing. It's home to a quaint downtown, fabulous eateries, the Grapevine Mills Mall, the Gaylord Texan Resort, and lots of popular festivals. During the holidays, Grapevine is like a picture from a storybook, and you'll want to return again and again. If you're in this area for Christmas, take a look at these reasons to visit Grapevine during the holidays. If you love large festivals, you may want to visit in May for the Main Street Fest or in September for GrapeFest. Both are family friendly, but the latter serves up wines of all kinds!

Shops in downtown Fredericksburg, Texas.

4. Fredericksburg

Every time I write a story about Texas, it seems that Fredericksburg makes my list. This charming town has something for everyone, including rich German heritage, wineries, plenty of shopping, restaurants of all kinds, and awesome nightlife. Don't skip the restaurants and shops on the town’s side streets! This is a great place to gather your girlfriends for a weekend getaway to tour the wineries. Fredericksburg can also be the ultimate place to go for a romantic getaway or holiday vacation.

5. Salado

There's a small town between Waco and Austin that you may have passed up a time or two. But, let me tell you, you're going to want to stop next time. Salado is nothing short of a small town with big charm, especially if you love wine, shopping, and golfing. Make this place your next getaway, and you won’t regret it. You'll love the boutiques, antique shops, restaurants, lodging options, nature opportunities, and festivals. If you decide to stay the night, find a quaint cottage or hang your bonnet at the Stagecoach Inn, with its newly renovated rooms, Sferra bed linens, and Turkish cotton bath towels.

Pro Tip: Try not to visit on a Sunday or Monday, since many of the shops are closed.

The quaint town of Brenham, Texas.

6. Brenham

There's always a good reason to take a trip to Brenham -- a big scoop of ice cream for just $1 at the Blue Bell Creameries and Ice Cream Parlor! But in the spring, the town is covered in brilliant bluebonnets and all kinds of other wildflowers. The Texas state flower springs up around the first of April along Highway 290 East and FM 390. Stop by the visitor center to pick up a bluebonnet map that outlines the best scenic routes. If you're only visiting for a day, check out our guide to spending a great day in Brenham -- but there are plenty of activities and attractions to keep you busy for a full weekend.

7. Gruene

When visiting Gruene, formerly its own town but now part of the town of New Braunfels, you must visit Gruene Hall, Texas's oldest operating dance hall. If time allows, take in a show -- you never know what the next act will be. Back in the day, George Strait played here a time or two. This small town is full of charm, and the funky shops and good grub are just two of the reasons I love it.

A mural in downtown Waxahachie, Texas.

8. Waxahachie

There’s so much to love about Waxahachie. Its stunning Victorian homes are unmatched in the Dallas region, and if you love antiquing, you’ll be spoiled for choice: Waxahachie is located on the Texas Antique Trail, Antique Show Trail, and Vintage Market Trail. Vintage Market Days take place in March and October.

When I was a young woman, I always wanted to spend Christmas in this charming town. Back then, I thought traveling an hour or so away from home was a big deal, so I never ventured out that way. Now that I'm all about travel, this charming small town is high up on my list of road trips to take during the holidays.

9. Canton

For a splurge-worthy day, drive out to Canton for First Monday Trade Days, a full day of outdoor shopping. I have found many unique antiques there, and the last time I went, I stocked up on artificial flowers. My favorite months to go are September, October, and November, since it's not too hot or too cold, and it's when you might find spring and summer items marked down. Bring your friends and a massive vehicle, because you will all leave with something!

Note that First Monday always takes place on the weekend before the first Monday of the month. For this reason, there are a couple of months in the year where First Monday happens twice.

Canton is an easy day trip from Dallas, but if you’d like to stay overnight, there are a few bed and breakfasts in town. These book up quickly for First Monday Trade Days, though!

Aerial view of Weatherford, Texas.

10. Weatherford

If you love peaches, you'll want to visit Weatherford in July, despite the heat. Weatherford is known for its Parker County Peach Festival, where everything is peachy for a week, including the burgers! Though it’s hot in July, this peach week is worth a visit just for a sweet taste of the homemade peach cobbler. You can also try H-E-B's scrumptious peach tea (for free!) and a peach margarita.

Other popular attractions that bring people to Weatherford include the First Monday Trade Days, which take place every weekend before the first Monday of the month, and the beautiful Chandor Gardens. You can check out these two attractions year-round.

11. Boerne

Nestled in the Texas Hill Country just north of San Antonio, this lovely German town boasts lots of charm. From one end of Main Street to the other, Boerne offers visitors a wide range of unique shops, restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, and wineries all year long. This street is long, so if you plan to walk it, be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes. A weekend here is the perfect place for a girlfriends’ getaway or an outdoor experience or two. It’s also a fabulous place just to slow down and unwind.