Small town charm meets big Texas hospitality in Cleburne, Texas. It’s a quick drive just west of Fort Worth, where you'll find a city with tremendous history, the most beautiful historic homes you've ever seen, and a happening outdoor museum that locals and tourists alike rave about! Whether you’re looking to enjoy scenic views or wanting to dig into some history of the South, you’ll love discovering all that Cleburne has to offer.
What's not to love about charming Cleburne? My grandson and I found out on a hosted weekend trip by Visit Cleburne. All opinions are my own.
1. Explore Downtown Cleburne
There is so much to love about downtown Cleburne. This was my first visit to Cleburne, and I'm now in love with the downtown area. Folks are friendly, businesses support one another, everyone seems happy to be there, and I found a couple of stores I'd like to come back to. There's a lot to see on the square that includes Caddo Street, Henderson Street, Main Street, and Chambers Street, but don't overlook the side streets -- you may find something valuable there.
Downtown Cleburne offers more than just shopping. You'll find a nostalgic candy store with a root beer bar, a unique toy store for kids and adults, restaurants, museums, and a nice one-of-a-kind boutique hotel, to name a few. And, if you are into the latest craze of finding picture-worthy murals, look around town at the many scenes of history by artists who have turned outside walls of Cleburne’s buildings into their canvases. Grab a good pair of walking shoes and get those steps in while experiencing historic downtown Cleburne.
2. Visit The Gone With The Wind Remembered Museum
Step back in time to remember the classic movie Gone With The Wind, and visit the Gone With The Wind Remembered Museum. The museum brings devoted GWTW collectors and tourists from all over the world to Cleburne and is one of the world's largest private collections of memorabilia from the movie. You will find a full wall dedicated to actors and actresses in the movie that makes a spectacular backdrop for a photo outside the museum. You can't miss it -- look for Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara.
Inside you'll find rows of showcases of Scarlett O'Hara dolls and other dolls wearing gorgeous dresses from the movie (some originals, too). It's quite the collection if you ask me. There is also a theater that plays the movie (yes, all four hours of it), but I liked the commentary video the best. I learned about the true life of the actors and what went on during the making of the movie.
3. Layland Museum
The Layland Museum, housed in one of the few Carnegie Libraries remaining in Texas, is one of Cleburne's most historically significant structures. It displays original historical pieces found all over the world by Mr. Layland. Enjoy free admission. If time allows, the Cleburne Railroad Museum is around the corner.
4. The Liberty Hotel
This is a one-of-a-kind boutique hotel located in the midst of everything there is to love in historic downtown. I enjoyed talking with the manager and his mother, who was visiting from San Antonio. He told me the history of the hotel from the beginning to the present. The Liberty Hotel was built in 1924 and restored to its original look (as close as could be) in 2009 and is a pure treat to the look and feel of downtown. If you're not staying there, a look inside is a must.
5. The Chisholm Trail Outdoor Museum
Come one come all to one of the best (if not the best, according to my grandson) outdoor museums in Texas. It’s an epic Western adventure waiting to happen with live demonstrations throughout, a working Blacksmith Shop, a restored stagecoach, a jail cell you can let your kids wander in, an original courthouse, a school, and many more historic features. Fun for the entire family.
They host several events, including a Bluegrass event in May, Pioneer Days in November, and many others. You can keep up with what's going on outside in Cleburne on the Chisholm Trail Outdoor Museum Facebook Page.
When the weather gets warm in or around April, you can rent kayaks on Lake Pat Cleburne right inside Chisholm Trail Outdoor Museum at the Star Pavilion. Or take a horseback ride on the trails that ends with a steak dinner cooked over an open fire. These two activities alone are an excellent reason to visit in spring and summer. This was our favorite attraction on our weekend visit. We are going back so we can stay longer and ride those horses!
Pro Tip: You may want to start at the Big Bear Native American Museum. It's on the right as you drive in. Parking is free, and there is a nominal admission fee that helps this non-profit museum thrive. It’s an easy walk through the entire museum (there are no hills). Plan to stay all day. It's that much fun!
6. Historic Homes Driving Tour
Gather the family for an outing through Cleburne's neighborhood streets and enjoy over 90 historic homes and buildings ranging from Victorian and artsy to bungalow-style homes from the early 1900s. From Anglin Street, Main Street, Buffalo Street, and beyond, catch a glimpse of these polished homes' yesteryear. There is a 79-page booklet dedicated to the tour of homes. To get a copy, stop by the Cleburne Chamber of Commerce Convention and Visitors Bureau at 1511 W. Henderson Street.
7. Eating In Historic Downtown Cleburne, TX
Dinner At Jimmie’s Restaurant
Have you ever ordered a hamburger that you couldn't finish eating? You might if you order Jimmie's Burger loaded with hot links, bacon, onion, tomatoes, lettuce, a special sauce, and cheese if you ask for it. See Jimmie's Restaurant on Facebook and click the menu tab to see the meals he cooks up personally. The menu is small, but the meals are large, and all I can say is come hungry.
Pro Tip: Jimmie’s is open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings.
Lunch At Loaf'N Dog
It's a family-owned hot dog joint and one of the best hot dogs my son and I have ever had. Loaf'n Dog doesn't serve just any ole hot dog. Theirs are made with Vienna beef, fresh buns, and a whole lot of love! Live music weekly.
Where Candy Samples Are Free At Trovato Street
Save your sweet tooth for nostalgic candy while reminiscing about the good ole days. Or you might want to splurge for a root beer at the root beer bar that features over 50 types of root beer. But, if you really want to splurge, go for a root beer float!
Trovato Street is more than just a candy store. It's an experience that takes you back and leaves you in a feel-good mood. There's a whole story behind the store's build, starting when the owners told their Fort Worth neighbor they were moving to find something different, followed by the two years it took them to open the store. I got to hear the story first-hand from the owner, Jim, and loved every minute of it. Even my grandson found his story interesting. Part of his story was about how they gutted the second floor into a liveable 5,000 square loft equipped with a few old things left from the 1900s, including the Otis Lift. This is where he and his wife reside.
Pro Tip: Don't tell Jim I said this, but they do give tours of their magnificent loft on the second floor. It's truly a sight to see.
Dine At La Cima Mexican Cuisine
La Cima Mexican Cuisine is a local favorite and voted number one restaurant in Cleburne on TripAdvisor. The Cowboy Enchiladas were recommended to me, so that's what I ordered but without the cheese sauce, and it did not disappoint. If anything, go just for the chips and hot sauce -- delish!
The Garden Of Eating Bistro
We didn't eat here, but it was recommended to us more than once. There's always a next time! The Garden of Eating Bistro is a full dining experience that includes hot sandwiches, homemade soups, and chef-made salads, plus, there’s a darling boutique inside.
8. Cleburne State Park
Six miles southwest of town, Cleburne State Park is a 528-acre park that includes a spring-fed lake for swimming, fishing, and boating and offers over five miles of mountain bike trails throughout the park. The park has full hookup campsites, a primitive area, and screened shelters. This is a drivable state park, and hiking to the spillway is a favorite among visitors. If water activities are your thing, bring your own or rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard.
During my visit, I learned that small business owners and managers in Cleburne love their town and support one another. They are genuinely friendly, care about each other, and go out of their way to help one another. Your friends are their friends in Cleburne. The things to love about charming Cleburne will bring you back again. I have already made a date with my grandson to return!
If you’re looking for more Texas vacation inspiration, consider the 7 Best Towns In Texas To See Fields Of Bluebonnets, Texas Road Trip: The 8 Best Stops Along the Chisholm Trail, and Best Of Texas: From Big And Bold To Quaint And Charming, These TX Towns Deserve A Visit.