A legend says an old Caddo chief living along the Sabine River had twin sons: one with blonde hair and blue eyes, and one with brown hair and brown eyes. When they grew to manhood, they were ready to lead their tribes. The Chief sent one son three days west toward the setting sun, and the other he sent three days east toward the rising sun. The son who went west was Nacogdoches. The son who went east was Natchitoches, who formed the Louisiana settlement. The brothers remained friendly and grew their villages. The road connecting the two was well-traveled and became the eastern end of the El Camino Real or Old San Antonio Road.
Later the Spanish established missions in the area to convert the native people to Christianity. Nacogdoches, known as one of Texas’ most historic towns, attracts visitors worldwide with its rich heritage.
Things To Do In Nacogdoches
The Garden Capital Of Texas
The 83rd legislature of Texas, 2013-14, established Nacogdoches as Texas’s official Garden Capital. You can make monthly trips to Nacogdoches for these garden events. In March, follow the Nacogdoches Azalea Trail and the Farmer’s Market Spring Fling. Celebrate the Stephen F. Austin (SFA) Spring Garden Gala and Earth Day in April. May hosts the Master Gardeners Plant Sale.
June brings you the Texas Blueberry Festival, and in June and July, pick-your-own blueberries, blackberries, peaches, and plums. Attend the SFA Gardens’ Theresa and Les Reeves Lecture Series in August. September hosts the Farmer’s Market Fall Fling, and October features the Fall Azalea and Tree Sale and the SFA Fabulous Fall Festival. November tops the season with the Fall Foliage Trails.
Durst Taylor House And Gardens
The Durst Taylor House is the second oldest building in Nacogdoches, a wood-frame house built in the 1830s. When you visit, you’ll find a functioning smokehouse, plus a chicken coop, a blacksmith shop, a sugar cane mill, and the heirloom gardens. Tours are free Wednesday through Saturday, but donations are welcome.
Caddo Mounds State Historic Site
The Caddo settled this Mounds site in about 800 A.D. They dominated life in the area for over 500 years, trading with other Central Texas groups and as far away as Florida and Illinois. The settlement flourished until the 13th century, but then the site was abandoned. The Hasinai Caddo groups continued to live in the East Texas homelands into the 1830s, but ultimately, in 1859, they moved to the Washita River Indian Territory in western Oklahoma. Texas takes its name from the Caddo word Tejas, meaning “friend.” There is a Visitors Center and Museum Store at the mounds.
This 1897 Victorian home is now the Fortney Home in Nacogdoches’s historic district, a block from the Fredonia Hotel and the new Fredonia micro-brewery. The charming home is full of artful collections of earthy ethnic, rustic, and ranch architectural collectibles, fine and funky furniture, mirrors and wall art, desks, home bars, and outdoor art. You can spend hours here shopping, and you can spend your money freely. They make it easy since Brad offers shipping and delivery services.
Millard’s Crossing Historic Village
Born in 1900 in Nacogdoches, Lera Millard Thomas founded Millard’s Crossing Historic Village after being elected the first woman to Congress from Texas, fulfilling her deceased husband’s term in office. You could spend a morning or afternoon here learning about early settlers while exploring the 1837 Millard-Lee house, carriage house, rebellion barn, and more historic buildings that were moved here from other locations throughout the city. The Henry Millard House is home to the textile exhibit, which includes many homemade quilts, vintage clothing, lace, embroidery, spinning wheels, looms, sewing machines, and vintage irons.
Historic Town Center
The Historic Town Center is home to the Nacogdoches Convention and Visitors Bureau, with legends and history on the square in Texas’s oldest downtown. Watch the video, view exhibits of early history, and pick up additional brochures about the city.
Nacogdoches Railroad Depot
If you love trains, don’t miss The Nacogdoches Railroad Depot, a collection of artifacts and oral histories of the depot and railroads. The depot was built in 1911 by the Southern Pacific Railroad after the original depot burned when lightning struck. Officials discontinued passenger service in 1954.
Nacogdoches Fire Museum
The Fire Museum houses the city’s first fire engine and other fire department pictures and memorabilia.
Old Nacogdoches University Building
Constructed in 1859, the Old University Building houses 19th-century education and depicts a Confederate hospital and headquarters for a federal regiment. The building is the only original structure of a university chartered by the Republic of Texas.
Oak Grove Cemetery
Find the city’s historic cemetery located on the 1826 land grant of Empresario Haden Edwards, the 1826 Fredonian Rebellion leader, who’s buried here. Many early graves from the Spanish cemetery moved here, the earliest of which marks the resting place of Father Mendoza, who was buried in 1718. The cemetery houses politicians, soldiers, veterans of the Battle of San Jacinto, and Sam Houston’s physician, Dr. Robert A Irion.
Antiques On Main
Shop for antiques in a historic building in the oldest town in Texas. Find multiple booths housing unique furniture, collectibles, glassware, books, and sports memorabilia.
Brick Street Antiques And Collectibles
Voted the best antique store in the city, I found beautiful gift items, home decor, and antique furniture here. Also shop for re-finish products, Circle E Candles, and blueberry preserves.
Nacogdoches Statue Trail
Commemorating historical individuals and their roles in Texas history, you’ll find seven statues located throughout the city. Each is by an individual sculptor, and you’ll discover Chief Bowles, Sam Houston, Thomas J Rusk, and Gil Y’Barbo, to mention a few.
Banita Creek Hall
Banita Creek Hall hosts the latest musicians from Nashville and Red Dirt Country for live country music in East Texas’s best honky-tonk dance hall.
Cole Art Center At The Old Opera House
See art exhibitions of regional, national, and international art in three main galleries on two floors of the Cole Art Center at the Old Opera House, renovated from the 1880s.
Cottage Wine Bar
Located in the heart of the historic city, the Cottage Wine Bar and Bistro is attached to a half-acre private garden and park with fantastic food and wine offerings.
With the name originating from the Fredonia Rebellion of 1826-27, the first and only craft brewery in the city offers beer and ale for sale in six-packs or growlers to go. Check the website for up-to-date taproom hours.
Front Porch Distillery
This family-operated distillery specializes in various artisan-crafted spirits, including barrel-aged whiskey, vodka, moonshine, and rum. Every weekend, tour the distillery, drink in the tasting room, enjoy live music, and grab food at the local food trucks.
Naca Valley Vineyard
Located nine miles from downtown Nacogdoches, Naca Valley Vineyard was established in 2013, when the family planted 600 grapevines, and opened its doors in April 2017. Try an award-winning Berry Blue for You, Tempranillo, or Blanc du Bois.
Red House Winery
Red House Winery in downtown Nac invites you to savor wine by the glass or share a bottle in the tasting room or on the patio. Order a pizza and indulge in a bottle of Rosado or Roussanne Reserve.
Best Restaurants In Nacogdoches
1st City Cafe
Tributed to the oldest town in Texas, 1st City Cafe inside the Fredonia Hotel is family-owned and operated. The menu prioritizes putting fresh farm flavors on the table, and you’ll enjoy the fried pickles and jalapenos, the chicken enchiladas, or the shrimp and grits. Savor a crafted cocktail from the Nine Flags Bar and Grill.
Pro Tip: Save room for the Tres Leches Cake.
Appleby Sand Road Mercantile And Cafe
Enjoy home-cooked meals like Grandma used to make when you stop by Appleby Sand Road Mercantile and Cafe. The chicken and dumplings, stuffed bell peppers, or chicken spaghetti will remind you of authentic Southern flavor.
Pro Tip: Save room for the Bon Bons, if they’re not sold out.
Savor authentic Italiano dishes made from scratch daily from the extensive menu with dishes like chicken alfredo, eggplant parmesan, or chicken marsala. Indulge in a grilled sirloin peppercorn from the grill or the seafood fettuccine.
Pro Tip: Save room for the classic tiramisu or creme brulee.
Blue Horse Bakery
Whitney established Blue Horse Bakery to follow her commitment to all things sweet. Indulge in a buttercream cake, fondant cake, or one of 16 delicious flavors of cupcakes, decorated cookies, macaroons, or chocolates, plus bread and croissants.
Best Hotels In Nacogdoches
The Hardeman House Bed And Breakfast
Stay at the Hardeman House Bed and Breakfast, just two blocks from historic brick Main Street. After a comfortable night’s sleep, enjoy Kim’s special breakfast, which includes an entree, fresh fruit, fresh-baked bread, juice, and coffee or tea.
The Jones House Bed And Breakfast
The Jones House Bed and Breakfast, nestled in the heart of historic downtown Nacogdoches, is within walking distance to shopping, restaurants, and historical venues.
The Brick House Inn
A historic bed and breakfast, the Brick House Inn is a two-story New Orleans-style home built in 1886 by Henry L Austin. Enjoy the full breakfast, stocked upstairs refrigerator, and luxurious private baths.
Read more about Nacogdoches in my articles The Most Beautiful Dogwood And Azalea Trails In East Texas and 15 Best Stops During A Spring Azalea And Flower Tour In East Texas. Also download the Visit Nac app (for Apple here and Android here) for Nacogdoches trip planning information.