Two years ago, my daughter reached out to a mineral water company called “Crazy Water” to be a local sponsor for our Southern Travelers Explore Conference. The water tasted excellent — refreshing, smooth, with no aftertaste or heaviness like you might find in some mineral waters — and had a catchy name, but I didn’t go further than drinking it.
Fast forward: My husband and I were RVing in Texas and did a day trip visit to Mineral Wells, a nearby town. When we rolled into the historic downtown, there were signs about “Crazy” everywhere we turned. I suddenly couldn’t wait to explore and see what was so special about this small Texas town and its Crazy Water.
Mineral Wells is located in the northern part of Texas Hill Country, 56 miles from Fort Worth and 82 miles from Dallas. It is also on the famous Brazos River. In the 1900s, Mineral Wells was known as the place “where America drinks its way to health” and was a spa-resort destination.
1. Crazy Water
Crazy Water was discovered in 1881 and brought people to Mineral Wells in droves to drink the healthy water. The story is that a lady with dementia used to drink the area’s well water daily and suddenly started improving. Another person who flocked to Mineral Wells was a man, Ed Dismuke. Ed drank the magical water and was restored to better health. He then founded the Famous Mineral Water Company in 1904. Almost 120 years later, people are still drinking Crazy Water and seeking its holistic properties. It is the only mineral water bottled in Texas.
There are four varieties of Crazy Water: No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, and No. 4 — easy to remember. No. 2, a pleasant mix of No. 1 and No. 3, is the most recognized and widely sold, while No. 4 is the strongest, most full-bodied mineral water. The label boasts “filled with helpful all-natural minerals.” There are water coolers for sampling Crazy Water throughout town, or you can cut right to the chase and go to the source, the Famous Mineral Water Company.
You’ll drive under the Crazy Water arch as you turn off the main street (North Oak Avenue) to arrive at the historic Crazy Well on 209 N. 6th Street. You’ll find memorabilia, bottled water, Crazy Water souvenirs, and a few other cool trinkets here. You can bring your own bottles (they recommend a gallon jug or larger) to fill with Crazy Water from the original Famous Pavilion.
Fun Fact: The first “Crazy Well” was dug in 1881 by Billy Wiggins. Over 3,000 people camped on the property and drank water for 10 cents a glass. Over the next few years, 125 more wells were drilled.
2. Crazy Bath House
Beside the Famous Mineral Water Company is a cute little early 1900s house, where the Crazy Bath House is. I admit I found the process of calling to secure an appointment a little antiquated, but the next day, the spa technician called back and could fit my husband (Eddie) and me in for a couples spa package. This was only our second time having a couples massage, but for $105 each, we booked a 20-minute mineral bath soak, a 30-minute deep-tissue massage, and a hot towel wrap on our arms and legs. If you’d rather have a Swedish massage, the price is $90 per person.
We completed our paperwork and waited in the living room for our appointment time. Placed in separate rooms, our soak came first, which was in odd-looking specially-made tubs (called micro bubble tubs) filled with Crazy Water. We were given a bottle of Crazy Water to drink for hydration as they asked us to use the hottest water we could stand. I relaxed in the tub, which held the water to temperature, and it felt heavenly. I’m not sure how my husband fared since he is 6’1″, but he says he had no problems.
Fun Fact: Crazy Water No. 3 is used for the mineral baths.
Next came our couples massage. My aesthetician had been doing body treatments for 16 years, and she had the most amazing hands. I could feel my stress and body aches fading away. Then they wrapped mineral water-soaked hot towels around our legs and arms for the finale. It was sheer bliss.
Now here is the truth. I have back issues — as in 23 years of back issues — and after my treatment, I felt better than I have in years. The following day, I jumped out of bed with no aches or pains and felt a spring in my step. My husband noticed feeling improvements, too. I already plan to revisit the spa on my next Texas adventure.
Fun Fact: Some of the beneficial substances of Crazy Water include calcium, manganese, silica, potassium, zinc, sulfate, fluoride, magnesium, chloride, alkalinity, and sodium bicarbonate.
For someone who has had spa treatments worldwide, I’m not even joking when I say it was one of the best massages I’ve had in the country. That was partly due to our skilled therapists, Sylvia and Audra. The Crazy Bath House is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. by appointment only.
Fun Fact: In 1909, Mineral Wells had two sanitariums, 46 hotels and boarding houses, and four bathing houses.
3. Downtown Mineral Wells
Mineral Wells’ main downtown street, North Oak Avenue, is lined with cute little shops and restaurants. There are several cool new attractions, too, with one being the Crazy Water Hotel and Plaza. Other points of interest in town are the National Vietnam War Museum Complex, Old Jail Museum, Little Rock Schoolhouse Museum, and Lake Mineral Wells State Park, for swimming, boating, and fishing. You’ll also find the 20-mile-long Lake Mineral Wells State Trailway for hiking and biking, connected to the state park.
4. Shopping In Mineral Wells
Since becoming a full-time RVer 9 months ago, we have experienced many sweet little small towns, and while in different places, they are mostly one and the same. The caliber of shopping options in Mineral Wells took us by surprise, many in 100+-year-old buildings.
We found decorative flags, housewares, festive pillows, and gourmet food products at The Market at 76067 (which offers 100 vendors), high-end bath products and a fantastic selection of plush robes and pretty loungewear at Sensology, chic clothing for our granddaughter at Coral & Lace Boutique, and sandals at The Kraze Boutique. We also bought Mineral Wells t-shirts from one of the shops and browsed many antiques.
5. Clark Gardens Botanical Park
We made our way to the Clark Gardens Botanical Park, which was closed for the season, but they let me look around. This peaceful property has several spots to sit and admire nature, a gorgeous water pond feature, and several interesting statues and ornamental pieces. Be on the lookout for the three different G Scale Model Garden Trains meticulously woven into the manicured landscape. I loved the Historic Tree Trail, featuring 86 different kinds of trees, and the iris garden.
Admission is around $9 for adults, with a discount for people over 65.
Again, driving into a small town, I wasn’t expecting the magnificent, colorful Flapper Girl mural to pop out at us immediately. It’s painted onto the old Ritz Theater building.
There are 20 or more gorgeous pieces to see, photograph, and take selfies at around town. You’ll find a map here. My favorites were the Welcome to Mineral Wells postcard and Goodnight-Loving Trail by artist Joelle Bolt.
7. Best Restaurants In Mineral Wells
While we could only hold one meal on our visit, it was a good one. My husband and I had barbecue from Mesquite Pit, but the dish that lured us in was the Chicken Fried Bacon appetizer. If you haven’t had this plate of deliciousness, be on the lookout, as I’ve had it in Nebraska and Georgia. Thick slices of bacon are dipped in fried chicken batter and served with tomato gravy for dunking. This should be a Southern staple because it is so good. We also enjoyed BBQ plates of ribs and brisket with coleslaw, baked beans, and onion rings.
Other Great Restaurants Around Town
A few other restaurants in Mineral Wells include Natty Flat Smokehouse, La Cienega Mexican Food, and Brazos Market & Bistro. You can grab a coffee or cocktails at the appropriately named Coffee & Cocktails at 76067.
8. Best Hotels In Mineral Wells
Crazy Water Hotel And Plaza
The recently restored and reopened historic Crazy Water Hotel and Plaza offers 54 stylishly decorated suites with apartments on the upper floors of the renovated building. There is a picturesque shopping plaza inside the hotel, offering eight shops. One of those is the open-air Crazy Coffee and Water Bar, and another is Rickhouse Brewing, which opened earlier this year.
The Baker Hotel And Spa
Another place to watch is the three-year restoration project at The Baker Hotel and Spa. This massive landmark hotel, 14 stories high, is a real beauty and sure to be a big draw after its refurbishment. I can’t wait to see it brought back to its grandeur, and I sure hope to get an invite.