Castroville, Texas, is truly a one-of-a-kind Texas small town. Known as the Little Alsace of Texas, Castroville allows you to get a little taste of France in Texas!
Immigrants from Alsace, France, settled this region of the Texas Hill Country in the mid-1800s. After developing their city along the banks of the Medina River, the farms created here by the first settlers quickly turned into profitable endeavors. Despite their success, the area continued to remain relatively isolated as the locals proudly held on to their Alsatian culture, including their language.
Visitors to Castroville can still experience this culture today by exploring the town’s Alsatian architecture (including a 17th-century home imported from Alsace) and the historic sites throughout the city.
Castroville’s proximity to San Antonio, Texas, means that it is a fun and easy day trip to incorporate into your Texas Hill Country itinerary!
Let’s dive into all of the amazing experiences in quaint Castroville!
1. Haby’s Bakery
You can’t miss Haby’s Bakery in Castroville. Not only is the curb appeal of the building delightful, but the baked goods you will find inside are amazing!
Haby’s has been serving up delicious baked goods to the town of Castroville since 1974, making it a staple of this community. In addition to traditional pies, donuts, and cakes, Haby’s also bakes traditional Alsatian treats like the traditional apple tart. I recommend the iced cinnamon rolls and the homemade strudel.
I must admit, if I lived in San Antonio, I would probably visit the Alsatian Bakery at least once a week!
2. Steinbach Haus And Visitor Center
The Steinbach Haus was originally built between 1618 and 1648 in Wahlbach, France, and was later given to the city of Castroville as a gift from the people of Alsace. This beautiful piece of European architecture might look a little out of place sitting in this small Texas town, but it is a true testament to the history of the city.
The half-timbered stucco home truly looks like it was plucked straight from the set of a fairy tale! When you step inside the Steinbach Haus, you are truly stepping into a piece of history. The small Castroville Visitors Center is housed here in addition to a museum highlighting furniture and décor from the Alsatian region of France. Take your time during your visit to become engrossed in the heritage and history that this historic home represents.
3. Alsatian Architecture
If you are like me and you find yourself in love with Alsatian architecture, then be sure to take a drive around Castroville to see more of it! Matter of fact, the city of Castroville is so proud of its architectural heritage, that you can even pick up a map of historic properties from the visitor center.
Granted, the Steinbach Haus is the only property that was imported from France, but the architectural influences of the Alsatian people can be found throughout the city. I found myself stumbling across many of the historic properties as I roamed around exploring the town.
4. Landmark Inn State Historic Site
The Landmark Inn State Historic Site along with its bed & breakfast were constructed in the late 1840s by a Swiss immigrant that had moved to Castroville. What started as a roadside tavern and store located on the banks of the Medina River was later transformed into a functioning mill and hotel.
During your time in Castroville, plan a visit to the historic inn to see the mill and tour the small museum housed inside. If you want, you can even spend the night experiencing the bed & breakfast for yourself.
5. Castroville Poppy House
If you can plan your visit to Castroville, in the spring, then you are in for a beautiful treat. Spring in Castroville means that the gorgeous poppy flowers are in bloom, and one of the best places to see them is the Castroville Poppy House.
The property, which is made up of the oldest free-standing, one-room log cabin in the city as well as a historic home from the 1850s, comes to life in the spring when the entire property is blanketed in red poppy blooms. The best part is, this is the only time of year when the property is open for tours, so it is a definite treat!
If you find yourself visiting outside of the spring season, you can still go by and see the Castroville Poppy House. You will find the property located just down the street from the Landmark Inn. Just remember that you can only observe it from the road during other times of the year.
6. Houston Square
Houston Square is the heart of the Castroville historical district. This quaint square is the perfect place to relax and enjoy some of the pastries you bought at Haby’s Bakery! Enjoy the breeze blowing through the trees and the trickle of the water from the central water feature as you imagine what life must have been like in Castroville in the 1800s when Houston Square first came into existence.
Surrounding the square is evidence of the town’s history. There are historical buildings (most of which are now antique shops), Alsatian-style homes, and the historic St. Louis Church. Take time to enjoy the tranquility of Houston Square while exploring Castroville. You are truly standing on a piece of Texas history.
7. St. Louis Church
Directly across the street from Houston Square sits another piece of Castroville history, the St. Louis Church. The handsome limestone building was erected between 1868 and 1870 and still serves as an active church today. The beautiful spire and the Romanesque-style architecture of the church are a tribute to the European heritage of the first settlers in Castroville.
If the church is open, then be sure to step inside to see the ornate altar and the beautiful organ. Take notice of the gorgeous stained glass, particularly the one with the French fleur-de-lis in it. The church grounds also include a small meditation garden where you can relax while viewing the gorgeous architecture of the cathedral.
8. Castroville Regional Park
Castroville Regional Park is the perfect place to spend some time outdoors while you explore Castroville. Located on the banks of the Medina River, Castroville Regional Park is home to an RV park, a swimming pool, a pavilion, and an amphitheater.
While all of these amenities are great, it is the one-mile hiking trail that drew me to the park. While hiking at Castroville Regional Park, take note of the beautiful views of the Medina River as you remain on the lookout for the 160 bird species that are known to frequent the park. In addition, the park is also home to a quaint butterfly garden for you to enjoy! I can only imagine how beautiful it must be when the butterflies are migrating through the area.
9. Paradise Canyon
Paradise Canyon lives up to its name as it is a mini-paradise in the Texas Hill Country. Located about 20 minutes outside of Castroville, Paradise Canyon is the perfect place to go if you want to enjoy some relaxation during your visit to the city.
The park, which is located directly on the Medina River, originated in 1957. The tranquil setting encompasses the blue-green waters of the river and surrounds it with campsites, towering rocky bluffs, and numerous places to relax and enjoy the surrounding scenery of Medina County. During your time at Paradise Canyon, you are invited to enjoy swimming in the river, enjoy some stargazing and birdwatching, or try your hand at kayaking.
In addition to the activities listed above, Paradise Canyon also has cabins and a lodge available for rent. They also host special events and live music on the property throughout the year. One of their popular events is their Music on the Medina series, which showcases live music performed in their Iron Tree Pavilion that can be heard throughout the property. No matter what you choose to do, Paradise Canyon is well worth a visit.
For complete details on fees, hours, and more, please visit the Paradise Canyon website.
10. Magnolia Filling Station
The cute and charming Magnolia Filling Station is the epitome of a small-town café. The café, which opened in 2018, is a relative newcomer to the Castroville community when compared to the historical sites we’ve mentioned thus far.
Cozy up inside at one of their quaint seating areas to enjoy a nice hot cappuccino and a perfectly baked muffin while you enjoy the chatter from the locals that you are sure to see during your visit. If it’s a nice day out, you will want to take advantage of the great outdoor seating area and a nice cold glass of their peach iced tea!