This Haunting Road Trip Through Texas Ghost Towns Is One You Won't Forget

ghost towns in texas hill country

Katie Lawrence

Katie Lawrence is a Southeast Texas native who graduated 18th in her high school class with a GPA of 4.25. She attended college in the Houston area and began writing for OnlyInYourState in 2015. Today, Katie writes, edits, and performs several other tasks for OnlyInYourState and has never been more passionate about a job before. Outside of work, you can likely find her curled up on with a hot cup of coffee, practicing yoga, baking, or exploring the beautiful Lone Star State (in particular, the vast and mystical West Texas desert).

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It’s been far too long since our last road trip article, so obviously that had to change. And this time, per y’all’s request, we’ve strayed away from the hill country to focus on the Old West – specifically, the forgotten ghost towns that most people don’t dare visit. As usual, we’ve put together the Google Map for you which can be found here . All you have to do is get in the car and drive! That is, unless you’re too scared…who knows what could be lurking in the shadows in these desolate, empty towns? There’s one way to find out, and it’s by taking this epic road trip that will lead you to several of the most hauntingly beautiful ghost towns in Texas.

ghost towns in texas hill country

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ghost towns in texas hill country

So, who’s brave enough to take this trip? Have you ever been to any of these ghost towns in Texas? Let us know in the comments below!

OnlyInYourState may earn compensation through affiliate links in this article. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

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Ghost towns in texas.

Are there any haunted restaurants or bars in Texas?

It may come as a surprise, but Texas is home to many paranormal hot spots and allegedly haunted locations, including restaurants and bars. One of the most famous haunted restaurants in Texas is the Catfish Plantation in Waxahachie, Texas. Housed in an 1800s Victorian mansion, the Catfish Plantation has had several ghostly reports over the years. Among the spirits is a flirty gentleman who is known to play with women’s hair and the spirit of a former owner, Caroline, who is not the friendliest of spirits.

What underrated places in Texas should I visit?

There’s something to be said about exploring the often overlooked attractions in Texas. When you’re visiting Texas, consider some of the national wildlife refuges and state parks like Pedernales Falls State Park, Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, or Big Thicket National Preserve, which features over 40 miles of hiking trails to explore. If you’re more into city-life, consider visiting a small town in Texas like Gruene, Fredericksburg, Dublin, or Port Aransas which features several lovely beaches and a fishing pier.

What unique tours in Texas can I take?

If you’re not claustrophobic, a cave tour can be one of the most unique experiences you’ll have in Texas. Located near San Antonio, the Natural Bridge Caverns are the largest known commercial caverns in the state. The deepest part of the tour is 180 feet below the surface, where you’ll see unique geological formations and learn about the history of these caves which were discovered in 1960.

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Lone Star Travel Guide

13 Unforgettable Texas Hill Country Towns to Visit (+ Map)

Delightful wineries, sparkling rivers, and idyllic vistas aren’t the only reasons to visit the Hill Country! The best Texas Hill Country towns are as varied as they are interesting, featuring plenty of history, natural beauty, and fun things to do.

Whether it’s your first trip to the Hill Country or you’ve lived here all your life, these small towns in the Texas Hill Country are a delight to visit.

kate storm sitting under a texas live oak at the lbj national historic park

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Beautiful Texas Hill Country Towns

Fredericksburg.

Without a doubt, Fredericksburg is the most famous Hill Country town in Texas!

Known for its German heritage, prominent location along Wine Road 290 (aka its many wineries), many festivals, and proximity to other Hill Country favorites like Luckenbach, Enchanted Rock , and Old Tunnel State Park , Fredericksburg is one of the absolute best TX Hill Country towns to visit.

While you’re there, be sure to indulge in a few wine tastings, enjoy shopping on Main Street, stay in a charming bed and breakfast , and have at least one gut-busting meal worth of German food!

Check out our guide to the best things to do in Fredericksburg !

signs for shops along main street with an american flag blowing. visiting main street is one of the best things to do in fredericksburg tx

Located just outside of San Antonio, Boerne is not only one of the best day trips from San Antonio , but one of the coolest towns in the Hill Country!

Known for (like Fredericksburg) its German heritage, wineries, and shopping (in this case, the idyllic Hill Country Mile), Boerne also boasts some of the coolest caves in Texas , including Cascade Caverns and Cave Without a Name.

Check out our guide to the best things to do in Boerne !

mural in boerne texas, painted on the side of a brick building. exploring downtown is one of the best things to do in boerne tx

Located right where the Blanco River meets Cypress Creek in the Texas Hill Country, Wimberley is one of the best Hill Country towns in Texas for those looking for a swim.

The nearby  Blue Hole  and  Jacob’s Well both draw in plenty of visitors hoping to beat the Texas heat, but if you visit, be sure to also for exploring Wimberley’s wonderful art and music scenes, including the many whimsical painted boot sculptures you’ll find around town.

For incredible Hill Country views in exchange for very little effort, don’t miss climbing Old Baldy while in Wimberley!

Check out our guide to the best things to do in Wimberley !

Kate Storm swinging over the Wimberley Blue Hole

Drive Highway 71 from Austin to Llano (or nearby Burnet ) in April, and you just may find some of the most beautiful bluebonnet patches in Texas!

The bluebonnets aren’t the only reason to visit, though.

Llano is packed with unexpected things to do, including spotting the bald eagles that nest nearby, strolling across the walkable Roy B. Inks Bridge that crosses the Llano River, and visiting Shakedown Street, an alley-slash-music-venue decorated with Grateful Dead-themed murals.

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area and Inks Lake State Park are also both accessible from lovely Llano.

Check out our guide to the best things to do in Llano !

roys ink bridge spanning the llano river, one of the best things to do in llano texas

With a population of literally 3 people, Luckenbach, Texas, is more of a music venue than a town these days–but despite its minuscule size, it’s well worth a visit!

Luckenbach’s historic post office is now a gift shop, but it remains one of the most popular photo spots in Texas.

And, whether you stop by on a random Tuesday afternoon or on a Friday night, you’re bound to enjoy some live music while relaxing under the shade of live oaks while you’re there.

Check out our guide to the best things to do in Luckenbach !

kate storm and allison green in front of luckenbach texas post office, one of the best small towns in hill country texas

Dripping Springs

Home to the famous Hamilton Pool Preserve, plenty of wineries and distilleries, and some of Texas’ loveliest Hill Country wedding venues, Dripping Springs nicknamed itself the “Gateway to the Hill Country” for good reason!

While exploring Dripping Springs, be sure to check out Tillies, a beautiful restaurant housed in a former Vietnamese courthouse that was imported to Texas, charming Mercer Street with its boutiques and restaurants, the Dr. Pound Farmstead, and–my personal favorite–Texas Hill Country Olive Oil Co., where you can pick up local Texas olive oil (it’s delicious and we keep some on hand in our pantry at all times).

Check out our guide to the best things to do in Dripping Springs !

the station historic gas station in dripping springs texas as seen on the austin to fredericksburg drive

As the Lavender Capital of Texas, Blanco is known for its beautiful lavender farms and the corresponding festival that happens each summer–but that’s not the only reason to plan a visit to Blanco!

Other attractions include going for a swim at Blanco State Park and chowing down at Old 300 BBQ (I love the Sam Houston sandwich, personally).

Check out our guide to the best things to do in Blanco !

view of the swimming area in blanco state park with a small waterfall, one of the best texas state parks close to austin tx

Johnson City

A winery housed in a castle, one of the most beautiful displays of Christmas lights in Texas, and the Johnson Settlement (complete with a few longhorns) where President Johnson’s grandparents originally settled in Texas are just a few of the delightful things that you’ll find in Johnson City!

Johnson City is one of my personal favorite Hill Country towns: its downtown is small but fairly walkable, its courthouse square charming, the antiquing plentiful, and its location–along Highway 290 and not far from Pedernales Falls State Park–sublime.

Check out our guide to the best things to do in Johnson City !

kate storm in a red dress sitting on the porch of a historic building at johnson settlement, one of the best johnson city attractions

Technically, Gruene isn’t a Texas Hill Country town in its own right, but rather a historic district in the city of New Braunfels .

However, that wasn’t always the case, and to this day, visitors come from all over Texas to enjoy Gruene!

Known for being home to Gruene Hall, the oldest continually operating dance hall in Texas, Gruene is a Hill Country favorite with locals and visitors alike.

This small town is both shady and walkable (both enormous wins in Central Texas), and packed with shops, restaurants (Gristmill, which is housed in an old cotton gin overlooking the river, is among the best), and access to tubing on the Guadalupe River.

Check out our guide to the best things to do in Gruene !

front facade of gruene hall, one of the best things to do in gruene texas

As the Barbecue Capital of Texas, there’s one rule for visiting Lockhart: arrive very hungry.

From the moment you arrive in town, Black’s Barbecue, Kreuz Market, Smitty’s Market, and Chisholm Trail BBQ are ready to compete for your attention!

If you can swing it, the perfect day trip to Lockhart includes two Texas barbecue stops (easier said than done–ask me how I know) and a stroll around downtown.

In addition to its barbecue fame, Lockhart is also known for having one of the most beautiful historic courthouses in Texas!

spread of barbecue from blacks barbecue lockhart. eating bbq in lockhard is one of the best things to do in the texas hill country

Marble Falls

Located on the banks of Lake Marble Falls (which aren’t set on marble at all, but that classic Texas staple of limestone), Marble Falls is a charming Hill Country town perfect for both outdoor enthusiasts and those hoping to hit up the small-but-lovely downtown.

If you’re visiting during bluebonnet season , don’t miss the Bluebonnet House along 281, an abandoned farmhouse in town that boasts a beautiful field of bluebonnets in front of it in the spring.

Also, regardless of the time of year, don’t leave town without trying a slice of pie from the Blue Bonnet Cafe, which serves up some of the best pie in Texas!

Check out our guide to the best things to do in Marble Falls !

marble falls texas bluebonnet house with a blooming field of flowers in front of it

The tiny, unincorporated community of Driftwood may be dispersed (you won’t find a charming town center here), but it’s still among the best small towns in the Hill Country to visit!

Home to famous Salt Lick BBQ, its share of wineries, a picturesque, historic Texaco station that makes a fantastic Hill Country photo op, and more, Driftwood is a delight to explore.

It’s also sandwiched between Austin and Dripping Springs, making Driftwood very convenient to visit.

Check out our guide to the best things to do in Driftwood !

historic texaco stand, one of the best places to visit in driftwood tx

The self-proclaimed Cowboy Capital of the World is definitely worth checking out when exploring Central Texas!

If you’re looking for a great place to take an afternoon horseback ride or even to spend a full weekend at a dude ranch (definitely a Texas bucket list item for Texans and visitors alike), then Bandera is the TX Hill Country town for you.

Bandera’s cozy downtown is also home to plenty of restaurants and a surprising number of independent museums, ensuring you’ll find plenty of things to do both on and off the ranch.

Map of Beautiful Towns in the Hill Country

4 photos of texas hill country towns marble falls fredericksburg luckenbach driftwood, black and red text on a white background reads "13 prettiest towns hill country texas"

6 thoughts on “13 Unforgettable Texas Hill Country Towns to Visit (+ Map)”

Very nicely put together. Makes me want to plane some summer trips.

Thanks, Denice! Summer is a great time to be out there–yes it’s hot, but it’s also peach season. 🙂

As a native 74 year old native Texan (who so longs to return to my home) MY State I can’t stand the idea of not seeing “Texas in the spring” (think music) I’m praying this year I can get there! Keep me posted.

Hope you can get home soon, Laura!

If your ready to smile read on…. My wife and are related to the Johnson Family, as in LBJ or President Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson…Wife, Lady Bird, me President Johnson. Thirty years back at our home in Dripping Springs.. Ready?…. One day decades ago, I was talking with Great Aunt Grace, who looked me in the eye saying, Cliff we always stopped in Dripping Springs as they had the best water and stay the night if we ran or just late in get supplies in Austin and wanted to be back at the ranch house or it was rain near. < they were in a two horse trailer back then on the "Dirt Hwy". This story, the interesting and funny is… this was back in the Nineteen Twenties~!

Wow Cliff, that really did make me smile!! What an amazing and inspiring story. Thank you so much for sharing with us. Where would this world be without people like you!?

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ghost towns in texas hill country

Hill Country Ghost Towns to Explore When Quarantine Ends: Part 3

Tony Maples Photography

Since Native Americans were the sole population of the Texas Hill Country, communities and settlements have come and gone, changing with railroads, zoning, and environmental fluctuations. Below is the final part of some ghost towns to explore online and visit when quarantine ends!

Telegraph: Travel to Junction , then head 13 miles southwest on US Highway 377 to catch a glimpse of what little remains of this community named for the series of telegraph poles cut from here to support the communication lines strung to early United States Army forts to the east, in Telegraph Canyon. The 1920s saw this spot as popular with sportsmen and campers.

Hill Country Ghost Towns to Explore When Quarantine Ends: Part 3

Photo: envato elements

The Ditch: Also known as Leona Ditch, this community was established in 1874 along the waterway of Leona Irrigation and Agricultural Association. When a flash flood in 1894 washed away the majority of the settlement, most people moved to the town of Uvalde, seven miles away. A historical marker stands at this spot in the county, and a cemetery there still remains.

Trio: This site was never actually a town but instead the site of three schools which were combined: the Live Oak School, Hackberry, and Prairie View. The remains of the red brick, two-story school building stands today at FM 127 at Little Blanco Creek, near Sabinal. Local rumors say the ruins are haunted by ghostly adolescents. It belongs on any list of ghost towns in the Hill Country.

Hill Country Ghost Towns to Explore When Quarantine Ends: Part 3

Vance: Located in Real County, stories persisted until the town’s ultimate demise telling of robbers who had buried treasure nearby, sometime after 1905. A cemetery remains on the site of the town, as well as a historical marker that notes the community’s previous status as the county seat.

Verand: Officially the first town in Schleicher County, Verand was established by an assembly of people from the state of Vermont in the mid-1880s. When families arrived to the area to live, they had trouble obtaining lot titles to the town lots. In response, land surveyor W. B. Silliman offered lots in Eldorado for free. Nothing remains for the settlement but a historical marker today.

Welfare: Found about ten miles outside of Boerne, this spot was known as Bon Ton (French for “high-toned” or stylish) prior to 1880, then Welfare, which is believed to be a mangled version of Wolhlfarht , German for “pleasant journey.” Drought, fire, boll weevils, then being bypassed by Highway 87 spelled the end for Welfare as a thriving community, but a few businesses still remain there today including the Welfare Café & Goat Barn .

Sources: Texas State Historical Association , TexasEscapes.com

Tony Maples Photography

We are your resource for Hill Country travel, things to do, places to eat, places to stay, tourism, events, lodging, and we feature Texas Hill Country info of all manners. Our Texas Hill Country Facebook page is growing by over 1,000 fans per day! We also run the premiere real-estate site in the hill country at HillCountryRealestate.com . We are born and bred in The Hill Country, and we welcome you to our family. Join the discussion on our new social platform Texjas.com !

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Legends of America

Legends of America

Traveling through american history, destinations & legends since 2003., roosevelt, texas – hill country ghost town.

Simon Brothers Mercantile in Roosevelt, Texas has been operating for more than a century.

Simon Brothers Mercantile in Roosevelt, Texas, has been operating for over a century.

Roosevelt, Texas,  a ghost town in Kimble County, was established in 1898 and named for Theodore Roosevelt .

Before the town was established, two military roads traversed this area, and during the Spanish-American War,  Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders visited the area. W.B. Wagner established the town in 1898, and a post office was built the same year with Alice C.E. Wagner appointed the first postmistress. The town was named for the future president.

An old gas station in Roosevelt, Texas by Kathy Alexander.

An old gas station in Roosevelt, Texas, by Kathy Alexander.

The small community served as a shipping point for feed and supplies for local sheep and goat ranchers and  soon became the social center for surrounding ranch families.  In addition to the post office, Roosevelt grew to include a Masonic lodge, churches, stores, and a school.

Ben F. Simon opened the Simon Brothers Mercantile in the early 1900s, which remains open today and continues to be run by the Simon family. This old general store hasn’t changed much since it was first established and continues to provide a variety of items needed by area ranchers. Inside, a post office continues to serve the area.

An old building in Roosevelt, Texas by Kathy Alexander.

An old building in Roosevelt, Texas, by Kathy Alexander.

People in the area bred horses for the United States Cavalry and polo ponies for the national market. As a result, polo ponies were trained in Roosevelt, and the community began hosting polo matches in the 1920s. Tourism was growing in Hill Country by then, and several new businesses were established, including the Luthringer Hotel. In 1925, the town was called home to just 25 people. Afterward, it grew to about 100 and remained steady through 1990. At that time, the population began to drop and decreased over the following decades. Today, Roosevelt is called home to just about a dozen people.

Roosevelt is located 16 miles west of Junction on Ranch Road 291.

© Kathy Alexander / Legends of America , updated March 2023.

Presbyterian Church in Roosevelt, Texas by Kathy Alexander.

Presbyterian Church in Roosevelt, Texas, by Kathy Alexander.

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23 Ghost Towns in TEXAS (Scary, Historical, & Surprising)

You may not realize that some towns in Texas have been deserted but still need to be remembered.

These are ghost towns with their own stories.

What may make people leave their own homes ? A better future or a scary past?

You may make it your mission to tour Texas, find some of these towns, and see what you’ll find.

If you’re lucky, you can find one or two people to tell you the story of this town or have it remain a mystery.

Many ghost towns are scattered throughout the state , some close to you.

Each of the towns in this list has their own exciting stories.

Will you find them?

And by the way, you may also want to check out the best Abandoned Places in Texas .

Ghost towns in Dallas, Texas

1. sowers (cemetery survivor).

Sowers is a ghost town where the only surviving structure from the original village is a creepy, old cemetery.

Originally named after the store of its earliest settler, the community’s history dates back to the late 1840s.

The settler, Sowers opened a store in the town while it was still inhabited which became notable, and then applied for a post office in the early1880s under his name.

By the mid-1880s, different professionals such as a doctor and pharmacists served the increasing community of about seventy-five residents.

However, the post office closed in 1905, a foretelling of the gloomy future.

The number of businesses shrank to a measly three during the Great Depression, and the town became deserted.

It is now under Irving and is still considered by many to be a legal entity.

Address: Sowers, Irving, TX 75061, USA, 11 miles to Dallas.

2. Kit (Railroad Boom & Bust)

Kit in modern maps is now included as part of Irving, but it was initially named Gorbett (sometimes spelled Gorbit).

As with many early settlers, this town was believed to be named after its earliest settler by the name, John B. Gorbett.

The community had its own post office from 1889 to 1894 before its struggles began.

Some older residents may still have the Gorbett postcards hidden in the attic or just laying around somewhere in their trunks.

It all began when the railway laid tracks across Dallas County in the 1880s.

The investors from Gorbett in their wisdom planted a separate town with the same name right alongside the proposed route.

Due to the sameness in name to its neighbor, the name had to be changed to get its own post office, hence, Kit.

To stop mail mix-ups, Kit became the name of the new post office in 1894, although it only stayed in business for a decade

As an unintended victim of industrialization especially the railroad industry, the city started falling when the rail tracks did not pass through the city.

This development led to the loss of livelihood, and relevance or the familiar hustle and bustle.

Many moved, including the investors, and the town became a ghost town.

Unfortunately, what is left of the ghost town is the cemetery.

Address: State Highway 356 and Loop 12 Intersection, about 7 miles west of downtown Dallas, United States.

3. Belle Plain (Railway Rivalry)

ghost towns in texas hill country

During the 1870s, at its prime Belle Plain was considered one of the most promising West Texas towns.

How did such a town praised for its promise and hope become a shadow of itself?

It was constantly showered with praises in dailies and investors wanted an in into the business scene.

At that time, the town had several stores and functioned as a whole town with its jail.

It also had salons , a hotel, and even a newspaper, the  Callahan County Clarendon, to boast of.

The college had closed down, but the town was in trouble way before then.

Another victim of the railway’s construction , the town fell with the diversion of traffic to a nearby town .

Baird, a new town only 6 miles north of Belle Plain, had suddenly snatched the fame to become the prized jewel from the popularity the railways brought.

A lot of residents moved to Baird, deserting their homes and businesses.

Even the newspaper and jail eventually moved, and the last nail in the coffin was Baird winning the county seat in 1883.

Address: Belle Plain, Texas 79504, USA.

4. Hagerman (Submerged Prosperity)

The agricultural town was initially called Steedman in its early years, named after Judge Steedman.

It was given a post office in 1880 which solidified its existence in history.

In 1909 the name was changed to Hagerman after the railroad reached the town.

It was renamed after the railroad lawyer, James Hagerman.

By the following year, the town had grown to become more entrepreneurial including several businesses like a railroad depot and a cotton factory.

It also had a church and school with more than 200 residents.

However, this prosperity was short-lived as Lake Texoma was created, threatening to submerge the town completely.

By the mid-1900s, the population had dropped to about 150 residents after a couple of near incidences.

Indeed, in 1943, Hagerman was flooded with the completion of the Denison Dam.

Most of Hagerman remains underwater or at least barely seen.

However, the church and cemetery remain above water level and are still visible.

During dry periods of less water , you can also glimpse this town that once was.

Address: Hagerman, Texas 77011, USA.

5. Toyah (Oil Boom to Bust)

ghost towns in texas hill country

Toyah was one of the oldest yet notable towns in the country.

It had great popularity in agricultural trading and ranching.

This began when Youngblood, an early settler, relocated with his family from Midland in the late1800s.

Bringing with him enough goods to open a store , he opened one and began pushing his merchandise from ranch to ranch.

Before long, he had a small store that was famous to passersby where ranchers and travelers would come for their purchases.

The one-room store later expanded into lodging, creating a type of bed and breakfast .

This small town also had many flowing springs hence the name which is Native American phrase meaning, “flowing water.

Its fortune changed for the better when it discovered oil fields in the small town. However, this lasted only a short time.

The town fell alongside others during the time of the Great Depression.

As at last count, the population had reduced drastically to less than a hundred people from a town that was once a bustling railway stop.

Also see our article on Small Towns in Texas .

Ghost Towns in El Paso, Texas

1. terlingua (mining & chili).

ghost towns in texas hill country

Perhaps the most famous ghost town in Texas, this town was famous for two things in the 60s, mining, and the first chili cooking championship.

Impressively, this competition till date still draws chili lovers nationwide for the cook-off.

This town was also home to famous mining companies such as “The Chisos” which was established in 1903.

During the next three decades, this famous miner and one of the leading producers of mercury moved from very simple methods to more mechanized ones.

This discovery came at the right time to support the war efforts of World War I; this meant an increase in demand particularly from the military for the product.

Hence, the company became really successful and profitable.

This boom also reflected on the city making it famous and one of the best places to be, and before long, its inhabitants of up to 2,000 persons became acquainted with modern facilities and had a taste of civilization.

Unfortunately, it didn’t last long because the war ended, there were substitutes and production declined.

Eventually, by the early 1940s, the company had to file for bankruptcy.

Address: Terlingua, Texas 79852, USA.

2. Orogrande (Gold Dreams Faded)

This ghost town started with the name Jarilla Junction when it was merely a stop.

Built in 1897, they changed the town’s name to Orogrande, meaning “big gold”, after gold deposits were discovered in the area.

It was a small quantity that had been discovered in the nearby mountains ; however, it quickly brought about the hope that the gold would make them rich and successful.

Unfortunately, the gold was never found in commercial quantity, so a lot of the residents were disappointed and had to readjust to their previous lives of being a railway community.

From the time of the boom, low-scale housing was hurriedly constructed to accommodate this rapidly growing population; however, housing remained an issue.

Everyone wanted their portion of big gold, Oro grande.

Today, this town is a small town that still needs to live up to its name.

The rough road leading into the Jarilla Mountains still houses the community’s school.

Address:  Orogrande, New Mexico 88342, USA, about 49 miles from El Paso.

3. Acala (Cotton Success to Decline)

ghost towns in texas hill country

Although a desert region, Acala had at a time attempted agriculture by a form of irrigation of the waters of the Rio Grande.

The breakthrough for this desert town began when they began planting cotton in the region.

In 1917, three farmers came together, and combined their resources and expertise in planting cotton in what is now known as Acala.

Its success in the first year prompted these three wise men to invest more, get more land and grow more cotton in the next season using irrigation.

Their success stories brought a lot of farmers to the area who were looking to tap into the successful scene.

One of them was Young, who relocated from El Paso to try his hand and luck at cotton farming.

The town got its name from its source of fame, the Mexican variation of cottonseed called Acala.

Inspired by the success, he quickly built a cotton mill named after the seed variety and which became the landing spot from which the town was named.

Later, a road was constructed thereby increasing the town’s economy.

The town became a ghost town due to the increased mechanization of the processes involved in cotton-making.

Also, the railway was introduced thereby diverting traffic from roads and the eventual replacement of the road and the trickling traffic it brought.

Address: Acala, Texas 79839, USA, about 20 minutes from El Paso.

4. Lanark (Railroad Dispute)

Lanark as a town began in 1870 after a railroad was constructed to pass through the town.

It is an example of an advantage of railways as it was one of the few towns that gained popularity from the construction of railways.

A post office was created in Lanark and remained operating till 1877.

Before the small town could reach its prospect of prosperity, there arose a dispute as to the ownership of the community.

This dispute greatly hindered its success.

There needed to be more clarity as to who owned the land or who had the titles to the land hosting the community.

The inhabitants relocated to other parts of the state including as far as Atlanta due to the nature of this dispute.

By 1983, the population had trickled down, and the community looked like a ghost town.

Finally, by early 2000s the population was reportedly less than fifty.

The town is now a ghost town, a shadow of its former self.

Address: Lanark, Texas 75572, USA, about 32 miles from El Paso.

Also see our article on Haunted Houses in Texas .

Ghost towns in Fort Worth, Texas

1. thurber (coal town’s legacy).

ghost towns in texas hill country

Just less than a hundred miles to Fort Worth, Thurber as a town still stands proud in spite of its past.

Between 1888 and 1921, the town was home to one of the largest producers of coal in the state and arguably the most famous company town in the entire region.

It is now a historical town that used to boast tens of thousands of residents’ numbers but is now a shadow of itself.

The town’s central chimney still stands proud at 128 feet more than a century later giving a spectacular view of what used to be.

Then the town’s business problems began when demand shifted from coal to alternative methods like oil-burning locomotives.

While many of the buildings have since crumbled, the smokestack is still standing, as well as the catholic church and some other structures made from the famous Thurber brick.

With the backdrop of the sunset, it remains a picturesque view that captivates those who dare to visit .

Address: Thurber, Texas 76463, USA, approximately an hour to Fort Worth.

2. Burkett (Oil, Roads & Decline)

ghost towns in texas hill country

About two hours from Fort Worth lies another ghost town; Burkett is located along the Pecan Bayou Highway.

Formerly called “Pleasant Valley,” they renamed the town in 1886 after its first postmaster because the Post Office rejected the community’s original name.

The town became successful in the early 1900s, with numerous businesses opening up and flourishing.

By 1918, they discovered the first oil well, and five years later, they got their first road .

Burkett was fully functional having churches, businesses as well as a school by 1940.

They also had about 200 residents in the community which the school catered to.

In 1957, the high school closed as a result of its consolidation with neighboring schools.

The downfall of the town finally came when the highway was constructed.

A year after, the new highway – Highway 206 – was completed but bypassed the Burkett business hub hence killing the businesses.

It ended the series of events that eventually led to the inhabitants deserting the town.

Address: Burkett, Texas 76828, USA about 2 hours to Fort Worth.

3. Proffitt (Cemetery Chronicles)

ghost towns in texas hill country

This town was popular enough to be featured in the book , “Ghost Towns of Texas,” written in the 1980s by Texas historian, T. L. Baker.

R. S. Proffitt was an early settler of the area in 1862 hence it was named after him.

However, you’re likely to lose your way or, at the least, need clarification if you follow random directions to this ghost town.

What’s left of Proffitt is a historic cemetery, an eerie reminder of the lives that once lived there.

The cemetery is odd, containing marked and unmarked resting places .

It also shows the burial of infants and children, detailing the harsh realities of the time with limited medical science, especially during the flu.

The town was also known for the death of three young men killed by Native Americans in the 1860s.

Profitt was an agrarian society that crumbled at the onslaught of industrialization.

When you can, visit and see the historical markers; you will love them.

Address: Proffitt, Texas 76372, USA, about 30 minutes from Fort Worth.

4. Indian Gap (Fading Frontier Town)

Indian Gap is a ghost town dating back to 1857, but that is fast disappearing.

This deterioration is apparent from age as well as demolition activities by authorities.

The older structures are still there constantly giving off an eerie feel to anyone who dares visit.

You can see some buildings cordoned off with the only sign of life being some randomly roaming livestock.

Due to the town nestling between hills, it is said to be named after the narrow passages which served as the route for the Native Americans’ many travels.

The travel was not for fun ; however, it was noticed that they passed this route to raid settlers and other travelers.

It had a hotel, newspaper, and the usual businesses essential for 19th-century life.

In no time, its store became the social center of community life back then.

Address: Indian Gap, Texas 76531, USA.

5. Carlton (Haunting Abandonment)

Carlton was a town named after early settler F. M. Carlton.

It was a booming, agricultural-forward town that benefited greatly from the traffic from merchants due to its proximity to a popular road.

The railways came, and unlike many other towns, the town flourished even more.

As of 1920, they had about a thousand inhabitants and many flourishing businesses.

They had their shopping centers, churches as well as home factories, financial institution , and other businesses.

Things quickly take an eerie turn as you look at the buildings.

It seemed as though the town was haunted , and the inhabitants left hurriedly.

Only some residents may be ready to tell its story and even show you around.

You may still find the bank still standing, as well as an old gas station.

Address: Carlton, Texas 75006, USA.

Also see our article on Places to Visit in Texas .

Ghost towns in Houston, Texas

1. indianola (coastal aspirations).

ghost towns in texas hill country

The town still maintains its serene outlook and a statue indicating what once was.

In 1844 this town located just by Matagorda Bay, was considered a port city and the next best thing.

Popular opinion was that it would give nearby port cities like Galveston and New Orleans a run for their money.

By the late 1800s, the population has reached about five thousand people.

However, the town suffered from multiple natural disasters especially hurricanes due to its proximity to the sea and limited weather technology.

Especially in the late 1870s and early 1880s, the town saw its worst hurricanes, and many residents reckoned they had had enough.

Also, their projections for the bay were not being manifested, so it was time to move.

If you decide to explore, you will still find a granite monument dedicated to the French Explorer La Salle.

Address: Indianola, Texas 77979, USA, about 140 miles from Houston.

2. The Grove (Highway Refusal Fallout)

This city was founded in the 1950s and was not named after an early settler as was the usual practice.

Instead, it was named after a grove of beautiful oak trees growing in the area.

Not long after its founding, it started to grow economically.

This growth began with two general stores, a cotton mill, and a church.

The church still exists today despite the town being a shadow of itself.

During its peak era, the town grew up to about 400 people.

The story was that the government gave some directives to the town to cover their well so that the new highway to pass through the town.

The town refused, and the highway was built just outside, diverting the much-needed traffic.

This refusal resulted in a series of events that eventually killed the town’s business in the 1940s.

Surprisingly, the town has not been designated a ghost town but has instead been listed by as a historic Texas town.

If you go there, you will get many opportunities to take lovely pictures and own a slice of history.

Address: 453 The Grove Ln, Gatesville, TX 76528.

Also see our article on Escape Rooms in Texas .

Ghost Towns in Austin, Texas

1. old bluffton (submerged past).

ghost towns in texas hill country

This town used to be about an hour northwest of Austin.

It was one of the few towns that the railway didn’t affect adversely.

Instead, it was a pit stop on the rail line in the mid-1800s.

It was home to about 50 families .

The land was rich with fruit gardens and cornfields.

Unlike Atlantis, this city is an underwater ghost town.

Lake Buchanan is a well-known tourist spot , but many need to learn how it swallowed up this town.

The town can only be seen when the region has a severe drought.

Although it remains sunken at the bottom of the artificial lake , many reports claim it was already deserted before its immersion.

Address: Bluffton, Texas 78607, USA.

2. St. Mary’s of Aransas (Rivalry & Natural Fury)

Founded in 1850, this town took a short time before becoming a port town in the region.

When the federal warships captured the port during the civil war, some warehouses as well as a wharf were burned.

The town still rose from the ashes to become a port for steamships.

However, the fall began in the late 1860s, when St. Mary’s lost the county seat to their fast-rising rival, Rockport.

To make matters worse, the railway built a line to their rival instead of St. Mary’s, where it was originally planned.

The forces of nature also took its pound of flesh from this city when in 1866, a hurricane caused massive damage to their school and wharves.

 Just before that damage could be repaired, another storm nearly destroyed the town.

This storm caused the residents to move and the population to slowly decline.

Finally, by the early 1900s, the post office and general store were permanently closed.

If you visit, you may still find the shadow of the ghost town’s past.

Address: Refugio County, TX 78377, USA.

3. Drop (Railroads & Decline)

In 1854, just some miles off Justin in Denton County, a small town petitioned to have a post office.

They wanted the post office to be named “Dew Drop.”

Incidentally, the post office replied that the name was taken and requested they choose a new one.

They reconsidered and the town decided to be named “Drop”.

The town was popularly known as the farmer’s supply location.

However, they succeeded, and The Drop post office finally opened in 1886.

Just when it reached its peak, the railroads began to be constructed.

Unfortunately, the railroad tracks were constructed in nearby Justin thereby diverting traffic.

This development attracted more people and businesses to Justin in the late 1880s from the surrounding rural communities rather than Drop.

Eventually, people started moving away, and the post office at Drop was closed by 1910.

By the 1930s the population had declined to less than forty; however, it has declined further since then.

Address: Southwest of Denton County, Denton, TX 76205, United States.

Also see our article on Hidden Gems in Texas .

Ghost towns in Texas Hill Country, Texas

1. blewett (asphalt visionary).

Originally called Carbonville, the story of this town is one of admiration.

A group of investors from the Big Apple opened a bitumen mine in 1888 but unfortunately failed to find a market for the product.

They were desperate to the point where they tried giving it out for free to no avail.

John BLEWETT Smyth, the man the town would be named after, was the visionary.

He realized the asphalt would make a good road paving material when blended with other additives.

He started mining it in 1912, and about 15 years after, he broke even.

His son, George, oversaw the Houston branch, employing more than a hundred men and paving many important streets in the town.

The mine alone produced over a million tons by 1927 establishing itself as an authority in the field.

Like everything else, it had to end for economic and environmental reasons.

Today, there’s nothing left but holes in the ground .

Address: Blewett, Texas 78703, United States.

2. Cleo (Post Office Town)

ghost towns in texas hill country

Around 1860, R. Gentry attempted a settlement on what would later be called Cleo.

However, the first attempt at getting the community together did not happen till 1880.

That was when T. Riggs opened a post office and called it Viejo in nearby Viejo Creek.

Postal and telegraph service was stopped in May of 1886, and the post office was later reopened in March of 1915.

At this time, J. Simpson ran the post from his store before later selling the office in the later months of 1920.

The new owner also inherited the post office duties with the store and was the one who renamed the town.

The population of Cleo was unstable for a time before reducing to fifties by the late 1900s.

By 1974, the post office eventually closed down after the last postmaster’s retirement heralding the end of the era.

The town’s fate had already reduced when the number of tourists reduced because the significant road had bypassed the town to its east.

Address: Cleo, Texas 76849, USA.

3. Baby Head (Eerie Legend & Decline)

This eerie name was said to have stuck in the town when an infant’s skull was found on the mountain now termed Baby Head Mountain.

The skull was reported to have been placed there by angry Native Americans.

As chilling as this information is, the town lived as a normal town with its post office, school, and small businesses until 1879.

The town is associated with Baby Head Cemetery; this ghost town was also rumored to have been haunted .

Baby Head also had a post office from 1879 to 1918 and hosted a county voting precinct.

Up until the late 1960s, the town still had residents.

By 1968 its population had drastically reduced, being home to only 20 residents; the decline continued.

Today, the only proof that a town once existed here is the chilling town cemetery.

Address: Texas 78643, USA.

4. Luckenbach (Country Music & Revival)

ghost towns in texas hill country

Luckenbach is a small town with a very obvious German influence from its architecture to its food .

It’s one of the well-known small towns famous for its country music.

This town still has inhabitants; however, it is less crowded than it used to be.

Luckenbach began to register itself in the history books when it was recognized as a community trading location in the mid-1800s.

The period between its prosperity and its fall was a short time, only a couple of decades.

By the 1960s, Luckenbach had become a ghost town.

It escalated to the point where a decade later, the town was put up for sale.

Believe it or not, it was purchased for $30,000 by an actor who was also a rancher as well as a folklorist.

If you visit the town, it still has its old feel and architecture.

Tourists still visit for that authentic feel, to enjoy some good country music, and get souvenirs before being on their way.

Address: Luckenbach, Texas 78624, USA.

If you liked this article, you may also like to read about Where to Stay , Escape Rooms , and Abandoned Places in Texas.

Looking beyond Texas? Check out our article on the best Ghost Towns in Florida and New York .

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Boundless Roads

17 Most Charming Texas Hill Country Towns and cities

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The Hill Country has seen a huge flux of visitors over the last few years and it’s no surprise. This area in Texas has stunning hills, wineries for days, and a slow pace of life that we all sometimes crave.

In this post on the most charming Charming Texas Hill Country Towns and cities, I will tell you all about it and what you can’t absolutely miss in this exciting region of Texas.

The heart of Texas is known for its natural beauty, juicy BBQ , and rich history . You will find yourself wanting to call these hill country towns home soon enough. The charm and heritage of these small towns run much deeper than the Guadalupe river .

Head to Gruene to visit the oldest dance hall in Texas or try some hill country wine in Dripping Springs .  The Lone Star State continues to impress its residents and guests every day, so what are you waiting for? Grab your keys and let’s explore the 17 most charming towns to visit in the hill country. 

blue bonnet field in Texas - Texas hill country towns

Texas hill Country Towns Map

Texas Hill Country Map

The 17 Most Charming Texas Hill Country Towns and cities San Antonio

San Antonio River Walk at night

The biggest city in Hill Country Texas is San Antonio, full of culture, food, and Texas history. This is a fantastic city to start in and will give you easy access to the rest of the Hill Country.

Spend your days walking the famous San Antonio Riverwalk , learning about how Texas won its independence at The Alamo , or taking in a Spurs basketball game at the AT&T stadium.

San Antonio is known for its large Hispanic population and influence, the city has a week-long fiesta every year to celebrate Mexican history and culture. The city is saturated with local traditions and yummy food. Enjoy homemade tamales , chicken on a stick, and slurp down a fresh margarita while learning to salsa to the famous Mexican singer, Selena . 

Read more about all the things to do in San Antonio, Texas.

New Braunfels

Guadalupe river

Located on i-35 in between San Antonio and Austin, this German town is a must-see in the hill country. Two of the most stunning rivers in Texas run right through New Braunfels making it a perfect summer escape. The Comal and Guadalupe river welcomes thousands of visitors every year.

Among the most fun things to do in New Braunfels head to one of the Tube shops to spend the day floating on the clear water , make sure to pack a cooler and some snacks to enjoy the long float. Get ready to be shot out of the famous tube shoot with all the other river rafters about halfway through the float. 

If you happen to be here in the Fall, lookout for their famous two-week-long German-themed Wurstfest . Hundreds of food vendors , pitchers of beer, and people dressed in lederhosen to celebrate the long-standing German traditions in the town. My favorite is the pork chop on a stick and the fried Oreos.

New Braunfels water source

Everyone’s favorite college town, San Marcos is home to Texas State University and the infamous square. Lucky for you, I have all the insider tips for this beautiful Texas town as it is my alma mater. 

The large university campus covers much of the city and you will see college kids running around everywhere you look. The most beautiful thing about this town is the freshwater San Marcos River that runs right through campus.

From the underground aquifer, this clear river maintains a temperature of 72 degrees all year long, making it the perfect refresher in the spring, summer, and fall. Head to Sewell Park to play some volleyball, tan on bikini hill, or float down the river . 

Grab dinner at Grinns with their 2 dollar margaritas before hitting up the Square. Bar after bar after bar makes up a square in downtown San Marcos all surrounding the town’s courthouse. Whether its Dollar Dos Tuesdays or wild Saturday nights , you will find heaps of people out partying in San Marcos.

Hotsprings Austin

Texas’s capital city is almost everyone’s favorite city in and out of Texas. In Austin, you can be whoever you want to be without anyone judging you.

The famous slogan “ Keep Austin Weird ” continues to ring true today. 

Spend the day paddleboarding ladybird lake , taking in museums , or walking South Congress . There are plenty of things to do in the vibrant city. Known as the live music capital of the world, you are guaranteed to have some fun nights out.

If you don’t know much about Texas, here are two things you can be sure of, it’s hotter than hell most of the year and the food is out of this world. Whether it’s bbq or tex mex , you are in for a treat.

So after spending the day at Barton Springs pool , make sure to fill your belly at one of my favorite restaurants.

  • Loros : bbq asian fusion
  • Chuys : Texmex
  • Terry Black BBQ : bbq (Get there early as the line can get extremely long)

If the weather isn’t great in Austin while you are there make sure to check out my list of things to do in Austin when it rains here. 

Round Rock - Texas

Round Rock is located right outside of North Austin , it is considered a small suburb of the area but this little town comes with a lot of fun things to do for a day out of the city. 

Start the day with round rock donuts , they are melt in your mouth good and a MUST STOP if you are in the hill country. After a sugar rush, you can spend the day shopping at the round rock outlet mall.

Head to Saks off Fifth , Nordstrom Rack , or my favorite Lululemon . I can usually catch some great deals and work off those donuts from the morning.

If it is baseball season you can catch a minor league game, watching the round rock express team. This is a cheap, fun activity to do on a warm night. After the game head to one of my favorite BBQ spots , Saltlick . On the weekends they have live music and it’s BYOB .  

Driftwood is perfectly placed in the hills outside of Austin and welcomes you for a quiet weekend getaway or the perfect day trip! Driftwood is the beginning of the hill country Winelands .

This small city has multiple distilleries, wineries, and breweries for you to visit depending on your drink of choice.

Wineries in Driftwood

Duchman Winery and Driftwood Estate winery have become widely known for their Italian wine styles and beautiful on-site vines . If wine isn’t your thing, head out to JesterKing brewery for some picnic tables and sour beers to enjoy while listening to live music and munching on their cheesy pizzas.

Jester King Brewery aerial view

Now with all of that being said, no one comes to Driftwood without heading to Saltlick BBQ . I mentioned Saltlick BBQ in Roundrock, but the restaurant got its start at its first location in Driftwood and is world-famous for its smoked meats.

So bring an empty stomach, cash (they still don’t take cards, or split the bill for you and your friends), and enjoy a night at everyone’s favorite bbq spot . 

Wimberley Park Texas

If you are looking to beat the hea t in the Texas Hill Country then look no further than Wimberley! This town boasts two of the most popular swimming holes in Texas .

Jump off the limestone rocks into Jacob’s well natural area, and deep natural spring that used to be a famous scuba diving spot.  Or head to the Wimberley relaxing blue hole regional park , a forested swimming hole with rope swings, picnic tables, and basketball courts.

After spending the day in the sun, head to the town square for some local shopping and good eats! 

This town has been named as one of the nation’s top 10 small towns . It has become the home of many famous artists , musicians , and historians that are looking for small-town life .

One of the town’s most famous craftworks is Wimberley Glassworks. Stop in and see hand-blown glass and even take a class to learn the ins and out of the craft.   

Some of my favorite stops in this town are the Wimberley cafe and The Shady Llama for a cold beer. If you have another day, take a wine and brewery tour from Wimberley to the nearby town of San Marcos .  

Dripping Springs

Hamilton Pool

10 years ago Dripping Springs was home to only 1,400 people . The town would have visitors from all over for their multiple wineries in the area.

Over the last decade, many have visited and then just stayed. Now home to over 5,000 people , Dripping Springs is becoming a hot spot for those trying to get out of the city. 

Located a quick 25 minutes from Austin , this town tucked in the hill country is your perfect escape. You will find plenty of outdoor escapes such as the Hamilton Pool Preserve and Pedernales State Park . Both of these have plenty of hiking and biking trails as well as rivers to cool off from the Texas heat. 

Dripping Springs is my favorite place to do a wine tour. The town has so many vineyards it’s hard to keep track these days.

If you find yourself here in the late spring you might catch the vines in full bloom with a grape picking event. If wine isn’t your thing there are plenty of distilleries , breweries, and even olive oil farms for you to spend your days at. 

My favorite wineries in Dripping Springs

  • Solaro Estate Winery : Tell them Carae sent you and you just might get something special;)
  • Bell Spring Winery
  • Hawks Shadow Estate Winery

Lavender Valley hood river

Known as “ The gateway to the Texas hill country ” Blanco, is a small town on the outskirts of the region. With its serene river and trail-filled state park, this is the perfect town to start your journey in before making your way to the bigger cities. 

Get your fill of small-town treats, eats, and shopping in the downtown area. The event that draws people into Blanco is its stunning lavender fields .

Known as the lavender capital of Texas , this little town hosts a lavender festival every year for people from all over to come to enjoy the wildflower .

You can pick your lavender, make soap out of it, or just take the seeds with you. Enjoy some live music and a beer from their local Real Ale distillery . 

There is usually something going on every weekend in Blanco, whether it be a cycle meet-up or their local farmers market that is hosted every 3rd Saturday of the month. So, regardless of the time of year, you will find something fun to do in Blanco! 

Check out my guide to other l avender fields in Texas to learn more.

Fredericksburg

Fredericksburg

Just a short trip from San Antonio is this must-stop spot in the Hill Country , Fredericksburg , the most famous small town in Hill Country.

Arguably one of the best Texas Hill Country Towns, Fredericksburg is a small town where long ago many German Immigrants settled. It is nowadays known to have the best peaches in the state .

The main street is full of mom-and-pop shops, some world war II museums , and incredible German restaurants. Start the day at the Old German Bakery for fresh coffee and German pancakes .

Stop at the local fruit markets for fresh peaches, tomatoes, and ripe strawberries. Lastly, end the day at The Auslander for some traditional German sausage and a heavy pint of beer. 

Plan to spend at least two days here as the beautiful Enchanted Rock state natural area park is close by and is a must-do in the hill country.

Climb the pink granite rocks and see the incredible hills from a bird’s point of view. 

If you are in the hill country during the holidays, Fredericksburg is a great place to get you in the spirit.

Check out the best places to spend Christmas in Texas to learn more.

Johnson City

vineyard in johnson city

One of the most famous cities in the hill country is Johnson City. Also known as the birthplace of our 36th president , Lyndon B. Johnson .

Located on the same highway that leads to Austin or San Antonio depending on which direction you’re going. This small town is full of art , history , and southern hospitality . 

Spend your nights at a local ranch , shop on the main street, enjoy the hill country wines and listen to the crickets sing once the sun goes down. This town is exactly what small-town living is about! 

Make some time to visit the LBJ ranch . Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park protects the birthplace, ranch, and grave of the late president.

You will be able to explore the life of Mr. Johnson and how he went from a small-town farm boy to being the 36th president of the United States.

Whether you are craving something hearty or something sweet, the Texas hill country town of Luling has everything you need!

Texas is the BBQ capital of the world but Luling is high in the running for the BBQ capital of Texas. People will drive from all over to indulge in some smoked meats in Luling Texas. 

Luling is a very small town with a quaint downtown , however, if you are visiting in the summer you can’t miss the annual watermelon thump !

The last weekend in June visitors will gather in this small town for all things watermelon. There is a seed spitting contest, a watermelon eating contest , and every year they judge who can grow the biggest watermelon.

It must be something in the water because the watermelons in Luling seem to just be bigger, juicier, and sweeter than anywhere else.

Here are my must-try BBQ restaurants in Luling :

  • City Market

Marble Falls

Marble Falls Texas

Marble Falls has everything you need for a quick getaway . Only about an hour drive from Austin and you will arrive in this charming small town . Marble Falls is home to the famous Blue Bonnet Cafe .

Now, I love a good happy hour, but the happy hour at Blue Bonnet Cafe is special… It’s a happy hour for pie! Pie is what has made this cafe the most famous one in Texas, and you should stop in for a slice if you don’t want to miss out. 

The town has so many outdoor adventures for those who love to be in nature. Head to lake Buchanon to enjoy a day on the water, swimming onshore, or fishing from the pier . Bring some water and hike the trails around the lake and into the hill country. 

After a long day, head to Fiesta Winery for a party and a flight of wine.   

Victorian mansion in Gruene Texas

The historic town of Gruene Texas is located in New Braunfels , about 25 minutes from San Antonio. Known for Texas’ oldest dance hall , Gruene Hall continues to host concerts, dance contests and is the perfect place to grab a beer with a new friend.

Many famous musicians have played here such as George Strait and Willie Nelson . Some weekends you can still catch a famous singer headed back to his roots… make sure to buy tickets on these special weekends as they will sell out.  

This small town is right on the Comal River and has some beautiful views. Shop at the local wineries and find a nice B&B for the weekend to enjoy the ins and outs of this little village .

My favorite places to eat at in Gruene

  • The Gristmill  – Ask to sit on the back patio for amazing views of the river.
  • Gruene Rivergrill – The bacon wrapped shrimp is to die for.
  • Cantina Del Rio – You must try the frozen margarita!

Guadalupe State Park

Just a short 15-minute drive from San Antonio is this charming little town. Boerne has a little bit of everything for everyone.

A great place to spend your time outdoors and in nature is at Cibolo Nature Center and Guadalupe State Park . The state park has plenty of tent spaces and an RV park for you to spend the weekend walking the trails and fishing in the river . 

One of the most famous outdoor activities in Boerne is visiting the “ Cave Without a Nam e”. The cave is a natural cavern that has many walkways for visitors to explore and throughout the year you can catch performances in the caves by local talent .

Head to the downtown area of Boerne and walk their mile-long main street that is full of art galleries , small shops , and coffee shops . If you enjoy a nice cold beer , this is the place for you as they have a few breweries to stop in, try their local brews and meet some other travelers. 

Luchenbach post office texas

The saying “ Everybody is somebody in Luckenbach ” still stands true today and every weekend this small hill country town welcomes people from all over.

Luckenbach is the smallest Texas hill country town with a population of 3 people. 

The town’s saloon is world-famous and has hosted hundreds of Texas country music artists over the years.

People drive from all over to listen to some live music, boot scoot across the dance floor, and drink a cold Lone Star beer in this famous small town.

Head to the back porch of the saloon for some outdoor picnic tables and to enjoy the hill country views .

Luckenbach is a short drive from Fredericksburg , making it a great pit stop on the way!

Kerville City hall

Among the most historical Texas hill country towns, Kerrville is home to one of the oldest settlements in Texas. Located right on the other side of Bourne, this small hill country town is perfect for those who want to dive into history .

Kerrville has two historic museums , the Hill Country Museum and the Museum of Western Art . This little town has evidence of human life from 10,000 years ago!

In these museums, you will see how we used to not only live but survive.

People from all over flock to this little town 3 weeks out of the year for the famous folk festival.

You will be able to dress up, enjoy live folk music and participate in the folk culture for a few days. This festival is held every summer and seems to get bigger and bigger each year.  

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Hill Country Texas Map of hotels

ghost towns in texas hill country

Carae is a born and raised Texan and a lover of new places and adventure. She has been traveling around the world solo for 3 years now. She moved to West Africa in hopes of seeing the world and has not been disappointed. She has met the coolest people and believes to have seen the prettiest places and never wants it to stop. You can follow her travels on her site

ONE CHEL OF AN ADVENTURE

17 Charming Small Towns in the Texas Hill Country

Texas Hill Country is such an underrated destination in the US! There are tons of small towns dotted throughout the area, each with its own unique charm and personality.  Whether you’re taking a road trip through Hill Country , looking for a fun day trip , or scouting out your next girls’ weekend, check out this list of charming small towns in the Texas Hill Country !

Small Towns in the Texas Hill Country

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Boerne - One of my Favorite Small Towns in the Texas Hill Country

Boerne, pronounced “bur-nee” for all of you non-Texans, is a great spot to go when you need a quiet weekend of R&R.

Top things to do in Boerne:

  • Enjoy the amazing public art of their Art al Fresco program
  • Explore underground in Cascade Caverns or Cave Without A Name
  • Cool off in Guadalupe River State Park
  • Join a walking tour to learn the fascinating history of Boerne

Cute Boerne Mural - Greetings from Boerne

Less than an hour from downtown Austin, Wimberly is a perfect day trip destination for those looking for adventure!

Top things to do in Wimberley:

  • Swim in the crystal clear waters of Blue Hole or Jacob’s Well
  • Climb Old Baldy for stunning Hill Country views
  • Shop for unique finds in the Downtown Wimberley Square 
  • Dig into fresh takes on classic Hill Country cuisine at The Leaning Pear

ghost towns in texas hill country

Fredericksburg - Infamous Small Towns in the Texas Hill Country

Best known for its wineries and German heritage, head to Fredericksburg for a weekend of fun!

Top things to do in Fredericksburg:

  • Visit a winery , of course
  • Catch some live music at the Backyard Amphitheater
  • Take a hike in Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
  • Grab a bite to eat at the Old German Bakery & Restaurant  

ghost towns in texas hill country

For the ultimate girls’ trip of wine-ing and dining, check out my guide on where to stay for a girls’ weekend in Fredericksburg !

Marble Falls

For a slow lake weekend in the heart of Hill Country, wander over to the charming town of Marble Falls.

Top things to do in Marble Falls:

  • Paddle, swim, or hike around Lake Marble Falls
  • Hike around Pedernales Falls State Park for river views 
  • Enjoy a sunny afternoon at Bear King Brewing  
  • Shop all of the local boutiques on Main Street

Small Towns in the Texas Hill Country - Marble Falls

Photo from Facebook .

Dripping Springs - Charming Small Town Wedding Captial of Texas

Just 25 minutes from downtown Austin lies Dripping Springs, the “Gateway to the Hill Country.”

Top things to do in Dripping Springs:

  • Swim beneath a 50-foot waterfall at the 200-acre Hamilton Pool Preserve  
  • Sample local olive oil and more at Texas Hill Country Olive Company  
  • Hike or climb along the Pedernales River at Reimers Ranch Park
  • Indulge in some of the best cocktails you’ll ever try at the Deep Eddy Distillery  
View this post on Instagram A post shared by Dripping Springs, TX (@destinationdripping)

Head to the tiny town of Blanco for a relaxing weekend of outdoor fun!

Top things to do in Blanco:

  • Play a round at Vaaler Creek Golf Course , the #1 Golf Course in the Texas Hill Country 
  • Swim or tube along the Blanco River in Blanco State Park
  • Visit on the third Saturday of the month to experience Blanco Market Day
  • Enjoy local brews and bites at Texas Cannon Brewing Company

Small Towns in the Texas Hill Country Blanco

Luckenbach - Iconic Small Towns in the Texas Hill Country

“Everybody’s Somebody in Luckenbach,” so get ready to show out and show off in a town known for hospitality and warmth!

Top things to do in Luckenbach:

  • Catch a show at the iconic Luckenbach venue
  • Learn more about our 36th president at the Lyndon B Johnson National Historical Park
  • Step back in time at the Luckenbach General Store, where in the back you’ll find the historical Luckenbach Saloon 
  • Enjoy some delicious Texas barbecue at the Luckenbach Feed Lot

Luckenbach Texas - Ultimate Hill Country Small Town

Pronounced “byou-da” (not “Buddha”), Buda, Texas is a classic Hill Country town with lots of charm and friendly smiles!  

Top things to do in Buda:

  • Visit one of their 13 parks to see why the Texas Legislature named Buda the “Outdoor Capital of Texas”
  • Stroll along the six-block Downtown District for local shops and restaurants
  • Grab a drink and listen to some live music at Buda Mill & Grain Co.  
  • Transport yourself to the 1940s at the Buda Soda Fountain  

Buda - best Small Towns in the Texas Hill Country

Wildlife admirers will love the quiet town of Llano for its abundance of white-tailed deer, bald eagles, and armadillos!

Top things to do in Llano:

  • Go on a ghost hunt at the Red Top Jail , Dabbs Railroad Hotel , or one of the many other paranormal hotspots in Llano 
  • Walk along the Bluebonnet Trail for beautiful wildflowers 
  • Taste some local spirits at Llano Craft Distillery
  • Learn about the history of the small ton at the Llano County Historical Museum  

Llano Texas

Johnson City

As the hometown of President Lyndon B Johnson, Johnson City serves up history, culture, and good ol’ Texas fun!

Top things to do in Johnson City:

  • Sip on some hometown brews at Pecan Street Brewing
  • Tour the pioneer ranch of LBJ’s grandparents at the Johnson Settlement
  • Visit during the Christmas season for one of the best light shows in Texas
  • Step back in time on a walk through the historic town square

Small Towns Texas Hill Country - Johnson City

For a small town straight out of a Hollywood movie–literally–, check out Smithville!

Top things to do in Smithville:

  • Visit the filming locations of movies like Hope Floats, Tree of Life, and Bernie!
  • Hike or bike along the exciting trails of Rock Hill Ranch  
  • Spend a night camping in the beautiful Buescher State Park
  • Shop for one-of-a-kind antiques at Bella’s Cottage Antiques  

Smithville Texas - Small town Texas

Round Top - Big Time Small Town in the Texas Hill Country

Known for being a “big time small” town, Round Top offers so much to do in a relaxed, charming setting.

Top things to do in Round Top:

  • Go antiquing at one of their many amazing antique shops like Round Top Vintage Market or Dirty Bohemian
  • Or visit in the fall during the famous Original Round Top Antiques Show
  • Catch a show at the gorgeous Round Top Festival Institute
  • Sip on some craft cocktails at the outdoor patio of The Garden Company

Junk Gypsy antique shopping in Round Top

Check out my Round Top guide for even more fun things to do!

On the banks of the peaceful Guadalupe River, you’ll find the historic small town of Gruene!

Top things to do in Gruene:

  • Dance the night away at almost 150-year-old Gruene Hall
  • Shop for homemade fudge, salsa, and more at the super cute Gruene General Store  
  • Float down the Comal River and then grab a drink at Rockin’ R
  • Grab a Texas Pecan coffee at Gruene Coffee Haus

Gruene Texas Small Town

Photo from Facebook

Lockhart - BBQ Capital of Texas

Foodies flock from around the world to Lockhart to dig into plates of BBQ in the “barbecue capital of Texas.”

Top things to do in Lockhart:

  • Feast at one (or all) of the four award-winning BBQ restaurants in Lockhart: Blacks Barbecue, Chisholm Trail Barbecue, Kreuz-Barbecue, and Smitty’s Market
  • Enjoy a performance at the Gaslight Baker Theatre  
  • Stroll by the Caldwell County Courthouse for a beautiful morning walk
  • Swim, golf, or hike at Lockhart State Park

Small Towns in the Texas Hill Country - Lockheart

Unleash your inner cowboy (or girl!) in this charming Texas town: Bandera, the Cowboy Capital of the World!

Top things to do in Bandera:

  • Do as the locals do and watch some rodeo at Mansfield Park Rodeo Arena  
  • Get in the saddle yourself and horseback ride through the Texas Hill Country
  • Cool down in the beautiful Medina River 
  • Spend an evening dancing and singing along at Arkey Blue’s Silver Dollar Saloon , the oldest continuously operating honky-Tonko in Texas 

Bandera Texas Charming Cowboy Captial

As one of the most beautiful places in the Texas Hill Country, Bastrop is a must-visit year-round!

Top things to do in Bastrop:

  • Camp and hike in Bastrop State Park amongst the famous ‘Lost Pines’
  • Paddle down the peaceful El Camino river to see wildlife and sandstone bluffs 
  • Dig into some southern, Cajun food washed down with a cold beer at 602 Brewing Company
  • Browse the amazing vintage vinyl collection of Astro Record Store

Bastrop Small Towns in the Texas Hill Country

Best known for its annual explosion of red poppy wildflowers and being the ‘Most Beautiful Town Square in Texas’, Georgetown is a gorgeous destination in the Texas Hill Country!

Top things to do in Georgetown:

  • Stroll through the Inner Space Cavern to see ice age-era fossils and huge underground rock formations
  • Attend a show at the vintage Georgetown Palace Theatre
  • Pick your own fruits at Sweet Eats Fruit Farm
  • Learn more about Texas Hill Country history at the Williamson Museum  

Red Poppy Mural in Georgetown

From outdoor adventure to local wineries, breweries, and distilleries to local art and history, there’s no shortage of amazing things to do in the Hill Country. And while there’re so many friendly small towns throughout, these 17 offer the best of the best charming small towns in the Texas Hill Country! Tag me on Instagram — I love seeing all of your adventures!

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LIST: A look at the lesser-known, most historic places to sleep in Texas

T EXAS (KAMR/KCIT) – The Lone Star State is not only large enough to house tropical beach destinations and frigid expansive mesas, but welcomes millions of visitors and newcomers alike each year with its wildlife, industry, and culture. However, whether they’ve decided to visit Texas to watch the stars or get lost in its lively population centers, every visitor will also need to decide where to rest their head at the end of the day.

Luckily, Texas has plenty of space and history to go around and has communities in every region ready to offer unique overnight accommodations different from the usual hotel-chain fare.

Texas Brazos Trail Region

Fanthorp inn state historic site.

About 30 miles southeast of College Station, the Fanthorp Inn State Historic Site consists of six acres in Anderson, the county seat of Grimes County. As described by the Texas State Historical Association, the Fanthorp Inn was built in the 1830s by land speculator Henry Fanthorp and remodeled in 1850. The site is the only authentically restored stagecoach inn of the 1850s in Texas, and has hosted guests including Sam Houston, Anson Jones, and Robert E. Lee. After the state acquired the site, the inn was opened to guests in the mid-1980s.

Shady Villa Hotel & Stagecoach Restaurant

After opening originally in the 1860s in Salado, the Shady Villa Hotel stood as a classic overnight stop for stagecoach travelers in the region. It was renamed in the 1940s to the Stagecoach Inn after it was bought by the Dion Van Bibber family, according to the TSHA, and became a restored hotel and restaurant with national recognition in its place in the historic area of the town.

Texas Forest Trail Region

Excelsior house hotel.

Another historic hotel, the Excelsior House Hotel in Jefferson has been open since the late 1850s and has been host to guests including Ulysses S. Grant, Oscar Wilde, Rutherford B. Hayes, and Lady Bird Johnson. The Texas Historical Commission described the hotel as an antique lover’s delight, with its extra offering of its specialty orange blossom muffins served daily at breakfast.

Texas Forts Trail Region

Cactus hotel.

The Cactus Hotel opened in 1929 as Conrad Hilton’s fourth hotel in San Angelo, which received its name in 1932 after it was bought by W.L. Moody. Although the THC noted that the Cactus Hotel no longer accepts overnight guests, it does still rent out its rooms for events and offers apartments and office spaces to local residents, businesses, and organizations.

Texas Hill Country Trail Region

Landmark inn state historic site.

The Landmark Inn State Historic Site in Castroville opened in the mid-1800s as a home and a dry goods store, according to the THC. It was remodeled into an inn by its second owner in the 1860s, with the only man-made bath house between San Antonio and Eagle Pass at the time. The inn continued to shift owners and added a gristmill, until it was renovated and shifted to a THC property and opened to guests as a historic inn during the 1970s.

Texas Independence Trail Region

Historic menger hotel.

As described by the THC, William Menger opened a hotel-brewery in San Antonio in the 1850s after his experiences in Germany in which his potent beer left his customers spending nights on his original brewery’s benches. The Historic Menger Hotel became the deal-making site of many early land and cattle deals in the area over his lagers, which were brewed with a Mexican candy called piloncillo.

The THC noted that the Historic Menger hotel remains well-known despite its many remodels and is the oldest standing hotel west of the Mississippi River. In the modern day, visitors can now spend a night at the hotel restored to much of its 1850s appearance.

Texas Lakes Trail Region

Texas heritage cabin.

In Granbury, guests are able to book a night in a relocated Dogtrot Guesthouse from 1867, a hand-hewn log house consisting of two cabins separated by an open-air “dogtrot” breezeway.

Also known as the “dug-run,” the TSHA noted that “dogtrot” houses were common in Texas in the middle of the 19th century, often featuring a porch built to extend across the entire front of the home. The purpose of the dog-run breezeway in the middle of the structure was to cool the house and provide shade by catching the breezes, and was also known to be a favored napping spot for household dogs.

Texas Mountain Trail Region

Cibolo creek ranch.

30 miles outside of Marfa, Cibolo Creek Ranch stands as a historic resort that once stood as a landmark and sanctuary for travelers and US Calvary patrols along the Chihuahua Trail. The THC noted that the ranch was part of the empire of trader and farmer Milton Favor, who established in the area in the 1850s. The high-walled adobe compound is now a restored site with historic lodging and a restaurant, which also holds an annual free open house.

Chinati Hot Springs

The Chinati Hot Springs in Marfa opened to the public in the 1930s as a natural spring said to provide healing waters to its patrons. The THC noted that the area today offers trails for hiking and mountain biking, as well as views of many species of rare birds and other wildlife.

Texas Pecos Trail Region

1910 state hotel.

Originally built in Sterling City in 1910, the THC noted that the two-story 1910 State Hotel once housed the hotel, First State Bank, doctors’ offices, a confectionary, post office, city hall, telephone company, drug store, and the Landmark Cafe. It was reopened in May 2013 as a functioning hotel with eight guest rooms through the efforts of local resident TrinaBeth Johnson.

Texas Plains Trail Region

Slaton harvey house.

Standing in Slaton as a relic of the prime days of the passenger railway system, the Slaton Harvey House was opened as part of a chain of hotels and restaurants dotted along the landmark Santa Fe railroad line. Founded by Fred Harvey in 1876, the “Harvey House” hotels and restaurants offered fine dining to railroad passengers courtesy of its iconic hostesses, the “Harvey Girls.” The THC noted that the Slaton Harvey House has been restored and opened to visitors as a bed and breakfast service as well as an archive of the region’s railroad history.

Hotel Settles

Built in 1930 by rancher and oilman W.R. Settles, the skyscraper Hotel Settles in Big Spring stood as the tallest building between Fort Worth and El Paso. Described by the THC as having been designed by Abilene architect David Castle, the hotel has been host to galas, bands, and guests including Elvis Presley.

Texas Tropical Trail Region

Historic oakville jail bed & breakfast.

As the seat of Live Oak County until 1919, as described by the TSHA, Oakville was described during the Civil War era as a “hotbed of lawlessness,” noted by historian Walter Prescott Webb as “a hard country where civil authorities were helpless and took no notice of any outrage.”  It may not be a surprise, then, that its jail has become one of the major attractions to guests in the area.

Established officially in the 1850s and on the decline by 1913 after multiple major railroad lines were built to its west, the population of Oakville was noted as only 260 people by 2000. The THC noted that most of its buildings have been restored and converted into a historic bed and breakfast experience, with visitors able to occupy rooms in the jail, mercantile, post office or other buildings around the town square.

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LIST: A look at the lesser-known, most historic places to sleep in Texas

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  5. Abnormally-Named Ghost Towns of the Texas Hill Country

    In the vein of strange names, the town of Nix is a ghost town in the Texas Hill Country that was originally settled in the early 1880s. What isn't known at present, appears to be how it came by this signature.

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    Gold: AKA Rheingold was once found off FM 1631 on Rheingold School Road, roughly 13.5 miles Northeast of Fredericksburg. Brothers Jacob and Peter Gold were German immigrants who founded the community of Gold but perished from cholera shortly after arriving in 1852. Their widows and children stayed there, running the community store and gin.

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    Welfare: Found about ten miles outside of Boerne, this spot was known as Bon Ton (French for "high-toned" or stylish) prior to 1880, then Welfare, which is believed to be a mangled version of Wolhlfarht, German for "pleasant journey."

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    Roosevelt, Texas - Hill Country Ghost Town. Simon Brothers Mercantile in Roosevelt, Texas, has been operating for over a century. Roosevelt, Texas, a ghost town in Kimble County, was established in 1898 and named for Theodore Roosevelt. Before the town was established, two military roads traversed this area, and during the Spanish-American ...

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    Historic community Building or houses still standing Still a busy community Smaller than its boom years Population has decreased dramatically, to one fifth or less May now be census designated place May have been Absorbed by extant entity List Images Abandoned jail in Clairemont (Kent County)

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    The 17 Most Charming Texas Hill Country Towns and citiesSan Antonio. San Antonio Riverwalk. The biggest city in Hill Country Texas is San Antonio, full of culture, food, and Texas history. This is a fantastic city to start in and will give you easy access to the rest of the Hill Country. Spend your days walking the famous San Antonio Riverwalk ...

  23. 17 Charming Small Towns in the Texas Hill Country

    Top things to do in Gruene: Dance the night away at almost 150-year-old Gruene Hall. Shop for homemade fudge, salsa, and more at the super cute Gruene General Store. Float down the Comal River and then grab a drink at Rockin' R. Grab a Texas Pecan coffee at Gruene Coffee Haus. Photo from Facebook.

  24. LIST: A look at the lesser-known, most historic places to sleep in Texas

    Texas Hill Country Trail Region Landmark Inn State Historic Site . The Landmark Inn State Historic Site in Castroville opened in the mid-1800s as a home and a dry goods store, according to the THC.