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10 Places Where You Can Still Experience Old Texas

Are you ready to step back in time and explore the history of Texas? 

Across the Lone Star State, there are many hidden gems where the spirit of the old West still lives on. 

From the ghostly echoes of cowboys past to the silent walls of ancient missions, each place has its own story to tell. 

In this article, we’re revealing 10 incredible locations across Texas where you can still experience the charm, culture and mystery of old Texas. 

Whether you’re walking through a historic town square or listening to live country music in a century-old dance hall, you’re in for a real adventure. 

Read on to find out where you can step into the pages of history and feel the old Texas spirit for yourself!

1. Gruene

Gruene is a small historic town that makes you feel like you’ve stepped back into old Texas. 

It is located in the heart of the state, near the city of New Braunfels which is just a 45-minute drive from San Antonio. 

This town is famous for its well-preserved 19th-century buildings and the Gruene Hall which is actually the oldest dance hall in Texas, built back in 1878.

Keith Ewing / Flickr

People still come to Gruene Hall to dance to live country music!

Walking through the town, you can visit antique shops and local restaurants that hold onto the Texan charm of yesteryears. 

Jimmy Smith / Flickr

The Gristmill River Restaurant, which was actually a cotton gin back in 1878, now serves meals overlooking the river. 

You can also enjoy floating on the Guadalupe River or tasting wines at local vineyards. 

Every year, Gruene hosts a music and wine festival that attracts folks from all over, celebrating the rich culture and history of Texas. 

2. The Stockyards

The Stockyards in Fort Worth is a place where you can really feel the old Texas spirit. 

Situated in the northern part of Fort Worth, this area was once a bustling livestock market and is now preserved as a historic district. 

The Stockyards are famous for their daily cattle drives, where cowboys guide a herd of longhorns down Exchange Avenue.

Alex Butterfield / Flickr

This occurs twice every day and feels just like the old days. 

You can walk on cobblestone streets and see buildings that look just like they did in the late 1800s and early 1900s. 

At the Stockyards, you can also visit the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame which celebrates the legacy of Texas cowboys and cowgirls. 

Craig Howell / Flickr

The area is filled with shops selling cowboy boots, hats and other western wear, making it a great place to get outfitted in true Texas style. 

Every weekend, there’s also a rodeo where cowboys show off their riding and roping skills. 

3. Bandera

bandera texas courthouse

No list of places where you can still experience old Texas would be complete without mentioning the Cowboy Capital of the World, Bandera.

Located in the beautiful hill country just northwest of San Antonio, Bandera holds onto its rugged cowboy heritage with pride. 

This small town is famous for its many dude ranches where visitors can stay and experience life as a cowboy, including horseback riding and cattle drives. 

Bandera’s Main Street is lined with historic saloons, western shops and country music spots that bring the past to life. 

Every weekend, you can enjoy live country music and dancing at places like Arkey Blue’s Silver Dollar which is the oldest continuously operating honky tonk in Texas.

The town also hosts the Bandera Pro Rodeo every year in May which provides a thrilling show of cowboy skills in action. 

In Bandera, traditions like the Cowboy Mardi Gras and National Day of the American Cowboy are celebrated with parades, costumes and lots of fun. 

4. La Villita, San Antonio

La Villita, located in the heart of San Antonio, is a historic arts village that captures the essence of old Texas. 

This charming neighborhood was actually one of the city’s first neighborhoods, dating back to the 18th century when it was a settlement of Spanish soldiers stationed at the Alamo. 

And before that, it was a Native American settlement so there’s a lot of history here.

Today, La Villita is a vibrant arts community where visitors can explore galleries, shops and restaurants set in restored historic buildings. 

The area is known for its traditional architecture including adobe houses and old stone structures that give a glimpse into its colonial past. 

La Villita also hosts a variety of festivals and events throughout the year that celebrate Texan culture, such as the traditional Dia de los Muertos.

The Arneson River Theatre in La Villita even offers a unique open-air venue for performances, right on the banks of the San Antonio River. 

5. The Flat, Fort Griffin

The Flat, located within the Fort Griffin State Historic Site in the Texas plains, is a place where the spirit of old Texas is still very much alive. 

It sits in northern Texas, not far from the town of Albany. 

This area was once a very rough town that popped up in the late 1800s during the days of cattle drives and outlaws. 

mlhradio / Flickr

It even had a reputation for being one of the most lawless places in Texas!

Fort Griffin itself was a military fort established to provide protection and order in the wild Texas frontier. 

Today, the ruins of Fort Griffin give visitors a peek into that rugged past with many remnants of old buildings and the fort’s layout still visible. 

mlhradio / Flickr

The Flat is also known for its historical reenactments where actors dress as cowboys and soldiers to recreate scenes from Texas’s wild days. 

You can explore the Fort Griffin State Historic Site which includes a visitor center with artifacts and stories of the people who lived there. 

6. Fort Davis

Fort Davis is a historic town in West Texas that really makes you feel like you’re stepping back into the old Texas days. 

It’s located in the scenic Davis Mountains meaning it’s not only beautiful but also full of history. 

The town itself is named after Fort Davis, one of the best-preserved military posts from the Indian Wars era in the 1800s. 

This fort was used to protect settlers, mail coaches and freight wagons from Apache and Comanche raids. 

Today, you can visit the Fort Davis National Historic Site to see the old buildings and learn about the soldiers and Native Americans who lived in the area. 

Fort Davis

The town itself maintains a quaint and historic atmosphere with its old-fashioned stores, inns and local museum. 

Fort Davis is also known for the McDonald Observatory where you can go stargazing!

7. Alpine

Alpine offers a taste of old Texas with its unique charm and history. 

Located in the mountains of West Texas, Alpine serves as a gateway to the famous Big Bend National Park which attracts ~500,000 of visitors each year.

The town’s historic downtown area features old-style buildings, local shops and restaurants that echo the days of the Old West. 

Jasperdo / Flickr

Alpine is also home to Sul Ross State University which adds a vibrant, youthful energy to the town. 

The Museum of the Big Bend on the university campus showcases the region’s history, including Native American artifacts and pioneer life. 

runarut / Flickr

Alpine also hosts annual events like the Lone Star Cowboy Poetry Gathering which celebrates traditional cowboy culture through music and poetry. 

The surrounding landscapes offer stunning views and outdoor activities such as hiking and horseback riding. 

8. San Antonio Missions National Historical Park

San Antonio Missions National Historical Park is a special place in Texas where you can really feel the state’s early history. 

Located in San Antonio, this park is home to four historic missions: Concepción, San José, San Juan and Espada. 

These missions were established by Spanish settlers in the early 1700s to spread Christianity among the local Native Americans. 

As you walk through the park, you can see the old stone churches, walls and ruins that tell stories from hundreds of years ago. 

Each mission has a unique look and its own story of the past, showing how people lived, worked and worshiped.

The park is known for its beautiful architecture and the role it played in Texas’ development. 

It’s also a World Heritage Site which means it’s recognized all over the world as an important place to preserve. 

9. Jefferson

Jefferson is a small town with a big history, making it a perfect place to experience old Texas. 

Located in East Texas near the Louisiana border, Jefferson was once a thriving port city in the 1800s when steamboats filled its waters. 

Today, Jefferson feels like a step back in time with its well-preserved historic buildings and brick-lined streets. 

The town is famous for its charming bed and breakfast inns, many of which are located in Victorian-style homes that tell stories of the past. 

Jefferson is also known for the mysterious and supposedly haunted Jefferson Hotel which is thought to be one of Texas’ most haunted places.

Nicolas Henderson / Flickr

Tourists can take a ride on a historic riverboat to see the town from the water, just like in the old days. 

The town also hosts several festivals throughout the year including a reenactment of a Civil War battle which brings the town’s history to life. 

10. Pecos

Pecos is a town deeply rooted in the classic Old West, giving visitors a real taste of historical Texas. 

Located in the far western part of the state, near the New Mexico border, Pecos is famously known as the site of the world’s first ever rodeo which was held in 1883. 

Rodeos are a huge part of Texas culture today so this place really is a living piece of history.

They still hold their historic rodeo every year in June so timing your visit to coincide with this event is a really great idea.

Pecos is also famous for its sweet cantaloupes which are known to be best in Texas.

The town’s history is tied to the nearby Pecos River which played a significant role in its development and the ranching lifestyle of the area. 

Walking through Pecos, you can see historic buildings that remind you of its days as a bustling railroad town. 

The West of the Pecos Museum, located in an old hotel, offers a glimpse into the lives of early settlers, cowboys and Native Americans. 

Visiting Pecos is like stepping back into the days when the West was wild so it’s a great spot to experience old Texas.

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Tom Jackson

Tom was born in San Antonio but spent most of his childhood in Dallas, he has lived in several cities across Texas and joined the team in 2024 to create travel guides on Texas.

Learn more about the Traveller's Elixir Team.

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