By Janie H. Pace~
The Texas Main Street Program (TMSP) is committed to protecting the history of communities across the state. The TMSP revitalizes and restores historic downtowns and other districts to help promote economic recovery and preserve heritage for generations to come.
Here are five — of the certified 88! — Main Street Texas towns I highly recommend exploring, all less than three hours from Dallas.
1 — Greenville (less than a one-hour drive)
Take a downtown walking tour and experience Greenville’s rich history, emerging art scenes, and Southern dining. Check out the Audie Murphy American Cotton Museum, which brings to vivid life the history of Greenville’s cotton production. Learn about Elvis’s visit, or why early locals never tied their horses to lamp posts. See a performance at the Texan Theater, first known as the King Opera House, and visit my favorite Greenville location, the beautiful Heritage Garden of Hunt County. If you’re feeling adventurous, Landon Winery offers wine tastings every Saturday.
2 — Marshall (2.25-hour drive)
Marshall’s Main Street Second Saturday features a co-op farmers market, crafts, painting, car shows, cookie and pie contests, and musical entertainment — all in the birthplace of Boogie Woogie music. Visit the Starr Family Home State historic site in the heart of Marshall’s museums and cultural sector. See the millions of twinkling white lights during the Wonderland of Lights, mid-November through the end of December, on the historic Harrison County Courthouse. Enjoy outdoor ice-skating and catch a ride on the 1948 Herschel carousel, the Holly Trolley, or the Wonderland Express.
3 — Pittsburg (2.5-hour drive)
The classic Pittsburg historic downtown is an old-time mix of antique shops, restaurants, boutiques, and bed-and-breakfasts. Make reservations to stay at a local guest ranch and visit the 1902 Ezekiel Airship, housed in the Depot Annex of the Northeast Texas Rural Heritage Museum. Enjoy the French Paccard bells and stained-glass windows of Prayer Tower, and go for a swim in the local lake at Bob Sandlin State Park. Experience the Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards, one of 10 area wineries.
4 — Nacogdoches (2.75-hour drive)
Named one of the 100 Best Small Towns in America in 1993, the red brick-covered streets and vintage buildings enhance the Southern charm of the oldest town in Texas. In Nacogdoches, you’ll find old-fashioned businesses selling antiques, trendy clothing, original jewelry, and art. Be sure to visit one of the local blueberry farms in June and tour the Mast Arboretum, a 10-acre garden along LaNana Creek at Stephen F. Austin State University. Visit the Nacogdoches Historic District to enjoy 25 miles of azalea trails throughout the city in the spring. Other historic attractions include the Durst Taylor House, the Railroad Museum, and the Old University Building, chartered by the Republic of Texas.
5 — Mount Pleasant (two-hour drive)
The downtown square of Mount Pleasant features the Titus County Courthouse and is surrounded by delightful, locally owned shops reflecting Texas’s true entrepreneurial spirit. An abundance of lakes, rolling hills, and tall pine trees create a serene setting for this charming town. The entire region buzzes with such businesses as Big Tex Trailer World, Pilgrim’s Pride, and Priefert Farm & Ranch Manufacturing as well as the award-winning Mid America Flight Museum. Before you leave, stop by Sweet Shop USA to sample the largest assortment of handmade chocolates e in the country.
More tours of Texas Main Street towns to come!