Disclosure: I participated in a hosted FAM tour with the Nacogdoches Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
I say day trip, but you actually might need more than a day. There is a lot packed in this little town. Home of Stephen F. Austin University, Nacogdoches is in East Texas. It’s a little less than a 3 hour drive from Dallas and about a 2 hour drive from Houston. Nacogdoches is the first city in Texas and has a lot of history and firsts because of that. We’ll get into all that on another day though.
Charles S. Bright Visitor Center
First stop of the day, must be the visitors center located at 200 E. Main Street. They are extremely nice and can provide any brochures or recommendations, but they also have historical exhibits and artifacts.
Once you leave the visitor center, take a walk around the downtown area. The brick paved streets are full of specialty shops, boutiques, antique stores, restaurants, and art galleries. I promise you’ll find something you love. Stores like Twigs and Tin, Macy May, Heart of Texas Gift Gallery, and Antiques on Main. For a snack, stop by the Blue Horse Bakery on Church Street and then have dinner at The Liberty Bell for an awesome burger and live music. There is also a self guided walking tour that takes you to 15 points of interest.
Nacogdoches is the Garden Capitol of Texas. Visit the Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden, the largest in the state with more than 7,000 azaleas. The Stephen F. Austin Arborteum was the first in Texas and covers over 19 acres. The Gayla Mize Garden is a forest garden with Chinese fringe trees, azaleas, and dogwoods.
If you are looking for something fun and adventurous, try ZipNac. The zip line course features five elements, taking you from tree to tree. The finale has two lines, so you can race to the finish. They provide all equipment and are open year round.
If you appreciate a drink or two before five o’clock, pay the Naca Valley Vineyard a visit. They are a family owned vineyard and still pretty new, but they are the only vineyard in town. If you are a beer person, try the Fredonia Brewery. They are also pretty new, but they have a taproom and beer garden. Front Porch Distillery opened a couple weeks ago, but their coconut rum is wonderful and I’m not a big rum drinker. I prefer whiskey, but I was there before they opened and they hadn’t bottled any.
If you are interested in the historical aspect of the town, there is a lot to choose from. The Oak Grove Cemetery is home to four signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence, as well as people important to the history of the area. The Stone Fort Museum is a 1936 replica of Antonio Gil Y’Barbo’s house. The Sterne-Hoya House, built around 1830, by an important figure in the fight for Texas indolence, is furnished with many original family belongings.
The town isn’t short on festivals either. They include everything from the Texas Blueberry Festival in May, the area grows the most blueberries in the state and everyone gets into the spirit. The Fredonia Brewery even makes blueberry beer, to rodeos, music festivals, market days, Pioneer Day, fall foilage walks, and holiday tour of homes.
I was only in town for a day and let me tell you, it was not enough. I did visit the Visitor Center, had lunch at The Liberty Bell, and dessert at Blue Horse Bakery. I also did some wine tasting at Naca Valley Vineyards and Front Porch Distillery. I always like the historical side of things and paid a visit to the Sterne-Hoya House as well. I barely got a chance to shop! I obviously ate and drank my way around town though.