When you think of Texas, the word “big” might come to mind. Because everything is big in Texas, right? We all know the big cities like Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. But Texas has some small-town gems, too. Go with the Flow TravelingMom Jill visited the tiny, historic town of Gonzales, Texas, this month and created a great list of things to do in Gonzales. If you are visiting the state capitol, Gonzales is an easy side trip from Austin. Gonazales is also just an hour and change from San Antonio, so if you’re visiting the Alamo City and want to stretch your legs a little bit, put this little gem on your list. After all, bigger isn’t always better.
Living in a large state like Texas, we have plenty of room to explore. We recently visited the historic Texas town of Gonzales and had a great time. Now, I know you probably don’t have it on your radar when you’re planning travel to Texas, but I’ve got six things to do in Gonzales that are super family-friendly, inexpensive, and fun.
But first, a history lesson. I’ll make it painless. Promise.
Gonzales holds a unique place in Texas history as the site of the firing of the first shot for Texas independence. The land we know today as Texas once belonged to Mexico. The Mexican Army had given the people of Gonzales a small cannon for self-defense. When Mexico got wind of the rumblings of Texas independence, they decided they wanted their cannon back.s t
On October 2, 1835, eighteen townsmen stood on the bank of the Guadalupe River and refused to give up their small cannon to the Mexican army. The people of Gonzales fashioned a flag showing a black replica of the cannon on a white background with words that would echo through the years, “Come and Take it.”
Thus Texas independence was born. (And you thought it was all about “Remember the Alamo.”)
See, I told you the history lesson would be painless. Here are six things to do in Gonzales today that your family will enjoy:
1. The Old Jail Museum
The Old Jail Museum is on Lawrence Street in downtown Gonzales. The docents are friendly and full of great stories.
The (free!) guided tour took about 45-minutes. Current hours are listed as Thursday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m to 3:30 p.m. Visit the Gonzales Chamber of Commerce for more info.
2. Gonzales Memorial Museum
Gonzales Memorial Museum houses the original cannon behind the “come and take it” story as well as a bunch of other Texas artifacts.
The museum has lovely, scenic grounds. If you have little ones who need to burn off some energy, there is plenty of wide open space.
Hours for the Memorial Museum are Monday through Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Entrance is free and I recommend about an hour to look at all of the items and read all of the plaques outside.
3. Historic Home Tours
Gonzales has lovely historic homes. Contact the Gonzales Chamber of Commerce for tour info.
4. Pioneer Village Living History Museum
Pioneer Village is an open-air living history museum. It boasts a collection of 1800s and early 1900s era houses and buildings from Gonzales County. Visitors strolling through The Village often feel as if they have just stepped into the same era as that of the original occupants of these buildings and that the inhabitants have merely stepped out for a while.
Each structure has been donated to Pioneer Village and has been carefully relocated to the grounds for its preservation. Most of the furnishings and equipment found within these structures were either loaned or donated to help represent the cultural lifestyle of the pioneers who settled this area. It gives great insight into what life used to be like before we had so many modern conveniences.
5. Palmetto State Park
Palmetto State Park is about 12 miles outside of Gonzales. It’s a little piece of the tropics in the Texas landscape. With multiple sources of water (including the San Marcos River), this is a haven for a wide variety of animals and plants. Look for dwarf palmettos, the park’s namesake, growing under the trees.
Palmetto State Park offers various camping options – check out their website for more info – and several fun hiking trails. We did two of the trails – the Ottine Swamp and the Mesquite Flats Trails – and they were listed in the park map as moderate. We were two adults and two seven-year-olds not really dressed for hardcore hiking and we did just fine. It was really beautiful and we loved the different scenery. We didn’t find it particularly strenuous.
One of my kids whined, “When are we going to be done?” about six trillion times, so if that makes this count as a challenging trail, then it was.
6. Texas Heroes Square
Texas Heroes Square is at the intersection of N. St Joseph Street and St. Lawrence Street. The square honors the men of Gonzales who fought in the Texas Revolution.
This is the hub of Gonzales. The town is very walkable and most everywhere you want to go is right around here. If you are visiting Gonzales for a day trip, there is ample parking in the square and you’ll be able to shop, eat, and see the sights, in addition to absorbing a little bit of Texas history.
Lodging and Dining in Gonzales, Texas
If you’re spending the night in Gonzales, I recommend the Dilworth Inn and Suites, a lovely boutique hotel right off the square in Gonzales. Most of what you’ll want to do in Gonzales is walkable from this location.
Of course, there are other places to stay in Gonzales. You can do a quick Google search or look on Trip Advisor for other accommodations but unless The Dilworth can’t meet your needs, this should be your first choice.
La Bella Tavola (right next to the Dilworth Inn) serves lunch and dinner. They offer basic Italian food and it’s delicious. The service is amazing. I recommend the baked manicotti. I wish I had a picture but I was too busy eating it. Cheesy goodness.
The Come and Take it Bar and Grill is directly across the street from La Bella Tavola. It’s a fun place to people-watch and get a drink or eat a really fun meal. They have a pizza oven where they make their pizzas. They have a a nice selection of burgers, sandwiches, steaks, and salads. I recommend the “Come and Take It” Burger.
Sweet B’s Dessert Boutique is a cute little bakery and ice cream shop on St. Joseph Street. They offer a fun selection of kitchen-related gifts, such as aprons, mugs and cake plates.