Some people might think, oh, when you’ve seen one East Texas Town, you’ve seen them all. Au contraire. All towns have a distinct personality! And while there’s no doubt that Small Town America seems to be disappearing into our collective rear view mirrors, there’s one Deep East Texas Town that is still serving up a TON of charm! Welcome to Jefferson, Texas.
This post was written in collaboration with Visit Jefferson, Texas. All opinions are my own!
An East Texas Town with Charm Galore!
Y’all, I’m no stranger to several East Texas Cities. I know where to find the best Strawberry Cake on the planet, and I know how to junk like a pro at First Monday Trade Days.
My husband’s family is from East Texas, and my family has property in East Texas too.
When I graduated from college, and needed to outfit my first apartment, my mother suggested we do a little antiquing and furniture hunting in Jefferson, Texas. Honestly, I had never been back to Jefferson until recently. And y’all, this Deep East Texas town is ADORABLE!
Things to Do in Jefferson, Texas
Whether you are interested in history, shopping, nature, or simply relaxing, there’s so much to do in Jefferson! Two full days might not be enough time to completely experience all the fun activities Jefferson has to offer! Here’s what Will and I particularly enjoyed experiencing:
- Jefferson Historical Society and Museum: Originally an 1890’s Federal Courthouse, this museum is CRAMMED with amazing Deep East Texas artifacts. My favorite things? A dress worn by Lady Bird Johnson, who lived in Jefferson, a bronze bell from a riverboat, and an amazing collection of Milligan Frazier clay pottery.
- The RD Moses Texas & Pacific Model Railroad: This amazing 1950’s model train set is housed in its own building behind the Jefferson Historical Society and Museum. The docents are absolutely darling!!!!
- Scarlett O’Hardy’s Gone With the Wind Museum: Y’all, I didn’t think I’d be able to drag Will out of this jaw-dropping museum. 1700 square feet of every kind of Gone with the Wind memorabilia you can imagine. Collector, Bobby Hardy, and Will, really hit it off. Collectors really “get” other collectors. And this collection is ah-maz-ing. A must see!
- The Atalanta, Jay Gould’s Private Railroad Car: Built in 1888, this luxurious railcar was Jay Gould’s traveling office. Long story short, it was left abandoned in a field near Kilgore, Texas. It was rescued by the Ladies of the Jessie Allen Wise Garden Club, who own and maintain this gorgeous railcar today.
For the Nature Lovers
- Jefferson is in Deep East Texas, and sits on the banks of the Big Cypress Bayou. Captain John Nance, a local historian, operates Jefferson Turning Basin Bayou Tours. Will and I were not able to board his riverboat and tour during our visit, but I can assure that when we return, this experience is at the TOP of our list. Captain John is also a collector, so I’ll have to make sure Will asks him “collecting questions” AFTER we take the tour…or we might never leave the dock!
- If you want to get a little closer to the water, Made in the Shade, a local boutique, gift shop and live music venue, rents kayaks and canoes. I’m not gonna lie….I won many awards at summer camp for my canoe navigating prowess, soooo….you might want to ride with me! Just sayin’. Make reservations by sending them a message on Facebook.
- As I mentioned, I was first introduced to Jefferson in the 1990’s for their antique shops. Today, there are still dozens of antique and vintage shops. We did not have time to go into all of them, which we will remedy when we go back. We did pop into a few, and I scored the BEST Vintage Christmas Blow Molds at Braden & Company. Will was excited to find a few antique photo ID badges at Caddo Mercantile. They also had an amazing UFO shaped disco globe, which I really wanted to take home. Just need the right place for it!!!
- There’s tons of shopping in Jefferson that does not involve antiques! We loved stopping into The Willow Tree Boutique, as well as Enoch’s Wine & Coffee House. I purchased two great bottles of Texas wine. And, oh by the way, Enoch’s Stomp (their label) is winning International Awards! They operate an 89 acre vineyard near Jefferson, complete with tasting opportunities and a restaurant. I’m pretty sure I need to gather some girlfriends, and we all need to do some serious recon work…like maybe a weekend’s worth.
Where to Eat in Jefferson
- The kind folks in Jefferson have no intention of leaving anyone hungry. Looking for excellent BBQ? Riverport Bar-B-Cue is delicious. I mean….delicious! The folks at Texas Monthly agree, and have featured this restaurant many times!
- If fine dining is more your speed, the Stillwater Inn is a lovely restaurant housed in an old Victorian home! We met the owner and Head Chef, Bill Stewart, whose long-time love of the culinary arts includes time spent working for the French Room in Dallas. Not too shabby!!!!
- Feeling nostalgic? Dreaming of candies and soda pops from your youth? The Jefferson General Store is a feast for your tummy AND your eyes.
Where to Stay in Jefferson
- There are historic hotels in Jefferson. Most widely known is the Excelsior House Hotel, which, like Jay Gould’s Railcar, is owned and managed by the Ladies of the Jessie Allen Wise Garden Club. In operation since 1858, one of the Suites is furnished with antique pieces provided by Lady Bird Johnson!
- The major overnight accommodation attraction in Jefferson are the dozens of Bed & Breakfast establishments. While we did not spend the night, we did pop into a few, and drove by several others. Every B&B is unique, and part of the charm of Jefferson! I might mention that many (or even most) B&B’s do not allow children.
Other Tips for Visiting Jefferson, Texas
- Jefferson hosts dozens of special events throughout the year, including a Candlelight Tour of Homes during the Christmas Holidays, a Mardi Gras parade and celebration, a historic Ghost Walk Tour, music and arts festivals. Y’all…this East Texas Town has a TON going on! And it’s all FUN!
- I think it’s interesting that Jefferson boasts one of the few surviving libraries endowed by Andrew Carnegie. At one time there were 34 Carnegie Libraries in Texas.
- Jefferson is one hour west of Shreveport, and about two-and-a-half hours east of Dallas.
- Weekends are busy, so book your overnight accommodations well in advance!
I highly recommend Jefferson for an Empty-Nester getaway, an adults-only weekend, or an AMAZING location for a girl’s trip! Will and I met so many really lovely people, so be sure and tell them the Curious Cowgirl and Will sent you! We might even bump into each other, because I can assure you Will and I are planning a trip back!
A sincere thank you for the warm hospitality of Visit Jefferson!