Ever find yourself longing to step back in time for a quiet getaway? Make plans for a trip to Jefferson, a pre-civil war town nestled in scenic east Texas.
From its charming historic restaurants and hotels, to breathtaking parks and beautiful Caddo lake, this darling place has something for everyone.
What to Do
Tour Caddo Lake // If you’re ready to soak in the ambiance and beauty of East Texas, book a tour of Caddo Lake! The lake is comprised of more than 26,000 acres of Bald Cypress trees, Spanish moss, wildlife, and beautiful scenery. Check the website to book a guided tour, schedule a photography tour, or simply to read more about the rich history of this lake.
Explore Historic Homes // One of the city’s most notable drawing points is the impressive variety of historic houses to tour. Most of these beautiful homes date back to the pre-Civil War era and have been carefully preserved to showcase the culture of their times and respective families. Check out the website for a list of dozens of historic homes available for tour.
Shop Downtown Jefferson // A stroll through downtown Jefferson feels like stepping back in time. You’ll want to carve out a morning or afternoon just to browse one of the many antique malls, pop into the general store, visit the flower market, or check out a few boutiques. Visit the site for a full directory of places to shop in Jefferson.
Visit a Museum or Historic Site // If you love history, Jefferson is definitely the place for you. The options are nearly endless, and include everything from Excelsior House Hotel, Jefferson Carnegie Library, Jefferson Historical Society Museum, and Scarlett O’Hardly’s Gone with the Wind Museum to the famous Howe Truss lighted bridge, Jay Gould’s private “Atlanta” rail car, and Jefferson Ordinance Confederate Magazine. Check out more historic landmarks and all the available tours in Jefferson.
Tour Historic Churches // Churches preserve much of the beauty and culture of an era, and Jefferson’s historic churches do not disappoint! You’ll want to take time to stop by one of the many beautiful churches available for tour, including Christ Episcipol Church, Cumberland Presbyterian, First United Methodist, and First Baptist Church. For a full list of historic churches available for tour, click here.
Walk Historic Jefferson // Feeling up for a stroll through Jefferson? Register for one of two historic walks through the town: the Historic Homes Walk, or the Historic Walk #2. Both walks begin and end at the Excelsior House Hotel. Prefer something on the spooky side? You might enjoy Jefferson’s infamous Ghost Walk, available every Friday and Saturday evening at 8:00 p.m.
Bike Through Jefferson // Prefer biking over walking? Great! Bring your bicycle and enjoy one of several bike trails that wind through the town, letting you enjoy all the historic spots. Take a peek at the bike trail maps here, or check out Bicycle Hill for an extra adventure!
Where to Eat
From diners and pubs to Mexican, Italian, and fresh seafood eateries, Jefferson’s food offerings are sure to satisfy both your appetite and your budget! Check out a full list of places to eat in Jefferson, or take a peek at a few of our featured restaurants below.
1852 on Austin // Want a romantic patio dinner? Need a music venue for a party? Or just want to pop in for a quick drink at the bar? Check out 1852 on Austin. Dinner and event reservations available on the website.
Austin Street Bistro // Located on historic Austin Street in downtown Jefferson, Austin Street Bistro prepares every meal on site with the freshest ingredients possible. Need an event catered? You’ve got it! Check out the site for details.
Bulldog Pizza // Craving pizza? Stop by Bulldog Pizza on East Broadway Street and treat yourself to everything from meat lover’s pizza or chicken Parmesan, to a variety of gluten-free options. Online ordering also available.
Don Juan’s Mexican Restaurant // If Tex-Mex is your jam, dine at Don Juan’s Mexican Restaurant on South Walcott Street. You might want to try one of the house specialties, like strip of sirloin or gulf shrimp and crab enchiladas; or enjoy one of the many lunch specials. The variety of kids’ meals offered makes this restaurant especially family-friendly.
Carriage House // Looking to make a special memory for an anniversary or other occasion? Dinner at The Carriage House is a must! This award-winning bed and breakfast is open for dinning every Friday and Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. Reservations and menu choices must be made in advance. See the website for details and to view current menu options.
Joseph’s Riverport BBQ // For those craving authentic Texas barbecue, it’s time to try Joseph’s Riverport BBQ! Listed by the Texas Monthly as one of the “top 50 BBQ joints in Texas,” Joseph’s is proud to serve only the freshest, handcrafted barbecue. While you’re there, feast on the Texas Trinity plate, try the popular chopped beef sandwich, or indulge in the house made swamp fries. Catering available!
Huddle House // The Huddle House, located on South Walcott Street, is proud to serve homestyle cooking to Jefferson residents and guests. At this family-friendly diner, you’ll find everything from breakfast and lunch deals to kids’ meals, $5 combos, and mouth-watering starters (fried pickles or jalapeño poppers, anyone?).
McGarity’s Restaurant and Saloon // From its home on West Dallas Street, McGarity’s Restaurant and Saloon serves a variety of freshly made American and Irish cuisine. Open seven days a week. Online orders and reservations are available.
Taste of Caddo // This relaxed eatery in downtown Jefferson is best known for its fish fillets and chicken fried steak, but Taste of Caddo also serves lots of Southern comfort food like juicy burgers and pinto beans. Bring the whole family out for a fresh meal and friendly service!
Where to Stay
Looking for a romantic getaway, a family vacation, or a weekend out with the girls? We’ve rounded up some of Jefferson’s best historic hotels and bed and breakfasts below. Here’s a complete list of places to stay in Jefferson.
Austin Street Cottages // Austin Street Cottages is home to three quaint, turn of the century vacation rentals: The Main Cottage (accommodates 4 to 5 guests, with a full kitchen and living room, bathroom and laundry room); The Rustic Retreat (accommodates three guests, with a kitchenette, bedroom, and living room); The Romantic Haven( for just two guests, with a bedroom, living room, and kitchenette). Enjoy amenities like high speed internet, access to a beautiful garden courtyard, complimentary snacks and beverages, and convenient, one block walking distance from downtown Jefferson. Children are welcomed guests! Please do not bring pets.
Azalea Inn // Dating back to 1873 and nestled within the historic district of Jefferson, the Azalea Inn boasts five richly furnished suites, a freshly made in-house breakfast each morning, a variety of amenities, and the convenience of being within walking distance of some of the city’s most loved sites. Children and pets are not allowed at this venue. Please visit the site for full details, photos of the rooms, and to read customer reviews.
Captain’s Castle // Treat yourself to a stay at the Captain’s Castle for a getaway you’ll never forget! This antebellum style bed and breakfast offers a variety of luxurious lodging, including The Main House (Sarah’s Room, Upstairs Room, and Captain’s Room); The Carriage House (Pecan Room, Caddo Room, and Lavendar Room); The Cottage (a spacious suite behind The Main House); and The Garden Room (a delightful venue available for weddings, teas, and other events). Children aged 12 and up are welcome; no pets please. Check out the site for lots of photos and full details.
The Excelsior House // The stately Excelsior House is the oldest hotel in Texas and has been welcoming travelers to Jefferson since 1858. The manor boasts fifteen guest rooms in total, located in the lavishly furnished Historic Wing and West Wing of the house. The charming Ruth Lester House, located just two blocks from The Excelsior House, is a perfect vacation spot for families! Check the website for rates, photos, and availability.
The Magnolias // Ready to relax in one of the oldest homes in Jefferson? Book your stay at The Magnolias, a beautiful historic site that dates back to 1867. This six bedroom, five bath house sprawls over 5,000 square feet and will comfortably accommodate up to sixteen guests. Guests will enjoy the beautifully furnished kitchen, comfortable living room, and relaxing patio/deck that overlooks the well kept grounds of The Magnolias. Please see site for full details, photos, and nightly rates. Families with children are welcomed! Small pets are permitted at this venue.
Steamboat Inn // Located on North Marshall Street, the Steamboat Inn is a family-owned and family-friendly bed and breakfast with lots of old-world charm and Southern hospitality. The inn boasts four richly furnished rooms: the Mittie Stephans Room (featuring French Quarters charm, accommodates up to three guests); the Magnolia Room (show casing the Lone Star State colors, up to three guests); the Victorian Garden Room (inspired by the historic Victorian era, hosts up to three guests); and the Green Room (reminiscent of Jefferson’s love of nature, accommodates two guests). Looking for a romantic getaway? Take a peek at the packages just for couples. Want to bring the whole family? Children and pets are welcome!
For more driving destination ideas, check out Fort Worth Moms “Guide to Road Trips from Fort Worth.”
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Kristy is a pastor’s wife, insanely busy mom of five, and a multitasking writer. Unless she’s lost in a pile of books, you’ll likely find her brainstorming at one of her niche blogs: Kristy’s Cottage, Good Pastor’s Wife, or Simply Good Reading. Kristy is also the resource director for Fort Worth Moms. When she’s not reading or writing, Kristy enjoys shopping, running, and watching British movies with her husband, Jeremy. You can find Kristy on Facebook and Instagram.