This little town 70 miles southwest of Dallas exudes charm. Wine bars, candy stores, and mom-and-pop restaurants line a historic town square. Nearby, sunbathers and swimmers frolic at a city beach, and visitors hop aboard a free trolley that circles the town on weekends. Every summer, thousands fill the square for an old-fashioned Fourth of July festival and parade. Granbury’s secret is definitely out. USA Today has named the city the No. 1 historic small town three years in a row. No argument from us.
7 Things to Do in Granbury
Learn about the town’s rough-and-tumble history. For example, some historians believe John Wilkes Booth fled here after assassinating President Abraham Lincoln and tended bar under the alias John St. Helen. That bar is now St. Helen’s, a gift shop in the town square. The Granbury Cemetery is even the disputed site of Wild West outlaw Jesse James’ grave. According to local legend, James hid out in Granbury until dying of natural causes at age 103. A large granite headstone inscribed “Jesse Woodson James” draws the curious.
119 E. Bridge St., 817-559-0849
A sandy beach lies just a short walk from Historic Granbury Square. It’s part of Lake Granbury, one of three lakes formed by damming the Brazos River. Arrive early to grab a spot beneath a thatched roof pavilion. Play sand volleyball, take a swim, or rent kayaks and paddleboards in the summer. Admission is free.
505 E. Pearl St.
Craft ice cream, milkshakes, malts, and floats are on the menu, along with boozy concoctions, such as the Texas Armadillo Shake: amaretto liqueur with Texas honey and whiskey
124 N. Houston St. 817-964-3555
On Saturdays, the brewery opens for food and live music. For $15, you’ll get six 8-ounce pours. Try the flagship beer, Blood and Honey, or one of the newer brews, like Y’all’s Bock.
5650 Matlock Rd. 817-736-8034
This theater, which opened in 1952, is one of the longest continuously running drive-in operations in Texas. Moviegoers can buy snacks from the original concession stand, where the old popcorn machine still pops.
1800 W. Pearl St. 817-573-1311
This little shop is a full-production winery, where visitors can create custom blends with select grape varietals and oak barrels, and then make and print their own labels. For those feeling less adventurous, D’Vine also serves its own wine and a small menu of hors d’oeuvres.
107 E. Bridge St. 817-573-7200
This public museum, created by three collectors, opened with 600 dolls about a decade ago and has since amassed 6,000. Dolls include celebrity lookalikes of Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, as well as U.S. presidents and first ladies.
421 E. Bridge St. 817-894-5194