Those who drive through Bastrop on Highway 71 won’t get the sense of Bastrop’s small-town charm. But take the Chestnut Street exit and you’re driving alongside an old iron bridge and straight into Main Street U.S.A. Experience a bygone era — with eating and shopping options as close as a minute’s walk. During November’s Veterans Day car show, the streets are lined with classic cars.
The Norman Rockwell feel of Main Street extends beyond architecture to include 14 downtown restaurants including hometown friendly places like Maxine’s on Main, known for its pie and other great comfort food.
The building that’s currently known as Lock Drug has been the site of a drug store since 1905, but there’s been a building at the spot (which has an official Texas historical marker) since 1855. There’s still an old-fashioned soda counter where locals and tourists alike can get ice cream and sodas in a variety of flavors.
Take a short walk behind Main Street for more shops, restaurants and Bastrop’s own river walk. Fisherman’s Park, along the banks of the Colorado River, is just beyond the bridge and hosts annual Fourth of July fireworks over the river, with the Austin Symphonic Band playing John Philip Sousa.
There’s a significant art community in Bastrop County, and the Bastrop Fine Arts Guild is a collective of area artists who maintain a space on Main Street. The gallery features local artworks, viewable from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The Bastrop Fine Arts Guild also promotes the First Friday Art Walk, which takes place downtown the first Friday of each month from 6-8 p.m., involving a number of downtown businesses.
Jessica Miller, an art restorer owns White Morpha Fine Art Restoration & Gallery — home to some surprising artworks with intriguing backstories on how they made their way to Bastrop from all over the world. As someone who recently moved to Bastrop from Austin, she recommends visitors stay a full week to appreciate the town’s character and charm.
The Bastrop Opera House, erected in 1889, is now owned by the non-profit Bastrop Opera House, Inc., which manages its historic restoration. Recognized by the National Register of Historic Places and the Texas Historical Commission for its significance in Texas history, it continues to present live theater. Despite being the smallest participating theater in terms of local population, it has done well at competitions like the Texas Non-Profit Theater Festival.