Looking for a bit of nostalgia in your next close-to-home travel destination? Savvy Texas travelers know that nothing beats Georgetown, just north of Austin.
In addition to the historic district containing 46 Victorian structures on the National Register of Historic Places, this tidy community boasts the most beautiful town square in Texas. Georgetown has lots of options for eating, drinking, shopping, and exploring.
Filled with green spaces, Georgetown is also the second city in the United States to be supplied by green power. Already about 75 percent of the way there, the city will be fully run on solar and wind energy by 2017. With nearly nine miles of hike-and-bike trails along the San Gabriel River, including a 1.6-mile granite trail that loops around San Gabriel Park, Georgetown keeps outdoors lovers happy.
Didn't bring your bicycle? The city offers a bike-sharing program that allows you to check out a bike to explore the trails and town — and it's completely free.
If your four-legged friend is with you, check out the dog-friendly, pecan tree-shaded Bark Park or the 300-acre Berry Springs Park and Preserve. During hot months, cool down at Blue Hole (a scenic lagoon on the South Fork San Gabriel River), the downtown splash pad and pool (kids love it and it’s free), or get out on Lake Georgetown with a kayak or paddle board.
Kids of all ages are intrigued by Inner Space Cavern, one of the best preserved caves in Texas and one of the few places where prehistoric remains are found. Hidden for 10,000 years, the cavern has been constantly changing, allowing for spectacular displays and breathtakingly beautiful formations.
The Georgetown Challenge Course is also a fun way to spend time as a family. It’s a year-round team course consisting of low obstacles, 22 new and exciting high elements (including parallel zip lines), and two climbing walls.
The vibrant cultural scene includes the historic Georgetown Palace Theatre, a renovated movie house now offering live theater productions year-round; the Williamson Museum with free hands-on exhibits and tours; and the Georgetown Art Center, a transformed fire station that's home to innovative art exhibits and programs such as group painting nights, various public classes, and open studio sessions.
You can also immerse yourself in art just by strolling around and appreciating the various public sculptures and artwork around town. This self-guided tour includes pieces along Main Street, San Gabriel Park, and the Georgetown Public Library.
In addition to having the most charming town square, Georgetown is also known as the “red poppy capital of Texas.” The city is one of the few places in the United States where red poppies grow naturally every spring, celebrated annually at the free Red Poppy Festival.
On the first Friday of every month, merchants in the town square stay open late for evening shopping and gallery hopping, with live music and other special events. In the summer, enjoy live music at the courthouse for the Music on the Square Summer Concert Series. All concerts are free and take place from 6:30 to 8:30 pm on Fridays in June, July, and August. Bring your chairs or blanket, and perhaps pick up dinner at a local restaurant to take with you.