Texas: It's like a whole other country. That's why even the two-stoplight towns have grand ambitions and grander names. No need to book an around-the-world ticket — you can find more than seven wonders in our big backyard.
Leaving out the misspelled appropriations (like Rhome, Bogata, and Edinburg), the towns that are more well-known in Texas than their worldly counterparts (meaning Odessa — even though the Ukranian city has over 10 times the population), and the places that are just too boring to even joke about (sorry, Naples), a traveler can still see the great cities without crossing the state lines.
Known as "the second-largest Paris in the world" and lying 100 miles from Dallas, this Paris has a quaint historic downtown (the city was founded in 1824, but rebuilt with flair after a fire in 1916) and, yes, its own 65-foot Eiffel Tower. (When Paris, Tennessee tried to one-up them in 1998 by building a 70-foot replica, the Texas Paris put a giant red cowboy hat on top to stay the tallest Eiffel Tower in North America. Obviously no one told Tennessee not to mess with Texas.)
For a town of 25,000, the architecture is sublime: Paris has two historic mansions on the National Register of Historic Places — the Scott Roden Home, designed by German J.L. Wees and built in 1910; and the William Bedford Wise House, built in 1887; as well as the Sam Bell Maxey House, a State Historic Site.
The town's claim to fame is the Wim Wenders film Paris, Texas, which won the Palm d'Or for Best Film at Cannes in 1984. However none of the movie takes place in or was filmed in Paris.
It may call itself "the Irish capital of Texas" but for small but fervent community, Dublin is synonymous with Dr. Pepper. The town of less than 4,000 near Waco is the home of the oldest Dr. Pepper bottling plant in the world and the source of the famous "Dublin Dr. Pepper" made with Imperial sugar rather than corn syrup that purists would drive for miles to get their hands on.
(Distribution of Dublin Dr. Peppers used to be limited to a 40-mile radius of the factory, but the bottles can now be found on the internet and all over Texas — if you look.) So ingrained in the soda in the community that for a week in June every year, Dublin changes it's name to Dr. Pepper, Texas, to celebrate the birthday of the drink. And of course, the town couldn't call itself Irish without a St. Patrick's Day festival.
According to city lore, Mrs. Dull Averiette named the city of Athens in honor of its Greek counterpart in hopes the town would become a cultural center. These days the town, 75 miles southwest of Dallas with a population around 11,000, is known for its great outdoors. Lake Athens is where many prominent Dallasites keep a second house, with its plentiful fishing, rolling hills, bike trails, golf courses, an arboretum, a winery, and a scuba park.
And burger fans, take note: Athens claims the title of "Original Home of the Hamburger," with native son "Uncle Fletch" Davis known to hawk the newfangled sandwiches made of a ground beef patty between two slices of fresh homemade bread, garnished with ground mustard mixed with mayonnaise, a big slice of Bermuda onion, and sliced cucumber pickles at his lunch counter downtown as far back as the 1880s, and sharing it with the world by presenting the hamburger at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis.
Sound like a tall tale? The story is backed by curriculum at McDonald's University.
Like its namesake, the Texas Palestine is a land of the past. (And yes, the original Palestine is not a city but a country/region, but we still like to count it.) In Texas, Palestine is second only to Galveston in historic structures —think picturesque Victorian houses and gardens. Palestine is also the terminus for the Texas State Railroad, an antique steam engine that cuts through the piney woods of East Texas, and its Davey Dogwood Park, with 200 acres of trails, attracts crowds as the white flowers blossom every spring.
And suiting for a town that parties like it's 1899, Palestine is a great center for antiques.