All Texans know that Texas isn’t just another state. It’s pretty much it’s own country, and after one trip across it you might argue it could be it’s own continent! Sometime last year I discovered that our home state has a huge list of internationally named Texas cities and towns! I mentioned this to the folks at Ford and they and my husband helped formulate a plan for a trip around the state, in the 2016 Ford Explorer.
While it took us over a year to actually plan and take the trip, I have to say, the wait was worth it. Our entire family enjoyed the 9 day adventure and now we can all say we’ve been to places like Italy, Egypt, and China!
First you have to understand that not every town on the list is going to hold an exciting adventure or attraction, and most of them won’t even have lodging options. Some of these stops are very small old towns that don’t even have a post office. But each one has a history and some kind of sign or monument to photograph for your memory books.
You may plan a little tighter than we did, but for this trip we decided to be spontaneous. We packed camping gear to camp where we could and other than a return date, our necessities and a list of towns we wanted to hit, we set out without reservations or deadlines. The idea was to stop wherever we wanted to, take the scenic roads whenever possible, and really explore our great state!
Because we knew we wouldn’t always reach a larger city by nightfall we decided ahead of time to visit some cities not on the list of internationally named Texas towns and to be OK with staying in a hotel or campground somewhere along the way. The first night we had hoped to camp on a lake shore, but got rained out, so that was a bummer, but we did manage to camp at Sea Rim State Park, just yards from the beach, on night two. We camped one other evening and slept in hotels the rest of the time due to the unusual heat Texas experienced the week of our trip!
We quickly discovered that information on some of these smaller towns was difficult to find, and as far we we could tell, no one had taken and documented a trip like this!
You’ll notice I’ve cited the Texas State Historical Association’s “Handbook of Texas” for every town. Even if you can’t make the trip, or you have to skip some towns along the way, it’s worth reading up on the history of each of these Internationally named Texas cities. You’ll learn a lot about our state and the people and towns who helped to shape the Lone Star State.
Once we’d come up with a list of places we wanted to visit, we realized that it just wouldn’t be feasible to squeaze them all into one trip. Texas is so big, and a few of these cities were far west and would take a couple of extra days just to include them. We didn’t have that much time. So, we kept to a nice loop we felt we could tackle in the 9 days we’d allowed for our trip.
If you’ve always wanted to see an Eiffel tower, but you just can’t make it to Paris, France, ours is the next best thing. In addition to being lit beautifully at night, it’s topped with a bright red cowboy hat. You can’t get much more Texan than that.
Other things to see and places to eat in Paris: The Jesus in Cowboy Boots monument at the Evergreen Cemetery, Statue of Pyro the Dragon, the old train depot turned Valley of the Caddo Museum & Cultural Center Inc., Sam Bell Maxey State Historic House, Red River Valley Veterans Memorial, Lamar County Historical Museum, Paris Community Theatre, 107 beer and wine garden, Jaxx Burgers, Perry’s Off the Square, The Paris Coffee Co., Dos Marias, and more!
This is one of those small Texas towns that won’t take long to explore, but if you have a little time you may find some hidden gems. My personal favorite is the little feed and farm store.
Read more about Bogata, TX at the Texas State Historical Association.
Famous for its annual Watermelon Festival, Naples, TX is a quaint little one-street town with its own newspaper, public library, fire department, and a host of little shops and stores. It is clean, active, and and absolutely beautiful experience. While it may be named for a city in Italy, you’ll enjoy the irony of its only restaurant being Mexican – Little Don Juans. (And it’s really really good!)
We spent our first night at a lovely hotel in Carthage, and watched the rain pour down outside. We went out for pizza at Milano’s and enjoyed fantastic service and a great pie. The next morning we took a drive around town and stumbled upon a very unique monument! The Footprints in the Sand Monument is HUGE and absolutely beautiful. The statue itself is a work of art by local artisan, Bob Harness, but the whole community pitched in to build this monument and it is not to be missed.
The first thing you notice about New London, TX is the school campus is larger than the town itself. It seems to be the area school for all grades, and kids are brought in from surrounding communities. The second thing you’ll notice is the large memorial in the middle of the highway. This stands to remember the 1937 New London School Explosion and is well worth your time to visit. It is a potent reminder of the fragility of life. Once you’ve read the plaques you’ll see the entire campus as a memorial that honors the 298 lives lost in the incident.
Read more about New London, TX.
Not to be confused with China Grove, TX, (which we also visited) China, TX is a suburb of Houston. It’s a small agriculture and oil town without much ado.
While not a town or city, Bolivar Peninsula is named for South American hero Simon Bolivar who was the leader of the fight to free South and Central America from Spanish rule. Bolivar is also knowns as the liberator of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Panama. Simon Bolivar was the founder and first President of Bolivia.
While every bit as beautiful (maybe more so!) than Galveston it seems less commercially developed. There are miles and miles of clean beautiful beaches and beach homes, but not a lot of tourist attractions which makes for a very peaceful and beautiful drive. There’s also a historic lighthouse at Bolivar Point! Decommissioned in 1933 after 61 years of service, this beauty lit the way for thousands of mariners.
Another not-town with an international name that we just happened upon while driving!
Read more about Jamaica Beach at the Texas State Historical Association.
The city of Liverpool has big green welcome signs and a bright blue post office the size of a dollhouse. The end. 🙂
Located near a branch of the Colorado river, in some of the most beautiful country lies the small township of Egypt, TX. There’s not much more than a post office now, but it’s worth a visit just to check out the historical markers. We didn’t know ahead of time that only scheduled group tours are given of the Egypt Plantation or we would have loved to tour that!
This was my favorite town of all! The entire country side was dotted in windmills and the ranches, roads, and establishments had german names. It was like a tiny piece of Germany came to Texas! We didn’t visit the Brietzke Station, but I would love to go back and do that! Honestly, I’d move to New Berlin if I could. Of course if I did that I might tip the scales and bring the population up over the last census count of 188.
Our family really enjoyed the Discovery Tour of the Natural Bridge Caverns and our drive through the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch! While at the caverns the kids also did a gem mining and came home with some shiny new rocks.
This is a gem we found quite by accident! Just driving along and my husband saw the sign and made a sharp right. Within a few minutes we were driving through another small town in Texas. Florence has a great veteran’s memorial on the edge of town and smallest police headquarters I’ve ever seen.
Ireland, TX wins the prize for the smallest ‘town’ in Texas. It’s literally 3 old buildings that sit on, or just off the intersection of FM 932 and 182. Boasting a population of 60, Ireland was originally a stop on the Stephenville North and South Texas Railway and the station is one of the 3 buildings you’ll find on your grand tour.
Read more about Ireland, TX.
Every Texan knows the best sodas in the world are bottled at the Dublin Bottling Works. While Dublin stopped bottling Dr Pepper a year or two ago, they still have a large selection of unique and scrumptious flavors to choose from. The bottling plant and museum make for a fun tour, and you can even get lunch at the museum. Dublin is home to several cool museums, cabins, and memorials. Just down the road from Ireland, TX, Dublin is a must-stop for any Texan!
I grew up in Waco, and we passed Italy, TX on a regular basis. My siblings and I would always look for Bruco, the huge caterpillar made from stucco covered monolithic domes. What I’d always missed tho was the other-wordly structure known as the Starship Pegasus. On this trip we got to see them both.
Located just 15 miles west of Athens, TX, Trinidad is another town we happened upon by accident. Originally a railroad town that remained small until the 1920’s brought industry to town. The last census reported just over 1,000 residents.
This goes down in the books as one of my favorite stops on our trip. Having been a fan of old steam and diesel trains since I was a kid, I was excited to ride the rails from Palestine to Rusk and back on the Texas State Railroad. If you ever have a few hours, I highly recommend the open-air cars in early fall.
You should also take a drive through their historic downtown. The architecture varies greatly and there are several unique art installations. We’ll be back for sure!
I’ve heard that when in Athens you should check out the Texas Parks and Wildlife’s fisheries, but we didn’t have time on this trip. Another attraction we missed was the botanical garden which has some really good online reviews. I’m glad we live close enough to Athens to make a weekend trip to visit again soon!
So, we had Moscow on the list, but took a different route by accident and missed it! The rest of these towns are way out west and we’ll have to visit them at a later time. I’ve never been to west Texas, so I’m looking forward to another road trip!
It seems the only real attraction in Moscow is an old dinosaur gardens. I know my kids would have loved this, but we missed it! I’m seeing some reports that the dinosaurs were moved to Granbury, TX, but I can’t find enough information to know if this is correct.
Read more about Athens, TX.
Home to Bob Willis, King of Country Swing, Turkey, TX hosts “Bob Willis Day” every April. I really want to go spend a weekend in Turkey, at the Hotel Turkey, and visit the many canyons and parks in the area. The Day Tripper makes Turkey sound like such an exciting place!
Read more about Turkey, TX.
When we visit Turkey, TX we absolutely have to spend a day in Canadian, TX! I want to see Aud the dinosaur, visit the Canadian River Walking Bridge, and I know my husband would be crazy about the Centennial Park 9-hole disc golf course.
I want to give a huge shoutout to my friends at Ford for loaning us the 2016 Ford Explorer Platinum for this trip. It was a great road trip vehicle and served us well. I’ll have a full review on the Explorer coming soon and will update this post with a link to that review as soon as I publish it!