Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Gatesville, TX

  • Published 2022/04/22

How long has it been since your last vacation?

It’s time to start planning your next adventure with the family.

If you haven’t decided where to go next, why not choose Gatesville, TX, conveniently located some 80 miles north of Austin, Texas?

Gatesville is the county seat of Coryell County and is included in the Killeen – Temple metropolitan area.

Unlike many other places in the US, the area around Gatesville was previously owned by one man—Richard G. Grant.

After Coryell County was established in 1854, Grant himself donated the land, and this was where the government organized the community of Gatesville, whose name was taken from nearby Fort Gates.

This city offers a variety of sights and activities, perfect for the entire family.

It’s a must to witness the annual Prison Boss Cookoff, a fundraiser for the Correctional Peace Officers Foundation that started in 2000.

The Coryell County Museum features the Loyd and Madge Mitchell Collection, which consists of 10,000 pairs of spurs—known to be the world’s largest collection.

This is why in 2001, the 77th Texas Legislature declared Gatesville as the ‘Spur Capital of Texas.’

Ready to plan your trip?

Make sure to include these 15 best things to do in Gatesville, TX.

Admire the Centuries-Old Coryell County Courthouse

Exterior of Coryell County Courthouse

Steve Jordan /

Why do you need to make a stop at the Coryell County Courthouse?

It’s because it’s a centuries-old building, built from 1897 to 1898 and located at Courthouse Square in Gatesville.

The courthouse is also recognized as one of the state’s most beautiful courthouse buildings, with dozens of tourists taking pictures of it.

When you come here, you might notice that some of the streets around it are blocked due to festivals and celebrations.

Side view exterior of Coryell County Courthouse

Larry D. Moore, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

See for yourself the beauty of the Veterans Plaza, situated on the courthouse lawn, that serves as the backdrop for many patriotic gatherings year after year.

In 1977, the Coryell County Courthouse made it to the National Register of Historic Places.

Also, it commemorated the 100th anniversary of the completion of the courthouse in 1998, with a historical marker erected on the lawn.

See the Story of Gatesville through the Gatesville Mural

Most stories are told through literature or shown in museums.

In Gatesville, one of the ways to learn about their story is through the Gatesville Mural, located on the Gatesville Printing Building’s side at 9th and Main Street, specifically on the North Side of Main Street.

Here, you can see the stories of people and places throughout the history of Coryell County.

The massive mural depicts its beginnings up to the modern-day industries in the county, which is a unique way to learn more about a new place.

If this is not enough, you can visit the Coryell Museum Gift Shop to buy the booklet that explains the images on the mural and expands their stories.

This stop is a unique and great way to start your excursion around Gatesville.

Take a Closer Look at the History of Coryell County at the Coryell Museum and Historical Center

Coryell County boasts deep history, which you can see and understand when you visit the Coryell Museum and Historical Center.

Located on Main Street, this historical center houses the world’s largest spur collection.

Go around and admire the many artifacts that tell the stories of not just the early settlement in Central Texas but also its development.

The museum aims to promote public education and research through its ever-growing collections.

While here, don’t just visit the exhibits but also attend the different events sponsored by the museum and take advantage of museum educational programs.

The First Christian Church, situated in the 900 block of East Leon Street, is operated by the Coryell Museum and Historical Center.

This church is a popular wedding venue for the locals.

Enjoy a Unique Movie Experience at the Last Drive-in Picture Show

Surely, you can enjoy watching a movie anywhere—from your smartphone even.

But why not experience something more unique, something traditional yet extraordinary?

The Last Drive-in Picture Show is where you should take your family on a movie date.

Located at 2912 TX-36, between Austin and Dallas, you can come here anytime, seven nights a week.

This place, one of the oldest drive-in theaters in Texas, features a twin-screen drive-in theatre.

It opened in 1950 with the name Circle S.

After going through several name changes, it finally became the Last Drive-in Picture Show in 1989.

Sometimes, it’s also called ‘MoPed’ because it has both a drive-in and a walk-in cinema, with the latter added in 1972.

Though they have been showing movies for the past 40 or more years, they do not show R-rated movies here, making it the best place for family quality time.

Explore the Services and Collections of the Gatesville Public Library

Gatesville prides itself in having its own library.

It’s not just any ordinary library as it houses a collection of 46,550 volumes and circulates 77,972 items each year.

The library offers a variety of services not only to the people in Gatesville but also to other communities as well.

Aside from traditional library services, it also has free internet service, downloadable audio and ebooks, interlibrary loan, video conferencing capabilities through Skype, and wireless connections for personal devices.

Apparently, the Gatesville citizens put a lot of value on their library that they also created the Friends of the Library, an organization formed in 1961.

This group believes that ‘a good public library is important to the growth and development of a community.’

Take the Family on a Day Out to the Faunt Le Roy Park

Surely, going to a park is one of the things that you shouldn’t miss doing during your vacation in Gatesville.

Faunt Le Roy Park is a highly-recommended spot because of its amenities, activities, and bonding opportunities.

Located on 7th St., this Gatesville-owned and operated park features picnic tables, restrooms, bbq grills, and playgrounds for everyone.

While you prepare your lunch, you can let the kids enjoy the facilities.

And if you are coming here in an RV, the park is the perfect choice because you can hook your vehicle up to water and electricity, and sewer for a fee.

Tee at the Gatesville Country Club

Discover Texas’ gem—the 18-hole Gatesville Country Club.

You’ll be delighted to see this scenic little course that features elevated tees and lots of greens.

The front nine holes have tree-lined fairways, while the back nine takes the design of a canyon and water put together on seven holes.

Located on Golf Course Rd, it opened in 1955 and is open year-round, with golf cart rentals, rental clubs, and a driving range.

After a good round, you and your friends can proceed to the clubhouse, where a wide selection of breakfast, lunch, and dinner await you.

Try Your Hand at Shooting at the Hicksville Gun Range

The Hicksville Gun Range is one of the most visited attractions in Gatesville.

If you are a shooting enthusiast, a pro shooter, or someone who is just about to hold a gun for the first time, this gun range is the perfect place.

Beginners can take advantage of the range’s learning classes, where you can learn the strategies and techniques of shooting.

One of the best things about this place is that it takes care of your gun, bullets, and shooting stand.

So, all you have to do is pull the trigger!

Thanks to its massive area of 200 acres, you can choose the distance you want from your target.

If you’re a skillful shooter already, you can access the Shotgun, wherein you can choose the gun you want to use based on your shooting preferences.

Make sure to also visit the skeet range for a fun session of clay shooting.

Taste One of the Best Steaks at the Rancher’s Steakhouse and Grill

Are you craving a juicy and delicious steak?

The Rancher’s Steakhouse and Grill will surely make your taste buds tingle!

This restaurant is independent and family-run and has been in the business since 1967, having made itself known for its superb catfish and chicken dishes but more for its tender and juicy steaks.

Many locals and visitors choose the place for their socializing, wining, and dining needs.

Whether you come alone, with your family, or with a large group, waiting shouldn’t be a problem because the restaurant can accommodate up to 200 people!

Once in the restaurant, make sure to approach their 14-foot salad bar that brims with endless options.

It’s included in every dinner, but you can also make it a meal on its own.

That’s not all because no meal is ever complete without desserts.

Here at Rancher’s Steakhouse and Grill, you can choose from their wide variety of homemade desserts for your after-meal or for take-home.

Devour the Famous Texan BBQ at the Bare Bones BBQ

Texas has always been known for its excellent BBQ.

So, while you’re here, indulge and visit BBQ heaven—Bare Bones BBQ.

Opened in 2015, this place is everything you can imagine and ever want in a BBQ place—a cozy ambiance, delicious food, and great prices.

Your discriminating taste will surely have a feast just by looking at the menu—sandwiches, burgers, wraps, and everything in between.

Not only that, but Bare Bones also has the Bone Yard—the newest music venue for their customers.

Located just at the back of the main restaurant, it’s the place where you can enjoy great food, good music, and fun entertainment for all ages!

Enjoy Market Day with the Locals at the Freedom Park Farmers Market

One of the best ways to immerse yourself in a new place is to visit the farmers’ market and be one with the locals.

Freedom Park Farmers Market lets you experience this as it welcomes locals and visitors to its location on the corner of Veteran’s Memorial Loop and Hwy 84.

The scenery is a delight to the senses—busy locals going about their day and vendors lined up with their colorful produce.

It’s the place where awesome people and cool stuff meet, so make sure to come by the Freedom Park Farmers Market.

Stay at the Shining Star RV Park

Coming to Gatesville in an RV?

No problem!

The Shining Star RV Park is the perfect place to park your vehicle safely.

Complete with electricity, water, and sewer facilities, you won’t have to worry about anything, except having fun, that is!

Just around the area on South Highway 36, you can find fun activities you can do with your family, including boating, kayaking, and even fishing at Lake Belton, which is situated just 7 miles away.

And if you want to visit Magnolia Farms, it’s a short drive to Waco.

Here at Shining Star RV, you can have the convenience of having laundry services, shower facilities, restroom, trash services, and wifi connection.

See Beauty around Every Corner at the Peacock River Ranch

When in Texas, it’s always imperative to bring the entire family for a day of fun outdoor exploration at the Peacock River Ranch.

This working family farm, situated on South St, boasts walking paths, wildlife, and stunning scenery.

Explore this 32-acre property and experience what it is to stay on a rustic and idyllic farm, complete with river bottom views, a rustic barn, and charming buildings.

This is your chance to spot a Texas Longhorn cattle, so make sure to get that camera always handy and ready to click.

Enjoy boating on the river, watch the sunset, and be in the midst of beautiful lilac-colored flowers.

Truly, the Peacock River Ranch is every photographer’s dream destination.

Feed the Fried Chicken Lover in You at Bush’s Chicken

Love fried chicken?

Even for that, Gatesville has got the perfect place for you.

Bush’s Chicken boasts delicious fried chicken every time, creating a marinated, superior product that everyone in the family will surely love.

Serving chicken, tenders, and tea, it guarantees that you will come back for more.

More and more locals and visitors come to Bush’s Chicken not just for its delectable menu but also for its comfortable atmosphere, quick service, and the best dine-in experience.

So, if the kids are craving chicken and sweet tea, you know where to go!

Get Spooked by Visiting the Ward House

Are you in for a spooky house tour?

Go to the Ward House located at 1911 FM929 and explore the house that is said to be haunted.

Owned by Janet Ward and her daughter, the house was built in 1874 and is said to be infested with spirits.

If you’re up for the challenge, you can go on a house tour and see if you can experience weird noises, hear sounds of slamming doors and heavy footsteps, and see shadowy figures.

Take the leap or bail?

Final Thoughts

Whenever you’re in Texas, do make sure to visit Gatesville.

Its unique offerings and colorful history will make you appreciate this place.

It’s also accessible from Austin and is surrounded by various activities perfect for the entire family.

See you there!

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