Gonzales, Texas, sits near a point that’s equidistant to Austin, San Antonio, and Houston.
So many don’t pay attention to it as they traverse the vast plains to travel around the three metropolitan areas.
What they don’t realize is that they’re missing a significant historical attraction where the first battle of the Texas Revolution occurred.
In addition, it’s one the best places to see well preserved historic homes, earning the Best Old House Neighborhoods recognition by an American publication.
But it’s not just history that you’ll see here, as the surrounding area is blessed with many natural features for outdoor adventures.
So if you’re planning a laid-back vacation to Texas, why not take a chance at this hidden wonder?
Here are the 15 best things to do in Gonzales, TX:
Marvel at the Beauty of the Gonzales County Courthouse
While you’re in Texas Heroes Square, you’ll see a massive structure beaconing to you amidst the tall trees.
This is the Gonzales County Courthouse, one of the most recognizable icons in Gonzales.
Thanks to its beautiful facade consisting of red brick and white limestone trim, the building gives off a regal aura that’s perfect for photography.
It has a Romanesque Revival style with whimsical details, the most prominent being the clock tower rising above the trees and dominating the landscape.
Because of its status, the courthouse has been listed as a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark and Registered National Historic Site.
Today, the courthouse stays true to its function as an administrative center for the city.
But tours are open to those who’d like to learn more about its history.
Play Sports at Independence Park
Separated by the Guadalupe River from J.B. Wells Park, the beautiful Independence Park stands in wait for enthusiastic visitors.
It cranks up the attraction you’d see in J.B. Wells Park by offering almost the same facilities plus a whole lot more.
These additional features come in the form of sporting facilities, with soccer and baseball fields, volleyball and basketball courts, and a swimming pool.
Don’t forget the public golf course with nine beautiful holes — perfect for a casual few rounds.
And like J.B. Wells Park, it has covered arenas and barns where rodeos and other horse-riding events take place.
One of the favorite attractions in the park is its water-side lookouts that showcase the gleaming Guadalupe River.
To reach these points, just follow the well-paved trail running along the park’s perimeter.
Learn the Local History at Gonzales Memorial Museum
To get an idea of just how much role Gonzales had in the history of Texas, visit the magnificent Gonzales Memorial Museum.
It's dedicated to the Immortal 32 who died in the Alamo, a team of heroes who helped defend the area during the Texas Revolution.
Their memorial is set outside, with a reflecting pool that complements the Art Deco architecture of the facility.
Within the museum, you'll find the “Come And Take It” cannon, which sparked the revolution.
This is one of the most enduring symbols of Texan liberty, so be sure to check out this iconic weapon.
It’s just one of the many artifacts and exhibits in the museum that highlight the rich and colorful history of the Lone Star State.
Catch a Show at J.B. Wells Park
The multipurpose J.B. Wells Park serves as a green space, arena, and events place where crowds from Gonzales and all over gather.
It’s located on the southernmost section of the city proper, covering an area of 169 acres.
Within the expansive complex are several buildings, such as a show barn and a covered arena hosting several events.
So come and watch rodeos, bull riding, barrel races, cutting horse events, and other activities that celebrate Western heritage.
Live music concerts, cattle sales, and tractor pulls also happen year-round.
If you weren’t able to catch one of the events during your visit, you can still enjoy the other amenities and attractions of the park.
These include many camping sites for RVs and a walking trail leading to a patch of thick woodlands.
Have a Picnic at Texas Heroes Square
The gorgeous Texas Heroes Square sits at the center of the city’s downtown, covering an area as large as a city block.
This green space serves as the starting point to the many attractions in the city, with nearby historic homes and beautiful parks.
While here, you can enjoy the open spaces surrounded by oak trees and a statue right in the middle of the property.
It’s a man that represents the heroic people who fought for Texas independence during the revolution.
Behind him is a tall flag pole, which carries either the Texan state flag, the US flag, or a white banner with the words “Come and Take It.”
It’s a great place to remember the state's history and how Gonzales played a major role in the early years.
And since the park is next to the bustling downtown, you can visit other commercial and retail establishments just by walking across the street.
Visit the Restaurants along Water Street
The lengthy Water Street spans most of downtown and past the busiest areas of Gonzales.
Thanks to easy accessibility to residents and travelers alike, the highway serves as the address to many of the city’s favorite restaurants.
So if you want a taste of savory Texan cuisine while in Gonzales, drive along Water Street and find the local dining establishments.
Matamoros Taco Hut is the hotspot for Mexican cuisine, offering beloved classics like tacos, enchiladas, and fajitas.
At Running M Bar & Grill, you can order Southern staples like casseroles, various types of grilled meat, and seafood dishes.
For a spot of Italian flavors, make a stop at La Bella Tavola Italian Grill & Pizza and get pasta, artisanal bread, and tasty slices of pizza.
Cruise the Waters of the Guadalupe River
The highly meandering Guadalupe River winds its way on the southernmost edges of Gonzales’ city proper.
It begins in Kerr County and runs for 230 miles before spilling into the Gulf of Mexico.
Along the way, it passes the great plains of the state, irrigating the agricultural lands and providing nutritious sediments.
The residents of Gonzales use the body of water as a recreational destination for various fun activities.
These include kayaking and rafting since there are some sections with turbulent rapids — so get ready for some splashes!
In addition, folks love to go fly and shore fishing, thanks to the abundance of freshwater species in the river.
These include Rio Grande perch, large and smallmouth bass, and rainbow trout.
So join a local charter or head to the banks with your hook and line!
Cool Down from Hot Days at Lions Park
For those traveling with kids, the exciting Lions Park is an excellent stopover during the summer days of Gonzales.
This neighborhood green space is a favorite destination for families since its easily accessible and filled with many amenities.
Among these attractions are four play structures surrounding a tall tree, so there’s plenty of space for kids to play and socialize.
They can also head to the splash pad, the park’s main feature.
It’s the perfect quick destination during summer, with its jets of cool water that help ward off the oppressive heat.
During the cooler hours, the kids can play on the vast, open fields that are made for various sports.
Make a Stopover at Eggleston House
Separated only by a small ditch from Lions Park, the quiet and cozy Eggleston House makes for a great stop after your trip to the park.
It’s a simple wooden home that pales in comparison to other houses in the neighborhood, but it holds a significant historical value as one of the first permanent type homes in the area.
It was built by Horace Eggleston using lumber from nearby forests and the Guadalupe River, thickly cut to protect from Native American attacks and intrusion of wild animals.
Aside from admiring the old property, you can visit the Eggleston House Children’s Garden, located west of the house.
It has several plots of earth where local kids learn how to grow and harvest their own food.
You children can check it out too and marvel at the work of kids their age.
Get a Glimpse of the Past at Pioneer Village Living History Center
If you want to experience life back in the early days of Texas, head over to the Pioneer Village Living History Center.
It’s an expansive property filled with old structures donated to the museum by locals.
Most of these have been around since the late 1800s to early 1900s, but they’ve all been furnished to look like what they were during their heydays.
These include homes, blacksmiths, schoolhouses, printing shops, and even an opera house.
Within these structures, you’ll find other artifacts like furniture, dining implements, historical documents, and lighting features before electricity was available.
The best time to visit the living history center is during the Come And Take It event in October, as the facility will hold live reenactments.
Have a Wild Adventure at Palmetto State Park
Far out from the city center lies a tranquil attraction offering thrilling adventures for the whole family: beautiful Palmetto State Park.
This 270-acre destination is named after the dwarf palmettos littered on the forest floor, creating a scenery that’s akin to a tropical forest.
Within the park, there’s a gorgeous lake where you can paddle a kayak or canoe.
But the more adventurous souls head to San Marcos River, which cleaves its way in the middle of the state park.
There are narrow segments with fast-flowing waters, making for an exhilarating whitewater rafting experience.
But if you don’t have rafting skills, you can hang out on the shallower banks and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere all around.
Escape the City Noise at Lake Wood Recreation Area
One section of the gleaming Guadalupe River opens up wide enough to create what could be called a small lake.
This body of water is called Lake Wood, and it’s the main feature of the scenic Lake Wood Recreation Area.
Located about five miles from the town proper, this attraction offers serenity and isolation from the busy city.
It covers an area of 35 acres and offers 24/7 security courtesy of the owners.
While here, you can enjoy picnicking on the vast grounds, exploring the trails, and camping on the many sites.
RV hookups and sites for primitive camping are just some of the many amenities available.
From this point, you can explore the more isolated sections of the Guadalupe River and try catching rare fish.
Check Out the Historic Homes Downtown
Gonzales has one of the highest concentrations of historical homes anywhere in the US, most of which are perfectly preserved.
To see them, you can start exploring from downtown, using the Texas Heroes Square as your starting point.
A few blocks out, you'll find the Gonzales Mansion, with beautiful columns and trimmings that look similar to the Gonzales County Courthouse.
Then there’s the J. B. Wells House, which has been around since the late 19th century.
Its white facade is unmistakable, and it has a stately aura owing to its intricate architecture.
Don’t forget to check out Belle Oaks Inn, which has been around since 1912.
It has thick columns and a bright, immaculate facade surrounded by verdant grounds.
Aside from being a sight to behold, this place can serve as your base while touring Gonzales as it offers accommodations.
Other Things to Do Nearby
After your adventures in Gonzales, why not check out these other attractions just a few minutes away?
Immerse in History at Luling Oil Museum
One of the nearest cities to Gonzales is Luling, which is just a twenty-minute drive from the location.
It’s a charming little community with a few attractions, including the interactive Luling Oil Museum.
Within the facility, you’ll find exhibits and collections that showcase Luling’s history and the Central Texas oil patch.
The oil boom was one of the biggest economic drivers in the city, and its influence is still felt and celebrated to this day at the facility.
So you’ll find replicas of oil field pump jacks, uniforms of oil field workers, photographs, and informative documents about the industry.
Go Hunting at Independence Ranch
Just 15 minutes away from Gonzales is one of the best wild hog hunting preserves in Texas, the rugged Independence Ranch.
The area is a post oak savanna forest owned by experienced hunters, offering all that you need for an exhilarating trip to the wilderness.
These include hunting training, safety training, comfortable lodging, hunting packages, and meat processing services.
And it’s not just wild pigs that you can hunt in the area, as there are also rams that come with hunting packages.
So if you want to experience the rush of adrenaline and bring home some tasty meats, add Independence Ranch to your itinerary.
Gonzales has a colorful past and many outdoor attractions that make it a worth-it destination in Texas.
With its museums, well-preserved homes, bodies of water, and community parks, the city creates the perfect conditions for fun outdoor adventures in and out of the locality.
Use this list as a reference when planning your itinerary so you won’t miss the top spots!