16 Best Things to Do in Rockdale, TX

Rockdale, TX
konstantinks / iStock.com

Rockdale is a city in Milam County, Texas, established in 1878.

The town of Rockdale got its name from a massive rock 12 feet tall and 20 feet wide.

The arrival of the International-Great Northern Railroad in 1873 sparked the town's growth.

Alcoa, an aluminum smelting plant, made the region a hub of activity for the next fifty years.

Most people come here for its famous BBQ.

Whether you're just traveling through or looking for a change of scenery from the larger cities, there are several local county parks and recreational options.

If you want to spend time in this city, here's a list of the best things to do in Rockdale, Texas.

Revisit Railroad History at Rockdale International & Great Northern Railroad Depot & Museum

Exterior of Rockdale International & Great Northern Railroad Depot & Museum
Jim Evans, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Anyone interested in trains will find the Rockdale International & Great Northern Railroad Depot & Museum an enlightening stop.

In 2008, the Rockdale I&GN Terminal underwent a restoration project led by the Rockdale Historical Society.

You may learn about railroading in Central Texas and the surrounding area at the main building.

It has a newly assembled N and O scale model layout in the baggage room and a refurbished Missouri Pacific caboose and restaurant car.

Today, the Rockdale International & Great Northern Railroad Depot & Museum is the city's weekend visitor center and a proud reminder of Rockdale's past.

Retrace Local History at El Camino Real De Los Tejas National Trail

El Camino Real De Los Tejas paved the way for Texas' first settlement, growth, and history during the 18th-century Spanish colonial era.

This National Heritage Route stretches from Mexico to Louisiana.

El Camino Real De Los Tejas National Trail commemorates its US segment.

El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail was established in 2004 by the National Park Service as a part of the National Trails System.

The trail also includes FM 908, which is part of Rockdale.

Two restaurants have opened along the Rockdale segment if you wish to take a pit stop and grab a quick bite.

Pay Respects at Rockdale Fireman's Memorial

Firefighters have protected Rockdale for 144 years, and two have died in the process.

The city has unveiled the Rockdale Fireman's Memorial at the fire station on the corner of Wilcox and Bell to give tribute to the Rockdale Volunteer Fire Department.

On the northern slab of the memorial are the names of two police officers who died in the line of duty on September 3, 1935: Wilbur Williams and J. W. Hooper.

There is also an uplifting verse etched on the northern slab.

Meanwhile, the central slab of Rockdale Fireman's Memorial honors the heroism of all RVFD volunteers, past and present.

Book Tee Time at Rockdale Country Club & Golf Course

Just south of Rockdale, on FM 2116 off of FM 483, you'll find the Rockdale Country Club and Golf Course.

It offers stunning vistas of rolling countryside lined with tall oak trees.

Since it's a semi-private golf course, it has a members-only policy during summer.

The Rockdale Country Club grounds have a swimming pool open from May to September.

Several events occur at the Rockdale Country Club & Golf Course annually.

Check Out the Historic Structures at Bridge Park

Have a picnic and take in the park's historic bridges and calaboose at Bridge Park.

The historic calaboose was a Burlington, Texas, property in northern Milam County.

The Spanish word "calabozo" translates to "prison."

Likewise, "calaboose" characterizes the facilities used as jails nationwide until the early 20th century.

You'll also find the former county bridges Sheckels and Galbreath at Bridge Park.

Both the Sheckels Bridge on CR 429A and the Galbreath Bridge on CR 240 have been demolished and replaced with newer structures.

See a Film at the Kay Theatre

Exterior of Kay Theatre
Jim Evans, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

On Rockdale's Main Street stands the Kay Theatre, which opened in 1947.

It ran for many years before finally closing in 1962.

In 2010, the community came together to rehabilitate the structure.

In 2013, the Texas Historical Commission recognized it as a Texas Historic Landmark.

The Kay Theatre is the only movie theater left in Milam County, a poignant reminder of a period when movies were integral to many young people's social lives.

The Kay Theatre is back in business as a community hub for gatherings of many kinds, from weddings to concerts to plays to film festivals.

Check out the Kay Theatre's official Facebook page for updates on future events and further information.

Learn about the Henderson Crossing Bridge

The Henderson Crossing Bridge originally stood ten miles to the west, near Rockdale's Skate Park, which once carried traffic across Brushy Creek.

The Henderson property the bridge cut through at Brushy Creek's crossing is likely where it got its name.

In 1901, the George F. King Bridge Company constructed the Henderson Crossing Bridge.

It is one of just 29 Warren Pony Truss Pin-Connected Bridges still standing in the state.

It has a deck width of 12 feet and a span of 64 feet (94 feet long with its original approaches).

In 2001, a concrete slab bridge replaced the Henderson Crossing Bridge on County Road 434, prompting its relocation to Skate Park in 2002.

Before its removal, the old bridge became part of the National Register, but Rockdale has retained this historical artifact.

Rock Your Cowboy Hats at Rockdale Fair and Rodeo

It's no surprise that Rockdale celebrates rodeo!

Rockdale Fair and Rodeo feature Roping and Barrel Racing Competitions, Cattle Shows, Carnivals and Circuses, Horseshoe and Washer Tournaments, and Auto Shows.

The Rockdale Fair Park & Rodeo Arena hosts this annual event.

It takes place on the entire third weekend of October, and the excitement doesn't stop there.

You may also catch concerts, dances, and Barbeque and Chili Cookoffs.

Let Your Pet Run Free at Rockdale Dog Park

Does your dog need to blow off some steam?

The Rockdale Dog Park is a great spot to let your dog off the leash to run and play.

The Rockdale Dog Park is a fenced facility with two separate access gates.

It features a culvert "tunnel" that dogs may run through or leap over, as well as a fire hydrant, which piques the curiosity of every dog.

The dog park features a drinking fountain for canines and a pet waste station for easy cleanup.

You may also adopt a dog needing a "fur-ever" home at the Rockdale Animal Shelter, next to the Rockdale Dog Park.

Donations are gratefully accepted at the Animal Shelter as well.

Practice Your Tricks at Rockdale Skate Park

Are you looking for a place in Rockdale to practice your skating skills?

The Rockdale Skate Park is an excellent venue for skateboarders of all ages to hone their abilities.

The skate park at Mill and Wilcox Streets' intersection features a bowl, a half-pipe ramp, rails, and skating pathways.

There is also a graffiti wall for people to express themselves freely via public art.

The Henderson Crossing bridge, which spanned Brushy Creek ten miles to the west, now sits in Skate Park.

Browse Books at Lucy Hill Patterson Memorial Library

Interior of the Lucy Hill Patterson Memorial Library
Texas State Library and Archives Commission from Austin, TX, United States, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

On October 17, 1954, Lucy Hill Patterson Memorial Library opened to the general public.

The library's first volumes came from the Texas State Library and local individuals in 1953–1954.

Lucy Hill Patterson Memorial Library was expanded in 1980 with a second level.

There is an active volunteer program and a small but dedicated staff of four people who work together to provide a wide range of services to customers of all ages.

Current partnerships include the Milam County Genealogy Society and the Central Texas Library System, of which the library is a part.

You may also see some art and antiques displays here.

Take Selfies with Rockdale Murals

Rockdale celebrates its community, culture, and history with the Rockdale Murals scattered throughout the city.

Well-known muralist Sam Welty created some of the recent ones, while others were a team effort by the citizens.

The largest mural depicts a cowboy herding cattle and lies on the wall of the building housing the Rockdale Municipal Development District.

It honors the National Heritage Route of El Camino Real de los Tejas.

Meanwhile, an oil-on-canvas painting named "Industry in Rockdale" was commissioned by the Treasury Department of Fine Arts.

This mural is on the building's old post office.

The artwork was a group effort of students from Rockdale High School.

Rockdale High School's mascot, the Tiger, is featured on three other murals, each with the hashtag #BeRockdaleProud.

Go Camping at Rock House RV Park

If you want to spend the night in Rockdale, check out Rock House RV Park.

It's reasonably priced, open all year, and welcomes the ATV crowd because of its proximity to the Rock House trailhead on the Hatfield-McCoy Trails.

The Rock House Trail Head is only a mile from the park.

It provides 12 RV sites with 50/30/20 AMP electricity service, regulated water pressure, PSD sewage hookup, and potable water pressure.

Rock House RV Park is also close to various other family-friendly outdoor pursuits.

The park has everything you want for a comfortable camping or RVing experience.

Enjoy Craft Beer at the East Bell Taphouse

The East Bell Taphouse features draft bottled beer.

With 16 draft beer choices, it provides a wide variety of draft and bottled beer where anyone can find a beer they can enjoy.

Enjoy craft beer from local breweries and fill your appetite with a tasty meal from our kitchen.

The East Bell Taphouse also features live music and a friendly atmosphere.

It also holds watch parties where you can catch your favorite sporting game with the locals.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Aside from Rockdale, these neighboring areas are also worth checking out.

Conquer the Skies at Texas Skydiving

Texas Skydiving is in Lexington, Texas, a 21-minute drive from Rockdale and only two hours from Austin and College Station.

Take a drive through the country to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

If you want to try skydiving, sign up by filling out the waiver and buying the media package.

The next step is a brief 15- to 20-minute training session before you take to the skies.

When you go tandem skydiving, you'll put on a special harness that will keep you safely attached to your instructor and the parachute.

When your flight is due, you'll board one of its fantastic planes, fasten your seatbelt, and get ready to take off!

You'll appreciate the view as you ascend over the ranch and the peaceful Central Texas landscape.

You and your instructor will take the plunge as you reach 10,500 feet or about two miles above the ground.

Conquer your fears at Texas Skydiving!

Final Thoughts

Enjoy the fantastic amenities of a small town and the conveniences of a big metropolis in Rockdale.

Its heritage and sense of community are extraordinary.

Discover the best things to do in Rockdale, Texas!

Spotted a mistake, have some feedback, or just want to chat with our editorial team? Click here to get in touch.
Find out more about Travel Lens and read our editorial guidelines here.