15 Best Things to Do in Smithville, TX

Smithville, TX
Philip Arno Photography / shutterstock.com

Smithville is a charming city in Bastrop County, Texas, on the scenic south banks of the Colorado River.

Established in 1827 as a small village, Smithville became Bastrop County’s largest town for almost 50 years.

This growth came soon after they built a Smithville railroad terminal in 1887.

Smithville has retained its small-town charm, attracting many film producers.

Many producers have picked the city as the setting for their movies.

However, you don’t have to be a filmmaker or even a movie buff to enjoy Smithville.

The city’s development over the years, from a tiny frontier village to a modern city, has inspired various points of interest.

Prepare an itinerary for your trip with this list of the best things to do in Smithville.

Book a Stay at the Katy House

Exterior of Katy House
Larry D. Moore, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Experience firsthand the film-worthy rural life in Smithville with a stay at the The Katy House.

Situated on Ramona Street, the Katy House is a top-rated traditional bed & breakfast that has operated for nearly 30 years.

In 2022, the Texas Bed & Breakfast Association voted this house as the top bed & breakfast in the city.

It offers accommodations in a restored turn-of-the-century.

The historic Katy House has six guest rooms, all well-appointed and flaunting French country furnishings.

Shop at the Smithville Farmers Market

The Smithville Farmers Market is another attraction at Railroad Park at the junction of Main Street and NE First Street.

Likewise, the Smithville Farmers Market offers many items besides seasonal fruits and vegetables.

Shoppers also have choices of eggs, grass-fed beef, herbs, flowers, and plants.

Explore Buescher State Park

This park spans over 1,000 acres on the north edge of Smithville, accessible via Park Road 1C off 2-Mile Lane.

Buescher State Park is famous for its wide selection of outdoor activities, including hiking on a 7.7-mile out-and-back trail in its lush forest.

You can also ride mountain bikes on most of the park’s trail sections.

Visitors can also bike on the scenic 12-mile Park Road 1C, separating Buescher and Bastrop state parks.

This route cuts across the forests of the Lost Pines.

Traversing the park’s Winding Woodlands Trail takes you through stands of cedars and oaks including Big Tree.

Big Tree was once hailed as Texas’ champion cedar elm.

The park is a habitat for more than 250 bird species and other wildlife like bobcats, deer, raccoons, armadillos, and opossums.

Besides wildlife observation, the park offers canoeing and fishing in its small lake.

You can catch many bass, crappie, catfish, sunfish, and trout.

Buescher State Park provides camping and picnic areas, with choice spots available near the pavilion and group hall, built during the 1930s.

Campers can choose from sites with electricity or those with water supply only or primitive walk-in.

The park also provides cabins and screened shelters without restrooms, facilities provided elsewhere in the park.

Get Spooked at Scream Hollow

Fright entertainment Scream Hollow is on Split Rail Lane, located in a woodland on the city's western outskirts.

Its visitors will have five choices of fright paths including Scream Hollow’s “Lost Pines Asylum” amid dense oak trees.

Another haunted attraction is “Hell on Wheels,” a scary hay ride, which will push you to meet some wicked creatures.

A mansion of terror, a maze with paranormal spots, and a sinister circus complete the five haunted attractions of Scream Hollow.

Kids from age 12 will enjoy these horrifying fantasies.

Parents or chaperones can bring younger children to Scream Hollow’s bakery and café.

The bakery and cafe might suffice for some lighter fright moments for younger children.  

Tour the Smithville Heritage House & Museum

The Smithville Heritage Society maintains this facility in a vintage house on Main Street.

Built in 1908, the Smithville Heritage House & Museum contributes much to preserving Smithville’s rich history.

It represents a superb rendition of late Victorian architecture, with furnishings of its era aptly on display.

Exhibits, collectibles, and memorabilia occupy the whole second floor of the museum.

Likewise, the ground floor displays many exhibits.

The Smithville Heritage Society has also built an archive to complement the museum.

You can find the archive inside a climate-controlled building at the back of the museum.

Visit Smithville’s Railroad Museum

Exterior of James H. Long Railroad Park and Museum
Larry D. Moore, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can best appreciate Smithville’s development with a visit to the James H. Long Railroad Park and Museum on NW 1st Street.

The museum features engaging displays of artifacts recounting the railroad era in Smithville.

The pieces on display include a large collection of railroad lanterns and other items once used in the day-to-day operation of the railway.

The museum’s grounds serve as the city’s Railroad Park, featuring gazebos where local musicians often perform.

The Railroad Park hosts an artworks exhibit during the first Saturday of the month, courtesy of the Lost Pines Art Alliance.

Celebrate the Festival of Lights

Smithville celebrates many festivals throughout the year.

One of the biggest festivals is the  Festival of Lights, traditionally held on the first Saturday of December.

This special event, which birthed the city’s iconic Gingerbread Man, has several highlights.

These highlights include a light parade on Main Street, fun activities for adults and kids, free shows, and food and gift vendors.

Enjoy a Beer at Smithville Brewing

This microbrewery and its taproom are on NW Loop 230 just south of the Smithville Crawford town airport.

Smithville Brewing Company opened in 2022 as a three-acre beer garden offering not only Texas craft beer but also wine and other beverages.

Its beer brewed onsite includes a golden Cold IPA with a dry and extra crisp finish courtesy of a rice and pilsner malt combo.

The microbrewery’s owner and head brewer boasts more than 15 years of experience in the art of brewing, including a stint at industry giant Coors Brewery.

In addition to drinks, Smithville Brewing also draws patrons for its servings of jumbo pretzels with mustard and beer cheese.

Yummy burgers plus fun competitions in games like cornhole should also complete your visit to Smithville Brewing.

Enjoy a Bike Race at Rocky Hill Ranch

Rocky Hill Ranch bills itself as the mountain biking and outdoor capital of Texas.

Its mountain bike tracks and trails meander over 222 acres on the northeast corner of Over the Hill Lane and FM 153 on northeastern Smithville.

Also open to hikers, Rocky Hill Ranch regularly hosts trail running events as well as the bike-run-bike competition of duathlon.

Race participants and outdoor lovers can also camp out at Rocky Hill Ranch.

It has 26 campsites for RVs, and spots for tent camping.

The ranch’s camp amenities include bathrooms with showers and flush toilets.

Pose with Smitty, the Giant Gingerbread Man

Daytime view of Smitty the Giant Gingerbread Man
Larry D. Moore, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Smithville has an unofficial mascot, a gingerbread man named “Smitty,” standing off NE 1st Street near Railroad Park.

Smitty once held the Guinness Record as the World’s Largest Gingerbread Man.

This cookie has become a symbol of the annual Festival of Lights in Smithville for many years.

In 2006, the city baked a giant gingerbread cookie in that year’s Festival of Lights to bid for a Guinness World Record.

Measuring 30 feet from head to toe, the giant cookie became a monument in 2008 to celebrate its listing in the Guinness books.

Henceforth, Smitty became a Smithville icon.

Many visitors pose for photos with Smitty as a memento of their visit to the city.

Shop for Antiques at Texas Trails Antiques & Marketplace

Smithville visitors with a soft spot for vintage items might want to go on a shopping spree on Main Street.

Their downtown choices for such selections include Texas Trails Antiques & Marketplace.

It features retro kitchen items, Victorian-style furniture, vintage planters, and other old handicraft.

Many of these items come at half the price of antiques sold in Houston.

You can also enjoy bargains in another downtown antique shop, The Market on Main.

This shop holds a monthly curated event every month’s third weekend.

Main Street offers more vintage goods at Bella’s Cottage Antiques, where a colorful horse carousel at its entrance sets the mood for shopping.

Bella’s operates from a quaint 3,000-square-foot cottage.

It’s also famous for its complimentary cookies for each shopper, which you can buy.

Searching in Smithville’s downtown for curated items like restored or repurposed furniture can take you to Murphy’s Vintage.

This place is on Olive Street, just a block from Main Street.

Go Fishing at the Vernon L. Richards Riverbend Park

The Vernon L. Richards Riverbend Park on State Highway 71 enables fishing access in the Colorado River upstream from Smithville.

You can also enjoy river access under the double bridge on State Highway 71 in Smithville before entering the park.

Potential catches in the river include black, largemouth, and Guadalupe bass and channel and flathead catfish.

From Smithville, paddlers can also explore the Missouri River, with kayak rentals available at Riverbend Park.

Pay Respects at Smithville Texas Veterans Memorial

This park features not only an inspiring tribute to the military service members of Smithville.

On the other hand, the Smithville Texas Veterans Memorial also a splash pad that kids will surely love.

They can also enjoy playing in the Smithville Powerplant Skate Park immediately south of the splash pad.

You can walk a short way to the north and learn more about the history of Smithville with a visit to Independence Park on NW Loop 230.

This park commemorates Smithville founder Thomas Jefferson Gazley and Texas’ independence struggle.

Learn Gardening at the Smithville Community Gardens

You can have a learning experience on communal and sustainable gardens with a visit to the Smithville Community Gardens on SW 2nd Street.

An all-volunteer organization runs the gardens, which supports garden and education programs to help solve food insecurity.

The organization also promotes healthy nutrition and organic gardening practices.

Train your green thumb at the Smithville Community Gardens.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Play Golf at the Lost Pines Forest

Tall trees at Lost Pines Forest
Tricia Daniel / Shutterstock.com

Established in 1979, the course of Pine Forest Golf Club is in the city of Bastrop, about 16 minutes from Smithville.

Its par 72 layout extends 6,646 yards from the longest tees spreads on Riverside Road.

Situated on the undulating hills of the Lost Pines Forest, it sits among the top 25 best municipal courses in Texas.

Final Thoughts

Smithville is a remarkable travel destination when visiting Bastrop County in Central Texas.

From its long history and natural gifts, this city has established various places and events that Texas visitors will most appreciate.

Plan your trip today and discover the best things to do in Smithville!