best small towns texas

I started this site to promote small-town living, and to help travelers looking to enjoy visiting small towns. I can think of no better way to serve readers here than to talk about a place I’ve come to know relatively well: Kerrville, Texas. What to do in Kerrville, where to stay, even where to get a more-than-decent bagel and cream cheese! I’m convinced that it’s the best small town in Texas to live in.

Not only does Kerrville have a forward-looking vision for itself without disregarding its history, it also has many local amenities you can enjoy right now.

  • Swimming in the Guadalupe River
  • Going to Crider’s on Friday night for their catfish or Saturday for their rodeo and dance
  • Visiting downtown with the stores and restaurants
  • Renting a cabin next to the water
  • Visiting “The Cross at Kerrville”
  • And taking drives to some of the other gorgeous Hill Country towns and natural scenery
  • Going to the only Salvation Kroc Center in the state of Texas!

All in all, Kerrville can be a getaway from the busy-ness and a getaway to fun activity and restful entertainment.

“Kerrville 2050”

Kimley-Horn
Kimley-Horn has offices across the continental U.S. and in Puerto Rico.

The Kerrville 2050 Plan is the biggest deal that no one knows about. At least, most people don’t. Certainly people outside of Kerrville don’t. It’s a wonderful plan.

Nationwide firm Kimley-Horn Associates conducted the study and engaged 45 members on the Steering Committee. Something I’m particular proud of Kerrville for is that our city manager is the former Dallas city manager, among other places, and knows his stuff. As a citizen, I feel confident that he, our Mayor, and our City Council have not only the city’s best interests at heart but also the expertise to realize those interests. Or at least advance them until the next generation takes over. We need these public servants, because by Kimley-Horn’s estimates, our Greater Kerrville population will grow from 27,000 now to 70,000 by 2050.

By comparison, if my hometown of New York City underwent that kind of growth (from 8.7 million), it would eventually have 22 million people, ranking it among only six cities now over 20 million in population. By the way, only two of those are in the Americas, both south of us (Mexico City and São Paulo).

So as they say, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” A good plan is necessary. And we’ve got one.

A TASTE OF THE PLAN

The best way to give you a sense of Kerrville, now and in the future, and whether you live here or are visiting, is to give you a sneak peek at some aspects of the Plan, because it will tell you who are we as a community.

Vision

Our “Community Vision” is informed by these key ideas and common themes. Kerrville will be a vibrant, welcoming and inclusive community that:

  • Respects and protects the natural environment that surrounds it;
  • Seeks to attract economic growth and development;
  • Provides opportunities for prosperity, personal enrichment and intellectual growth for people of all ages; and
  • Does so while preserving the small-town charm, heritage, arts and culture of the community.

Dontcha love that we’re preserving the “small town charm” and our heritage? (Yes!)

Community Input

community input
Community input

The Mayor and City Council felt very strongly about Community Input.

“…Community engagement—public involvement—would be the foundation of this planning process because the goal was to create a plan that reflected the community’s vision for the future, not the vision of staff or the consultant team.”

Highlights

OK…

This is quickly morphing to my wonky side of urban studies, and being only an amateur, I’m going to pivot to a traveler/resident-friendly word-picture of our small town.

But, one more summary of what the planning group representing Kerrvillians said we cared about:

plan priorities

“Quality of life” is #2, and it’s essentially #1, since “infrastructure” includes such things as making sure our roads are paved and traffic flows, which any municipality needs to attend to always.

Visitors and residents: Kerrville is only going to get better.

So what’s here to enjoy now?

Downtown Kerrville

Elsewhere I’ve covered how to enjoy Downtown Kerrville.

In addition to what I’ve mentioned before, here are three more things you must see or do:

  • Francisco’s // Google calls it “eclectic,” but it’s known for its Chile Relleno entree on Friday’s. So if you want top notch Tex-Mex food at week’s end in addition to amazing tuna fish sandwiches anytime, check this place out on the corner of Earl Garrett and Water. That corner, which has outdoor tables, is the heart of downtown and a great place to people-watch.
  • Slate Gray Gallery // Showcases emerging artists. While — full disclosure — my wife is also represented by the gallery, another artist to watch for is John Self. His fascinating and whimsical pieces will get your guests at home talking.john-self-kirby-head-paddle-fish
  • Arcadia Live // The Arcadia was a movie theater that’s been closed since I first started coming down here when dating my now-wife (1996). My father-in-law told me about it. While plans surfaced from time to time, then they ducked below
    arcadia-sign-night-vertical
    Arcadia Live…to come

    the waves. Now, a team of people and investors has come forward to make the new Arcadia a reality. With the mission, “To promote vibrant and diverse entertainment while preserving the history and life of downtown Kerrville,” it will be a venue for live music, comedy shows, theater, and more.

There’s much more, of course.

Water Street to the south has the Antique Mall and River’s Edge Gallery, and if you like Korean BBQ, don’t walk 50 feet past Francisco’s or you’ll miss Yeo-Bo’s (4.5/5 Stars on Yelp, with 81 reviews).

The Guadalupe

In the summertime around here, it’s all about the river.

Make sure you head down early to either Louise Hays Park off Sidney Baker Street (for good parking if not for any other reason) or Kerrville-Schreiner Park off Loop 534 and Bandera Highway.

tx-paddleboard-1 stepoutside.org
Although I miss my native East Coast and its white sand beaches, which lead directly to the surf, summertime for me means paddleboarding. In fact, the water and air here make the Guadalupe paddle-able almost all year, albeit with a 3/2 wetsuit. (Photo: StepOutside.org)

Before heading down there, though, be sure to make a reservation for a canoe or kayak (or paddleboard!) at Kerrville Kayak and Canoe on G Street and Broadway.

If you’re into the more relaxed — decadent? — form of River Relaxation, try tubing one of the area rivers. (Note which one ranks #1.)

 

Hill Country surrounding area

My first visit to Texas was in the summer of 1991 for a corporate retreat. (I worked for a nonprofit.) We stayed in the dorms of Trinity University in San Antonio. My experience of Texas was limited to that. That’s it. Oh, yes, on the second of two nights there we were instructed how to two-step.

But that’s. It.

My next trip to Texas was in 1996 to visit my soon-to-be-in-laws and ask my now-wife’s dad for her hand in marriage. So my appreciation for, knowledge of, Texas was criminally small. For instance, I’d never been to the Hill Country!

Kerrville is arguably the hub of and perfect launchpad from the Hill Country to surrounding areas:

sisterdale dancehall and opera house
Sisterdale Dance Hall & Opera House
  • Sisterdale. Oh my gosh. Don’t blink or you’ll miss it en route from Kerrville to Blanco and points east, but boy is it cool. I mean, cool. The Sisterdale Dance Hall & Opera House. Enough said.
  • Fredericksburg. Some may scoff (because it’s touristy), but if you’re a tourist, GO! Beautiful antique stores and great restaurants. Live music. Very walkable. A very wide main street, one of the widest you’ll see anywhere. And, walking into Carol Hicks Bolton, off the main drag, is a treat and a privilege in itself.

Enchanted-Rock

  • Enchanted Rock. Near Llano, TX. Go early in the day before it gets hot.
  • San Antonio. Lest we miss mentioning Texas’s second largest city — booyah — we should say that the Riverwalk is indeed quite fun and, if you’re into a good party, you can find it here.
  • Bandera. “Cowboy Capital of the World.” Not simply of the state or country, but the world. And if and when SpaceX puts a woman on Mars, Bandera will certainly claim Cowboyship over the solar system. And so on.
  • Crider’s Rodeo and Dancehall. You’ve not really experienced Texas or the Hill Country until you go to Crider’s (“spelled with a rope”), taken in the local rodeo, and then two-stepped under the stars. To live music. Every summer Saturday night. Go on Friday’s for catfish.

Criders rodeo

You get the picture. Texas is the state, the Hill Country is the region. Kerrville is the town.

Kerrville is the best small town in Texas

I’ve told friends that Texans are a lot like New Yorkers. Some people don’t like to hear that. (I also think that both Texans and New Yorkers are also both like Australians. But that’s for another blog and another post.)

It’s our swagger. It’s our belief that where we are is the center of the universe. And was the center before we got here and will be after we’re gone. We’re that confident.

New Yorkers have a mighty small plot of land, an island in fact, to try to plant that fact flag on.

At least Texans have the space.

Good luck, New York.

About Author

Husband, father, traveler, writer, surfer.

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