My family and I just made it home from 3 amazing days at Palestine Texas, and it was one of the most enjoyable places we’ve experienced.
Palestine provides the perfect serene setting to relax together, and there are endless possibilities to make memories as a family.
This post was part of a sponsored project in conjunction with members of the Texas Travel Industry Association to feature their members. The partnership included lodging, food & beverage, and compensation for the trip. The opinions reflected are honest and based upon the individual blogger experience.
Here are my family’s top 7 reasons to visit Palestine:
1- Historic Sites
Palestine is home to over 1,800 historic sites, which include museums, churches, buildings, monuments, and cemeteries and more. My two teen daughters were fascinated by the rich history of Palestine! The entire town exhibits historic architecture from the early 1800’s through the 1950’s.
We found out that Palestine is home to one of the thirteen remaining Carnegie Library buildings in the state of Texas and admired The Anderson County Courthouse, which strategically stands on the highest hill in Palestine. Other popular attractions include the Museum for East Texas Culture and The Texas Theatre.
I loved visiting the Sacred Heart Church, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Its architecture is stunning and it is one of five remaining churches of Victorian Gothic Style of handmade brick in the state of Texas. We were impressed with the beautiful stained glass windows from Italy and France and the “The Transfiguration of Christ” mural, which was hand-painted in the 1920’s and retouched in 1946.
My girls really enjoyed the Texas State Railroad Society’s presentation at the Railroad Heritage Center. They couldn’t stop talking about the artifacts and memorabilia they saw, including a model train display.
The Texas State Railroad is the oldest heritage railway in Texas, and The Railroad Heritage Center is dedicated to preserve, conserve, and restore this treasure.
You can travel aboard the historic Texas State Railroad, which offers both steam and diesel excursions, and even take a 60-minute long round-trip journey to the North Pole in your pajamas at Christmas with The Polar Express™ rides.
2- Outdoor Fun
Palestine is filled with natural beauty. We loved our drive through Davey Dogwood Park, which features 5.5 miles of paved driving trails in a 254 acre forest. There is no fee necessary to visit the park, which is open dawn to dusk daily, and there are picnic tables located all throughout.
My family and I were most excited to see the Fairy Gardens and to walk and hike together in this green, beautiful setting. You will love the white blossoms of the Dogwood trees. In fact, “Seeing the Dogwood blooms in Palestine” made #56 on Texas Monthly’s “The Bucket List: 63 Things All Texans Should Do Before They Die.” The locals say that coming back in the fall, when colors are transformed, is definitely a must!
One of the highlights of our stay in Palestine was attending the Chuckwagon Races, where different teams from all across the Southern states gather to race their horse-drawn wagons. It was so thrilling!
3- World-Famous Food
Palestine is a relatively small city, but there is a diverse variety of places to eat great food!
If you’re looking for somewhere to have a tasty breakfast, we recommend the Eilenberger Bakery. My family visited the shop and we were amazed at all the variety and the globally-acclaimed recipes they boast.
We had a delightful lunch at the Pint & Barrel Drafthouse in Old Town Palestine. There are board games your family can use before and during your meal, so my teenagers and I challenged each other with a game of Scrabble, while my little one played with blocks. The dartboard was a hit, too!
Another place to have in mind is the Old Magnolia Sandwich Shop, which has light and tasty options the whole family will savor.
We had a divine time at Cream and Coffee, a stop where you can refuel on drinks and eat delectable gelato. Their mango sorbet was a great way to end our afternoon!
Looking for another place to get dessert? The Oxbow Bakery is your answer! It was named One of the top 5 places in Texas to get pie by the Texas Highways Magazine and it’s conveniently located in Old Town Palestine, within a short walking distance of several restaurants!
Switch Brick Oven was the perfect mommy-daughter dinner date. We loved the atmosphere and I’m not exaggerating when I say it is the best pizza we’ve ever had. The Switch Brick Oven pasta was especially delicious, too!
4- Southern Hospitality
My daughters and I fell in love with the people in Palestine. The staff at the Palestine Visitor Center are not only friendly and pleasant, but they also provide you with the maps and tools you will need to enjoy Palestine to the fullest!
Since Palestine has a variety of charming bed and breakfasts in restored Victorian homes, we decided to stay at the blissful Bar-S Ranch Resort, an enchanting in 1891 escape in the woods, where we felt spoiled with the best of attentions.
If you want to stay in town, the Historic Redlands Hotel is ideal. Jean Mollard graciously offered to give us a tour of this elegant hotel, built in 1914, which she has owned for over 40 years. The Redlands Hotel is complete with a restaurant, an art gallery, and boutique! The Redlands Hotel is one of the only railway hotels in existence and features a perfect mixture of modern and antique decor.
Everyone we met during our stay was extremely welcoming, warm, and inviting!
5- Unique Shopping Experiences
It’s almost hard to believe there are so places to shop in Palestine! Our first stop was Braly’s Hardware Store, where they had everything from house paint to porch swings. The rumors about Braly’s being “the coolest hardware store on the planet” are hereby confirmed.
The Palestine Main Street District is fabulous for a leisurely walk with the family. You can explore little antique shops and boutiques like Over Yonder Crafts, Broken Boutique, Duncan Depot, and Wells Creek Crossing, which are filled with exquisite treasures and vintage finds.
6- Art is Everywhere!
My daughters and I got to explore the 6th Annual Art Tracks, which features outdoor sculptures all over Main Street. The historic monuments are quite interesting, too, helping kids learn while having a good time.
Since all three of my girls are artists, they were overjoyed to see artwork everywhere we went and we ended up walking all around town in our quest. I think this would make for quite a fun scavenger hunt!
It may come as a surprise to you that Palestine also has unique opportunities when it comes to science!
Touring the NASA Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility, led by an incredible scientist (who works on the balloon launching and programming) was everyone’s favorite. Who would have thought that Palestine was home to one of the four sites in the world for launching unmanned high-altitude balloons? We all learned so much and were fascinated with the process. You can request your own tour, too; just make sure to give them at least a week’s notice so they can be ready for you.
The Curious Museum is a better fit for the little ones to enjoy hands-on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. It doesn’t get better than STEAM in train town.
Visiting Palestine was just what we needed as a family getaway and we already miss it. It has such a peaceful environment, lovely people, diverse food, eclectic shopping, and rich history, so it’s no wonder it is listed as #14 on the Top 40 Travel Destinations in Texas. We can’t wait to go back.
Make plans to visit Palestine and see for yourself!
This post is part of the Summer Family Travel Planner created for members of the Texas Travel Industry Association. Read about the other destinations featured in the planner here.