Have you ever stopped in Elgin? I’m not talking about gassing up on a trip or pulling over to grab a sausage (or two) at Meyer’s Texas BBQ or Southside Market. Downtown Elgin lies off the beaten path of US Hwy 290 and offers unique charms. To get a taste of small town Texas from yesteryears, make the short trip east for some weekend fun.
Where to Stay in Elgin
Just a 10-minute drive from downtown Elgin through rolling hills and farmland is The Old Coupland Inn & Dancehall (101 Hoxie Street, Coupland, TX / 512-856-2777). Housed in what used to be a drug store (circa 1904) and tavern, this historic bed and breakfast has an “1880s brothel style,” each room with its own unique decor.
There’s a customized country breakfast in the morning, and a full restaurant with everything from steak to fried catfish. Take advantage of the dancehall–“taking a two-step into the next century while preserving the past”–to catch some live music.
Elgin’s Living History
The city is working hard to revitalize its historic Main Street. A National Register Historic District, downtown Elgin includes some 67 buildings dating from 1872 to 1947.
14 Depot Street / 512-285-2000
This restored 1903 train depot rotates exhibits on topics such as local history and railroads. It’s also a resource for those interested in local genealogy.
Learn the stories behind Main Street’s many historic buildings by downloading this self-guided tour (link above). Check out the original tiled entry to the J.C. Miller Building (119 Main Street). Find the 1906 Nofsinger House (310 Main Street)–made from Elgin’s signature red clay bricks–and visit the Elgin Cotton Oil Mill (301 E 1st Street), one of only 12 in the United States, owned by third-generation Texas family the Lundgrens.
Eatin’ and Sippin’ in Elgin
Yes, Elgin is the Sausage Capital of Texas, churning out some 3 million pounds of “hot guts” annually. But there’s more to be had than BBQ.
201 N Main Street / 512-285-9650
This market and cafe focuses on farm-to-market produce, grass-fed meats and local goods. Pick up stuff to fix dinner, grab a bite to eat and shop a bit.
106 Depot Street / 512-285-9975
An old school diner, Lucy’s Kitchen serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s the perfect spot to grab a cup of coffee and slice of pie after strolling Main Street.
106 N Main Street: 512-285-3547
With a nice assortment of wines, a lovely bar and outdoor seating, The Owl offers nibbles from a sausage, cheese and pretzel plate to flourless chocolate cake. They also have gluten-free options for any appetizer plate.
117 N Main Street / 512-285-5555
Liberty Tree Tavern is a local bar with live music, karaoke (Wednesday/Saturday) and Texas Hold’em (Monday at 6:45 and 9 PM). The building used to be the funeral home, and rumor has it there’s a ghost or two. Small outdoor patio, but no food–just bar snacks–and “full on” smoking (be prepared). Check Facebook for music listings.
Don’t forget the sausage! Both of the following places are located on US Hwy 290, not in downtown Elgin.
188 US Hwy 290 / 512-281-5546
Founded in 1949, Meyer’s bills their location as ‘Cuetopia, Texas. Four generations of Texans have been perfecting the family’s sausage recipe (as well as brisket, ribs and sauces).
1212 US Hwy 290 / 877-487-8015
Part of the Historic Walking Tour, Southside Market has been in business in Elgin since butcher William J. Moon opened his storefront in 1886. Over the years, it has survived family changes, fires and recipe adjustments to keep producing mouth-watering links.
Elgin’s Festivals and Outdoor Fun
The city has several yearly happenings that take advantage of the community space offered by Main Street and Veteran’s Memorial Park (109 Depot Street).
Veteran’s Memorial Park, Fridays in May and June, 8 PM
Bring beverages, your chair or a blanket and a picnic to enjoy this free series of concerts. In May, catch Beto y Los Fairlanes (5/15), The Chubby Knuckle Choir (5/22) and Patty Finney and Friends (5/29).
Veteran’s Memorial Park, Saturdays, 9 AM-1 PM
May 2, 2015 marked the 30th anniversary of this growers-only market. Look for candy, flower arrangements and assorted fruits, vegetables and products from Bastrop County-area farmers and ranchers.
Main Street, May 14th and June 11th, 5–8 PM
Every second Thursday in the spring and summer, downtown Elgin invites folks to come sip a little something and take advantage of store specials while enjoying live music.
June 23–27th, various locations
How can you pass up the Tiny Tot and Miss Western Days pageants, a carnival, the tennis court dance, grand parade and festival in the park? Now in its 46th year, the Western Days Festival with its Grand Finale has a bit of family fun for everyone.
Shopping in Downtown Elgin
If you’re into vintage and home furnishings, there are several shops that fit the bill.
20 N Main Street / 512-258-3547
Owned by Gary Luedecke, City of Austin’s chief audio engineer and 39-year music business veteran, this shop has an assortment of gifts, accessories and goods.
106 N Main Street / 512-285-3547
In addition to having a sip at the wine bar, you can shop for home decor items at The Owl. Look for vintage furnishings, accessories and gifts–and see if you can spot the “ghost mural” that inspired the shop’s name.
102 N Main Street / 512-461-8767
New, used, repurposed and redone: the shop is filled with an assortment of decorative home items.
12 N Main Street / 512-698-4193
More than 80 vendors stock the store with vintage, antique and collectible pieces.
Getting to Elgin from Austin
Head east on US Hwy 290. As you enter Elgin, follow the blue informational signs to the downtown Historic District (left on TX 95 N, right onto FM 1100, merge onto Main Street). Depending on your location, Elgin is approximately 25 miles from Austin.
If you stop downtown on a weekday, many of the shops and restaurants will not be open before 11 AM and have varied hours. Check before you plan your trip with the phone numbers given in this article.
@leahruns100 wants to know:
Which local treasures have you discovered in Elgin?
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