You might already be familiar with La Grange, Texas—the cozy town just one hour southeast of Austin—from the ZZ Top song “La Grange” that mentions the infamous Chicken Ranch brothel, now defunct.
Despite what these rockers have to say about the town, La Grange is one of my favorite spots to kick back and soak in the small town vibes. It’s hard to believe it’s so close to Austin because, after a quick road trip down Hwy 71, you feel like you’re in a whole other Texas.
This small town is nestled along the Colorado River, and the rolling hills, historic architecture and restaurants make for the perfect day trip from Austin. Here are some of my favorite things to do when I visit La Grange.
Kayaking the Colorado River
Strap a couple of kayaks on the top of your car before you leave town because the Colorado River where it passes through La Grange is one of the best spots to enjoy nature without the tourist-y crowds. Drive up to one of several docks and spend a morning on the peaceful, slow moving water amidst lush foliage.
My favorite docking location is on the south side of the Hwy 71 Business Route Bridge, where it crosses the Colorado River in La Grange. It’s basically right under the bridge on the south end.
Walk Monument Hill
Ask any local, and they’ll point you to Monument Hill. Take a hike along the oak woodlands to a sandstone bluff overlooking the river on your hike to Monument Hill. Walk past an historic crypt commemorating Texas Independence fighters, and a vista that overlooks the town of La Grange awaits you at the end of the trail. Viewing the town center at sunset from this vantage point is reason alone to head to the trail.
414 State Loop 92
Kolaches at Weikel’s Bakery
Evidence of Czech and German influence can be felt throughout Central Texas towns like La Grange, and kolaches are one of my favorite examples of this! After a morning in nature, enjoy authentic kolaches from La Grange’s own Weikel’s Bakery (2247 TX-71). Indulge in a satisfying snack with a sausage and cheddar kolache, or try the apricot kolaches, if you prefer the sweet variety.
Downtown La Grange is walkable and not so overcrowded with tourists—yet!—that you feel like you’re being herded from one stop to the next. Locally owned boutiques line the streets and, once you weary of shopping, you can explore the Texas Quilt Museum (140 West Colorado Street) within walking distance of Fayette County Courthouse.
Fayette County Courthouse
This historic building, built in 1890, marks the heart of downtown. Not only is it a gorgeous Romanesque Revival building to tour, but it also doubles as a handy navigational tool. For the directionally challenged, you can always find your way around La Grange if you orient yourself to the courthouse.
151 North Washington Street
Bodega Wine Bar
While you’re out shopping on the square, stop into Bodega for a glass of wine or a pint of craft beer. They offer cheese plates and dinner options if you want to imbibe and stay awhile. Bodega has recently launched Sushi Saturdays at their cozy shop.
201 West Travis Street
Dinner at Bistro 108
Step inside the unassuming interior of Bistro 108 and be delighted. I have eaten here many times and have never had a lackluster experience.
Not only is the food genuinely delicious, but the staff is so genial and accommodating. It’s the perfect place for families, date night or a fun lunch before you head back to Austin. If you’re overwhelmed with options, you have to try the BLT Delish sandwich and a piece of lemon berry cake.
108 South Main Street
It’s easy to fall in love with La Grange and the town is the perfect antidote for living in a city as active as Austin. The slower pace, open, friendly attitude and beautiful views make for the perfect, undiscovered getaway.
@kristinmleigh wants to know:
What is your favorite spot in La Grange, Texas?