If you were a fan of Hope Floats, then Smithville is probably already on your “must visit” list. For everyone else, it should be. There’s a reason it’s been the backdrop for 13 different movies. This great little town is about 40 miles from Austin and boasts all the small-ish town charm you’re seeking with historic buildings, local festivals, plus gorgeous natural surrounds, good home-cookin’, and some shopping and sipping. Plus the world’s largest gingerbread man, naturally.
Because Smithville sits right on the Colorado River, people are forever outside. The most popular park is Buescher State Park which features a 30-acre lake, six miles of hiking and biking trails, and a number of campsites. Bring your kayak, mountain bike, fishing gear and get the whole family in on it. Also, visit the Big Tree, a former champion cedar elm. For the expert mountain biker, Rocky Hill Ranch is a fantastic spot to hit 25 miles of intense trails with hilarious names like Fat Chuck’s Demise, Frontal Lobotomy, and the Y-Knot. Choose the more chill option at Vernon L. Richards Riverbend Park. Set against a river backdrop, their covered stage and dance floor often hosts events and live music like the annual Smithville Music Fest. Grab a picnic and sit under one of the big beautiful oaks or play a round of disc golf. If you have your four-footed-friend with you, take them to Doggie Bark Park. Your furry pal can roam at will and hang out with other adventuring dogs. Golfers will find their piece of heaven at the famed ColoVista Golf Club, which is not only intensely challenging but also boasts a 100-foot elevation change from tee to green. Come for the game and for the views. Anyone who likes to skateboard (or watch people do it) should check out the Power Plaza Skate Park. Hips, staircases, rails, wallrides, and a ton of ledges make this a challenging experience for any skater.
You know you can’t go wrong by having breakfast at a place whose slogan is “where butter meets the biscuit.” The Olde World Bakery and Cafe isn’t skimping on the good stuff. This is comfort food at its finest—eggs, bacon, omelets, sandwiches and of course, delicious baked goods. If you want your heart to swell to three times its size, stop in at Comfort Cafe. Funky and colorful with amazing food, and doing a ton of good in the community as well. Cash only and pay what you can, 100% of the proceeds go directly to Serenity Star, a nonprofit that provides a safe and sober living environment for people recovering from addiction. Cure your pizza cravings at Honey’s Pizza. Serving traditional wood-fired neapolitan pizza, paninis, and calzones in an historic building and on their extensive outdoor shaded patio complete with fire-pit. Carne Lenta adds a Tex-Mex twist to slow roasted meats. Stop by to try their dirty nachos, house made sausage and frozen spicy margarita. Right off of main street, The Front Room Wine Bar is the spot to stop for cocktails and wine plus a tapas menu. Probably the most well known restaurant in town is Murphy’s Steakhouse. It’s been featured in Texas monthly and routinely gets called out for their hand-cut steaks. It’s not fancy, it’s just good.
Bars & Nightlife
Charlie’s is that kind of dive bar that’s woven into the tapestry of the city–a local’s joint with cold beer, pool tables, sports, and pickled eggs for a dollar. Established 1945, Huebel’s Bar is another of that ilk. Pool tables, potlucks, poker, and patriotism! Expect live music and a happy hour that kicks off at 2pm… just when you need it. Rio Social House is so new it still has that fresh paint smell. In addition to a full bar, coffee, food, smoothies, and ice cream. They also have a pétanque court, a Frenh game similar to horseshoes, but played with balls. The ambiance is more Scottish pub than pinkies-up salon and it’s meant to be that way. Head up the road about 15 minutes to Bastrop’s Copper Shot Distillery. There you’ll find crafted cocktails, flights, samples, and it’s dog friendly to boot. The best spot for craft beer is at Bastrop Beer Company, a beer bar and bottle shop with hundreds of beers available. They also do wine, beer cocktails, and have vintage video games and a fantastic jukebox.
As you might imagine, a town like Smithville has a general store. But the Smithville General Store isn’t all penny candies and oversized t-shirts–they carry celebrity prayer candles, frozen drinks, artisan chocolate, books, puzzles, coffee and more. Bold colors, beautifully designed bags, and leather goods are what to expect from Consuela. Headquartered in Austin, this offshoot is leveling up the shopping scene in Smithville with high-end merchandise and signature pieces that people will fawn over. Mosaic Art and Home is eclectic, original, local, and just plain fun. This store features paintings, prints, pottery, and furniture from talented local artists that will give your home character.