Gonzales is a small Texas town with a fascinating history and plenty of ways to play in the great outdoors. See the cannon that fired the first shot of the Texas Revolution, visit a historic jail, and kayak on an 11-mile-long trail in the scenic Guadalupe River; these are just a few things to do in Gonzales. If you’re traveling to this historic town, make sure to check out our list some of the top things to do so you don’t miss a thing.
The cannon that fired the first shot of the Texas Revolution, a 19th-century jail that housed frontier outlaws, and a log cabin built in 1840’s can be found within the Texas History Museum District in Gonzales. A collection of five museums situated between the historic roads of Saint Lawrence Street and Saint Louis Street make up the Texas History Museum District, the first of its kind in Texas. One of these museums, the Gonzales Memorial Museum, was founded to honor the Immortal 32, a group of volunteers from Gonzales who were sent to aid in the defense of the Alamo. At the museum, you’ll encounter a large collection of objects and photographs that tell the story of the Immortal 32, as well as the role Gonzales played in Texas history. Of course, the museum is home to the famous cannon that sparked a revolution and became an enduring symbol of Texan liberty, one of the top sites to see while you’re in town.
Your next stop in your sojourn through Texas history is at two of Gonzales’ historic homes. The older of the two, The Eggleston House, is a humble dog-run style log cabin built in 1845 that is a fine example of homes that were common on the Texas frontier. Meanwhile, the J.B. Wells House Museum is an impressive 15-room mansion constructed in 1885 with fire escapes and indoor plumbing. Rooms in both houses are furnished with period-appropriate furniture and other decorations, offering a contrasting look at two eras of Gonzales’ history. For a more macro perspective, find your way to the Pioneer Village Living History Center, a recreation of a pioneer town complete with authentic buildings from the 1800’s and early 1900’s.
Finally, your journey ends at the Gonzales County Jail Museum, an imposing three-story structure that towers above downtown Gonzales. Step inside and you’ll see displays showcasing the sheriffs and deputies that served at the jail, along with artifacts from the prisoners, throughout its nearly 100 years of use. Head upstairs and you’ll find the rebuilt gallows and the original cells and jailer’s quarters.
Gonzales is a city steeped in Texas history, much of which can be found within the Texas History Museum District. Because of that, a visit to the Texas History Museum District is one of the top things to do in Gonzales, even if you’re not a history enthusiast.
Gonzales sits on the southern end of the beautiful Texas Prairies and Lakes region, an area known for its scenic rolling hills, thick forests of oak and pecan trees, and meandering rivers. You can experience the region’s arresting charm at Palmetto State Park, a 270-acre park located about 15 miles northwest of Gonzales. Whether you’re looking to relax in the great outdoors or do something a bit more active, Palmetto State Park has you covered. Bring your kayak or canoe and paddle along the San Marcos River, cast a fishing line into the four-acre lake, hop in the water for a refreshing swim, or traverse miles of hiking trails that wind through picturesque wooded areas. There are also picnic areas and camp sites, along with pedal boat, canoe, and kayak rentals in case you didn’t bring your own gear. Palmetto State Park is open throughout the year, although its busy season runs from March through November.
If you enjoy kayaking, then Gonzales is the place for you. The town sits on the northern bank of the Guadalupe River, a major Texas river that offers conditions perfect for kayakers. Along with all the scenic beauty, the Guadalupe River’s slow flow means it’s easy to traverse for inexperienced paddlers. Plus, there are more than 13 miles of paddling trails, so there’s plenty of area to explore. For a quick jaunt on the water that’s friendly for all ages and skill levels, head to the Independence Paddling Trail, located in Independence Park. This 2.6-mile-long loop is lined with tall trees that provide plenty of shade and the perfect place to spend a few hours on the water.
Are you feeling a bit more ambitious? Then you’ll find the 11-mile Come and Take It Paddling Trail more to your liking. The trail begins at Lake Wood Park and winds past towering pecan, sycamore, and cypress trees, and the intersection of the Guadalupe and San Marcos rivers, until it reaches Independence Park. A slow current makes the trail easy to traverse, but if you’re not an experienced kayaker, you may find it a challenge due to the length of the trail and a dearth of places to rest.
Regardless of the trail you take on, you’re in for a treat. The Guadalupe River is rich with wildlife, making it a great place to do some birdwatching and some catfish and bass fishing. Whether you’re in the mood for an epic adventure or a quick jaunt on the water, you’ll find both in Gonzales.
The picturesque terrain that surrounds Gonzales offers the ideal backdrop for a golf course. Fortunately, Gonzales’ own Independence Golf Course takes full advantage of the area’s gorgeous terrain. The nine-hole golf course is set among 22 acres of native pecan trees along the Guadalupe River, providing as much of a treat for your senses as a test for your skills. Green fees are affordable and the golf course is open to the public seven days a week throughout the year. Independence Golf Course has much to offer players of all skill levels, and it’s all just minutes away from downtown Gonzales. So when you visit the city “Where the fight for Texas liberty began,” don’t forget your clubs.
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