Just a couple of hours southeast of Dallas is the historic city of Palestine, Texas. Nestled in the Piney Woods region, this area is where the Texas Oil Boom got its start. It’s a nature lovers paradise filled with rolling hills, lakes, and tall pine tree forests. Our adventure was designed to let us sample the local flavors of Palestine in just a little over one day. With so much to cover, we better get started.
We want to thank Visit Palestine and all of the local businesses for hosting this amazing visit. Rest assured all opinions are our own.
Historic Home Base
Any good stay begins with picking the right home base. The Redlands Hotel was the perfect spot for exploring Palestine, Texas. Located in the heart of downtown, it allowed us to walk to many of the shops and businesses during our visit. Arriving in the early evening, we were excited for a chance to check out this historic hotel. After getting settled into our room, we made our way downstairs to enjoy dinner at Queen St. Grille, the in-house restaurant.
A Nod to Christmas
After a restful sleep, we were ready to jump into explorer mode. Just a short walk from the hotel we discovered Eilenberger’s Bakery. Since 1898, this shop has been turning out delicious baked goods. That makes it the oldest operating bakery in the Lone Star state. Their specialty is fruitcake, which is packed full of fresh Texas pecans. For those of us that don’t have room for a whole cake, they also serve up fruitcake cookies, which are a popular treat.
Friendly Farmers Market
Next up was a stop at the Palestine Farmers Market. Here we found a variety of local products and goods being offered up by friendly faces. We made our way through the aisles, stopping to check out a variety of products. It must have been obvious that we were not locals, as many asked where we were from. Being outsiders can make a person feel isolated, but we found the locals to be warm and engaging. We would have liked to stay longer but there was a lot to pack into our One Day Stay.
A huge draw for Palestine is the Texas State Railroad. Since 1883, these tracks have carried cars for business and pleasure. While it was originally designed to service the local mining industry, it would eventually transform into a recreational opportunity. The 25-mile adventure can feature an old steam engine or one of the classic diesel versions. This excursion takes riders through rolling hills filled with forests of tall pines. Once we reached the Rusk Depot, it was time for a lunch break prior to the return trip. What a scenic way to spend a few hours.
Exploring Downtown Palestine, Texas
Arts and culture play a big role in Palestine, Texas. We had noticed a variety of outdoor sculptures, while driving around town. Each year, the city hosts an Arts Track Sculpture Tour that brings highlights work of regional artists. The ones that caught our attention were works of Jeffie Brewer from Nacogdoches, Texas. His brightly colored pieces were easy to spot all around town and we couldn’t pass up having some fun with them.
Hitting the Shops
For us, each new destination brings an opportunity to discover. Visiting like a local goes beyond attractions, as we include local shops and boutiques. Each one holds the possibility of finding that special souvenir or gift. While daylight was burning, we still found time to squeeze in a little retail therapy. It was nice having these downtown Palestine shops so close to our hotel.
Exploring can work up a big appetite, so when dinner time rolled around we were ready to check out a local favorite. Pint and Barrel Drafthouse sounded like the perfect stop to unwind and refuel. Stepping through the door, we immediately knew we were in the right place. The locals knew we were out-of-towners (probably because of the camera) and made us feel welcome. We ordered up a Rueben and a Cuban and took in the ambiance. The sandwiches were packed with fillings and we struggled to complete our meals, even though each bite had us wanting more.
Daylight was dimming as we made our way back to the hotel. We knew there was an early morning ahead of us, but we still wanted to explore more of the local art scene. From our room, we could see more of those fun sculptures, so we headed back out. I was surprised we didn’t get more stares, as we posed with various pieces. Perhaps this is a common enough occurrence that the locals have gotten used to it. Either way, we weren’t about to let this opportunity pass us by.
Loving Palestine, Texas
Our day in Palestine, Texas was coming to an end. We had made lots of memories and picked up a few souvenirs. After a good night’s sleep, we said our goodbyes to this historic city. Our first foray into the Piney Woods had left us with a desire to see more. You can bet there will be additional excursions to this region in our future. Have you ever visited this part of the state? We’d love to hear about your experiences. Drop a note in the comments section below.